What Conservatives (And Politico) Still Don’t Understand About Fox News

Earlier this month Bruce Bartlett published a paper titled “How Fox News Changed American Media and Political Dynamics.” Bartlett is a veteran conservative operative who worked in both the George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan White Houses. His paper’s premise is that Fox News has had a harmful effect on the Republican Party’s electoral appeal by herding its already right-wing flock into an even fringier parish where it is shielded from differing views. Bartlett appeared on CNN’s Reliable Sources this morning and said…

“I think many conservatives live in a bubble where they watch only Fox News on television, they listen only to conservative talk radio, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, many of the same people. When they go on to the Internet, they look at only conservative websites like National Review, Newsmax, World Net Daily, and so they are completely in a universe in which they are hearing the same exact ideas, the same arguments, the same limited amount of data repeated over and over and over again, and that’s brainwashing.”

Fox News Bad For GOP

Brainwashing is not too strong a word. Fox News has become the central authority in a cult-like cabal of rightist true-believers who envelope themselves in the scripture as preached by Fox. This has been proven by in-depth studies that show how conservatives have drastically constrained their news sources to a narrow collection of like-minded, far-right outlets. There’s an implicit belief that exposure to a contrary ideological creed would be a breach of faith and a mortal sin.

It is encouraging, therefore, to see a conservative with an open mind and the ability to recognize the toxic role that Fox has played in the media and in politics. Bartlett’s paper is an interesting and well-documented read. However, it took him long enough to come to these conclusions. News Corpse published an analysis of how Fox News Is Killing The Republican Party six years ago, with an update expanding on the theme last year. I wrote in part that…

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.) […and that…] 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.

Conservatives, of course, are appalled by the treasonous utterings of Bartlett. A good representative example of the reaction comes from Politico’s Jack Shafer who wrote a column that seeks to reveal “What Liberals Still Don’t Understand About Fox News.” However, in his attempt to rebut Bartlett he fails to even grasp the logical concepts being discussed. Nowhere is that more evident than when he writes that…

“Fox in its current incarnation is neither a help nor a hindrance. Fox News — and its Svengali Roger Ailes — aren’t the Republican kingmakers they’re made out to be. […] the network is better at employing presidential candidates than electing them.”

Let’s set aside the fact that this alleged rebuttal actually agrees with Bartlett’s core thesis that Fox is having an adverse effect on Republican politics. Where Shafer really goes off the rails is arguing that Fox’s failure to succeed in electing Republicans is not a negative for the Party. If creating a field of losers is not a hindrance, what is?

Shafer goes on to correctly note that Fox’s power is often exaggerated. What is bragged about as ratings dominance is, in reality, a rather minor victory. Shafer notes that “Fox’s most popular program, The O’Reilly Factor, pulls in about 3.3 million viewers on its best nights.” Once again, Shafer is late to the party. That is something News Corpse pointed out six years ago with some additional perspective:

“[S]uccess in the Nielsen ratings has no correlation to public opinion polling […because it is…] focused on consumers, not voters […and that…] 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.”

O’Reilly’s 3 million viewers is less than 1% of the American population. It’s also fewer viewers than World Wrestling Entertainment, SpongeBob SquarePants, and the CBS Evening News (the lowest rated broadcast network news program).

So what ever power Fox has is not vested in its audience. And this where Shafer, and most other conservative media pundits, fall off the wagon. Fox’s viewers were not turned into conservatives by watching Fox. They watch Fox because they are conservatives who need to have their preconceptions validated. Then, by being exposed to the bias and disinformation that makes up Fox’s programming, they become ignorant, radicalized conservatives.

The real power that Fox wields is with Republican office-holders, candidates and party strategists. They have been fooled into believing that Fox’s ratings are an indication of the nation’s political mood. Consequently, they believe that taking positions aligned with the extremist right-wingers on Fox will advance their electoral goals. That has cost the party dearly in the last two national elections. In fact, they were so befuddled by Fox that the election results, which most Americans could have predicted, were a shock to many Republicans and Fox pundits (recall Karl Rove’s tantrum on election night?).

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

All of this should make the next few weeks oodles of fun as GOP candidates seek to please the Fox-gods so that they win a spot on the debate stage. Fox announced that only the top ten candidates in an average of certain polls (that Fox will decide) will be included in the debates. Therefore, between now and then the candidates on the edge will have to take aggressive measures to appeal to the people who they think are likely to be polled.

That means more chest-beating about war with Iran, more hate-speech about gays, more talk of bigger, stronger fences on the border, more promises to slash taxes and government programs, and much more bashing of President Obama and Hillary Clinton. And that competition to become the most extreme wingnut will filter into the campaign strategies of the rest of the GOP field as they struggle to become the Fox favorite.. All of which will result in making them completely unelectable in the fall of 2016.

Sunday Funnies: Marco Rubio And Chris Wallace Reenact Iraq Version Of ‘Who’s On First’

Last week the nation marveled to the spectacle of Jeb Bush fumbling what must have been the most highly anticipated question that he could possibly have been asked in his nascent campaign for the Republican nomination for president of the United States of America: Knowing what is known now, would you have authorized an invasion of Iraq?

Bush responded that he thought his brother George had made the correct decision given the available intelligence. That, of course, was not the question he was asked. So in the days following the flub, Bush claimed to have misheard the question, but still gave multiple different answers before finally admitting that he would not have ordered an invasion if he knew what he knows now.

Marco Rubio

For Marco Rubio, that ought to have been an object lesson in tackling this otherwise softball question. But for some reason, the freshman senator managed to do in three minutes what it took Bush five days to do: make an utter ass of himself. In an exchange on the decidedly friendly territory of Fox News Sunday (video below), Rubio engaged in a painfully comical routine with host Chris Wallace wherein he repeatedly failed to grasp the nature of the question he was being asked. Here is just a portion of that train wreck:

WALLACE: Was it a mistake? Was it a mistake to go to war with Iraq?
RUBIO: It’s two different — it wasn’t — I —
WALLACE: I’m asking you to —
RUBIO: Yes, I understand, but that’s not the same question.
WALLACE: But that’s the question I’m asking you. Was it a mistake to go to war?
RUBIO: It was not a mistake for the president to decide to go into Iraq, because at the time, he was told —
WALLACE: I’m not asking you that. I’m asking you —
RUBIO: In hindsight.
WALLACE: Yes.
RUBIO: Well, the world is a better place because Saddam Hussein is not there.
WALLACE: So, was it a mistake or not?
RUBIO: But I wouldn’t characterize it — but I don’t understand the question you’re asking, because the president —
WALLACE: I’m asking you, knowing — as we sit here in 2015 —
RUBIO: No, but that’s not the way presidents — a president cannot make decision on what someone might know in the future.
WALLACE: I understand. But that’s what I’m asking you. Was it a mistake?
RUBIO: It was not a mistake for the president to go into Iraq based on the information he was provided as president.

Well, that clears that up. Is Rubio really that dense or was he he just desperate to avoid criticizing George Bush? Wallace gave him ample opportunity to craft a response that included support for Bush as well as the obvious acknowledgement that no president should invade a country without airtight justification. Rubio kept trying to answer a question that Wallace had not asked, despite Wallace repeatedly restating his actual question. And it isn’t as if this were a surprise, gotcha question (like what magazines do read read?). It is a question that has been in the news for a week.

Why is it so hard for Republicans to concede that wars should not be started unless there are provable threats to our national interest? This sort of obtuse defiance of common sense is what makes people convinced that the GOP is a party of war mongers who will launch into battle on the slightest whim. It reinforces the widespread impression that they are lackeys to the defense industry and others who profit off of war, including those whose profits are political rather than financial.

Elsewhere in the interview, Wallace raised Rubio’s campaign theme of “21st century ideas” and asked him to talk about them. That would ordinarily be a perfect opportunity to drop a campaign ad into an interview. However, Rubio dodged any reference to new ideas saying only that “the balance of power in the world has shifted” because of “autocratic governments in Russia and China” and “rogue states like North Korea and Iran.” Right, because none of them were around in the 20th century.

When Wallace pressed him to reveal his actual new ideas to address those allegedly new problems, Rubio eventually complied saying that “we need to cut [tax] rates” and improve the education system. Those, of course, address only domestic problems that have no bearing on the foreign affairs he had just raised. Not to mention that neither of those “ideas” can be coherently described as “new.”

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

If this is a taste of what Rubio’s campaign will be offering in the coming months, it can be safely assumed that he isn’t going far. But then Bush has already flubbed some of the same questions and the rest of the GOP pack has even less foreign policy experience than these two flounders.

This election cycle promises to be an entertaining romp with plenty of twists and turns. It should be serialized as a reality TV show a la The Amazing (Presidential) Race. I, for one, can’t wait for the debates to see who is voted out of the clown car next.

America Wants A Black Jon Stewart For President – Or Center-Right Nation My A…

The conventional (alleged) wisdom from mainstream media punditry has been telling us for years that America is a center-right nation. Never mind the contrary evidence that polls reveal about a populace that favors higher taxes on the rich, marriage equality, action to mitigate Climate Change, immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship, enhanced gun safety measures, breaking up big banks, fewer foreign military engagements, an end to gerrymandering and voter suppression, and greater access to healthcare. Somehow the pundit class still manages to define the electorate much farther to the right than reality dictates.

Jon Stewart

Two polls this week illustrate the fallacy of the media perception of where America stands. These aren’t the first polls to set the record straight, but coming out within a couple of days of each other as a new presidential election cycle begins to gear up is instructional and ought to have an impact on how the press frames the political discourse for the next few months.

The first poll is from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal. It asked respondents to indicate their comfort levels with various traits of potential candidates. The poll produced an index that expressed the mood of the voters with regard to these traits. Topping the list as the most acceptable trait was “African-American,” with a rating of 75. Those that followed with ratings above fifty were women (74), persons under age 50 (66), Hispanics (63), military background (62), governors (62), and Catholics (57).

Even more telling (and troubling for Republicans) were those at the bottom of the list with negative ratings. They were persons with no prior elected experience (-39), Tea Party leaders (-28), and persons with no college degree (-22). Notables in those categories include Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and college dropout Scott Walker. Additionally, our allegedly center-right nation is more comfortable with a gay or lesbian presidential candidate (33), than with an evangelical Christian (7), or any of the previously mentioned bottom dwellers.

By contrast, when the poll is segmented by party affiliation, Republicans are exposed for their overt biases. They do not rank an ethnic minority until the fifth and sixth spots: Hispanic (69) and African-American (66). Women don’t rate until ninth place with a comfort level barely above fifty (54). However, as might be expected, gays and lesbians are second to last with a negative 15 rating.

The other poll is from Reuters who surveyed Americans to ascertain their favorite pundits. On this poll Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert were in a virtual tie with about 47% saying they admired them. The same two topped the charts on the question of who “generally shares your view of the world.” Rush Limbaugh brought up the rear with only 25% giving him any admiration. And it was all right-wingers (Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Glenn Beck, etc.) at the bottom for both the admiration and the world view questions.

One pundit in the survey must be particularly pissed off by these results. Bill O’Reilly ranked significantly lower than Stewart and Colbert on every issue. Since he has been obsessed with attacking them as “deceivers” and the “key components of left-wing television,” he isn’t going to take well the news that large majorities of Americans prefer the Comedy Central duo to him.

The real question is: When will the media take notice that the United States is not the center-right nation they keep pretending it is? We now have evidence that covers both policies and personalities that undeniably paints the country as more progressive. And the only reason that our political representation doesn’t reflect that is because of the corruption of money in campaigns and the corruption of gerrymandering in drawing legislative districts.

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Were those problems resolved we would see where the nation really comes down ideologically. But don’t count on Republicans to willingly allow more fairness and honesty in the electoral process. The corruption in the system currently is the only reason they have any power now and they aren’t about to let it go. It will have to be taken from them by committed proponents of true democracy. In the words of Patti Smith: “People Have The Power. The power to dream, to rule, to wrestle the world from fools.” We just need to exercise it.

Ted Cruz Goes There: There is A Liberal Fascism That Is Going After Christian Believers

What is it about the extremist wing of the GOP/Tea Party that makes it so compelling to compare their ideological adversaries to Hitler? They can’t seem to have a civil debate about issues with which they disagree without sinking to the most offensive depictions imaginable. And while often this behavior is confined to fringe groups and nut cases, it frequently surfaces among the right’s leaders.

Ted Cruz

This weekend Ted Cruz spoke at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition meeting and demonstrated just how repulsive the Republican establishment has become. His speech contained allegations that Democrats have “decided there is no room for Christians in today’s Democratic Party.” That may come as a surprise to the tens of millions of devoutly Christian Democrats, including pastors, priests, parishioners, and of course, President Obama (whom the wingnut contingent still thinks is a gay Muslim from Kenya). But that insult to the Christians that Cruz, in his self-appointed ass-holiness, has decided are illegitimate, apparently didn’t go far enough to viciously malign his allegedly fellow believers.

Cruz: There is a liberal fascism that is going after Christian believers. It is heartbreaking, but it is so extreme, it is waking people up. […] Today’s Democratic Party has become so radicalized for legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states that there is no longer any room for religious liberty.

According to Cruz, Democrats are analogous to the Nazi regime that slaughtered millions of innocents and sought to take over much of the civilized world. To Cruz the act of standing up for the rights of all Americans, and opposing the rankest form of discrimination, is no different than torturing and murdering people who were themselves victims of discrimination.

The form of “religious liberty” that Cruz advocates is one that permits people to freely exercise their prejudices in contradiction of the founding principles of this nation that declared that we are all created equal. Cruz would have the nation embrace a practice that makes some more equal than others. He claims to base his hateful opinions on his own warped view of America’s origin.

Cruz: We were founded by men and women fleeing religious persecution. We need leaders who will stand unapologetically in defense of the Judeo-Christian values upon which America was built.”

The absurdity of this statement lies in the fact that Cruz is at once heralding our forebears for having the courage to renounce the bigotry of the British religious tyranny, and in the next breath asserts his own demand for a religious tyranny that he happens to favor. It is a symptom of religious arrogance and supremacy that demeans all who do not submit to his beliefs.

Cruz is also demonstrating his pitifully weak grasp of the Constitution and America’s legal system. While it is true that Democrats as a party are more accepting of marriage equality, it is not the party that is broadening the civil rights of LGBT people. It is the courts who are acting on the principles of the Constitution, you know, the ones that Cruz and his hate mongering zealots profess to cherish.

Cruz and other like-minded bigots argue that civil liberties should be voted on and the majority gets their way. But that has never been the manner by which civil rights have been preserved. If it had been, African-Americans would have been voted against and segregation might still be in effect today. Thankfully, the courts decided that civil liberties may not be subject to public opinion.

However, in Cruz’a world it is permissible to suppress people if a majority says to do so. And if you don’t like that then you are a fascist with designs on genocide. Since Cruz is a member in good standing of the Republican Party, and a leading candidate for their nomination for president, the rest of the GOP field should be asked whether they agree with his condemnation of Democrats. Do they also regard their political foes as equivalent to those responsible for the Holocaust?

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Ironically, it is Cruz’s view that has more in common with the repugnant politics that result in discrimination and oppression. Yet he has managed to convince himself that his prejudices are admirable defenses of liberty. That’s a sort of self-delusion that is far too common among right-wing politicos, and even worse, among the many deluded citizens they have fooled into following them.

So F*cking What? Hillary Clinton Is Rich And It Drives Republicans Nuts

Anyone who thought that Hillary Clinton’s road to the White House was going to be littered with trash from the GOP’s Benghazi obsession or frenzied raving about ghost emails may be disappointed to learn that there appears to be a new scandalette brewing on the right flank. The campaign by Republicans and conservative media to denigrate Clinton seems to be coalescing around a single bit of pre-fab fluff that reveals the flimsy foundation of their strategy.

Clinton Cash

The issue that the right is settling on is Clinton’s net worth and whether her personal wealth conflicts with her campaign theme of being a “champion for the middle-class.” The GOP attack claims that Clinton is a hypocrite for advocating support for everyday Americans when she herself is a member of the one-percent.

Think about that for a minute. This is the same Republican Party that has been the billionaires best friend, pushing through favorable tax schemes, eliminating regulations, and always pressing for an unfettered free-market approach to economic policy. It’s the same Republican Party that praises entrepreneurship and the dignity of compiling vast amounts of personal wealth. However, when it comes to Clinton, there is suddenly an implication by the right that getting rich is bad and if you do so you cannot speak up for hard working citizens who are not as fortunate.

There is no way to respond to that other than by saying “What the fuck are you talking about?” There have many examples of wealthy public servants who genuinely fought for the welfare of the poor and middle classes. The Roosevelts and the Kennedys come to mind without much of a mental struggle. Billionaire investor Warren Buffet has a “rule” named for him that illustrates the unfairness of his tax rate being lower than that of his secretary. There is even a group of “Patriotic Millionaires” who are lobbying for higher taxes on the rich (i.e. themselves).

Hillary Clinton doesn’t have to be a bag lady to fight for policies that aid the poor. She doesn’t have to be a Wal-Mart stock clerk to favor raising the minimum wage. She doesn’t have to contract pancreatic cancer to support a health insurance program that makes access to medical care available and affordable.

While the Clintons may be financially blessed today, they were not always so lucky. They both have middle-class roots and they worked their way through college. They never owned their own home until after they left the White House. They may have too many (way too many) associations with Wall Street now, but that was not always the case (and Clinton is moving more toward the Warren Wing of the party every day). So the suggestion that they are unable to relate to common Americans is simply a fabrication.

The problem with the right-wing assault on Clinton is that they simply don’t understand what the issue of income inequality means. They blindly lash out at Clinton for being rich when that isn’t the problem. Nobody cared that Mitt Romney was rich back in 2012. Romney’s problem was that he advocated policies that benefited the rich at the expense of everyone else. He wanted to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. He wanted to cut Social Security and other benefits programs. He opposed raising the minimum wage and attacked the unions that fight on behalf of workers. And he famously dismissed the 47% of the nation that he concluded would never support his candidacy, so to hell with them. If Romney were rich, but also compassionate toward those who are not, his wealth would not have been an issue in the campaign.

The Romney problem is one that permeates the entire Republican Party. There are distinct differences between what I called the Koch Republicans and the Soros Democrats:

“For one thing, the Republican rich can usually be found bankrolling people and projects that benefit them personally or professionally. Thus the Kochs’ fixation on opposing unions and denying climate change is closely aligned with their exploitative and polluting business interests. Well-off Dems, on the other hand, commonly finance more philanthropic endeavors (civil rights, environment, aid to the poor) that aim to improve the quality of life without necessarily enriching themselves.

“It is also notable that conservatives advocate for less regulation of money in politics, creating an environment where the rich get ever more power to bend society to their will. Liberals, conversely, spend more of their cash on trying to remove money from politics. As an example, it was conservatives, including the Kochs, who pushed for Citizens United so that they could fund their self-serving projects without restrictions or even identification. But Jonathan Soros, the son of the right’s favorite wealthy liberal punching bag, George Soros, created the Friends of Democracy PAC, a SuperPAC aimed at ending the influence of SuperPACs.”

Similarly, Clinton has already taken a position in favor of a constitutional amendment reversing the abhorrent Citizen’s United ruling by the plutocracy backers on the Supreme Court. She supports unions and progressive taxation and immigration reform and other policies that inure to the benefit of those who are not already awash in the benefits of our capitalistic society. Consequently, her personal wealth cannot be fairly used as a cudgel to bash her as a hypocrite.

Virtually every candidate for president is either a millionaire or otherwise very well off financially. So the only advocates for the middle and lower classes will, by necessity, be comfortable economically. What makes the difference is how they choose to use their position to make the benefits of the American economy accessible to all. Democrats seek broad-based gains that benefit everyone. Republicans seek to feather their own nests and those of their rich pals. That may be part of the reason that history shows that the American economy performs better under Democratic administrations than Republican.

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Every Republican candidate currently being speculated upon as candidates for president in 2016 favor the same failed, trickle-down theories of the past. What this nation needs is a champion for the middle-class. Clinton says she wants to be that. At least she’s saying the right things. We’ll have to wait and see if she comes through. And the wingnut politicians and pundits who are embarrassing themselves by proving that they don’t understand these simple concepts need to shut the fuck up.

Uh Oh: Jeb Bush Proposes Federally Mandated ‘Death Panels’

At a campaign stop in Manchester, New Hampshire, prospective GOP presidential candidate and successor to the Bush dynasty, Brother Jeb came forward to praise his own actions as Florida governor during a controversy that involved a woman in a persistent vegetative state. Terri Schiavo had suffered irreversible brain-damage and was being kept alive by machines against the wishes of her husband and, according to him, herself.

The torturous spectacle that Bush engineered included multiple court challenges and even signing a law giving him, personally, the right to decide Schiavo’s fate. Somehow that didn’t offend his Republican principles against Big Government. That law was later ruled to be unconstitutional, and after months of emotionally brutal wrangling in the courts and the media, Schiavo was mercifully allowed to die.

Today Bush still thinks he did the right thing and says that “I don’t think I would change anything.” However, he went on to express what he said was his one regret:

“In hindsight, the one thing that I would have loved to have seen was an advance directive where the family would have sorted this out […] I think if we’re going to mandate anything from government, it might be that if you’re going to take Medicare, you also sign up for an advance directive where you talk about this before you’re so disabled.”

Jeb Bush Death Panels

Yikes! What Bush is talking about are the dreaded “Death Panels” that Sarah Palin made famous in her blitheringly stupid criticism of the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare). Advance Directives are nothing more than voluntary statements that inform doctors and family members as to the wishes of a patient in the event that they are unable to speak for themselves. Palin turned this into a surreal debate over the wholly imaginary prospect of the government deciding who will live or die. For that she was awarded the PolitiFact “Lie of the Year” honors for 2009.

Having been subjected to devastating ridicule did nothing to temper Palin’s dumbfuckery. She continues to believe in the Death Panel myth that she was so instrumental in creating (although she has shifted her ire toward the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a group of health care professionals who insure best practices in medical care and fair pricing, which she now calls Death Panels). When Palin gets wind of Bush’s endorsement of Advanced Directives there is likely to be an earthquake in the Tea Party precincts that still admire her vacuous ramblings.

As for Bush, there is reason to be positive about his support for such a common sense initiative that gives people more control over their own lives. However, he may have taken it a step too far. The suggestion that Advanced Directives be mandatory seems like the sort of government intrusion that Republicans usually rail against. While a Living Will is advisable for most people, forcing them to prepare one when they may not be ready to make all of the profound decisions involved is way too strict a requirement.

What’s more, Bush is only proposing mandated Advance Directives for Medicare recipients. Why is he discriminating against just that sector of the population? Why not make it mandatory for anyone with a health insurance policy, whether public or private? As usual, the Republican solution to any problem is to put the burden on those who are already on society’s lower financial rungs. It’s why they advocate mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients, but not for doctors or lawyers or politicians, who hold people’s lives in their hands. It’s why states like Kansas are currently trying to dictate how food stamp recipients can spend their benefits, but there are never similar dictates on how wealthy recipients of government subsidies can spend their benefits.

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

If you’re poor in America the government can tell you what to do and how to live. If your rich, anything goes, even if you still get benefits from the government, including tax breaks that contribute to your wealth. That’s the Republican philosophy. And then they will condemn anyone who proposes a policy that permits the government to control any part of a citizen’s life. Unless, of course, it has to with a woman’s control over own body, a patient’s desire for medicinal marijuana, or anyone who wishes to be free from mandated exposure to Christianity.

In short, the GOP Doctrine of Acceptable Hypocrisy requires that any regulation of the rich be condemned as an intolerable intrusion by Big Government. But similar regulations of the poor are necessary controls on irresponsible, and probably criminal, moochers.

Senate GOP Tweet: Lincoln Was Assassinated. America Is Forever Indebted

Anyone who has used social media for twenty minutes has seen unfortunate miscommunications that can result in unintended embarrassment or worse. Sometimes they are caused by typos, sometimes by poorly thought out ideas, and sometimes by unmanaged anger. It remains to be seen what caused this disturbing comment by the official Twitter account of the Senate Republicans:

“150 years ago today the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. America is forever indebted.”

Lincoln Assassinated

Was this simply a cringe-worthy mistake? Did the author of this tweet intend to say that Lincoln’s assassination was something that deserved the gratitude of the American people?

The worst kind of rhetorical mistake someone can make is one that reinforces the most negative impressions that are already present. The Republican Party has long struggled with charges of racism, and for good reason. They have opposed many of the landmark reforms to civil rights laws. They advocate policies on social welfare, taxes, voting, employment, housing, etc., that are invariably detrimental to minorities and other victims of discrimination. They defend outright demonstrations of prejudice by law enforcement and private citizens. They have been caught fraternizing with unsavory characters associated with known hate groups. In many cases they have been discovered to be members of those groups themselves.

Speeches and signs at Tea Party rallies have too often expressed blatantly racist sentiments. Too many Republicans have articulated messages that coincide with segregationists, secessionists, and the neo-confederacy that Lincoln fought to eliminate. It is difficult ignore these instances of GOP support for, or tolerance of, such distasteful opinions. The primary media outlet for the right, Fox News, is rampant with expressions of racism from both on-air personalities and viewers.

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

And that is what makes this tweet so troubling. While there is a good chance that it was merely a case of extremely bad grammar, it also represents the true feelings of many people on the far right, many of whom hold positions of influence in politics or the press. It also doesn’t help that the tweet features a statue of Lincoln that has its own controversy. They could have used the famous Lincoln Memorial in the National Mall, but instead chose the Freedman’s Memorial in Lincoln Park that depicts a supplicant black man in a loin cloth and chains kneeling at Lincoln’s feet. That is hardly an image that projects emancipation.

So does this tweet mean that the Senate Republicans are racists? Not by itself. But it does express, whether intended or otherwise, a way of thinking that has dogged the GOP for decades. And even after the posting of this tweet produced hundreds of responses calling attention to the ugly, but obvious, interpretation, it remains online without clarification or apology. That is a message in itself.

Tea Party Yahoo Takes Steps Toward Impeachment Of President Obama

In the months prior to the 2014 mid-term election, numerous Republican politicians and pundits openly lusted for an opportunity to impeach President Obama for imagined offenses that they could never actually make stick. The absence of evidence, however, did not stop the parade of pitchfork wielding wackos demanding that the popularly elected president be ousted.

Mars Impeaches

And it wasn’t just the usual kooks from the fringe contingent who were flinging charges around. The White House gate-crashers included congressional members like representatives Steven Scalise, Jason Chaffetz, Louie Gohmert, Michele Bachmann, Darrell Issa, and senators James Inhofe, Jon Kyl, and Tom Coburn. Of course, the kook brigade would not sit on the sidelines either. Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and a flurry of Fox News figures like Sean Hannity, Andrew Napolitano, Todd Starnes, Allen West, and Dick Morris were all over this.

Despite this surge of aspiring impeachers, some on the right pretended that there was no such movement. GOP House Speaker John Boehenr said that the whole thing was a scam cooked up by Democrats and Obama, who actually wanted to impeach himself. Fox’s Megyn Kelly struggled to advance the notion that the controversy was a fake by citing a poll that showed that 61% of Americans were opposed to impeachment. Of course they were. But what she declined to reveal was that the same poll showed that 56% of Republicans favored it, along with 68% of Tea Partiers.

Today we have learned that the predictions that Republicans would seek impeachment if they were successful in winning control of the Senate last November, were true. Florida representative Ted Yoho (R-Tea Party) has drafted legislation that purports to define the meaning of “high crimes and misdemeanors” as referenced in the constitutional clause granting the power of impeachment to the House of Representatives. His definition just happens to include every political argument against Obama that the right has been making in their impeachment crusade. What a coincidence.

Aside from being an obvious attempt to shape a new law aimed directly at the President, the bill reads like the work of brain-damaged dimwit on acid-laced meth. In his enumeration of “Whereases” he even includes one that obviates the need for the bill at all:

“Whereas impeachable “high crimes and misdemeanors” has an objective meaning based on the intent of the Constitution’s framers and British impeachment precedents”

If the legal standard already has an objective meaning, then what is the purpose of this bill? That question is answered in the next section of the bill that lists the “impeachable offenses.” To be sure, there are some unsavory crimes listed that ought to result in serious consequences for any executive. However, there is also a familiarity about them that seems to apply to just the complaints that wingnuts have about the current president. And then there are also a couple of political items that could never be adjudicated as impeachable.

However, the problem with this list is not whether the items on it are good or bad. It’s that they are there at all. By composing a list that purports to identify all of the actions that can result in impeachment, there is an infinite number of actions that could not be grounds for impeachment because they aren’t on the list. It’s a rookie legislative mistake.

Richard Nixon could not have been impeached if this list were in effect during his presidency. It also doesn’t provide a path to impeaching a president who embezzles a billion dollars and deposits it in a Swiss bank account. It doesn’t cover a president who breaks the legs of a governor who doesn’t support his agenda. A president could sell arms to Iran and use the proceeds to bankroll terrorists in Nicaragua without violating this law (Reagan would have signed it with glee).

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

That’s the problem with explicitly enumerating the actions that would trigger the law. And since “high crimes and misdemeanors” already has an objective meaning, there is no reason to make such a list. It is the responsibility of the House of Representatives to file articles of impeachment, make a reasoned argument for them, and pass it on to the senate for trial.

If the House gives this bill serious consideration, they will only be solidifying their reputation as baldly political creatures with contempt for the law. Therefore, don’t be too surprised if they pass it. Their hunger for punishing this President is still palpable. It is a fever that they cannot suppress. And impeachment is clearly still on their diseased minds.

Hillary Clinton Launches 2016 Presidential Campaign And The GOP Goes (Even More) Nuts

Here it is. To absolutely no one’s surprise, Hillary Clinton announced that she is running for President of the United States of America with a video (below) that features a cross section of Americans engaged in readying themselves for a variety of life’s challenges.

The launching of the campaign comes after weeks of the sort of teasing that every candidate does prior to making their candidacy official. It also comes after weeks (years) of vitriol from Republican pundits and politicians determined to turn Clinton into a comic book villain who aspires to thrust the world into darkness. That isn’t hyperbole. Just yesterday at the NRA’s annual conference, Wayne LaPierre literally made that charge saying that “Hillary Rodham Clinton will bring a permanent darkness of deceit and despair forced upon the American people to endure.”

Recalling all of the predictions of doom and gloom spewed by Republicans alleging that President Obama was the harbinger of the Apocalypse, it hardly seems newsworthy to note that they are just as adamant, and delusional, about Clinton’s alleged desire for the decline of western civilization. You can almost hear Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell paraphrasing himself with regard to making Obama a one-term president.”

McConnell/Clinton One-Term

That legislative strategy did not work out very well for the Republican Party. Nor did the relentless fear mongering about how Obama’s policies would kill jobs, tank the economy, abolish liberty, increase domestic terrorism, and generally destroy America. Those thunderous accusations landed with a resounding squeak that culminated with former Vice-President Dick Cheney declaring that Obama was “the worst president in my lifetime without question.” He obviously forget his former boss, as well as all of the facts.

Republicans aren’t wasting any time tarring Clinton with the same brush. This is a trend that started long ago. In fact, two years ago News Corpse reported that the GOP had already begun their campaign to “Impeach Hillary” way before the election, or even any campaigning. Republicans are so terrified of Hillary Clinton that they are promoting Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

As for Clinton, she appears to be taking a more populist tone than last time around. Her focus on middle class citizens working hard to manage the important things in life – family, career, community, security – will put her in good standing with average Americans. She emphasized that her campaign would be about people, not herself. That was the overarching theme of the video in which she doesn’t even appear until two-thirds of the way through. And when she does appear she advances that theme saying that…

“Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times, but the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top. Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion.”

In order for her to follow through on that, she will have put some distance between herself and the big money interests with which she has long been associated. She will have to work for stricter banking regulations that prohibit them from ever again becoming “too big to fail.” She will have to pursue policies that correct the imbalances that have produced the worst economic inequality in history. She will have to support efforts to get money out politics. In short, she will have to appeal to the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party. We’ll see how that plays out.

In the meantime Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, and the Republican National Committee, have already released rebuttal videos making predictably venomous criticisms of Clinton. Paul may have won the Dipshit Award for Political Hackery with his laughably lame anti-Hillary store on his website. Don’t miss the limited edition, non-functional, Hillary Clinton hard drive he is selling to his idiot supporters for $100.00. Did I mention that it is non-functional? That’s the Republican Party for you, and it’s emblematic of their economic doctrine: Shell out lots of money for shit that don’t work. This is gonna be a fun campaign.

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

The Crackpot Conspiracy Theory That Got Fox News To Support A Democrat

Predicting the political biases of Fox News has never required a crystal ball or a gifted clairvoyant. Their devoted support of Republicans has earned them recognition as the PR division of the GOP. So what would have to occur to persuade Fox News to speak approvingly of a Democrat?

The events surrounding the indictment of New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez for corruption provide a rare look into the prerequisites for Fox News to stray from their Republican partiality. The specific factors that would drive Fox to defy their nature and support a Democrat become glaringly obvious in the light of the Menendez affair.

Fox News Menendez

First and foremost, the opportunity to disparage President Obama is a temptation too great for Fox News to resist. Therefore, by spinning this indictment as an assault on a senator who has been critical of the President, Fox can accuse Obama of engaging in a distasteful display of political retaliation. This argument goes that the White House applied pressure to the Department of Justice to file the charges in order to punish Menendez for opposing the President on his policies regarding Cuba and Iran.

The only thing wrong with this conspiracy theory is – everything. The investigation of Menendez began years ago, long before the Cuban and Iranian issues were ever on the table. Obama would have had to know in advance that Menendez was going to defy him on these issues in the future, which even Obama’s harshest opponents would not suggest he could do. What’s more, there was no indication that Menendez would ever be a thorn in Obama’s agenda given that he has always been a loyal Democrat who voted with his party and the President 97% of the time. That places him as the thirteenth most reliable Democrat, above party stalwarts like Barbara Boxer and Harry Reid.

The notion that Obama would sabotage the career of such a loyal ally is especially absurd considering that, should he be convicted and forced to resign from the Senate where Democrats are already in the minority, New Jersey’s Republican governor, Chris Christie, would be in a position to name his replacement. So this theory requires the assumption that Obama would trade a solidly Democratic senator who voted for most of his legacy initiatives (ObamaCare, the Dream Act, disapproval of KeystoneXL, repeal of DOMA, etc.) for a Christie-appointed Republican. The only people who would buy that are still looking for the film studio in New Mexico where the moon landing was faked – and Fox News viewers.

It is not coincidental that Fox has chosen this controversial senator to hitch their wagon to. Republicans are notoriously forgiving of politicians accused of corruption. They regarded the charges against, and conviction of, former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell to be politically motivated as well. They supported the candidacy of New York congressman Michael Grimm while he was facing 22 felony counts (He was convicted after winning reelection). And three of the GOP’s current batch of governors considering 2016 presidential campaigns (Chris Christie, Scott Walker, and Rick Perry) have active investigations against them in progress. From their perspective, Menendez is just their kind of guy.

Note that this affinity for scandal-plagued pols is only valid if the scandal is related to financial malfeasance. When Menendez was accused of sexual misconduct by Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller (among other right-wing rags), Fox News and their Republican allies were quick to condemn him. However, they failed to apologize after learning that the charges stemmed from “witnesses” who were paid to lie. Some accounts charged that the payments came from people connected to the Daily Caller. In addition to the media sources who jumped on this faux scandal, the Republican National Committee also took it up with a rather offensive anti-Menendez campaign.

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Finally, it goes without saying that if the DOJ had not indicted Menendez, Fox News would be throwing a tantrum over what they would call a travesty of justice engineered by a lawless White House trying to protect one of their own. So, as usual, Fox has constructed a lose-lose scenario for the President. But anyone approaching this with a sliver of functioning grey matter would see the ludicrous assumptions that would have to be made in order to believe the Fox spin. Luckily for Fox News, their audience would flunk the “sliver of functioning grey matter” test.