Joe Arena on Obama, Boehner, and the Librul Media

Saw an odd Tweet Monday morning from WIVB (Channel 4) anchor Joe Arena: 

It’s a news anchor (whose Twitter profile reads, “News 4 Morning Anchor. Part time Winging It Buffalo Style host and an all around heck of a guy! Buffalo · http://www.wivb.com“) yukking it up with conservative TV talk-show host Stefan Mychajliw over some “typical Barry” (meaning President Barack Obama) behavior, linking to a story in the Washington Post

That story in the Washington Post amounts to a facile summarization of an interview that CNN’s Candy Crowley conducted with Republican House Speaker John Boehner. Apparently, Boehner claims to have a great relationship with the President (whom his caucus has gone out of its way to obstruct almost always), and that the current battle over the imminent doubling of student loan interest rates is made up. 

But as is typical in Beltway journalism – and is missed here by the morning anchor on Channel 4 – there’s a critical follow-up missing. If you read the transcript of the interview, Boehner says this: 

Democrats and Republicans for months have been working together to try to figure out a way to resolve the problem. And for the president to politicize this for his own re-election is picking a fight where one doesn’t exist.

The next words out of a quality interviewer’s mouth should be: how can you say a fight “doesn’t exist” when you yourself just said that the two sides have been working “for months” to try and resolve this particular issue? Crowley doesn’t ask it, Boehner doesn’t offer it, and here we have Joe Arena commiserating with Stefan Mychajliw about “typical Barry”. 

Yes, typical Barry, pointing out that the Republicans are obstructing something to score political points against Obamacare. 

But most “journalists” who maintain Twitter accounts that are linked to their employment as journalists go out of their way to avoid controversial political opinions. No one knows if Ginger Geoffrey, Aaron Besecker, Nalina Shapiro, or John Borsa is a Republican or a Democrat. No one knows what any of them thinks about “Barry” and his typicality. 

Not to be outdone, Arena then Tweeted, 

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/joearena4/status/196946917882724353″]

Linking to this story, at the ultra-conservative “Newsbusters” site, run by the execrable “Media Research Council”, whose stated mission is, “Exposing and Combating Liberal Media Bias”.  The story is about a speech that anti-bullying activist Dan Savage gave, where he essentially said, (as “Newsbusters” writes,) 

…he said there are people using the Bible as an excuse for gay bullying, because it says in Leviticus and Romans that being gay is wrong. Right after that, he said we can ignore all the ‘B.S.’ in the Bible.

The shock-horror is that Savage actually used the phrase “bullshit”; as if high schoolers have never heard that term. But the more salient point is that Savage is objectively correct. Not only do conservatives and their Christianist allies rely heavily on certain cherry-picked passages in the Bible to morally justify their homophobia and hatred, but Savage is also absolutely right that we can “ignore” it. 

Why? 

Because the Bible says that homosexuality is an abomination. You know what else the Bible says are abominations

  • haughty eyes
  • liars
  • unequal weights & measures
  • a woman wearing her boyfriend’s jeans or shirt
  • arrogant people
  • incense
  • adultery

You k now what the Bible says is perfectly hunky dory? 

  • Slavery (Exodus 21:2-6)
  • Sex Slavery  (Exodus 21:7-11)
  • Beating your slaves (Exodus 21:20-21)
  • Rape (Deuteronomy 22:28-29)
  • Murdering a rape victim (Deuteronomy 22:23-24)

You can believe whatever you want. I don’t really care. You can think whatever you want. I don’t really care. But if you’re a journalist and you’re using a Twitter account that identifies you as being an anchor for a straight news program, you should probably Tweet your opinions about “Barry” and that durned librul media on a separate account. 

As to Arena using a Channel 4-branded account to provide political commentary on national issues, I sent an email to WIVB News Director Joe Schlaerth this morning, noting that this post would be published after 5pm.  I received no reply. 

Credit Where Credit is Due

Thomas E. Mann is a Senior Fellow of Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. Norman J. Ornstein is a Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. They co-authored an editorial piece for the Washington Post drawing on their 40-some years of experience observing and studying the way Washington works.

Basically, it’s now safe to dispense with “both sides do it” as an excuse

In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.

“Both sides do it” or “There is plenty of blame to go around” are the traditional refuges for an American news media intent on proving its lack of bias, while political scientists prefer generality and neutrality when discussing partisan polarization. Many self-styled bipartisan groups, in their search for common ground, propose solutions that move both sides to the center, a strategy that is simply untenable when one side is so far out of reach.

The authors trace this shift to a few events since the early 70s, but lay most of the blame on Grover Norquist and Newt Gingrich – two horrible people who behave horribly.  During his congressional tenure, Gingrich helped radicalize the GOP and effectively criminalize the notion of legislative compromise.  Likewise, Norquist’s idiotic pledges – the signing of which has become de rigeur for Republican congressional candidates – prohibits bipartisanship and compromise, and has served to marginalize any semblance of a “moderate” Republican Party. 

Today, thanks to the GOP, compromise has gone out the window in Washington. In the first two years of the Obama administration, nearly every presidential initiative met with vehement, rancorous and unanimous Republican opposition in the House and the Senate, followed by efforts to delegitimize the results and repeal the policies. The filibuster, once relegated to a handful of major national issues in a given Congress, became a routine weapon of obstruction, applied even to widely supported bills or presidential nominations. And Republicans in the Senate have abused the confirmation process to block any and every nominee to posts such as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, solely to keep laws that were legitimately enacted from being implemented.

In the third and now fourth years of the Obama presidency, divided government has produced something closer to complete gridlock than we have ever seen in our time in Washington, with partisan divides even leading last year to America’s first credit downgrade.

On financial stabilization and economic recovery, on deficits and debt, on climate change and health-care reform, Republicans have been the force behind the widening ideological gaps and the strategic use of partisanship. In the presidential campaign and in Congress, GOP leaders have embraced fanciful policies on taxes and spending, kowtowing to their party’s most strident voices.

We joke here a lot about how the radicalization of the GOP became particularly acute when the country rather convincingly elected its first Black president in the midst of an epic global economic meltdown in late 2008. The hatred and Obamaphobia was so acute that the reaction ranged from Republican members of Congress voting against their own bills and resolutions in order to prevent Obama-success optics, to questions of Obama’s legitimacy because of his atypical background. 

Unlike Republicans, “independents” and Democrats largely prefer compromise to gridlock. And if you’re about to invoke the way Democrats in Congress behaved under George W. Bush, consider: 

Democrats were not exactly warm and fuzzy toward George W. Bush during his presidency. But recall that they worked hand in glove with the Republican president on the No Child Left Behind Act, provided crucial votes in the Senate for his tax cuts, joined with Republicans for all the steps taken after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and supplied the key votes for the Bush administration’s financial bailout at the height of the economic crisis in 2008. The difference is striking.

Striking indeed.

Because it’s unlikely that the Republicans will soon return to mainstream American politics from what a former veteran GOP staffer called an “authoritarian” “apocalyptic cult” , the authors make a recommendation to the press. Stop uncritically transcribing he said/she said accusations from both sides in an effort to maintain some sort of “objectivity” – tell people who’s telling the truth, and whose positions are particularly damaging to the country. 

Certainly part of the contemporary Republican ethos is to simply say “no” when Obama or the Democrats say, “please”. But if there’s any ideology at play, it is a somewhat epic societal cleave. 

However, maybe 5 years ago, that cleave was between, e.g., expansion of social programs vs. maintaining or minimally, incrementally improving the status quo. Now? The cleave is far starker, as Republicans eschew the status quo and advocate for a return to pre-Depression-era policies and a nihilist abolition of social programs. While the country should be continuing the conversation we essentially ended in 1964 over expanding Medicare to all, we’re arguing over whether we should privatize and voucherize Medicare, and turning Social Security into a big Fidelity account. 

This crisis will eventually right itself, but it’ll take something pretty epic to defeat the destructionists. 

Collins' Rebranding

Small businessman? Barack Obama? What an incredible lack of self-awareness. This is going to be AWESOME. 

Collins’ Rebranding

Small businessman? Barack Obama? What an incredible lack of self-awareness. This is going to be AWESOME. 

Retirement

 

Courtesy Marquil at EmpireWire.com, the newest editorial cartoonist for Newsday‘s Hudson Valley sites.

Romney v. Ledbetter

From a Romney campaign conference call a few weeks ago

The Lilly Ledbetter Act was the first bill President Obama signed into law in 2009. It legislatively reversed a Supreme Court decision, to make it easier for women to sue an employer when pay discrimination is suspected. While Romney eventually said he wouldn’t repeal it, he also won’t say whether he’d have signed the act.  

It sometimes seems as if the Romney campaign is unprepared to be distracted from its reactionary “tax breaks for millionaires”-heavy “platform”. 

Conservative "Humor"

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/MonicaCrowley/status/195558620920954880″]

Monica Crowley is a Fox News “analyst”, whatever that means.

Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke testified to Congress some weeks ago about the importance and cost of contraceptive coverage for women in insurance plans. Not just for contraceptive uses, but also for medical uses involving, e.g., ovarian cysts. Because Fluke stood up for herself, for women, for her beliefs, she has been the target of a blistering, hateful series of attacks from such conservative philosophers as Rush Limbaugh

Yesterday, news broke that Fluke had become engaged to be married.  If you Google the exact term Crowley used in her Tweet, the Daily Beast article using that headline reveals that Fluke is engaged to her longtime boyfriend

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/humanadverb/status/195568558628020224″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/MonicaCrowley/status/195569989875531776″]

Ah,  but she was insinuating something.  As I pointed out above, the articles announcing Fluke’s engagement noted to whom she was to be married.  On top of that, it’s an old stereotype that feminist women who, for instance, don’t share the Nordic looks of most females on Fox News must all be lesbians. “Feminazis”, I think Limbaugh calls them.

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/MonicaCrowley/status/195565385901293568″]

Wait – first Crowley pleads seriousness – she claims it was a “straightforward question” to which she had received “no answer yet”. But now it was humor? What, exactly was the joke? 

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/WhoMD/status/195587821237579778″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/MonicaCrowley/status/195589182385700864″]

Yes, shock horror – who would think that a Fox News “analyst” who made a homophobic quip against a heterosexual woman who was just engaged to be married would have a problem with lesbianism? 

To her credit, Fluke responded thusly

“I’m not going to let this kind of thing get to me personally,” Fluke said during an appearance on MSNBC’s “The Ed Show.” “What really bothers me about it [is] the blatant homophobia in the comment, and the idea that that is an acceptable thing to say publicly.”

“I don’t want an apology from anyone personally,” Fluke said. “I think it is possible she owes an apology to the LGBTQ community, because I am not offended to be asked whether or not I’m with a woman. It’s not offensive to me to be gay, but it was clearly meant as an insult.”

Conservatism has been reduced to this. It isn’t about proposing policy solutions to economic, social, and international problems – it’s just about hatred and prejudice. You see it in the Trayvon Martin case. You see it in the way in which conservatives argue about Obama’s policies. You see it in the way they treat anyone who dares to move the country’s policies and consciousness into the 21st century. 

Mitt Romney is likely to lose in November, and when he does, the clamor from the right wing of the Republican Party is going to be deafening. They’re going to double down on the notion that Romney wasn’t conservative enough, and next time they’ll probably convince themselves to nominate someone like Santorum – or worse.

Then that person will be defeated worse than Romney. Because general election voters aren’t going to buy in to whatever a Santorum type is selling. Calling Sandra Fluke a whore may play great with the reactionary types who self-identify as tea partiers, but it doesn’t go over well with middle-of-the-road casual voters. 

It’ll be at least a few more election cycles before Republicans start to look at less insane candidates for office. It took Democrats Carter, Mondale, and Dukakis before they settled on Clinton, and then we had to go through Kerry before we settled on someone new and inspiring. 

In the meantime, let’s make fun of the strong woman with a short haircut, and call her a “lesbian”. 

I don’t get the joke. 

Conservative “Humor”

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/MonicaCrowley/status/195558620920954880″]

Monica Crowley is a Fox News “analyst”, whatever that means.

Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke testified to Congress some weeks ago about the importance and cost of contraceptive coverage for women in insurance plans. Not just for contraceptive uses, but also for medical uses involving, e.g., ovarian cysts. Because Fluke stood up for herself, for women, for her beliefs, she has been the target of a blistering, hateful series of attacks from such conservative philosophers as Rush Limbaugh

Yesterday, news broke that Fluke had become engaged to be married.  If you Google the exact term Crowley used in her Tweet, the Daily Beast article using that headline reveals that Fluke is engaged to her longtime boyfriend

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/humanadverb/status/195568558628020224″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/MonicaCrowley/status/195569989875531776″]

Ah,  but she was insinuating something.  As I pointed out above, the articles announcing Fluke’s engagement noted to whom she was to be married.  On top of that, it’s an old stereotype that feminist women who, for instance, don’t share the Nordic looks of most females on Fox News must all be lesbians. “Feminazis”, I think Limbaugh calls them.

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/MonicaCrowley/status/195565385901293568″]

Wait – first Crowley pleads seriousness – she claims it was a “straightforward question” to which she had received “no answer yet”. But now it was humor? What, exactly was the joke? 

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/WhoMD/status/195587821237579778″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/MonicaCrowley/status/195589182385700864″]

Yes, shock horror – who would think that a Fox News “analyst” who made a homophobic quip against a heterosexual woman who was just engaged to be married would have a problem with lesbianism? 

To her credit, Fluke responded thusly

“I’m not going to let this kind of thing get to me personally,” Fluke said during an appearance on MSNBC’s “The Ed Show.” “What really bothers me about it [is] the blatant homophobia in the comment, and the idea that that is an acceptable thing to say publicly.”

“I don’t want an apology from anyone personally,” Fluke said. “I think it is possible she owes an apology to the LGBTQ community, because I am not offended to be asked whether or not I’m with a woman. It’s not offensive to me to be gay, but it was clearly meant as an insult.”

Conservatism has been reduced to this. It isn’t about proposing policy solutions to economic, social, and international problems – it’s just about hatred and prejudice. You see it in the Trayvon Martin case. You see it in the way in which conservatives argue about Obama’s policies. You see it in the way they treat anyone who dares to move the country’s policies and consciousness into the 21st century. 

Mitt Romney is likely to lose in November, and when he does, the clamor from the right wing of the Republican Party is going to be deafening. They’re going to double down on the notion that Romney wasn’t conservative enough, and next time they’ll probably convince themselves to nominate someone like Santorum – or worse.

Then that person will be defeated worse than Romney. Because general election voters aren’t going to buy in to whatever a Santorum type is selling. Calling Sandra Fluke a whore may play great with the reactionary types who self-identify as tea partiers, but it doesn’t go over well with middle-of-the-road casual voters. 

It’ll be at least a few more election cycles before Republicans start to look at less insane candidates for office. It took Democrats Carter, Mondale, and Dukakis before they settled on Clinton, and then we had to go through Kerry before we settled on someone new and inspiring. 

In the meantime, let’s make fun of the strong woman with a short haircut, and call her a “lesbian”. 

I don’t get the joke. 

What Romney Considers to be "Better"

Mitt Romney - The Shake-N-Fake Candidate

By Flickr User DonkeyHotey

1. After sweeping the Tuesday once known as “super”, and effectively all-but-securing the Republican nomination for President, Mitt Romney took out his Etch-a-Sketch and made his first attempt to erase Mitt Romney as “Severe Conservative” and create Mitt Romney as “Paternal anti-Socialist Optimist.” His campaign theme, which until Tuesday had been, “I am just as insane a right-winger as Santorum, and just as unscrupulous a corrupt Washington insider as Gingrich” switched to “A Better America”. 

Aside from being a rip-off of the prospective hopefulness of the Obama 2008 campaign, imagine the right-wing response had Obama selected that phrase for his slogan. “Better?! N0bama thinks America is no good!” and other disingenuous cries echoing jingoistic American exceptionalism.

After all, no other post-industrial market economy with a pluralistic representative democracy exports jobs, votes against their own interests, coddles millionaires, and becomes bogged down in Asian quagmires like the United States of America. 

Romney has barely uttered a word about what he’d do as President – not publicly, anyway. Suffice it to say that a guy who’s never been in the middle class has absolutely no idea how to fix the problems ailing America’s middle class, nor does he likely care. The middle class don’t cut massive checks to friendly SuperPACs or max out to the Romney campaign.

So, now that it’s already been revealed that the Romney plan is going to be a rehash of the policies of George W. Bush, here’s the shorter version of the Romney campaign and how it intends to bring about a “better America”: 

a. A war in Asia with numerous anticipated but unplanned-for complications, and subsequent occupation; 

b. Tax cuts for millionaires; 

c. A renewed effort to voucherize or expressly privatize Social Security and Medicare; and

d. Revocation of Obamacare, which would return us to the days of lifetime maximums, denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions, revocation of policies to cover kids up to age 26 on their parents’ plans, and continuation of the fiscal nightmare whereby the uninsured routinely go bankrupt in the face of medical bills, and government foots the bill for primary-care-by-emergency room. 

Romney’s support among the Republican faithful is a mile wide and 1/16th of an inch deep. The only motivator that will get true believers out will be a hatred of Obama. 

2. Apparently, Carl Paladino did for Newt Gingrich in New York in 2012 what Carl Paladino did for Carl Paladino in New York in 2010. 

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What Romney Considers to be “Better”

Mitt Romney - The Shake-N-Fake Candidate

By Flickr User DonkeyHotey

1. After sweeping the Tuesday once known as “super”, and effectively all-but-securing the Republican nomination for President, Mitt Romney took out his Etch-a-Sketch and made his first attempt to erase Mitt Romney as “Severe Conservative” and create Mitt Romney as “Paternal anti-Socialist Optimist.” His campaign theme, which until Tuesday had been, “I am just as insane a right-winger as Santorum, and just as unscrupulous a corrupt Washington insider as Gingrich” switched to “A Better America”. 

Aside from being a rip-off of the prospective hopefulness of the Obama 2008 campaign, imagine the right-wing response had Obama selected that phrase for his slogan. “Better?! N0bama thinks America is no good!” and other disingenuous cries echoing jingoistic American exceptionalism.

After all, no other post-industrial market economy with a pluralistic representative democracy exports jobs, votes against their own interests, coddles millionaires, and becomes bogged down in Asian quagmires like the United States of America. 

Romney has barely uttered a word about what he’d do as President – not publicly, anyway. Suffice it to say that a guy who’s never been in the middle class has absolutely no idea how to fix the problems ailing America’s middle class, nor does he likely care. The middle class don’t cut massive checks to friendly SuperPACs or max out to the Romney campaign.

So, now that it’s already been revealed that the Romney plan is going to be a rehash of the policies of George W. Bush, here’s the shorter version of the Romney campaign and how it intends to bring about a “better America”: 

a. A war in Asia with numerous anticipated but unplanned-for complications, and subsequent occupation; 

b. Tax cuts for millionaires; 

c. A renewed effort to voucherize or expressly privatize Social Security and Medicare; and

d. Revocation of Obamacare, which would return us to the days of lifetime maximums, denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions, revocation of policies to cover kids up to age 26 on their parents’ plans, and continuation of the fiscal nightmare whereby the uninsured routinely go bankrupt in the face of medical bills, and government foots the bill for primary-care-by-emergency room. 

Romney’s support among the Republican faithful is a mile wide and 1/16th of an inch deep. The only motivator that will get true believers out will be a hatred of Obama. 

2. Apparently, Carl Paladino did for Newt Gingrich in New York in 2012 what Carl Paladino did for Carl Paladino in New York in 2010. 

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640

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