Posts Tagged ‘Rachel Maddow’

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.

From the Party of Small Government

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

This is a little dated,  but important. This week, the watered down ultrasound bill in Virginia passed. In what apparently passes as a concession, it no longer includes a provision that a woman in early stages of pregnancy will be forced to be penetrated against her will for an unnecessary ultrasound, but it still requires her to submit to an unnecessary (though slightly less invasive) procedure.

As the New York times noted, the bill 

would require the ultrasound screen to face the woman while the doctor narrates the images, although the law states that it should not be ‘construed to prevent a pregnant woman from averting her eyes,’

which is nice, since they could have opted for the whole Clockwork Orange eye clamp mandate…

This outrageous violation may be constitutionally permitted through an exemption of the Roe v Wade decision that was authored by Justice Kennedy in 2007. The idea is that the state has an interest in educating women about their decision to terminate a pregnancy. But let’s be real. Any woman who faces the decision about whether to have an abortion or bring an unwanted baby into the world is all too aware that there is a potential life inside of her. She doesn’t need to see pictures of what is happening in her womb or hear the beat of a little heart to understand the gravity of the decision.

This is more like torture than education and it’s the worst example of paternalism that I can think of. When you hear Republicans who are always complaining about the “nanny state,” or when you hear Ron Paul make speeches about “liberty” and “freedom,” think about this law that forces women to have unnecessary medical procedures in order to educate them about what is going on in their own body. That’s the nanny state.

Despite the passage of this law, liberals can take some consolation that their advocacy and ridicule did prevent the enactment of the most egregious version of the law and that people all over the country are now aware of the radical right agenda of the Tea Party Class of 2010. Also, this movement has basically ended Virginia Governor Bob McDonald’s Vice Presidential lobbying campaign.

A nice consolation prize, but I’ll take freedom over comeuppance any day.

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.

Obama and OWS Shift the Debate

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

 occupiers in New York

A few weeks ago, Steve Benen wrote about how that Obama’s push for the Jobs Bill had shifted the terms of debate in this country onto a more favorable playing field for Obama and the Democrats:

For the better part of 2011, the battle lines were drawn in a way that Republicans loved. The only topics of conversation that were permitted dealt with debt reduction, entitlement “reforms,” spending cuts, and austerity. The question wasn’t whether Washington would impose pain on an already-suffering populace, but how much…

The discourse is now a very different place, because the White House had the sense to take a conversational detour. Thanks in part to a concerted p.r. campaign from President Obama, and with some pushes from Occupy Wall Street, the topics that now dominate are about job creation, financial industry responsibility, and tax fairness.

Rachel Maddow provided more evidence of this last week, when she used the simple measurement of how many times the mainstream media brought up the phrase “corporate greed” before Occupy Wall Street and after Occupy Wall Street. The results are dramatic. As Maddow noted, while much of the focus on Occupy Wall Street has been on the lack of answers the movement is providing, Occupy Wall Street has done something more fundamental: it has changed the questions that are being asked.

As I’ve said before, the top issue for the country is the same issue that it’s been for the past 4 years: jobs, jobs, jobs. For the majority of Americans, it was never about ”Obamacare” and it was never about the deficit. These are important issues, but they are not the core issues for most Americans. They were distractions from the jobs crisis that is plauging the entire country, and even more, they were distractions from the issues that predate the jobs crisis: the ongoing erosion of the middle class.

A recent study of income trends by the Congressional Budget Office showed that, in the past 40 years, incomes increased for the top 1% by over 275% on average as compared to a an 18% increase for the bottom 20% and just under 40% for the middle of the income scale. To many Americans, this will just confirm what they already know: the middle class continues to struggle as the rich get richer.

What looks to be a long term presence of the Occupy Wall Street movement guarantees that these issues will continue to be covered in the news. This is good news for Democrats. To be sure, Democrats have been part of the problem when it comes to regulating big business in America. Even with a 60 vote majority in the Senate, they still didn’t have the votes for a Wall Street reform bill with any teeth. But there’s a difference between being a part of the problem and being a wholly owned subsidiary of the large corporations and top 1% of earners.

As Jonathan Alter notes:

a healthy rebalancing of the national conversation is…under way. The Tea Party directed public anger against the federal government in general and President Barack Obama in particular; Occupy Wall Street directs that ire against Wall Street in general and — inevitably — Romney in particular.

This will have no effect on Romney in the Republican primaries, of course, but in a general election it could make him the poster boy of the big banks that many see as the cause of their woes. The specifics of his record running Bain Capital LLC will be subsumed in the image of his rationalizing the actions (resisting any tax increases) of the “1 percenters.”

But an even more important than the highlighting the consequences of Republican laissez-faire economic policies would be for Occupy Wall Street to put some steel in Obama and the Democrats’ spines and convince them that there is broad support for common sense regulations on big business and other policies that shore up the middle class.

Time will tell, but the events of the past few weeks offer some hope.

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.”

It Happens Almost Every Year, We Are Always Surprised

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

A little hard to watch, but worth the time.

This is a uniquely American phenomenon we are watching here. Unclear if we have more nuts, or if we just have more guns, or if we are leading the world in both, but we’re gonna have to get used to this. The 2nd Amendment is entrenched in our political system and it’s interpretation by politicians and many people leans toward a belief that not only is thare a guarantee of the right to bear arms, but any attempt to regulate that use in any way is  illegitimate.

This last Congress had more Dmocrats than any Congress since the 70′s  and it was also the most pro gun in recent memory. The NRA fights agains even the most rational of restrictions and they strike fear into many a legislator at all levels of government…and even if there were to be some rational restrictions on gun use, we are already the most armed country in the world. Hard to see how even capping the number of guns in America at 270,000,000 would make us any less vulnerable to this repeating pattern of senseless mass killings.

No, we are going to have to get used to this, because it’s built into the system and built into the culture.

We’re number one! (at least when it comes to guns and gun violence)

The Rich Get Richer, The Poor Get Poorer

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

There’s some astounding stats here.

If you want to skip the whole “Republicans want to give permanent tax cuts to the rich without paying for them, but cry poor about extending unemployment to people out of work” argument, just skip to minute 6.

So much for trickle down economics.

Amazing that Democrats don’t talk about this more.

Revisiting the Democrats’ Record

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Here’s Rachel Maddow on the accomplishments of the Democrats in the past two years.

It may be cold comfort at this point, but Americans will be seeing the benefits of the legislation of the past two years for a long time.

Maddow points out how Nancy Pelosi and Congressional Democrats decided to use the political capital that they built up over the two election cycles. Equal pay for women,  a children’s health care expansion, ending subsidies to corporate banks for college loans, a major national service program expansion, the largest investments in energy and education in the country’s history, health care for 30 million more Americans, regulation (however tepid) of the banks to mitigate the possibility of another financial crisis, significant increases in assistance for veterans… I’m sure I missed something.

There will be significant debate about this for years. Would it have been better to go for incremental change and try to hold on to power for another election cycle? Maybe. Was it not the effort and the goals, but the specific deals that were cut that decreased the popularity of the legislation?  Yes, I think so.

But one thing is certain: you can criticise Nancy Pelosi for a lot of things, but it’s hard to say that she’s been ineffective as a Speaker of the House when it comes to getting things done. In two years, the conservatives’ unholy triumvirate of Obama, Pelosi and Reid accomplished more than most teams accomplish in two presidential terms.

Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that they got all of this done despite the fact that the Republican party as a whole decided that they would rather see the three of them fail than to resolve the issues that have been plaguing us as a country for years.

Remembering the Fall of Baghdad

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

Great Rachel Maddow interview with Richard Engel about the day the Saddam statue came down.

Memory lane. We can remember how the war was sold to us as we hear about the soldiers who put the 9-11 American flag on Saddam’s head. We can see the foreshadowing of the future as the Shiites who helped tear down the statue shouted “Mohammed Sadek Al-Sadr,” the name of Moktada Sadr’s father, as the statue was being torn down.

We watched from home, thinking we knew what was going on. We had no idea what we were getting into.

Also, check here, to hear Engel talk about about living in Iraq during wartime. Total badass.