Saturday, November 06, 2010

Hmmmmm. Media Matters must really be getting under Bill O'Reilly's skin

-- by Dave

Memo to Bill O'Reilly: There's a reason people in the media -- especially people with even a small bone of ethics in their bodies -- object to major media anchors suggesting it's OK to beat people up: It's profoundly irresponsible. Sure, you can say it's just a joke, but everyone who works in the media knows there are kooks out there who take that kind of stuff literally and act on it, which is what makes doing it so irresponsible. Or didn't you learn your lesson with Dr. Tiller?

Indeed, it seems that BillO learned at least one lesson from that episode: If you are so irresponsible as to abuse your position media power by indulging in reckless violent and eliminationist rhetoric, there is at least one entity with enough guts to call you on it: Media Matters.

Because now he's just outright hearing voices in his head as soon as the words came out of his mouth that he wanted to beat up the Washington Post's Dana Milbank for slagging Megyn Kelly's election-night work. And while it's true that Milbank's examples were weak, the reality is that Milbank's larger point was right: the entire night's broadcast overseen by Kelly was one long gloatfest, victory lap after victory lap for the election's real winner: Fox News.

But all throughout the segment, O'Reilly vacillated between wishing thuggery upon both Milbank and his boss, WaPo's Fred Hiatt, and worrying that his saying so might bring those evil nattering nabobs from Media Mattes down upon his head.

All I can say is: Good.

At one point, Kelly wondered why he's so obsessed with Media Matters. Why, he should just do as she does: Don't your pretty little head over such things. O'Reilly made clear why not: This was a man thing. He didn't say it, but the clear answer was: His manhood was being challenged.

And it's true. His manhood is being challenged. Because O'Reilly in the end is a chickens--t BS artist and a bully and a coward, and Media Matters regularly calls him out on it.

And you know what? O'Reilly isn't even man enough to bring them on his show and let them have their say.

Because no one -- NO ONE -- ever goes on Fox and criticizes it. It just isn't permitted. And especially not on O'Reilly's show.

Want to talk about manhood? A real man would bring his toughest critics on and face them. Until O'Reilly actually invites David Brock or Eric Burns onto his show, we'll know that all this talk is hot air.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Patty Murray's victory is rich with lessons for Democrats

-- by Dave

Whew! Our friend Sen. Patty Murray has managed to pull out her re-election:

Murray's win over Republican Dino Rossi was confirmed Thursday as tallies pushed her lead to about 46,000 votes out of more than 1.8 million counted, or about 51 percent to 49 percent. About three-quarters of the expected ballots had been counted in unofficial returns.

Though many ballots still await processing, but an Associated Press analysis determined Murray's lead would be insurmountable.

"Now we have to get to work," Murray said Thursday night. "I want to make sure Washington state has what it needs to get its economy back on its feet." Rossi conceded defeat.

Of course, it's tempting to simply gloat over Rossi's loss, which is now his third straight narrow defeat for statewide office. Considering what a slimy git he is, one can't help being relieved that he is finally probably all done, washed up in politics after striking out a third time. But hey -- considering his record, maybe we shouldn't be so eager. After all, he could become Washington's own mini-version of Harold Stassen and run again in two years for Maria Cantwell's seat. Go for the Golden Sombrero, dude!

But there are more important lessons to be drawn from this. The first and most important: Murray won not by running away from progressive Democratic values -- unlike the Blue Dogs and other Democrats who got wiped out Tuesday night by trying to proffer up Republican Lite agendas -- but by avidly embracing them.

She campaigned with President Obama. Moreover, she sturdily defended her work on the health-care reform and Wall Street reform bills (both of which Rossi wanted to overturn). And she stood behind the fact that she is good at bringing home the bacon for her home state.

Republicans -- particularly Karl Rove and Co. -- poured millions into this race, saturating the airwaves here with nonstop lying ads attacking Murray. The result: A huge wave of angry Seattle voters who turned out en masse on Election Day and voted over 65% for Murray.

(Incidentally, many of these same lessons were to be found in Raul Grijalva's victory, too.)

Meanwhile, over in Idaho -- where Walt Minnick had been ardently courting people who would never in their lives vote for him as long as he had "Democrat" attached to his name, and even going so far as indulge in such blatant Latino-bashing that he got endorsed by white nationalists -- the results were predictable.

The lessons of 2010: If you're building majorities based on electing people who won't even stand behind the party they got elected with, then it's probably not worth having. Progressives need to identify real progressive candidates and get behind them -- and eschew the easy Rahm Emanuel path that eventually leads to disaster.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Friday, November 05, 2010

If Palin and the Tea Parties are their new kingmakers, GOP may be in for a rough ride

-- by Dave

Well, to read the Wall Street Journal or to watch Fox News, you'd come away from the 2010 Elections with the overwhelming impression that the nation's most powerful kingmakers now were Sarah Palin and the Tea Parties.

The problem with that: Overall, less than half their candidates won. In the case of the Tea Parties, it was only a third or so.

Palin, appearing on Hannity last night, defended some of her higher-profile endorsement losses, which included Christine O'Donnell, Sharron Angle, Carly Fiorina, West Virginia's John Raese and her last-minute pitch for third-party candidate Tom Tancredo in Colorado.

Her biggest scores were Nikki Haley in South Carolina, Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire, Marco Rubio in Florida, John Kasich and Rob Portman in Ohio, Oklahoma's Mary Fallin, New Mexico's Susana Martinez, Texas' Rick Perry and Arizona's Jan Brewer -- nearly all of whom won for reasons well beyond Palin's endorsement. (Of course, the same could be said of her losses.)

MSNBC's First Read compiled the numbers, though by using only general-election results, it omitted two Palin failures in the primaries -- Clint Didier in Washington state and Todd Tiahrt in Kansas. Thus overall for the Senate, Palin made 13 endorsements, and only six of them won. Of her 40 endorsements in House races, only 19 won. She was really only successful in the gubernatorial races, where she made eight endorsements, and seven of them won.

So we can see that, while Palin's endorsement isn't exactly the Kiss of Death, it's certainly the Peck of Mediocrity.

Moreover, as Dave Weigel adroitly observes, Joe Miller's impending loss in Alaska is almost certainly the biggest political embarrassment of the season:

So, then... why would Palin be losing anything on her home turf? She bears exactly zero responsibility for the policies voters don't like. She has not held office for 16 months. She can't pull a candidate she campaigned for over the finish line against a write-in candidate? That's incredible.

Then there are the Tea Parties: As Alexandra Moe at First Read reports, they only elected 32 percent of their candidates:

For all the talk of the Tea Party's strength - and there will certainly be a significant number of their candidates in Congress - just 32% of all Tea Party candidates who ran for Congress won and 61.4% lost this election. A few races remain too close to call.

In the Senate, 10 candidates backed by the Tea Party ran and at least five were successful. (Race in Alaska has not yet been called.)

In the House, 130 Tea Party-backed candidates ran, and just 40 so far have won.

Some sober conservatives, like Fox News' John Tantillo, at least are having the courage to point out that the new kingmakers have no clothes:

The Tea Party was great in that it mobilized voters and raised important issues about our country’s direction that many of us –myself included— deeply care about.

But it failed in that the party –like all organized political movements—didn’t come close to any kind of sweep of elected office. In other words, there’s simply no mandate for Tea Party concerns and beliefs.

The most comforting aspect of this? Republicans are just about guaranteed not to listen. They have unleashed this populist beast, and it now is carrying them along for the ride. Hope they enjoy it.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Ah, nothing like the right-wing version of 'bipartisanship'

-- by Dave

Just wondering if this is the tone we can expect from those victorious folks on the Right for the next couple of years ... I guess this is what they mean by "no compromise."

Via Thomas Wellborn at Alan Colmes' Liberaland, who observes that this cretin identifies himself as a "Buchananite conservative."

From his website’s masthead:

Political Byline

The writings of an thinking American

Wanna bet this is one of those guys who demands that immigrants learn the English language?
[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Your librul media at work: At Obama's post-election presser, the reporters act like they're from Fox

-- by Dave

Today's press conference was remarkable for a number of things -- President Obama's meekness among them -- but the most disturbing thing was the way reporters grilled him, as though they were Fox talk-show hosts and he just another football of a liberal guest. Their questions, as they always are at Fox, were essentially Republican talking points reshaped as questions.

And it wasn't even the Fox reporters who did it.

First up was the AP's Ben Feller:

Q: Are you willing to concede at all that what happened last night was not just an expression of frustration about the economy, but a fundamental rejection of your agenda?

Sure. Lessee, just two years after fundamentally embracing his agenda -- and rejecting the conservative one -- they've now decided to reject it altogether.

Then, after Obama made clear he didn't buy this nonsense, MSNBC's Savannah Guthrie asked:

Q: Just following up on what Ben just talked about, um -- you don't seem to be reflecting on or second-guessing any of the policy decisions you've made, instead the message the voters were sending was about frustration with the economy, maybe even chalking it up to a failure on your part to communicate effectively. If you're not reflecting on your policy agenda, is it possible voters can conclude, you're still not getting it?

Savannah, we're sure there's a nice deal awaiting you at Fox someday. No one at Fox could have framed that right-wing talking point better. Indeed, we'll bet they wind up playing it a lot there.

It sure is revealing, in a comparison/contrast kinda way, to go back to President Bush's post-election press conference in 2006, after voters had just rebuked Republicans by throwing them out of Congress.

Because no one asked him if his agenda had been repudiated. No one asked if he just didn't get it. All Bush did was say he was going to basically keep doing what he was already doing, and hey, everybody in the press corps was just fine with that.

That's your liberal media at work for ya.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

2010 Campaign Post-Mortem: Yep, it was The Fox Election

-- by Dave

There's going to be a lot of finger-pointing today. I've already given you my two bits' worth. Above all, I think these results tell us that Democrats have once again failed to understand the value of controlling the narrative -- or at least not letting conservatives control the narrative:

I blame the geniuses in the Democratic Party -- both in the White House and elsewhere -- who failed to establish firmly the narrative after the election that needed to be hammered home daily and relentlessly and fearlessly: that Americans had repudiated conservative rule because it had manifestly proven itself a failure. Instead, Democrats thought "bipartisanship" was more important. Sure it was.

This clearly was The Fox Election. This was a political victory entirely engineered by a fake "news network" that in reality is a relentless and powerful right-wing propaganda machine. Democrats need to wake up and figure out how they're going to beat it.

Larray Sabato last night on Fox did point out that there was at least one real upside to all this: The Blue Dogs are now almost entirely extinct. And good riddance, frankly; a more progressive caucus is more likely to be able to establish and elucidate a more progressive agenda.

But amid the carnage, there are some good, positive lessons for Democrats -- especially in Nevada, where Harry Reid pulled out a convincing victory with the help of Democrats' most stalwart friends: labor unions and Latino voters. Remember that pollsters like Rasmussen had Sharron Angle ahead for most of the closing weeks of the election.

What turned the tide? Angle's vicious Latino-bashing attack ads attempting to smear Reid as soft on "illegal aliens."

The results speak for themselves:

Latino vote for Senate
Harry Reid: 90%
Sharron Angle: 8%

Latino share of voters: 12%
Latino contribution to H. Reid: +9.8

That fine Tea Party approach to immigration didn't work out so well:

Reid’s turnout efforts focused strongly on the Hispanic community, a key swing demographic in Nevada elections. Early polling suggested Hispanics wouldn’t turn out because of frustration with the economy and a lack of movement on immigration reform.

A Republican operative even aired an ad explicitly telling Hispanics not to vote.

That, coupled with Angle’s inflammatory ads using images of Hispanic youth dressed as gang members drove some Hispanic voters to the polls.

“That was the final straw,” Gilberto Ramirez, a Reno concrete worker who recently obtained his citizenship and voted for the first time. “She was depicting me as a gang member. I served seven years in the Marine Corps.”

Well, we predicted this. The question now is whether or not Democrats will learn from this: It pays to stand up for something and do the right thing. Being a strong progressive earns voters' respect and ultimately their votes.

I'm not holding my breath.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Palin agrees with O'Reilly that 'you can't be too far right': 'A far right bent would be healthy'

-- by Dave

Sarah Palin, last night on Bill O'Reilly's show, really made plain where she's coming from -- that is, as far right as you can get:

PALIN: At this point in time --


PALIN: With the state of the union, no.

O'REILLY: Yes. You can't be too far right.

PALIN: Any of that far right ideological bent that somebody would have is going to balance out the extreme far left liberal policies that are being adopted this government takeover of our private sector.

O'REILLY: So, you can't -- do you know Paladino who's running for governor here? You know him?

PALIN: I never met him, but I know about him.

O'REILLY: OK. But, he's pretty far right out there.

PALIN: Well, he is running for governor so that's up to the New Yorkers to decide.


O'REILLY: All right, I know that.

PALIN: But, no. A far right bent would be a healthy -- we need a balance of power here, Bill. Look at this extreme liberalism that has control of the House and the Senate and the White House right now. We have got to balance that out. That's another message that will be sent on Tuesday against failed policy, against the monopoly of power in Congress and in the White House.

Yeah, it's becoming increasingly obvious that no candidate is too far right for Palin. After all, she's relentlessly championed her Patriot pal Joe Miller, even after he hired a bunch of militia thugs who roughed up and handcuffed a reporter.

And in fact she made even more abundantly clear earlier yesterday when Palin endorsed Tom Tancredo for governor of Colorado. We're talking about a guy who recently ditched the GOP for the far-right militia-friendly Constitution Party.

A guy who called Sonia Sotomayor a "racist" and compared the National Council of La Raza to the Klan. A guy who more recently declared that "the greatest threat to the United States today, the greatest threat to our liberty, the greatest threat to the Constitution of the United States, the greatest threat to our way of life, everything we believe in, the greatest threat to the country that was put together by the Founding Fathers, is the guy that is in the White House today."

What's next? An endorsement of that fellow Tea Party apologist, David Duke? After all, according to Palin: You can't be too far right in this political climate.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Monday, November 01, 2010

Just wondering: Has Jon Stewart ever met a real racist?

-- by Dave

Like BlueGal, I was pretty dubious about Jon Stewart's message at the "Rally to Restore Sanity And/Or Fear" from the get-go. It's all about the national discourse, after all, which has seemed to run something like this:

The Right: Socialism! Marxism! Birth certificates! Death panels! Gun control! Tax increases! The left is going to destroy America!

The Left: Jaysus. These people are insane.

Stewart et. al.: Why can't you guys talk to each other?

This reached its apotheosis in Stewart's speech Saturday -- the vast majority of which (especially the media-critique component) I wholeheartedly agreed with. But then there was this:

There are terrorists and racists and Stalinists and theocrats, but those are titles that must be earned. You must have the resume. Not being able to distinguish between real racists and tea partiers, or real bigots and Juan Williams and Rich Sanchez is an insult -- not only to those people, but to the racists themselves, who have put forth the exhausting effort it takes to hate. Just as the inability to distinguish between terrorists and Muslims makes us less safe, not more.

Now, most of this I agree with. But Juan Williams and Rick Sanchez weren't accused of being bigots, but rather of abetting bigotry with thoughtless and unprofessional remarks.

Even more to the point, some of the people -- myself included -- who are having trouble distinguishing between Tea Partiers and real racists are people who have had extensive dealings over many years with genuine, card-carrying Klansmen, Aryan Nations, skinheads and Patriot/militia radicals.

Or, more precisely -- as the NAACP pointed out in its report of a couple weeks ago -- we are profoundly disturbed by the growing lack of distance between mainstream conservatives and real extremists as a result of the conduit between them that is the Tea Parties.

All of which makes me wonder: Has Jon Stewart ever actually met one of these "real racists" of whom he speaks? Has he ever had a conversation with a neo-Nazi or Klansman? Or for that matter, even a militiaman?

Because if he had -- and especially if, as those of us who are concerned about this have, he'd taken the time to interview or understand these people -- he would know that they don't come with horns and satanic expressions. They don't all have shaven heads and wear leathers and tats. Indeed, the majority of them often seem surprisingly normal. This is one of the cornerstones of their relentless campaign to mainstream themselves.

What the Tea Parties have provided is a powerful means for extremists to do exactly that. And Jon Stewart -- by pretending that the people who are pointing out that this is taking place are somehow poisoning the national discourse -- is unintentionally helping them.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]