Cowboying Up on Freedom of Speech GOP Style

Oct 23 2010 Published by under Featured News, Republican Party

NPR finds itself under siege. These are the words of an NPR employee in my area to me. Under Siege. It is not NPR’s members or donors who are upset with that entity, but Republican politicians and pundits. This is an attack directed at NPR by Republicans in order to silence, if not destroy somebody for firing somebody for saying something offensive.

I’m reminded of the film Tombstone, in which a Cowboy (a local criminal gang in that town, the Cowboys) tell Wyatt Earp that if you mess with one Cowboy, they will destroy you. That’s the situation here: Don’t touch any of us, the Republicans are saying, or we will destroy you.

The Cowboys of our time are a big gang, with lots of money, and they want to control things in town too, and they don’t brook any interference. I’m going to talk about one specific Cowboy here. Sarah Palin has been addressed; I am going to look at another.

Cowboy Eric Cantor, whose idiocy I have excoriated here before, is one of them, and he seems determined to prove to America that he is a first-class idiot. He’s upset right now because NPR fired Juan Williams for his anti-Muslim remarks. Cantor calls this a threat to free speech (does this mean we can all say anything we want and keep our jobs, Mr. Cantor?).

The Republicans want to “ACORN” NPR. Anything they don’t like, anything, any group, that says something they don’t like, they want to destroy. Because free speech apparently only applies to Republicans and people the Republican party approves of (rather like Sarah Palin deciding who and who cannot use the “R” word – oh what the hell, I’m going to say it just because I am not on her approved list: retard).

In May, Cantor introduced a little thing called “You Cut” in which he lets from among five items in a list to tell the Republicans to offer on the floor for an up-or-down vote. On Friday, he put NPR on his nifty little list.

“Whether it’s people walking off ‘The View’ when Bill O’Reilly makes a statement about radical Islam or Juan Williams being fired for expressing his opinion, over-reaching political correctness is chipping away at the fundamental American freedoms of speech and expression.”

Let’s look at your examples, Mr. Cantor:

1)      “people walking off ‘The View’ when Bill O’Reilly makes a statement about radical Islam”

2)      “Juan Williams being fired for expressing his opinion”

He concludes from this that “, over-reaching political correctness is chipping away at the fundamental American freedoms of speech and expression.”

Do I have it right? I think so. Let me ask you this: Is not people walking off the set in reaction to what somebody says a form of “expression” as you put it? Yes, I think it is. And you object.

But you just said that you are against freedom of speech and expression being “chipped away.”

You say that Juan Williams being fired is an attack on freedom of speech. But isn’t NPR exercising its own freedom of speech, their own freedom of expression, by saying, that sort of talk does not belong here?

What you seem to be saying, M. Cantor, is that ONLY Republicans have freedom of speech and that as part of this freedom you can,

a)      Say whatever you want, and

b)      Nobody has a right to have a reaction to it

But that’s not what freedom of speech is about, Mr. Cantor. It is a reciprocal process. You have heard perhaps of Newton’s Third Law, that says, “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”? You may have the right to free speech, but listeners have a right to respond, whether it be in approval or disapproval. They have a right to disagree and they have a right to take offense. These are all forms of free speech and expression.

Bill O’Reilly said something offensive. Two of The View’s co-hosts took exception to his remarks and showed their displeasure by walking off the set. Juan Williams said something offensive, and NPR showed their displeasure by firing him.

You are aware, perhaps, of sportcasters being fired for making offensive remarks. You have heard, perhaps, of athletes being fined or otherwised punished for their off-the-field antics. Ben Roethlisberger is not alleged to have raped a young woman in the stadium while wearing his Steeler’s Uniform, yet he was suspended for four games.

Do you see what I am getting at? Employers have a right to have certain standards of expected behavior – well, most employers – FOX News apparently has NONE -  and if an employee violates these standards they can expect to be punished.

Fortunately, Mr. Cantor and his wish-list are effectively stymied by a Democratic majority. He is no doubt hoping he can unleash his panacea of exclusions after the Midterms.

But Eric Cantor is not alone in his crusade to ACORN NPR. Sarah Palin is leading the charge as well as other party notables, Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif, who feels George Soros should pick up the tab.

There is a trend here, and it is unmistakable: free speech is a tool, or more accurately, a weapon, to the Republicans. It is not a freedom at all, because they don’t think anyone else should share in it. They have always destroyed ACORN (and without any justification whatsoever based on what has been exposed as a scam); they have promised to bring the Obama administration to a halt with investigations and committee hearings if they achieve a majority in the Midterms, and now they are engaging in a witch-hunt, an “ACORNing” of NPR.

Anyone or anything that does not tow the Party line must be silenced, and by silenced, I mean ruthlessly destroyed.

Of course, if a Democrat, say President Obama, utilizes his own right of free speech and expression, he is attacked immediately, say by Karl Rove with his “How dare you?” implying of course that Obama has no actual right at all to say what he thinks. And of course, if President Obama decides he should say nothing at all, one way or another, because as President he should not express an opinion, the Republicans decide what it is he said, and then attack him for it.

This is how free speech works for the Republicans.  The Founding Fathers did not intend free speech to be a weapon, but a freedom, an essential liberty, and not one held only by a few. Our system of government was not meant to be that of a criminal gang running the country like it’s own private business, but that is increasingly what the Republicans are selling, and they are making it quite clear that they are willing to 1) identify the “Other” and 2) silence them in any way necessary.

Nothing could sum it up better than Tombstone itself:

Curly Bill: [takes a bill with Wyatt’s signature from a customer and throws it on the faro table] Wyatt Earp, huh? I heard of you.

Ike Clanton: Listen, Mr. Kansas Law Dog. Law don’t go around here. Savvy?

Wyatt Earp: I’m retired.

Curly Bill: Good. That’s real good.

Ike Clanton: Yeah, that’s good, Mr. Law Dog, ’cause law don’t go around here.

No, the Cowboys in 1880’s Tombstone weren’t about Democracy, or freedom of speech, and neither, ultimately, are the Republicans of the 2010’s.

13 responses so far

Fox News Accuses NPR of Offensive and Biased Coverage

Oct 22 2010 Published by under Featured News

Today on Fox and Friends Fox News continued the right wing attack on NPR, as they now claimed that George Soros got Juan Williams fired because he recently donated $1.8 million to NPR. Steve Doocy claimed that, “NPR has a bone to pick and an axe to grind with Fox News.” Brian Kilmeade accused NPR of, “a history of biased and offensive coverage.”

Here is the video from Media Matters:

The hypocrisy and hilarity ensued when Steve Doocy of Fox and Friends accused NPR of firing Juan Williams because Juan Williams was fired for saying what he felt, and asked,”Wait a minute. All he was doing was saying what he felt. How can feelings be dangerous to a democracy?” Gretchen Carlson blamed George Soros for Juan Williams being fired, “One other really important point that the general public should know about is that George Soros a very left Democrat has just recently given NPR $1.8 million, so today and yesterday many people were asking questions about how that donation and that influx of cash into NPR factored in, if at all, to the firing of Juan Williams, so no doubt there’s going to be a big investigation looking into that now.”

Doocy made the attack painfully obvious by saying, “He said it on Fox News, and I think that’s really it. They got a bone to pick and an axe to grind with Fox News.” The Fox and Friends crew then gave their laundry list of NPR bias. Their list consisted of four examples. First, Terry Gross pointing out last week that there appears to be a lot of extremist candidates running in the GOP this year. Second, they claimed that the Israeli opinion was not represented in a July panel discussion about the flotilla incident. Third, they mentioned a comment by an NPR commenter calling the rapture crap, which Fox and Friends characterized as a call for Christian genocide. And lastly, they listed Nina Totenberg’s 15 year old comment about Jesse Helms getting HIV.

I can provide more examples of Fox bias than Fox and Friends about NPR from yesterday alone.

Here is Sean Hannity on his Fox Radio show campaigning and fundraising for PA Republican Pat Toomey:

Here is Fox and Friends’ own Steve Doocy calling agreeing with Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle on abolishing the Department of Education:

Here is Neil Cavuto hosting Republican Freedom Works’ Dick Armey who fear mongered about Democrats and early voting:

Here is Newt Gingrich promoting his Republican fundraising website on FNC:

The fact that Fox News would accuse NPR or any other network on this planet of bias is hysterical. Fox News is television channel that exists solely to promote the Republican cause. Notice that I did not have to go back 15 years to find evidence of offensive and biased coverage on Fox. One day was more than enough. Gretchen Carlson was correct about something. NPR is partially funded with taxpayer money. Exactly two percent of NPR’s budget comes from the federal government.. NPR is really an outstanding example of free market principles as most of their funding comes from programming fees and advertising.

What Fox News does not tell its viewers is that DeMint’s proposal is not just about defunding NPR. The right is also out to defund Big Bird, Elmo and PBS. In this respect, Juan Williams is nothing more than a cover story for the GOP’s latest attempt to privatize public television and radio. Richard Nixon tried to get rid of public radio and television in 1971. The Reagan administration tried in 1981. Bob Dole pushed for it in 1993. Newt Gingrich and the Republican Revolution House tried in 1995. The Republican controlled House tried again most recently in 2005, and now we have Jim DeMint, Eric Cantor, Sarah Palin, and Fox News trying again in 2010.

Notice that the right tries to get rid of public TV and radio every 5-10 years, and also notice that the figures leading the movement are getting weaker. We have gone from two presidential administrations, Nixon and Reagan, to two Republican controlled Houses to a senator in the minority party, a member of the House minority leadership, a failed VP candidate/reality TV star, and the GOP propaganda cable television channel. Despite the flap over Juan Williams, this movement is fading.

The reason for this is that the vast majority of politicians on both sides of the aisle know that PBS and NPR are very popular with the American people. Campaigns against Big Bird and Elmo never end well for the GOP. Fox News has been using NPR as their liberal media bias boogeyman for years, and right now they want revenge because NPR fired one of their own.

It is ridiculous to the rest of us that FNC would “expose” the bias of NPR while ignoring their own, but to the audience who watches only Fox the message of media mistrust was reinforced. The brainwashing continued with FNC telling their viewer that NPR is an evil liberal conspiracy run by George Soros. Look at what NPR did to poor Juan? They are your enemy Fox News viewer, stick with us where you get the real facts and are safe. While their campaign to defund NPR will certainly fail, Fox News will succeed in keeping their viewers paranoid, uninformed and scared, and that is the secret to the News Corporation profit model.

17 responses so far

Democracy in Cuffs Courtesy of Joe Miller’s Constitutional Conservatism

Oct 18 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party

Reporter Handcuffed by Joe MIller Thugs Until Police Rescue Him

Expect to see more of this if Republicans win in 2010.

Republican candidates feel they are beholden to no one. And really, they’re not. After all, the money that supports their campaigns is not grassroots money, but corporate. It’s the money of a few rich white guys who feel privileged above the “inalienable rights” we supposedly all possess as Americans.

President Bush was like this too. He was impatient of questions. He didn’t like answering them at all. John McCain took it to a new level, however. McCain wouldn’t even let questions be asked. Now we have Republican candidates ducking interviews and debates or declining to appear on any network save FOX News and refusing to release required information on personal or campaign finances.

When questioned, Republican candidates adopt the role of victims, pretending that a liberal media elite is engaging in a witch hunt. They are creating a narrative in which the asking of questions is demonized. Even asking a question of them is wrong, an attack.

Doesn’t it sound like they’re just a little too sensitive?

Now we have another escalation of this tendency, and it’s a disturbing one. A reporter being roughed up and put in handcuffs for trying to ask Tea Party luminary a question. The victim here (we should be clear at the outset who the victim is) happens to be a reporter from the Alaska Dispatch. His crime? He tried to question Senate candidate Joe Miller.

Here is the video from the Anchorage Daily News:

According to Politico, Joe Miller “announced last week that he would no longer take questions about his past employment and personal history.” Apparently, other subjects are forbidden as well.

Isn’t that what journalists are supposed to do? Ask questions?

Remember, FOX News doesn’t have reporters. Their definition of a reporter is someone who reports the company line in sound bites. Don’t ask questions; just believe.

Sunday night in Anchorage we saw something ugly. Something that ought to disturb all of us. Tony Hopfinger was trying to do his job. He asked Miller if he had gotten in trouble for playing politics while employed by the Fairbanks North Star Borough in 2008.

Mr. Miller’s response? Two security guards, Miller’s hired-thugs, bumped chests with the reporter in an effort to intimidate the journalistic integrity out of him and impress upon him the Republican way of doing business.

Mr. Hopfinger was pushed against a wall and handcuffed.

Just like that.

For asking a question.

He didn’t threaten Mr. Miller. He didn’t point a gun at him.

Hopfinger said, “It was like a car accident and I had to ask, ‘How did this happen so quick? Why am I in handcuffs.’”

The Miller campaign response was to release a statement made by William the security guard who did the intimidating.

“The Dispatch reporter repeatedly pushed a camera into the face of Mr. Miller. He continued to aggressively pursue him. I told the reporter several times that he needed to stop and that he was trespassing. He ignored me. He then proceeded to stalk Mr. Miller and even shoved an individual into a locker. Based upon this trespass and his assault, we detained him and escorted him from the premises.”

Miller himself, quick to identify the constructed Other as the problem, dismissed Hopfinger as a “liberal blogger”:

“While I’ve gotten used to the blog Alaska Dispatch’s assault on me and my family, I never thought that it would lead to a physical assault,” Miller said. “It’s too bad that this blogger would take advantage of a ‘Town Hall’ meeting to create a publicity stunt just two weeks before the election.”

CNN reports that Hopfinger told them that “he did push the security guard after he said he was pushed.”

Hopfinger (on right) talks to police

Thank goodness for the police, who responded and removed the reporter’s handcuffs, and promised to investigate.

The “private person arrest” is legal in Alaska, according to police. That doesn’t mean it’s justified. What is clear here is that Mr. Miller does not like questions and he responded by silencing the questioner by the surest means at his disposal.

Hopfinger expressed his disbelief, saying, “Joe Miller wants to be a U.S. Senator and he is going to have it a hell of a lot tougher with journalists in the beltway than he is with local media,” Hopfinger said. “I was just doing my job.”

But in Republican America you can’t do your job, Mr. Hopfinger. You’re a dinosaur. The GOP does not want journalists, it wants propagandists. Toe the line, say what you’re told to say, and never, ever, ask questions.

It might expose to the light of day something a Republican somewhere would just as soon remain in the dark.

Image Courtesy of Jill Burke of Alaska Dispatch

28 responses so far

Bill Maher Goes on Fox News and Demolishes Bill O’Reilly

Sep 30 2010 Published by under Featured News

Bill O’Reilly aired part one of his interview with Bill Maher on his Fox News program, and to put it mildly Bill-O took a beating. O’Reilly tried to defend the Tea Party and Maher responded with, “I mean the teabaggers. They’re the ones, who are so upset about the debt. Most of the debt came from Bush. That’s just a fact.”

Here is the video from Fox News:

Watch the latest video at video.foxnews.com

O’Reilly started off with the classic Fox News talking point about how much trouble Obama is in due to his approval ratings, which Maher knocked down immediately, “Well, first of all, he’s not having that much trouble historically. He’s about where Clinton and Reagan where a little higher than where they were in their first administration. But, it’s partly the fault of the opposition. There’s a lot of disinformation out there. I’m not saying where it comes from. And, the lion’s share of the fault goes to the Democrats. They do not brag about their accomplishments.”

Bill-O brought up his favorite Obama criticism about Obama’s presentation, inferring that Obama is cold and out of touch, and Maher replied by pointing out that much of the Obama criticism is racially based, “Well, obviously, people think he’s a little bloodless. I happened to like that in a president. I like a president that uses his brain and not his faith or his heart or his gut as the former president did. I kind of like that in our president. But, you know, again, they don’t brag about their accomplishments and when you downplay the economy, all of the dissatisfaction with him is about the economy. Because a lot of it is racially….”

O’Reilly claimed laughably that none of the Obama criticism is racially based, “Of course not. You know, he was elected by 53 percent of the public. And, when he took office, his approval was over 70 percent. Come on. Come on!” Maher then brought up the deficit and why the Tea Party ignored it under Bush, “But, Bill — but Bill, just for example, I mean the teabaggers. They’re the ones, who are so upset about the debt. Most of the debt came from Bush. That’s just a fact. Under Bush, Cheney said it, “Deficits don’t matter.” Nobody was angry about the deficit when it was President Bush.”

The Factor host then when full on clown by defending the Tea Party as ignorant, and called Obama the biggest spending president in history “Because they didn’t know about it. Look, President Obama has spent more money…No, they didn’t. It wasn’t a big issue as it is now. He’s the biggest spending president in the history of the republic, Maher. You got to know that, man!”

Maher correctly pointed out that Bush was the biggest spender, but O’Reilly changed the definition of biggest spending president in history to mean, “No, Obama is the biggest — his budget is bigger than Bush’s budget.” Maher got to the heart of it when he stated that the Tea Party and the Right are not completely racist, but they are selfish, “No, not entirely. People are individuals. But, I think in general, yes, they’re more selfish and they’re more likely to advocate policies that serve their own interest and don’t think anybody else.”

O’Reilly asked Maher how he got so liberal. Maher answered that he is the same but the country changed, “The people who were — Basically, yes. I mean, at some point in the last 20 years, the left moved to the center and the right moved into a mental institution. I mean, there used to be ideological differences that were understandable and there used to be moderate Republicans. That has gone away. I mean, the Republican Party now is just a bunch of religious lunatics, flat earthers and civil war re-enactors, so I don’t think it was me that changed so much.”

Bill-O seized what appeared to be an opening to bring up another favorite boogeyman left wing extremism to which Maher replied that most of the extremism is on the Right, “There really isn’t extremism on both sides. That’s a canard…There’s not that much extremism — There is some but not — nothing to talk about. Not really. There’s no movement like the Tea Party movement.”

Bill O’Reilly has really had a tough week. First, Jon Stewart came on O’Reilly show and completely blew up his talking point that Obama is out of touch, but as tough as Stewart was he was nothing compared to the beating Bill Maher put on Fox News’ top host in part one of their sit down. Maher would, in today’s environment be classified as liberal on many issues, because the Right has completely flipped out, and he is now too moderate for them.

It is rare that a guest comes on Fox News and dominates the way Maher did, but Bill Maher isn’t the usual FNC guest. He knows how the talking points game is played on Fox and he effectively shut it down. Maher didn’t give O’Reilly an opening and by the end of the segment, he had Bill-O on the defensive. Maher’s performance was a textbook example of how guests should handle being on Fox. Who knows what part two holds, but Maher really did an outstanding job. He effectively used facts to combat propaganda, by keep his answers short, simple, and clear. I hope more Fox News guests adopt Maher’s methods.

205 responses so far

The Culture of Lawlessness in Rupert Murdoch’s Newsrooms

Sep 27 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party

The Culture of Lawlessness in Rupert Murdoch’s Newsrooms

The next time you find yourself screaming at a seemingly brain dead pundit who is letting the conservative on the panel natter away the hour by hammering out his talking points with no push back, think on what it means and who is scratching whose back here. It may not be simple stupidity or greed or even laziness that you’re witnessing.

When you think of Rupert Murdoch, you probably think of Fox News, the propaganda arm of the GOP. You are either scowling in contempt right now or feeling a surge of Poujadist pride, but either way, you know the man has power in American and you know he uses it to further the conservative agenda in ways which are underhanded and lacking in transparency and most definitely belie his “Fair and Balanced” slogan.

Just this year, we had the scandal of learning that Murdoch’s News Corp gave millions to RGA, while giving nothing to the Democrats. We learn that Republican Presidential candidates have been on Fox 269 times versus 6 times combined total on other networks! This is utter insanity. But believe it or not, Murdoch can get much worse.

Remember in 2006 when a News of the World (Murdoch paper) reporter hacked into one of the Prince’s cell phones and printed his voice mails for the world to read? Scotland Yard got involved and News of the World’s PI had tons more high profile victims on his phone hacking list, but ultimately Murdoch was able to play duck and dodge and remain fairly unscathed. Aside from a News of the World reporter and a private investigator going to jail for hacking the phones of royal family aides in 2007, and then in 2009 News of the World paid out some 1.6 million dollars to settle hacking cases, the scandal seemed well contained.

Until recently.

Scotland Yard’s evidence indicated that hundreds of celebrities, government officials, soccer stars, etc had been targets of Murdoch’s News of the World cell phone hackers. And those folks just found out they’ve been the victim of Murdoch’s henchmen hackers.

The New York Times magazine reported:

“As of this summer, five people have filed lawsuits accusing News Group Newspapers, a division of Rupert Murdoch’s publishing empire that includes News of the World, of breaking into their voice mail. Additional cases are being prepared, including one seeking a judicial review of Scotland Yard’s handling of the investigation. The litigation is beginning to expose just how far the hacking went, something that Scotland Yard did not do. In fact, an examination based on police records, court documents and interviews with investigators and reporters shows that Britain’s revered police agency failed to pursue leads suggesting that one of the country’s most powerful newspapers was routinely listening in on its citizens.

……………………….

“To start exposing widespread tawdry practices in that newsroom was a heavy stone that they didn’t want to try to lift.” Several investigators said in interviews that Scotland Yard was reluctant to conduct a wider inquiry in part because of its close relationship with News of the World. Police officials have defended their investigation, noting that their duties did not extend to monitoring the media.””

Please don’t concern yourself with the notion that the police and Scotland Yard looked the other way as Murdoch hacked into phones of private citizens and the Royal Family. Surely this is all an innocent misunderstanding and has no bearing on us, even though Murdoch uses his London papers (The Times of London, The Sun and The Sunday Times) to push the conservative (Tory), pro-business line, as he does HERE with papers and Fox News channel. And don’t worry about the manner in which the British papers ignored the scandal, because it’s not as if our own media are lazy or beholden to corporations.

Jack Shafer wrote in Slate:

“A lot of the ugliness has to do with the fact that Andy Coulson, the top editor at the News of the World in 2006 — he ultimately resigned but claimed ignorance of the phone hacking — ended up on the payroll of the Conservative Party. And he’s now the top communications aide to British Prime Minister David Cameron.”

But….but…did he know? Did Coulson know?

The Times says yes:

“Andy Coulson, the top editor at the time, had imposed a hypercompetitive ethos, even by tabloid standards. One former reporter called it a “do whatever it takes” mentality. The reporter was one of two people who said Coulson was present during discussions about phone hacking. Coulson ultimately resigned but denied any knowledge of hacking….

In February, the parliamentary committee issued a scathing report that accused News of the World executives of “deliberate obfuscation.” The report created a stir yet did not lead to a judicial inquiry. And Scotland Yard had chosen to notify only a fraction of the hundreds of people whose messages may have been illegally accessed — effectively shielding News of the World from a barrage of civil lawsuits…”

So Scotland Yard was protecting Murdoch’s paper. Feeling better yet? I didn’t think so.
I’m not comforted that Murdoch is facing a landslide of litigation, along with tens of millions of pounds in damages and legal fees.

Murdoch’s war chest can easily handle paying off these many claims. What he stands to lose is the thin veneer of respectability and impartiality he has been handily exploiting in a rather successful attempt at controlling the American political game. It was Murdoch’s network, after all, who first called Florida for Bush on the word of a Bush cousin, before the votes were counted. But so what?

His image should have been tarnished here when he sued for the right to lie and call it news. This is being called Murdoch’s Watergate. If that’s so, will he face jail? Will Fox “News” go on selling propaganda under the Orwellian title of news?

Recall, patriots, what happened to the teenage boy who hacked into Sarah Palin’s email and never even published humiliating things about her, save for a few innocuous documents (no, I’m not defending a hacker – just making a point about degree of damage and humiliation). Yeah, he’s facing jail. Palin calls him a “political operative”. Are the rules different for Murdoch and his henchmen?

What are we to call someone who hacked into the cell phones of the royal family, cozied up to the conservative Tories while using the considerable influence of his papers to push their agenda and then installed his people (who appear to have been involved in spying on British citizens) in the Tory administration? Do we let this person continue to operate a “news” outlet here which has been steering ever closer to the line of inciting violence, anarchy and treason against a Democratic president and elected officials?

Yeah, kinda makes you glad old Rupie isn’t pulling that stuff here. Or is he?

3 responses so far

Fox News Personally Attacks Jon Stewart

Sep 25 2010 Published by under Featured News

On Fox News Watch today, Fox contributor Jim Pinkerton upped the ante and personally attacked Jon Stewart as a demagogue. Pinkerton compared Stewart to Lonesome Rhodes by saying, “Five words A Face In The Crowd, the 1950’s movie starring Andy Griffith…about a talk show host who then thought he was a political and a demagogue.”

Here is the video from Media Matters:

After playing a clip of Stewart on O’Reilly, explaining why he was holding a rally to restore sanity, a panel discussion was centered on the questions, “His rally is raising some eyebrows. Is he moving closer to participating in the very establishment that he lampoons every night? I mean, is he becoming a politician here? Token Democrat, Kristen Powers said, “I don’t think he’s becoming a politician. He’s a public figure, and he’s playing off of being a public figure, and there’s absolutely no problem with it in my mind. I think that he talks frequently, and I think it’s a legitimate gripe he has with the media that he feels that it is too polarized, and it doesn’t represent most people.”

Ah, but Fox can always count on Jim Pinkerton to deliver the attack and talking points. Pinkerton said, “Five words A Face In The Crowd, the 1950’s movie starring Andy Griffith that made him a star about a talk show host who then thought he was a political and a demagogue, and see the movie to see how it ends.” Powers responded, “Ah, Glenn Beck anybody? Seriously, you can’t say that, and then suggest that’s somehow strange that Jon Stewart is doing this. Pinkerton replied, “I didn’t say it was strange. I said it was almost predictable.” Powers continued, “Jon Stewart is a performer though. He’s out. He says he is performer though so there’s nothing unusual about it.”

Fox News has now moved from being freaked out about Stewart’s rally to now personally attacking him as a demagogic threat that is moving into politics. This was a slice of Fox News’ generational fear mongering at its finest. Pinkerton’s comments today were the first step in attacking the motives behind Stewart’s rally. Fox can’t handle the idea that there may be more moderates out there than Tea Partiers, so now they are going to try to paint Stewart as a demagogue who is going to move the youth of America towards Socialism.

As Powers pointed out, it is ironic to say the least that a network that features the 21st Century Lonesome Rhodes a.k.a. Glenn Beck would dare to suggest that Jon Stewart is a egotistical demagogue who is moving into politics. There is a political and social message to what Stewart is doing, but unlike Beck, Stewart has shown no interest in getting politically involved. Fox News feels very, very, very threatened by Stewart and Colbert’s rally, so we can expect these attacks to continue, as Fox does their best to discredit and undermine the motives of what is certain to be a larger gathering than anything Beck, Palin, Fox News, the Tea Party have ever put together or promoted.

18 responses so far

Republican Cowards Can’t Handle the Truth About Terrorism

Sep 22 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party, White House

Fox News delivers the rage and fear crack

Republican Cowards Can’t Handle the Truth About Terrorism

You’d think with the way Republicans have been begging Muslim extremists to hate America (see Cordoba House, Terry Jones, Sarah Palin lying about a Muslim candidate wanting to kill American children and entirety of Fox News) that they could handle the truth that we are being targeted. However, true to form, the Republicans are showing themselves to be the cowards who incite violence and then run away from the consequences.

Republicans are up in arms over reports from Woodward’s new book on Obama, wherein he reveals that the President said essentially the same thing George W Bush said: America can absorb another attack, we are strong.

Media Matters reports:

The Washington Post reported on September 22 that in Bob Woodward’s new book, Obama’s Wars, Obama is quoted as saying: “We can absorb a terrorist attack. We’ll do everything we can to prevent it, but even a 9/11, even the biggest attack ever … we absorbed it and we are stronger.”

From his September 11, 2001 Address to the Nation, Bush said: “A great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.”

The Right has responded to Woodward’s Obama quote by claiming all kinds of now to-be-expected hopeful yet willfully inaccurate narratives, all of them bad. I know, you’re shocked.

Fox went nuts with their typical propagandist bent. According to Media Matters, on the September 22 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson said that Obama’s comment is [[a]] “very interesting … because I’m not sure that any American would want to absorb one little, tiny terrorist attack in any community across this country, because, obviously, that would mean that people would die. So I don’t think that anyone would want to have that opinion about absorbing a terrorist attack.” Carlson added, “Maybe it’s taken out of context. I don’t know.” During the segment, onscreen text stated, “Inviting another 9/11? President: ‘We can absorb a terror attack’

You have to love Fox’s crawlers, which tell the viewer what they’re supposed to think, while allowing the puppet host to “ask questions” and maintain “deniability” of their partisan attempt to discredit the President. Fahrenheit 451 is here, friends. The big screen is talking to you, sisters and brothers. Just take this pill and you’ll know what to think.

Then, we had on the September 22 edition of Fox & Friends, “Fox News contributor John Bolton called Obama’s comments “outrageous” and stated: “How can an American president say that, as if he’s a detached observer and doesn’t care about Americans dying?” Bolton then said that the comments “ought to prove” that Obama is not qualified to be commander-in-chief.

I’m sold, how bout you? I know I’d feel better with a war-monger in office who not only incited an attack, but then hid in his plane for the entire day after ignoring intel regarding said attack for months. Gosh, those were the days.

There’s plenty more for the pickin’, but we’ll end with this classic: “In a September 21 Gateway Pundit post, Warner Todd Huston responded to comments by suggesting that Obama is “green with envy that Bush got that big moment” and that Obama wants “a big attack of his own” to “show the world what a great president he could be!””

Like Bush did?

A pause please for gravity.

What they’re really afraid of is the fear of the American people were we to be attacked again, because the fear would drive them into Obama’s arms faster than any ethereal healthcare reform explanation ever could. But knowing this, it makes no sense for them to be clamoring for someone to attack us. It’s almost as if they are bound and determined to get us hit again so they can point their fingers and scream, “See? It happened under your guy too! Neener neener!” I guess they just can’t help themselves, and we should know by now not to expect reasonable behavior from these folks. They’re driven by emotion and fear. It’s all they have.

It’s rather confusing for the Right to be upset about Obama saying we’re strong enough to handle another attack (see, these folks just can’t handle the truth or nuance because clearly the man isn’t saying he wants one), as it exemplifies the sort of American exceptionalism they believe in. But perhaps we had all just best face the fact that the Right can’t handle the truth anymore; when they hear it, they’re going to freak out like scared schoolyard bullies when the Principal shows up.

And certainly with their flag waving obnoxious inciting of the Muslim extremists in the last few months, they should expect an attack. Of course, that assumes they are reasonable, logical people, which clearly they aren’t. Obama’s steady acceptance of the possibility of this fact is just one more thing they think they can jump on to weaken his presidency, but in fact, it does the opposite.

Obama is not a weak man. He didn’t get where he is today by accepting terrorism. If he did, the Republicans would be winning control of the paradigm shift Obama has started, and they’re not. The liberal agenda has come further under Obama than it did under Clinton, and we’re only a year and a half in. We have passed health insurance reform, we had DADT up for debate, Obama signed the Lily Ledbetter Act into being, and most of all, Obama passed a stimulus which benefited the middle class instead of the TARP passed by Bush which bailed out banks and Wall Street. None of these is perfect, nor are they the stopping point; but they are an undeniable paradigm shift to the left.

The Right aren’t going to stop crying and whining at every turn, except for the brief pause when they are waving red flags in demagoguery at the Muslim world, daring them to hit us again if not begging them to. Of course, they were warned repeatedly to cease such behavior from their own hero General Petraeus no less, but his pleas fell on deaf ears.

But what did he expect from a party which resembles unruly child bullies? We all know words don’t work with these folks. Gosh, whatever happened to the hubristic chants of “USA! USA! USA!”? I guess when the fear crack pipe gets low, the Republicans wig out and their true, cowardly nature comes out. They’re all jacked up on hate and fear and nothing short of impeaching the man who was elected in a landslide will do it for them. They needs them some hate crack and they know where to get it. Fox News. Giving the Right their rage crack all day and all night.

They’re going to keep on inciting violence and terrorism and then when it happens, they’ll hide under the covers (just like Bush did, cowardliness seems to be inherent in the modern day Republican Party), and wait for Obama to deal with their mess. Same old story. In the immortal words of their leader, Sarah Palin, might I kindly suggest they get some “cojones”.

6 responses so far

The Republicans Are Failing to Make an Argument

Sep 15 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party

Beck, Palin and Limbaugh

Remember remember the fifth of November, the gunpowder treason and plot. I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.” – English Nursery Rhyme

If you want to get a point across, or to convince a crowd of something you believe, you need to advance an argument. Don’t just say something and expect people to believe it; really make an argument. What do you believe and why? What facts or evidence supports your assertion? What are the consequences if you’re right/wrong? And what can/should we do about it?

During election season arguments fly fast and furious. It can be hard to keep up; it can be hard to know what/who to believe. But if you listen carefully, you will find that the Republican narrative has made clear that Republicans don’t know what an argument is.

Take some of the following examples (by no means exhaustive!):

  • Argument isn’t simple contradiction. If someone asserts that Democratic administrations have made for a healthier American economy saying “No they haven’t” is not an argument.
  • Argument is not simply repeating a lie when confronted with the facts. For example, McCain claimed during the debates that Obama was going to raise everybody’s taxes. Obama pointed out that in fact he was going to cut taxes for 95% of Americans, which is factually true. McCain ignored this and repeated his claim. Republicans are still repeating it.
  • Argument isn’t evasion; it isn’t changing the subject or refusing to answer the question, or pulling a Palin and saying “I don’t want to talk about that today.”
  • Argument is not a unilateral statement or assertion lacking supporting evidence: “The Democrats have ruined the economy.” Where is your supporting evidence? In the same way that “spin” is not news, it is not an argument either, however catchy and easy to remember.
  • An argument is not an ad hominem attack, which attacks not the argument itself but the author. Pundits like Limbaugh, Beck and Coulter are infamous for making ad hominem attacks. This is a sure sign that the attacking party recognizes that there is no argument to be made. Democrats are “communists,” “traitors” or “terrorist sympathizers.”
  • An argument should be relevant. It should address the topic under discussion. It should provide evidence and the evidence should support the conclusion. Sarah Palin’s claim that Putin flew over Alaskan airspace (whether it is true or not) is irrelevant as it is unlikely she would watch the plane as it soared overhead, or that even if she did, she would somehow glean from it some insight into foreign policy matters.
  • The “false dilemma” (either-or fallacy) – a pair of claims of which it is said only one can be true or that there are only two choices – is not an argument. One we hear all the time is that “Either we eliminate government regulation of business or profits suffer.” As has been pointed out by observers, unregulated companies can do untold damage to themselves and to others, even going bankrupt, like Enron. Economics is a complex system; there will seldom if ever be only two choices.
  • The “slippery slope” fallacy – the claim that one thing makes another thing inevitable – is not an argument but you see it a lot. This fallacy works well in the politics of fear. For example, the Republican argument from 2003 on was that making peace in Iraq, or taking anything other than a hard-line approach – even talking about less aggressive alternatives – would lead to increased attacks on America. They are still making that claim seven years later despite the absence of such promised attacks.

There is a great deal of intellectual dishonesty in Republican discourse and in the sorts of “arguments” you see raised on public forums. As Obama said before the election, “We’ve become accustomed in our politics to folks just being able to make stuff up.” This is generally true of politics today (left and right both) but increasingly, where the Republicans are concerned, it is difficult to find any sign of honesty at all.

They not only don’t make an argument. They’ve ceased to even try.

Instead they have constructed a mythical America, divorced from reality, provided it with a fake history to support it, and delivered it in catchy sound-bites. But catchy does not equal accurate and backing up a lie with another lie does not magically transform the first lie into truth.

The world doesn’t work that way. The nursery rhyme with what I began this piece may have been used propagandistically to buttress monarchy, but it at least refers to an actual historical event. Republican nursery rhymes do not.

It is important to remember that the internal logic of an argument is completely separate from its truth content. Just because it “sounds right” doesn’t mean it is. This is part of Sarah Palin’s appeal to the Republican base, which is motivated more by emotions than by common sense or reason, let alone an examination of the facts.

“She speaks for us!” they say. Yes, that is because neither of you is thinking.

There are some simple explanations for this. The Republican platform does not support the scientific method; the idea that empirical evidence is relevant is alien to them, that is, evidence acquired from observation, experimentation and testing. The Republicans don’t support science – which is inherently liberal– or even Education.

Perhaps that’s not surprising; science and education upset the status quo that is so dear to conservatives. But that’s another discussion. The simplest explanation is that because the facts do not support their assertions they have to make stuff up, an activity they engage in with great enthusiasm.

17 responses so far

New Survey Reveals Why Jon Stewart is the Biggest Long Term Threat to Fox News

Sep 12 2010 Published by under Featured News

The newest Pew Research Center’s survey of where and how people get their news has been released, and while Fox News is still polling the oldest viewership, Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart are pulling the youngest. As Stewart educates his young viewers in the ways of FNC on a nightly basis, it is clear that he is the biggest long term media threat to Fox News.

The good news is that digital media is causing people to spend more time each day with the news. According to the Pew Research Center for People and the Press survey of where and how people get their news, “The net impact of digital platforms supplementing traditional sources is that Americans are spending more time with the news than was the case a decade ago. As was the case in 2000, people now say they spend 57 minutes on average getting the news from TV, radio or newspapers on a given day. But today, they also spend an additional 13 minutes getting news online, increasing the total time spent with the news to 70 minutes. This is one of the highest totals on this measure since the mid-1990s and it does not take into account time spent getting news on cell phones or other digital devices.”

Newspapers are still struggling and have only partially been able to make up for the decline in print readership on the Internet. Print newspaper readership has declined from 38% in 2006 to 24% today. Online newspaper readership has grown from 9% in 2006 to 17% today. When the totals are combined 37% of Americans said that they got their news from a newspaper, which puts the industry on par with the radio and the Internet, but way behind television.

Speaking of television, Fox News has been able to hold its audience share because Republicans have been fleeing to the network. In 2002, Republicans were just as likely to watch CNN as they were to watch Fox News, but eight years later, 40% of all Republicans regularly watch FNC. Twelve percent of Republicans watch CNN and 6% watch MSNBC. Fox News does not lead the cable news ratings because there are more Republicans in the United States. They lead because they have been successful in consolidating the Republican audience.

It is no surprise than that Fox News, just like the GOP caters to an older audience. Sixty three percent of Bill O’Reilly’s viewers are over 50 years old, and 65% of Hannity’s viewers are over 50. Only 44% of the nation as a whole are over 50 years old, so the over 50 demographic is overrepresented on Fox News. If the younger viewers aren’t watching Fox News, then what are they watching?

The answer to this question can be found on Comedy Central Monday through Thursday from 11 pm-12 am. Colbert and Stewart’s audiences are young. In fact, they were the youngest in the survey. Eighty percent of Colbert’s audience is between 18-49, and 74% of Stewart’s audience falls into the 18-49 demo. Although their audiences are double the amount of liberals in the overall population, Colbert and Stewart also appeal to Libertarians, as they make up 29% and 27% respectively of their audiences. Interestingly 53% of Colbert’s audience and 43% of Stewart’s said that they watch these programs for entertainment. They may come for the entertainment, but they also get a healthy dose of the news.

Fox News has made no secret of their distaste for Colbert, and especially Jon Stewart, and it is pretty obvious why. Colbert and Stewart are educating an entire generation of younger viewers to critically think about what they see in the media. The long term health of Fox News is going to depend on their ability to attract and retain younger viewers. These are the same viewers that are watching Jon Stewart expose and mock Fox News on a nightly basis. This is why FNC goes out of its way to impugn the credibility of Stewart anytime they can. It is funny to think that the competition that may do the most long term damage to Fox News is not Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow, but a comedian who hosts a nightly mock newscast on a comedy network.

136 responses so far

Conservative Blindness to the Line Between Fantasy and Fact Exposed…Again

Sep 06 2010 Published by under Featured News, Republican Party

Stephen Colbert and Glenn Beck

We all remember when the conservatives discovered Stephen Colbert was joking. It took them awhile to figure it out. They thought he was one of them.

Some of them still do.

Why did it take so long when he was so outrageously over the top? Because they themselves are so outrageously over the top. He fit right in. His message blended with theirs.

Colbert so had the right-wing fooled that in 2006 he was invited to the White House Correspondents Dinner – as a conservative.  That was the wake-up call for some, but apparently not all.

As recently as April 2009 the Huffington Post was writing that “according to a study from The Ohio State University, which proves, with math and stuff, that lots of conservatives seem to not understand the intrinsic, underlying joke of The Colbert Report.”

Conservatives seem endlessly capable of having the wool pulled over their eyes. Our first clue was their ready acceptance of George W. Bush. Some of them still believe what he said. Some of them still believe Cheney and Rove, or maybe they’ve too much invested in the lies now to admit they were wrong.

And look how eagerly they lap up the vapid rhetoric of people like Sarah Palin, Sharron Angle, Jan Brewer and Michelle Bachmann.

In some way, if they weren’t so dangerous, watching these clowns would be as entertaining as watching a prime-time sitcom. More so.

Either way, they’ve been fooled again, this time by a site called christwire.org.

The New York Times profiled the site and its creators on September 3 of this year. As the NYT put it, “Since 2008, ChristWire.org has emerged as the leading Internet site for ultraconservative Christian news, commentary and weather reportage.”

But it’s all a joke: 27 million page views in August, and none of it is true.

As with the Colbert Report, the news and the views expressed are so outrageous that conservatives cannot tell it apart from their own distorted worldview.

The originators of the site are Bryan Butvidas and Kirwin Watson. Mr. Butvidas expressed their goal as follows: “Let’s write stuff to expose how stupid people are.”

They seem to have succeeded beyond their expectations. They even fooled Marie Jon, a writer for RenewAmerica.com, a conservative organization that claims as it’s purpose, the expansion of “the influence of America’s grassroots — both among individual citizens and among principled groups — in the cause of preserving our nation upon its founding ideals, specifically those in the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution, as well as those derived from biblical principles” while somehow pretending to be “nonpartisan and nondenominational.”

Maybe conservatives do have a sense of humor!

But let’s leave fantasy behind and return to the world of the real: Ms. Jon used to allow her stories to be reposted to ChristWire.

I guess you can believe anything if you try hard enough. Or perhaps, the point is, that people don’t try hard enough. That, at any rate, was the operating premise of ChristWire’s founders.

“There’s just rampant idiocy in the media sometimes,” Mr. Watson said. “People watch their favorite news channels, don’t question it and will regurgitate it the next day at the office. That is no good at all.”

“Our main culprit,” he adds, “is Fox News.”

Imagine that. FOX News, the show so over the top that nobody but conservatives believes it’s actually news.

It’s interesting that conservatives cannot see how gullible people like Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter have made them with their non-stop propaganda parade. The more outrageous the crap that spews from those mouths the more eagerly it is lapped up. The less relationship it has to reality, the more it is believed.

Does anybody on the right know how much Colbert and sites like christwire.org have in common with Limbaugh, Beck and the others. False piety and false news and false patriotism seems a pretty potent mix when you mix it in with a little bombast. And it’s hard to say who is more bombastic, the joking Colbert or the right-wing clown-show.

I wonder, sometimes, will these conservative pundits will wake up one day and realize what caricatures they have become? If they do, you can be it will be long after the fact has been recognized by the rest of the planet.

12 responses so far

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