Thursday, July 30, 2009

Where is the new center of gravity? With progressives, Mr. President.

Senate Finance Chair, already gutting reform in a "bipartisan" effort, gets stabbed in the back by his partison collaborators. Surprise?

And now Chairman Baucus may be forced out of his chairmanship. The progressives are finding their roar.

In an apparent warning to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), some liberal Democrats have suggested a secret-ballot vote every two years on whether or not to strip committee chairmen of their gavels.

Baucus, who is more conservative than most of the Democratic Conference, has frustrated many of his liberal colleagues by negotiating for weeks with Republicans over healthcare reform without producing a bill or even much detail about the policies he is considering.

Although I love the President's Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel's tenacity and pugnaciousness, he's flat wrong about what's driving Democratic majorities, and he appears to be stuck in the years that made him, the Clinton years when the right scared the pants off all of them and they tucked tails and ran away from HCR, condemning Americans to another 16-20 years of a failed and predatory health care system that is a joke to all other western developed nations. A joke. A farce. A true American tragedy for millions.

I have to think as competitive as Barack Obama is, he knows the score and what has to happen.

Let's see you get serious, Mr. President. Let's see a staff shake-up over this.

Leak to the press, Mr. President, that so-called compromise bent too far, and your home team will now get this into the end zone. Tell them that Republicans stuck a dagger in the back of the SFC chairman and you gave them a chance, like with the stimulus bill, to come to the table, and a few did - but only to poison the effort.

Lay out the final plan Mr. President. Give the Progressive Caucus the final plan, and tell them to drive it home and to your desk.

That will set up the next 3 years for getting your agenda done. And when good-faith moderate Republicans want to come to the table to contribute and not poison, they can always be welcome.

But there are no good-faith players in the Republican party right now, and until they get their shit together, there is no reason to be dealing with them.

Tell the Republicans, Mr. President, to get their shit together before you bring them back to any table.

Enjoy your beer this afternoon. Please use it to talk about the stimulus (municipal jobs) and health care reform.
Texas: Molly Ivins, Ann Richards, Walter Cronkite, Bill Moyers, Barbara Jordan, Lloyd Bentsen, Jim Hightower, Dan Rather, Ron Paul, Willie Nelson, LBJ

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Rachel Maddow: Pulling Their Pants Down

For my friend Denny.

Rachel Maddow is an angel dancing on the head of the pin that is U.S. politics. She has earned her own show on MSNBC at 9PM ET. She is easily the smartest commentator on television, and not surprisingly, she is an unapologetic progressive. Do you think Glen Beck has her credentials? Do you think Lou Dobbs has her credentials? Rush Limbaugh? The other blow-hard entertainers? Rachel Maddow has serious horsepower under the hood:
Maddow received a bachelor’s degree in public policy from Stanford University. She earned her doctorate in political science at Oxford University, which she attended on a Rhodes Scholarship. She is currently working on a book on the changing role of the military in U.S. politics, due out next year. She lives in New York City and Massachusetts with her partner, artist Susan Mikula.

Yeah that's right. She competes and sometimes beats LARRY KING in the 9PM time slot. And she's the smartest person in all of politics, actually, except of course the universally praised for his intellect, Chairman of the House Banking Committee, Rep. Barney Frank (and yes, it's purely coincidence that they're both openly gay).

She's a Rhodes Scholar, like Bill Clinton. She has a degree from Stanford. She's a PhD. Dr. Maddow. Yes, Dr. Maddow. And she filets those political creeps every night.

Why do I harp on this and on her in particular? Because she's a phenomenon, every bit as unique as the first black president -- she's the first seriously smart person ever to anchor a nightly program. You think Cronkite is the gold standard? Watch Rachel at 8PM CT on MSNBC.

With that as prelude, my friend, watch how she absolutely slices and dices the obviously coordinated Republican plan to bill health care reform as a "secret plot to kill old people." You heard that crazy caller, like the crazy "birthers," call into the AARP forum today with Pres. Obama and ask about the [brownshirts] people coming into old people's homes and forcing them to decide how they want to die? You want to see who's behind that exactly? You want to see the evidence layed out on a table like a deck of cards in a Vegas casino? Watch Rachel. She latches on and shakes it all out using a full 12 minutes on her show, calling "crazy 'crazy'". She lays it all out for everyone in the media, in NBC news, in Washington D.C. to see; she's done everyone's homework for them. Watch - this is splendorous, and she gives everyone a firm point on which to pivot. This is what's been missing for 40 years:

My response? I laughed out loud hysterically. A "Three's Company" storyline! Ha! LOL! When I saw it watching Rachel, I fell into hysterical laughter. My dog was worried. Why was I in hysterical laughter? Because Rachel just planted a rod for all of Washington and all of political media. She and her staff did the homework. She exposed the crazy liars. She identified them. (And for some reason they're all white and have southern accents: Southern Strategy anyone?) She played the clips of them live. She reached deep into the cesspool of right wing hater talk radio and even the "Internets" to identify the culprits. She did everyone's homework. And she encourages people to copy off her work. Today? This clip and story are the lead story at the MSNBC homepage.

Journalists hate homework. That's why network news is so craptacular. "Journalists" today don't want to work, they just want to take transcripts and "leaked" talking points and repeat them as their own "political insight." Repeating talking points fed to them on "background" by the partisan leaders - revealing their "playbooks" - that's become the bread and butter of main network journalism. Fine. Let them have it.

Meanwhile, watch how earlier this and last week, Maddow led the charge against the alarming level that "the birthers" had been allowed to rise, to the point where Republican congresscritters were afraid to call them out for the stooopid they are. "Calling crazy 'crazy'" is exactly what Republicans are afraid to do, and until the past year, the crazies were not part of the "polite" network coverage of politics in the past. No more. Watch Rachel lay these creeps flat (with the help of online journalist Mike Stark), and then watch what just happened the next day, thanks to Maddows sunshine on a bed of cockroaches.

It's results like this, a result of her dazzling tenacity and incisive wit, that have made Rachel Maddow a force within MSNBC. That means she's a force within NBC. That means she has a voice in that traditional media I'm criticizing. It means that the fix is in - the bullshit that the haters have been pulling for 30+ years is being called out from a little corner on cable at 9PM ET. By Dr. Rachel Maddow. She packages it together, she's the first to do it on any given day, and then her work drives fair-minded commentators and writers for the following day. That's why she's on at nights and not in the mornings. The spin begins at night, not in the morning. In the mornings all news is old news. If Maddow were not an internal force, then how could she get away with knocking down MSNBC's own and her own guest, Pat Buchanan? Where else have you seen such a thorough smack down with succint, cutting analysis that lays out the naked facts full monty?

So you wanna know which way things are blowing? Watch Rachel. Night after night ever since she got her own show, she reliably and regularly uses her acute intellect to pull the pants down on the scumbag haters of the Nixon school trying to pull the craziest of shit these days because... they... simply... have... nothing... left.

In the end, it's the margin in the middle of the electorate, the "gut" voters who really are fair minded but not deeply involved, who steer the future course. And Republicans are still operating in the old environment when they could keep their neanderthal constituents so critical to their power base (I realize that's unfair to neanderthals) under the radar. No more. The jig is up.

This isn't 1968. This isn't 1980. This isn't 1993. This isn't 2003. It's 2009 and finally...... FINALLY.... the media are getting both the talent and the ratings to secure a cutting read of the bullshit that's been going on from Republican haters for 40 freakin years. It's over.

It might take the old Beltway insider game a bit to catch on, but the election of Pres. Obama is all the proof anyone needs to see that the old game is over. Yeah, the election was too close for comfort and Sarah Palin still gets too much time on tee-vee. But at least Palin gets a lot of "crazy person" criticism in that coverage now. Not so thinkable 6 years ago. Not 16 years ago. God knows not 30 and 40 years ago. But now?

Well, just read the polls. Just watch Rachel. If there weren't enough fair-minded concerned citizens out there to make a difference, Dr. Maddow would be peddling her doctoral dissertation in the petty halls of academia, and not laying out her incisive analysis in prime time on NBC cable to an audience that outsizes the venerable Larry King. Out with the old indeed...

This is some of the funniest political satire I've seen in a while, again from Rachel Maddow, who uses humor to cut through the crazies like Limbaugh uses anger, self loathing, and racism.

Want even more evidence of my theory? Here's a story, not just on MSNBC from the *AP* that's running all day and ran last night about Glen Beck on Fox News calling the president "racist." Again, they're "calling crazy 'crazy'".

And here's the video:

Birther Rage & Lou Dobbs -- Getting Called Out (They Think They Can Still Get Away With This)

Here's Maddow on the decades old "C-Street" house in Washington DC, a "secret society" for radical Christian congress rats, the place where the John Ensign affair was "handled." Maddow has been on this story night after night, exposing them and causing the members to obfuscate and run and deny. This isn't something that just popped up. No the Ensign affair exposed them, and unlike even 3 years ago, Maddow and others are there *now* to follow the bigger story of what in the world is this seedy "C Street" boys club ("No Girls Allowed" as Pulitzer winning Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post characterized it on air) - what in the world is going on with this? Maddow decried it as something these people's constituents, including NV Sen Ensign's, did not elect them to do: go to Washington and represent the interests of their secret club first instead of the interests of the people who elected them. Calling crazy "crazy."

The C-Street update is preceded by Maddow's update that her calling out of Lou Dobbs' well-known racism has elicited a forceful defensive response from him. Think about that. Maddow has had her own show maybe a year? And Lou Dobbs? Uh, yeah. That's the power Maddow has already accumulated. Then she moves into Sen. Inhofe (R-Crazyland) and C-Street, 2 minutes in. This is from last night's show.

This stuff is just an easy list of the types of things indicative of a turning of the giant ship of the Fourth Estate. Give it some time and keep the faith. The chapter of the last 40 years is done, and the page is turning.

The President Needs Republicans? No. He Needs Me.

The DC media are saying that Obama needs to win over "moderates" on health care reform, the so-called "Blue Dogs" and so-called "moderate" Republicans (an oxymoron these days if there ever was one).

Really? Because I think Obama needs to win over ME. Because I'm the guy that made monthly and sometimes weekly contributions to the Obama campaign 2007-2008. I campaigned hard in 2006 and 2008 for candidates who promised long-needed reform. FDR first proposed health care reform in 1932 but backed away when he heard cries of "socialism!" (Socialism! Like Canada! Be very very afraid! Like England! Run! Run for your life!) Yes, the same tired old canard we heard in 1993 that made the Clintons turn tail and run.

No more. I'm standing up. I demand real reform, and I'm the one the president has to win over to keep his job and secure a lasting legacy. I'm the one, and the millions like me. I'm the small business owner creating jobs but can't provide health care to my employees, and I won't hire anyone who doesn't have health care from some place. The result? I can hire married people with spouses who have benefits, I can hire retired people, I can hire young healthy men who can afford individual policies. Everyone else probably cannot *afford* to work for me. Tell me in what country in the world is that fair? Is that a democratic employment market? Is that a free market for employment? No.

The Public Option is already a compromise. That IS the compromise. Most every thinking person that looks at both cost and coverage elements of a solid health care system knows that single payer is the only grand design of a sound solution.

But we are not unreasonable people. We will compromise. Even with The White House, The House, and The Senate, even with 60 Democratic votes in the Senate and an enormous majority in The House, even coming off two wildly successful national elections on which winning candidates campaigned on successful health care reform... EVEN WITH ALL THAT, we will still compromise.

That compromise is the Public Option. We won't even compromise the name at this point. It's done. The compromise is there.

If the Public Option can't get done, then we expect our work winning elections for Democrats for the last four years will bring real reform with something *better* not weaker.

Waterloo indeed. And in this fog, I'm looking around wondering who's really on my side in the end and who's on the other - because some of my opponents appear to be wearing my uniform, and I'm not okay with that.

Monday, July 27, 2009

FOX News: Killing the Republican Party?

We live in interesting times, and that's interesting!

The title link is to an article at a prominent website about media. The new authorship here plans to focus more about the media. This article linked is about how the Republican enablers basically cannot help themselves: they are hastening the demise of the Republican party. (?) It's kind of a shame. We need loyal opposition after all. I find this part compelling:
Fox has corralled a stable of the most disreputable, unqualified, extremist, lunatics ever assembled, and is presenting them as experts, analysts, and leaders. These third-rate icons of idiocy are marketed by Fox like any other gag gift (i.e. pet rocks, plastic vomit, Sarah Palin, etc.). So while most Americans have never heard of actual Republican party bosses like House Minority Leader John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, posers like Joe the Plumber and Carrie Prejean have become household names.

So here we are, in the belly of the beast.
By doubling down on crazy, Fox is driving the center of the Republican Party further down the rabid hole. They are reshaping the party into a more radicalized community of conspiracy nuts. So even as this helps Rupert Murdoch’s bottom line, it is making celebrities of political bottom-feeders That can’t be good for the long-term prospects of the Republican Party.

Mark my words, the Republican party has yet to reconcile the crazies they have relied upon since the 1960's with the modern ability now to expose those crazies for what they are with new media.

And if you wonder about how FOX News gains a seemingly disproportionate influence in political media, commit this to wit:
Fox News is fond of boasting about their ratings dominance. It is a daily occurrence and the structural core of their argument that they reflect the mood of America. The GOP has bought this argument in its entirety. So it is important to note here that success in the Nielsen ratings has no correlation to public opinion polling. The ratings only measure the program choices of Nielsen’s survey participants. That is a subset of the population at large, and not a particularly representative one. It is a sample focused on consumers, not voters. And its respondents are just those willing to have their TV viewing monitored 24 hours a day, which skews the sample in favor of people who aren’t creeped out by that. ...So any attempt to tie ratings to partisan politics is a foolish exercise that demonstrates a grievous misunderstanding of the business of television.

Okay, so maybe FOX News isn't as influential as you fear they might be. Find solace in the truth, my friend.

Before you think that reasonable Americans are besieged by the likes of O'Reilly, consider this from the article:
. A mere 3 share (3% of people watching TV) will land you in the top 10. For cable news the bar is set even lower. In fact, the top rated show on the top rated cable news network (The O’Reilly Factor) only gets about 3 million viewers. That’s less than 1% of the American population. It’s also less than World Wrestling Entertainment, SpongeBob SquarePants, and the CBS Evening News (the lowest rated broadcast network news program). By contrast, America’s Got Talent is seen by 12 million viewers - four times O’Reilly’s audience.

So have heart. Keep the faith. You are not besieged. Hold your head high and speak loudly. Preach it! Preach the truth!