Archive for the ‘MSNBC’ Category

The Real Mitt Romney

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

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I’m having a long and heated debate with my  conservative uncle about whether the result of the election will be solely determined by the two questions “is the economy good” and “who do you think would do a better job of managing the economy?” He, of course, believes the latter, while I maintain that this is a much more complex decision driven by many varied factors. More on that later, but I want to focus on one factor that clearly still matters which is “which guy do you want in your living room for the next four years.”

Check out James Lipton on how Romney reminds you of “the  kind of boss with whom you never feel comfortable or sure of yourself.” This is a brilliant insight into the way that Mitt Romney came off during that debate, and more importantly, what it reveals about his character. Chris Matthews said that “Romney is the guy on the plane who won’t turn his cell phone off.” Charles Pierce cut even closer. Referring to Romney’s jaw dropping, “You’ll get your chance, I’m speaking now” comment:

To me, this was a revelatory, epochal moment. It was a look at the real Willard Romney, the Bain cutthroat who could get rich ruining lives and not lose a moment’s sleep… Outside of street protestors, and that Iraqi guy who threw a shoe at George W. Bush, I have never seen a more lucid example of manifest public disrespect for a sitting president than the hair-curling contempt with which Romney invested those words. (I’ve certainly never seen one from another candidate.) He’s lucky Barack Obama prizes cool over everything else. LBJ would have taken out his heart with a pair of salad tongs and Harry Truman would have bitten off his nose.

And Romney bitched endlessly — endlessly — about the rules, and why this uppity fellow on the other stool was allowed to speak before he was spoken to, and why he didn’t get to speak at length on whatever he wanted to speak on because, after all, he is the CEO of the stage.

Jesus Christ, I’d hate to play golf with the man. He’s the guy who counts to make sure you don’t have too many wedges in your bag. He knows every cheap subsection of every cheap ground rule, and he’ll call you on every one of them. You couldn’t get a free drop out of him with thumbscrews, and forget about conceding any putt outside two inches. And then, on the 18th hole, with all the money on the line, he kicks his ball out of the rough and denies up and down to the rules committee that he did it. Then he goes into the clubhouse bar and nobody sits with him.

Brilliant.

Obama Bounces Back

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

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Great summary of the Obama-Romney debate from Chuck Todd on the Daily Rundown.

Todd notes that, if the debate ended at 10:10 Eastern Time, then it would have been called a draw, but then came the exchange on Benghazi. You could see Romney thinking that he had the president cornered when he said that he never called it a terror attack, but Obama was cool as a cucumber. Didn’t take the bait at all. He just said “Please proceed Governor Romney…”  Romney should have known something was up, but kept going.

Then Candy Crowley fact checked him right on the spot and Obama amplified it with “Can you say that a little louder Candy?”

Right or wrong, these debates often do turn on the little gaffes and momentum shifts and that Benghazi exchange was the key moment of the debate.

Boy, I’d hate to have been the aide who told Romney that the president never referred to it as an act of terror. Romney doesn’t seem like a very nice boss when things don’t go his way.

Obama closing the debate by bringing up Romney’s 47% comment for the first time was the coup de gras.

Altogether, a great debate performance by Obama. Too bad this guy didn’t show up for the first one.

Maddow Breaks Down Conspiracy Theory at Heart of Fast & Furious

Sunday, June 24th, 2012


On Wednesday, Rachel Maddow provided a decoder ring for regular people to understand “What Your Uncle Who Watches Fox News All Day Is All Worked Up About.” As always, take the assertions with a grain of salt, but this is a great insight into the different worlds that consumers of Fox News and conservative talk radio inhabit than the rest of the country.

My Republican cousin-in-law was going on this week about how the Fast and Furious investigation was going to spell doom for the Obama Administration, but given that most Americans probably have no idea who Eric Holder or Darrell Issa are, it seems unlikely that the spectacle of the entire House of Representatives holding a vote on whether to hold the Attorney General of the United States in contempt of Congress over a scandal that they’ve never heard of during a time when unemployment is above 8% is going to provoke anything but eye-rolls across the country.

Once again, the Republicans overreach.

Occupy Wall Street Phase II

Monday, November 28th, 2011

You cant evict an idea

Last week, when the NYPD kicked the tents out of Zuccotti Park and Occupy protests were staged in 50 states across the country, Ed Schultz and Rachel Maddow had some great coverage on the question I had been asking since the beginning: What’s Next?

As I noted before, Occupy Wall Street has already had a significant effect on national politics, by changing the national conversation away from deficits and austerity and back to what has been the American people’s true priority since the economic collapse: the economy and jobs. Still, what started as a protest against the undue power of corporations and income inequality now risks becoming bogged down in a series of conflicts between local authorities and campers in public parks. Melissa Harris-Perry made the point on Rachel Maddow’s show that the focus on the “right” to camp out in public parks had pitted Occupy Wall Street against big city mayors who, after all, often share a goal that that many of the protesters are in favor of: trying to provide social services in the face of dwindling budgets. In effect, these people are the 99% as well, and to get drawn into a protracted series of battles with the local police forces misses the point. 

It’s not about the parks and it’s never been about the parks. It’s about something bigger.

Not only does the focus on the parks tend to distract from the larger message, but the continued presence of the camps has the possibility to turn public opinion against the movement, effectively neutering it and in the process taking down the only people who can enact their agenda, the Democratic party. Greg Sargent has had some of the best analysis of this possibility, pointing out the importance of working class swing voters to the election results in the 2008 and 2010 elections and drawing attention to the most high profile attempt to use Occupy Wall Street as a wedge issue: the Republican attacks against Elizabeth Warren in her Massachusetts Senate race. This is a familiar strategy that Republicans have used successfully since the late 60′s: appealing to working class white voters on the basis of culture. The argument in this case sounds something like this: “those people in the streets might be fighting for your economic interests, but you don’t want to join in with those liberal city folk, do you? Wouldn’t you rather stay with the party of Law and Order, Guns and God?” 

Of course, this is a ridiculous argument, but these cultural arguments have worked wonders for Republicans through the years and recent polling shows that they may be working again. As clashes with the police have become more frequent, Occupy Wall Street’s poll numbers have fallen, with many beginning to turn against the movement, despite the fact that they continued to support many of their goals.

The day before Occupy Wall Street’s tents were evicted from Zuccotti Park, one of the intellectual fathers of the Occupy Movement, suggested a tactical retreat might be in order:

We declare “victory” and throw a party … a festival … a potlatch … a jubilee … a grand gesture to celebrate, commemorate, rejoice in how far we’ve come, the comrades we’ve made, the glorious days ahead. Imagine, on a Saturday yet to be announced, perhaps our movement’s three month anniversary on December 17, in every #OCCUPY in the world, we reclaim the streets for a weekend of triumphant hilarity and joyous revelry.

We dance like we’ve never danced before and invite the world to join us.

Then we clean up, scale back and most of us go indoors while the die-hards hold the camps. We use the winter to brainstorm, network, build momentum so that we may emerge rejuvenated with fresh tactics, philosophies, and a myriad projects ready to rumble next Spring.

Perhaps more important than whether this movement continues to camp in public parks is the question of what it proposes to do about the conditions that it has drawn attention to. It has now been over two months and the movement has come a long way, but if it’s not clear what you want to do, then it’s difficult to get people to join you. To this end, sometimes spokesman for OWS, Jesee LaGreca offers the following on Daily Kos:

It is time to TAX THE RICH

It is time to END THE WARS

It is time to restore Glass-Steagal

It is time to repeal Citizens United

It is time to get the money OUT OF POLITICS

It is time to invest in infrastructure and education

It is time to STOP busting labor unions, whether private or public

It is time to defend Medicare and Social Security tooth and nail from phony reforms or baloney cuts

It is time to STOP the spending cuts and start investing in America, and if we have to raise taxes on the rich and corporations in order to force them to invest in America, then so be it.

It is time to make higher education affordable, to offer students debt relief, and to provide funding for education, and stop blaming honest teachers and educators and for the failures of an underfunded system.

It is time to STOP the racist and discriminatory practice of “Stop and Frisk” and other tactics of racial profiling

It is time for civil rights for ALL, and that means equal rights for LGBT Americans to serve our military and marry whom ever they will

It is time for ACCOUNTABILITY for the men who lied us into war and crashed our economy

It is time for immigration reform that does not punish workers, but provides a clear pathway to citizenship for everyone

It is time for investigations that lead to prosecutions on Wall Street in response to the crimes that have been committed in the last decade.

It is time for a serious discussion about the Federal Reserve and it’s role in this economic disaster

It is time for universal health care that everyone can afford. It is time to talk about Single Payer Health Care.

It is time for alternative green energy instead of Oil and Coal.

It is time to protect our civil liberties and our constitution.

It is time for a discussion about free trade and how it has undermined the working class while enriching only the wealthiest among us.

It is time to end corporate personhood.

There are sooooo many things that need to be fixed, reformed and addressed, and this short list does not do justice to the many grievances that the 99% have, but we must accept the fact that the GOP only serves the rich and the Dem Establishment only serves to cave to the GOP. They are NOT going to help us. We are going to have to do this ourselves.

Not only is the agenda De LaGreca proposes a righteous agenda, it also has the benefit of being in the mainstream of American political ideas, and thus potentially achievable. 

Ultimately, Occupy Wall Street will choose its own agenda and what they do is not for me to decide. What I can say that is that I, and millions of other Americans, will be with them if they adopt an agenda that resembles this, and together we can change America.

Ed’s on Fire

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

Ed Schultz is all fired up.

I love this stat:

49% of Florida voters believe that Congressional Republicans are sabotaging the economy in order to make Obama look bad. This number includes 25% of Republicans.

Friday night’s clip on the jobs report was pretty good as well.

Nuclear Power Explained

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

With all this talk of meltdowns, fuel rods and nuclear chain reactions, this is the best explanation I have seen of what is going on. Even better eleboration on spent fuel rods the next night.

What The Wisconsin Fight Is About

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

Wanted to post this previously, but I didn’t have the time. Now that it’s passed, I feel it’s even more important that this part of the story gets told.

This fight isn’t just about the unions. It’s about how politics are funded in the country. You couldn’t come up with a better way to destroy the ability of working class people in America to be represented than to have a Supreme Court packed with Republican judicial activists open the doors to unlimited, unregulated corporate political donations and then allow Republican politicians to systematically dismantle public unions state by state, using public employees as scapegoats for their budget crises.

If anyone thought this sounded a little like Glenn Beck on the paranoia scale, Wisconsin Senate Majority Laeader Scott Fitzgerald basically confirmed it, saying last week, “if we win this battle, and the money is not there under the auspices of the unions, certainly what you’re going to find is President Obama is going to have a much difficult, much more difficult time getting elected and winning the state of Wisconsin.”

What to Expect from Lawrence O’ Donnell

Monday, January 24th, 2011

As noted below, Keith Olbermann is out at MSNBC and his time slot will now be taken by Lawrence O’ Donnell.

Here’s an interesting clip which gives you an idea about how he might be as a host.

In this discussion with Glenn Greenwald from Salon.com, O’Donnell proclaims that he is “a socialist” but that he brings practical experience to every political issue and understands that the only way for liberals to exercise any power in the system we have is to get votes from the broad middle. It’s an interesting dichotomy for the Democrats (as well as for Republicans): on the one hand, you need the moderates to maintain power, but on the other, needing someone like Lieberman or Ben Nelson inherently indicates that the policy is going to be significantly watered down once it’s passed.

More on this idea later, but the point I was making here is to illustrate the combination of left wing politics and pragmatic knowledge of how the system works that O’ Donnell will bring to the table.

Keith Olbermann Out at MSNBC

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Keith Olbermann is out at MSNBC.

The details on why are still sketchy and promise to remain so for the next few months since Olbermann has most likely signed a confidentiality agreement that (among other things) may prohibit him from discussing his dismissal for a number of months.

Details are here, and the clip of his final show is below.


I Tivo’ed Olbermann’s show almost every night for the past few years since it was the closest thing that MSNBC has to a nightly news show, but I have to say that he was increasingly hard to listen to. I am a total partisan, and Olbermann’s show was always a good way to see what outrageous things the Republicans had said on any given day, but sometimes the constant vitriolic attacks just wear on you.

He had an unlikely career path, bouncing around from sports journalism on ESPN and other networks to jobs as news anchor and commentator for MSNBC and NBC News. In 2007, while he was hosting countdown on the weekdays, he was hired to be an anchor for NBC’s Football Night in America along with another ESPN alum Dan Patrick. I was always amused watching him on NBC, knowing that just days before, he was on MSNBC savaging the President of the United States for one thing or another. I wondered how long NBC would let this go on. This year, he was cut from the show. Unclear whether his politics played a part in the decision, but it couldn’t have helped.

One thing that is clear is that MSNBC will be different without him. Olbermann was very much in the mold of the Fox News pundits that he loudly raged against every night: bombastic, angry and consistently stoking the fires of partisanship. The guests that he had on almost always agreed with him and he seemed to avoid having people on that he could argue with.

His replacement, Laurence O’ Donnell, is also a partisan, but although he has a fiery Irish temper, he has much experience working with people from all sides of the aisle and will be able to point to the same contrasts with the Republicans, while not being as bombastic as Olbermann was.

In the meantime, fare thee well Keith, we look forward to the next chapter in an already noteworthy career.

Go Get ‘Em Rachel!!

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

Rachel Maddow fillets Bill O’ Reilly on Thursday’s program.

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This is the combination of intellect and guts that would have been nice to see out of the White House last week.

O’Reilly makes the “our ratings are higher than yours” argument fairly regularly and I have heard it parrotted from more than one conservative.

Pretty amazing. It’s like the fact that they regularly don’t tell the truth to their viewers must be okay because more people are watching.  How does that joke go? “We might be taking a loss on each transaction, but we make it up in volume”…

Maddow points out that O’Reilly’s statement about the ratings wasn’t really about the ratings at all:

You were trying to take the attention off of me saying that Fox News continually crusades on flagrantly bogus stories designed to make white Americans fear black Americans (which Fox News most certainly does for political purposes), even if it upends the lives of people like Shirley Sherrod, even as it frays the fabric of the nation, even as it makes the American dream more of a dream and less of a promise.

 But even if no one watches us at all…You are still wrong on what matters, and that would be the facts.