Lying Scumbag James O’Keefe Returns With Predictably Dishonest Hit Piece On Alison Grimes

When you’ve spent your whole career producing feverishly partisan videos that have been denounced as brazenly deceitful by everyone from Rachel Maddow to Glenn Beck, it isn’t particularly newsworthy when a new one is posted that exhibits the same pattern of deception and reeks of the pathetic amateurism that has become your trademark.

James O'Keefe

Of course we’re talking about the infantile news defiler, James O’Keefe, who seems to have no limit to the copious quantities of shame he can endure at his own hand. This week he debuted his latest ode to defamation (video below) aimed at slandering Democratic Kentucky senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes. The video purports to cast Grimes as a cynical and hypocritical politician who will say anything to get elected. Setting aside the naivete of that theme when discussing politics, O’Keefe’s opus fails utterly to prove its contention. You have be pretty incompetent if you can’t successfully find some self-serving duplicity in any modern politico, but O’Keefe manages to hit that elusive mark.

As has been the case for his most recent efforts, they are ignored by reputable media, but picked up by the wingnut press like the Free Beacon, Breitbart News, and the Fox News community website, Fox Nation. In the introduction to his dubiously named Project Veritas video, O’Keefe says that…

“Kentucky U.S. Senate candidate Alison Grimes has vehemently and repeatedly claimed to oppose President Obama’s coal and environmental policies in what has become an increasingly significant campaign issue.

“Project Veritas Action went undercover in multiple Grimes campaign offices to determine if her opposition to the core principles of her own political party is genuine or an intentional deception.”

On one hand, it might seem like O’Keefe would be the perfect sleuth to uncover “intentional deception” given his personal experience as a prolific producer of it. However, the only thing that O’Keefe manages to do is surreptitiously record a parade of Grimes supporters offering their own opinions of what may or may not be on her mind. These folks are well-meaning and sincere backers of Grimes’ candidacy, but they are also gullible and unsophisticated in the unscrupulous ways of snakes like O’Keefe. Consequently, they got caught saying that they don’t believe that Grimes’s commitment to the coal industry in Kentucky is genuine.

This is the sort of raw meat that sets O’Keefe and his fellow vultures to frothing at the mouth. But to anyone who takes an open-eyed view of the material, there is really nothing of substance about which to get excited. The people that O’Keefe’s minions hoodwinked had no official responsibility for the Grimes campaign messaging. They were not speaking for her and did not represent her positions. Furthermore, they had no inside knowledge of any private thoughts she may have, and they did not profess to be clairvoyant.

The innocent subjects of O’Keefe’s hoax were merely projecting their own opinions on Grimes and expressing their own desires for what they hoped she might do after being elected. It has no more credibility than the lunacy of Ben Carson surmising that President Obama is plotting to cancel the 2016 presidential elections. And the project is further discredited by the tactics used, wherein O’Keefe’s plants pretended to be anti-coal advocates to elicit accommodating agreement from their prey. O’Keefe’s operatives are not campaign “trackers” who objectively record speeches and other public events in order to hold candidates accountable. They are con artists and hustlers who aim to entrap their victims into saying something that can be twisted out of context in the editing room.

It is also notable that O’Keefe posts videos that are heavily edited. The viewer has no idea if the subject’s remarks were premised with a phrase that altered the meaning. For instance, someone might say “…Alison Grimes is anti-coal.” But if that sentence began with the words “Critics falsely believe that…” it has an entirely different meaning. That’s what dishonest editing can do. It can also remove comments that don’t fit the premise that a biased videographer is trying to push. So O’Keefe may have interviewed dozens of people who said only positive things about Grimes, but he left them on the cutting room floor and posted only the handful whose words he could exploit.

A response to this phony video has already been issued from the campaign of Grimes’ opponent, Sen. Mitch McConnell. Seizing on the opportunity to exacerbate the dishonesty, McConnell’s spokesperson said…

“It is absolutely shocking that Alison Lundergan Grimes‘ own staff now admits that she has no intention of protecting the coal industry. The level of deception that Alison Grimes and her campaign engages in to appear pro-coal despite obvious opposition is both disturbing and dangerous.”

What’s shocking is the level of deception of McConnell’s spokesperson who knows very well that none of these remarks came from Grimes’ staff and they do not represent her position. The spokesperson is flagrantly lying. In contrast to this intentionally deceptive hogwash, there was a prior incident in the Kentucky race that has real substance and was not manufactured. A telephone call between McConnell’s campaign manager, Jesse Benton, and an associate was recorded and released to the press wherein he confessed that he wasn’t especially fond of McConnell, but had an ulterior motive for heading up his campaign:

“Between you and me, I’m sort of holdin’ my nose for two years because what we’re doing here is going to be a big benefit to Rand [Paul] in ’16.”

That was an unprovoked statement from one conservative operative to another. There was no deception involved in soliciting it. The motivation for making it public is unknown. Perhaps Benton’s pal was a supporter of Matt Bevin who, at the time, was running against McConnell in the Republican primary. But there is no similarity between this disclosure and what O’Keefe does. The speaker was not some tangentially related volunteer, he was McConnell’s campaign manager. And he wasn’t tricked by a scammer into revealing his opinion. To cap off this affair, Benton later resigned in disgrace from McConnell’s campaign after it was revealed that he played a role in a political bribery scandal in the 2012 GOP Iowa primary.

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For the record, here is a boilerplate background on James O’Keefe:
O’Keefe is best known for making an ass of himself on video while imagining an acclaim that is shared by no one outside of the Tea Party Home for the Chronically Delusional. Some of his other recent antics have resulted in his arrest and conviction in a Louisiana senator’s office, a legal order to pay a $100,000 settlement to a former ACORN employee he defamed, and a sleazy plot to seduce a CNN reporter aboard his “Love Boat.” More recently his “Cinema Veri-tasteless” earned him a rebuke from a team of Special Prosecutors in Texas (yes, Texas) who officially concluded that his video “was little more than a canard and political disinformation.” And he staged a remarkably juvenile stunt wherein he crossed the Rio Grande wearing an Osama Bin Laden mask.

Watch and laugh…..

Tea-Bola Infects The GOP: Symptoms Include Secession Obsession And California-itis

Today’s Republican Party is very, very sick. They are exhibiting symptoms of acute cognitive failure and an inability to distinguish fantasy from reality. This severe case of Tea-Bola is what accounts for their insistence that the federal government keep its hands off of Medicare; and their denial of Climate Change despite 97% of scientists affirming it; and their perception of a collapsing economy that has actually grown significantly.

The GOP, driven by its Tea Party caucus, is obsessed with repealing a health insurance reform plan that has resulted in lower costs and a substantial decrease in the number of uninsured Americans. They incessantly shout “Benghazi” as if they were suffering from a perverse form of Tourette’s Syndrome. And they want so badly to impeach President Obama that they have forgotten to establish any rationale for such a blatantly deranged legal overreach. Indeed, they are slipping away into wingnut delirium and there doesn’t seem to be any cure.

Tea-Bola

The latest manifestation of the right’s raving lunacy is illustrated in a poll conducted by Fox News (who is both suffering from, and spreading Tea-Bola). The Fox poll asked a question that reveals just how on target Jon Stewart was when he yelled at right-wing hypocrites, with exasperation, “Fuck you and your false patriotism.” The questions hinges on the notion of secession by one or more states. There have been several episodes of pseudo-patriotic Republicans articulating a desire for the United States to break apart, or for their state to secede. And now we have a survey that puts the matter into partisan perspective.

The poll asked: If your state were to hold an election on whether or not to split off from the United States, how would you vote? Democrats, at 4%, weren’t too keen on the idea, but three times as many Republicans (12%) favored it. However, it was the Tea Party that really lapped it up with 23% opting for secession. So much for American exceptionalism.

In another question, the divide was even more stark. The question asked was: Are there any states that you would vote out of the United States if you could? This wording is somewhat more hostile. It no longer wonders whether you would want to leave America yourself, but whether you would like kick out some other state. The party breakdown was: Democrats: 13%; Republicans: 21%; and a full third of the Tea Party contingent (34%) were firmly committed to banishing some other state from the land of the free.

The Tea Party’s favorite state to excommunicate is one that they frequently attack as a bastion of socialism and/or wacky secular heathens. To no one’s surprise it is California that was chosen by 83% of the Tea Party martinets of virtue. That’s six points higher than Republicans as a whole.

The incomparable idiocy of their blind hatred ignores the fact that California, by itself, accounts for about 13% of the nation’s GDP. If booted from the union it would become the sixth richest country in the world. It has all of the assets required to guarantee its ongoing prosperity, such as abundant natural resources; a diverse economy that includes agriculture, manufacturing, energy, technology, entertainment, and tourism; 800 miles of coastline and ports for access to the world’s trade routes; numerous defense plants and military installations; and an affluent population for its tax base. Let’s face, the U.S. needs California more than California needs the U.S.

If the GOP/Tea Party had its way they would end up with a much poorer America. California is a net positive contributor to the federal budget, getting back only 87 cents for every dollar paid in. Compare that to the Tea Party utopia of Mississippi where they mooch $2.47 for each dollar paid. And if the Teabaggers crusade extended to their second choice for banishment, New York, they would lose even more. New York is another prosperous (and Democratic) state that gets only 72 cents back on each dollar paid to the feds. The two-state combination of California and New York account for nearly a quarter (22%) of the entire nation’s GDP.

This display of stupidity extends to other questions in the Fox poll. For instance, when asked: How concerned are you that the Islamic extremist group known as ISIS will try to launch an attack on U.S. soil in the near future? Democrats had a reasonably healthy concern of 39%. Republicans were a bit more nervous with 59%. But the Tea Party are shivering in their bunkers with 76% consumed by the fear they’ve been fed by Fox News.

This may partially explain the serious diversion from reality that exists in the American electorate. The same poll shows that Obama’s approval rating is currently at 40%. That’s surprisingly low for a president who presided over the nation’s recovery from the worst financial calamity since the Great Depression; who disposed of Osama Bin Laden; and who signed the first major health insurance reform bill.

And yet Obama’s low rating is a drag on Democratic candidates in the upcoming midterm election. Polls show that many of the battleground states are perilously tight, with Republicans leading in some. But while Obama is riding around in the low forties, Republicans in Congress are floundering at 23%, almost half of Obama’s placing.

So why are voters considering casting their votes for Republicans whom they like much less than Obama and the Democrats? The answer is that the polling is counting “likely” voters. When a broader group of registered voters, or all eligible voters, are surveyed, the Democrats come out ahead. So the problem here is that Democrats are not considered likely to vote. That makes turnout for this year’s election the most critical objective. If Democrats vote in ratios comparable to Republicans, Democrats will win.

Of course, Republicans are doing everything they can to suppress voter turnout, and particularly to suppress Democratic turnout. They have been implementing voter ID laws that do nothing to prevent fraud, but are deliberately aimed at preventing Democrats from exercising their right to vote. Republicans are spending unprecedented sums on negative and dishonest advertising, largely bankrolled by the Koch brothers and other baldly partisan operatives.

The GOP/Tea Party wants very badly to block your ability to cast a vote. If you allow them to do that you are, in effect, aiding their cause. You are succumbing to their tactics. You are their bitch.

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It’s time to stand up for something positive, as opposed to the relentlessly negative harping of the right. A Republican senate is not a symbolic victory for the other side. It means that every chairman of every committee will be a Republican. It means a senate filled with Darrell Issas and Louis Gohmerts and Michelle Bachmanns deciding what legislation will be considered and what phony investigations will be pursued. It will put more power in the hands of Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. It will almost certainly result in an attempt to impeach the President.

But it doesn’t have to end that way. There are more of us than there are of them. All we have to do is vote. It isn’t that hard. You can register online in many states, and you can vote through the mail. Just fucking do it. Otherwise some toothless, tea-swilling, racist, moron will vote in your stead. The polls are all consistent. If we vote, we win. We can overwhelm their “likely” voter paradigm by simply showing up. And if we do, we beat back the Koch brothers, the GOP elitists, the Tea Party dimwits, and the cynical media that thinks YOU are too stupid to act in your own best interests.

As it turns out, voting is the cure for Tea-Bola.

Fear Factor: Fox News Fabricating Terror, Pure And Simple

Taking a break from their special programming highlighting the fake pandemic of Ebola, Fox News returned to their fake fear mongering over rampant domestic terrorism. This morning on Forbes On Fox, the panel took a demented view of the Oklahoma murder case wherein a disgruntled former employee decapitated a former coworker. The theme of the segment was whether this crime was workplace violence or terrorism. However, that question was quickly dismissed in favor a blatant position that was summarized by the program’s namesake:

Steve Forbes: This was a terrorist act, pure and simple.

Fox News

Having set the stage for a mostly one-sided discussion, the host, David Asman, dutifully agreed that all signs pointed to terrorism, ignoring the actual known facts.

Asman: It’s tough enough even to get them to say the word terrorism. To head off a threat though, you’ve got to be willing to acknowledge it first. That’s part of what led to the growth of ISIS, isn’t it?

Exactly. There would have been no ISIS at all if only people had said the word “terrorism” more often. Or maybe they just needed to clap louder so that Tinkerbell would have survived to kick the terrorists’ butts.

The only problem with these alarmist rants is that they are not in alignment with reality. First of all, Terrorists generally target victims either randomly or at a specific enemy, but these victims were the perpetrator’s former coworkers whom he knew personally and against whom he had grudges.

Secondly, terrorists strive to create as much damage, and thus fear, as possible in order to send a message. They seek out highly populated targets where they can harm the most number of people. But this crime scene was sparsely populated, remote, and chosen only for its connection to the perpetrator.

Thirdly, terrorists generally plan their missions in advance to have the greatest impact. This crime was spontaneous, occurring on the same day that the perp was fired, and directed at those he felt were responsible for his firing. He even used a weapon that was available at the scene, rather than acquiring or building something more broadly destructive.

So contrary to the ranting by Fox News, and other panicky fear merchants, all signs actually point to workplace violence. Is it possible that the murderer was also influenced to decapitate his victim by his exposure to radical jihadists? Might he have wanted to falsely project that as his motivation? Sure, but that would only be a secondary component of the crime. From all of the actual evidence, the motivation was personal and the perp acted spontaneously out of rage resulting from his being fired. Had he been an actual terrorist he would not have timed his crime to coincide with his termination. He would not have confined his victims to those he knew and from whom he sought revenge.

The purpose of Fox News passing judgment on this as “a terrorist act, pure and simple” is that it fits squarely into their mission to raise the boiling point of hate and fear regardless of the facts. Fox needs people to be frantic and disoriented in order to effectively brainwash them with their phony horror stories. That makes it much easier to blame liberals for all of the world’s ills and argue that only the courageous billionaires, corporations, and defense contractors have our best interests at heart.

If you buy into this you are a member of the Psycho-Chicken Little Society, and have willingly abandoned your common sense. Reality tells you that the doomsday scenarios that right-wingers preach are fiction. There is no epidemic of terrorism in America. There will always be crime, and there will likely be other attempted terrorist attacks, but to dawn combat helmets and take up defensive postures in backyard bunkers is the behavior of crackpots. With serious issues to face in this country, this is no time to let the nut cases rule our future.

Taking It To Eleven: “Principles For American Renewal” Is The GOP’s Latest Re-Branding Debacle

Shortly after President Obama won a resounding victory for reelection in 2012, the Republican National Committee stowed away to analyze what they did so terribly wrong that they lost an election they thought would be a cakewalk. They emerged with a document that they called an “autopsy” of the campaign that included their missteps and a prescription for future success.

Most of the recommendations revolved around improving messaging and outreach to voter blocs that are critical to any winning campaign: women, African-Americans, Latinos, seniors, and youth. The autopsy acknowledged that Republicans had a terrible image with these voters and the party would need to improve it significantly if they ever hoped to win again.

With their new mandate in hand, the GOP set out to ignore everything that it advised. Instead of reaching out to neglected voters, Republicans doubled down on alienating them. They pursued the same policies that drove voters away in the first place and continued to find new methods of garnering their distrust. For instance, they pushed for voter ID laws that disenfranchise minorities, seniors and students, in an effort to prevent election fraud that doesn’t exist. They also enacted laws that negatively impact reproductive health care for women, including forced vaginal probes and restricting access to birth control and cancer screenings. And supporting cops who murder unarmed black teenagers, while opposing care for immigrant children, doesn’t do much to polish their reputation in minority communities.

So what does the Republican Party do after they have abandoned their own solutions? They develop another set of solutions and try to peddle that to skeptical voters. The new program has a name straight out of propaganda 101: Principles For American Renewal. And so as not to be accused of just jotting down the same top ten list of pandering platitudes, the GOP PR team came up with eleven pandering platitudes. Let’s take a look at the GOP’s set of principles:

GOP Principles

  • CONSTITUTION: Our Constitution should be preserved, valued and honored.
    Except when it prohibits forced Christianity or enables same-sex marriage or doesn’t recognize that corporations are people.
  • ECONOMY: We need to start growing America’s economy instead of Washington’s economy so that working Americans see better wages and more opportunity.
    Unless that means raising the minimum wage or asking the wealthy to pay their fair share in taxes or creating jobs in vital infrastructure rebuilding. And never mind that the past six years has seen record growth in corporate profits and reduction in unemployment.
  • BUDGET: We need to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, make government more efficient, and leave the next generation with opportunity, not debt.
    Even though balanced budgets are a ridiculous notion that no successful business would ever consider, and our current debt was the result of the Bush tax cuts and two off-the-books wars. And please forget that Obama has cut the deficit by more than half.
  • HEALTH CARE: We need to start over with real healthcare reform that puts patients and their doctors in charge, not unelected bureaucrats in Washington.
    Under ObamaCare patients and doctors are still in charge, not unelected insurance adjusters. It’s just that now people can afford insurance so they can see their doctors. By the way, where is that GOP health care plan (other than repealing ObamaCare)?
  • VETERANS: Our veterans have earned our respect and gratitude, and no veteran should have to wait in line for months or years just to see a doctor.
    But we’ll still vote against funding the V.A., even while we vote for new wars that create more veterans who need health care. Plus, we won’t help poor, homeless vets get housing or food.
  • SECURITY: Keeping America safe and strong requires a strong military, growing the economy, energy independence, and secure borders.
    And since each of these things has increased by leaps and bounds in the past six years, how does the GOP opposition to the policies that resulted in that progress help, and what are their alternatives? They don’t say.
  • EDUCATION: Every child should have an equal opportunity to get a great education; no parent should be forced to send their child to a failing school.
    In other words, we will refuse to sufficiently fund public education and parents will have an equal opportunity to homeschool their kids or pay for private school if they can afford it.
  • POVERTY: The best anti-poverty program is a strong family and a good job, so our focus should be on getting people out of poverty by lifting up all people and helping them find work.
    And making them belong to the sort of families that we approve of, and working for wages that are insufficient to raise them out of poverty. And while they are trying to get back on their feet, the moochers will get no financial support or assistance with food or education.
  • VALUES: Our country should value the traditions of family, life, religious liberty, and hard work.
    Unless the family has two mommies, or the religion is not sanctioned by Pat Robertson, or the workers demand fair treatment and living wages.
  • ENERGY: We should make America energy independent by encouraging investment in domestic energy, lowering prices, and creating jobs at home.
    Unless that energy is produced by the sun or wind. And God forbid that we transition away from carbon-based fuels that pollute our air and water and exacerbate the disastrous effects of Climate Change.
  • IMMIGRATION: We need an immigration system that secures our borders, upholds the law, and boosts our economy.
    This policy seems to have left something out: Immigrants. It also ignores the reality that our society relies on immigration and is already benefiting from it.

The Republicans should be commended for coming up with the most vacant and substanceless list of “principles” ever devised. It studiously avoids taking a position on any issue or offering a specific policy that can be debated and enacted. In short, it declares that they are in favor of the Constitution and opposed to poverty. How courageous. in addition, it leaves out some important matters entirely, such as crime, the environment, campaign finance reform, and foreign policy.

It is telling that the GOP has delivered this heap of empty rhetoric just one month before the midterms. They are struggling to find a unified campaign theme that will nationalize the election. They once thought that ObamaCare would serve that function. In fact, just last February the RNC’s chairman, Reince Priebus, was so certain of that that he said

“I think it’s going to be Obamacare all the time between now and November 5. If you ask me what day it is, I’m going to tell you it’s Obamacare. If you want to know what I want in my coffee, I’m going to tell you Obamacare. I’m going to talk about Obamacare all the time because I think it’s the No. 1 issue.”

He has barely mentioned it since then. Part of the reason for that may be that just about every metric for measuring the success of ObamaCare has surpassed expectations. Even Republican enrollees have reported being overwhelmingly satisfied. And thus we have the roll-out of yet another re-branding scheme that fails to recognize that the fundamental problems the party is experiencing are rooted in their policies, not their messaging. Here is a more accurate illustration of the Republican Party’s true brand:

GOP Rebranding

Ebola Terror Threat? The Best Fox News Horror Story Since Boob Bombs

The Ebola crisis in West Africa is a truly disturbing situation that is tragically taking the lives of hundreds of people. But as painful as that is, the compulsion to turn it into a geopolitical hazard is unfounded and irrational.

Fox News Ebola

Nevertheless, Fox News is among the many media outlets who are attempting to unduly frighten the American people by speculating that terrorists are going to embrace Ebola as a mechanism for their homicidal escapades. Of course, anyone with any knowledge of biology is aware that Ebola would be an awful candidate for weaponized bioterror. It is difficult to work with without infecting oneself, and it isn’t even an effective agent because of how hard it is to spread. Every good terrorist knows that anthrax, ricin, or sarin, among others, would be far more effective. Even the conventional flu virus, which already kills about 36,000 American each year, would be a better choice.

What is abundantly clear is that the right-wing media is obsessed with turning every scary news story into a prospective terror plot. Children cross the southern border into Texas and suddenly terrorists are disguising themselves as twelve year old immigrants. A women is decapitated by a disgruntled former co-worker and now beheadings can be expected across the nation. A single man is found to have placed a bomb in his shoe in a failed attempt at bringing down a jetliner and now millions of people have to remove their shoes to board a plane.

Perhaps the most ludicrous nightmare fantasy came from Fox News when they published an article sourced to the ultra-fringe WorldNetDaily that announced that British spies were “Hunting Breast Implants of Death.” That’s right, folks. Boob Bombs have arrived to terrorize our helpless mammary-fixated nation. And while that was over four years ago, there has still not been a breast-related attack, unless you count a few angry Hooters waitresses.

To date, the number of deaths attributable to Ebola in the United States is zero. Contrast that with the 8,000+ homicides committed by guns. There is a good argument to be made that the NRA is a bigger threat to America than Ebola. In fact, the U.S. currently has no Surgeon General (a figure who could be instrumental in educating the nation during this alleged crisis) because the NRA has conservative members of Congress scared of confirming the nominee that President Obama put forward, specifically because of his views that firearms play a role in public health. That view is affirmed, of course, by the statistic cited above.

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And if you’re not already sufficiently afraid of infectious terrorists from Mexico with exploding breasts hiding in every shadow, then think about this: Jihad Monkeys: A ridiculous story about the Taliban training monkeys to do battle with American soldiers. The story, sourced to the People’s Daily in China, was published by at least two Murdoch properties, Fox Nation and the New York Post. No, really. Here’s “proof.”

Fox News: A Fanged Threat To Freedom Of The American People

President Obama delivered a speech this afternoon on the state of the economy. Coming just a month before the critical midterm election, it was a significant opportunity to communicate the facts that Americans need to know prior to voting. So of course, Fox News was the only cable news network to fail to broadcast any of the address live.

Fox News

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The blatant editorial bias of Fox News validates a small portion of Obama’s speech wherein he mentioned the network that would refuse to air his remarks. He said…

“There’s a reason fewer Republicans, you hear ‘em running around about ObamaCare. Because while good, affordable health care might seem like a fanged threat to freedom of the American people on Fox News, it turns out it’s working pretty well in the real world.”

Exactly. And that’s why Fox decided that they must not alert their sheltered and frightened viewers to the reality of a nation that has come a long way since the Bush administration put it on a path to economic collapse. While there is still some ways to go, anyone with a clear perspective recognizes that we a have made astonishing progress in the past six years.

Polls, however, do not reflect the positive results we’ve seen. Perhaps people need to be reminded of the days when the stock market lost half its value, dropping thousands of points and bankrupting iconic institutions like Merril Lynch, AIG, and Bear Stearns, The auto industry was on the brink of total failure and had to be bailed out with federal funds. The country was losing 800,000 jobs a month, and more Americans than ever were losing their homes to foreclosure. Plus, we were still mired in two costly wars that were off the books and not reflected in our deficit.

This year the stock market continues to reach new all-time highs. Corporate profits are breaking all previous records. The unemployment rate has declined from a high of 10% to 6.1%, while jobs are being created at more than 200,000 per month. The auto industry is back in the black, as is home construction and retail sales and services. The annual deficit has been cut by more than half. And with the passage of the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare), health care costs are rising at record low rates, while Americans are getting coverage in greater numbers than ever. With stats like those how can anyone plausibly say that we are not better off now than in 2008?

We could be doing more, but for the obstructionism on the part of Republicans who fear that any more good news will harm their ability to fool Americans into voting for them. We should be raising the minimum wage to put more buying power into the hands of working people. We should be embarking on an infrastructure rehabilitation that will not only create jobs, but enhance the economy by improving transportation and safety. And we could pay for that with a modest increase in the top tax rates for wealthy individuals and corporations who are enjoying some of the best economic times of their lives.

The President’s speech is well worth reading as it lays the foundation for the road ahead. It also puts into perspective the path we’ve just traveled and the hardships we’ve endured and prevailed over. You didn’t see this speech on Fox News because it conflicts with their mission to disparage Obama at every opportunity and smear him and his policies with lies. And the last thing Fox wants before an election is for voters to get a realistic view of the state of the nation. Because if the American people were better informed there would be very few Republicans celebrating on November 5th.

Fox News Gets No Emmys For News (Again). Maybe Reporting Some News Would Help

Today much of the electronic journalism world will be talking about the television ratings for the just-concluded third quarter of 2014. As expected, Fox News topped the cable news category, as it has for several years. Also, as expected, Fox will hype the crap out of this non-newsworthy information that is only an affirmation of Fox’s ability to herd all of the conservative viewers/cattle into their cable corral.

To put this news in perspective, earlier this year Fox News posted their worst ratings in thirteen years. So their achievement spotlighted in this report is that they are now slightly higher than their worst showing in thirteen years. They must be so proud.

Go Fox Yourself

However, there was another less noticed announcement today that has far more significance. The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences released the recipients of the Emmys for news and documentaries. And the winners were: PBS with eleven Emmys; CBS News won ten; ABC News won three; NBC News and the BBC each got two; and CNN and Al Jazeera America both received one Emmy.

Conspicuously missing from that list was Fox “News.” Or perhaps the real surprise would be if they had actually won an Emmy. Fox has been stiffed by the Academy since their launch in 1996. That is largely due to the fact that Fox doesn’t broadcast any news. They are strictly an entertainment network that is filled with fiction, drama, scandal, soap opera, soft-porn, and a prodigious amount of unintentional comedy. What’s more, their entertainment projects are slanted heavily in favor of the Republican right for whom Fox serves as a PR agency. For instance, see if you can find a pattern in these special “Fox News Reporting” investigations:

  • Benghazi: The Truth Behind the Smokescreen.
  • Benghazi: White House Cover-Up Revealed?
  • 13 Hours In Benghazi.
  • Charles Krauthammer: A Life That Matters.
  • The Great Food Stamp Binge.
  • Behind the Obama Breakdown.
  • Surrendering America.
  • Behind Obama’s Green Agenda.
  • Live Free Or Die: Obamacare In New Hampshire.

Those are just a few of the blatant attack pieces produced by Fox to smear the Obama administration. They were laden with rumor, innuendo, unsubstantiated allegations, and outright lies, that never resulted in any noteworthy revelation. Like all of Fox’s scandal mongering, they went nowhere because there were no facts to support their made-up premises. Is it any wonder why Fox can’t snag an Emmy?

A few years ago, in an impudent rant, Fox publicly stated that they were refusing to compete in the Emmy contest, accusing the Academy of being biased against them. However, in order to take that complaint seriously, you would have to believe that all of their peers in the business were biased, because it is they who vote. The Academy merely tabulates the votes. So Fox is admitting that their own colleagues have no respect for them as journalists. Hence, they took their deflated ball and went running home whining “We don’t want your crummy Emmy anyway.” So there.

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American Spectator’s Hit Job On Veterans (And Suck Up To Fox News)

The fallout from an offensive “joke” told by Fox News host Eric Bolling has quite properly reverberated throughout the media. Bolling callously insulted jet fighter pilot, Major Maryam Al-Mansouri of the UAE Air Force, as “boobs on the ground,” even as she was putting her life at risk in combat against the ISIL terrorists. Bolling’s colleague Greg Gutfeld joined in the misogyny with a childish taunt that she wouldn’t be able to park her aircraft.

It was encouraging to see the widespread condemnation of these remarks, including from many on the right. One of the responses came from a coalition of veterans who wrote an “Open Letter to Fox News” to express their outrage and disappointment. The letter signed by sixty veterans and called on Fox News to apologize.

However, the ultra-rightist magazine American Spectator couldn’t join the responsible members of our society in recognizing the harm of the Fox News hosts’ infantile remarks. They published an article that maligned the veterans as “partisan hacks” and dismissed their justifiable rage as deceptive and self-righteous. The article, by former Reagan White House political director Jeffrey Lord, was titled “The Hit Job On Fox News,” as if the veterans concern for the welfare of soldiers in the field were nothing but a slam on a notoriously biased cable news channel.

American Spectator

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The gist of the Lord’s argument was centered on the identity of the vets who signed the letter. Lord complained that the vets were only identified by their name and the branch of service they were in. To Lord this was an opening to attack the vets as politically motivated. So he did a little research and found that some of them could be affiliated with Democratic organizations or officeholders. Oh my freakin’ Gawd, somebody call 911.

The first problem with Lord’s idiotic gripe is that it disparages the views of veterans if they have a political ideology that is different than his own. He is, in effect, dishonoring vets by dismissing them unless they agree with him. If some of those who signed the letter are in fact affiliated with Democrats that is their right. They fought for it and they are entitled to express themselves.

On a more fundamental level, Lord’s painfully trite analysis comes up far short of the conclusions he makes. There are sixty veteran signatories on the letter, but Lord only provided additional information on sixteen of them. That means that 70% of the signatories were not connected to Democrats and Lord has no idea if they are Democrats or Republicans. Nevertheless, he maligned the whole lot as partisan hacks who should be ignored. That is extraordinarily flawed logic and further indicts him as generally anti-veteran.

Lord exacerbates his anti-vet stance by actually defending against what he calls “an attack on Fox News and two of the co-hosts on the Fox show The Five — Eric Bolling and Greg Gutfeld.” Apparently Lord doesn’t believe the Fox hosts warranted the criticism they received. He goes out of his way to distract from the original offensive comments and bizarrely twist the narrative around to a conspiracy against Fox and an attack on women’s advocates. Lord says that…

“…this isn’t really about Eric Bolling or Greg Gutfeld. What this is really all about is a hardcore and on-going political effort to smear Fox News. This time as part of that ‘war on women’ business liberals need to survive politically.”

In other words, Lord wants us to forget about Bolling’s insult to soldiers and women, and turn our attention to the poor, beleaguered, defenseless, Fox News. That is, if nothing else, a creative take on the matter. But it doesn’t succeed unless the whole of the audience is as dimwitted as that of Fox itself.

The bottom line is that Lord’s position is even more insulting than Bolling’s because it encompasses all veterans, not just a single pilot, and denies them the respect they have earned. And all that Lord has done is to confirm the phoniness of the right’s alleged patriotism and support of the troops. Conservatives only adhere to those principles when it benefits them, or they can use it to bash liberals.

New Ad Campaign Attempts To Convince Voters That Republicans Are People

The modern advertising industry has developed unprecedented techniques to persuade, cajole, and seduce the American people into directed patterns of consumption and lifestyles. Our decisions about which cars to drive or sodas to drink are all influenced by a steady stream of commercial messaging nearly everywhere we go. But now the Republican Party has taken on a public relations task that dwarfs all other efforts at opinion-making. They boldly aim to convince the American people that Republicans are people too.

Republicans Are People

GOP media manipulator, Vinny Minchillo, is the mastermind of this crusade to remake the Republican image into one that embraces a human component. He tried to do the same thing a couple of years when for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. Now Minchillo has created a website called “Republicans Are People Too.” and posted a video there to make a case for that dubious proposition (video also posted below). But the text accompanying the video conveys only a determination to whine about the plight of the poor, mistreated Republican. He moans that…

“It isn’t easy being a Republican these days. [...] We love political discourse. We encourage political discourse. But when did “Republican” become a dirty word?”

Perhaps the answer to that question is: When Republicans started calling Democrats fascists, communists, moochers, whores, traitors, and devils.

Minchillo’s video is a simple production that seeks to enumerate a series of “regular” folks that he labels with a the hashtag “IAmARepublican.” It is a fairly comprehensive list of average Americans who are not generally associated with the exclusivity, racism, and intolerance of the Republican Party. It is no wonder that the GOP is yearning to attract more of the type of people in the video, because it is a cross-section of the nation that represents its diversity, a word that makes the right tremble. The video consists of a parade of alleged party members and asks “Did you know Republicans…”

Drive Priuses, recycle, listen to Spotify, put together IKEA furniture, are white, black, Hispanic, Asian, read the New York Times, use Macs, are grandmas, daughters, moms, are left-handed, are doctors, welders, teachers, donate to charity, enjoy gourmet cooking, shop at Trader Joe’s, like dogs, and cats, have tattoos, have tattoos and beards, have feelings, are people who care.

The problem with the argument that Minchillo is making is that the people claiming to be Republicans in his video are not actually Republicans. And by that I don’t simply mean that those types of persons are not Republican, which on the whole they are not. I mean that those specific people in the video are not. In fact, they were photos taken from stock image suppliers. A search for a random selection of the photos in the video found many of them in the iStockPhoto website’s library of images. The persons in the paragraph above that are links will lead you to the stock image page for each one.

So the video produced in order to convince everyone that Republicans are real people is populated by fakes. They are models pretending to be the characters that the video claims represent actual members of the Republican Party. And that’s about as real as it gets for the GOP.

This would be a hilarious aside to the pathetic PR that is constantly pushed by right-wing propagandists. But it is actually just another rung in their ladder of deception. It is reminiscent of the effort by Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign to persuade voters that “We’re Not Stupid.” When you have to mount an advertising blitz to sell the public on the notion that you’re not stupid, you have already lost the battle. And the same thing goes for a campaign to assert your people-ness. If the public doesn’t already know that you’re people, good luck trying to convince them.

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Ben Carson Reveals Himself To Be A Delusional Conspiracy Theorist On Fox News Sunday

This weekend Fox News Sunday interviewed the Tea Party flavor of the week, Dr. Ben Carson. The interview (video below) was notable for some of the uncharacteristically clear-headed questions from host Chris Wallace that exposed Carson as the extremist nut case that he is.

Ben Carson

Wallace introduced the segment by noting that Carson has made some controversial remarks for which he will be held to account. That is an understatement, to say the least. Comparing ObamaCare to slavery, and America to Nazi Germany are not your conventional campaign slogans. Wallace even told Carson point blank that “I think you would agree that, at best, your a distinct long shot.” But the statement that Wallace singled out was when Carson warned that, somehow, the 2016 election would be canceled. It was a profoundly stupid notion without any rational foundation, which Wallace seemed to recognize when he asked his question.

Wallace: You said recently that you thought that there might not actually be elections in 2016 because of wide spread anarchy. Do really believe that?

Carson: Well, I hope that that’s not going to be the case, but certainly there is the potential because you have to recognize that we have a rapidly increasing national debt, a very unstable financial foundation, and you have all these things going on like the ISIS crisis, that could very rapidly change things that are going on in our nation. And unless we begin to deal with these things in a comprehensive way, and in a logical way, there is no telling what could happen in just the matter of a couple of years.

Huh? There is a potential that democracy will be dispensed with because of the national debt and ISIS? What in holy hell is he talking about? The United States and its democratic system has endured for over 200 years, through economic catastrophes, civil and world wars, Nixonian corruption, and assassinations. Yet Carson thinks that it may all soon be over because of our present economy (with it’s soaring stock market, record profits, and low unemployment), and a band of desert rats 8,000 miles away?

It is stunning that anyone would take this man seriously as a candidate for president. But the party that has previously placed at the top of their presidential wish list people like Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Donald Trump, Rick Perry, and Sarah Palin, is just the party to hoist Carson’s flag. He recently placed a close second (after fellow Tea-publican Ted Cruz) in a straw poll by attendees of the right-wing, evangelical Values Voters conference.

For a party that vehemently castigated President Obama as lacking the necessary experience to be president when he launched his campaign, the Republicans have an intense infatuation for candidates with even less experience. Wallace also addressed this hypocrisy in the interview with a cleverly worded question.

Wallace: After looking at Barack Obama and what’s happened with his lack of political experience in the last six years, wouldn’t putting Ben Carson in the Oval Office be akin to putting a politician in an operating room and having him perform one of your brain surgeries?

Carson: I don’t think so. What is required for leadership is wisdom.

Indeed. And the wisdom demonstrated by a political neophyte who thinks that there may not be an election in 2016, but if there is it will be dominated by voters who “have been beaten into submission,” is exactly what the “doctor” ordered, if that doctor is Dr. Strangelove.

Even the Wall Street Journal noticed that the bizarre rantings of Carson were trouble for the GOP. Columnist Peter Wehner, who served in the past three Republican administrations, wrote that “This is the kind of rhetorical recklessness that convinces many Americans that Republican leaders are extreme, irresponsible, and fundamentally unserious.” [...and that...] “Dr. Carson’s comments are evidence of a political mind that is not simply undisciplined but also fanatical.” [...and that...] “Any political party or movement that is associated with such utterances will pay a price.”

Carson recently declared that the “likelihood is strong” that he will run for president, despite his having none of the requisite knowledge or skills for the job. His putative candidacy rests entirely on his support from Tea Party zealots and Fox News who, in breach of every code of journalistic ethics, continues to employ him as a commentator despite his admitted status as a candidate.

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Sharia Law vs. The NRA: The Politics Of Beheading And Guns

The news of a grisly murder in Oklahoma has once again brought out the panic peddlers who are always watching out for any gruesome event that they can exploit to advance their nightmare scenarios. While there is still a deficit of actual facts, knee-jerk Islamophobes leap forward to cast aspersions on people whom they regard as universally barbaric. Therefore, any chance to defame a Muslim is quickly pounced on and embellished in the most hostile manner. However, according to the Washington Post, all that is actually known about the murder at this time is that…

“A man who had just been fired by an Oklahoma City-area food processing plant allegedly severed the head of one of his former co-workers and attacked another before being shot by the company’s chief operating officer, according to police. [...]

But the FBI, which is assisting in the investigation, has so far found no links to terrorism, the officials said. There was also no indication that Nolen was copying the beheadings of journalists in Syria by the Islamic State, the officials said, adding that they are treating this as an incident of workplace violence.”

The fact that the investigation is in the early stages has not prevented the Fear Merchants from going totally overboard with their hysteria. Undoubtedly Sen. Lindsey Graham, who warned that ISIL is on their way to America to “kill us all,” is probably thinking, “One down, 359,999,999 to go.” And the folks at Fox News are doing their part by boldly declaring in all caps that “SHARIA LAW IS COMING!!!”

Fox Nation

Fox posted their warning on their community website, Fox Nation (See the acclaimed ebook Fox Nation vs. Reality to learn more). The alarmist story was sourced to the uber-rightist blog, The Daily Caller, which is run by Fox host Tucker Carlson. The exclamation about the coming of Sharia law was taken from the Facebook page of Alton Nolen, the suspect in the Oklahoma crime, but Fox doesn’t disclose that in their headline or their article. They leave it to appear that there is just some sort of impending doom that is approaching that will foretell the end of civilization as we know it.

The Daily Caller’s article was written by Patrick Howley, a disreputable hack who has confessed to unethical and unlawful tactics to smear his ideological foes. Howley includes ridiculous and irrelevant observations such as the fact that Nolen had a tattoo that read “as-salaamu ataikum,” a Muslim greeting meaning “peace be upon you.” Nolen also had a tattoo of Jesus and a pair of Christian praying hands. So what does that say about Christianity?

Of course, it is utterly absurd to imply that a murder, even if it is determined to be related to terrorism, suggests that Sharia law is about to be implemented in America. What happened in Oklahoma was a crime and will be treated as such. It will never be tolerated as lawful in this country under some warped interpretation of Islam. So even if there are additional crimes linked to terrorists, Sharia law is most definitely not coming to America.

If Americans are determined to be afraid of something, they may want to put this recent crime into perspective. In 2014 so far, there has been one beheading in the United States. Compare that to the more than 8,000 deaths by guns this year. [Estimate based on data from 2012]

Guns vs. Beheadings

That’s more than double the fatalities of 9/11. Which makes it all the more ludicrous that right-wingers are now clamoring for unwieldy and unwarranted measures to address their fantastical notions about domestic terrorism. They propose strengthening border security, spying on mosques, prohibiting immigration from Muslim countries, and even building concentration camps.

However, you will not hear any similar commitment to eradicating the true epidemic of deaths and injuries by guns. To the contrary, conservatives are pushing for more guns to be carried and for fewer restrictions on firearms. They are against regulations to keep guns out of the hands of felons or spousal abusers. They fight efforts to prohibit cop-killer bullets. They oppose smart-gun technology that would prevent unauthorized persons from using a firearm. They are even against laws that prohibit people on the terrorist watch list from purchasing guns.

Nevertheless, a single beheading, as horrific as it is, whips wingnuts into a frenzy, while 8,000 deaths, many of them children, doesn’t move them to lift a finger. This leads to a fundamental question that needs to be asked by the American people and the media: Who represents a bigger threat to the country, ISIL or the NRA?

UPDATE: The Daily Show Airs Segment On Racists Upset About Looking Like Racists

This is to update an article from September 20 wherein the Daily Show interviewed some Redskins fans who later objected to being portrayed as the racists that they are. Last night the segment in question ran with commentary by Jon Stewart on the dispute. What follows is an excerpt from the original article and the video from the Daily Show.

Rednecks

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The setup for the segment involved four Redskins fans who the Post reports “eagerly signed up, most of them knowing that they might be mocked in their interview with correspondent Jason Jones.” The problem arose when they were surprised by a group of Native Americans who confronted them regarding their support for a term that is widely viewed as derogatory.

The Post describes one of the team’s fans as so upset that “she left in tears and felt so threatened that she later called the police.” Seriously? This woman felt threatened by peaceful civil rights activists engaging her in conversation with cameras rolling for a comedy show? The police, of course declined to take any action since there was no real threat and no laws were broken. But the fact that she felt compelled to report this act of felonious funning as a crime speaks to her own guilty conscience.

The fans complaining about how the segment unfolded were fairly open about what troubled them. They did not seem to regret their support for the team name or their own offensive comments. In fact, the Post noted that “All four fans said they still would have gone on the show if the producers had told them in advance that there would be a debate.” What they objected to was that they were allegedly not told that they would have to face some of the people they were maligning. One fan said that he would not have worn his Redskins jacket had he known there would be Native Americans there (Isn’t that considerate of him?)

In other words, they were perfectly happy to use insulting slurs against Native Americans so long as there weren’t any around to hear them. It’s not unlike racists who routinely use the N-word, except when there are African-Americans in the vicinity. It’s the same reason that the KKK wear hoods to conceal their identity. Bigots know that their views are repulsive and insulting, so they take pains to keep from expressing them in the company of those to whom their hate is directed.

Read the whole article here.

Fox Nation vs. Reality: Zombie Reagan’s Fake Declaration Of War

When you are relentlessly bombarded with exaggerated, alarmist calls to fear every shadow in your path, grasping onto anything that provides even temporary comfort becomes a necessity to retain some semblance of sanity. That’s the position many gullible adherents to the fear-mongering war-hawkery of the right find themselves in. They are so inundated with panicky howling that America, and the world, are succumbing to certain and imminent doom that they need to suck on psychological pacifiers to keep from having mental breakdowns.

Fox Nation

Thus, an enterprising yarn spinner at a conservative blog composed a fairy tale that perfectly fits the bill for these unstable Tea Party types. And it was promptly posted on Fox Nation, the community website for Fox News. The tale comes in the form of an imaginary speech by their long dead savior, Ronald Reagan. But how this can assuage the anxiety of these worrywarts is a mystery considering how absurdly constructed it is.

It begins by asking “How different would our response as a nation be if the Commander-in-Chief were Ronald Reagan?” The answer to that, however, cannot be reliable surmised since the only military conflict that Reagan oversaw was the invasion of the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada. That was not exactly a proud victory for the armed forces of the world’s biggest superpower.

The fantasy speech lays out the justification for unbridled fright by saying that “Today we face a threat the likes of which we have not seen since the darkest days of World War II and the Cold War.” This specious claim mirrors that of today’s Republican scaredy-cats like Sen. Lindsey Graham who believe with all their hearts that the desert rats in Syria are coming to our shores to slaughter us all. Never mind the reality that there are only about 30,000 ISIL fighters, which is far less than the Axis forces of World War II that numbered in the millions. They can hardly be capable of doing the sort of damage that Hitler and his comrades did. The important thing for the fear trade is to convince the peasants that every enemy is the worst the world has ever seen.

Continuing on that theme, Zombie Reagan says that “We never faced members of the SS or the KGB prepared to be suicide bombers. Today we do.” I suppose we can forgive the Gipper for having a bad memory since he is, you know, dead. But the Japanese famously deployed Kamikaze pilots who were into suicide missions long before Al Qaeda thought it was cool. What’s more, many wartime tactics involve plans that the soldiers know they are not likely to return from. Just because they are not officially designated as suicide missions doesn’t mean that the soldiers aren’t aware of the expected outcome. Yet they follow their orders despite that knowledge.

Of course, for this declaration to be plausibly Reaganesque, it has to contain some of the movie hero bravado that was such a big part of his public imaging. He had to reflect the egocentrism that is the hallmark of the American Exceptionalist crowd. Only the U.S. of A. can send the message that will send our foes into shivering spasms of dread. Ergo…

“Our Muslim and Arab allies must be the frontline in this conflict, but without America’s fighting with them, this war will not be won. Not simply because our forces are so superior, but because if we are not prepared to send our people in harms way to fight the barbarians that wish to destroy our civilization, then we send a very simple message to the Enemy and to the world: our civilization is not worth saving.”

Zombie Reagan closes by articulating a theory that sounds very much like the Obama Doctrine. And if any of the Reaganites ever catch wind of that they will immediately flip-flop and refute it. But it is unmistakably reminiscent of the tactics favored by the current administration.

“Our enemy is not ISIS, the Islamic State, or even Al Qaeda; it is the ideology that drives all such barbaric groups. [...] But we must learn the lessons of the past. When fighting totalitarians, it is never enough to defeat them militarily. One must defeat their ideology.”

Not very Reagany, is it? Fox News has been working overtime to convince the nation that there is only one solution to the ISIL problem. It was prosaically proffered by their military analyst Lt. Col. Ralph Peters (whose name translates to “vomiting dicks” in Slanglish), who said the measure of success is “acres and acres of dead terrorists.” Now, after advancing that plan, Zombie Reagan comes along to adopt Obama’s method of draining terrorism of its appeal and recruiting capability.

The ultimate folly with resurrecting Reagan to rally the wingnut troops is that it can’t help but remind people that his leadership was rampant with failure. How different would our response be if Reagan were running things? Well (as Reagan would say), he cut and run after 200 Marines were murdered in their barracks by a suicide bomber in Lebanon. He sold weapons to our enemies in Iran in violation of international law. He used the proceeds of those sales to finance death squads in Nicaragua in violation of federal law. He failed to respond after an Iraqi jet aircraft fired missiles at the USS Stark, killing thirty-seven Navy personnel. He neglected the suffering of blacks in South Africa, called Nelson Mandela a terrorist, and opposed the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act, which was passed by Congress over his veto. Obviously, Reagan’s legacy is not one of vanquishing dangerous foes. But he wasn’t bad at asking, in stern tones, for walls to be torn down. Even that milestone didn’t occur until the administration of his successor, George H.W. Bush.

All in all, it’s a good thing that Reagan isn’t running things today. If Republicans want to pretend that he would have produced better results than we are seeing now, they are welcome to indulge their fantasies. That’s mostly what they do anyway by watching Fox News all day. But America, and the world, have big enough problems that we certainly don’t need them exacerbated by one of the worst presidents of all time.

The Fox News War On Women Presents: Boobs On The Air

Yesterday’s broadcast of The Five on Fox News featured a brief segment (video below) wherein Kimberly Guilfoyle delivered a rather inspiring tribute Maj. Maryam Al Mansouri, a female fighter pilot from the United Arab Emirates who led the UAE’s forces in attacks on ISIL.

Guilfoyle aimed her comments directly at the terrorists saying “Hey ISIS, you were bombed by a woman.” She highlighted the poetic justice of religious extremists who won’t even allow women to drive cars, getting blown away by a competent, accomplished female soldier from an Arab nation. Unfortunately, the response from her male colleagues on the program was somewhat less dignified.

Fox News

The panel’s resident troll, Greg Gutfeld hurled a stereotypical insult at the Major saying that “The problem is, after she bombed it, she couldn’t park it.” Then Eric Bolling chimed in with a demeaning and sexist query, “Would that be considered boobs on the ground?” And all Guilfoyle could do was plaintively ask why they were ruining her piece.

If that were the only example of offensive, juvenile, anti-woman behavior by Fox News jerks it would be bad enough. But this came shortly after Brian Kilmeade and Steve Doocy of Fox & Friends made “jokes” about the lesson from the video of Ray Rice beating his girlfriend into unconsciousness is that he should have taken the stairs where there were no cameras to capture his assault. It came after Fox News “psycho” analyst Keith Ablow belittled First Lady Michelle Obama’s efforts on behalf of healthier children saying that “How well can she be eating. She needs to drop a few.” It came after Fox’s Anna Kooiman introduced right-wing YouTubers, the PolitiChicks, as “A lot of hotness on the couch this morning.”

The pattern of demonstrating such brazen disrespect for women is a familiar part of Fox News programming. They regard women as little more than eye candy for their predominantly old, male viewers. Fox CEO Roger Ailes has been reported as insisting that his female anchors wear skirts and show leg. But to carry this boorishness over to demean a woman who is putting her life on the line against terrorists is especially repulsive. Sadly though, it is not unexpected from Fox News.

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[Update] The following day Bolling made an apology of sorts. He said…

“I realized some people didn’t think it was funny at all. I said sorry to my wife and I apologize to all of you as well.”

So he was only apologizing because the joke wasn’t funny, not because it was brazenly offensive and demeaning to women and soldiers? And the “apology” was only directed to his wife and Fox viewers, but not to the pilot or others he insulted? Typical Fox avoidance of responsibility and ethics.

Fox & Friends Lament “The Wussification Of Popeye”

The competition for most epically stupid program on Fox News is always a thrilling spectacle. With contestants like Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Elizabeth Hasselbeck, Steve Doocy, and so many more, it’s impossible to predict who will hold the top spot at any given moment in time. However, for this week the prize has to be awarded to the weekend cast of Fox & Friends for their in-depth analysis of “The Wussification Of Popeye” (video below).

Fox News Popeye

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This nearly unbearable babbling by three of the most puerile pundits in television kicked off with a segment on some possible modifications to the Popeye character in an upcoming movie. Here is how the exchange began:

Clayton Morris: According to leaked photos, the new Sony Pictures version of Popeye will look like this – without the iconic anchor tattoo and the smoking pipe. Are they wussifying Popeye?

Tucker Carlson: Of course they’re wuss… Nothing is scarier to a modern liberal than tobacco. If Popeye were driving around giving the morning after pill to fourth graders, that would totally fine. But smoking a pipe – a single (sic) of freedom and masculinity in America itself – the reason this country exists – tobacco – that’s like, oh, that’s outrageous.

There is so much idiocy in that brief observation it needs to be broken down into pieces for examination.

First of all, if liberals are scared of tobacco it may have something to do with the fact that it kills 400,000 Americans every year. That’s more than a hundred 9/11’s, not once thirteen years ago, but every single year. And that’s not counting the thousands of victims who survive with debilitating health problems that devastate families emotionally and financially.

Secondly, while Carlson may not fear the epidemic of cancer, he does seem to be afraid of fourth graders who aren’t pumping out babies. His snarky hyperbole about giving out morning after pills is a deliberate trivialization of a serious problem. Nine year old girls should have options to avoid pregnancy in the event that they have engaged in sex, which at that age is often the result of an rape or incest. Apparently Carlson is fine with forcing children to become parents before they enter junior high school.

Thirdly, Carlson’s characterization of pipe smoking as a symbol (?) of freedom is best represented by a man who is a notorious pipe smoker and certainly a hero of Carlson’s – communist dictator Joseph Stalin. The notion that smoking a pipe is uniquely American exists only in his cartoon-fed brain. And by invoking tobacco as “the reason this country exists” Carlson is also reminding us that the tobacco trade was largely successful in our country’s early days because the plantation owners had the benefit of free (i.e. slave) labor. If that’s his idea of an iconic symbol of freedom, there may be several million Americans who disagree. The legacy of tobacco in America is one of bondage and brutality and suffering and death.

The truth is that Carlson and his cranky cohorts are rattling off an old wingnut whine about what they perceive as political correctness. They think it’s the PC police who demand that Popeye quit his filthy habit and stick with spinach. However, it is actually the fact that we have learned a thing or two about the health risks of tobacco and most parents don’t want their children to be exposed to positive images of a product that will kill them. Would Carlson be just as happy if his kids were influenced by an alcoholic superhero guzzling whiskey in between clobbering villains?

The video of this derpitude is proof that the Fox & Friends crew have earned special recognition for ass-holiness this week. And for extra credit, they segued from the Popeye story to one about Wonder Woman wherein they complained that her new costume wasn’t sexy enough. That’s just another example of these pathetic wretches projecting their fetishes on kids by advocating sexualizing cartoon characters.

On Hannity: Fox News Strategic Analyst Calls For More Civilian Casualties

The hopelessly hysterical war hawks and fear mongers that populate Fox News seem to have no bar too low to slither under. Their primary mission is to lambaste President Obama no matter what he does. The President is in a perpetual no-win spiral of knee-jerk negativity from his robo-critics on the right.

As an example, following the horrific beheadings by ISIL terrorists, panicky conservatives demanded that Obama respond without hesitation. Never mind developing a plan or assembling allies, the need to act was more urgent than the need to act effectively. Consequently, Fox News contributor and bloodthirsty former diplomat, John Bolton, accused Obama of orchestrating a politically motivated October Surprise.

Bolton: I have the sinking feeling, based on six years of performance, particularly the timing of this attack, last night had more to do for the President’s politics than for national security.

Setting aside the fact that it is still September, Bolton’s unfounded criticism comes after being one of those who complained that if action were not taken immediately it would be tantamount to dereliction of duty. So the President acts and all of sudden his action is denounced as political. In Bolton’s twisted view, any delay until after the November election would be treasonous, but any strike prior to it is electioneering. As noted above, the President cannot win with these nutcases.

However, the new standard for nauseating tirades was unleashed later in the day when an utterly deranged rant on the Sean Hannity program was delivered by Fox News strategic analyst, Ralph Peters (video below). The dripping bile in his painfully falsetto caterwauling was steaming with rancid hostility as he proposed that the United States emulate the ruthless brutality of our enemies.

Fox News Ralph Peters

Peters: Another thing we’ve gotta get over. This nonsense about you can’t have any civilian casualties. War is ugly, sloppy, and messy, and sometimes there are civilian casualties, especially when your enemy uses human shields. If you’re gonna go after ISIS you gotta suck it up and do what’s right. And by the way, civilian casualties? Look what ISIS is doing and it’s actually gaining them recruits as they slaughter civilians.

There you have it. If ISIS can attract new recruits by slaughtering civilians, then why shouldn’t America do it? After all, we are seeking the same sort of psychologically demented murderers that ISIS is, and leaving a trail civilian corpses throughout Syria and the Middle East would only endear us to the regional population. Right?

This isn’t the first time that Peters has suggested something so inhumane and contrary to American values. He has advocated for letting terrorists murder American soldiers (Bowe Bergdahl). He accused Obama of seeking common ground with terrorists. Indeed, on last night’s Hannity he asserted that the airstrikes in Syria were “designed to limit terrorist casualties.” But his repeated advocacy of what amounts to international war crimes is what sets him apart from your run of the mill wingnut. Here are a few quotes from Peters:

“We must dispose of one last mantra that has been too broadly and uncritically accepted: the nonsense that, if we win by fighting as fiercely as our enemies, we will ‘become just like them.'”

“Sometimes a heavy hand and brutality works. [The Russians] don’t do stop-and-frisk, they do stop-and-frisk and beat the hell out of you. And you know what? It’s brutal, it’s ugly, and sometimes it works.”

[In calling for attacks on the media] “Rejecting the god of their fathers, the neo-pagans who dominate the media serve as lackeys at the terrorists’ bloody altar.”

Pair this with the idiocy of Bill O’Reilly’s recent plan to build an army of mercenaries to combat terrorists around the world, because what could be better than legions of paid fighters with no loyalty to anything but their paycheck? And of course, their moral standards would be out of our control. O’Reilly seems to think these sort of characters would be immune to accepting a higher bid for their services and turning on their American bosses. He also rejected the criticisms of military experts on his own program who called the idea “ridiculous.” Even his pal Charles Krauthammer couldn’t dissuade him from his crackpot theory.

The tendency of right-wingers with undisguised blood-lust to tolerate, and even advocate, barbarism and criminal atrocity exposes them for the heathens they are. They want to turn America’s sons and daughters in the armed forces into savages and then expect them to come home and live normal lives. And they believe that by acting like terrorists, America can eradicate terrorism. That’s how irreparably delusional they are. It is more than wrong, it is dangerous. And it doesn’t belong in the discourse of a civilized society.

Shepard Smith Owes Obama’s Press Secretary “Every Penny He Will Ever Make” At Fox News

The military operation executed last night against ISIL in Syria surprised many in the nation and the media by its timing and force. However, there was another consequence of the mission that will have an impact on a much smaller scale, except for those involved.

Fox News

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White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest just became a very rich man. Last week he was interviewed on Fox News by Shepard Smith (video below) about the coalition that President Obama was building to “degrade and destroy” the terrorist organization ISIL. In the course of their discussion they had this exchange that included a very specific challenge from Smith to Earnest in the form of a wager:

Earnest: We are going to have Muslim majority countries, Muslim led countries, as part of this coalition. This is not going to be the United States against ISIL. This will be the international community, including the Muslim world, against these extremists.

Smith: Like Saudi Arabia’s going to have some boots over there, or Jordan.

Earnest: Well, I will let the individual members of the coalition announce the commitments that they’re prepared to make.

Smith: There will be no commitment from those two. On this I will bet every penny I will ever make at this network.

Earnest: That’s a substantial bet.

Smith: It is a big bet, and it is a good bet, because it’s not going to happen and the whole world knows it.

Of course the whole world now knows that the United States led a series of airstrikes last night in Syria against ISIL and other terrorist operations. The mission was conducted with substantial participation from neighboring Muslim nations. According to the Pentagon

“U.S. military forces and partner nations, including Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, undertook military action against ISIL terrorists in Syria overnight.”

So the question is: How and when will Smith pay up? Will he even acknowledge the debt he owes or his horribly off-base prediction? At the very least he should apologize to Earnest, as well as to his viewers for misinforming them.

The smug and mocking tone Smith used when challenging Earnest only exacerbates his pitiful analysis of the situation. However, he proved that he fits right in on the network that gets everything else wrong, particularly when it comes to reporting on anything this president is doing, plans to do, or has done.

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Fox News Feminism: A Lot Of Hotness On The Couch This Morning

In recent weeks Fox News has been promoting a new book by a trio of conservative women who purport to have an inside track into “What Women Really Want.” The authors, Gina Loudon, Ann-Marie Murrell, and Morgan Brittany, comprise the Internet video non-sensation, Politichicks.

Fox News

The PolitiChicks contend that modern feminism is hurting women and does not represent their interests. But it’s hard to take them seriously when they appear on Fox & Friends with an introduction by co-host Anna Kooiman saying that there are “A lot of ladies, a lot of hotness on the couch this morning.” Not a lot of wisdom, or a lot of dignity, or experience, or intelligence, but that all-important component of feminine identity, hotness. Now try to imagine three men promoting a book on the male agenda in American politics being described that way. Kooiman went on to assert that “Feminists claim they help empower women, but are they really suppressing them? Our next guests say yes.”

The whole segment, and a similar one on Fox’s Huckabee program, conveyed much of the same offensive attitude. Their basic contention is that a women’s movement is no longer necessary because “We earned the right to vote. We have equality in the workplace.” Well, one out of two is pretty good for a Tea Partier. But despite the book’s title claiming to reveal what women want, the discussion on these programs was primarily about what they don’t want, most of which, according to the PolitiChicks, was the liberal brand of feminism. For instance, Murrell said that…

“[Feminism] has nothing to do with empowering women anymore. Everything they’re about now is from the head down. It has nothing to do with women’s brains or their hearts.”

First of all, Murrell might want to take a refresher course in anatomy, because the heart happens to below the head. As for her assertion about the focus on issues that involve women’s bodies, there is some truth to that. But that’s only because the men in power have been so insistent on forcing their decisions on them with regard to their health care and reproductive freedom. It is a proper area of concern for women’s advocates. Continuing to enumerate the things women don’t want, Loudon offered that…

“Women don’t want to be objectified, and what the feminist movement has successfully done is sexualize women instead of feminizing women.”

Indeed, objectification is a dehumanizing act, but it’s one that feminists have fought against from the start. What Loudon means by “feminizing” women sounds very much like a contradiction that would result in further objectification. Particularly when you pair it with her later comment that…

“It’s time for women who really want to be women, who want to be feminine, who want to be what God designed them to be.”

Apparently Loudon has a fixed notion of what women are and what God intended when he built them from Adam’s spare rib. That sort of intransigence conflicts with her accusation that it’s “old feminism” that puts women in shackles. What could be more confining than a divinely dictated state of being? And if that weren’t bad enough, Murrell added that…

“[Feminists] are like cave women waiting for a caveman to bonk them on the head and drag them into the cave by the hair.”

With that comment you have to wonder if Murrell has ever met a feminist. These authors keep going back and forth between advocating choices for women (including forsaking a career to stay at home and raise kids), and confining them to narrow gender roles that have long ago been discarded as sexist. And they don’t seem to recognize the irony in their positions as they advance choice, but not in all things. As an example, Brittany correctly noted that…

“Women want less government in their lives, they want to make their own decisions, they want freedom to choose for their children, for their families.”

However, that doesn’t apply to reproductive choice. In that case the PolitiChicks defend big government’s role in making the most personal of decisions for women, who cannot be trusted to decide for themselves with the counsel of their doctors and their family. They even support forcing women to undergo unnecessary and invasive procedures and endure arbitrary waiting periods and patronizing lectures. That is not a position in accord with small government or free choice.

The hypocrisy and disrespect that is represented by these so-called feminists does nothing to improve the status of women in America. It does not end discrimination, or wage disparity, or harassment, or the welfare of children. What it does is advance the agenda of extremist, right-wing Christianists who seek to impose their beliefs on the nation’s women, and men too, for that matter.

The PolitiChicks are being aided and abetted by Fox News who are providing them with a platform to deliver their partisan sermons. But if they think that this is the way to appeal to women voters who have been staunchly supporting Democrats, they will be sorely disappointed. Their method of reaching out to voter constituencies by advocating positions that are detrimental has not worked for Latinos or African-Americans, or seniors, or students. And it won’t work on women either. They are all much smarter than Republicans give them credit for, and they won’t fall for this wingnut propaganda.

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Corruption With Impunity: The Imaginary Exoneration Of Chris Christie

Last week the Department of Justice gave a statement to NBC News regarding their investigation into New Jersey governor Chris Christie. The statement was an update on “Bridge-Gate,” the dangerous, unlawful, and politically motivated closure of several lanes of the George Washington Bridge orchestrated by his administration. It didn’t take long for NBC’s story to become widely misinterpreted by much of the conservative media. According to NBC News

“The U.S. Justice Department investigation into Gov. Chris Christie’s role in the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal has thus far uncovered no evidence indicating that he either knew in advance or directed the closure of traffic lanes on the span, federal officials tell NBC 4 New York.”

That statement formed the basis of a broad campaign to rehabilitate the sagging public image of Christie who is anticipated to be a candidate for the Republican nomination for president in 2016. Many pseudo-news enterprises published stories that described Christie as “vindicated,” “innocent” or “falsely accused.” Calls from right-wing media critics went out to insure that coverage of Christie’s alleged exoneration was equal to that which took place while the allegations were being investigated. There’s just one problem.

Chris Christie 2016

Christie has not been exonerated. The report by NBC News said only that no evidence had been uncovered “so far.” The feds explicitly stated that the investigation is ongoing and that no conclusion has been reached. What’s more, there is still an investigation being conducted by New Jersey state officials that is separate from the federal probe and involves different violations of law.

The Christie thumpers need to reserve their celebration until all of the pending investigations are concluded. That does not appear to be imminent. And even if Christie manages to squirm out of any finding of direct culpability, he still needs to answer for how so many of his senior staffers were involved in a sleazy, criminal conspiracy without his knowledge. Either he knew and has successfully covered it up, or he didn’t know and is an incompetent who can’t control his felonious underlings.

That’s not a great place from which to shape a presidential campaign. Your starting off with a significant disadvantage if you have to choose between these slogans: “Christie: He got away with it,” or “Christie: Because he don’t know nothin.”

The last shoe has yet to drop in this affair. These sort of political shenanigans often take some time to unwind as the players jockey for position in order to cop a plea and avoid the consequences of their shady behavior. It is way too soon for Christie to pop the Champagne corks. Likewise, it is too soon for his media boosters to begin writing his victory speech.

Unhinged Fox News Reporter Warns Of Immigrant Children Trained By ISIL To Kill Us

The frenzy of frightened Fox News figures who have been consumed by panic over the threat of ISIL terrorists invading our tranquil communities continues to grow in numbers and intensity. On Saturday morning a panel of business correspondents took up the issue on Fox’s Bulls and Bears (and Immigrant Children, oh my).

Fox News Kids Trained To Kill Us

The segment (video below) was introduced by host Brenda Buttner as “the ISIS border threat we may all regret if we don’t stop it now.” She summarized the imminent doom facing America from terrorists plotting to sneak across our porous southern border to wipe us out as we sleep. This gruesome prospect was presented as more than speculation and she wondered how many more warnings would be required before Washington “gets it.”. Of course she never offered any evidence that any terror suspects had entered the U.S. in this manner, or that there was any credible intelligence of it . She just unloaded a series of allegations without any factual basis.

That was enough for the first panelist, John Layfield, a retired professional wrestler, to spew a stream of unrelated assertions involving ISIL’s alleged blueprint for international terrorism and the presence of murderous drug cartels in Mexico. Layfield’s background makes him the perfect guest to provide analysis on these sort of national security issues. He was rebutted rather effectively by Gary B. Smith, a hedge fund manager, who wisely kept his commentary limited to his area of expertise, the economic aspects of securing the border. He questioned the efficacy of building a border fence for an estimated $22 billion when none of the perpetrators of 9/11 entered the country illegally and other border barriers like the Berlin Wall were commonly breached thousands of times a year.

But Stealing the thunder of prominent members of the Psycho-Chicken Little Society like Lindsey Graham, was Fox regular Tracy Byrnes. Her hysterical assessment of the looming threat was riddled with indignation that nobody was treating the situation with the appropriate measure of urgency.

“It’s really serious and this has been something that has been bothering me for a while now. We are not taking it serious enough. ISIS is here. I don’t care what anybody says. They’re here.”

How typical of a Fox News commentator to declare that she doesn’t care what anybody says. She has her own delusional, nightmare scenarios firmly affixed in her mind and she will not be distracted by reality. But she’s only just getting started. She goes on…

“What scares me the most, Brenda, is that they infiltrate the minds of children and when children cross the border everyone, you know, the tears start coming down. We want to take care of them, but so many of these kids are trained to hate us and potentially kill us. And yet we are just letting them in, welcoming them with open arms, paying for their medical, paying for everything and it’s just going to come back to bite us.”

Exactly! Somehow ISIL has gotten to these gullible waifs, who are fleeing violence in their native countries, and brainwashing them to hate the Americans who are providing them with safety, food, and health care. All the while these kids are plotting to grow up and cut our throats or blow up our shopping malls. Byrnes didn’t reveal where the terrorists were conducting this training or why children who have been rescued from lives of misery, danger, and fear would succumb to an ideology that just perpetuated it and was directed at their rescuers.

Surprisingly, other than Byrnes and Layfield, the panel was fairly united in dismissing the most outlandish claims by the Fear Caucus. The frantic whimpering of the bed-wetting set has been shown to be utterly without foundation. Recently PolitiFact assessed a claim by GOP/Tea Party Rep. Trent Franks, who said that “It is true that we know that ISIS is present in Ciudad Juarez (Mexico)” And except for the fact that it isn’t true and that we don’t know it, it was a pretty good soundbite. PolitFact rated it “mostly false,” while noting that similar false claims were made by Sen. Marco Rubio and many in the right-wing media such as the Daily Caller, Breitbart News, and Sean Hannity. PolitiFact also revealed that the source of the claim was the ultra-conservative organization, Judicial Watch. When asked for more information to affirm their allegations, JW’s president Tom Fitton simply refused.

Not to be outdone, Fox host Jeanine Pirro served up her own steaming plate of crazy with a paranoia drenched tirade that boosted the profile of ISIL over the tyrant King George of England, Jefferson Davis’ Confederacy, Hirohito’s Japan, Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda, and even the genocidal regime of Adolf Hitler:

“Tonight America faces the single biggest threat in her more than 200-year history. Worse than what we faced in World War I, World War II, the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Al Qaeda on 9/11. [...] The damage will be painful and it will be extensive. [...] I’ve been telling you for months that you need to be afraid.”

Pirro’s grasp of history is pitifully weak. For the record, ISIL is, so far, responsible for the deaths of two Americans. They have a long way to go before they can be regarded as worse than World War I (116,000 fatalities), World War II (405,000), the Civil War (625,000), or even Al Qaeda who lag behind at 9,700 if you include 9/11 plus all casualties endured during both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars (which, of course, are not all attributable to Al Qaeda). And on the basis of her stupendously ignorant raving, she boasts that “for months” she’s been telling her wretched viewers that they “need to be afraid.” How dumb do you need to be to continue following her advice?

The fanatics at Fox News are desperately trying to drive their viewers into a sky-is-falling state of psychotic distress, and they have no qualms about using blatant lies to achieve their ends. It’s a shameful and unethical tactic that squarely fits the definition of terrorism (ter-uh-riz-uh m) – noun: The use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.

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