Media Matters


Daily Kos and I aren’t very tight.  I have no problem with them, but it’s not on my daily radar.  Every once in while, though, there’s a nugget of awesome, like this one showing how much worse (yes, worse) unemployment and presidential approval numbers were under Reagan at the beginning of his first term.  Surprisingly on point for the challenges faced by Reagen and Obama.  If Reagan had tried to do what he did today, he would have been pronounced a failure on arrival (FOA) in exactly the same way Fox has declared Obama to be a failure before he was even through 6 months in office.

Their conclusion:

It must have been quite a luxury for Reagan’s administration to not have a breathless, narrative-driven, fact-allergic, obituary-addicted, lunatic 24-hour cable news cycle during their first term.

I only wish I had written this myself.  I’m not going to blockquote it because it’s really long, but I was fascinated from the first line to the last.  If you care about civil discourse or the course of our nation, please take these points to heart regardless of your political affiliation.  Where are the media guardians of truth that are supposed to hold those in power accountable for what they say?

(From TPM):

Dear Conservative Americans,

The years have not been kind to you. I grew up in a profoundly Republican home, so I can remember when you wore a very different face than the one we see now.  You’ve lost me and you’ve lost most of America.  Because I believe having responsible choices is important to democracy, I’d like to give you some advice and an invitation.

First, the invitation:  Come back to us.

Now the advice.  You’re going to have to come up with a platform that isn’t built on a foundation of cowardice: fear of people with colors, religions, cultures and sex lives that differ from your own; fear of reform in banking, health care, energy; fantasy fears of America being transformed into an Islamic nation, into social/commun/fasc-ism, into a disarmed populace put in internment camps; and more.  But you have work to do even before you take on that task.

Your party — the GOP — and the conservative end of the American political spectrum has become irrepsonsible and irrational.  Worse, it’s tolerating, promoting and celebrating prejudice and hatred.  Let me provide some expamples — by no means an exhaustive list — of where the Right as gotten itself stuck in a swamp of hypocrisy, hyperbole, historical inaccuracy and hatred.

If you’re going to regain your stature as a party of rational, responsible people, you’ll have to start by draining this swamp:


You can’t flip out — and threaten impeachment – when Dems use a prlimentary procedure (deem and pass) that you used repeatedly (more than 35 times in just one session and more than 100 times in all!), that’s centuries old and which the courts have supported. Especially when your leaders admit it all.

You can’t vote and scream against the stimulus package and then take credit for the good it’s done in your own district (happily handing out enormous checks representing money that you voted against, is especially ugly) —  114 of you (at last count) did just that — and it’s even worse when you secretly beg for more.

You can’t fight against your own ideas just because the Dem president endorses your proposal.

You can’t call for a pay-as-you-go policy, and then vote against your own ideas.

Are they “unlawful enemy combatants” or are they “prisoners of war” at Gitmo? You can’t have it both ways.

You can’t carry on about the evils of government spending when your family has accepted more than a quarter-million dollars in government handouts.

You can’t refuse to go to a scheduled meeting, to which you were invited, and then blame the Dems because they didn’t meet with you.

You can’t rail against using teleprompters while using teleprompters. Repeatedly.

You can’t rail against the bank bailouts when you supported them as they were happening.

You can’t be for immigration reform, then against it .

You can’t enjoy socialized medicine while condemning it.

You can’t flip out when the black president puts his feet on the presidential desk when you were silent about white presidents doing the same.  Bush.  Ford.

You can’t complain that the president hasn’t closed Gitmo yet when you’ve campaigned to keep Gitmo open.

You can’t flip out when the black president bows to foreign dignitaries, as appropriate for their culture, when you were silent when the white presidents did the same. Bush.  Nixon. Ike. You didn’t even make a peep when Bush held hands and kissed (on the mouth) leaders of countries that are not on “kissing terms” with the US.

You can’t complain that the undies bomber was read his Miranda rights under Obama when the shoe bomber was read his Miranda rights under Bush and you remained silent.  (And, no, Newt — the shoe bomber was not a US citizen either, so there is no difference.)

You can’t attack the Dem president for not personally* publicly condemning a terrorist event for 72 hourswhen you said nothing about the Rep president waiting 6 days in an eerily similar incident (and, even then, he didn’t issue any condemnation).  *Obama administration did the day of the event.

You can’t throw a hissy fitsound alarms and cry that Obama freed Gitmo prisoners who later helped plan the Christmas Day undie bombing, when — in fact — only one former Gitmo detainee, released by Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, helped to plan the failed attack.

You can’t condemn blaming the Republican president for an attempted terror attack on his watch, then blame the Dem president for an attemted terror attack on his.

You can’t mount a boycott against singers who say they’re ashamed of the president for starting a war, but remain silent when another singer says he’s ashamed of the president and falsely calls him a Moaist who makes him want to throw up and says he ought to be in jail.

You can’t cry that the health care bill is too long, then cry that it’s too short.

You can’t support the individual mandate for health insurance, then call it unconstitutional when Dems propose it and campaign against your own ideas.

You can’t demand television coverage, then whine about it when you get it.  Repeatedly.

You can’t praise criminal trials in US courts for terror suspects under a Rep president, then call it “treasonous” under a Dem president.

You can’t propose ideas to create jobs, and then work against them when the Dems put your ideas in a bill.

You can’t be both pro-choice and anti-choice.

You can’t damn someone for failing to pay $900 in taxes when you’ve paid nearly $20,000 in IRS fines.

You can’t condemn critizising the president when US troops are in harms way, then attack the president when US troops are in harms way , the only difference being the president’s party affiliation (and, by the way, armed conflict does NOT remove our right and our duty as Americans to speak up).

You can’t be both for cap-and-trade policy and against it.

You can’t vote to block debate on a bill, then bemoan the lack of  ‘open debate’.

If you push anti-gay legislation and make anti-gay speeches, you should probably take a pass on having gay sex, regardless of whether it’s 2004 or 2010.  This is true, too, if you’re taking GOP money and giving anti-gay rants on CNN.  Taking right-wing money and GOP favors to write anti-gay stories for news sites while working as a gay prostitute, doubles down on both the hypocrisy and the prostitution.  This is especially true if you claim your anti-gay stand is God’s stand, too.

When you chair the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, you can’t send sexy emails to 16-year-old boys (illegal anyway, but you made it hypocritical as well).

You can’t criticize Dems for not doing something you didn’t do while you held power over the past 16 years, especially when the Dems have done more in one year than you did in 16.

You can’t decry “name calling” when you’ve been the most consistent and outrageous at it. And the most vile.

You can’t spend more than 40 years hating, cutting and trying to kill Medicare, and then pretend to be the defenders of Medicare

You can’t praise the Congressional Budget Office when it’s analysis produces numbers that fit your political agenda, then claim it’s unreliable when it comes up with numbers that don’t.

You can’t vote for X under a Republican president, then vote against X under a Democratic president.  Either you support X or you don’t. And it makes it worse when you change your position merely for the sake obstructionism.

You can’t call a reconcilliation out of bounds when you used it repeatedly.

You can’t spend tax-payer money on ads against spending tax-payer money.

You can’t condemn individual health insurance mandates in a Dem bill, when the madates were your idea.

You can’t demand everyone listen to the generals when they say what fits your agenda, and then ignore them when they don’t.

You can’t whine that it’s unfair when people accuse you of exploiting racism for political gain, when your party’s former leader admits you’ve been doing it for decades.

You can’t portray yourself as fighting terrorists when you openly and passionately support terrorists.

You can’t complain about a lack of bipartisanship when you’ve routinely obstructed for the sake of political gain — threatening to filibuster at least 100 pieces of legislation in one session, far more than any other since the procedural tactic was invented — and admitted it.  Some admissions are unintentional, others are made proudly. This is especially true when the bill is the result of decades of compromise between the two parties and is filled with your own ideas.

You can’t question the loyalty of Department of Justice lawyers when you didn’t object when your own Republican president appointed them.

You can’t preach and try to legislate “Family Values” when you: take nude hot tub dips with teenagers (and pay them hush money); cheat on your wife with a secret lover and lie about it to the world; cheat with a staffer’s wife (and pay them off with a new job); pay hookers for sex while wearing a diaper and cheatingon your wife; or just enjoying an old fashioned non-kinky cheating on your wife; try to have gay sex in a public toilet; authorize the rape of children in Iraqi prisons to coherce their parents into providing information; seek, look at or have sex with children; replace a guy who cheats on his wife with a guy who cheats on his pregnant wife with his wife’s mother;


You really need to dissassociate with those among you who:


If you’re going to use words like socialismcommunism and fascism, you must have at least a basic understanding of what those words mean (hint: they’re NOT synonymous!)

You can’t cut a leading Founding Father out the history books because you’ve decided you don’t like his ideas.

You cant repeatedly assert that the president refuses to say the word “terrorism” or say we’re at war with terror when we have an awful lot of videotape showing him repeatedly assailing terrorism and using those exact words.

If you’re going to invoke the names of historical figures, it does not serve you well to whitewash them. Especially this one.

You can’t just pretend historical events didn’t happen in an effort to make a political opponent look dishonest or to make your side look better. Especially these events. (And, no, repeating it doesn’t make it better.)

You can’t say things that are simply and demonstrably false: health care reform will not push people out of their private insurance and into a government-run program ; health care reform (which contains a good many of your ideas and very few from the Left) is a long way from “socialist utopia”; health care reform is not “reparations”; nor does health care reform create “death panels”.


You have to condemn those among you who:

Oh, and I’m not alone:  One of your most respected and decorated leaders agrees with me.

So, dear conservatives, get to work.  Drain the swamp of the conspiracy nuts, the bold-faced liars undeterred by demonstrable facts, the overt hypocrisy and the hatred.  Then offer us a calm, responsible, grownup agenda based on your values and your vision for America.  We may or may not agree with your values and vision, but we’ll certainly welcome you back to the American mainstream with open arms.  We need you.

(Anticipating your initial response:  No there is nothing that even comes close to this level of wingnuttery on the American Left.)

Written by Russell King

Is the new solution to everything for Republicans to start over?  (upper left corner and middle right)

Glenn Beck is in an uproar over churches that push “social justice”.  These are apparently code words to indicate that your church is now a supporter of communism and that you should leave the church.  I’m not exaggerating that point.  In his words:

“I beg you, look for the words ‘social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!”

I think that Glen Beck, Inc. might actually just be a huge performance art/mindfuck, and the puppetmasters are just trying to see how far they can go towards batshit insane before people stop listening.  If not, if Beck actually believes this as sincerely as his babyface suggests on the screen, then apparently he hasn’t ever, um, read the Bible.

If you’re Catholic, you might recognize the following as the Social Justice Prayer.  Might throw up one or two to whomever this gets addressed to:

“Almighty and eternal God, may your grace enkindle in all of us a love for the many unfortunate people whom poverty and misery reduce to a condition of life unworthy of human beings.

Arouse in the hearts of those who call you Father a hunger and thirst for social justice and for fraternal charity in deeds and in truth.

Grant, O Lord, peace to souls, peace to families, peace to our country and peace among nations. Amen”

(Yup, certainly sounds like a communist government takeover of religion to me…)

From Comics Alliance:

The second trailer for “Iron Man 2” is out, and I’m not sure what else to say except: This movie is going to make a BAJILLION dollars.


Rush, in his infinite wisdom, has solved the health care situation for us:

If you can’t afford it, don’t use it! He actually laughs at a caller and tells him that he shouldn’t have broken his wrist if he couldn’t pay the $6K to get it fixed.

In the same vein, Sen. Dr. John Barraso’s shocked and confused response to the President was another moment that left me similarly agape at the disconnect between our elected officials and the reality the rest of America lives in.  While singing the glories of catastrophic care insurance and health savings accounts, the Senator was taken aback when the President asked him if he would feel the same way if he made $40K a year, which the good doctor seemed to have trouble wrapping his head around.  See the video here.

It’s this condescending attitude from the rich that is so maddening to those of us falling through the cracks.  When these arguments are being put forward in this manner, it is painfully apparent that in the minds of these “leaders” health care is a privilege bestowed to those who can afford it, not a basic human need.  It’s a system set up for those who make significantly more than the average American family (however you define that term) that they expect us to just shut up and use because they tell us it’s best*.

So, the answer is apparently: Don’t get sick! Don’t get hurt! Don’t develop a genetic disease that you are incapable of avoiding!  You know how much this stuff costs – it’ your own fault if you get billed for it!

*provided you fall into the top ~20% of American households in income, this is the best system you could imagine.  The rest of you: suck it up and help those of us who actually contribute to society keep contributing by living short, disease filled lives and dying quickly.

The great irony is that the climate skeptics have prospered by insisting that their opponents are radicals. In fact, those who work to prevent global warming are deeply conservative, insistent that we should leave the world in something like the shape we found it. We want our kids to know the world we knew. Here’s the definition of radical: doubling the carbon content of the atmosphere because you’re not completely convinced it will be a disaster.

Normally, I would take this quote as the most powerful part of an article, but this one, by Bill McKibben, is a trove of reasoned thought on climate change and the dynamics of its opposition.  A great rundown if you’re looking to bone up before you have to deal with the right wingers at church this morning.

Here’s a fascinating chart (helpfully compiled by those terrorists over at Kaiser Health News) comparing the current House and Senate bills for health care reform to the 1993 Republican counter-proposals to Clinton’s reform efforts in 1993.  Just to make sure that there is no confusion, Republican opposition to this bill is in no way ideologically driven, it’s politically motivated to deny Democrats any victory at all at the expense of people’s very lives.  Sorry for the bombast, but looking at the items that Republicans proposed then and rail against now, that is the only possible way to read this.

Major Provisions Senate Bill 2009 Sen. Chafee (R) Bill 1993 Rep. Boehner (R) Bill 2009
Require Individuals To Purchase Health Insurance
(Includes Religious and/or Hardship Exemption)
Yes Yes No (individuals without
coverage would be taxed)
Requires Employers To Offer Health Insurance To Employees Yes (above 50 employees, must help pay for insurance costs to workers receiving tax credits
for insurance)
Yes (but no requirement to contribute to premium cost) No
Standard Benefits Package Yes Yes No
Bans Denying Medical Coverage For Pre-existing Conditions Yes Yes No (establishes high risk pools)
Establish State-based Exchanges/Purchasing Groups Yes Yes No
Offers Subsidies For Low-Income People To Buy Insurance Yes Yes No
Long Term Care Insurance Yes (sets up a voluntary insurance plan) Yes (sets standards for insurance) No
Makes Efforts To Create More Efficient Health Care System Yes Yes Yes
Medicaid Expansion Yes No No
Reduces Growth In Medicare Spending Yes Yes No
Medical Malpractice Reform No Yes Yes
Controls High Cost Health Plans Yes (taxes on plans over $8,500 for single coverage to $23,000 for family plan) Yes (caps tax exemption for employer-sponsored plans) No
Prohibits Insurance Company From Cancelling Coverage Yes Yes Yes
Prohibits Insurers From Setting Lifetime Spending Caps Yes No Yes
Equalize Tax Treatment For Insurance Of Self-Employed No Yes No
Extends Coverage To Dependents Yes (up to age 26) No Yes (up to age 25)
Cost $871 billion over 10 years No CBO estimate $8 billion over 10 years
Impact On Deficit Reduces by $132 billion over 10 years No CBO estimate Reduces by $68 billion over 10 years
Percentage Of Americans Covered 94% by 2019 92-94% by 2005 82% by 2019

This is strange for me, so I’ll just  get it off my chest: I’m a comic book person.  Been one for more than half my life (that’s terrifying when put like that).  This hasn’t come up much because I’ve been focusing on my political interests here for a while, but finally the two have come together in the form Captain America #602.

For over ten years I read the whole family of X-Men titles religiously.  While I no longer buy monthly issues, I still try to stay on top of things with my old friends (despite some radical changes recently) through the burgeoning trade paperback market, and have  begun venturing further out into the Marvel Universe as all the titles have become increasingly interdependent.  Marvel’s flagship team, the Avengers, and their leader in particular, Captain America, had traditionally been too stuffy and hackneyed for my tastes, but the mega-crossovers have helped open my eyes to what can happen when treated with respect instead of camp.  In the hands of Ed Brubaker, Captain America in particular has been (mostly) brought out of the continuity ghetto created by 70 years of consistent publishing and thrust into the modern era to spectacular effect.  When the symbol of America can no longer go to war against the symbol of another country (because America’s enemies are rarely other political states anymore), some very interesting questions are raised regarding the role of the symbol of America itself.  These stories are thought provoking and much more involved than I expected  when opening a book featuring a guy with wings for ears.

Not everyone is as happy about this change of tone.  For example, observe this panel from Captain America #602:

The offending image

Yup, a totally inaccurate representation of the Tea Partiers.

This issue has drawn some intense fire from the right.  One Mr. Warner Todd Huston has been leading the pack against Cap, alternately belittling his “little red booties” and “little blue panties”.  To say that the whole post comes across as “touchy” is an understatement.  Fortunately, the folks at Comics Alliance have been kind enough to pull together an excellent rebuttal of this reactionary dreck and framed the issue (pun DEFINITELY intended) in light of Marvel’s overarching style. :

Though they have generally avoided the political arena (well, except that one time), the company has always stood firmly for social justice, which also became a huge part of the fans’ attachment to the brand — an ideal and an attachment that we would rather see maintained.

It may not play in every corner of the country, but for a company that makes its bread telling tales of heroic ideals, standing up for something might be just the kind of great responsibility that goes with their great power

It’s nice to see a reasoned response instead of the usual race to fight about whether the Tea Party is made up of angry, government hating racists.

The reaction to  this issue has been surprising to me.  The very people who spend their lives gathering intelligence and planning to keep America safe have been saying for almost a year now that there is a growing threat to our safety from radical elements on the left and the right (though one seems to be growing faster), only to be met with partisan responses to reasoned reports.  While each new report (like Sunday’s) raises less and less furor, the Captain America issue wasn’t something the mainstream picked up on until the professional offense takers began making a racket.  I think that says something about the public’s acceptance of this situation as rational.

I mean, even Captain America thinks it’s important to keep an eye on people who say they are mad as hell at the government and talk about revolution.  Don’t you?

An excellent repudiation of the current “conservative” movement from Mickey Edwards.  All too often, it seems that blog posts about who is saying what is just a game to folks, to see who is falling where and gauging what problems that will cause to the system in place.  In my defense for posting the same kind of thing, I think that Edwards makes some excellent points that are useful to ponder, as opposed to the “oh, snap” impulse of saying something mean and unexpected.

I’m not at CPAC because I believe in America. I believe in liberty. I believe that governments should be held in check. I believe people matter. I believe in the flag not because of its shape or color but because of the principles it stands for–the principles in the Constitution, the principles repeated and underlined and highlighted and boldfaced and italicized in the Bill of Rights. The George W. whose presidency and precedents I admire was the first president, not the 43d. It is James Madison I admire, not John Yoo. Thomas Paine, not Glenn Beck. Jefferson, not Limbaugh.

Ronald Reagan would not have been welcome at today’s CPAC or a tea party rally, but he would not have wanted to be there, either. Neither do I.

How many current “conservatives” could say the same?  Ok, rephrase.  How many could say the same and actually back up what they had to say, as opposed to throwing the names of respected writers and leaders out there as if they automatically back what you are doing?

(I’ll be honest, Edwards does predate my involvement in politics by quite a while, so I had to look him up.  I was shocked at his Republican bona fides, and I’m sure we’ll be reading about how he’s been kicked out of the party in the days to come.)