Sunday, January 31, 2010

Roger Ailes Defends Beck and Fox on ABC's 'This Week'

Roger Ailes, President and CEO of Fox News, made a rare appearance as a member of the "Roundtable Dicussion" on ABC's This Week earlier this morning. Rounding out the panel was Washington Post columnist George Will, Founder of the Huffington Post Arianna Huffington, and economist Paul Krugman. There was some discussion on the election of Scott Brown to the Senate, health care, and the media, but I knew that things were going to be interesting when Ailes began the segment by offering to pose nude for $100.

By watching this discussion it is crystal clear to see why Fox News operates as it does. Ailes defends the crazy rhetoric of Glenn Beck, his network's coverage of President Obama, and the idea that Fox is a "fair and balanced" network. Also funny is how Ailes rails against other media outlets for being slanted and then proceeds to defend Beck's misinformation and spout the same Republican talking points that hosts on his channel espouse.

In Ailes' defense of Glenn Beck he tries to turn the tables on Arianna Huffington by claiming that her website calls him awful names. Ailes, just like Bill O'Reilly has done, accomplishes this by quoting from the "user comment" section of the Huffington Post and trying to project the views of some anonymous commenter onto the founder of the site. These are the fun tactics that we have come to expect from Fox and Ailes shows that not only is this part of his business model, but the views that he finds acceptable for his network. Below are the full videos of the Roundtable segment from this morning:

Friday, January 29, 2010

Obama Answers Questions From House Republicans

I have not yet had the opportunity to watch all of President Obama's Q&A with House Republicans from earlier today, but from what I am reading it was a pretty interesting spectacle to watch.

Richard Adams at the Guardian describes:

Presumably the Republicans thought they'd get a chance to grill the president on live television. But instead, Obama – following on from his state of the union address on Wednesday night – turned the tables by highlighting the Republicans who opposed his policies and refused to bend, yet were prepared to "turn up and cut ribbons" when their constituents reaped the rewards.

Obama also displayed a rare grasp of policy and legislation, wrong-footing his questioners to their face with some stern rebuttal and in some instances quoting their own positions back to them to highlight the contradictions.

Good. I think this is a necessary exercise for the President to engage in at this point. Don't get me wrong, I don't think that the result will be any type of bipartisanship; Republicans have already made it clear that they are going to oppose Obama on everything that he proposes. I do think that it is necessary for the President to push back on the insane rhetoric that has dogged him since the campaign. For example, here is Obama addressing the Republican narrative on health care:

Don't we live in a funny society when the need to operate from within reality is something that needs to be pointed out?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Rudy Giuliani Swings and Misses

Former Mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani went on Fox and CNN this morning to blast President Obama for not saying "Islamic terrorist" in his State of the Union Address and for not addressing the failed Christmas Day bombing. Interesting since Obama did mention the words "terrorist", "terrorism", and "Al Qaeda" as well as specifically mention the Christmas Day bombing.

Giuliani went on to say that Obama not paying more attention to national security is like FDR "not mentioning Nazism and not mentioning the war" during World War Two. Watch:

This isn't the first time Rudy has just made stuff up and something tells me that it won't be the last. The real question is, when will these media outlets start calling Giuliani out over this madness?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Initial Reactions to President Obama's State of the Union Address

I just got done "live-tweeting" during President Obama's first State of the Union Address and am going to give my initial reactions to the speech.

First and foremost I thought that this speech was what President Obama needed to do politically and ended up delivering a strong overall speech that will probably give him a slight boost in the polls. I don't like to dwell on or get lost in the political accomplishments of the speech because I think it can dilute from the overall substance of what was said.

On substance, Obama had a lot to tackle and if you missed the speech, you can read it here. Obama talked about a top priority of creating jobs in 2010:

We should start where most new jobs do - in small businesses, companies that begin when an entrepreneur takes a chance on a dream, or a worker decides its time she became her own boss.

Through sheer grit and determination, these companies have weathered the recession and are ready to grow. But when you talk to small business owners in places like Allentown, Pennsylvania or Elyria, Ohio, you find out that even though banks on Wall Street are lending again, they are mostly lending to bigger companies. But financing remains difficult for small business owners across the country.

So tonight, I'm proposing that we take $30 billion of the money Wall Street banks have repaid and use it to help community banks give small businesses the credit they need to stay afloat.

He went on to talk about energy, the climate and the need to make America more innovative on a global scale. His remarks on Health Care were much much anticipated and here is a clip of what he had to say:

Our approach would preserve the right of Americans who have insurance to keep their doctor and their plan. It would reduce costs and premiums for millions of families and businesses. And according to the Congressional Budget Office - the independent organization that both parties have cited as the official scorekeeper for Congress - our approach would bring down the deficit by as much as $1 trillion over the next two decades.

Still, this is a complex issue, and the longer it was debated, the more skeptical people became. I take my share of the blame for not explaining it more clearly to the American people. And I know that with all the lobbying and horse-trading, this process left most Americans wondering what's in it for them.

But I also know this problem is not going away. By the time I'm finished speaking tonight, more Americans will have lost their health insurance. Millions will lose it this year. Our deficit will grow. Premiums will go up. Patients will be denied the care they need. Small business owners will continue to drop coverage altogether. I will not walk away from these Americans, and neither should the people in this chamber.

and frankly, there was not much more on the topic of health care reform than that. Obama simply put out a call for those in Congress to pass the reforms because they had come too far already. This really leaves us no closer to actually making Congress fix the current version of the bill and Obama did not mention anything about putting things like the public option back into the bill.

A couple of other notable moments from the speech:

1. Obama called for the repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. This is certainly overdue and I know that many gay activists were very happy that Obama explicitly referenced this during the speech.

2. Obama chided the recent Supreme Court decision that will end up allowing a tidal wave of corporate money into political campaigns. The interesting part came when Justice Sam Alito reacted and verbally responded (what looked like and what is being reported as) "That's not true". Watch:

This is notable because the Supreme Court is usually silent and expressionless during the State of the Union, even refraining from clapping when the President enters so as to continue to express impartiality. Many have already stated that this is Alito's "You Lie" moment.

3. Obama explicitly stated that troops would begin to come home from Afghanistan in July 2011 and that "all combat troops" will be out of Iraq by August 2010. Earlier this week I highlighted the confusion within the Obama Administration surrounding his Afghanistan policy and while Obama reiterated this date, he failed to lay out any specifics regarding an exit strategy or whether this withdrawal is condition-based. More is needed on this topic from the Administration.

4. Obama addressed the partisanship that has plagued his first year in office, at times sounding like a high school principal. For me, the best line during this portion of the speech was:

To Democrats, I would remind you that we still have the largest majority in decades, and the people expect us to solve some problems, not run for the hills. And if the Republican leadership is going to insist that sixty votes in the Senate are required to do any business at all in this town, then the responsibility to govern is now yours as well. Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it's not leadership.

Nice thought right? Something tells me that tomorrow is going to be the same.

These are my very raw and very rough reactions to the speech and there will be much further discussion on this over the next few days and weeks. Check back for more insight and analysis.

UPDATE: One more item that just came to mind was Obama seemingly denouncing the brand of conservatism that we saw under the Bush Administration:

From some on the right, I expect we'll hear a different argument - that if we just make fewer investments in our people, extend tax cuts for wealthier Americans, eliminate more regulations, and maintain the status quo on health care, our deficits will go away. The problem is, that's what we did for eight years. That's what helped lead us into this crisis. It's what helped lead to these deficits. And we cannot do it again.

I think this was important, but it makes me wonder why he is validating Republican views by calling for a spending freeze if he is so critical of what got us into this mess in the first place.

Activist, Author, and Historian Howard Zinn, Dead at 87

I was saddened by to hear this news this evening. Howard Zinn, renowned historian, author and activist, has died of a heart attack while traveling at the age of 87.

Zinn is well known for his book "A People's History of the United States: 1492-Present" and for challenging the status quo that is often presented in other history books.

From the Boston Globe:

"He's made an amazing contribution to American intellectual and moral culture," Noam Chomsky, the left-wing activist and MIT professor, said tonight. "He's changed the conscience of America in a highly constructive way. I really can't think of anyone I can compare him to in this respect."


For Dr. Zinn, activism was a natural extension of the revisionist brand of history he taught. "A People’s History of the United States" (1980), his best-known book, had for its heroes not the Founding Fathers -- many of them slaveholders and deeply attached to the status quo, as Dr. Zinn was quick to point out -- but rather the farmers of Shays' Rebellion and union organizers of the 1930s.

As he wrote in his autobiography, "You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train" (1994), "From the start, my teaching was infused with my own history. I would try to be fair to other points of view, but I wanted more than 'objectivity'; I wanted students to leave my classes not just better informed, but more prepared to relinquish the safety of silence, more prepared to speak up, to act against injustice wherever they saw it. This, of course, was a recipe for trouble."

Dr. Zinn is survived by a daughter, a son, three granddaughters and two-grandsons.

Obama Retains Authority to Assassinate U.S. Citizens

From Dana Priest's piece in the Washington Post today (emphasis mine):

After the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush gave the CIA, and later the military, authority to kill U.S. citizens abroad if strong evidence existed that an American was involved in organizing or carrying out terrorist actions against the United States or U.S. interests, military and intelligence officials said. The evidence has to meet a certain, defined threshold. The person, for instance, has to pose "a continuing and imminent threat to U.S. persons and interests," said one former intelligence official.

The Obama administration has adopted the same stance. If a U.S. citizen joins al-Qaeda, "it doesn't really change anything from the standpoint of whether we can target them," a senior administration official said. "They are then part of the enemy."

Both the CIA and the JSOC maintain lists of individuals, called "High Value Targets" and "High Value Individuals," whom they seek to kill or capture. The JSOC list includes three Americans, including Aulaqi, whose name was added late last year. As of several months ago, the CIA list included three U.S. citizens, and an intelligence official said that Aulaqi's name has now been added.

This quote was toward the end of a larger article that discusses the growing military involvement of the United States in Yemen and is quite alarming.

The article claims that the Obama Administration has adopted the same view as the Bush Administration in their authority to target and kill U.S. citizens that they suspect of being terrorists. No formal charges, no trial, just authority to strike and kill those U.S. Citizens who the Government unilaterally labels as terrorists.

As Priest mentions, there is apparently a short-list with American names on it, that allows for zero evidence to be presented in order to verify the claims of the Government. Similar to why it is troubling to imprison detainees indefinitely without charge, it is just as troubling to learn that the President has determined that he has the authority kill U.S. citizens without any process of proving guilt.

From where does the Presidential authority for this kind of legal discretion derive? All those who had a problem with the Bush Administration for these kinds of abuses of power should have equal qualms with the Obama Administration for continuing these same actions.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Confusion Surrounding Afghanistan Exit Strategy

As the Obama Administration's deadline on closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay came and went without the prison being close to closing, it is important to try and get the Administration to use as specific language as possible when they make future commitments to the American people.

One of these issues is the date for when troops will begin to withdraw from Afghanistan. As you can see by this recent video that was posted by Rethink Afghanistan, the message isn't even that clear to members of the Administration:

If the Obama Administration is serious about a troop withdrawal and is not just hedging their bets with conflicting statements, then it would certainly be helpful for the President to clarify the confusion that is surrounding this issue.

Obama Decides to Validate Republican Criticisms and Embrace McCain-Style Spending Freeze

As there is more talk today of President Obama's expected plans to announce an overall spending freeze on discretionary items during his State of the Union Address tomorrow, this video surfaces (h/t Ezra Klein):

That was then candidate Obama rejecting Sen. John McCain's call for an "across the board" spending freeze on all programs except those that are military in nature. Now the Obama Administration is going to argue that what they are proposing is not the same as McCain's proposal during the campaign. The difference being that McCain would have frozen ALL spending on non-military programs while Obama is apparently wanting to increase some programs and cut others; the net result of which would be an overall freeze of spending (on items that are not military in nature of course).

Even if this is the case, the Obama Administration has really backed themselves into a corner not only politically, but on the various policies that they have been trying to pass since Obama took office just over a year ago. Not only that, but if you thought Obama was angering his political base on the issue of health care reform, then there is every reason for them to be enraged now. Not only is Obama embracing Republican thinking on spending cuts, but he is literally embracing the ideas of the candidate that he defeated and that the voters rejected in the 2008 election. Paul Krugman:

A spending freeze? That’s the brilliant response of the Obama team to their first serious political setback?

It’s appalling on every level.

It’s bad economics, depressing demand when the economy is still suffering from mass unemployment. Jonathan Zasloff writes that Obama seems to have decided to fire Tim Geithner and replace him with “the rotting corpse of Andrew Mellon” (Mellon was Herbert Hoover’s Treasury Secretary, who according to Hoover told him to “liquidate the workers, liquidate the farmers, purge the rottenness”.)


A correspondent writes, “I feel like an idiot for supporting this guy.”

With much emphasis on the actual "freezing" of spending, it is also necessary to take a look at what will not be frozen: military spending. In fact, military spending is rarely even considered for cuts even when there is vast evidence to support the notion that U.S. military spending is off the charts. Glenn Greenwald:

In sum, as we cite our debtor status to freeze funding for things such as "air traffic control, farm subsidies, education, nutrition and national parks" -- all programs included in Obama's spending freeze -- our military and other "security-related" spending habits become more bloated every year, completely shielded from any constraints or reality. This, despite the fact that it is virtually impossible for the U.S. to make meaningful progress in debt reduction without serious reductions in our military programs.


The clear fact is that, no matter how severe are our budgetary constraints, military spending and all so-called "security-related programs" are off-limits for any freezes, let alone decreases. Moreover, the modest spending freeze to be announced by Obama tomorrow is just the start; the Washington consensus has solidified and is clearly gearing up for major cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, with the dirty work to be done by an independent "deficit commission."

So, in short, this move by the Administration makes little sense and could cause quite a rift with progressive elements that would want to see strong progressive challengers to Obama in 2010 and 2012.

Obama to Announce a Spending Freeze

Well I certainly didn't see this one coming. It is being reported tonight that President Obama is set to announce a three-year spending freeze on discretionary spending...except for the military, Department of Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs or the State Department.

My initial reaction was really one of disbelief as this strategy seems like the exact opposite approach that would have the result that the Administration is hoping to achieve. The reactions from some of the more progressive blogs are quite strong:

Paul Rosenberg puts it like this:

Obama has now gone off the deep end. After passing a stimulus that most economists (not just liberal ones) said was too small, and that was made even more inadequate by being heavily tilted toward poor-performing tax-cuts, Obama is now intentionally recreating FDR's mistake of 1937, when he prematurely cut back spending to try to balance the budget, and sent the country into a new recession.

and David Sirota adds:

This is actually worse - way worse - than John McCain's campaign proposal for across-the-board cuts, as across-the-board cuts would have hit the massive and bloated Pentagon budget. Instead, the Obama administration is specifically and exclusively targeting social safety-net spending for a budget freeze (read: cut in real, inflation-adjusted dollars). Yes, cutting social safety-net programs during a recession, while increasing spending on wars, underwriting a no-strings-attached bank bailout and pushing a health care bill that is a massive giveaway to the insurance and drug companies.

Rachel Maddow also had an interesting exchange with Jared Berstein tonight on this topic:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

There will be more on this story later and it will be interesting to see the reaction of not only the Republicans, but the tea-party movement who has complained about the so-called "runaway spending" in Washington.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Populism's Impact

One of the complexities that is interesting right now in America is the populism that exists on both sides of the political spectrum. It can be confusing, can send mixed political signals, and quite frankly can overlap on various issues of interest.

David Sirota has been writing about this issue for quite some time and he appeared on CNN earlier today to discuss this very issue. Granted it is hard to delve into this issue in a 4 minute segment, but I think this clip is worth watching:

I think Sirota is largely right. People are very angry at the system that has created this mess and I think that the alliance of governmental and corporate interests has been and will continue to be a big problem that stands in the way of real reform. People from all political walks are angry by this as well they should be. The Republican Party is trying to frame this populism as simply opposition to this Administration that is currently in power. This has created this weird brand of "GOPopulism" that you see in certain tea-party/Glenn Beck movements. People need to see through this nonsense and actively work to push the Obama Administration toward meaningful reforms and away from caving in to corporate powers.

Tipping the Balance

Things like this come up every so-often in the media. Check out this item highlighted by Nick Baumann at Mother Jones:'s example is a story in the Times about Obama's plans for his State of the Union address, which is scheduled for Wednesday. Describing the administration's new economic recovery proposals, the reporter writes:

Such programs are, notably, much less far-reaching than Mr. Obama’s expansive first-year agenda of passing an economic recovery package, bailing out the auto industry, overhauling the health care system, passing energy legislation and imposing tough new restrictions on banks. That agenda has left him vulnerable to criticism that he is using the government to remake every aspect of American society.

I added the emphasis there, but that sentence sticks out anyway. It's hilariously broad—"every" aspect of American society? It's totally unattached to any sourcing or evidence. Who are these critics? Do they have names? If "Republicans" or "Tea Party activists" are claiming that Obama is using government to remake American society, readers should know that. Just saying that Obama is "vulnerable to criticism" without saying where that criticism is coming from gives the claim a credibility it doesn't deserve. Does America society seem "remade" to you?

I think a lot of people expel lots of energy on media bias that doesn't really get us anywhere. This includes the incessant screaming that we hear from the right about the so-called "mainstream" media having a liberal bias.

I am with Bill Moyers on this when he observes that it is more productive to think of the media not as having a general "liberal" or "conservative" bias, but as stenographers to power. The bottom line, the almighty dollar, is what drives much of what gets on the air which is how you have rodeo clowns like Glenn Beck whipping up a populist fervor when just five years ago the same news station was aligned with those in power.

I interviewed the Director of the Journalism at Miami University in Oxford Ohio for a recent piece that I posted a while back and I think he is right to observe that there is a bias in all coverage. This must be acknowledged from the beginning. In critiquing those in the media it is important to ask if they made every effort to be fair and complete in their coverage as well as present all sides of the story. Not just two-sides (as there are rarely just two-sides to a story), but all sides.

Like it is illustrated in the Mother Jones post, the effort in trying to appear non-partisan can often result in confusing the matter and complicating the road toward actual truth. Merely telling us what the left said and what the right said is not balance if both sides are merely spouting lies.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hope For Haiti Telethon

If you were watching television last night, chances are that you came across the "Hope for Haiti" concert and telethon that was orchestrated by George Clooney to help raise money for relief efforts. This is because the vast majority of television networks made the decision to pre-empt their regular programming to air this event.

If you were watching television last night during this time period and had no idea that this telethon was happening, then chances are, you were watching Fox News who decided to air their normal programming instead of the telethon. (h/t digby)

Perhaps this is not a surprise if you have been watching Fox's (lack of) coverage on the earthquake recently. Either way, here are a few notable moments from last night's telethon and concert that you will hopefully enjoy. Below the videos are also a couple of links that will take you to sites that have helpful information on donating to the relief effort should you feel so inclined.

You can donate to the relief effort by visiting Hope For Haiti Now or by visiting Causecast and the Huffington Post's donation page.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pelosi Indicates that Dems will no Longer Push Current Health Care Reform

Remember yesterday, when I talked about how Democrats need to pay attention to populist views in order to not suffer the same defeats like we just saw in Massachusetts?

Well, it looks like on the issue of health care reform, the Democrats are tucking their tail between their legs and putting the issue on the back-burner:

Nancy Pelosi's statement viaTPM:

"I don't see the votes for it at this time," Pelosi said. "The members have been very clear in our caucus about the fact that they didn't like it before it had the Nebraska provision and some of the other provisions that are unpalatable to them."

"In every meeting that we have had, there would be nothing to give me any thought that that bill could pass right now the way that it is," she said. "There isn't a market right now for proceeding with the full bill unless some big changes are made."

Fairly ambiguous especially considering that she goes on to say that "we have to get a bill passed". While her statement makes mention of "big changes" that need to be made, we have come so far in the wrong direction that it is hard to view her comments as anything other than applying the brakes to the process.

Politically, I don't see how this can be a smart move. Not only for the reasoning that I mentioned yesterday, but because this is surely going to give the tea-party crowd as well as the GOP a leg-up.

From a practical standpoint, the current legislation is not good and needs a lot of work to repair the damage that was done to it when it was in the Senate. If the Democrats are serious about doubling their efforts to make this legislation better, then great, but it would simply be naive to expect that conclusion from all that we have seen take place thus far. If they are really going to put this issue on indefinite hold, then the last several months can only be viewed as a giant waste of time.

Supreme Court: Corporations Can Spend Money Freely in Elections

The Supreme Court just handed down a decision that is a setback for those advocating for restrictions on campaign financing. From The Hill:

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday struck down major provisions of campaign finance reform, though it remained to be seen if its decision represents a revolution in money and politics.

The court upheld disclosure requirements for corporations but also struck down the distinction between individual expenditures and corporate ones.

That should allow corporations to spend freely in support or opposition to candidates.

This decision is a big deal and really hasn't been covered that well in the corporate media. This decision allows for corporations to freely spend vast sums of money in order to support political candidates and will subsequently allow for corporate dollars to play an even larger role in the political process.

Here is part of the statement by Robert Weissman, the President of the group Public Citizen who played a key role in this case:

Shed a tear for our democracy.

Today, in the case Citizens United v. FEC, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that corporations have a First Amendment right to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence election outcomes.

Money from Exxon, Goldman Sachs, Pfizer and the rest of the Fortune 500 is already corroding the policy making process in Washington, state capitals and city halls. Today, the Supreme Court tells these corporate giants that they have a constitutional right to trample our democracy.


The court has invented the idea that corporations have First Amendment rights to influence election outcomes out of whole cloth. There is surely no originalist interpretation to support this outcome, since the court created the rights only in recent decades. Nor can the outcome be justified in light of the underlying purpose and spirit of the First Amendment. Corporations are state-created entities, not real people. They do not have expressive interests like humans; and, unlike humans, they are uniquely motivated by a singular focus on their economic bottom line. Corporate spending on elections defeats rather than advances the democratic thrust of the First Amendment.

I couldn't agree more. When corporations are protected by the First Amendment and are viewed as having interests that are comparable to the average citizen, you are just asking for more of an alliance between business and politics. The influence of lobbyists and corporations have been felt for years on issues of policy and even in elections, but this ruling today opens up the door for a tidal wave of corporate dollars to be spent on candidates that will stand up for policies that will not interrupt the bottom line.

Democracy did take a hit today and all those who value greater public participation in the political process should have serious concerns.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Monday Morning in Massachusetts

There is plenty of Monday morning quarterbacking going on after Scott Brown (R-MA) won the Massachusetts Senate-seat of the late Ted Kennedy (D-MA). I am seeing post after post of what this means for Democrats, what this means for Republicans, and what this means for the health care legislation that is currently pending in Congress.

I wanted to share a couple of viewpoints that I thought were insightful and productive in moving this discussion forward. The first is from Jon Walker over at Firedoglake. He argues that Democrats simply cannot run on Republican obstructionism and expect to win. They have to do something productive:

Democrats control everything in Washington right now. They control the White House. They have a huge margins in the House and in the Senate. Democrats have larger margins in both chambers than any party has had for decades. They have zero excuses for failing to deliver. Americans will not find some nonsense about having only 59 Senate seats as an acceptable excuse for failing to accomplish anything. If Democrats think they can win in 2010 by running against Republican obstructionism, they will lose badly.


The party in power must run on their accomplishments and point to those accomplishments as a down payment on other promises they will fullfill if they are allowed to stay in power. You must deliver something to the voters and hope they like it. If Democrats can’t run on their record of passing legislation that makes positive change in people’s lives, they will suffer terribly in 2010.

Though this point seems obvious, I am seeing post after post that fails to acknowledge this point. Candidates in the Democratic Party ran on change and they ran on running Washington in a different way. When health care reform gets sold out to lobbyists and big Pharma, it is obvious that nothing "new and different" is being accomplished. Is it any shock that this is a contributing factor to the loss of this Senate-seat?

I also want to point your attention to Jane Hamsher's piece from earlier today:

Unless the Democrats move aggressively to right the perception that they are the party of backroom deals and massive corporate bailouts, 2010 will be more of the same. But there will certainly be no shortage of those ready to extract the wrong lessons from the Coakley loss.

Joe Lieberman, Mr. 31%, says it’s a sign that people “don’t like all the partisanship and deal-making here in Washington” and that “they’re really skeptical about this health care bill.” He doesn’t mention that it’s his health care bill they don’t like, or the fact that the bill was made unpopular as the price of his vote.

A new FDL/SurveyUSA poll of NY-01 shows how Lieberman’s bill is affecting the race in that district, one of many that the Democrats are at risk of losing in the next election. Incumbent Tim Bishop would have a narrow lead over GOP challenger Randy Altschuler if the race were held today in a contest that was rated “lean Democratic” by Cook’s Political Report.

People were pretty evenly split when asked if they supported a bill with a mandate to buy private insurance, with 50% saying it’s a good idea and 44% saying it’s a bad idea. Support fell dramatically when they were told that they would be fined up to 2% of their income for failure to comply, with 40% saying it’s a good idea and 57% saying it’s a bad idea. But when the option to buy into a government-run Medicare program was added, 63% of likely voters (66% of independents) supported it and 33% opposed even with the fine. Even support among Republicans shot up 23%.

People are skeptical of this health care bill, but it should not be interpreted that people are skeptical of health care reform. The numbers that Hamsher points to are clear. People want real and meaningful reforms to the system. What people do not want is the status quo complete with more kickbacks to the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. This is what the Blue Dogs have pushed for and this is what the Obama Administration has compromised on.

The results of this election should indeed act as a wake-up call to the party, but it should not be a call to abandon all hope of meaningful legislative policy because they are scared to lose their seat. It should be a wake-up call to muster the political courage to adopt populist policies instead of staying aligned with the corporate interests who push for the status quo. If we continue to have more of the same, the political landscape is going to shift very rapidly and Massachusetts will be viewed as a precursor.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Scott Horton Discusses GITMO on MSNBC

After writing this extensive piece for Harper's the other day, Scott Horton appeared on Countdown with Keith Olbermann last night to discuss his article. You can read my summary of his piece here, but his work certainly deserves a full read.

Here is the video from Countdown last night:

It is simply a lie when you continue to hear either former Bush Administration officials or other pundits continue to claim that torture was not the official policy of the United States. There are documented instances of many detainees that have died while in U.S. custody and there are credible accounts of mistreatment and torture that continue to be brought to light. The "look to the future, not to the past" mantra of the Obama Administration on this topic continues to become more insulting as more and more stories of mistreatment are reported. It is especially alarming when (as appears to be the case in this instance) the Obama Administration actually has a chance to investigate substantive claims of wrong-doing and actively refuse to do so.

We are said to live in a nation where no one is above the law, but instead we are witnessing a system where those in power are actively shielding their eyes from those who break the law. We deserve better.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Vacationing in Haiti?

This is truly an amazing item:

Sixty miles from Haiti's devastated earthquake zone, luxury liners dock at private beaches where passengers enjoy jetski rides, parasailing and rum cocktails delivered to their hammocks.

The 4,370-berth Independence of the Seas, owned by Royal Caribbean International, disembarked at the heavily guarded resort of Labadee on the north coast on Friday; a second cruise ship, the 3,100-passenger Navigator of the Seas is due to dock.

The Florida cruise company leases a picturesque wooded peninsula and its five pristine beaches from the government for passengers to "cut loose" with watersports, barbecues, and shopping for trinkets at a craft market before returning on board before dusk. Safety is guaranteed by armed guards at the gate.


many passengers will stay aboard when they dock; one said he was "sickened".

"I just can't see myself sunning on the beach, playing in the water, eating a barbecue, and enjoying a cocktail while [in Port-au-Prince] there are tens of thousands of dead people being piled up on the streets, with the survivors stunned and looking for food and water," one passenger wrote on the Cruise Critic internet forum.

"It was hard enough to sit and eat a picnic lunch at Labadee before the quake, knowing how many Haitians were starving," said another. "I can't imagine having to choke down a burger there now.''

Afghanistan Heating Up

This piece of news, that of an attack yesterday by the Taliban on Kabul, should continue to remind everyone that attention needs to be paid to the complicated situation that continues to evolve in Afghanistan. From the LA Times:

Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan - Taliban militants unleashed a carefully coordinated, deadly attack on the heart of Afghanistan's capital and its U.S.-backed government today, killing five people and injuring more than 70 in an attack that illustrated the insurgency's ability to strike at will at virtually any target.

The five-hour assualt, carried out by seven Taliban insurgents wielding AK-47 rifles, grenades, rocket launchers and suicide bomb vests, plunged downtown Kabul on a bustling workday morning into a state of war. Afghans shopping or heading to work screamed as they darted for cover while bursts of gunfire rang out overhead and explosions shook the downtown area.

In addition to the above news I have been disturbed recently by a kind cheerleading that some are engaged in over the decrease in number of civilians that the U.S. killed in 2009 in Afghanistan.

I think Derrick Crowe over at Firedoglake sums it up the best:

This sort of self-congratulation is as myopic as it is callous. The pro-Kabul-government coalition killed roughly 600 people whose right to life exists independent of the U.S.’s desire to eliminate Al-Qaida and the Taliban. Only the most idiotic messengers would cheer about this statistic in public. Imagine a man cheering that he only beat his wife six times this month compared to eight times last month. That’s what chief ISAF spokesman Col. Wayne Shanks means when he says, "Statistical kinds of things don’t play that well [in Afghanistan].” Journalists, bloggers and public officials who tout this statistic like it’s some sort of victory should have their pulses checked and their canines examined.

The Many Secrets of Guantanamo Bay

Whether it be in conversations about Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or any other country around the world, the policies of the Bush Administration are essential to take into consideration when examining where we find ourselves today. The election of Barack Obama to the Presidency did not change this fact no matter how much he wants to "move forward" and "not look to the past". The policies of the last Administration have far-reaching consequences and unless they are investigated to the fullest, we will not be able to fully heal as a country.

One of the areas where this especially holds true is in policies surrounding detention and interrogation. Scott Horton has a striking and disturbing new piece that was published in the latest edition of Harper's Magazine that demonstrates just how relevant this topic continues to be, even when the corporate media isn't reporting on the implications.

Horton's piece is entitled "The Guantanomo 'Suicides': A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle". It is a well researched and a very detailed account that should be read in full, but I will do my best to provide a summary.

The article begins with the story of three detainees who died on June 9, 2006 while being held in the Guantanamo Bay prison facility in Cuba. The official story goes that the prisoners coordinated a type of "suicide pact" and elaborately tricked the guards into thinking that they were sleeping when they were actually binding their hands and feet, stuffing a towel down their throats, and hanging themselves in their cells.

Now, some of the former personnel at the prison have come forward and raised questions about this official story and have indicated that this country should be investigating three homicides that took place at a special "dark-site" in Guantnamo Bay.

According to the NCIS, each prisoner had fashioned a noose from torn sheets and T-shirts and tied it to the top of his cell’s eight-foot-high steel-mesh wall. Each prisoner was able somehow to bind his own hands, and, in at least one case, his own feet, then stuff more rags deep down into his own throat. We are then asked to believe that each prisoner, even as he was choking on those rags, climbed up on his washbasin, slipped his head through the noose, tightened it, and leapt from the washbasin to hang until he asphyxiated. The NCIS report also proposes that the three prisoners, who were held in non-adjoining cells, carried out each of these actions almost simultaneously.


The fact that at least two of the prisoners also had cloth masks affixed to their faces, presumably to prevent the expulsion of the rags from their mouths, went unremarked by the NCIS, as did the fact that standard operating procedure at Camp Delta required the Navy guards on duty after midnight to “conduct a visual search” of each cell and detainee every ten minutes. The report claimed that the prisoners had hung sheets or blankets to hide their activities and shaped more sheets and pillows to look like bodies sleeping in their beds, but it did not explain where they were able to acquire so much fabric beyond their tightly controlled allotment, or why the Navy guards would allow such an obvious and immediately observable deviation from permitted behavior. Nor did the report explain how the dead men managed to hang undetected for more than two hours or why the Navy guards on duty, having for whatever reason so grievously failed in their duties, were never disciplined.

One of the soldiers that Horton spoke to is Army Staff Sergeant Joseph Hickman. When Hickman arrived at Guantanomo Bay, he quickly stumbled upon a compound near the main prison that he says other soldiers called "Camp No". The name refers to the answer that anyone would get when they asked about this compound: "no, it doesn't exist". Hickman then described some of his duties that seemed odd, including a secret van that was dubbed "the paddy wagon":

Hickman was instructed to make no record whatsoever of the movements of one vehicle in particular—a white van, dubbed the “paddy wagon,” that Navy guards used to transport heavily manacled prisoners, one at a time, into and out of Camp Delta. The van had no rear windows and contained a dog cage large enough to hold a single prisoner. Navy drivers, Hickman came to understand, would let the guards know they had a prisoner in the van by saying they were “delivering a pizza.”

The paddy wagon was used to transport prisoners to medical facilities and to meetings with their lawyers. But as Hickman monitored the paddy wagon’s movements from the guard tower at Camp Delta, he frequently saw it follow an unexpected route. When the van reached the first intersection, instead of heading right—toward the other camps or toward one of the buildings where prisoners could meet with their lawyers—it made a left. In that direction, past the perimeter checkpoint known as ACP Roosevelt, there were only two destinations. One was a beach where soldiers went to swim. The other was Camp No.

Hickman claims that on the night of June 9, he watched this "paddy wagon" depart his location at "Camp America" and drive to Camp No. He observed this three times in a row and then, a few hours later, he says that the paddy wagon returned and various soldiers unloaded something out of the back of the van. 45 minutes to an hour later, Camp Delta was abuzz:

He asked a distraught medical corpsman what had happened. She said three dead prisoners had been delivered to the clinic. Hickman recalled her saying that they had died because they had rags stuffed down their throats, and that one of them was severely bruised. Davila told me he spoke to Navy guards who said the men had died as the result of having rags stuffed down their throats.


By dawn, the news had circulated through Camp America that three prisoners had committed suicide by swallowing rags. Colonel Bumgarner called a meeting of the guards, and at 7 a.m. at least fifty soldiers and sailors gathered at Camp America’s open-air theater.


According to independent interviews with soldiers who witnessed the speech, Bumgarner told his audience that “you all know” three prisoners in the Alpha Block at Camp 1 committed suicide during the night by swallowing rags, causing them to choke to death. This was a surprise to no one—even servicemen who had not worked the night before had heard about the rags. But then Bumgarner told those assembled that the media would report something different. It would report that the three prisoners had committed suicide by hanging themselves in their cells. It was important, he said, that servicemen make no comments or suggestions that in any way undermined the official report. He reminded the soldiers and sailors that their phone and email communications were being monitored. The meeting lasted no more than twenty minutes. (Bumgarner has not responded to requests for comment.)

The rest of Horton's piece describes how documents were seized from prisoners at the compound regardless of client-attorney privilege and how the autopsies of the three men who died, seemed suspicious (all of their neck organs had been removed during the autopsy). The families of each of the three men had independent autopsies performed and there was bruising and other evidence of torture on the bodies.

Upon returning to the United States, the soldiers that Horton spoke with for this piece went to the Justice Department so that they could look into this matter and after much silence from the DOJ, on November 2, 2009 they concluded that the "gist of the information" could not be confirmed.

The silence here is deafening and the greater details that are present in Horton's piece should be read as they are even more disturbing than the brief outline that I have provided here. What is necessary to remember here is that there are still close to 200 people being held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Many without charge and many with uncertain futures. Despite President Obama's pledge to close the facility within a year, it remains open and many question marks continue to be raised about the conduct within this facility.

It is alarming at best to continue down the road of "looking forward" when stories like this one continue to come out. For a country that claims to be a "nation of laws" to simply ignore these gross abuses and ignore rather than investigate potential criminal wrong-doing should simply be unacceptable. It is true that there is a lot on the plates of those in Washington these days, but it is stories like this one that emphasizes just how deep our countries wounds are. This is not something that can be swept under the rug rather it is a topic that needs to be shouted from the rooftops until it is constructively addressed. Policies that were deliberately in place to create conditions in which things like this could happen are not simply forgotten without consequence. There are very lasting and harmful effects from the last eight years that must be addressed before we can heal and move on as a better and a more humane people.

It is time to bring this conversation back into the national dialogue.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Naomi Klein on Haiti: Don't Let Them Shock Again

After last week's devastating earthquake rocked the nation of Haiti, there were several comments from the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson that were not only disgusting, but that were downright revolting.

These comments were very public and received condemnation from across the political spectrum. As relief efforts continue and the United States role in the recovery efforts grows, there are some "behind the scenes" strings that are being pulled that need to be discussed.

Journalist and author Naomi Klein's book The Shock Doctrine does a fantastic job in bringing forth some very important points when it comes to how disasters are often manipulated by those who hold power, to push through policies that are normally unpopular in times of calm. Klein gives example after example (from Chile in 1973 through Katrina in 2005) of how "disaster capitalists" use moments of chaos to apply so-called free-market solutions that will in turn benefit the economic interests of the United States.

Klein is warning people that this crisis in Haiti is no different:

This piece is also posted here.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Glenn Beck Interviews Sarah Palin

Glenn Beck is back in 2010 for another year of crazy and he devoted an entire hour of his program to interviewing former Governor of Alaska and new Fox News Contributor Sarah Palin. It's an hour of paranoia, self-victimization, and rehashing everything that you have known about these two figures since 2008. Below is the full interview in various segments, but I also wanted to share how Palin prepared for this interview (according to Beck) to demonstrate Palin's mindset. Listen to this clip from Beck's radio program as he describes what happened pre-interview.

Here is the interview:

and of course, Jon Stewart had a fun take on this interview as well:

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21st Century Newspeak

Author David Sirota had a good column that was published yesterday on how the corporate media wrongly uses the political spectrum to frame various debates.

Here is a clip:

"War is peace, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength"-more than a quarter century after those oxymorons were supposed to pervade an Orwellian 1984, today's media make such newspeak even more preposterous: On economic issues, we are often told that right is center, center is left, and left is fringe.

For a year, national reporters (with help from conservative talk-radio goons) have depicted the center-right Obama administration and its corporatist policies as quasi-Marxist. We've heard that a government-run public health care option is a "liberal" cause, even as polls confirm that most Americans-not just liberals-support the idea. We're told that legislators backing no-strings-attached bank bailouts are mainstream "centrists," while bailout opponents are extremists-even as public opinion surveys say the opposite.

This is Washington's "fair and balanced" journalism (or "journalism," as it were) and as two of the most respected metro newspapers show this week, its distortions can bleed into local coverage.

You can follow the link above to read the rest of the piece, but I was glad to see this observation made by Sirota. One only needs to look at the health care town hall forums over the summer and the rise of the tea-party movement to see this put into practice.

As I wrote about prior to the election and as has been stated by many like Sirota since, President Obama is a centrist-Democrat. Not a Marxist, not a socialist, but a centrist Democrat and yet the framing of his Presidency would sometimes have you believe that he is on the so-called "far left".

It is quite a frustrating trend to push back against because labels tend to stick with people more than an examination of actual policies. It is right to point out like Sirota did and this trend must continue to be noted when it happens in the future.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Robertson and Limbaugh See Religious and Political Opportunity in Haiti's Disaster

By now I am sure that all of you have heard not only about the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti the other day, but also some responses to the incident that can only be described as nauseating.

Exhibit A is Pat Robertson telling us how Haiti may have brought this on themselves:

Exhibit B is Rush Limbaugh criticizing Obama for making a statement on this crisis just a little too soon for his taste:

Exhibit C is also Rush Limabaugh letting us know that we have already given Haiti enough money via the U.S. income tax:

At a time where bodies are still buried beneath the rubble and a largely poor population is suffering even more, to insinuate that this earthquake was somehow deserved or that this travesty is a "blessing in disguise" as Robertson stated last night on his show, is absolutely disgusting.

Almost equally disgusting is the attempt by Limbaugh at blindly advancing his political mission. He is the same man who criticized Obama for taking too long to make a statement after the failed Christmas Day attack and he is now the man who is criticizing Obama for speaking out too soon on this incident. Destroying Obama's Presidency is Limbaugh's only mission and he will continue at the expense of any kind of decency.

On a brighter note The Huffington Post has a great page that they have put together that has lots of great organizations that you can give money to for relief. Click here for that page.

Also, has an online store that enables you to purchase various materials that will also aid in the relief efforts. I encourage you to visit that site by clicking here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Fox Hires Palin to Polarize and Brian Williams has his own Episode of Rage over 'Roids

Two items of note within the corporate media that struck me today.

The first is that Sarah Palin was hired by Fox News to be an on-air commentator and analyst. While this piece of news is far from shocking, what I found interesting was that Fox deliberately hired Palin to be a polarizing figure. Here are the comments of Fox News Executive Vice President for Programming Bill Shine talking about what he hopes Palin will bring to the network:

"She is one of the most talked about and politically polarizing figures in the country...first off, we hope she brings that."

Palin will begin her tenure on Fox this evening on The O'Reilly Factor. If O'Reilly's comments from yesterday are any indication, he will be welcoming Palin with open arms in her quest to further her political goals.

Won't it be interesting to see how Fox plans to cover news about Palin's political future considering that they are now paying her?

The second media moment that struck me today is yet another reflection of just how out of touch and out-of-whack the corporate media can be. Last night on NBC Evening News, host Brian Williams delivered this introduction to NBC's lead story on the "shocking" revelation that Mark McGuire admitted to using steroids:

Because this is a family broadcast, we probably can't say what we'd like to about the news today that Mark McGwire, the home run hitter, the fan favorite from the St. Louis Cardinals, stopped lying today and admitted that he did it while on steroids. For those of us who were raising young baseball fans and baseball players who looked up to Mark McGwire, that summer of '98 was magical stuff as he and Sammy Sosa vied back and forth for the title of single season home run king. He didn't tell the truth to Congress or to his fans until, finally, formally coming clean today. He's been unable to get into the hall of fame, and apparently, even for him, the shame here was too much.

You can watch the full video of the piece here:

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I was struck not just that this was NBC's lead story of the evening, but at the contempt that Williams had in his denouncement of McGuire. Charles Pierce of the Boston Globe puts it nicely in his post entitled "Brian Williams is Four Years Old":

Oh, for heaven's sake.
Apparently, Brian Williams, the anchor of the NBC Nightly News, had his widdle illusions all broke to pieces yesterday. There are two wars going on. The economy is staggering around like a BC sophomore outside Mary Ann's on St. Patrick's Day. The country is trying to reform a health-care "system" that is killing people out of sheer neglect, and this is what gets Williams -- whose outrage meter seems, well, erratic -- chewing on his own liver? Cronkite on Vietnam, this is not.

Glenn Greenwald agrees:

If Williams has expressed even a small inkling of an objection -- let alone righteous outrage -- over things like torture, lies that led to the Iraq War, chronic surveillance lawbreaking and the like, I'd be quite surprised. Walter Cronkite famously and unusually abandoned precepts of journalistic "objectivity" in order to stand up to the U.S. Government's lies over the Vietnam War; Brian Williams -- who was embedded in the Iraq War and was a reverent commentator regarding everyone involved -- does so in order to stand up to a detested, powerless baseball player. In that contrast one finds a nice illustration of what our modern press corps is.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Meghan McCain Gives Being Disingenuous Another Shot

Meghan McCain has a fun new piece up at the Daily Beast today on RNC Chairman Michael Steele.

She begins her piece by saying that Steele is "alarmingly immature", "indecisive", and has had " snafu after another" giving the impression that he is "disorganized" and "full of mixed messages". McCain points to Steele's comments about how he "didn't seek" the Chairmanship and contrasts them with earlier quotes where Steele indicated that he wanted the job and was ready to lead. Pretty honest critique from a fellow Republican right?

Not so fast:

But let’s hold off on the firing squads. He’s had his role for only one year, and, like the rest of the party, is still adjusting and struggling to find his identity. I understand from personal experience how hard it is to be criticized by fellow Republicans. There is something that particularly stings about negative comments by people whose side you are on. And there is plenty to respect, starting with his call on Fox News Sunday this weekend for Harry Reid to give up his position as Senate Majority Leader because of his racially insensitive comments about President Obama not having a “Negro dialect.”

Ohhhh, McCain wrote her piece to defend Steele. Sorry about that. I was confused for a moment because her reasoning strikes me as a little odd. In another one of McCain's recent pieces she tears into President Obama for his decision making:

Let me be frank—I am angry. I am angry and frustrated, in a way I haven’t been in a long time. During the election, I remember the biggest fear I had about an Obama presidency was his lack of experience in foreign policy and specifically with the military. (Even as recently as two weeks ago, he showed astonishing insensitivity and naïveté when he joked with soldiers in Korea, “you guys make a pretty good photo-op”).

Shouldn't she "hold off on the firing squads"? After all, Obama has only been in his role for less than a year and, like the rest of the Administration, is finding his identity as a War President right?

Furthering her defense of Steele, McCain gives him credit for calling for Sen. Majority Leader Reid's resignation over racial comments that have caused a stir over the weekend, yet one paragraph later, contradicts herself by saying of Steele:

And he is willing to admit when he is wrong, as he did a week ago when he used the slang term “honest Injun” in an interview, and apologized for his mistakes.

For those of you keeping score at home, Sen. Reid should resign because:

- He said that Obama doesn't speak with a "Negro dialect" and despite the media noting the same thing during the campaign, this is now somehow obviously racist. Not to mention that Reid backed Obama for President, has worked to pass legislative priorities for the President and has apologized to Obama for the remarks.

and Michael Steele should be given another chance because:

- Even though he used a slur against Native Americans ("honest injun") on television, he apologized and "is willing to admit when he is wrong".

According to Meghan McCain, one action is worthy of resignation and the other is worthy of giving a leader another shot. From all indications, she is being serious.

No Surprise, the 'Jerry & Bill Show' Leaves Much to Be Desired

It was a difficult task, but I managed to make it through the entire half-hour of the pilot episode of the "Jerry & Bill Show" this evening on FOX 19. The Tribune Co. decided that it would be a good idea to pit former Mayor of Cincinnati Jerry Springer against Conservative talk-show host Bill "Willie" Cunningham and have them argue about politics. From The Chicago Tribune's piece on the show:

"We'd go at it minute or two, a bell would sound, and then we'd go onto the next one," Cunningham said. "At the end, we'd each have a 60- to 90-second commentary."

Compton, 35, Tribune Co.'s senior vice president for programming, said that if he approves the show, it would air on many of the company's television stations and "hopefully others." It wouldn't be seen on WGN-Ch. 9, however, which is focusing on non-talk show programming, Compton said.

"We're going to run the pilot in the next two weeks, and if it rates, we're going to jump all over it and try to put together a deal," he said. "This is part of our quest to get back into original programming. Tribune was there once before, and with today's technology, it's a lot easier to do than it has ever been."

The pilot was shot at the Fox affiliate in Cincinnati, where all of the players first met. The Cincinnati Enquirer first reported the taping.

When I first heard that this show was in the works, I expected that it would only air locally due to the strong local interest in both personalities. Call me crazy, but I don't think the country needs another show that is devoted to a Democrat and a Republican yelling at each other about politics. I guess the thinking was that if you create the conditions for a train wreck, people will tune in to watch it happen.

This show was everything that you would expect it to be. Frustrating, frantic, disorganized, and not helpful to the overall political discourse. As the show opened Jerry Springer stated that this was going to be a "political conversation where nothing is off-limits" (wait, is this supposed to be something different?) and Cunningham immediately launched into his normal ranting and raving.

"Your man," Cunningham said to Springer, "Barack Hussein Obama..." "Our President," quipped Springer, Cunningham: "Your man, Barack Hussein Obama..." and we were off down a very predictable road.

The two bantered about Obama's successes in his first year as President, each sticking to the normal partisan talking points before segueing into the current health care debate. Springer made points about European countries' life expectancy being higher than that of the U.S. and that 45 million Americans currently lack health insurance. "Medicaid and Medicare already cover those without insurance," Cunningham stated, "We have the best health care in the world".

Once Springer pointed out that you can't get Medicare until you are over 65 and that Medicaid is reserved for citizens who are really poor, Cunningham launched into his familiar diatribe against the poor claiming that there are not any "dirt-poor" people in this country anymore and that "there are poor people in this country, but they are fat." Cunningham also stated that "to be poor in America means that you are morbidly obese." He apparently thinks this because the Government gives out so many "handouts" to those in need.

The two briefly touched on Afghanistan (Cunningham wants to withdraw the troops) before they moved on to why the conversation on politics is so nasty. Ironic right? I thought this point had a little potential considering that Cunningham recently made the 2009 Media Matters of America "Most Outrageous Comments" list, but Cunningham set the agenda by claiming that liberals "control" the universities, the media and Hollywood. Reacting to this, Springer asked how Bush was elected twice if the media is so liberal. "Because people had talk radio to turn to," Cunningham replied.

Other topics included:

Global Warming

Which Cunningham claimed is a "liberal myth to seize control of the economy" and doesn't believe in because we are having such a cold winter.

and Tiger Woods

In perhaps the most incoherent moment of the show, Cunningham claimed that Lyndon Johnson is responsible for the whole Tiger Woods mess because Welfare took fathers out of the home. Therefore, children have had no role models in the home and have had to look to celebrities like Tiger Woods for inspiration.

The show closed with both of their hopes for the new year. Springer wants health care for all and Cunningham wants Obama to be impeached so Biden can become President.

Can someone tell me why we need this show? Real conversations about important issues are already few and far between within the corporate media, I don't think that we need more of this nonsense on the airwaves.

This is also posted here.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Harry Reid's Racial Comments May be the Icing on the Cake for Republicans

The upcoming release of the book "Game Change" by journalists John Heilemann and Mark Halperin next Tuesday is already creating a stir. The book chronicles the 2008 Presidential campaign and one of the items that has received some press attention is this snippet from Page 37 about Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) saying that his:
encouragement of Obama was unequivocal. He was wowed by Obama's oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama -- a "light-skinned" African American "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one," as he said privately. Reid was convinced, in fact, that Obama's race would help him more than hurt him in a bid for the Democratic nomination.

If you are wondering whether this is true, you don't have to wonder very long as Sen. Reid's office put out this statement apologizing for his "choice of words":

I deeply regret using such a poor choice of words. I sincerely apologize for offending any and all Americans, especially African Americans for my improper comments. I was a proud and enthusiastic supporter of Barack Obama during the campaign and have worked as hard as I can to advance President Obama's legislative agenda. Moreover, throughout my career, from efforts to integrate the Las Vegas strip and the gaming industry to opposing radical judges and promoting diversity in the Senate, I have worked hard to advance issues important to the African American community.

So what does this mean for Reid? Chris Bowers at OpenLeft makes some good arguments that this incident may be the icing on the cake for Reid's political opponents who are licking their chops at the prospect of defeating him:

It is very difficult to see how Harry Reid can win re-election at this point.

At the base of Harry Reid's problems are the unemployment and foreclosure rates in Nevada. In terms of foreclosures, "Nevada is #1 in the entire country, and has been so for years. Further, the Silver State has significantly higher unemployment than the rest of the nation. Even the recent drops in unemployment in Nevada have come as a result of tens of thousands dropping out of the Nevada workforce, not from an increase in jobs.

There are few places in the country, if any, that have been hit harder by the recession that Nevada (and that includes Michigan). In that environment, it would be difficult for any longstanding, powerful, well-known politician in the state to be re-elected.


While at one time there was an argument that Reid could still have won re-election by using his vast monetary advantage to go nuclear on his unknown Republican opponents, thus driving up their unfavorables, this latest incident now makes that much more difficult. This is a sort of scandal has the potential to cut right at the heart of Reid's base, which is mainly the 30% of state voters who self-identify as non-white. It may not turn into a big deal, but it will be something of a deal. Given his current position, taking any hit, especially among his base, is virtually fatal to Reid's chances.

Given this, I would not be surprised to see Reid pull a Chris Dodd in order to save face politically. However with no standout Democrat to take his place at the moment, it is very easy to see how this seat may already be a lost cause come November for Democrats.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Rudy Giuliani: We Had No Domestic Attacks Under Bush

I think that this example could be revisionist history at its worst.

Rudy Giuliani, yes the same Rudy Giuliani who was mayor of New York City on 9/11/01, stated this morning on Good Morning America that: "We had no domestic attacks under Bush; we've had one under Obama."


As is pointed out by Rachel Weiner at the Huffington Post, even if Giuliani meant POST 9/11, he still completely "forgot" about the shoe-bomber and the anthrax attacks. Curious considering Giuliani has previously been very quick to bring up the 2001 terrorist attacks in the past:

UPDATE: Giuliani's spokesman claims that Giuliani was “clearly talking post-9/11 with regards to Islamic terrorist attacks on our soil.” So, he left out not only the "post-9/11" part but also the "Islamic" part of his statement? Nice, but still factually wrong as he is still forgetting about the anthrax attacks and the D.C. sniper shootings.

Credit where credit is due however, George Stephanopolous has accepted responsibility for not pushing Giuliani on this claim during the interview.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Republican Strategist has a Problem Naming One Good Thing Republicans Have Accomplished in the Last Twenty Years

I am not a big fan of Chris Matthews, but this clip was interesting to watch. Republican strategist Todd Harris gets taken to task and the segment ends when Harris can't name one good thing that the Republicans have done over the last few decades:

We need more hosts who call strategists on their B.S. and try to cut through the pointless spin that they incessantly spew. Like I said, I don't hold Matthews up as a shining beacon of journalistic light, but every once in a while a ray of sunshine pokes through.

**On a side note, many of you who regularly visit this blog have noticed that it has received a new look. I think it is overall a good change, but if any of you have any feedback, just let me know.