To Rand Paul, Rush Limbaugh, And The Idiots Who Blame Cigarette Taxes For Eric Garner’s Death

Conservative zealots have been in a quandary over what to make of the police officer who choked Eric Garner to death on video. They don’t want to be seen as agreeing with the liberals they so feverishly despise, but they can’t find a reasonable argument to justify the unambiguously brutal killing of a man caught committing a crime on the scale of jaywalking. And unlike the police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, there is video evidence of the officer’s brutality.

Rush Limbaugh Tobacco Tax

With the passage of time some of these right-wingers have begun to settle on a debate strategy that absolves the police of any guilt. It was first articulated by Sen. Rand Paul from the tobacco-growing state of Kentucky. Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Greg Gutfeld joined the fruitcake choir. Shortly thereafter, Rush Limbaugh picked up the baton and ran a bit farther around the track. Here is what they said:

Paul: I think it’s also important to know that some politician put a tax of $5.85 on a pack of cigarettes […] For someone to die over breaking that law, there really is no excuse for it. But I do blame the politicians.

Limbaugh: The police in New York, because they’re so eager for tax collection, what is being done here with regard to taxes and the state’s desire to collect them no matter what […] I think the real outrage here is that an American died while the state is enforcing tax collection on cigarettes.

Let’s get one thing straight here: Eric Garner did not die for anything related to tax collection. He was murdered by a police officer who strangled him while ignoring his repeated cries that he could not breathe.

Furthermore, Garner was never alleged to have violated any tax laws. The fact that the police originally approached him regarding his allegedly selling single cigarettes was incidental to his death. Selling “loosies” is not a violation of any tax code. It is a violation of statutes that prohibit the unlicensed sales of controlled substances. Garner would have been subject to the same legal scrutiny had he been selling single shots of whiskey.

There is only one cause that can be cited for Garner’s death, and that is the excessive force and reckless endangerment by the officer that placed him in a chokehold, a tactic that was explicitly prohibited by the guidelines of the NYPD.

For anyone to shift the blame from the overzealous officer to the legal pretext for the arrest is patently absurd. This is just an opportunity for anti-tax extremists to exploit a tragedy to advance their agenda and simultaneously excuse the behavior of a rogue cop. If Garner had been stopped for allegedly shoplifting a pair of socks from a Wal-Mart, and subsequently died at the hands of the police, would any of these wacko Libertarians be arguing that the laws against shoplifting caused the death and that those laws should be repealed?

It takes a special kind of stupid to advance a theory that a minor legal infraction somehow compelled a police officer to use deadly force against a suspect. That behavior is not supported by any statute or the code of conduct of the police department. It was solely the decision of the officer.

The proponents of this theory, however, may have ulterior motives. First of all, they are desperate to avoid agreeing with their ideological adversaries that the police might be responsible for having overreacted. Secondly, they don’t want to allow legitimate charges of racism to settle in despite the evidence that black men are 21 times more likely to be shot by the police than white men. And finally, both Paul and Limbaugh have personal conflicts of interest. Paul represents the second biggest tobacco producing state in the country. And Limbaugh is an avid consumer, and visible proponent of, tobacco. They would both be very happy, no doubt, if regulations of tobacco were eased or revoked.

It is ironic that Republicans have wrapped themselves in the cloak of personal responsibility, but when it comes to the behavior of police officers who shoot down unarmed teenagers, murder twelve year olds with fake plastic guns in public parks, or fire on patrons in department stores carrying toy guns they intend to purchase, personal responsibility is cast aside. And the fact that in all of these recent incidents the victim was an African-American male speaks to the barely disguised racism that infects our society. Particularly when white men exercising their “right” to openly carry firearms in grocery stores and burger joints never seem to encounter any problem with the local police.

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BY THE WAY, Cigarette taxes save lives. They deter both adults and minors from consuming a product that will eventually make them acutely sick and probably kill them. Tobacco is far more dangerous than terrorism. In fact, if Al Qaeda or ISIL were interested in raising the number of fatalities they cause, they should consider buying Philip Morris. Cigarettes kill more than 400,000 Americans every year. That’s more than 100 times the death toll on 9/11 and far more than any terrorist organization has ever imagined. Plus it’s entirely legal so they could kill more Americans without having to dodge drones or Navy SEALs.

Nevertheless, the right is obsessed with permitting this wholesale slaughter to continue. And it goes back decades to the seeds of the Tea Party. That’s part of the reason that the AstroTurfed, Koch brothers funded Tea-bacco lobby launched their mission with attacks on public health care.

So not only did cigarette taxes not cause Garner’s death, they have prevented sickness and death for millions of Americans. It gives a whole new and meaning to the hashtag #ICantBreathe.

The Cult Of Fox News: New Study Affirms Blind Devotion To Cable’s Church Of Disinformation

One of the fundamental methods employed by cults to assure unwavering loyalty is to demand that devotees believe only in the doctrine bestowed by the cult. All others are presumed to be deceivers and unworthy of trust.

With that in mind, consider the results of the new Pew Research study on “Political Polarization & Media Habits.” The year-long research surveyed American news consumers and categorized their relationships to thirty-six sources for news and information about government and politics by political ideology. The differences in the levels of trust exhibited by consistent conservatives and liberals are profound.

The study reveals that conservatives have drastically constrained their access to news to a very few, hard-right outlets. They behave as if any exposure to a conflicting viewpoint would be tantamount to fraternizing with Satan. Consequently, they rely almost solely on Fox News for their information intake. That is how Fox maintains their ratings position, by herding all of the conservative cattle into one corral.

Pray for Fox News

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Nearly half (47%) of conservatives identify Fox News as their “main source” for news. Nothing else even comes close. Compare that to liberals who cite CNN as a main source only 15% of the time with a half dozen other sources closely competing for their attention. What’s more, conservatives obediently trust Fox News by a larger margin (88%) than any other group of viewers. And the only other sources they trust more than 50% of the time are similarly far-right partisans: Sean Hannity (62%), Rush Limbaugh (58%), and Glenn Beck (51%). Of course, none of those sources are objective news providers, or even journalists.

While Conservatives have only four sources that they trust more than 50% of the time, liberals express trust for nine different sources at that rate: NPR (72%), PBS (71%), BBC (69%), New York Times (62%), CNN (56%), NBC (56%), MSNBC (52%), ABC (52%), and CBS (51%). Note that they are all (with the exception of MSNBC) generally regarded as legitimate journalistic enterprises. Except, that is, by conservatives who trust none of them. In fact, conservatives only have greater trust than distrust for twelve of the thirty-six sources in the study. So consistent with the cult maxim, conservatives actively distrust twenty-four (two-thirds) of the sources. Liberals flip that stat, having greater trust for twenty-eight of the sources and distrust for only eight.

The mission of Fox News from the beginning was to divide the nation by ideology. It is why they came up with their “fair and balanced” slogan with the implicit accusation that the other news providers were neither. They deliberately sectioned off their audience and told them that everyone else was lying to them. Subsequently, when they lied to their viewers (which they do constantly), there is no place for them to turn for the actual truth. The Fox version of events becomes the unqualified gospel for their audience/disciples despite being riddled with falsehoods and rancid partisanship. And additional proof of that is seen in the studies that show that Fox viewers are less informed than those who watch other media, or even those who watch nothing at all. And the more you watch Fox, the less you know.

The correlations to cult status are unmistakable: Proselytize relentlessly (Fox is #1); repeat/preach the cult’s doctrine (anti-Obama, anti-government, Benghazi); reinforce obedience with fear (tyranny, terrorism, Ebola); glorification of idols (Ronald Reagan, Ted Cruz, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin); demonization of competing views (Democrats, the rest of the media); and fabricating a comforting home for faithful followers by casting experienced propagandists and appealing, mostly blonde, presenters as reporters. It’s a closed loop society that succeeds by keeping the flock secluded, ignorant, and artificially happy. I just hope they don’t start serving Kool-Aide.

Rush Limbaugh’s Defense For His Justification Of Rape Makes Matters Worse

When Rush Limbaugh took to the air to vindicate every rapist who ever claimed that the woman “really wanted it,” he found himself the subject of widespread revulsion and ridicule – again. His comment that “No means yes, if you know how to spot it,” gives permission to assault women after they’ve explicitly asked to be left alone. According to Limbaugh, those with advance perception skills know what women actually want and to deny these male mind-readers satisfaction “takes all the romance out of everything.”

Rush Limbaugh

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was one of thousands of critics blasting Limbaugh for his boorish advocacy of violence against women. As a part of their campaign to publicize Limbaugh’s comments, they sent emails to supporters that included a petition to persuade advertisers to shun Limbaugh. It also included a request for donations, as do all DCCC emails. Not surprisingly, this produced a response from the Limbaugh camp complaining that he had been taken out of context and that…

“The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee emails about Rush Limbaugh are an intentional lie, using 10 words carefully selected from his full comments to imply the opposite of what he actually said.”

Nowhere in the response did Limbaugh’s spokesman indicate what the alleged lie was. Nor did he bother to put Limbaugh’s remarks in what he considered to be the proper context. And as to whether a full reading of Limbaugh’s remarks would reveal that he was saying the opposite of what was implied, well, you can listen to 346 words and decide for yourself:

The actual context of these statements was with regard to a policy at Ohio State University aimed at reducing the incidence of sexual assault and date rape. Limbaugh was criticizing the policy and arguing that consent is not a prerequisite for sexual activity. He further mocked it by claiming that it would only lead to frivolous lawsuits. What’s more, Limbaugh believes that it’s absurd to expect men to be respectful of women because their compulsion for sex overpowers their capacity for rational decision making.

“I don’t know how men can be held to that Ohio State agreement, policy, anyway, because everybody knows in sex men don’t think with their brains. Not the one in their heads, anyway. It’s just so silly.”

So in his argument that women are so dumb that they can be ignored when they express their wishes, Limbaugh actually asserts that men are too dumb to make responsible decisions. This tells us something about Limbaugh’s experiences with women and his own ability to conduct himself civilly. He is advancing a concept of gender relations that is more aligned with our prehistoric ancestors than with modern society.

Given his perverse view of sexuality and the welfare of women, it explains why he is on his fourth wife and has had to acquire massive quantities of Viagra on the black market.

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Rush Limbaugh’s Delusional Plot By Militant Vegetarians To Unleash Anti-Beef Ticks

Tick Talk, Tick Talk…To all of the militant vegetarians out there – and we know that people who advocate against cruelty to animals are amongst the most brutal terrorists of our time – be aware that your cover has been compromised. The corpulent defender of ill health and Oxycontin abuse, Rush Limbaugh, has discovered your clandestine scheme to turn all of America into a model of rosy-cheeked physical fitness. ABORT, ABORT!

Rush Limbaugh

On his radio communique Friday, Limbaugh unveiled the dastardly plot contrived by the enemies of meat to turn all Americans into vegetarians via a unique form of bio-terrorism. I’ll let him tell it:

“Veggie Revenge. What is it? Well, in Texas, Texas, of all places, they have discovered a bug that can turn you into a vegetarian, or at least make you swear off of red meat. […] In some cases, eating a burger or a steak has landed people in the hospital with severe allergic reactions. The culprit is the Lone Star tick. […]

“[T]he radicals are gonna try to get hold of these ticks and mass produce them, mass grow ‘em and spread ‘em all over the country in order to get people to stop eating beef.”

That’s right. As we speak there are covert vegetarians clad in Che t-shirts herding genetically modified ticks on the Texas prairie into tiny tick corrals. They intend to release them on unsuspecting Americans across the country. They will probably target McDonalds and other fast food franchises as likely spots to infect innocent carnivorous diners. Limbaugh notes that he has “tried to call your attention to the militant vegetarians,” for some time. Let’s hope that it is not too late.

The vegetists are a wily bunch who seek to control every part of your life. They include First Lady Michele Obama, who has brazenly spoken out in favor of healthier diets for all Americans, especially children. That unscrupulous bitch. Although Limbaugh courageously calls out the nefarious veggies, he generously exempts the masses whom he regards as victims, saying that…

“[M]ost of ‘em are dupes in the sense they don’t understand they’re part of a political agenda. […] If you’re a vegetarian and you don’t realize there’s a political agenda attached to what you’re doing, you’re being duped.”

So wake up you vege-dupes. Can’t you see that you’re being used by international Climate Change conspiracies to invoke a One-World government where everyone has good health, the air and water are clean and safe, and the planet can sustain life for the indefinite future? Is that the kind of nightmare existence you want for yourself and your children? It’s not as if the vegetists really care about anyone. According to Limbaugh it’s all political. He says that…

“The very idea that militant vegetarians demand everybody do what they do is all the proof you need that it’s political.”

Never mind that no one has ever heard a militant vegetarian making such demands. And it goes without saying that conservative extremists like Limbaugh would never demand that anyone behave in certain prescribed manners. Unless, that is, you want to purchase contraceptives, marry someone you love, wish somebody a happy “holiday,” or vote without having to show your government approved papers.

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It’s a good thing we have Rush Limbaugh around to expose the nefarious plots being directed at an unwitting populace that would never know about these things were it not for his intrepid investigations and fearless devotion to us ignorant waifs in the hinterlands. So be grateful that there are such morally upstanding patriots like Rush to protect us all from our own stupidity. And, before you forget, strip and do a full body search to make sure you are free of militant vegetarian ticks.

Being Ashamed Of America: It’s Not Just For Breitbart Anymore

The buffoons at Breitbart News put their alleged journalistic skills on display again with an article that demeans Democratic congresswoman Barbara Lee by chopping up her remarks at a hearing on immigrant children.

Breitbart

Lee spoke to the issue of how these kids have suffered, both on the harrowing journey from their homes, and the treatment they received at overcrowded detention facilities here in the U.S. Her empathy for the hardships faced by children in dire circumstances was not shared by the BreitBrats. They posted a video fragment of Lee’s remarks, then truncated it to make it appear that she was “ashamed of America.” Here is the expanded version of her statement:

“In listening to your testimony I felt ashamed and I ask my colleagues are you talking about America? Is this America, where you have fled and were treated as you were. So I want to directly say to you this country is a country that stands for liberty and justice for all.”

Clearly Lee was merely expressing her shame for the difficult conditions to which the kids were subjected, and not for America, which she praised for its principles of liberty and justice. But that didn’t stop Breitbart (and Fox News who reposted the article on their lie-riddled Fox Nation website) from misrepresenting her words. And if that weren’t bad enough, they also referred to the children as “illegal minors.” What is that? Kids who are underage without permission? It is telling that the racists who use the term “illegal” to describe human beings never call bank robbers, or rapists, or even terrorists illegals.

The upshot of the article criticizing Rep. Lee is that the conservatives at Breitbart, and throughout right-wing culture, apparently feel no shame when they see children enduring a misery over which they have no control. The heartless Tea Party set seems unmoved by the grief of these innocents. They may, in fact, feel proud. And after dismissing the pain and fear of the kids, the BreitBrats make matters worse by casting aspersions on those who genuinely care.

Funny, they never seemed to mind when Rush Limbaugh actually did said say that he was ashamed of America.

Rush Limbaugh

CONSPIRACY: President Obama Is Trying To Impeach Himself

You can’t make this stuff up, folks. Well, unless you are an acutely delusional Tea Party Republican or work for the wingnutty press. In that case you can’t help but make up crap like this. It’s in your DNA.

Impeach Obama

Ever since the first inauguration of President Obama, right-wingers have been trying to undo the people’s decision to make him America’s chief executive. They declared that their top legislative objective was to make Obama a one-term president. In pursuit of that goal they have blocked most of his policy initiatives, judges, and government reforms. At the same time they have been hyper investigatory on everything from Fast and Furious, to the IRS, to ObamaCare, to his birthplace. All of this was squarely aimed at crippling or revoking his presidency.

This year Obama’s critics came out of the impeachment closet and began openly advocating for that legal nuclear option despite not having any legal basis for it. While many Tea-Publican whack jobs were earlier to the gate, Sarah Palin burst onto the scene a couple weeks ago with her own demand that Congress do their duty and trump up some phony articles of impeachment. It got so absurdly intense that Obama addressed it himself with fitting mockery.

So of course the next shoe to drop in this melodrama is that, along with everything else in the world, Obama is to blame for this too. In fact, according to some in the rightist crackpot community, it was all part of his nefarious plot to embarrass the GOP. Here is what Texas Republican Steve Stockman had to say about it when interviewed by the ultra-fringe rightists at WorldNetDaily:

“President Obama is begging to be impeached. […] He wants us to impeach him now, before the midterm election because his senior advisers believe that is the only chance the Democratic Party has to avoid a major electoral defeat. Evidently Obama believes impeachment could motivate the Democratic Party base to come out and vote.”

There you have it. The evil genius in the White House orchestrated the whole Obama-hate campaign from its earliest days in 2008 just so that he would be able to use impeachment, which is every president’s dream, as an election strategy six years into his presidency. He had the foresight to anticipate that his anti-America agenda, developed in concert with the Muslims and Marxists in his inner circle, would make the 2014 midterms so difficult that he would need something positive, like having himself prosecuted before Congress for high crimes and misdemeanors, in order to stem the tide of opposition that would rise up.

And Rep. Stockman is not alone in seeing through Obama’s scheme to impeach himself. Rush Limbaugh caught on and told his dittoheads that…

“[Obama] is really trying to goad the House Republicans into impeaching him. Really trying, I mean, very hard. It’s become obvious. It’s so obvious, he’s not fooling anybody.”

Indeed. He certainly isn’t fooling Steve Scalise, the new GOP Whip in the House of Representatives. Scalise was interviewed on Fox News Sunday by Chris Wallace who repeatedly sought to make Scalise commit to whether or not Republicans would advance impeachment. The best that Wallace could extract from Scalise was that…

“[This] might be the first White House in history trying to start the narrative of impeaching their own president.”

What’s fascinating about Scalise’s criticism is that, despite trying to blame the impeachment talk on Obama, he flatly refused to take it off the table. This is, in fact, consistent with all the other impeach-truthers. They accuse Obama of being the source of the attacks, while simultaneously keeping the controversy alive. It’s like accusing a firefighter of being an arsonist while you’re hiding in the bushes with a lighter and a pile of dry twigs. And speaking of fire-starters, Glenn Beck weighed in on this too.

“The president is going to change the subject and he’s going to make it about impeachment. […] So who wants it? The president does, because then he’ll be able to say ‘I demand justice.'”

[Update] This evening Megyn Kelly joined the Obama Self-Impeachment Loons with a segment devoted solely to her theory that the President and Democrats really want impeachment hearings to proceed. She introduced the segment by saying that there has been “a drumbeat of impeachment talk from the Democrats.” Like her fellow screw-loosers, she appears to be oblivious to the long record of conservatives who have been fanning these flames, including Allen West, Mark Levin, and even her Fox colleagues Jeanine Pirro and Andrew Napolitano. Kelly’s guest was Fox regular Chris Stirewalt who absurdly claimed Obama was “trolling the other party in hopes that they will impeach you.” And Kelly herself recently interviewed Andrew McCarthy, author of the new book “Faithless Execution: Building The Political Case For Obama’s Impeachment.” Has she forgotten already?

At one point in the segment Kelly sought to prove that Republicans had no incentive to push impeachment because a Fox News poll showed that 61% of all respondents were opposed to it. What Kelly conspicuously left out, even though she had prepared on-screen graphics, was that the same poll showed that 56% of Republicans say they support impeaching the President. And a whopping 68% of the Tea Party favor impeachment. That could be a significant partisan incentive. Now why do you suppose Kelly failed to divulge that data from her own poll?

It seems that whenever conservative blowhards get tired of defending their irresponsible overreaching into fruitcake-ville, they downshift to try to pretend that they never held those psycho positions in the first place. Then they attempt to blame the victim (Obama) for the whole messy affair. They did this recently when the birther foolishness was making them look even more dimwitted than usual. So they alleged that it was Obama who was the only one talking about his birth certificate. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

This is behavior that is familiar from the lunatics in the Republican Party. They can’t seem to make any arguments that don’t contradict reality. They accuse Obama of being a socialist, even though capitalism has thrived during his term (record corporate profits, stock market soaring, unemployment down). They fret over his fiscal irresponsibility without noticing that he cut the deficit in half. They complain about the vacation time attributed to him, which is far less than his predecessors. They’re suing him for executive overreach, apparently unaware that he has issued fewer executive orders than any president in nearly a hundred years.

This a president who is seen by his foes as both a lazy, incompetent, bungler, and a brilliant, determined, tyrant. They bitterly complain that he is disengaged and not doing enough – of the things that they hate him for doing so relentlessly. And now they are trying to peddle the notion that all along impeachment was a part of his grand plan to steal the 2014 elections. At what point can we have these nut cases put on a psychiatric hold for observation? Seriously, they need help.

Racist Tea Party Revolutionaries Kill Cops In Las Vegas: Why Won’t The Media Call It Terrorism?

The media has set a precedent for itself in past events that involved tragic political hostilities and murder. Most famously, the conservative press has spent the last two years complaining about whether President Obama called the attacks in Benghazi terrorism. Of course, there is video showing him doing just that the next day in the White House rose garden, but that didn’t put an end to the ludicrous speculation and smears.

Additionally, there were murderous rampages in Frankfort, Germany, Ft. Hood, TX, Boston, MA, and even the Boko Haram kidnappings in Nigeria. All of these cases got right-wingers riled up insisting that they immediately be regarded as terrorism and called such by the nation’s press, politicians, and pundits. A few examples included:

  • Glenn Beck: Why are we still not calling it terrorism?
  • Rush Limbaugh: He just will not say it. He will not say it’s terrorism. Who knows why?
  • Neil Cavuto: Why is it so hard to call them terrorists?
  • Andy Levy: I think they’re that stupid if they’re refusing to call them terrorists anymore.
  • Catherine Herridge: After he shouted ‘God is great’ the administration did not call it terrorism.
  • Sean Hannity (Karl Rove ad): Obama and his administration wouldn’t call it terrorism for 14 days.
  • Chris Wallace: How do you explain, then, the continued refusal to call it terrorism?

Which brings us to Jerad Miller and his wife Amanda. These two nut cases were deeply involved in anti-American activities and openly expressed radical beliefs based on conspiracy theories and Fox News lies. They recently spent time in the desert threatening federal agents with deadbeat rancher Cliven Bundy. Their Facebook page is plastered with violent rants advocating the overthrow of the government and imminent bloodshed. A glance at the people and organizations that they “liked” on Facebook is highly instructive. It includes three of the biggest Tea Party groups, all bankrolled by the Koch brothers. Also, there are three organizations that are run by current Fox News guests and contributors.

Jerad Miller

Obviously Fox News can’t call the Millers terrorists because that would mean they are calling a hefty chunk of their most loyal viewers terrorists. And for many others in the Fox audience it would be offensive to apply a term that they reserve for brown-skinned people from foreign lands, to a white, married, Christian couple from Nevada via Indiana.

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But you still have to wonder why the rest of the media is suddenly so averse to using the word terrorism. If there were ever an appropriate time to employ the label, it is now. The Millers made their intentions crystal clear. They reportedly shouted that “This is the start of the revolution,” as they commenced their crime spree. They draped their victims in the Gadsden flag, a banner of the Tea Party movement. Their motives were purely to incite terror in furtherance of their seditionist agenda. Similar behavior by Nidal Hasan and the Tsarnaev brothers was referred to as terrorism from the outset. So I’ll ask again – Why won’t the media call it terrorism?

Would You Trade Bergdahl To The Taliban To Get The Gitmo Prisoners Back?

Conservative pundits and politicians are making another fuss over President Obama’s leadership, this time due to his successfully securing the freedom of American soldier Bowe Bergdahl who was a captive of the Taliban. Critics are complaining about everything from the legality of the operation, to the wisdom of releasing a few Taliban detainees, to the value of retrieving a soldier who has been accused of desertion.

All of these complaints can be resolved by requiring the critics to answer a simple question: Knowing what we know now, would you favor trading Bergdahl back to the Taliban in exchange for the former prisoners released from Guantanamo Bay?

If the answer is yes, then you have a perverse notion of patriotism. No citizen should consider the captivity of an American to be acceptable. Even if that captive is suspected of criminal behavior, it is the responsibility of our country to adjudicate his fate, not some foreign nation or military faction.

If the answer is no, then, like it or not, you agree with the actions of the President. It would be foolish and inhumane to even consider trading an American away to our enemies in exchange for some of their operatives.

In almost every commentary on this exchange, the conservative critic prefaced his remarks by saying that he was glad that Bergdahl was free and heading home. Then, just as predictably, he would say that it was unconscionable that such hardened terrorists were allowed to leave the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Of course the former would not have been possible without the latter. But what none of them are saying is that the former prisoners do not have much to look forward to. Their movements are being monitored closely by officials in Qatar and, very likely, various U.S. intelligence agencies as well. With regard to the prospect of them returning to a life of terrorism, Obama said…

“Is there a possibility of some of them trying to return to activities that are detrimental to us? Absolutely. But I wouldn’t be doing it if I thought it was contrary to American national security, and we have confidence that we will be in a position to go after them if in fact they are engaging in activities to threaten our defenses.”

In other words, the detainees swapped a life of leisure in the Caribbean for one of constantly looking over their shoulders for drones. Should they choose to rejoin their former comrades on the battlefield, they are most likely going to join more than two hundred of them in the place where they now call home – the graveyard.

Club Gitmo Limbaugh

It’s more than a little curious that so many right-wingers are now lambasting the release of the Gitmo Five when not so long ago they complained that the detention center was more like a luxury spa than a prison. For example:

  • Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX): Gitmo is lap of luxury for detainees. […] The accommodations had a freshness and newness about them. Some of the rooms afforded waterfront views.
  • Charles Krauthammer (Fox News): How do I get two weeks at Gitmo? Sounds really good. The weather’s good. I get eighteen channels. A lot of exercise and I don’t have to work.
  • Rush Limbaugh (Loudmouth): There’s no better place than Gitmo. Club Gitmo, the Muslim resort. […] It’s a tropical paradise down there where Muslim extremists and terrorist wannabes can get together for rest and relaxation.

You might think that these witty whiners would be happy to see some bad guys evicted from such enviable quarters. Now they are sweating in the desert, dodging bullets, and having to work for a living. Under the circumstances, the implausible hypothetical question posed above might actually offer an appealing alternative to the now “free” Taliban operatives. But all of a sudden, the wingnuts who once thought that Gitmo was coddling their guests, now think they should have remained there to suffer.

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The one common thread that runs through this affair is that conservatives, who like to fancy themselves as Constitutionalists, are all too happy to abandon that document when it suits them. That’s why they have no problem holding enemy combatants for indeterminate periods without ever charging or trying them. And they also don’t object to trying Americans like Bergdahl as a deserter (which carries a penalty of death) without ever conducting an investigation or even getting his testimony.

BACKFIRE: Wingnuts Compare ObamaCare To The VA – Which Most Veterans Love

With the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, the Republican malice machine has continued to spin at full strength. Whether or not Shinseki was a scapegoat, his departure will not satisfy the bloodlust of the GOP, nor cause them to defer attacks on President Obama long enough to actually help find solutions. However, their inbred negativity and hatred for Obama is causing them to misfire in ways that only further embarrass themselves.

In yet another right-wing assault on the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare), the conservative opponents of health care have once again managed to mangle their message. Their intent has been to associate ObamaCare, which they viscerally despise despite its growing popularity, with the burgeoning scandal at the Veterans Administration.

ObamaCare vs. VA

From across the Tea Party frontier we can hear the outraged call of the Yellow Tailed Wingnut complaining that ObamaCare will doom us all to fates of suffering, death, and worse – Socialism! Their high-pitched squeal is recognizable and notable for its uniformity.

  • Rush Limbaugh: If you want to know where we’re headed as a country with health care, take a look at the VA.
  • Ann Coulter: We’re all going to be getting the same health care the vets are getting under ObamaCare.
  • Gary Graham (Actor): If you like the way the VA is working … you’re gonna love ObamaCare.
  • Jason Riley (Wall Street Journal): If you want to see where our nationalized health care system is headed, look at the VA system.
  • Wayne Allyn Root (Fox News Contributor): With Obamacare as the law of the land, we are all veterans now.
  • Phyllis Schlafly: [The VA is] A good window into the future of Obamacare
  • Kimberly Guilfoyle (Fox News Host): This is really what the rest of you all are going to get: One big fat VA system in the form of Obamacare. [Note: This one was rated a “Pants On Fire” lie by PolitiFact]

To be sure, the VA is undergoing a difficult period, exacerbated by Republicans in Congress obstructing necessary funding and the added burden of hundreds of thousands of new veterans created by Bush’s wars. And there is no excuse for falsifying records in order to mask the problems. But even with the serious issues surfacing in the past few weeks, the VA is a highly regarded institution that serves the vast majority of its patients with compassion and competence.

A recent survey completed in 2013 for the independent American Customer Satisfaction Index (during the precise time period when the latest abuses allegedly occurred) reported that customer satisfaction among veteran patients was “among the best in the nation and equal to or better than ratings for private sector hospitals.” Ratings for satisfaction and loyalty were overwhelmingly positive, exceeding 80% and 90% respectively. And specific responses regarding quality of care were off-the-charts positive.

“Veterans also responded positively to questions related to customer service for both VA inpatient care (92 percent favorable) and outpatient care (91 percent). Medical providers and appointment personnel were considered highly courteous with scores of 92 and 91, respectively. Additionally, VA medical providers ranked high in professionalism (90 percent positive).”

The positive assessment of the VA’s overall performance, however, does not mean that problems should be ignored. There is obviously room for improvement. Unfortunately, Republicans are not interested in improvement. In fact, they are ideologically shackled to failure. Their whole political philosophy revolves around the belief that government is inept and incapable of doing anything worthwhile (except wage war). Consequently, their mission is to deliberately sabotage every government initiative they encounter.

They aspire to failure because it proves their thesis that the only thing government excels at is failing. And it may even explain why the VA scandal is almost exclusively confined to red states like Arizona, Florida, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Is it just a coincidence that all of those GOP-led states, where local managers are responsible for the VA’s operations, are battling inefficiency and fraud? Or is it consistent with the Republican agenda that is also obstructing the Medicaid expansion provided by ObamaCare in many of those same states?

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Still, with broad-based, national survey results delivering such positive assessments, the rest of the country would be overjoyed to receive the sort of care that has pleased the vast majority of veterans. And if, as the wingnut brigade above asserts, the VA represents the future of health care under ObamaCare, then America is in for a real improvement in both medical outcomes and experiences. We can only hope that the Limbaughs and Coulters of the world are right this time, for a change.

Stephen Colbert To Replace David Letterman: Stay Tuned For Right-Wing Freakout

CBS announced this morning that Stephen Colbert, host of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report, will succeed David Letterman as the host of The Late Show.

Fox Nation vs. Reality - Colbert

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Although Letterman only announced his pending retirement a few days ago, Colbert was almost instantly regarded as a top contender to fill the vacancy. His unique brand of characterture and satire has won him numerous Emmys and even a couple of Peabody Awards. When he assumes the position at the Late Show desk he will immediately challenge his peers to up their game in both raw comedy and creativity. It is fair to expect Colbert to reshape the concept of late-night television.

For extra added entertainment pleasure, watch the conservative martinets of Puritan culture grasp their throats and gasp for air as their lungs veritably burst with outrage. Colbert, and his Comedy Central mentor Jon Stewart, have long been targets of right-wing animosity. To the extent that they manage to get the jokes, they despise them and whine about more liberal domination of the news (as if Stewart and Colbert were actually journalists). They tried in vain to mimic the Daily Show and to launch (or relaunch) careers for conservative comics like Dennis Miller, Steven Crowder, and Victoria Jackson.

Just yesterday, Bill O’Reilly devoted his nightly Talking Points Memo segment to Colbert, whom he called “a deceiver” for mocking O’Reilly’s ludicrous defense of income inequality. O’Reilly went on to say that…

“Colbert can be dismissed as clueless, but the guy does do damage because he gives cover to the powerful people who are selling Americans a big lie, that this country is bad, that it intentionally oppresses many of its own citizens. That is a lie. That point of view is shameful.”

Well, O’Reilly is the authority when it comes to doing damage by giving cover to powerful people selling lies. But even as Fox News blasts Colbert and Stewart as hopelessly biased, they have recognized the falsehood in that characterization. News Corpse documented 29 occasions where the Fox Nation website praised Stewart for taking the conservative side on his program. That, however, has never stopped them from asserting that Stewart is a socialist who only satirizes conservatives.

In response to the Colbert promotion, Breitbart News editor, John Nolte tweeted “Low-Rated Hyper-Partisan Lefty to Replace David Letterman.” He previously critiqued Colbert saying that…

“There’s a HUGE left-wing agenda behind what Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert is doing, and it’s a serious agenda that has nothing to do with satire.”

That’s typical of the viewpoint that Nolte has held for years. In a series of ignorant columns attacking Colbert, Nolte pointed out what he considered to be the poor ratings performance of The Colbert Report. But due to his embarrassing ignorance of the television business, Nolte failed to realize that Colbert’s ratings were better than those of Fox News. What’s more, no knowledgeable person would compare the ratings of a niche cable channel with those of a broadcast TV network. When Colbert moves up to CBS he will inherit the audience that goes along with it.

Rush Limbaugh weighed in saying that…

“CBS has just declared war on the heartland of America. No longer is comedy going to be a covert assault on traditional American, conservative values. Now it’s just right out in the open.”

NewsBusters’ Dan Gainor tweeted…

“Colbert: From liberal asshat pretending to be conservative to liberal asshat who gets to be honest about his asshattery.”

Karl Rove was personally offended by Colbert’s “Ham Rove” bit, which he took as a threat of violence:

“One liberal replacing another one. Only this one apparently knows how to wield a knife.”

Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post published a screed titled “Picking Colbert to replace Letterman? CBS really screwed up,” in which author Kyle Smith (who?) says that Colbert is…

“…only funny if you accept the premise (conservatives are morons) while you snort Mountain Dew out your nose.”

There will surely be more to come from these media geniuses who live in fear of Colbert’s brand of truthiness. If they were smart they would withhold their juvenile insults and accept the fact that CBS made a decision that is in the best interests of their bottom line. They could simply declare that their silly #CancelColbert boycott campaign was a huge success and return to something they have a much longer history of – insulting women and minorities.

The prospect for Colbert’s future as a late-night host are promising. He has an appealing personality and an engaging rapport with the guests he interviews. He is likely to have less political content on CBS, where their Standards and Practices department will keep a tighter rein on him. That will be a loss for those of us who cherish his outlook on society and culture, but you can’t blame him for aspiring to advance his career. And while he may tone it down, he likely will not abandon it altogether.

What many of the people commenting on this news are neglecting to mention is that there will now be a vacancy at Comedy Central. Here’s hoping that Jon Stewart, whose production company put Colbert on as his lead-out, will have some say in the matter of what follows him next. Due to his irreplaceable persona, it will not be possible to slip someone else into the same format. But another snarky news send-up is still the obvious choice to fill out the late-night hour. Perhaps Comedy Central could parody Fox News’ The Five, with a panel show featuring Daily Show regulars like Lewis Black, John Hodgeman, Kristen Schaal, Al Madrigal, Jessica Williams, Wyatt Cynac, etc.

They have no shortage of talent available. And, thanks to Fox News and the rest of the right-wing media circus, they have no shortage of material either.

[Update] On his show last night, Bill O’Reilly ignored the news about Colbert’s new job, but Time Magazine caught up with him and elicited this response: “I hope Colbert will consider me for the Ed McMahon spot.” Proving once again that O’Reilly is hopelessly stuck in the past, his attempt at humor reached back to reference a decades old sidekick, rather than a more relevant choice like Paul Shaffer or Alan Coulter. But O’Reilly would be a good choice for an Ed McMahon role, whose comedic persona was that of an old Irish loudmouth and a notorious drunk.

Bill O'Reilly/Stephen Colbert