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.

Shameless self-promotion…
Get Fox Nation vs. Reality. Available now at Amazon.

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.

FLASHBACK: Fox News Is Killing The Republican Party

With the 2012 presidential election behind us, there has been a flurry of post-election analysis by observers from all across the political spectrum. One theme that I have seen coming from both the left and right is the notion that Fox News has not been particularly helpful to the Republican Party, despite that being their primary mission. This criticism reminded me of an article I published three years ago titled “Fox News Is Killing The Republican Party.” So I went back and read it, and to my surprise, it seems just as relevant to today’s political landscape as it did then. In fact, it’s rather frightening (and disappointing) that so little has changed. That is, unless your a Democrat, because the harm that Fox is causing to the GOP is a gift to the Democrats.

So on this lazy Saturday afternoon I thought I would reprise this article for your enjoyment. I reprint it here without a single modification.



[Purchase FreakShow stickers at Crass Commerce]

The case was made long ago that Fox News is a blight on the media map. It is bad for journalism. It is bad for Democracy. It is bad for America. A so-called “news” network that repeatedly misinforms, even deliberately disinforms, its audience is failing any test of public service embodied by an ethical press.

I, personally, have made the case for an embargo of Fox News by Democrats and progressives (see Starve the Beast: Part I, Part II, Part III), documenting via studied analysis that there is no affirmative value to appearing on Fox News – a network that has established itself as overtly hostile to the Democratic message and its messengers.

However, there is another side to this that has not been addressed previously. Republicans might be well advised to avoid Fox News as well. There is a case to be made that Fox News is demonstrably harmful to the Republican Party. In fact, it may be the worst thing to happen to Republicans in decades. That may seem counter-intuitive when discussing Fox News, the acknowledged public relations division of the Republican Party. Fox has populated its air with right-wing mouthpieces and brazenly partisan advocates for a conservative Republican agenda. They read GOP press releases on the air verbatim as if they were the product of original research. They provide a forum where Republican politicians and pundits can peddle their views unchallenged. So how is this harmful to Republicans?

If all we were witnessing was the emergence of a mainstream conservative network that aspired to advance Republican themes and policies, there would not be much of note here. Most of the conventional media was already center-right before there was a Fox News. But Fox has corralled a stable of the most disreputable, unqualified, extremist, lunatics ever assembled, and is presenting them as experts, analysts, and leaders. These third-rate icons of idiocy are marketed by Fox like any other gag gift (i.e. pet rocks, plastic vomit, Sarah Palin, etc.). So while most Americans have never heard of actual Republican party bosses like House Minority Leader John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, posers like Joe the Plumber and Carrie Prejean have become household names.

Fox News has descended into depths heretofore reserved for fringe characters. They are openly promoting the wackos who believe that President Obama is ineligible to hold office because he isn’t a U.S. citizen. They feature commentaries by secessionists and even those calling for an overthrow of the government and the Constitution. This explains how folks like Ralph Peters, a retired military officer who said that the Taliban captors of a U.S. Soldier would be saving us a lot of trouble and expense if they would just kill him, earn airtime on Fox. Peters previously told Fox News that he favors military strikes against media targets. This explains how Glenn Beck can agree with a guest that it would be a good thing if America were attacked again by Osama bin Laden. And don’t even get me started on Victoria Jackson, who has joined an ever-lengthening line of psycho-Chicken Littles who compare the President to Hitler.

Good Advice:
“If crazy ideologues have infiltrated the news business, we need to know about it.”
~ Bill O’Reilly, 7/16/09

The list of loonies extends to politicians like Michele Bachmann, entertainers like Ted Nugent, and of course, the talk show pundits like Rush Limbaugh, whose maniacal rantings are elevated by Fox into their version of political dialogue. It’s a dialogue that is consumed with ACORN conspiracies and Manchurian presidents. The problem is that by elevating bona fide nutcases, they are debasing honest and informed discourse. The mental cases are crowding out any reasonable voices that might exist amongst the more moderate Republicans (if there are any left). Fox appears to have made a tactical decision to permit the inmates full run of the asylum.

As a result, the Fox News audience is being dumbed down by a parade of paranoid know-nothings. This strategy appears to be successful for Fox in that it has attracted a loyal viewership that is eager to have their twisted preconceptions affirmed. The conflict-infused fare in which Fox specializes is a ratings juggernaut – just like any good fiction. However, this perceived popularity is having an inordinate impact on the GOP platform. By doubling down on crazy, Fox is driving the center of the Republican Party further down the rabid hole. They are reshaping the party into a more radicalized community of conspiracy nuts. So even as this helps Rupert Murdoch’s bottom line, it is making celebrities of political bottom-feeders. That can’t be good for the long-term prospects of the Republican Party.

With the Fox network unabashedly promoting the most ridiculous rumors, myths, and nightmares of the rightist fringe, moderate and independent Americans will grow ever more suspicious of the Fox/GOP agenda. Most Americans do not believe that Sonia Sotomayor is a racist; or that FEMA is constructing concentration camps; or that we are on a march toward socialism, communism, fascism, or whatever the right is peddling this week. Most Americans do not believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim, a reptilian alien, or the anti-Christ. In short, most Americans think that the loopy yarns spun by Fox News are fables told by madmen – and believed by even madder men and women who wallow in their doomsday utopia.

Fox News is fond of boasting about their ratings dominance. It is a daily occurrence and the structural core of their argument that they reflect the mood of America. The GOP has bought this argument in its entirety. So it is important to note here that success in the Nielsen ratings has no correlation to public opinion polling. The ratings only measure the program choices of Nielsen’s survey participants. That is a subset of the population at large, and not a particularly representative one. It is a sample focused on consumers, not voters. And its respondents are just those willing to have their TV viewing monitored 24 hours a day, which skews the sample in favor of people who aren’t creeped out by that. What’s more, viewing choices are not necessarily an endorsement of the opinions presented in the program. There are many reasons people choose to watch TV shows, the most frequent being its entertainment value. So any attempt to tie ratings to partisan politics is a foolish exercise that demonstrates a grievous misunderstanding of the business of television.

As for what constitutes success in the television marketplace, due to the broad diversification of available programming, it doesn’t take much to be heralded as a hit. A mere 3 share (3% of people watching TV) will land you in the top 10. For cable news the bar is set even lower. In fact, the top rated show on the top rated cable news network (The O’Reilly Factor) only gets about 3 million viewers. That’s less than 1% of the American population. It’s also less than World Wrestling Entertainment, SpongeBob SquarePants, and the CBS Evening News (the lowest rated broadcast network news program). By contrast, America’s Got Talent is seen by 12 million viewers – four times O’Reilly’s audience.

Numbers this low ought not to inspire much excitement from political operatives. Nevertheless, Republicans are riding the coattails of Fox News as if it were representative of a booming conservative mandate in the electorate. They are embracing Fox’s most delusional eccentrics. This is leading to the promotion of similar eccentrics within the party. Which brings us the absurd spectacle of the network’s nuts interviewing the party’s pinheads.

The inevitable result of this system of rewarding those farthest from reality is the creation of a constituency of crackpots. It is an endorsement of the philosophy brewed by the Tea Baggers that espouses racism, tyranny, and armed revolt. It is enabling a frightening corps of openly militant adversaries of democracy, free speech, and Constitutional rule. It is the sort of environment that produced the murders of Dr. George Tiller and Holocaust Museum guard Stephen Johns.

This is a textbook example of how the extreme rises to the top. It is also fundamentally contrary to the interests of the Republican Party. The more the population at large associates Republican ideology with the agenda of Fox News, and the fringe operators residing there, the more the party will be perceived as out of touch, or even out of their minds. It seems like such a waste after all of the effort and expense that Fox put into building a pseudo-journalistic enterprise with the goal of confounding viewers with false news-like theatrics.

Make no mistake, Fox News is still managed by hard core party patrons. And I’m not referring just to opinion-driven commentators like Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, and Sean Hannity, although they are bad enough. No, I am talking about executives and editors like CEO, Roger Ailes, former Nixon and Bush media consultant. I’m talking about Washington Managing Editor and VP, Bill Sammon, an avid right-wing alum of the Washington “Moonie” Times. I’m talking about Business News Chief and VP, Neil Cavuto, antagonistic interrupter extraordinaire. And let us not forget the head hype-master, Rupert Murdoch, whose UK operations were just discovered to have been unlawfully wiretapping celebrities, politicians, and even members of the Royal Family. Augmenting that executive roster are the GOP regulars who are straight out of the just retired Republican White House: Karl Rove, Dana Perino, John Bolton, Dan Senor, and Linda Chavez. And then there are the Fox News clowns…er…“contributors” like Dick Morris, Ann Coulter, Fred Barnes, Charles Krauthammer, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Bernie Goldberg, Michele Malkin, and on and on. If nothing else, Fox is a full-employment program for rightist weasels (and they also operate the Conservative Book Promotion Club).

The mission of Fox News from its inception was to be more than just a voice of opposition to Democrats. It was to utterly crush the left end of the political spectrum leaving only a teetering right wing with no counter balance. Yet, despite the torrid embrace between Republicans and Fox News, it is apparent that Fox is the source of a sort of friendly fire that is decimating the GOP by exalting its most outlandish and unpopular players. And since Republicans have not been particularly popular anyway lately, the anchor being thrown to them by Fox can’t be all that helpful – – – Except to Democrats.


The more things change, the more they get even crazier than they were before.

Occupy The Media: Progressives Rule – Republicans Drool

A new study by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press explores the public’s attitude toward their elected representatives and the ideological viewpoints that divide our culture. The results reveal a surprising discordance between what the people want and what our representatives think we want.

If a neutral foreigner were to be deposited in America and asked to describe the aspirations of the American people based on his observations of politicians and the press, he might describe a populace consumed with conservative values, evangelical fervor, and personal greed. It’s an appraisal colored by the inordinately excessive volume of congressional Tea Partiers, moralistic spokespeople, and Republican anti-tax crusaders.

However, the true character of the American people has only recently been demonstrated via the actions of Wall Street Occupiers and their protests against the undemocratic usurpation of power by wealthy corporations and individuals, and their benefactors in government. We are a far more tolerant, charitable, and forward thinking people than we are portrayed to be.

Pew Survey - Political TermsThe first, and perhaps most notable, revelation in the Pew survey is that, contrary to the conventional so-called wisdom, when Americans are asked for which term they have a more positive impression, “progressive” ranks highest (at 67%) and significantly higher than “conservative” (62%).

This reverence for progressivism will come as a surprise to many in the media who seem to have bought the persistent complaints of conservatives that Americans lean to the right. That has never been true. There has just been a concerted effort to demonize the liberal label, which has been successful to some degree. Glenn Beck tried to do the same thing to “progressive,” but obviously that didn’t work at all. He must be scarfing down Prozac by the handful right about now. And even with the decades-long bashing of liberals, the term still ties with “capitalism” at 50%. Meanwhile, socialism fares pretty well at 31% for a nation that once blacklisted anyone who expressed sympathy for workers or the poor – a nation to which today’s GOP would like to return.

In addition to the disconnect on ideology, the media has presented a pitifully shallow analysis of the public’s affinity (or lack thereof) for Congress. It has been widely reported that the approval rating for Congress is at historic lows (11%). However, that number has not been broken down to reflect the specific object of the public’s disaffection – until now.

The Pew survey reveals that the nation’s mind is firmly made up as to who is responsible for our national woes. When asked who is to blame for the “do-nothing” congress, respondents chose Republicans over Democrats by almost 2-to-1 (40% to 23%). Republicans were also seen as more extreme in their positions (55% to 33%), and less willing to work with the other side (25% to 51%). Meanwhile, Democrats were viewed as better able to manage government (41% to 35%) and more honest and ethical (45% to 28%).

Fox Nation - CongressThis places media reports of low congressional approval ratings in context. What people hate about Washington are its GOP inhabitants. November 2012 can’t come soon enough for Democrats. And, as can be expected, Fox News leads the pack of truth-distorters by publishing an article on low congressional approval with an accompanying graphic that features Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, but no sign of the Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, or his cadre of lieutenants and committee chairmen who presided over the least productive congress in 60 years.

A similar contextual perspective can be applied to reporting on the Occupy Wall Street movement. While right-wing propagandists have gone to great lengths to insult the protesters as unfocused, unclean, and un-American, the Pew poll paints a very different picture. A plurality of 44% support the movement. Even more (48%) agree with its goals. An overwhelming majority (77%) believe that there is too much power in the hands of a few rich people and large corporations. That includes majorities of Democrats (91%), Independents (80%), and even Republicans (53%).

This information ought to be a part of every story broadcast or published about the nation’s moods and preferences. The low opinions expressed in media polls do not exist in a vacuum. Those numbers have no meaning without digging further to understand why they are what they are. If you were to put Gandhi in a room with a coven of neo-Nazis and poll the public as to their opinion of the people in that room, it would certainly yield a poor result. The inscrutable press would then report that America hates Gandhi. Of course, a more detailed survey would show that it was only the Nazis that brought the polling down.

That’s precisely the sort of deception that the media is engaging in with regard to Occupy Wall Street and Congress. And it’s why we have to be continually vigilant in monitoring the media and correcting it when necessary. In the meantime, we, as progressives, can be proud that the people are on our side, and we can keep reminding the world that it’s the other guys in the room who are stinking it up.

Who Is Really Responsible For The National Debt?

The debate over whether to increase the debt ceiling has included relentless assertions as to who is responsible for the nation’s debt having skyrocketed to its present state. The media has utterly failed in presenting the issue objectively. So here it is (pdf) from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office:

National Debt Chart

The Republicans have increased the national debt far more than Democrats in the last five administrations, including that of the sainted Ronald Reagan. If the Tea Party were to honestly observe the reality of the nation’s economic history they would all be voting Democratic. Unfortunately, the Tea Party is a wholly owned subsidiary of the the Republican Party and Americans for Prosperity and is unlikely to alter their support for the GOP. However, that shouldn’t stop the press from accurately reporting the truth about the debt.

Priorities USA: More Of This, Please

Prioroties USA just released this video exposing the dangers of the extreme (aka mainstream) Republican/Tea Party:

Transcript: The extreme right is aptly named. They are extremely powerful, extremely well-funded, extremely frightening, extremely paranoid, extremely hateful, extremely irresponsible, extremely ill-informed. And just plain extreme. Which makes them all extremely dangerous. It’s time to stand up and fight back. Join us at PrioritiesUSAAction.org. Taking on the politics of fear and smear.

This video addresses the cream of the rightist assault on America. It covers everything from the Koch brothers, to Glenn Beck to Karl Rove and more. The folks behind Priorities USA are familiar Democratic operatives like Bill Burton, former deputy White House spokesman. The group appears to be a lefty version of Rove’s CrossroadsUSA.

It’s about time. While these sort of groups are exploiting the onerous Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court that permits unlimited, anonymous donations by corporations, as long as that decision is the law of the land, the GOP should not be alone in benefiting from it. In fact, Democrats should exploit the hell out of it in the hopes that Republicans will eventually see the harm and join Democrats in drafting a legislative repeal.

So, as the video says, “It’s time to stand up and fight back.”

Eight False Things The Public “Knows” That Just Aint So

OurFuture.org has put together a list that should be in every American’s mailbox before election day. It’s a perfect manifestation of Mark Twain’s admonition that, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” So here is a short list of some things the GOTea Party “knows” for sure:

1) President Obama tripled the deficit.
Reality: Bush’s last budget had a $1.416 trillion deficit. Obama’s first budget reduced that to $1.29 trillion.

2) President Obama raised taxes, which hurt the economy.
Reality: Obama cut taxes. 40% of the “stimulus” was wasted on tax cuts which only create debt, which is why it was so much less effective than it could have been.

3) President Obama bailed out the banks.
Reality: While many people conflate the “stimulus” with the bank bailouts, the bank bailouts were requested by President Bush and his Treasury Secretary, former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson. (Paulson also wanted the bailouts to be “non-reviewable by any court or any agency.”) The bailouts passed and began before the 2008 election of President Obama.

4) The stimulus didn’t work.
Reality: The stimulus worked, but was not enough. In fact, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the stimulus raised employment by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million jobs.

5) Businesses will hire if they get tax cuts.
Reality: A business hires the right number of employees to meet demand. Having extra cash does not cause a business to hire, but a business that has a demand for what it does will find the money to hire. Businesses want customers, not tax cuts.

6) Health care reform costs $1 trillion.
Reality: The health care reform reduces government deficits by $138 billion.

7) Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, is “going broke,” people live longer, fewer workers per retiree, etc.
Reality: Social Security has run a surplus since it began, has a trust fund in the trillions, is completely sound for at least 25 more years and cannot legally borrow so cannot contribute to the deficit (compare that to the military budget!) Life expectancy is only longer because fewer babies die; people who reach 65 live about the same number of years as they used to.

8‌) Government spending takes money out of the economy.
Reality: Government is We, the People and the money it spends is on We, the People. Many people do not know that it is government that builds the roads, airports, ports, courts, schools and other things that are the soil in which business thrives. Many people think that all government spending is on “welfare” and “foreign aid” when that is only a small part of the government’s budget.

The fact that there are so many people who believe things that are demonstrably untrue is a sad reflection on the media that ought to be informing the public. And worse, it’s evidence of how the corporations that control the press so blatantly misrepresent the truth. That’s why it’s so important for the rest of us to pass along the information above.

Is The GOP Ashamed Of Its Tea Party Base?

This morning the Fox Nation has placed as its top story an article on the Democrats’ new campaign to tie Tea Partyists to Republicans. Is that supposed to be a criticism? I thought the GOP and the Tea Baggers were best buddies. Republican candidates across the nation have embraced the Tea Party and enthusiastically sought their support. Tea Party candidates like Sharron Angle in Nevada and Paul Rand in Kentucky have been lauded as heroes within the GOP. Now, all of a sudden, they are complaining that Democrats are calling attention to the affection these conservative comrades have for one another.

When did the Republicans come to view the Tea Party as a liability? Why would this ad rattle them? Recent polling shows that 79% of Tea Partyists identified themselves as Republicans. And some of the top Republicans have been pandering to the Baggers in the most overt manner possible:

John Boehner, House Minority Leader: There really is no difference between what Republicans believe in and what the tea party activists believe in.

Sarah Palin, 1/2-term governor/Fox News contributor: The Republican Party would be really smart to start trying to absorb as much of the Tea Party movement as possible because this is the future of our country. The Tea Party movement is the future of politics.

Sen. Jim DeMint, GOP Chair Michael Steele, Newt Gingrich, and more, share these sentiments. However, the Fox Nationalists seemed to be worried about the association with extremist elements of the Tea Bagging faction. The posting links to an article on The Daily Caller that goes into more detail about this troublesome trend. But the article doesn’t support the contention that it is the Tea Party that worries them. The Caller asserts that the Democratic effort is…

“…a swipe at House Republicans for not offering more specifics of how they would govern if they retake the House. But it’s also an attempt to force the GOP to own proposals by Rep. Paul Ryan.”

Are they worried about the Tea Party or their own Republican agenda? Paul Ryan may be a Tea Party sympathizer, but he is also a Republican leader and the ranking member of the House Budget Committee. Why would the GOP need to be “forced” to adopt the budget proposals of their own budget committee chief? Why are they ashamed to endorse their own platform and people? That’s all the Democrats are putting forth in their video and on the web site dedicated to the Republican Tea Party Contract on America. The site is a summary of the Republican agenda as stated by Republicans, and is fully annotated to document their positions.

While Fox Nation is serving the interests of the Republican Party by seeking to mock the Democrats’ campaign, the Fox Nationalist citizens of the web site (which hilariously just added the words “All Opinions Welcome” to their logo) are not as anxious to distance themselves from the Tea Bagging contingent. Here is a sampling of comments from these completely sane and reasonable folks:

Wolverine Oathkeeper: I do not think it is necessary to puke the reasons why I am not voting for ANY DemonRats especially Obama “The man from Kenya who scammed our country”. My core thought is that they do not represent “One Nation under God, Indivisible With Liberty and Justice For All”

Judgment: Decent People have the common sense to know that the Democratic party has become a Servant of Satan and is using all his favorite ‘tools’ of lies and deception to decieve the people.

Muslim socialist democrats …….taking lying to a whole nother level !: These muslim socialist democrats are runnin scared…………….There is no antidote for the socialist policies of the muslim moron ! America is fed up with these morons and there is nothing the muslim socialist democratic party can do !

WHITE&PROUD2: Hey Liberals, who gives a f–k what you do? Your time is up and you are irrelevant!!

s-t-g: I like the ad. I wish the republican party was more conservative and would enact much of what the tea party stands for.

Exactly! This ad is not the least bit derogatory from the perspective of the Tea Bagger. It is a documentary exposition of the current state of the Tea-publican establishment. No Tea Partyist would find this ad objectionable. So the question is…why do the Republicans and their media mouthpieces?

Update: House Minority Whip Eric Cantor is ashamed. He announced today that he would not be joining the Tea Party caucus in Congress recently founded by Michelle Bachmann (R-TP).

Waterloo For Fox News?

Fourteen months. Fourteen long months of the most venal, histrionic, sensationalized, dishonest, and relentless crusade of disinformation, and what do they have to show for it?


[Purchase FreakShow stickers at Crass Commerce

Fox News has been the official campaign headquarters for opposition to health care reform. They dispatched their top personalities to headline rallies and protests. They consigned thousands of hours of valuable air time to anti-reform politicians and pundits. They converted their studios into Republican platforms for electioneering and fundraising. They adopted the Tea Party “movement” so thoroughly that they even rode along on its bus tours and branded its events as Fox enterprises.

And they lost.

Fox News is fond of reminding everyone of their ratings dominance. Although the cable news universe is comparatively tiny (Fox News has less than half the viewers of the lowest rated broadcast news program on CBS), Fox incessantly boasts that it is the leader in the space. But the fallout from the health care debate ought to demonstrate precisely how little that victory means in the macro world of politics. If the number one cable news network cannot sufficiently move public opinion to produce a legislative victory after fourteen months of persistent propaganda, it would be folly to regard them as if they were some formidable bastion of power or influence. Yet that is exactly how they are regarded by their patrons in the Republican Party (and many in the press).

Last July I wrote an article describing how “Fox News Is Killing The Republican Party”

Fox has corralled a stable of the most disreputable, unqualified, extremist, lunatics ever assembled, and is presenting them as experts, analysts, and leaders. These third-rate icons of idiocy are marketed by Fox like any other gag gift (i.e. pet rocks, plastic vomit, Sarah Palin, etc.). […]

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

This is a textbook example of how the extreme rises to the top. It is also fundamentally contrary to the interests of the Republican Party. The more the population at large associates Republican ideology with the agenda of Fox News, and the fringe operators residing there, the more the party will be perceived as out of touch, or even out of their minds.

See also: As Fox News Goes Up, The GOP Goes Down

Undoubtedly, Republicans will still embrace Fox News. They are not about to abandon the media megaphone that they believe is most in tune with their agenda. Consequently, they will continue to be hampered by the association with unhinged hyperbole like this:

Glenn Beck: This is the end of prosperity in America forever if this bill passes. This is the end of America as you know it.

Hannity: If we get nationalized health care, it’s over; this is socialism.

Neil Cavuto: National Healthcare: Breeding Ground For Terror?

In an inspired fit of illogic, Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard appeared on Fox News this morning to accuse Democrats of being partisan. His evidence was that 34 Democrats voted with Republicans against the health care care bill, but no Republicans voted with the Democrats in favor. Of course, that’s actually evidence that the Democrats were NOT partisan. They demonstrated some diversity in their views while Republicans all marched in lock-step against the bill. In further support of this inane argument, Hayes may have uttered the day’s funniest, and most truthful, commentary:

“If Bart Stupak was a Republican crazy he probably would’ve stuck with his original position.”

I couldn’t agree more. Sticking with his original position against the bill, would certainly have qualified Stupak as a Republican crazy. And it is generous of Hayes to admit that holding the Republican view is tantamount to being insane.

Where do you go after you’ve argued that Armageddon will be the result if your alarms are not heeded (as GOP chair Michael Steele did today) and your argument is rejected? Do you moderate your rhetoric and attempt to restore civility to the debate? Or do you accelerate into a frenzied panic and march a phalanx of livid lemmings over a cliff? My money is on the latter, so far as Fox News is concerned. They still consider it to be in their best interests to manufacture the sort of melodrama that captures television audiences.

Here it’s important to remember that the interests of a television network are worlds apart from those of a political party. So while Fox is happy to gin up the rancor in hopes of attracting more viewers stimulated by bloody conflicts, the GOP will only be further damaged by the partnership. However, unfortunately for them, they have nowhere else to go. Fox News, and a few other rightist authors and radio talkers, have become the de facto face of the Republican Party. This is a point made by conservative strategist David Frum in his discussion of health care winners and losers:

Yes it mobilizes supporters – but by mobilizing them with hysterical accusations and pseudo-information, overheated talk has made it impossible for representatives to represent and elected leaders to lead. The real leaders are on TV and radio, and they have very different imperatives from people in government.

Frum goes on to predict that the continuing, and escalating, hysteria will be a boon to right-wing media. I’m not sure that I agree with him on that point. Certainly the hardcore disciples of Beck and company will remain glued to their sets. But we might also see audiences recede out of frustration and/or fatigue. After pouring everything they had, including their sanity, into a winner-take-all death match and losing, it would surprise no one if a significant segment of the audience decided to take a vacation from the lunacy. If an effort as determined and prolonged as the one Fox just concluded could not prevail, then what would it take?

The good news from all of this is that, as abhorrent as Fox News is, it ought not to be viewed as a Goliath that will crush any opponent. They gave it their all and came up short. They huffed and they puffed, but the House stood strong (oh wait, that was a wolf). This is the clearest evidence yet that Rupert Murdoch’s empire is a paper Fox. However, that doesn’t mean that it should be neglected. It can still bark ferociously and the other members of the media pack continue to give Fox more credence than they deserve. And for these reasons we must remain vigilant and prepared to respond to the deceitful and unethical practices of this phony pseudo-news enterprise.

In the long term I continue to believe that an informed public will reject Fox’s brand of shallow and divisive disinformation. And looking back, the health care debate may one day be perceived as a turning point. It may be that this long, sordid affair will be the battle that turns the war for responsible journalism to favor reason and truth. It may be Fox News’ Waterloo.

[Update: 3/25/10] David Frum has been dismissed from his job at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. That’s what he gets for going rogue.

Why Does Glenn Beck Hate Democracy?

In another display of hysterical dementia, Glenn Beck spent much of his program yesterday mangling American history and redefining the meaning of progressive. As usual, his interpretation of current events is rife with Apocalyptic gloom:

Beck: What we’re talking about is an ideological movement that has set its sights on the destruction of the Constitution and the fundamental transformation of the republic.

Beck’s proof for this prophesy of despair was a series of videos wherein Democrats described themselves as progressive, or promised to make progress on matters of interest to the nation. Progress, of course, is something that Beck and other conservatives deeply despise. That is why there has never been much of it during conservative administrations. As for progressives, Beck is recasting them as Satan’s minions who are “sucking the blood” out of the Democratic Party (Republicans too). He insists that there are no more Democrats, that they have all become infected and are now Marxists. To illustrate his point, Beck quoted Michael Moore issuing a warning to Democrats.

Moore: To the Democrats in Congress who don’t quite get it: I want to offer you a personal pledge. I, and a lot of other people have every intention of removing you from Congress in the next election if you stand in the way of health care legislation that the people want. That is not a hollow or idle threat. We will come to your district and we will work against you. You think that we’re just going to go along with you because you’re Democrats? You should think again. Because we’ll find Republicans who are smart enough to realize that the majority of Americans want universal health care.

To which Beck replied: “Got it? They don’t care about the parties. They never have.”

You see? Moore articulated a pointedly non-partisan challenge to the people’s representatives, exhorting them to align themselves with the public will or face payback at the polls. It’s called democracy. Yet Beck construes this expression of democratic engagement as hostility to party politics. What’s funny about this, aside from Beck’s daft analysis, is that he himself has made a career of being hostile to party politics. In fact, if you remove some of the identifying words in Moore’s statement it could easily be mistaken for Beck himself.

Last August Beck embarked on a major project that he called “In or Out 2010.” It’s whole purpose, he said, was to hold elected representatives accountable to the people and to a 5-point pledge he proposed. In the program introducing the project Beck said:

“If your politician doesn’t believe, support or reflect these beliefs, in their actions, not what they say in cute little speeches, then they aren’t supporting you. You bring these words to them. They’re not supporting or protecting or defending the Constitution of the United States…It’s time to throw those bums out…You tell these politicians that you’re either in, or next election season, you are out.”

How is this different from what Moore said? The only difference is that it’s OK for Glenn Beck to say it, but not Michael Moore. It is the result of the entitlement Beck feels to threaten whoever he wishes, a right not afforded to anyone else. It is a decidedly anti-democratic attitude that pervades Beck’s philosophy. Yesterday’s blackboard sermon was an extended assault on democracy that focused on how corrupt it must be because Americans voted to send more Democrats to Washington than Republicans.

Beck: I could erase the Republicans. We could take them all outside and send them to the zoo all day long and it doesn’t matter. The Democrats could still pass all their legislation.

First of all, that would only be true if there were no diversity of opinion in the Democrat’s caucus, which we all saw last year is far from the case. Secondly, so what if were true? Isn’t that what democracy is all about? If you persuade more citizens to vote for your party/platform then you get to implement it (pay attention Democrats). But Beck gets even more squirrelly as he continues bashing democratic principles.

Beck: That’s why the Democrats need these phantom villains because who’s resisting them? There’s no debate, right? Except the debate inside their own party. Inside the 256 Democrats and the 58 Democrats. You see debate…debate…that’s a needed ingredient for a recipe. One that doesn’t end up in tyranny. Debate. That’s not what we have now in the house and the senate.

In Beck’s world, which is overrun with phantoms and villains, there is no debate amongst Democrats. Of course, in the real world, getting Democrats to agree on anything is a Herculean undertaking. That’s why they have failed to invoke cloture on the record number of Republican filibusters. And it’s why so many judges and other White House appointees are still awaiting confirmation. And it’s why there still isn’t a health care bill.

On the other side of the aisle, however, the GOP marches in lockstep, holding together their homogeneous caucus without debate. It is a strictly disciplined organism that will not countenance dissent. It is the epitome of the recipe for tyranny that Beck assails. But somehow Beck recites this quotation from John F. Kennedy with no irony whatsoever:

JFK: Without debate, without criticism, no administration and no country can survive.

Unless they are Republicans, in which case they get a free pass from Beck who simply finds democracy distasteful. If the people speak out in favor of candidates or policies that Beck dislikes they are misguided and the system is broken. If Beck approves of the people’s decisions then those in the minority should shut up and stop trying to peddle their socialist propaganda. That’s what passes for debate in Beck’s cartoon brain. After all, how do you argue with someone who believes that God is the grantor of rights?

Last year, Beck announced that “the whole approach changes” for his show starting this month. I haven’t seen any evidence of that, but the month isn’t over yet. His announcement coincided with the disclosure of yet another Beck initiative (following the 912 Project, Re-Founders, In or Out 2010, etc.), the ominously christened “The Plan,” a one hundred year blueprint for the restoration of an America that exists only in his mangled mentality. Speculation circulated that this would be a voter registration/community organizing project. In other words, Beck may be starting his own ACORN. So we’re still waiting to see if the democracy-hating Beck will emulate an organization that he regards as anti-democratic.

Fox News Is Killing The Republican Party


[Purchase FreakShow stickers at Crass Commerce]

The case was made long ago that Fox News is a blight on the media map. It is bad for journalism. It is bad for Democracy. It is bad for America. A so-called “news” network that repeatedly misinforms, even deliberately disinforms, its audience is failing any test of public service embodied by an ethical press.

I, personally, have made the case for an embargo of Fox News by Democrats and progressives (see Starve the Beast: Part I, Part II, Part III), documenting via studied analysis that there is no affirmative value to appearing on Fox News – a network that has established itself as overtly hostile to the Democratic message and its messengers.

However, there is another side to this that has not been addressed previously. Republicans might be well advised to avoid Fox News as well. There is a case to be made that Fox News is demonstrably harmful to the Republican Party. In fact, it may be the worst thing to happen to Republicans in decades. That may seem counter-intuitive when discussing Fox News, the acknowledged public relations division of the Republican Party. Fox has populated its air with right-wing mouthpieces and brazenly partisan advocates for a conservative Republican agenda. They read GOP press releases on the air verbatim as if they were the product of original research. They provide a forum where Republican politicians and pundits can peddle their views unchallenged. So how is this harmful to Republicans?

If all we were witnessing was the emergence of a mainstream conservative network that aspired to advance Republican themes and policies, there would not be much of note here. Most of the conventional media was already center-right before there was a Fox News. But Fox has corralled a stable of the most disreputable, unqualified, extremist, lunatics ever assembled, and is presenting them as experts, analysts, and leaders. These third-rate icons of idiocy are marketed by Fox like any other gag gift (i.e. pet rocks, plastic vomit, Sarah Palin, etc.). So while most Americans have never heard of actual Republican party bosses like House Minority Leader John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, posers like Joe the Plumber and Carrie Prejean have become household names.

Fox News has descended into depths heretofore reserved for fringe characters. They are openly promoting the wackos who believe that President Obama is ineligible to hold office because he isn’t a U.S. citizen. They feature commentaries by secessionists and even those calling for an overthrow of the government and the Constitution. This explains how folks like Ralph Peters, a retired military officer who said that the Taliban captors of a U.S. Soldier would be saving us a lot of trouble and expense if they would just kill him, earn airtime on Fox. Peters previously told Fox News that he favors military strikes against media targets. This explains how Glenn Beck can agree with a guest that it would be a good thing if America were attacked again by Osama bin Laden. And don’t even get me started on Victoria Jackson, who has joined an ever-lengthening line of psycho-Chicken Littles who compare the President to Hitler.

Good Advice:
“If crazy ideologues have infiltrated the news business, we need to know about it.”
~ Bill O’Reilly, 7/16/09

The list of loonies extends to politicians like Michele Bachmann, entertainers like Ted Nugent, and of course, the talk show pundits like Rush Limbaugh, whose maniacal rantings are elevated by Fox into their version of political dialogue. It’s a dialogue that is consumed with ACORN conspiracies and Manchurian presidents. The problem is that by elevating bona fide nutcases, they are debasing honest and informed discourse. The mental cases are crowding out any reasonable voices that might exist amongst the more moderate Republicans (if there are any left). Fox appears to have made a tactical decision to permit the inmates full run of the asylum.

As a result, the Fox News audience is being dumbed down by a parade of paranoid know-nothings. This strategy appears to be successful for Fox in that it has attracted a loyal viewership that is eager to have their twisted preconceptions affirmed. The conflict-infused fare in which Fox specializes is a ratings juggernaut – just like any good fiction. However, this perceived popularity is having an inordinate impact on the GOP platform. By doubling down on crazy, Fox is driving the center of the Republican Party further down the rabid hole. They are reshaping the party into a more radicalized community of conspiracy nuts. So even as this helps Rupert Murdoch’s bottom line, it is making celebrities of political bottom-feeders. That can’t be good for the long-term prospects of the Republican Party.

With the Fox network unabashedly promoting the most ridiculous rumors, myths, and nightmares of the rightist fringe, moderate and independent Americans will grow ever more suspicious of the Fox/GOP agenda. Most Americans do not believe that Sonia Sotomayor is a racist; or that FEMA is constructing concentration camps; or that we are on a march toward socialism, communism, fascism, or whatever the right is peddling this week. Most Americans do not believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim, a reptilian alien, or the anti-Christ. In short, most Americans think that the loopy yarns spun by Fox News are fables told by madmen – and believed by even madder men and women who wallow in their doomsday utopia.

Fox News is fond of boasting about their ratings dominance. It is a daily occurrence and the structural core of their argument that they reflect the mood of America. The GOP has bought this argument in its entirety. So it is important to note here that success in the Nielsen ratings has no correlation to public opinion polling. The ratings only measure the program choices of Nielsen’s survey participants. That is a subset of the population at large, and not a particularly representative one. It is a sample focused on consumers, not voters. And its respondents are just those willing to have their TV viewing monitored 24 hours a day, which skews the sample in favor of people who aren’t creeped out by that. What’s more, viewing choices are not necessarily an endorsement of the opinions presented in the program. There are many reasons people choose to watch TV shows, the most frequent being its entertainment value. So any attempt to tie ratings to partisan politics is a foolish exercise that demonstrates a grievous misunderstanding of the business of television.

As for what constitutes success in the television marketplace, due to the broad diversification of available programming, it doesn’t take much to be heralded as a hit. A mere 3 share (3% of people watching TV) will land you in the top 10. For cable news the bar is set even lower. In fact, the top rated show on the top rated cable news network (The O’Reilly Factor) only gets about 3 million viewers. That’s less than 1% of the American population. It’s also less than World Wrestling Entertainment, SpongeBob SquarePants, and the CBS Evening News (the lowest rated broadcast network news program). By contrast, America’s Got Talent is seen by 12 million viewers – four times O’Reilly’s audience.

Numbers this low ought not to inspire much excitement from political operatives. Nevertheless, Republicans are riding the coattails of Fox News as if it were representative of a booming conservative mandate in the electorate. They are embracing Fox’s most delusional eccentrics. This is leading to the promotion of similar eccentrics within the party. Which brings us the absurd spectacle of the network’s nuts interviewing the party’s pinheads.

The inevitable result of this system of rewarding those farthest from reality is the creation of a constituency of crackpots. It is an endorsement of the philosophy brewed by the Tea Baggers that espouses racism, tyranny, and armed revolt. It is enabling a frightening corps of openly militant adversaries of democracy, free speech, and Constitutional rule. It is the sort of environment that produced the murders of Dr. George Tiller and Holocaust Museum guard Stephen Johns.

This is a textbook example of how the extreme rises to the top. It is also fundamentally contrary to the interests of the Republican Party. The more the population at large associates Republican ideology with the agenda of Fox News, and the fringe operators residing there, the more the party will be perceived as out of touch, or even out of their minds. It seems like such a waste after all of the effort and expense that Fox put into building a pseudo-journalistic enterprise with the goal of confounding viewers with false news-like theatrics.

Make no mistake, Fox News is still managed by hard core party patrons. And I’m not referring just to opinion-driven commentators like Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, and Sean Hannity, although they are bad enough. No, I am talking about executives and editors like CEO, Roger Ailes, former Nixon and Bush media consultant. I’m talking about Washington Managing Editor and VP, Bill Sammon, an avid right-wing alum of the Washington “Moonie” Times. I’m talking about Business News Chief and VP, Neil Cavuto, antagonistic interrupter extraordinaire. And let us not forget the head hype-master, Rupert Murdoch, whose UK operations were just discovered to have been unlawfully wiretapping celebrities, politicians, and even members of the Royal Family. Augmenting that executive roster are the GOP regulars who are straight out of the just retired Republican White House: Karl Rove, Dana Perino, John Bolton, Dan Senor, and Linda Chavez. And then there are the Fox News clowns…er…“contributors” like Dick Morris, Ann Coulter, Fred Barnes, Charles Krauthammer, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Bernie Goldberg, Michele Malkin, and on and on. If nothing else, Fox is a full-employment program for rightist weasels (and they also operate the Conservative Book Promotion Club).

The mission of Fox News from its inception was to be more than just a voice of opposition to Democrats. It was to utterly crush the left end of the political spectrum leaving only a teetering right wing with no counter balance. Yet, despite the torrid embrace between Republicans and Fox News, it is apparent that Fox is the source of a sort of friendly fire that is decimating the GOP by exalting its most outlandish and unpopular players. And since Republicans have not been particularly popular anyway lately, the anchor being thrown to them by Fox can’t be all that helpful – – – Except to Democrats.

Brent Bozell To GOP: Set A Torch To That Big Tent

Brent Bozell, the president of the uber-conservative Media Research Center, has issued a bit of advice for the Republican Party that ought to make Democrats everywhere ecstatic.

“Incoming memo to the GOP: Set a torch to that big tent of yours. People are flocking from liberals’ failing policy and ideals.”

The impetus for this counsel is new polling from Gallup that says that Americans in recent years have become more conservative. Bozell’s knee-jerk reaction typifies the shallow and partisan analysis for which he is known.

The Gallup poll cited by Bozell does indeed show that 39% of Americans consider themselves more conservative than they did a few years ago. What Bozell fails to reveal is that a significant majority of those who say they have become more conservative were conservative to begin with.

Plus, it is mostly Republicans whose views have shifted more to the right. So what we are seeing is primarily a hardening of ideology by those who were already on the right side of the scale.

In addition, a prior Gallup poll showed that Republicans already reside in the smallest of tents, with 73% describing themselves as conservative and only 4% as liberal and 24% moderate. Democrats, on the other hand, breakdown to 38% liberal, 40% moderate and 22% conservative, a much more balanced community.

The obvious conclusion from the data in this poll is that there isn’t any advantage for officeholders or candidates to swing to the right. Even if the American people are sliding slightly rightward, that doesn’t mean that they will vote Republican. Just take a look at the results of last November’s election when Democrats took the White House and added seats in both chambers of congress. And contrary to Bozell’s contention that “people are flocking from liberals’ failing policy and ideals,” Gallup explicitly debunks that claim in their polling on specific issues.

Consequently, Bozell’s advice to the GOP to circle the wagons and become more exclusionary than ever can only help Democrats, who are presently viewed as more tolerant of diverse opinions. The public still blames Bush for the economy and Iraq; still prefers Obama’s approach to healthcare and immigration; and still has a 63% approval rating for the President.

So light up your torches, Republicans. Fan those embers of your party’s support. Feed the flaming rhetoric of your right flank. You are only going to burn down your own house.

Republicans Flub The Double Reverse Alinsky

For degree of difficulty, I’ll give them a ten, but Republicans are far too incompetent to have risked the political Jujitsu required by their recent exercise.

Saul Alinsky was an activist and author who has been called the founder of modern community organizing. He is said to have been an early influence on Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. His book, Rules For Radicals, outlined a program for effecting social change by building organizations that restored the balance of power from the elite to the people.

Early in last year’s presidential campaign, Republicans sought to exploit Clinton and Obama’s connection to Alinsky, implying that there was something frightful about his advocacy of empowering the poor and middle classes. More recently, his name has begun to reappear in a new, seemingly coordinated assault on the President, the press, and any stray progressive activist that might saunter along. The problem is that these conservatives swing so wide of the mark that they only succeed in making asses of themselves. Their approach is so pedestrian that not only do they fail to make their point, the point they make is often antithetical to what they intended. For example…

Jim Geraghty wrote an article for the National Review, The Alinsky Administration, that seeks to associate Obama with the first of Alinsky’s rules: Power is not only what you have, but what an opponent thinks you have. But Geraghty’s limited comprehension distills the concept down to nothing more than the allegation that Obama is a politician who seeks to attain power. Shocking, isn’t it?

Geraghty: “As conservatives size up their new foe, they ought to remember: It’s not about liberalism. It’s about power. Obama will jettison anything that costs him power, and do anything that enhances it.”

In addition to missing Alinsky’s point entirely, Geraghty also contradicts the vast conservative confederation that has been hammering away at Obama precisely because of his intransigent liberalism. So while everyone else on the right is trying to convince us that Obama is taking us down the road to Socialism, Geraghty contends that the ideology is expendable in the pursuit of power.

Then Geraghty turns up on the Hannity show and invokes his version of Alinsky’s fifth rule: Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. But in making his case, Geraghty has uncovered a heretofore unknown conspiracy that is under the direction of Obama:

Geraghty: “[H]e’s got everything from ‘The Daily Show’ to ‘The Colbert Report’ to, you know, liberal bloggers, entertainers, Bill Maher. He kind of outsources that aspect of the Alinsky operation.

It may come as a surprise to Jon Stewart et al, to learn that they are mere puppets of the White House Overlord. The administration’s army of comedians must keep a lot of Republicans up at night. And, Heaven knows, the President himself loves to laugh. Bill O’Reilly also picked up the ridicule angle and added NBC as an instrument of Obama’s plot:

O’Reilly: “Enter far-left philosopher Saul Alinsky […] Before he died, Alinsky wrote a book called ‘Rules for Radicals,’ and here is where the politics of ridicule was defined. According to Alinsky, in order to change America into a far-left bastion, traditional Americans must be marginalized.”

Of course, O’Reilly made up virtually all of that. Alinsky not only did not advocate for marginalizing “traditional Americans,” he was their biggest advocate. Then again, O’Reilly’s definition of a traditional American is a wealthy, white, Christian, corporatist, social Darwinian, who gets off on torture and loofahs. But my favorite part, personally, is where O’Reilly says, “Before he died, Alinsky wrote a book…” As opposed to the books he wrote after he died? Thanks for making that distinction, Bill.

If the Republicans are sensitive to being ridiculed, it is only because they make it so easy. However, their disingenuous sniveling is hard to take seriously when they are just as guilty of the practice as the left. O’Reilly has a daily feature on his show wherein he calls people pinheads. The RNC repeatedly cranked out campaign videos mocking Obama as a celebrity, a media darling, or “The One”. Glenn Beck has a recurring series on the “March to Socialism”. Rush Limbaugh devotes most of his daily three hour rant to nothing but ridiculing one Democrat or another. The Internet is awash with images of Obama as everything from a terrorist to a Messiah to Hitler.

The flood of references to Alinsky is threatening to drown out all other political discourse. It has been taken up by everyone from Rush Limbaugh to Michelle Bachmann to Karl Rove. When you hear Republicans condemn Democrats for some breach of civility, you can lay odds that they are doing the very same thing. Their capacity for projection is legendary. This is no less true with regard to their allegations concerning Alinsky’s rules. But their execution is atrocious. They are so bad, in fact, that they are even contradicted by their own side. Last year, John J. Pitney Jr., also writing for the National Review, penned a column entitled, “The Alinsky Ticket,” wherein he exposed the real perpetrators of this pinko scheme:

Pitney: “Radical activist Saul Alinsky has had quite a season, especially for somebody who has been dead for 36 years. The two Democratic finalists had Alinsky links […] But the candidates who have most effectively applied Alinsky principles are John McCain and Sarah Palin.”

Well, now the cat’s out of the bag. Pitney dropped the dime on the GOP. How can they assail Obama and the Democrats for a strategy that they are employing themselves? Actually, they can do it very easily. In fact, it is rule number one in Karl Rove’s Rules For Reactionaries: Conduct a campaign of dirty tricks, but accuse your opponents of doing it first.

Rightists are now trying to adapt that rule to Alinsky’s teachings, and to disparage Obama and the Democrats. Unfortunately, their ineptitude is so advanced that they can’t execute a successful program. All they are accomplishing is a reaffirmation of their own desperation and lameness. Nothing illustrates this better than the recent proposal by the RNC to rebrand Democrats as the Democrat Socialist Party [shakes head and sighs].

Watch for more hilarity as Republicans continue in their quest to complete the perfect Double Reverse Alinsky – no matter how many times, or how miserably, they fail.

Starve The Beast: The Wrath Of The Right

We are now a month into the administration of Barack Obama. It’s a month that seems to have been packed with a year’s worth of activity. From the first day in office when Obama issued executive orders permitting more openness with presidential records and Freedom of Information Act requests, to announcements of major policy agendas for an economy on life support and the still soul-sapping wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the White House has been busy, to say the least.

At the same time, they have had to deal with the opposition of an increasingly obstructionist Republican minority and a media that is overtly hostile. Last year, prior to the election, Fox News was already fortifying its right flank. New multimillion dollar contracts were handed out to Roger Ailes, Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly. Hannity’s show shed the dead weight of alleged liberal Alan Colmes. Glenn Beck was brought in to shore up the daytime crowd. Neil Cavuto, a bully who is every bit as obnoxious as O’Reilly poisons the economic news, and he is also managing editor of Murdoch’s Fox Business News. And just this week Bill Sammon, author of a shelf full of bitterly partisan books, was promoted to VP and Washington Editor for the network.

The result is a full court press of some of the dirtiest political assaults ever waged by what is advertised as a “news” network. Fox News is shamelessly pushing a campaign to characterize Obama as a Socialist – a committed opponent of America and its values – from 6:00 am with the crew of Fox & Friends, to after midnight with broadcasts and repeats of their primetime neanderthal shoutcasters. They get their marching orders directly from Rupert Murdoch who last September said that…

“[Obama’s] policy is really very, very naive, old fashioned, 1960’s socialist.”

Even worse, these rightist dissidents come very close to openly advocating acts of violence and armed rebellion. Glenn Beck’s ominously titled “War Room” was an hour long descent into fear mongering that posited nothing short of the decline of western civilization. The upshot of this Terror Hour is that America’s days are numbered, so you had better start stockpiling guns, hoarding food and water, converting your dollars to gold, and barricading your secluded compound in the Wyoming wilderness (move over Ted Kaczynski). And, of course, it’s all Obama’s fault.

Another result of this Apocalyptic programming surge is higher ratings for Fox News. The core primetime schedule on Fox has enjoyed a rare uptick in audience growth. For the past three years, Fox, while number one in total audience, has been the slowest growing network in cable news. CNN and MSNBC produced consistently stronger growth. Particularly MSNBC, which was once a struggling also-ran, but which now challenges Fox’s powerhouses and routinely beats CNN. But the numbers for this February are another story.

Total Day: FNC +29%, MSNBC +17%, CNN +2%.
Primetime: FNC +28%, MSNBC +23%, CNN -30%.

What accounts for the turnaround in Fox’s fortunes? Well, first of all, they are benefiting from their previous slack performance. In other words, they were able to record higher comparative rates of growth because their prior year numbers were held down due to some rather unique circumstances. To understand the current numbers, you need to remember what was going on a year ago.

In February of 2008 the Democratic Party was in the middle of a hotly contested presidential primary. Early in the month it was already apparent that McCain would win his Party’s nomination. Consequently, audiences viewing campaign news were disproportionately composed of Democrats. Amongst the biggest draws were the televised debates. Democratic candidates, you may recall, had forsworn Fox News as a host for their debates. So the two Democratic debates held in February 2008 were carried by CNN and MSNBC, and both drew audiences many times greater than their regularly scheduled programming. Democrats also shunned Fox for other TV appearances and interviews. It had gotten so bad that Chris Wallace, host of Fox News Sunday, made a veiled threat in December of 2007:

“I think the Democrats are damn fools [for] not coming on Fox News.”

We know the problem still existed in March of 2008 because that’s when Wallace debuted his Obama Watch: a clock that would record how long before Obama appeared on Wallace’s show. It was a childish prank on Wallace’s part, but it clearly showed that the Democratic embargo of Fox News was having a real impact. For CNN and MSNBC, who had the guests and the event programming that appealed to the most motivated news consumers, it meant higher ratings. Fox, on the other hand, had depressed numbers because their most loyal audience – Republicans – already had a candidate, so there was no campaign drama to keep them tuned in. Comparing those numbers to February 2009 would, therefore, be favorable to Fox by producing a greater percent difference.

So some of the good news for Fox was really just a matter of perception. But that’s not the whole story. They are actually having a pretty good year, particularly post-inauguration. All the networks have suffered some falloff from January, but Fox has retained more of their recent gains than have their competitors. I can only offer some informed speculation as to why that would be.

First, Fox has more new programming that may be piquing the interests of their viewers. The new programs include a retooled Hannity, minus Colmes, and Glenn Beck’s Acute Paranoia Revue. Beck has found his home at Fox. His ratings have significantly increased over what he had at HLN, and he has also improved the time period he fills on Fox. As for Hannity, dumping Colmes was obviously popular amongst the Foxian pod people. It’s just that much less non-approved, pseudo-liberal noise they have to sit through.

Secondly, by heating up the aggressive tone, Fox has fashioned a hearth around which despondent conservatives can huddle. In 2006 they suffered the loss of both houses of congress. Now they have lost the presidency as well – and to what they view as an unpatriotic, Muslim, elitist, intent on driving the nation to Socialism in a Toyota hybrid. So now they congregate in the warm red glow of the Fox News logo that provides them the comfort that comes from numbing propaganda and the righteous smiting of perceived enemies.

This doubling down on rancor has had mixed results for Fox. While it endeared them to their base, and those they could frighten into submission, it also cost them dearly on a broader financial scale. The stock of Fox News parent, News Corp, is down 70% for the last 52 weeks. To be sure, the economy, particularly for media companies, was difficult, to put it mildly. But News Corp competitors Time Warner, Disney, and even the Washington Post were only down in the 45-55% range. News Corp suffered its worst loss ever of over $6.4 billion. And going forward, they advised Wall Street that income will decline another 30% for fiscal 2009.

In examining the reasons that Fox would perform so much worse than similar enterprises, one would have to consider the possibility that people have become disgusted with the obvious one-sided manipulation and the non-stop, phony news alerts that are Fox’s shock in trade. But I believe that it would also be fair to conclude that the direct actions taken against Fox News by Democrats last year are at least partially responsible for Fox’s inordinately more severe decline. The ratings disparities year over year document the effect that a sustained campaign of snubbery can produce.

Starve The BeastWith the stepped up efforts of Fox to sling ever more buckets of mud, it is more imperative now than ever that Democrats act affirmatively in their best interests. They must resist the siren call of televised glory and begin to discriminate between those who are fair practitioners of journalism and those who seek only to engage in slander and slime. In two previous installments of my Starve The Beast series (part 1 / part 2), I described how complicity with Fox News is not merely a waste of time, but is demonstrably harmful. This is even more true today, as the evidence above illustrates. The message that Democrats and other progressives must take to heart with all deliberateness and determination is: STAY THE HELL OFF OF FOX NEWS! Since it hurts us when we appear and it hurts them when we don’t, the way forward is crystal clear. It makes absolutely no sense to lay down before lions who are determined to devour you.

Now, I don’t want to approach this from a purely negative standpoint. While constructing a united front in opposition to Fox News is an absolute necessity, there are some positive steps that can be taken as well. Other news organizations must be pressured to present a more balanced picture of current events. And, where possible, true liberal voices must gain access to the televised public square. Media Matters long ago documented the imbalance of conservatives and Republicans on the Sunday news programs. That ideological discrepancy has continued apace since Obama’s inauguration. Now it’s time to do something about it. It’s time to make a case for TV to offer a more equitable representation of liberal views – the views of the majority, the winners.

Political activism has always been shaped in part by access to polling. It is an irreplaceable asset for anyone managing a campaign for a candidate or an issue. Similarly, TV survey data is critical in analyzing media performance and prospects. This data is distinct from conventional polling. Remember, networks don’t care about the public. They care about a subset of the public that is attractive to their customers. And their customers are not viewers – they are advertisers. While there are many sources for political data, there are few for media data – and most of those are press releases from vested corporate interests. There is little that we can do with ratings data that has already been massaged to advantage one particular party.

If progressives want to have some influence on programming, they must be able to anchor their arguments with original research and facts. For this reason, it is no longer enough for sites like Media Matters or Talking Points Memo or Daily Kos or News Corpse to merely document right-wing media abuses. If we want to help shape the editorial direction of the Conventional Media, we have to offer authoritative presentations to map a path to bigger audiences and ratings victories. We need to speak to the needs of the news providers and give them a business case for adopting a truly balanced programming model. To do this we need access to the raw data that is at the heart of television marketing.

So who amongst the lefty netroots will step forward and subscribe to Nielsen Media Research broadcast and cable data? I’m going to rule out News Corpse because I can’t afford it. But I do have 14 years of experience in media research and would be willing to help produce analyses and presentations. Just as progressive authors and bloggers offer informed advice to advance political goals, we need to be able to make a persuasive, market-based case for the sort of programming reform that we want to see. We need to be able to show the networks that it is in their interest, financially and ethically, to develop programming that is honest and in keeping with the principles of an engaged and probing press. We need to be able to counter the false impressions relentlessly pushed by faux news enterprises that tout themselves as the popular voice of the nation. It seems that a day does not go by that Bill O’Reilly doesn’t boast about his ratings. The funny thing is that he also condemns the source of those ratings with the delusional paranoia that only he can muster:

“The bottom line on this is there may be some big-time cheating going on in the ratings system, and we hope the feds will investigate. Any fraud in the television rating system affects all Americans.”

So O’Reilly thinks that the system he so proudly cites for affirmation of his massive popularity, is also engaging in big-time cheating for the benefit of his foes. If he’s right, and Nielsen data is not to be trusted when they report that his competition is catching up, than why should we trust it when it reports his success. In truth, the only cheating going on is on the part of the self-promoting networks and the egomaniacal personalities they employ. It is their selective and misleading interpretations that are distorting the reality of viewer behavior.

Suffice it to say that we would be in a much better position to dispute the spin that’s being peddled if we had access to unfiltered Nielsen data. We could mine that data to develop solutions and strategies to present to news programmers. Then we may begin to have some influence over news programming, personalities, and content.

This is as important an endeavor for progressives as the strategies we promote for politicians. I would argue that it’s more important. Especially in a media environment where prominent news enterprises are openly fomenting a near-militaristic antagonism to our representatives and our values.

Who Wants To Be Bipartisan?

Who Wants To Be BipartisanFor the past week, Congress has been embroiled in a debate over solutions to the nation’s current economic crisis. Hundreds of proposals for the Stimulus Bill have been considered, from tax cuts to infrastructure spending to mortgage relief to banking reform. But to hear the media tell it, the most pressing issue in Washington was whether the administration could achieve the fabled goal of bipartisanship.

But who really wants to be bipartisan?

The short answer to that question is “the losers.” The minority in Congress wants desperately to wield some measure of influence over legislation and policy. The problem for them is that they didn’t earn it at the ballot box. The American people, in overwhelming numbers, elected Democrats to Congress and the White House. They could have voted for Republicans but, after listening to both sides, expressed a distinct preference for Democratic candidates and solutions. Consequently, the pursuit of bipartisanship by Democrats is an outright betrayal of the will of the people.

The idiocy of elevating bipartisanship as a goal unto itself is a fabrication conceived by Republicans and the right-wing dominated press. It is a battlefield that the minority party prefers because they can control it. All they have to do is enforce party discipline, instruct their members to vote against the majority, and then claim to be the victims of a partisan process that they themselves contrived.

The media goes along with this deceit for reasons of their own. For one, it produces the sort of drama they relish for boosting ratings. For another, they use it to defend themselves from false right-wing criticisms that they are a liberal leaning institution (though they never seem bothered by liberals who complain that they lean to the right). So in pursuit of controversy, reporters re-frame the debate from the substance of the bill to a manufactured desire for unity – a confounding unity of programs of the popularly elected majority with those of the recently rejected minority.

Throughout this process, it should be noted, the definition of bipartisanship has congealed into a rather useless, and perhaps harmful, mush. To be productively bipartisan would be to incorporate ideas from both sides. But what has evolved is more of a stew wherein everything is blended together until it is unrecognizable and ineffective. It’s as if a disagreement over whether to order some Japanese take-out or a bucket of chicken resulted in picking up some Kentucky Fried Sushi. Mmmm. That’s what Congress is doing and it’s going to make a lot of people sick.

Compromise, in and of itself, is not necessarily a desirable goal. Especially if one side is intent only on sabotaging the other. After all of the concessions that Democrats made on the Stimulus Bill, in the hopes of appealing to Republicans, the Republicans still stiffed Democrats, providing only three votes. Nonetheless, Republicans succeeded in diluting the bill, increasing the odds that it will fail – a result they favor as it would help them politically, albeit at the expense of millions of suffering citizens. This is both unconscionably uncaring and an affront to democracy. Americans are entitled to the government they elected, not one that is held hostage by parliamentary shenanigans.

To be sure, Barack Obama and his administration contributed to the frenzied discussion of bipartisanship. It has been a priority for them that goes back to the campaign. But they seem to have learned their lesson, as Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel admitted that the White House placed an over-emphasis on process and may have neglected reinforcing the message. Message discipline is more important than ever in the modern media environment that will pervert and distort events and intentions if left to their own devices.

The self-serving maneuvering of Republicans, however, is almost never reported by the media. So when a bill is passed with a massive majority (House: 246-183; Senate: 60-38), the media still describes it as a “Bipartisan Bust,” rather than an historic legislative victory. Every headline that says that the bill was passed along party lines fails to to make clear that one party just happens to far outnumber the other due to the voters preference.

The negative framing of these stories is purposefully at odds with the public who continue to support the Democratic program. Americans deserve more from the press. We deserve reporting that addresses issues substantively, rather than trivialized by shallow, political, pseudo-analysis. It is long past time for the press to honestly portray bipartisanship as nothing more than a partisan tactic to delay and obstruct the will of the people.

No Success Like Failure

In Bob Dylan’s classic “Love Minus Zero/No Limit” he makes the counter-intuitive observation that “There’s no success like failure.” Well, much of the establishment of America’s politics and press have taken that to heart.

The latest example is that of the Senate Democrats who have opted to let Sen. Joe Lieberman get away with political treason. Lieberman, who was ejected from the Democratic Party by his constituents in Connecticut, spent much of the last year campaigning against Barack Obama. In the course of the campaign he declared that Obama was too inexperienced to be president, was unsupportive of the troops, may have been a Marxist, and many more insults to his character and ability.

Today Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that there would be no repercussions for Lieberman’s betrayal. Lieberman would be allowed to keep his chairmanship of the powerful Homeland Security Committee. What Reid has done is to compound Lieberman’s betrayal with one of his own. And the rest of the Democratic Caucus who went along with it are equally to blame. Reid told reporters that he didn’t want to pursue a course of vengeance. But selecting Party leadership based on loyalty and shared goals isn’t revenge, it’s common sense. And besides, Dylan also realized that, “Even the pawn must hold a grudge.”

The problem is not as simple as Lieberman being an untrustworthy weasel who ought to pay a price for his deceit. The problem is that Lieberman was an ineffective chairman even before the campaign. He has long been an advocate of George W. Bush’s policy in Iraq and he refused to hold hearings that would have provided necessary oversight because they might also have reflected poorly on the President he adored. The same is true for other matters under the Committee’s jurisdiction like Katrina, torture, and warrantless wiretapping. Lieberman should have been ousted as chair if for no other reason than that he would not represent the new administration’s priorities.

Senate Democrats have an obligation to manage their institution in accordance with the political aspirations of their constituents. They failed to meet that obligation today. But Dylan foresaw the consequences of failure, and the Lieberman affair is only one instance in recent history that proves Dylan’s wisdom.

    Successful Failures:

  • John McCain failed in the election a couple of weeks ago, yet he is now regarded as an elder statesman who has already met with the President-elect.
  • Joe Lieberman rode on McCain’s failed coattails but gets to retain his committee chair.
  • Hillary Clinton failed in the Democratic primary where she said that all Obama would bring to the presidency was a speech in 2002. She belittled his view that foreign leaders should be engaged with diplomacy. But now she may become the focal point of his foreign policy as Secretary of State.
  • Sarah Palin also failed in the election, yet she is now regarded as a front-runner for 2012 (I hope).
  • Mike Huckabee failed to win the Republican nomination, but was rewarded with a program on Fox News.
  • Corporations like AIG and Lehman Brothers failed to the tune of billions of dollars, and they get handed billions more courtesy of American taxpayers.
  • Now the automobile industry is joining the failures in financial services in line for bailout fortunes.
  • Last, but not least, are the multitude of pundits like Dick Morris, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, William Krystal, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, etc., who failed repeatedly to make a correct assessment of anything that happened in the last year, yet they keep their media megaphones, and in some cases get promotions and raises.

At some point, reasonable folks will have to wonder why losers are so often rewarded, when more deserving players are snubbed. The benefits of membership in exclusive clubs like the U.S. Senate and the Mainstream Media are clearly lucrative for the lucky few. But the rest of us are saddled with less representative government, more debt, and bigger headaches brought on by louder and stupider commentators.

Those in politics and the press who exercise such disrespect for the people, are going to regret their self-centeredness some day. They are going to learn that we will eventually find alternatives to their protectionist institutions. They can’t fail upward forever because, in the end, “Failure is no success at all.”

Starve The Beast: Appetite For Distortion

Media Blindness

Almost exactly one year ago I published a comprehensive examination of the futility of appearances on Fox News by Democrats and progressives: Starve The Beast. The thrust of the article argued that…

“Every time one of our representatives appears on Fox, they are setting back our agenda. They are not just wasting a little time trying to confront the enemy in its lair. They are literally causing harm to the efforts of the rest of us who are fervently struggling to repair and improve our country.”

The case was supported by studies that showed that Fox News audiences supported Republicans by overwhelming margins and that they were significantly more likely to have misperceptions about current news events. I also provided evidence that the centerpiece in Rupert Murdoch’s empire was a far less ominous presence in the mediasphere than they liked to imagine themselves.

It’s all still true. Rasmussen conducted a new study that affirms the previous studies. Their survey shows that Fox News viewers are still a species apart from the rest of the television population.

When nine out of ten Fox viewers say that they will vote for John McCain, you have an audience that may be more accurately described as a cult (as I described it in The Cult Of Foxonality). And while viewers at both CNN and MSNBC express a solid two to one majority for Barack Obama, that is a far cry from the near unanimous, block mentality of Fox viewers. The fact that the CNN and MSNBC audience compositions agree with one another suggests that they may be a better reflection of the population as a whole. They certainly come much closer to public opinion polling on the presidential race. Another indication of the disparity between Fox and its competitors is that 43% of CNN viewers and 38% of MSNBC viewers have a favorable opinion of McCain. However, only 14% of Fox viewers have a favorable opinion of Obama.

This corroborating evidence of how decidedly unfriendly the Fox News audience is to Democrats ought to be enough to persuade them to stay away from the network. Unfortunately, the past few weeks has seen wayward souls like Lanny Davis and Howard Wolfson lured into the Fox lair. To make matters worse, both Hillary Clinton and Obama have recently granted interviews to Fox flacks Bill O’Reilly and Chris Wallace, respectively. Obviously more persuasion is required. So let’s go to the numbers – the Nielsen numbers.

In the first half of 2008, CNN and MSNBC both improved their ratings over the same period the year before by more than 50% in the key 25-54 year old demographic. Fox News squeaked through with a measly 4% gain. In the second quarter Fox actually sunk 2%. And Fox continues to draw the oldest audience in cable news. MSNBC beats Fox with about 35% more viewers in the 18-34 demo. So Fox’s audience is not only growing slower than its competitors, it is failing to attract the next generation of news viewers. The only reason for the size of the audience they presently have is that they have cornered the market for conservative couch jockeys who congregate at their cable water cooler. Hence their dramatic overweighting of McCainiacs. The rest of the news consuming audience is splintered throughout the dial in a manner that disguises the fact that they are in the majority. There are far more non-Fox viewers than Fox viewers, but they are dispersed over a half dozen channels or more. Conservatives are all gathering together, glassy-eyed in the Fox clubhouse.

Democrats and progressives need to be reminded that a network that is overtly hostile to their interests holds no attraction for them. There is no reason to grace their airwaves. There is no benefit to doing so. They will not change the minds of the Foxpods watching programs like Brit Hume’s Special Report or the O’Reilly Factor. Their appearances will only be used to humiliate them and then to lay claim to being “fair and balanced.” It simply makes no sense to ally with a organization that is working openly and vigorously for your defeat. Can it be any clearer that people like Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes, Neil Cavuto, and Sean Hannity are the enemy?

Starve The BeastAnd if it isn’t enough that Fox News is avowedly opposed to the goals of Democrats and progressives, then the fact that viewers are turning away from Fox while the market is growing should convince them of what the rest of the country has already decided – that Fox is not a news network, it is a tool for right-wing propaganda and disinformation. That’s why their audience share is shrinking. And that’s why we must not grant them the credibility our association implies. Just stay the HELL off of Fox News!

This beast has a ravenous appetite and we should not be throwing it chum. Leave it to whither and parish and cease to threaten our land and well-being. We are better rid of it. Starve The Beast!

Republichol: For The Change You Deserve

The more things change…..

In an increasingly complex world, many people find it difficult to cope with the stresses of day to day life. The strain of caring for a family, paying the mortgage, job insecurity, and terrorists lurking at the Dairy Queen, can result in crushing anxiety and fear. But now, from the makers of The War in Iraq™ and Katrina Neglect™ comes a breakthrough in the treatment of depression caused by incompetent and dishonest national leadership. Now there is an alternative to the endless years of suffering brought on by deficient representation.

DemocracynAfter extensive research and focus grouping, the Republican National Committee is proud to introduce Republichol™ for the treatment of Latent Impotent Electoral Syndrome (LIES). Republichol™ is specially formulated to deceive the patient into believing that the utterly discredited Republican Party is actually pursuing an agenda of change. American voters can now enjoy the relief and satisfaction that comes from masking reality with comforting platitudes.

If there is a defining theme for 21st century politics, it is “Change.” Every actor on the political stage has extolled its virtues. Barack Obama promises “Change you can believe in.” Hillary Clinton touts her record of “35 years of change.” Even George Bush stakes out this territory:

“In 2000, I said, ‘Vote for me, I’m an agent of change.’ In 2004, I said, ‘I’m not interested in change. I want to continue as President.’ Every candidate has got to say ‘change.’ That’s what the American people expect.”

In his own, nearly incomprehensible way, Bush admits that he wasn’t interested in change even as he asserts that every candidate has to embrace it. His lack of comprehension is a hallmark of the party he leads. This is why House minority leader, John Boehner, personally developed the Republichol™ campaign and it’s slogan “The Change You Deserve.” The slogan was carefully composed to avoid the promise of change that you need, or change that will actually be beneficial. By focusing on change that you deserve, Republichol’s™ patented time-release formula distributes any change on the basis of personalized determinations of merit. For instance:

  • Oil companies deserve control over protected off-shore and wilderness areas.
  • Telecom companies deserve retroactive immunity for crimes against innocent customers.
  • Defense contractors deserve international hostilities that create demand for their products.
  • The media deserve military analysts who are secretly provided and coached by the Pentagon.
  • Health insurers and drug manufactures deserve freedom from regulations that inhibit their ability to gouge patients.
  • Corporations deserve to consolidate into unregulated monopolies.
  • The top 1% of American income earners deserve more tax relief.

And…..

  • American workers deserve to have their jobs outsourced to India and China.
  • Iraqi civilians deserve to be killed in the tens of thousands.
  • Veterans deserve reduced benefits and substandard treatment for service related injuries.
  • Women deserve prosecution for exercising choice with regard to family planning.
  • Children deserve limited access to, and lower standards for, education.
  • Voters deserve to be disenfranchised by special interests, discrimination, and insecure voting technology.
  • Middle class households deserve to pay more in taxes, as a percentage of income, than the wealthy.
  • Citizens of the world deserve widespread climate catastrophes brought on by global warming.

The Republican model has conveniently defined the deserving as those who have already acquired wealth and power (thank you Ayn Rand). This is enormously helpful in the development of guidelines for dispensing benefits under the new Republican program for change.

Unfortunately, the new slogan was not composed carefully enough to avoid infringing on another product that already claimed “The Change You Deserve” as its marketing mantra. Wyeth Laboratories trademarked the phrase for its Effexor XR anti-depressant medication. While this sort of conflict might ordinarily result in costly litigation, the Republican Party and the multi-national drug maker are notoriously friendly and a mutually acceptable accommodation is expected. In fact, this partnership may even expand marketing opportunities for both, as the implementation of Republican policy is likely to produce greater demand for anti-depressants like Effexor.

DemocracynNot to be outdone, the Democratic Party has developed a product of its own to address mood disorders related to Weak/Unstable Shrinking Spine (WUSS). Democracyn™ works on brain functions to relax the patient’s outrage mechanism triggered by Congressional activity based on fear or self-interest. It can also be prescribed after legislative actions taken on behalf of corporations rather than constituents.

The pharmaceutical cocktail of Democracyn™ and Republichol™ provide a potent antidote to the travails of modern sociological distress. Taken together within a regimen that includes counseling, re-education, and aggressive doses of media punditry, a wall of delusion can be constructed that serves as a defense from the troubling realities of civic life. And as the people become less agitated by affairs of state, those who serve as our representatives benefit as well. Remember, a medicated electorate is a compliant electorate. What began 200 years ago as an experiment in Democracy has evolved into a Pharmocracy™ – an institution defined by two dominant characterizations:

  1. Pseudo-representational legislative bodies that seek to control the behavior of populations through the use of psychoactive propaganda and sedative rhetoric.
  2. Constituent bodies that are heavily medicated and susceptible to the influence of media-dispensed government perspectives.

The media itself plays a major role in the advancement of Pharmacratic principles. No institution in American society is as effective at mood manipulation as the media. As metaphorical opiates go, television has replaced religion in the veins of the masses. Consequently, all sides are rushing to revitalize their brand. The problem for Republicans, however, is that their brand has been severely damaged by the present administration. Even Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), the former chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee confessed that:

“The Republican brand is in the trash can. … If we were a dog food, they would take us off the shelf.”

That’s even worse than my own brand analysis (The Republican Scare: A Branding Nightmare) written in June of 2007, in response to Boehner’s previous attempt to rehabilitate his Party’s brand. The Republican Scare was how I analogized the situation to the Tylenol Scare of 1982 (another drug calamity):

“After six years of a toxic administration whose policies have led to a poisoning of public discourse; with corruption infecting Capital Hill, the Justice Department, the Pentagon, and the White House; and a president whose market share is dipping into historic lows; Republicans have concluded that they need to persuade the American people that their brand of politics is safe for our families and our country.”

~~~

“…they are trying to design new packaging without enhancing product safety or purpose. While some of them recognize that it will take more than a fresh coat of varnish to restore their credibility, many are convinced that they can improve their image in the eyes of the public if they can just spin some more wool to pull over said eyes.”

After only a year, Boehner is back with the same crippled brand but a brand new PR effort to polish his bruised political fruit. But the Republican brand is rotting in the mud. There seems to be little likelihood that the new “change” campaign will see any more success than the failed campaign it’s replacing.

For real change to take place, the American people need to complete a program of detoxification. They need to flush the poisons from the political system, which will require flushing some of the politicians as well. When finally cleansed of contamination we will have a chance to implement a true reform agenda. One that consists of more than the placebos prescribed by cynical Republican quacks who think that they can dictate what we each deserve.

Wall Street More Worried About Democrats Than Terror

If you need more proof that greedy, nationless, corporations and the parasitical appendages that analyze and enable them are detrimental to our country, look no further than this study of Wall Street’s investment professionals.

Wall Street WorryWhen asked what their “single greatest economic worry is for 2008,” did they choose recession, or sub-prime loans, or the national debt, or oil prices, or the trade deficit, or the falling value of the dollar? Of course not. The thing these elitist moneychangers fear the most is a Democrat in the White House. They are so consumed with their own partisan, selfish greed that 22% of them consider a president elected by the American people to be worse than even a terrorist attack, which was only chosen by 13%. To compound the extremism of their blind self-interest, 81% of them also cited a capital gains tax increase as their greatest tax concern. That shouldn’t really come as a surprise to the vast majority of Americans who pay only income taxes. The ruling class is always angling for the tax burden to be further shifted to ordinary citizens.

What is surprising is that these supposed financial wizards are so ill informed about their own business and history. A little research would enlighten them to the fact that Wall Street traditionally performs better during Democratic administrations:

“…the Dow Jones industrial average has returned an average of 6.4% under Republican presidents and 9.1% under Democrats since 1901.”

This study underscores the reasons why the Wall Street constituency deserves to be ignored with regard to public policy. They are so thoroughly removed from the mainstream of society as to be irrelevant and even harmful. This is also an affirmation of the candidacy of John Edwards who has made challenging these powerful special interests an integral theme of his campaign. If nothing else, he needs to be there representing a point of view that the other candidates dismiss.

The study should also serve as a wake up call to politicians and activists who are concerned about the undue influence of these Capitalists Gone Wild. We must be much more aggressive in advancing lobby reform and public financing of elections. As long as these jackals use their wealth and connections to shape Washington to their liking, the people’s voice will be drowned out and disregarded.

Cavuto/ClintonThe people’s voice is already being lost in the din of propagandists like Rupert Murdoch who now owns the daily Bible of these market mavens, the Wall Street Journal, as well as his own disinformation vehicle on cable TV, the Fox Business Network. FBN was launched with the promise that it would a more “business friendly business network.” And that’s on top of the already prominent friendly coverage that is broadcast on the Fox News Channel. Note this graphic evidence that last October Fox News was already laying the groundwork for Wall Street’s fear of Democrats.

The graphic of the survey results above was also featured on Fox News. If people aren’t already anxious about the economy, jobs, mortgages, health care, and terrorism, Fox is devoted to manufacturing anxiety in every way they can. They are fully committed to the use of dire threats of catastrophe in order to advance their agenda. And isn’t that the definition of terrorism?