The Biggest Surprises for MSNBC In 2010: Ed Schultz and Lawrence O’Donnell

Dec 31 2010 Published by under Featured News

In a year of highs and lows, and plenty of circus like atmosphere and drama, two of the biggest pleasant surprises for MSNBC in 2010 were the late blooming success of The Ed Show, and the immediate success of The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell. Let’s take a look at two of MSNBC’s bright spots for the year.

Back in 2009 MSNBC was looking for their next big hit, and they thought that liberal radio show host Ed Schultz would be it. After his debut program drew 825,000 total viewers, the audience quickly eroded and stayed mired in the 500,000 viewer range, but something interesting happened in 2010. As the post 2008 victory glow wore off and Democrats in Washington began to struggle, the audience for Ed Schultz’s blue collar populism began to grow.

According to MSNBC, “2010 marks the best total viewer performance in the 6 p.m. hour ever for MSNBC, with “The Ed Show” ranked #2 in both A25-54 and total viewers for the full year. Compared to 2009, “The Ed Show” is up +8% in A25-54 and +20% in total viewers, while CNN has dropped –28% in A25-54 and –29% in total viewers. CNN had their lowest 6 p.m. delivery in A25-54 since 1999 and the lowest total viewer average since 2002. “The Ed Show” had 642,000 total viewers (vs. 543,000 for CNN) and 157,000 A25-54 (vs. 149,000 for CNN).”

As more left leaning middle class Americans, the group that Ed Schultz advocates for, became disenchanted with the economy, they more they tuned in to The Ed Show. Back in 2009, I originally found the program to be a dull carbon copy of other MSNBC programs, but Schultz has found his voice, and his personality, love it or hate it, shines through. He has managed to capture the voice of blue collar America in a way that Keith Olbermann can’t. Ed Schultz has found his niche and he is one of the few cable news hosts who actually saw his audience grow in 2010.

The other surprise of 2010 was the immediate success of The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell. For years, MSNBC viewers had been asking for a new 10 PM ET program to replace the nightly repeat of Countdown with Keith Olbermann, and when they finally got their wish, they tuned in heavily and often. Powered by an interview with Vice President Joe Biden, The Last Word’s debut was MSNBC’s most watched program on September 28.

Unlike what Ed Schultz went through after his big debut, O’Donnell’s program has sustained its ratings, and on occasion draws more viewers than its lead in, The Rachel Maddow Show. O’Donnell’s show finished as the 16th most watched program on cable news, and The Last Word actually performed better with younger viewers than both Olbermann and Maddow. I had wondered when his show was announced how O’Donnell was going to approach doing a ten o’clock without rehashing all of the same stories and material that the hosts before him discussed.

The Last Word accomplished being different by doing something the other shows on the network haven’t been able to do. O’Donnell has been able to get Republicans on his show. Whereas Keith Olbermann doesn’t seem interested in having Republicans on, and Republicans are so terrified of Rachel Maddow that they won’t come on her show, O’Donnell has managed to attract a rather eclectic guest list.

O’Donnell is a veteran of both scripted television, and politics, and he and his staff appear to have an idea of how they want their show to be different from the others on the network. O’Donnell has shown himself to be a sharp interviewer who is not afraid to spar with his guests. His program is a great follow up to Rachel Maddow. Both shows share a bit of a wonkish tone, where opinion is secondary to describing what is going on and why it is happening.

MSNBC may never be in Fox News’ league, but the network has continued to add to its lineup. MSNBC’s initial success was accomplished on the back of Keith Olbermann, but now there is a lot more talent on the roster. I would love to see MSNBC add a minority host to prime time, and the network needs to be available in more homes around the country, which is something that Comcast will likely address when they take over NBC, but I think that they are missing the boat in one key area.

In my opinion, MSNBC won’t really grow until they stop catering to the small class of progressives that has issues with Obama. It is not a coincidence that the fastest growing show on the network features an old school blue collar liberal. Maybe MSNBC will someday get the message that there are a lot of potential viewers out there who might like to see less emotional criticism of the President, and more of a return to core liberal values. If MSNBC wants to reach and retain their audience in 2011 they should consider broadening the range of opinion that they present.

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A Tough 2010: Keith Olbermann’s Ratings Drop by 25%

Dec 28 2010 Published by under Featured News

The bad news keeps coming for MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann. The 2010 ratings data is starting to trickle in, and the news is not so great for the Countdown host. In a down year for cable news where all three networks registered a decline in viewers, Keith Olbermann lost 11% of his total audience, but what is most troubling is that among the coveted age 25-54 demographic Olbermann lost 25% of his audience.

In terms of total viewers all three of the cable networks suffered. Fox News declined 5% in 2010 from a Monday-Friday average of 2.568 million viewers in 2009 to 2.426 million in 2010. MSNBC was down 9% in 2010 from 953,000 viewers in 2009 to 870,000 viewers in 2010. CNN suffered a stunning 36% drop in total viewers from 1 million viewers in 2009 to 636,000 viewers in 2010. In the 25-54 demo, Fox News suffered only a 6% drop, because almost 70% + of the audience is older than 54. MSNBC declined by 18% in the demo, and CNN fell by a whopping 37%.

Keith Olbermann’s total drop in viewership was 2% higher than MSNBC’s network average, (11% vs 9%). In contrast, Rachel Maddow lost less of her audience than MSNBC as a whole. Maddow only declined by 6% compared to the network’s 11%. Maddow’s total loss was almost half of her lead in Olbermann, (6% compared to 11%). Olbermann also lost a higher than network percentage of those viewers age 25-54. MSNBC lost 18%. Olbermann lost 25%. Maddow only lost 14%.

Olberman is still MSNBC’s most watched host. Overall, he is the 11th most watched cable news program, but Rachel Maddow was right behind him at 13th, and Lawrence O’Donnell was 14th. The gap between Olbermann and his MSNBC primetime colleagues is shrinking, which is good for the network. The point is that Olbermann’s audience is getting older, and he is working on a network that is trying to target younger viewers. This isn’t to say that Olbermann is doomed at MSNBC, far from it actually, but that 2010 was not a good year for him.

With new bosses about to take over NBC, this is a trend that Olbermann and his staff would be wise to take seriously. Olbermann’s contract is up after the 2012 election, and I suspect that the presidential election will serve its usual purpose as a ratings elixir for the cable news industry, but if Olbermann can’t attract younger viewers, and the ad dollars that come with them, the network could make a switch, but two years is a long time away.

If CNN stays in the tank, I could see them welcoming Olbermann and his million viewers a night with open arms, which would be a big reason why MSNBC would not let him ago, along with the fact that a million viewers is still the best number MSNBC has at any hour. Olbermann has cost himself some viewers on the left in this past year, and I think he has been hurt by not having a Republican foil to play off of in the White House, plus, the passing of his father had to impact him, so I don’t think Olbermann is finished yet. However, it is worth watching going forward to see if 2010 was just a bad year or the beginning of a trend.

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Why Progressives are Wrong About Julian Assange

Dec 23 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues

Since when is the definition for somebody who opposes rape “radical feminist”? Wouldn’t a better and far more accurate term be “decent human being”?

I think so. But that seems to be the consensus among progressives : that those who attack Australian-born whistle-blower Julian Assange are radical feminists, and I suppose by definition then, not really progressives, as if you can’t be both.

And I think a great divide has been exposed by the controversy surrounding the accusations laid against Julian Assange – namely, rape.

The divide I am talking about is that between politics and morality. You can like someone’s politics without approving of their behavior and one should not be tied to the other. When you start to defend somebody’s behavior because you like their politics, it’s difficult to tell whether the tail is not wagging the dog.

Progressives see Assange as a hero. Many of them have ended up siding with him at the expense of the woman he is said to have raped, and by extension, all women. All the old excuses have resurfaced: why did she stay with him, why didn’t she report him, blah, blah, blah. It could not have, given those things, been rape.

As it happens, the left has been split by this situation. Feminists are now at odds with progressives, and rightly so.

Rape is wrong. Period.

Being a counter-culture hero does not excuse it.

For people to whom Assange is a hero there is no limit to suspicion and paranoia. Is it a CIA plot? Are the rape charges coming to light merely in response to his work with WikiLeaks? The timing is suspicious. Michael Moore has defended Assange – he even put up $20,000 in bail money and said the rape inquiry was “stink[ing] to the high heavens”:

This whole thing stinks to the high heavens…. They go after people with this kind of lie and smear…. What they say he did… his condom broke during consensual sex; that is not a crime in Britain. This is all a bunch of hooey, as far as I’m concerned. The man has at least a right to be out of prison while awaiting his hearing.

Keith Olbermann has too, making clear that he also questioned the charges; he even suspended his Twitter account because of the outrage over his interview with Moore. Both are progressives. Both are themselves heroes to many.

Some have called Olbermann’s apology (made 15 hours before suspending his account) a non-apology:

Rape has touched my family, directly and savagely, and if anybody thinks I have addressed it without full sensitivity, then that assessment is the one that counts, and I apologize. But these accusations that I “revealed” an accuser’s identity by retweeting Bianca Jagger’s link, or that I ‘shamed’ an accuser by asking a question about the prosecution of a man governments are trying to bury, or that I do not ‘understand’ charges that have yet to be presented in their final form, reflect exactly the kind of rushing to judgment of which I’m accused, and merit the same kind of apology I have just given.

The sense of it seems to be that rape isn’t really important as long as Assange is engaged in what is seen by progressives as very important work in exposing government lies and cover-ups.

One has to wonder how they would feel if we were talking about their sisters and daughters. Would politics still trump morality? has led the charge against Moore, accusing him of “rape apologism” and I cannot argue with the reasoning. I am more than a little disappointed that progressives can’t seem to separate two very different issues, exposing government secrets and raping women.

If the right-wing often seems unaware of moral standards and ethics, it now seems the left-wing has no moral high ground to stand upon when they utter their denunciations. This, to me, is just another symptom of ideology run amok.

I for one will not marry my morality to ideology. Praise Assange if you feel you must for exposing government secrets but condemn him for rape if he is guilty instead of making defenses for his behavior based on your support of his politics. The two have nothing to do with one another.

Anyone accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty but right now I would no more trust a jury of progressives to look dispassionately at the case than I would a jury of conservatives.

Are political centrists the only sane people left on the planet?

Finally, I wanted to say a word about attacks and criticisms leveled here against PoliticusUSA’s Sarah Jones, a fellow writer and editor. I am astounded that a charge of “feminist” (as a pejorative no less!) immediately attaches itself to her and moreover, invalidates any points made, however sound the logic. It is as if feminism is a poison pill that automatically kills any argument made, but neither conservative Ultra Patriotism™ nor Progressive hero-worship bear the same stigma. Why is feminism to be discounted, but no other bias, if indeed feminism is a bias?

Why are so many people afraid of feminism? Indeed, why are so many people willing to kill mothers for the sake of fetuses and to let women be raped for the sake of heroism in exposing government secrets? I confess I don’t understand. Why does one thing become irrelevant because of another? Does right or wrong change as a matter of convenience? Does it sometimes apply, and sometimes not? Is it now one thing, and now another?

In the end, there are those who will devalue Assange no matter what because of what he has done politically and there are those who would overvalue him for what he has done politically, as though that has anything to do with what he might have done to a woman. I am not going to argue the rights and wrongs of WikiLeaks because it is irrelevant to the discussion. We must look at the two issues as being completely separate because they are two separate issues. It’s a shame that so many progressives and conservatives seem unable to see the forest for the trees.

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Rachel Maddow: Obama Has Accomplished 85% of First Term Agenda in 2 Years

Dec 22 2010 Published by under Featured News

On her MSNBC program last night Rachel Maddow highlighted an often overlooked fact concerning the presidency of Barack Obama. Maddow said, “By my estimation it is halftime, right, in the first term and with this vote tomorrow they will have gone 85% of the distance they said they wanted to go in the first term of the president.”

Here is the video of the segment from MSNBC:

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Maddow hailed the passage of START as victory for Obama, “If this treaty gets ratified tomorrow, it will be political malpractice to not call it an unqualified victory for this president and for this presidency. Reducing the world’s nuclear stockpiles, working toward Ronald Reagan’s goal of a world without nuclear weapons, locking down loose nuclear materials so it doesn’t end up in the hands of terrorists, the whole smoking gun could be a mushroom cloud except for real?”

She highlight the ways that this is a win for Obama, “Getting this treaty ratified is a huge victory for President Obama and something that Republicans said they would deny him. It is a political win for the president because it has been on his agenda for a long time. It is a signature issue for him, a tactical win because Republicans said he wasn’t going to get it. It is a save the world win because if you care about, oops, it’s the nuclear end of the world you care about treaties like this getting passed.”

Maddow discussed how historic the past two years have been, “If the Senate ratifies the START treaty tomorrow it caps an astonishing period in American political history. For the last two years, Democrats have held the White House as well as big majorities in the House and Senate. The record of achievement in that time, even in the face of unified at times totally random republican opposition, Republican opposition even to things Republicans had proposed in the first place, unified Republican opposition to their own ideas? Their track record even in the face of that is historic. Whether you agree or disagree with what Democrats have done in the first two years of President Obama’s presidency, they have freaking done it.”

She listed all the accomplishments, “The fair pay act for women, expanding children’s health insurance, new hate crimes legislation they said could not be done, tobacco regulation, credit card reform, student loan reform, the stimulus — which in addition to helping pull this country back from the brink of a great depression, was also the largest tax cut ever, the largest investment in clean energy ever, the largest investment in education in our country ever. There was also a little thing you may have heard of called health reform. Also, Wall Street reform, the improvements to the new G.I. Bill, the most expansive food SAFETY BILL SINCE THE 1930s. And tomorrow, President Obama will officially sign a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Later Rachel Maddow delivered the kicker, “There are big things this administration said that it wanted to do that it hasn’t done yet. Energy reform, immigration reform, the bush tax cuts for the rich were extended, closing Guantanamo. Those are some of them. Today it looked like one of the important judicial nominees will not get a vote to become a judge this year. There is territory the White House has said it would like to cover that it has not yet covered. By my estimation it is halftime, right, in the first term and with this vote tomorrow they will have gone 85% of the distance they said they wanted to go in the first term of the president.”

If you would have told policy people and political scientists two years ago that halfway through his term in office, Barack Obama will have accomplished 85% of his agenda, they would have laughed at you and told you how impossible that would be given the amount of polarization in our legislative process. If you would go on to tell them that after one year Obama would lose his 60 vote majority in the Senate, and would still pass major legislation the experts would have told you to seek mental help, but this is exactly what President Obama has accomplished.

What Obama has managed to achieve has not been seen in this country since FDR and the New Deal, and on a smaller level LBJ after President Kennedy was assassinated. The past two years have been historic, yet a small vocal minority of Obama’s base is upset with this president and the nation as a whole tends to give him little credit for what he has done.

It would be easy to blame his supporters and the American people for not paying attention, but that isn’t an accurate portrayal of what’s going on here. The problem is that Obama is not interested in victory laps, and publicly taking credit for his accomplishments. Obama wants to get things done, but the President has hopefully learned the hard lesson that if he doesn’t sell his own accomplishments, his opponents are more than happy to use the media to distort and tear them down.

Obama may be a great legislative president, but he needs to also be the Salesman in Chief. After the repeal of DADT passed he should have been out in front of the cameras with a statement. The White House needs to understand that the American people will never give Obama the credit he deserves unless he tells them what he has done. As Rachel Maddow pointed out, Obama has already had an unprecedented, for the modern era, run of success.

Obama will probably win a second term, but it is a shame that so many people don’t understand what this president has done. Recognizing the facts as Rachel Maddow did does not make one an Obama apologist, or an Obama cheerleader, but it is important to note that the facts don’t back up the notion that Obama is somehow a failed president, or unworthy of the left’s support. You may not always agree with what he has done, but there can be no denying the epic weight of his accomplishments. Obama deserves some credit, even if he refuses to take it himself.

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Joe Scarborough Squeals Over Trickle-Down Con Man Chris Christie

Dec 20 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party

Chris Christie the reverse Robinhood

Joe Scarborough has a man-crush on Chris Christie. And who can blame him?

“The day of reckoning is here!” Announces New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in a theatrical voice dripping with doom. Joe Scarborough loves him for it, squealing that Chris Christie makes him feel like a 14 year old girl at a Beatles concert. Ah, Republicans. You gotta love them. Against gay rights but very pro man crushes especially for the dooms-dayers because nothing spells GOP recovery like a suffering American economy. And nothing says desperate party like pushing Chris Christie as the next great white hope.

Today on “Morning Joe”, Scarborough jumped the Chris Matthews “Thrill up my leg” shark when reacting to a clip of Republican Governor Chris Christie dramatically suggesting that the day of reckoning was here, that he had no more money, that no one has any more money and that they just can’t spend anymore. Joe “loves this guy” because he’s the only guy “telling the truth”. And sure when you listen to Chris Christie he sounds reasonable. He’s saying we spent too much. We sure did. Notice I said when you listen to him, because if you look under the hood, things are not rosy for the middle class under Christie. But one wonders if Joe Scarborough doesn’t “love this guy” because Chris Christie is the Alan Grayson of the Right and Joe is desperate to find a Presidential candidate for Republicans who isn’t crazy and/or boring?

Watch Joe squeak words of love about Chris Christie courtesy of Media Matters:

See, Christie is busy making a national name for himself as a true “fiscal conservative,” which in modern day Republican parlance means keeping taxes on the rich very, very low and saying you’re going to fix the budget problem with spending cuts. But as we all know, sayin’ ain’t doin’.

What Joe doesn’t tell you is the cost of Christie’s playing fiscal conservative while making a show of refusing to raise tax rates. Because it turns out some people in his state will have their taxes raised. Guess who? Think really hard now. Who do the Republicans represent and what do they care about? That’s right, at this delicate time in our economy, we can’t have the rich paying taxes or businesses paying taxes, but you know who can pay for this fiscal conservative show? The working poor, homeowners, university students, and the state pension fund because nothing says Republican like hitting the working poor, struggling homeowners, education, and of course pension funds. reports:

“A close look at the $28.3 billion budget Christie signed to much fanfare in June, however, finds a more complicated storyline than the one the governor and his acolytes have articulated since Christie took office in January.

Some of Christie’s budget fixes look a lot like tax hikes to the people on the receiving end of them. They include the working poor who will pay higher income taxes due to reductions in the state earned-income tax credit; homeowners who didn’t get their customary rebates on property taxes this year; transit riders who are paying substantially higher fares; and university students who must pay higher tuition. And although Christie promised in March to “not shove today’s problems under the rug only to be discovered again tomorrow,” his plan leaned heavily on the familiar Trenton budget trick of skipping a required payment to the state’s pension fund, which is already $48 billion underfunded.

What’s more, some of Christie’s spending reductions aren’t as clear-cut as they might seem. As Stateline reported last week, Christie’s budget assumes tens of millions of dollars in savings from privatization that has yet to occur.
The budget cuts he has ordered for municipalities and school districts have muddied the waters further. Many local jurisdictions, faced with the sudden evaporation of state aid that propped up their own budgets, say they will raise property taxes in response. Christie’s budget cuts to municipalities amount to “de facto tax increases,” says Sharon Schulman, executive director of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton College.”

Does this surprise anyone? His plans are no different than what the Republicans have been doing for years now – refusing to pay for things by increasing our main source of revenue. This is the equivalent of suggesting that instead of getting a job, people should stop buying things like food. But this failed strategy allows the Republicans to kill every social safety net necessity they can get their grubby hands on which is a win win in the long term for them, because the more people suffer the less engaged they are in politics and the less education they have the more likely they are to vote Republican.

And the best part is that while robbing the public, they win the war of perception. After all, it takes years to see the effect of such approaches and the public is much too misinformed to understand why they are less well off than before. I imagine Fox News will find a way to blame the central government for the inevitable property tax hikes resulting from Christie’s showy budget slashing. It should be noted that Christie did not keep taxes low. He kept them low for the rich. The working will have a tax increase under Christie.

But aside from the fiscal shell games these boys play, we mustn’t forget that this scenario of doomsday is something the Republicans are working very hard to maintain for Americans. After all, if the economy recovers the GOP won’t have a snowball’s chance in Hell of taking 2012 and at the rate they’re going according to recent polls, they’ll lose the House too. Yes, contrary to what the Republicans tell Americans they want, Americans actually tell us in polls that they didn’t want the rich to continue to get the lowest tax rates in history.

Americans thought it might be nice if the rich paid their share and helped get us out of this mess that the Republicans and their wealthy corporate friends got us into by playing fast and loose with regulation and then coming crying to us for a bailout when their big spending ways and borrowing didn’t work out so well. But boys like Christie want the working poor to foot this bill too. After all, if we’re going to climb outta this mess someone has to pay and it can’t be the “job creators”! I mean, look where that trickle down theory got us. Why not beat our head into that brick wall a bit longer, just to make sure it really did fail.

Joe obviously sees in Christie a man who can sell this crap and come off like a populist but not an embarrassment like Palin because poor Joe is so desperate to take back his party from the nutjobs who’ve hi-jacked it that he has obviously decided to use his show to push any relatively reasonable (I say relatively because if you compare Chris Christie with Sarah Palin, well, he looks reasonable) Republican he can. But what Joe isn’t saying is that Christie has only been in office for a year. A year into Palin’s term, she was the state’s most popular governor. She quit two and a half years into her term when she couldn’t cope with the mess she’d made and the fame that came a-callin’ looked like it would be so much more fun.

“As Christie’s budget cuts force tax hikes at the local level and many residents begin to recognize that they are paying more for less state government, Christie’s next three years in office could be more challenging than the first.” Maybe Scarborough is hoping that if Chritie pulls a Palin and runs for President just two years into his term, the full effects of his huge budget slashes and tax hikes on the middle class will remain hidden and allow Christie to run a populist campaign of fiscal conservatism that appeals to the very rich corporate donors he’ll be needing.

Gee, I feel like a 14 year old girl at a Beatles concert who just got told that as a result of “spending being out of control” (translation, the Republicans don’t want their corporate multi-millionaire friends to have to pay taxes) my school just got hit with a 64% reduction in aid, my parents can no longer afford their home, I can’t afford to go to college and by the way, that pension is gone. Chris Christie is the conservative reverse Robinhood, stealing from the middle class to subsidize the rich.

Sure the day of reckoning is here. But for whom, that’s the question.

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Joe Scarborough Blasts Republicans For Throwing Baby Jesus Under the Bus

Joe Scarborough Comes Out Guns A Blazin' After Republican Obstructionists

Joe Scarborough and his entire panel in this morning’s “Morning Joe” came out shooting as they blasted Senate Republicans for using the baby Jesus for political posturing. Senate Republicans are disingenuously using Christmas as a reason not to work in the weeks leading up to the holiday, and Joe’s entire panel was outraged by the hypocrisy and the obvious failure to appreciate that our troops are working over the holiday, as are many average Americans. The entire panel agreed that “these (Republicans) are not serious people”, but Joe was particularly offended by Senator Kyl suggesting that Senator Reid wasn’t a Christian because he wanted to work close to Christmas, which caused Joe to point out that when the Republicans were trying to impeach President Clinton on December 19, 1998 they weren’t so worried about Baby Jesus.

Here is the video from MSNBC:

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Scarborough said, “It’s offensive that people would use Christianity for political leverage with an argument that is so baseless. I gotta say my breath is taken away. For so many reasons, do we want to start with the obvious one about who else is not going to be home on Christmas Day…troops in Afghanistan. Are they disrespecting a holiday by continuing to vote to keep them in Afghanistan? I don’t know. Mike Barnicle, there are a lot of working class people that i guess the Senator doesn’t know, the senators don’t know that work late into Christmas Eve, wake up still a few hours with their children and go back to work on Christmas Day. Are their employers disrespecting Christmas. Does Jesus not live in Washington, D.C.? Can they not worship Jesus in Washington, D.C.? To be sanctimonious and to use that is just — it is offensive. The Republican Party has the upper hand in so many ways. In these areas they need to shut their mouth. They’re embarrassing themselves.”

Mike Barnicle added, “We’ve been saying the same thing on several occasions with regard to issues like this and rhetoric like this, these are not serious people. They’re not serious people. I don’t know whether Senator Kyl and Senator DeMint either inject themselves with Novocain in the cheeks or soak their faces in cement. How I don’t can say that without bursting into laughter, it’s so absurd. It’s so offensive; I don’t know how they do it.”

But the coup d’ grace came as Joe pulled out the trump card: Republicans tried to impeach President Clinton over the Christmas holiday. I guess the lame duck session wasn’t so lame then, eh? Christmas wasn’t so sacred as to prevent them from working when they had an agenda they wanted passed.

Scarborough accused Senate Republicans of throwing baby Jesus under the bus, “To be self-righteous. Do we want to go through bible verses? But questioning Harry Reid’s Christianity suggesting he’s blasphemous… I remember we were voting on impeachment on December 19th or 20th back in 1999 (sic). No one was throwing baby Jesus under the bus that year…”

Scarborough called on Sens.DeMint and Kyl to apologize to Harry Reid, “I don’t usually say this, but I do think that senator DeMint who I know and like and respect and Jon Kyl owe Harry Reid an apology. I will say that. I will go there. It is unchrist-like to judge another man’s faith in the way they have judged Harry Reid’s faith, a devout Mormon, a devout Christian. There is nothing biblical about that. Nothing.”

It deeply disturbed Joe and Mica that the Republicans would not vote on the START treaty and that they were asking for it to be read on the floor (the START treaty is a 17 page PDF), demonstrating yet again that they were not serious about legislating for America’s best interest.

The entire panel felt that the Republicans may have blown it with this un-Christ-like behavior wherein they judged another man’s faith and suggested that this may be a Newt Gingrich moment. “Do they really think Americans are this stupid?” These boys haven’t even taken their majority yet and they are already acting like drunken frat boys, rolling in the inherited privilege of their daddy’s wallet. They show absolutely zero seriousness about governing and doing what’s best for this country.

When Joe Scarborough, who served in the House of Representatives and certainly can speak about the responsibilities with expertise, accuses you of being un-serious and says that Senators Kyl and DeMint owe an apology to Senator Harry Reid for being “un-Christlike”, the Republicans have jumped the obstruction shark before they even took their majority. Nothing says co-operation, Christmas and love for the Prince of Peace like accusing your colleague of not being Christian all because he’s asking you to secure the nation before you go home.

Joe Scarborough serves as somewhat of a measuring stick for how preposterously right the Republican Party has moved. Back in the 1990’s, he was a staunch family values conservative, fast forward a decade, and Scarborough isn’t far enough right for his party. It is deplorable that these Senate millionaires would dare bellyache about the prospect of working near or through the holidays, that is, if you consider what these men do to be considered work. Between all of the fundraisers and golf outings they can barely find the time to do any actual legislating.

These same Republicans were willing to cut off unemployment benefits for two million of their fellow Americans by Christmas. How dare they complain about the privileged lives that they enjoy while so many Americans are doing without? Joe Scarborough’s criticism should be the least of their concerns. Jesus would not approve. Welcome to the true meaning of Christmas, the rich, white entitled Republican way.

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Rachel Maddow Explains How Republicans Broke the Senate

Dec 15 2010 Published by under Featured News, U.S. Senate

On her MSNBC program Rachel Maddow recently sat America down and tried to explain to them how Republicans have managed to break the US Senate by abusing the filibuster. Maddow said, “Since they lost the Senate they have turned it into a stronghold for their own party by using power the senate minority is usually entrusted not to abuse. They’ve used that power to break the institution.”

Here is the video from MSNBC:

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Maddow started the segment by discussing why the Senate is suddenly so busy, “Why does stuff stall all year long and then this time of year it takes off like it is in fast motion? It’s because the people who work here want to go home. Get your stuff, get your rewards cards, it’s time to go, move it. You do not have to go home, but you can’t stay here, everybody out. This is not just sociology about human incentives. This is political science. This is not an accident. It’s not always been true that stuff got done only at Christmas time in Washington only at the end of the legislative Washington. This is a political phenomenon now, not just a grocery store phenomenon at the end of the night, because of something really dramatic that happened to the American political system. This is the way that Senate works.”

The reason why was soon evident as Maddow discussed Republican abuse of the filibuster, “This is 1919 to just before Republicans in the senate went into the minority in 2006. This is how the Senate worked from 1919 until before republicans became the minority. Then the last time republicans became the minority, what happened? Boing. Look at that. What you’re looking at there is the breaking of the United States Senate as an institution. What these are is filibusters. This is when the Senate decides to take the extraordinary measure of making something take 60 votes to pass instead of 50 votes. And that’s impossible. Supermajorities are impossible. You cannot actually pass things with supermajorities in an ongoing way. This is not the way that legislatures function. It is never the way that America’s legislature has functioned. If you’re going to require a supermajority it means that effectively this body has ceased to function, it has ceased to function as a normal majority rules legislature. This is how Republicans broke the Senate.”

Maddow discussed the transformation of the Senate into a body where the minority rules, “They have turned the Senate into a Republican stronghold not while they were in the majority, but since they’ve been in the minority. Since they lost the Senate they have turned it into a stronghold for their own party by using power the senate minority is usually entrusted not to abuse. They’ve used that power to break the institution. Even know they are the minority, less than 50 of them, they exert all of the leverage. They get what they want. Which not only means that policies get changed to try to appeal to them, it also means that the calendar just stretches on and on and on and on with nothing ever getting done. That is their preference.”

She mentioned how the GOP is abusing the filibuster, “They are filibustering the funding of the military right now. It’s on the docket They are filibustering the appointment of people to relatively low-level political jobs at middle management levels at cabinet agencies you cannot remember the names of. People who are not famous, people who are not controversial but are nevertheless subject to this extraordinary supermajority rule. This extraordinary thing that was never supposed to be used the way it’s being used. Because republicans are using it the way they are, nothing gets done. And they have found that strategy to be in their political interest. To get as little done as possible.”

Maddow turned her attention to the only leverage that the Democratic majority has, “It is in their interest as the political minority that nothing gets done and they can achieve that with the way they have broken the institution formally known as the United States Senate. And that’s what explains why Christmas is so busy every year now, because the only leverage the democrats have, even though they’re in the majority, the only way Democrats can exert majority, pressure on Republicans is using the fact republicans want to go home and the only way to go home, Democrats say, is to have to do stuff first. Democrats’ only leverage is, hey Republicans, you can’t leave yet.”

She continued, “The leverage that Democrats have, it’s circumstantial. It’s you guys want to go home so we’ll keep the Senate opened so you can’t go home. This is not a procedure. This is not a rule. This is not a technique for bringing things to the floor. This isn’t even debate. This is, you guys want to go home and that’s all we have to use against you so we can get things done. The Senate is broken so this is the only time and only way the majority can get stuff passed.” Maddow then brought in Sen. Tom Udall to discuss his plan to reform the Senate by allowing the majority to review the body’s rules every two years and pass rules changes with a simple majority vote.”

Udall’s plan is a great idea, but it is certain not to pass. The dirty little secret is that neither side of the aisle wants to change the rules. Democrats are well aware that today’s majority could become 2012’s minority, so they view the dysfunction as a type of powerful insurance policy that always guarantees them clout, no matter what who the partisan numerical breakdown of the body favors. Partisanship has destroyed the ability of the Senate to function as it was intended. The Senate is supposed to be the body of deliberation and compromise.

By design the Senate was intended to offset the majority rules mentality of the House of Representatives, but as more members of the House moved up to the Senate, the lower chamber’s mentality has infected the Senate’s behavioral process. It is often difficult to tell the difference between senators and representatives. Hyper partisanship has run wild in the formerly moderate Senate. Rachel Maddow is right the Senate is broken, and their breakdown has paralyzed our government.

The next time you hear someone on the left complain about everything that Obama hasn’t done please take a moment to remind them that most of Obama’s agenda is currently languishing in the US Senate. The Senate has never approved funding for the relocation of detainees and the closure of GITMO. The Senate has stalled every clean energy bill. The Senate has been sitting on DADT. It was the Senate that killed the public option during the healthcare debate. Pick the issue, and you will almost certainly find a bill that the House passed which is collecting dust in the Senate.

It is easy to blame Obama, but Obama isn’t the problem here. Barack Obama hasn’t betrayed you and let you down. The problem is the United States Senate. It was once a proud example of some of the best elements of representative democracy has become a black hole that has killed the momentum of an entire nation. Sen. Udall is correct. This could easily be fixed, but it won’t be, because the American people in their misguided anger are blaming the wrong branch of government. Until people realize where the true problem lies, Obama will continue to take the blame while the United States Senate rots from within.

28 responses so far

Keith Olbermann Exposes Rupert Murdoch’s Betrayal of the War on Christmas

Dec 13 2010 Published by under Featured News

On his MSNBC program Countdown, Keith Olbermann exposed how Rupert Murdoch and his New York Post have betrayed their own war on Christmas by turning their backs on baby Jesus in order to promote the worship of Santa Claus. Olbermann said, “William Donohue and Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, traditional combatants in the war on Christmas have trained their yuletide guns on someone not for failing to put the Christ back in Christmas but for failing to worship Santa Claus.”

Here is the video from MSNBC:

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Olbermann said, “The very first war on Christmas was first waged by Christians. Before the American Revolution, Christmas was against the law in some of the colonies, because puritans considered Christmas a day of secular celebration and alcoholic revelry. Eventually Christmas was mixed with Teutonic Pagan elements like Santa Claus who got himself commercialized as a way to sell stuff. These days the war on Christmas is fought by the Christina right as a way to scare those sellers of stuff out of any multi-faith suggestion that Christmas is just another holiday. And therefore, Jesus Christ is just another deity and therefore Christianity just another religion, but our number one story tonight, the war on Christmas has taken a strange and disturbing turn this year.”

He continued, “William Donohue and Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, traditional combatants in the war on Christmas have trained their yuletide guns on someone not for failing to put the Christ back in Christmas but for failing to worship Santa Claus. It all started at a NYC branch of the YMCA….There some non-Christian young men were associated with the Y and decided the party was not for them, so the Y decided to make the centerpiece of the party Frosty the Snowman. Frosty, it should be noted, was not one of the disciples and is not mentioned in the Bible.”

The Countdown host gave us a brief history of the origins of Santa, and detailed the greatest betrayal in the history of the war on Christmas, “The NY Post quoting Donohue wishing good will to all, “If they can’t celebrate Christmas, then they should check out. What a bunch of cowards.” this in defense of Santa Claus, who is not one of the disciples and is not even mentioned in the Bible. Santa Claus descended from the Germanic Sinterklaas who descended from the Norse god Odin whose horse would fly in the night, and eat carrots and straw left by children in their stockings by the fireplace. That’s right, Bill Donohue and the New York Post have turned their back on Jesus and taken up arms in defense of a pagan an symbol. And, of course, we all know who’s behind pagan symbols. Never thought of that did you?”

This is stunning blow for the war on Christmas. Although, truth be told, Fox News’ heart really hasn’t been in the war on Christmas for a while now. Heck, even the George Washington of this war, Bill O’Reilly gave up the battle and turned the keys over to John Stossel, but after so many culture warriors, oh I’m sorry they like to be called Tea Partiers now, campaigned this year on reviving the culture war, I thought that the war on Christmas was certain to enjoy a revival.

It should be noted that the war on Christmas was always more in with that commercialized universal pitchman in the red suit than putting the Christ back in Christmas. The war on Christmas was itself a commercial attempt to boost ratings and play on the multi religious and cultural fears of a segment of the US population. The ignorance of these Christmas warriors knows no limits, and funniest thing about this story is that the war on Christmas blowhards don’t even realize that they are defending a pagan symbol, not the holiday which they claim to be trying to preserve.

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Conservatives Lick Their Chops While The Left Cannibalizes Obama

Dec 09 2010 Published by under Featured News

After President Obama’s press conference announcing a deal with Republicans on tax cuts, the left exploded with such ferocity and divisiveness that it’s no wonder conservatives always win. It’s sad to see the left demonize Obama as a sellout for making the best out of losing situation for the majority of Americans.

There is justification for the ire on the Left over the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy; but where is the elation that Obama got a 13 month extension for millions of unemployed Americans? With no super majority in the Senate, and Blue Dog Democrats in the House, there was little hope there would be any relief for the unemployed. It makes one wonder if the humanitarians on the left felt it was worth watching millions of Americans lose their homes to make a point. Some on the left repeated Republican HCR talking points with, “we are saddling our kids and grand-kids with debt.”

Every American receives a tax cut that will stimulate the economy, but that is lost in the outrage on the left. The deal affects every American, not just the whims of liberals who possibly don’t need tax relief. No one except Republicans and the wealthy wanted the rich tax cuts extended, but in order to help the majority of Americans, the president made a very tough decision.

The deal Obama reached with Republicans is not perfect, but in this political climate he had little choice but to help the most Americans. The left ignores that out of the $3.7 Trillion dollar tax cut deal, only $130 Billion goes for the wealthy tax cuts. The deal includes several Progressive tax cuts and this agreement is a back door stimulus package the country needs. For all the liberal talk that Obama sold out his base, there is no satisfaction that the tax cuts for 98% of Americans will go back into the economy; Obama didn’t sell out America.

Every American has a pet policy issue they feel is more important than any others, and it is perfectly natural. Those on the left feel their signature issues should take precedence over the good of the majority, but they forget that America is more than just right and left. A great majority of Americans are in the center, and Obama recognizes that he is President for all Americans; not just liberals and progressives. During President Obama’s victory speech in 2008, he plainly stated that he was president to all Americans whether they supported him or not.

The pundits on the left have gone super-critical in their pomposity about Obama selling out his base and losing his support, and the talking heads on MSNBC lead the list of elitists. A respected journalist said today that Keith Olbermann is MSNBC’s Glenn Beck, and there is more than a kernel of truth to that description. Olbermann’s 12 minute rant against the tax deal was condescending, and the pompous tone makes one wonder if he is sincere or showing how “fair and balanced” they are at the network.

Instead of blaming the president for every problem dealing with Republicans, very few are blaming the Democrats who are fearful of the perpetual campaigning and election season that they failed to support the president when there was a majority in the House. In fact, although there were numbers to suggest a majority, the truth is, there were never 60 votes in the Senate. Republicans have an easy time filibustering and blocking every one of Democrat’s legislation but there wasn’t talk of filibuster reform until the time comes when Republicans have the majority and there’s no hope of reform.

If they can lose their arrogant, spoiled child attitudes for a minute, the left should take a lesson from the right. At least the Tea Party and Republicans know to unify for a common cause. The Left has no common cause. Perhaps if Democrats could count on a unified base, they may be more willing to fight harder for progressive issues, but as it is, there is such a fractured, me first attitude, that there is no unified platform. Health care reform was a monumental achievement, but many on the left still complain there wasn’t a public option. There would be no HCR if Democrats and Obama stuck with a public option.

Liberals and Progressives are supposed to care about Americans, but their whiny, Tea Party mentality belies their convictions. The tax deal President Obama made is not ideal; it’s not even good, unless you are unemployed and wonder where your children’s next meal is coming from, or how you’ll pay rent this month.

Conservatives are licking their chops watching the left cannibalize President Obama for governing from the center; it is short-sighted and arrogant to believe otherwise. According to a July 2010 Gallup Poll, 20% of Americans identified themselves as liberal, 42% were conservative, and 35% are centrists. President Obama still enjoys an 80% approval rating among Democrats, so the outrage coming from elite liberals like Olbermann and Maddow is misleading; they are defaming a Centrist President.

The left should beware making Olbermann their Glenn Beck, and should start looking at political realities. No one knows how the tax deal eventually plays out, but one thing is certain; millions of Americans will benefit from unemployment extensions, and every American will get a tax cut. Children will get school lunches and parents get credits worth $2,500 for their college students. Maybe it isn’t everything to everybody, but the deal has something for everyone; even the wealthy. That is what happens in politics and life. Sometimes you have to take the bad with the good, and in this deal, there is something good for a lot of Americans; even those on the left.

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Joe Scarborough Exposes Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck’s Fake Palin Support

Nov 30 2010 Published by under Featured News

Palin in Scarborough's Crosshairs

It turns out that Joe Scarborough’s criticism of Sarah Palin in a column for Politico today was just the tip of the iceberg. On his MSNBC program Morning Joe, Scarborough exposed the truth about the right and Sarah Palin. Talk radio hosts and Republican leaders privately say they don’t want her, but they are afraid to take her on. Scarborough basically accused the talk show hosts, who defend Palin for 3 hours a day on the air but don’t really support her, of lying.

Here is the video from MSNBC:

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Scarborough opened his Politico piece by discussing the GOP’s Palin problem, “Republicans have a problem. The most-talked-about figure in the GOP is a reality show star who cannot be elected. And yet the same leaders who fret that Sarah Palin could devastate their party in 2012 are too scared to say in public what they all complain about in private. Enough. It’s time for the GOP to man up.”

Scarborough expanded on his comments during Morning Joe today. His co-host Mika Brzezinski opened up the segment on the Politico story by saying, “But the bottom line is you know, we talk off set with a lot of major Republican figures, and they say all this. They refuse to say it on the record.”

Scarborough then expanded on her point, “All of them. All of them say it offset. All your talk radio show hosts that will defend Sarah Palin for three hours every day, all offset quietly say this, all your leading conservative figures, off the record, will say all of this about Sarah Palin but they want ratings and book sales and don’t want to upset the 18% of Americans who like Sarah Palin. I, however, my main concern with actually good governance.”

It doesn’t take much effort to figure who Scarborough was referring to when he mentioned talk show hosts who take the airwaves for three hours a day to defend Palin. Of course he was referring to Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and especially Glenn Beck. Judging from his statement that the talk show hosts support Palin to boost ratings and book sales, I think that he was especially taking aim at Beck.

The reason why these talk show hosts are lying to their listeners can be found by examining demographics. The average viewer age for Sarah Palin’s Alaska is 57 years old. Roughly 80% of Fox News viewers are over 50 years old, and it has been estimated that 70%-80% of Rush Limbaugh’s listeners are over 50 years old. Palin’s supporters also listen to and watch Beck, Hannity, and Limbaugh, so it is in their financial best interests to never let their true feelings about Sarah Palin be known on the air.

In order to make a buck, these right wing talkers go on the air, and lie about their support of Sarah Palin every day. What Scarborough did this morning was provide an insider’s view of how the right wing media works. It isn’t about beliefs for them. It is all about feeding the audience what they want to hear, and making money. The problem is that what that audience wants to hear could bring down the Republican Party if Sarah Palin is allowed to become their 2012 nominee.

I think almost everyone who is not on the right underestimates what a powerful brand and marketing machine Sarah Palin has established with evangelical and social conservatives. People like Beck, Hannity, and Limbaugh are happy to keep milking the Palin cash cow, and are afraid of rocking the boat. These so called voices of right wing truth are so terrified of Sarah Palin and her cult like following that they tell them exactly what they want to hear.

It will be interesting to see how long it takes these propagators of false reality to line up and proclaim their love and support of Sarah Palin, and even though some on the right will see Scarborough as a traitor or a closet liberal, he is actually doing his party a favor by exposing the dirty business of selling Sarah Palin.

37 responses so far

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