The Fox News GOP Debate Was A Hate Fest – Literally

The accumulating evidence of the ignorance, bigotry and callousness of the Republican Party continues to manifest itself at their own convocations of crackpottery – the GOP presidential primary debates.

The star of these debates is turning out to be the audience, as the crowd steals the spotlight from the candidates. In the first debate a few weeks ago the audience cheered the mention of 234 executions carried out during the term of Rick Perry in Texas. In the next debate a question was asked regarding whether society should let a sick person die merely because he had no insurance. The iced (hearted) Tea Party audience began shouting “Yeah!” And last evening’s debate sponsored by the Republican PR agency, Fox News, saw the crowd disrespecting an Iraq war veteran by booing his videotaped question about equal rights for gays and lesbians serving their country in the armed forces.

While the audience endeavors to demonstrate that they are bigger jerks than the candidates, the candidates refuse to surrender that honor without a fight. Amongst the inanities erupting from this affair:

  • Michele Bachmann unveiled her plan to reduce tax rates to zero for all Americans. That and her unicorn giveaway program should excite voters.
  • Ron Paul reiterated his theory that government immigration programs developed to keep foreigners out would eventually be used to trap Americans in.
  • Rick Perry described his preference for a running mate that involved mating Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich. Setting aside the disturbing visual imagery, the prospect of a vice-president that combines the brash ignorance of Cain with the background of ethical lapses of Gingrich shouldn’t make anyone feel better about a Perry ticket.

Finally, Fox News distinguished itself by inviting a question from a representative of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks people and organizations that engage in racism and extremist criminality, has classified FAIR as a hate group. That automatically qualifies the organization for participation in any Fox News event.

The embrace of FAIR and the booing of a veteran are emblematic of the modern GOP’s moral decline. And the party is generously exposing its most revolting warts in the primary as its candidates and its members seek to appeal to basest wet dreams of their Tea Bagging comrades.

Rick Perry In New York To Kiss Rupert Murdoch’s Ring

Rick PerryLast night Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry met with News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch for dinner. Murdoch, who owns Fox News, already has a relationship with Perry. Last year Murdoch donated a million dollars to the Republican Governor’s Association which Perry chaired.

Murdoch has also had relationships with several other GOP candidates. Both Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum were employed by Fox News until recently. Mike Huckabee and John Bolton are still employed by Fox, however they have bowed out of the presidential race. And Sarah Palin is still on the payroll as she engages in a charade with Fox to boost their respective fortunes (she isn’t running and Fox knows it).

In the meantime Murdoch continues to be shielded by congressional lackeys like Rep. Darrel Issa who refuses to hold hearings on Murdoch’s alleged criminality because he doesn’t want to “start picking on media.” That’s a disturbingly asinine excuse. Generally when politcos talk of picking on the media they are referring to complaints about coverage or bias. What Issa is saying is that investigating crimes is off limits to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. That’s like the SEC saying that Bernie Madoff should not be investigated because they don’t want to pick on fund managers.

Former media mogul, Ted Turner, is less circumspect as he forthrightly declares that Murdoch will probably have to step down as CEO of News Corp:

“A major media company should definitely be following the law, that’s all. And when they break the law — and certainly, it’s already been admitted that News of the World broke the law. The question is how big a scandal is it.”

It remains to be seen what benefits Perry will receive for having paid his respects to the Foxfather. But Perry is well known for making deals that inure to his advantage. He certainly expects some reward, either in the form of more money or more good PR. And if he is the nominee, he will surely get some of both.

Today’s GOP: Celebrating Ignorance

At a time when the United States is struggling to be competitive in international markets, our education system is rapidly falling behind. Out of 34 countries, the U.S. ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math. The Republican Party is doing everything it can to glorify the worst of American Except-tionalism: the right-wing notion that America’s success is absolute except for high standards of living; except for access to health care; except for tax equality; except for a clean environment; except for fair elections; and, of course, except for education.

GOP IgnoranceThe Republican Party seems to revel in its own idiocy, They are proud of it, and they say so. Currently leading in the race for the GOP nomination for president is Rick Perry. This is a man who received C’s in U.S. History, yet lectures on the meaning of the Constitution.; he received D’s in the Principles of Economics, yet presents himself as an expert on fiscal policy; he failed Organic Chemistry, yet wants to be taken seriously when denouncing evolution and Climate Change. And this isn’t some fringe candidate – this is their front-runner.

The debate over whether Social Security is Ponzi Scheme, as Perry insists, is a hoax from start to finish. There is no rational correlation between the criminal act of fraud made famous by Charles Ponzi and Social Security, perhaps the most successful and popular government program in history. Ponzi’s scam sought to deceive investors and pocket the profits himself. Social Security is not an investment program, it is an insurance program. If Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme then so is auto insurance where participants are paid benefits from the receipts collected from other participants.

Somehow, a frighteningly high number of citizens are persuaded by the inane arguments set forth by Republicans on critical matters like Social Security and Climate Science. That is likely a result of the very same policies that Republicans advocate. They abhor education. They want to eliminate the Education Department. They disparage prestigious learning institutions as elitist. They boast of their own ordinariness and shortcomings. And this example is then set for their constituents to follow. Ignorance then becomes the predictable consequence.

That is precisely what the GOP intends. It is far easier for them to manipulate an uneducated, uninformed electorate. And it is advances their goals to provide benefits to the wealthy and to corporations at the expense of the folks they are deceiving. All of this makes it evermore imperative that we persist in getting out truthful information in as broad a manner as possible.

It’s a tough assignment because it will always be easier to make people stupid than it is to help them become fully informed. The right is now whining that President Obama has declared a “class war.” The truth is that there has been a class war raging in this country for decades, and the rich are winning. The gap between the rich and the poor is wider now than at any time since the Great Depression. None other than billionaire Warren Buffet made this same argument. It’s time for the lower and middle classes to fight back. It’s time to restore some fairness in the economy. And it’s time for the wealthy to share some of the sacrifice necessary to heal the nation.

In order to do this we need to expose the robber barons who want to keep the people down and dumb. Thankfully, we have on our side the propensity for Republicans like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Perry to demonstrate their witlessness with unambiguous relish. They just can’t help it. Sooner or later (hopefully sooner) the people will see through their charade.

GOP Debates Confirm That Fox Is More Cult Than News

In May of 2007 I did an analysis of the ratings of the GOP 2008 presidential primaries broadcast on cable news. The conclusion showed that Fox News viewers remained glued to Fox regardless of what else on the air. I wrote at the time that…

“Fox viewers are married to the channel and couldn’t care less what’s playing down the dial. Their hypnotic attachment filters out all other sensory stimulation, even if it’s something that would ordinarily excite them. […] Fox viewers appear to be more loyal to Fox than to Republicans or conservatism. This misdirected allegiance bestows a far more influential authority onto a media entity than ought ever to be considered. It suggests that the bombastic demagogues that Fox has shaped into celebrity anchors truly do weigh down their transfixed disciples.”

The Cult of Foxonality™ was affirmed when Fox acquired Glenn Beck and saw his ratings (temporarily) skyrocket. Fox viewers were wholly uninterested in the conservative schlock-jock when he was on CNN. Switching channels, even to see someone they would later slobber over, was too much trouble. But when he moved to Fox their slobbering could begin in earnest.

Now the Republican primary debates for 2012 demonstrate that little has changed in four years. Fox viewers are simply not inclined to stray from their electronic hearth no matter the attraction. The GOP debate on MSNBC was watched by more than 5.4 million viewers. CNN’s Gop/Tea Party debate drew 3.6 million [Note: It was competing against Monday Night Football and the U.S. Tennis Open Finals]. However, the ratings for Fox News hardly budged. The primetime average for Fox News in the second quarter of 2011 was 2.184 million viewers. On September 7, during MSNBC’s debate coverage, Fox’s primetime average was actually a little higher at 2.253 million. On September 12, during CNN’s debate coverage, Fox’s primetime average dipped to 1.791 million.

Clearly Fox News viewers can’t be bothered to dig the remote out from under the cushions in order to see what the next Republican nominee for president might say if it’s on another channel. That’s too bad because they missed Rick Perry complaining that Michele Bachmann underestimated the price for which he could be bought.

Perry: “I raise about thirty million dollars, and if you’re saying I can be bought for five thousand, I’m offended.”

That’s telling her. Perry knows how important it is to defend your brand, or else cronies and lobbyists will start to lowball you. And that can really cut into your profit margin. So the question is – How much can he be bought for?

Fox viewers also missed the Tea Party audience at the debate express their compassion for their fellow Americans. In a discussion about access to health care, moderator Wolf Blitzer presented Ron Paul with a hypothetical patient who required intensive care but had no insurance. “Are you saying that society should just let him die?” Blitzer asked. Paul’s answer in the negative was nearly drowned out by numerous audience members shouting “Yeah!” It looks like Republicans owe former (and perhaps future) Florida representative Alan Grayson an apology for vilifying him when he said that the GOP health care plan was “Don’t get sick! And if you do get sick, die quickly!”

The next GOP debate will be carried by Fox News so the FoxPods won’t have to worry about what’s on opposite O’Reilly. They can lean back and scarf down their Happy Meal without missing anything important. Or, at least, anything that Fox thinks is important.

Fox Nation Plays To The Stupidity Of Their Audience By Mocking Bill Maher

You can tell a lot about an enterprise by the way it engages their own audience. For Fox News it is imperative that they talk down to the morons who watch in order to perpetuate the lies and disinformation. And their web site, Fox Nation, is no less bound by a confederacy of dunces. Here is how they routinely portray comedian Bill Maher:

Fox Nation on Bill Maher

Repeatedly calling him Pig Maher is the Fox Nationalist’s way of demonstrating their maturity and devotion to ethical journalism. It’s all you can expect from an organization whose audience was obsessed with idiotic notions about death panels and birth certificates.

This isn’t the first time Fox Nation has plumbed these depths of daftness. A couple of years ago the Foxies thought they were hilarious as they skewered Senator Al Franken as Stuart Smalley (the name of a character he played on Saturday Night Live ten years prior). At that time I wrote…

“I suppose that, in order for Fox Nation (and Fox News) to be successful, they have to cater to the diminished mental capacity of their audience. And after reading some of the comments posted on their site, I’d say they still have some ways down to go. Remember, this is a community that reveres ignorance, as illustrated by their adoration of Sarah Palin, and college dropout Glenn Beck. They proudly display their overt disdain for people with demonstrated intelligence.”

We can now add to the list of Fox’s idols the current front-runner in the GOP presidential primary, Rick Perry. His college transcripts reveal that he barely graduated with a 2.2 grade-point average. This presidential hopeful received C’s in U.S. History; D’s in Principles of Economics; and for someone who doesn’t believe in evolution and discounts the peer-reviewed research of hundreds of scientists affirming Climate Change, Perry failed Organic Chemistry.

Still, Perry and Fox may be too advanced for the Fox audience and Tea Partyers. It is, nevertheless, comforting to see them at least trying to communicate at a level their audience can understand.

Lowlights From The Republican Debate

Thank goodness the President’s speech before congress was put off until Thursday. I would not have wanted America to miss this spectacle of GOP brilliance.

Setting aside the predictable skirmishes and automatic spewing of stump speech sound bites, there were some classic moments of insight that can only be attributed to the chronic psychosis of Republicanism. So without further ado…

Biggest Whopper of the Night:

Rick Perry on Obama saying that the border is safer than ever: “Either he has some of the poorest intel in the history of this country or he is an abject liar.”
However, violent crime rates along the U.S.-Mexico border have been falling for years and border cities of all sizes have maintained crime rates below the national average.

Comic Relief (which is pretty much everything else):

Perry flubbed his grasp of border security by calling for patrols with unmanned drones, apparently unaware that such patrols have been in use since 2009, including in Texas.

Michele Bachmann wants to make sure that immigrants seeking citizenship have a basic knowledge of American history. I assume that’s so she’ll have someone to teach her.

To illustrate how unreliable science is with regard to Global Warming, Perry cited Galileo as an example of a scientist who was disputed by fellow scientists. The problem with that is that Galileo was disputed by fundamentalist Christian authorities, not other scientists. You know, the kind of non-scientist, fundamentalists Perry hangs out with.

Ron Paul expressed his dismay with border fences because, instead of keeping foreigners out, they could be used to keep Americans in. He may be the only candidate speaking out in support of expatriates fleeing to Mexico.

Newt Gingrich complained that the debate moderators were trying to foment disagreement between the participants. And as we know, political debates are supposed to be completely free of any disagreements between the candidates.

Herman Cain advocates for the Chilean model of retirement programs. Chile essentially has a program wherein people pay in to private accounts. In other words, Cain wants to privatize Social Security. Which is marginally better than Perry’s plan to abolish the whole Ponzi scheme.

Perry praised Michael Dukakis’ job creation record as governor of Massachusetts saying that he “created jobs three times faster than” Mitt Romney. Romney didn’t disagree.

Bachmann again spoke of her five biological children and 23 foster kids. This time it was to shore up the child labor vote by asserting that what kids need today are jobs. Makes you wonder what she was doing with all those foster kids.

This was great television. I can’t wait for the next debate. We have a couple of promising events on the schedule. One with CNN and their co-host, Tea Party Express. And another by Fox News with questions submitted via Google. What I wouldn’t give for a debate co-sponsored by Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment and the National Rifle Association, with their moderators Ted Nugent and Victoria Jackson. And a special half-time tribute to Ann Coulter.

Fed Up? Rick Perry Sucks Up To AT&T And Vice Versa

A couple of weeks ago Rick Perry was caught on tape with a representative of Bank of America who offered a comforting message to the Texas governor saying that “We’ll help you out.” He wasn’t kidding.

Rick Perry

ThinkProgress documented the extent to which BofA had already provided abundant comfort to Perry. He has received over $125,000 from BofA’s PAC. He has received $4 million from the Republican Governor’s Association, to which BofA was a major contributor while Perry was its chairman. In exchange, Perry has been a stalwart advocate of deregulation for banking and financial services. He regards the Consumer Financial Protection Agency as unconstitutional.

But Bank of America is not Perry’s only CFF (Corporate Friend Forever) He is also intimate with AT&T. He recently endorsed the mega-merger between AT&T and T-Mobile (which the Justice Department recently announced it would challenge). I’m sure that had nothing to do with the $500,000 Perry has received from AT&T over the past decade.

In addition, the Dallas Morning News reported last December that AT&T bought 700 copies of Perry’s book, “Fed Up!” to distribute to attendees of an ALEC-sponsored luncheon. (Read more about ALEC)

“…the book purchase was arranged between [AT&T] and the American Legislative Exchange Council [ALEC], the conservative outfit that invited Perry to speak at its annual policy summit.

“A spokeswoman for the Exchange Council said the book order cost more than $13,000. AT&T said the sponsorship was meant to share Perry’s agenda with people who attended the summit, many of whom are state legislators from across the country.”

The relationship between Perry and AT&T, a Dallas-based corporation, raises many ethical and legal questions. Throw in a connection to ALEC and you have the makings of a world-class larcenous affair that suggests a slight modification to the AT&T slogan, “Rethink Ethical.”

This sort of pay-to-play politics is typical of the Perry regime in Texas. He has long run an operation out of the governor’s mansion that produced lucrative state contracts in exchange for political donations.

Rick Perry Pay-to-Play

Texas business as usual. And as I’ve said before “Perry is an evangelical huckster with no substantive record of achievement? He’s Elmer Gantry with a government job and gets his snake oil straight from the well.”

Small Government – Small Hearts: The GOP Response To Hurricane Irene

There is a storm advancing on the east coast of the United States of historic proportions. Hurricane Irene has resulted in the first ever mandatory evacuation of New York City due to a natural disaster. It is expected to cause billions of dollars of damage from North Carolina to Maine, but the human toll will not be known until the storm has passed. And the response by Republican leaders typically expresses their disdain for the unfortunates who not are a part of their elitist, country club caste.

Small Government

The GOP has long had an obsession with dismantling government. Grover Norquist famously stated that he wanted to “reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” More recently, Eric Cantor, the Republican Leader of the House, said that he would only support federal disaster aid if the expense was offset by cuts elsewhere in the budget. In effect, he is holding emergency relief hostage to partisan deficit reduction.

Right-wing icon Ron Paul goes even further. In an interview with NBC News he essentially advocated repealing a century of progress in critical response to national tragedies saying, literally, that “We should be like 1900.”

Paul cited as an example the response to a devastating hurricane in Galveston, TX, in 1900. It is still the worst natural disaster in U.S. history, taking the lives of between 10,000 and 12,000 people. Paul proudly boasted that the community did not require federal aid to rebuild the city. That, however, is patently false. Galveston did request and receive federal aid, without which it could not have rebuilt. Glenn Beck also falsely cited Galveston in an attempt to argue that the federal government’s role in disaster relief was unnecessary.

The modern Republican Party is making a predictable progression from George Bush’s phony “compassionate conservatism” to the heartlessness of the Tea Pity Party. At this foreboding time, when American lives and property are at risk, we should take care to remember the results of the anti-federalist policies that produced the cataclysm of Katrina and resolve to never allow that to happen again.

Fox News Racism Exposed In Perry/Obama Photos

The unvarnished racism of Fox News continues to reveal itself – over and over and over again.

The latest example of their repulsive hate messaging is an article purporting to show contrasting photos (below) of President Obama and Texas Governor Rick Perry in their youth. It’s actually generous to call it an article. To be accurate, it is just a link to a photo that some wingnuts are distributing on Twitter. The photo juxtaposes an image of Perry in military garb with an image of Obama that packs a more ethnic punch.

This deliberate attempt to insult the President is wrong on many levels. First, Perry’s photo may indeed be of him at or around the age of 22, but Obama’s photo is obviously much younger. [Note: I have confirmed that Obama was 18/19 when the pictures were taken by a student photographer, Lisa Jackson in 1980]. Second, while Perry did serve in the Air Force, he avoided combat duty despite the fact that his service began in 1972 and the Vietnam war was still raging until 1975.

The Fox Nationalists might just as well have featured a very different pair of photos that more realistically conveyed the contrasts between Perry and Obama. After all, Obama was an honors student who was the editor of the Harvard Law Review and graduated Magna Cum Laude. Perry, on the other hand, was a yell leader at Texas A&M and barely graduated with a 2.2 grade-point average and almost exclusively Cs and Ds on his transcripts.

Fox Nation Perry Obama

It is painfully clear what Fox is trying to convey to their gullible and bigoted audience. This sort of open prejudice and hate mongering needs to be exposed and disseminated widely so that Fox does not get away with such revolting behavior. And every day that the rest of the media continues to treat Fox as if it were a legitimate news enterprise is another day of shame for the press.

And on the lighter side, the brainiacs at Fox can’t even count:

Fox Can't Count

Notice that the article refers to Gawker and 7 other web sites that are dead or dying. However there are eight additional web sites represented by the logos. In fact, there are nine if you include the one in the bottom right corner. So Fox is admitting that they are dead or dying. And why not when they can’t even count to ten.

Rick Perry’s Pay-to-Play Scam

The media is all atwitter today after Texas governor Rick Perry threw his cowboy hat into the ring and announced his campaign for the Republican nomination for president. However, if there were any integrity in the press, Perry’s campaign wouldn’t last a week.

Rick Perry is an ill-informed, incompetent, political extremist, who barely graduated from Texas A&M University (with a D average) and has suggested that Texas should secede from the union. He supports discrimination against gays and lesbians. He doesn’t believe in either evolution or global warming. He admits that he has no solutions for the nation’s problems other than prayer. And just today he reiterated his position that Social Security a “Ponzi scheme.”

But the the big problem for Perry is his brazen corruption as governor of Texas. The Dallas Morning News conducted an investigation last year that revealed Perry’s conversion of the state house into a pay-to-play scheme that filled his campaign coffers, and the pockets of his contributors, with cash.

Rick Perry - Pay-to-Play
Click here to view larger

Apparently, the way to get Texas taxpayers to finance your business venture is to payoff the governor. Then the state whines about not having funds for education, health care, and other social services. The Wall Street Journal called this scheme “Rick Perry’s Crony Capitalism.” When the conservative Wall Street Journal finds your shady dealings repugnant, you have crossed line that most people didn’t even know existed. This is the sort of scandal that would torpedo a campaign that wasn’t propped up by Tea Party fanatics and Fox News.

As Perry rolls out his campaign he is already asserting that he can bring to Washington the same sort of “success” that he brought to Texas. That should frighten most Americans. Upon closer examination, the alleged miracle of the Texas economy is a myth based on false premises and peculiarities exclusive to Texas. Paul Krugman’s column in the New York Times illustrates just how little the nation can learn, or benefit from, Texas’ program of “depressing wages and dismantling regulation.”

“What Texas shows is that a state offering cheap labor and, less important, weak regulation can attract jobs from other states. I believe that the appropriate response to this insight is ‘Well, duh.’ The point is that arguing from this experience that depressing wages and dismantling regulation in America as a whole would create more jobs — which is, whatever Mr. Perry may say, what Perrynomics amounts to in practice — involves a fallacy of composition: every state can’t lure jobs away from every other state.”

What’s more, Texas is now facing a projected 2012 budget deficit of 31.5% of its general fund. That makes it the third worst state deficit in the country. Even California is doing better. [Note: Texas trails only Nevada and New Jersey, both of which have Republican governors]

It is also worth noting that a recent poll showed President Obama beating Perry IN TEXAS!

“…the poll shows Perry trailing President Obama in heavily Republican Texas, which last voted Democratic for president in 1976, when Jimmy Carter was the South’s favorite son. Obama leads 47%-45%, even though Obama’s net approval rating is underwater at 42%-55%.”

So the question is: Why is anyone taking seriously the campaign of a governor who has driven his state into ruin; who has one of the the highest percentages of minimum wage jobs; who has one of the lowest rates of health care coverage; and who is demonstrably corrupt? How long will it take for the press to catch on that Perry is an evangelical huckster with no substantive record of achievement? He’s Elmer Gantry with a government job and gets his snake oil straight from the well.