January 8, 2011

Sarah “Don’t Retreat, Reload!” Palin, proud owner of a map using rifle-scope crosshairs to mark states with Democrats who displeased Mama Grizzly, now wants to offer her “sincere condolences” to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (one of the Dems Palin marked with the crosshairs) and the other victims of the Arizona shootings.  Michele Bachman, friend of anti-government extremist cults, says her “tears are flowing” over the incident.  John “Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran” McCain wants everyone to know the shooter is a disgrace to Arizona.

There’s going to be a great rush to quarantine the alleged shooter as a loner, a weirdo whose Internet rambling in no way link him to the little tinpot warriors of wingerdom. It’s going on right now, in fact. And it’s garbage. There have been other gun-crazed wackos who get their news and opinion from Glenn Beck and all the other bottom-feeders. This Arizona shooting is just the latest example of what happens when a political party and its attendant propaganda channels make crazy into their lingua franca.

I don’t care how many crocodile tears Bachmann, Palin, and all the other career sleazes shed. They own this. They’ve lying to loons and poisoning our politics to make money and keep power, and when one of their deluded followers decides to take them at their word and act on his convictions, they can’t pretend it has nothing to do with them. It has everything to do with them.

They have spent years demonizing Democrats and liberals, imagining a sinister alternate universe where liberals are in control of everything, and the President is actually a Kenyan-born dictator who wants to establish death panels for the elderly. They smirk about “second-amendment solutions” to politicians they don’t like, and talk about watering the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants when Obama talks about reining in the ability of health insurers to screw their customers. And this is where that crazy talk leads us.

So, I guess we can’t use the term “teabaggers” anymore. It’s no longer appropriate. They’re bodybaggers.

Daschle Days Are Here Again

September 3, 2010

So here we are, Labor Day just around the corner, midterm elections on the horizon. After a sweltering summer of bone-deep crazy, the Republicans have made it clear that if they regain power in Congress we can expect them to paralyze the government, conduct endless phony investigations into equally phony scandals, and pad the pockets of their cronies while the country continues its downward spiral.

So what are the Democrats in general, and President Obama in particular, proposing to do about this? Why do I feel that I’m witnessing a re-run of the Tom Daschle years, when the Senate leader let Republicans walk over him so many times that he should have had WELCOME tattooed on his forehead? Paul Krugman has some ideas about what they can to, you know, stave off the looming GOP disaster:

The actual lessons of 2009-2010, then, are that scare stories about stimulus are wrong, and that stimulus works when it is applied. But it wasn’t applied on a sufficient scale. And we need another round.

I know that getting that round is unlikely: Republicans and conservative Democrats won’t stand for it. And if, as expected, the G.O.P. wins big in November, this will be widely regarded as a vindication of the anti-stimulus position. Mr. Obama, we’ll be told, moved too far to the left, and his Keynesian economic doctrine was proved wrong.

But politics determines who has the power, not who has the truth. The economic theory behind the Obama stimulus has passed the test of recent events with flying colors; unfortunately, Mr. Obama, for whatever reason — yes, I’m aware that there were political constraints — initially offered a plan that was much too cautious given the scale of the economy’s problems.

So, as I said, here’s hoping that Mr. Obama goes big next week. If he does, he’ll have the facts on his side.

All true. However, Obama has had the facts on his side pretty much all the time. The facts supported single-payer healthcare. The facts supported the public option. The facts supported getting the hell out of Iraq and Afghanistan. The facts supported lots of sane, politically astute measures that would have pulled us back from the abyss we now stare into. Hell, the facts supported grabbing the Republicans and rubbing their long noses in the immense mess they created.

Obama had the facts. The Republicans had scare stories about socialism, death panels, and birth certificates. And now the Democrats are once again poised to pluck defeat from the jaws of victory.

Sure, I’ll vote for the Democrats in November. With Congress ready to become an even worse bedlam, it would be criminal to stay home. While teabaggers chase phantoms around the foot of the Washington Monument and Obama’s press secretary sneers at “the professional left,” I will do my bit to speak up for rationality and good policy.

But I sure do wish the guys with the power had been doing likewise these past months. When I pulled the lever for Obama I knew I was voting for a politician, not a messiah or a saint. But never in my wildest nightmares did I think I was voting for a younger version of Tom Daschle.

Seaside Lowlifes

August 10, 2010

This video clip speaks for itself.  Every season, those Seaside Heights boardwalk stalls always manage to outdo themselves in sleaze. It’s rather appropriate that the lil’ redneck got a funnel and hose for a prize. I doubt he’ll stick the hose where it will do him any good. If you go to the YouTube page, check out the right-wing comment-scat.

Geeks Win the Day

July 23, 2010

You’ve all heard of Fred Phelps and his merry band from the Meth-Cooking Chromosome-Damaged Church of the Testors-Huffing KrazeeKhrist — aka, the Westboro Baptist Church — and their penchant for showing up at funerals and other occasions with placards announcing GOD HATES FAGS and similarly charming messages.

Well, the whole hookworm-infested clan showed up at Comic-Con to stage one of their hatenannies. Call it Invasion of the Pellagra People. Only the geeks were ready, and the geeks punked them. Read about it here.

The Lessons Not Learned

July 21, 2010

The good news is that Shirley Sherrod is being offered her job back. The bad news is that she never should have been forced out in the first place. The badder news is that Andrew Breitbart, the glowering wingnut troll who got her in trouble by posting that maliciously edited video, will suffer no repercussions from his vending of lies and distortions. The even badder news is that the journo-buffoons covering Breitbart’s clown show are still pretending they aren’t the ones who keep the spotlights trained on his antics. And the baddest news of all . . . well, I’ll get to that.

It’s long been obvious that the Republicans have taken the measure of our mass-market media and learned how to plays its weaknesses like a nasty-sounding fiddle. Take this Daily Beast writeup by Lloyd Grove. Savor the smug insidery tone, the feigned obliviousness to the role Grove himself plays in providing this grubby smear merchant with a national platform, the craven avoidance of anything resembling a direct challenge to Breitbart’s pretzel-twisting and weasel-word evasions. Wouldn’t want to be accused of liberal media bias, after all.

Gutless simp. There are entirely too many like Grove in our national press corps, so I don’t really think anything is going to change. I mean, Breitbart’s sordid habits were well known before this. Nobody can say any of the subsequent revelations about the nature of the video, and the way it was edited to turn a speech about overcoming racism into an example of it, were a surprise. The only principle he recognizes is constant partisan attack, without regard for the facts or the personal damage he does. Despite repeated demonstrations of his unreliability, Breitbart knows he need only lay back a while and throw out another piece of poisoned bait. Our media figures will chase after it like stampeding pigs.

As of today, I will hear no more condescending lectures about how liberals and progressives have no reason to complain about the Obama administration, how we should all just zip up and let the realists and centrists chart the course and content ourselves with the half-loaf, quarter-loaf, or whatever other fraction of a loaf is supposed to leave us breathless with joy.

I held my tongue while the “realists” threw out the public option before negotiations even started, left an insurance-company stooge like Joe Lieberman in a position of influence, watered down the financial reform bill, and generally acted as though the Republicans were legitimately interested in the good faith stewardship of national government. The plain fact of the matter is that these realists got rolled. And they didn’t get rolled by some master tactician, either. They got rolled by a professional snake-in-the-grass whose modus operandi is so  well known that even a Faux News host refused to soil his hands with the story. For such a band of competent, hard-headed realists, that’s a pretty shallow learning curve. Maybe its time to start listening to those wacky, starry-eyed hippies. They could hardy have been more gullible.

It may be the case that the Republicans have gotten so crazy, so hateful in their behavior and so blatant in their moves to hinder economic recovery, that voters will reject them in November.  We can only hope. That’s the baddest news of all — we are reduced to that hope. Our side has the best ideas and the best way forward, and yet we have to cross our fingers and hope Congress will not be overrun by an even bigger bedlam of liars, loons, and looters. What a disgusting situation.

There’s a scene toward the end of Sweet Smell of Success when Sydney Falco confronts the corrupt columnist J.J. Hunsecker and says, “J.J., you have such contempt for people, it’s making you stupid.” Breibart, the wannabe Hunsecker, has been brazenly telling all and sundry that he had no idea who edited the video, and that he simply posted it on his site without regard for even rudimentary fact-checking. That’s pretty stupid on his part. In fact, I’d call that an admission of reckless disregard. I think a judge would call it that, too. I hope Sherrod finds herself a good lawyer and sues Andrew Breitbart into next Sunday. He’s got enough money to buy his way out with a settlement, but a lawsuit might begin the long overdue process of cleansing our hoplessly polluted national discourse.

Where Was I?

July 8, 2010

Boy, tempus sure has fugited. It’s been a busy year, but I’ll spare you the details.

There’s more to say, but right now I just want to highlight the good folks at Talking Points Memo, who have enrolled in Beck University to check out its demanding course load. The first installment appears to be the usual claptrap about how the Founding Fathers were all Jesus whoopers who would have made full-immersion baptisms a requirement of citizenship if they’d only had the time to stick it into the Constitution. Since the patrons of this online “university” pony up $9.95 a month for this stuff, I can only marvel at the willingness of conservatives to keep paying good money to hear the same nonsense repeated ad infinitum.


I see you checkin’ me
Out on the dance floor
I know you want me boy, but you got something I want more
See, these are troubled times
A bad economy
I got some health issues, and medicine, well it ain’t free

I don’t care about your diamond rings
I don’t need none of those fancy things
If you really wanna be my man
Boy, you gotta put me on your health care plan!

Let’s start a family
And you can be the boss
Just prove to me that you’ve got Aetna, Kaiser, or Blue Cross
I can’t afford a doctor
I need your MDC
When I get sick all I can do is go to WebMD
Well you don’t gotta kiss me
And I don’t need no hugs
Just gotta get a discount when I need prescription drugs!
I need a flu shot baby
I got a tricky knee
And I ain’t seen a dentist since September of two-thousand-three

I don’t care about your diamond rings
I don’t need none of those fancy things
If you really wanna be my man
Just let me get all up in your health-care plan

Wanna be my dependent, girl? / What you got? / I’m gonna break it down…

I hear you say you love me
I wanna know fo’ sho’
You gotta prove it ‘fore I put you on my PPO
‘Cuz my co-pays are modest
And girl you know that’s true
My pre-existing condition is I’m in love wit’ you
My coverage is extensive
They pin my policy
You want some Lasik, baby, I got full optometry
Shi-at-su massage—all day for you’n’me
Don’t sweat the payments, girl, it’s covered ‘cuz it’s therapy

Aaa-oooh! How much is your deductible / How much is your deductible / How much…
Want some acupuncture baby? How ‘bout podiatry? I’ll get you braces, girl…

Tramp the Dirt Down

July 7, 2009

As the Palindrone combines with the Michael Jackson funeral coverage to make the Marabar media cave even more howlingly empty than usual,  leave it to war correspondent Joe Galloway to write the proper obituary for war criminal Robert McNamara:

McNamara was the original bean-counter — a man who knew the cost of everything but the worth of nothing.

Back in 1990 I had a series of strange phone conversations with McNamara while doing research for my book We Were Soldiers Once And Young. McNamara prefaced every conversation with this: “I do not want to comment on the record for fear that I might distort history in the process.” Then he would proceed to talk for an hour, doing precisely that with answers that were disingenuous in the extreme — when they were not bald-faced lies.

Upon hanging up I would call Neil Sheehan and David Halberstam and run McNamara’s comments past them for deconstruction and the addition of the truth.

The only disagreement i ever had with Dave Halberstam was over the question of which of us hated him the most. In retrospect, it was Halberstam.

When McNamara published his first book — filled with those distortions of history — Halberstam, at his own expense, set out on a journey following McNamara on his book tour around America as a one-man truth squad.

McNamara abandoned the tour.

Galloway also has an astonishing anecdote about something that happened to McNamara during a ferry ride, but I’ll leave you to read it. I also appreciated this tidbit from Matthew Yglesias.

The only eulogy this bloodstained bureaucratic monster deserves was written a while back by Elvis Costello. It’s called “Tramp the Dirt Down” and while the thoughts were aimed at another politico, a little adjustment would make the lyrics just as applicable to McNamara.

If there are no local fireworks shows in your area, you can always watch the self-immolation of Sarah Palin.

Personally, I hope this is not the last we see of Wailin’ Palin. I want her in the next GOP primary, preferably with Newt Gingrich running alongside.

The Winger Mindset

June 17, 2009

Okay, people, somebody walk me through this.

Bill O’Reilly can spend hours of television time denouncing Kansas physician George Tiller as a Nazi, a moral equal to NAMBLA and Al Qaida, and call him “Tiller the Baby Killer” because he performed legal late-term abortions, but nobody can suggest that his words played any part in Tiller’s assassination by an anti-abortion psycho . . .   

. . . but mere words in a novel about a teenaged boy’s coming out are so dangerous to the public that a group of Wisconsin wingnuts not only want it banned from the local library, they want it burned in public.

I mean, the ranks of Wingnuttia are swollen with culture warriors who have built whole careers on the notion that mere video games, movies and TV shows have the power to warp minds and turn innocents into bloodthirsty criminals. The mere existence of Michael Moore was enough to cause the 9/11 disaster, to hear Dinesh D’Souza tell it. But a FreaksNews cable troll can howl against George Tiller night after night and that’s not supposed to have any effect on his viewers? The less stable ones, I mean, assuming that’s a distinction one can make among O’Reilly’s followers. 

While we ponder that question, let’s relax with some highly entertaining video built on O’Reilly’s latest froth-fest against Salon editor Joan Walsh. Good times!