Category Archives: media

Media boost

Here we go again.

Death panels. As if it weren’t odious enough the first time around, now we have to go through it again. Obama wants death panels.

My colleagues love this one. It’s just so sexy. Brings up such strong emotion. Nobody wants the government telling grandma she has to die.

Except, of course, that isn’t gonna happen.

The new health care law — the one the Republicans and Blue Dogs gutted to the point that it will be largely ineffective and easy to declare failed when it comes time to blame Obama for everything again — was supposed to have reimbursed doctors for having end-of-life counseling with patients, should they actually have the talks because it was completely voluntary. That means they talk about things like living wills and powers of attorney, hospice care — all those things that we really oughta talk about before it’s too late and that crazy nephew who believes the soul can’t pass on to the next world until the body has had all its blood drained and replaced by dishwashing detergent is making all the decisions for us.

But it got twisted into “death panels” by Sarah Palin, et al, who declared that the administration intended to have faceless bureaucrats decide who lives and who dies and when and how, which is exactly what insurance companies do now.

Interesting, isn’t it, that the Republicans managed to convince a bunch of clearly unknowledgeable Americans that the health care bill was going to do precisely what is already being done by insurance companies instead of what it would actually do, which is to help the elderly make sure that their wishes for the end of their lives are followed. Totally amazing.

Some new regulations involving Medicare recipients, however, have gotten the whole thing rolling again.

I take that back. My clearly bored colleagues are doing their dead-level best to gin up that can of worms again.

See, nobody noticed when the new regulations went up a  month ago. The new regs said that the annual wellness reviews Medicare recipients get could include end-of-life counseling. It’s still voluntary.

Then the New York Times, just a week ago, ran a story about it, pretending it was all brand new and unheard of and that the administration was trying an end-around to get its “death panels” in place by regulation instead of law.

Except there already was a regulation on the books allowing end-of-life counseling as part of the “Welcome to Medicare” new Medicare patients get. That regulation was enacted in 2008. Under GW Bush.

But not to worry. Once the New York Times does something, all the cablers have to do it to death, no pun intended. And so they have, bringing on the traditional one guest in favor and one opposed to talk about what they invariably labeled “death panels” — often without the quotes. DEATH PANELS RESURRECTED, blared CNN, while Faux News trumpeted the RETURN OF DEATH PANELS and ‘DEATH PANEL’ DECEPTION (that last one, at least, with quotes).

Never mind that PolitiFact named Palin’s “death panels” the “Lie of the Year” for 2009.

It remains to be seen just how rabid the TeaPublicans will be over it this time around. They should be foaming at the mouth, just like they were in 2009. But since their masters apparently missed it, they’re a little behind. But I’ve no doubt that my beloved colleagues will push the issue until they get the anger and outrage at absolutely nothing they so desperately want.

See, end-of-life counseling is something you can do just about anytime. Have you done a will? Then you’ve had some form of end-of-life counseling. It’s just preparation. And here I thought that was a good idea, being prepared.

But then, I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised at what my friends in the media do with this kind of thing. They fucked it all up in 2009. Why would they get it right now?

Besides, they’re too busy pushing the “everybody hates the individual mandate” meme right now. And while they’re doing it, they’re missing a few very important pieces of information about why that is important.

  • The purpose of the mandate is to prevent people from waiting until they are diagnosed with cancer or are hit by a bus before they buy insurance since the insurance companies are now barred from refusing to insure folks because of pre-existing conditions.
  • Of course, it doesn’t really do that because those who don’t buy the insurance are slapped with an almost insignificant fine and can still buy insurance the day that bus mows them down, thanks, again, thanks to the Republicans and Blue Dogs who are most adept at watering down things that could do some good if only they were left alone.
  • The mandate significantly cuts the number of uninsured people.
  • If the insurance would cost more than 8 percent of someone’s income, they’re exempt.

And all of this would make much more sense if Republicans and Blue Dogs hadn’t nixed the public option, which, despite Republican lies to the contrary, is not government funded health care or a government takeover of health care. It’s paid for just the same way insurance is paid for now — by the insureds, who would pay a lower amount because the government isn’t in business to rack up billions for executives or stockholders, which, of course, is why the public option wasn’t allowed to live.

Ah, but why have a reasonable, truthful discussion about anything when it’s so much more fun to use fear-mongering hyperbole and outright lies? It’s a wonder I can even hold a steady job in this industry.

Sources

I have spent the weekend in the belly of the beast, in one of the reddest of red states, with two of the reddest of red voters.

My parents.

It wasn’t always like this. The place where I come from is small, rural. I can barely bring myself to call the nearest town a city, although technically it is. “Urban,” however, it is not. But this place, while not particularly welcoming of Things and People Different, was always tolerant. Even if you’re not from around here, if you carry your weight, you’re OK. We’ll still look at you funny, and eventually, we may even come to like you. But you’re not One of Us. Sorry ’bout that.

Can’t say as I blame ‘em much though. Outsiders tended to be, oh, I don’t know, people like mine owners out to steal their land and then send ‘em into death traps that, if they didn’t kill them quickly in a mine collapse, killed them later of disease.

My parents were the same. And I lucked out in one regard. The one source of true intolerance in our isolated and very rural area – religion – was largely absent from my country home, ironically because of its intolerance. My parents came from different “One True Way” Christian denominations, and they canceled each other out. Their respective churches rejected them for marrying outsiders. Without the hellfire and brimstone every Sunday, I had very little religiosity to fight against as I grew older.

I did attend every Vacation Bible School known to man, but they generally keep the hellstone and brimfire out of VBS, lest they frighten the little children, many of whom are not members of the church. They reserve the fearmongering for their members.

But everything’s different now. Everyone’s fearful, everyone’s intolerant, and now they’re even less welcoming than they were a half century ago, if that’s at all possible.

And strangely enough, everyone is very, very angry, at pretty much everything and everybody.

I spent the first half hour of my visit listening to the parental units angrily complain about the drugstore, the doctor’s office, the company that provides my mother’s scooter chair and the cell phone company. All of them were incompetent and had no idea how to do their jobs. The cell phone company, an international firm to begin with, took extra hits for having someone with an accent answer the phone.

The rest sounded more like impatience on my parents’ parts than actual incompetence. The drugstore hadn’t filled my mother’s prescription, which was apparently because the doctor’s office had yet to call it in. My parents appeared not to understand that doctor’s offices typically have a set-aside time of day, near the end, to call in prescriptions lest they spend their entire days stopping whatever they’re doing to call in the latest prescription demanded by impatient and non-understanding people. I’m not as certain about the scooter chair people, but knowing my mother’s penchant for not following up on phone calls, not always understanding instructions and such, I suspect she never made herself clear to begin with.

My sister, the purported Democrat, has the answer to that, though. The company is going to “fool around” until after the first of the year, she says, and then Medicare is going to change and won’t pay for it. I don’t know if that’s true, although I suspect she meant Medicaid, and since the Republicans have done their best to screw the states out of money they need to actually help people, she could be right.

Later, I’m out with my dad when an ambulance blows by, sirens blaring and lights flashing, followed  by a police car pulling out of a nearby parking lot. My dad complains that “they” (meaning the cop) all “have to go when anything happens.” I try to explain about dispatchers, but give up. There is an accident just up the road. We can see it, and it has slowed traffic as we all have to move into the left lane to get by. I say to my dad that when there’s an accident, they often need extra officers on hand to do things like direct traffic. He scoffs. “They don’t do that around here,” he says.

As we near the accident, I point out a police officer directing traffic (there are actually two). “Must be a fireman,” he says. Then, as we move into the other lane and pass a police car on the right, he complains because the cop has blocked the whole lane, apparently unable to see the two mangled vehicles in the lane in front of the police car.

It’s almost too much. Although my parents and I generally avoid political discussions, we’ve had enough for me to know that the only other time they let out this much anger (aside from the abuse I endured at the hands of my mother, but that’s another story) is when they talk about Barack Obama. I half expect to hear them blame Obama for the traffic accident. It’s right under the surface, palpable there, very much alive, and, I fear, could erupt at any time.

My dad, whose second best friend when I was very small was a black man, told me he didn’t want Obama to be president because he didn’t want no black man to be president.

And my parents don’t have cable and don’t listen to the radio unless it’s a country music station, so I can’t blame this attitude on Fox News or Rush Limbaugh.

No, they seem to have come by it honestly, but from where? Their age? The rural nature of their existence? The unwelcoming tolerance and suspicion itself? Did too many new things and people come into their lives that they couldn’t keep up?

This is a very changing world, and lately, it’s been changing incredibly quickly. Just ask my parents. The Mexicans are taking over everything, and you just can’t trust ‘em. But these are simple people. In addition to their lack of cable television, they don’t have a computer. They now have a cell phone, not, as I tried to convince them, because my mom can’t get around and they needed some way to communicate when my father is out of the house, but because “they” (presumably the Mexicans) might cut the phone line and then they’d be unable to call for help. They feel much safer now with the cell phone.

I try periodically to convince them to get cable, but my dad refuses to pay for television. And  I had enough trouble teaching them to use the simplest cell phone I could find. No way I’ll try to teach them a computer. Hell, they not only never figured out how to program their VCR, but they never used it, and now they’re ignoring their blu-ray DVD player with the same blithe lack of awareness.

Is this what’s happening all over America? All this anger, is it just being given a focus, a direction by Fox and the lying Republican agenda?
Know the real difference between Fox and the rest of my colleagues? My colleagues just let the liars lie. Fox tells the lies itself.

These people here in my rural paradise – they’re scared. They see the world changing around them, differences encroaching on their “always the same” world. And Fox and Rush and the Republicans are right there, more than happy to exploit that discomfort for their own benefit. Hell, even my purportedly Democrat sister falls prey to these things. She worries a lot, all the time, just like our mother. She once told me she couldn’t vote for Obama because she heard he was a Muslim. And she has cable.

And there’re my colleagues, eager and willing to mistake this for populism when it’s really just those being left behind by the wheels of time and those willing to lie and take advantage of their fears and uncertainties.

The elites who make up the conservative leadership are more than happy to to exploit those people who aren’t prepared to step into the 21st century, just like they were once more than delighted to do the same to those who weren’t prepared to step into the 20th century. And it’s utterly unconscionable that my colleagues allow that kind of low-life sleaze to breathe the same broadcast and print air as the rest of us.
It’s just too easy though, as my brief stay in redland showed me. They are ripe for the exploitation. And they’re in that position because the rest of us have largely abandoned them. When they were unwelcoming and untrusting, we left them alone, confusing their natural reticense to engage the new and strange with intolerance. It was a self-fulfilling prophesy, in a sense, because now they are as entrenched in that intolerance as is humanly possible, thanks to that abandonment coupled with the easy embrace of a conserverati that agressively courted and gave them answers – however incorrect – to their confusion.

There are many other reasons for my discomfort here, most having to do with personal family dynamics and the dysfunction of a generational mismatch. Plus I’ve always suspected the possibility I may have been a changeling, swapped at birth perhaps with the purpose of easing the transition between yesterday and tomorrow. If that’s the case, then I have failed, and my failure (and that of others like me) has made this task of ours – to move forward – all the more difficult.

But just that – more difficult, not impossible.

It’s gonna get ugly, much uglier. But progress happens, despite the best efforts of elites who think of nothing more than enriching themselves at the expense of others.

We’ll prevail. Eventually.

And the one saving grace for my parents lack of cable television is that I don’t have to beg them to put on something besides Fox so I can breathe.

The morning after the morning after

So you think the election’s all over and you won’t have to hear the bullshit for another two months before the wailing begins for 2012. Nah, you don’t think that. You know that 2012 starts right now. In fact, it already started, back when Mitch McConnell said the Republicans’ primary goal for the next two years was making sure Barack Obama doesn’t get re-elected.

That’s a real “country first” attitude, ain’t it? Of course, it was never about country first. It was about making the other guy — the black guy, and us by extension, look like the enemy.

And hell, let’s get real. 2012 started on November 5, 2008, and the goal then, as it is now, was to do something about the black guy in the White House.

That and make sure their rich benefactors stayed that way. But an election for the real America? Depends on who you think that is.

House Speaker to be John Boehner cried, he was so happy to become the powerful speaker of the House (that is, if his new and nutty Tea Party colleagues don’t figure out he’s part of the DC establishment and run somebody against him. Mmm. I hear Eric “They shot at a building where I have an office where one of my consultants works” Cantor is thinking about tossing his hat in the ring.

But Boehner. He says the message to Obama is clear – “Change course.” True, but the course he needs to change to isn’t the one Boehner wants. Still, Obama will probably take Boehner’s advice. Democrats always do. Boehner, though, he said Tuesday night that “It’s clear tonight who the winners really are … the American people.” I guess that’s right if the American people are all millionaires or their toadies. Otherwise, that’s not us.

And it’s not even the folks who put the crazies into the House. Exit polls showed that Americans believe the top problem the country’s facing is the economy – 62 percent – with 19 percent saying health care. And the top economic problem – unemployment, by far.

America’s voters blame Wall Street for the economic crisis, overwhelmingly. So what do America’s voters do? They return the party that refuses to regulate Wall Street back in the House. Voters had exactly the same unfavorable rating for Dems (53 percent) as Republicans, and favored the Ds 43-41. But they sent the Rs back anyway.

The “American people” — not us, not the tea party, but people like Jamie Dimon and Meg Whitman.

And how did this happen? Senior citizens, who have bought the Republican bullshit about keeping government’s dirty hands off their Medicare, voted in droves. Young folks, feckless cynics that they are, stayed home and got stoned. Hey, that’s not a criticism. I mighta done the same thing if I were 20-something and hadn’t stopped drinking and drugging 30 years ago.

Meanwhile, my beloved colleagues won’t say a thing about any of that. They had their scenario all lined up well before even the early voters started casting their ballots.

Obama and the liberals overreached. The country wants them to return to the center right, where all is good with the world.

Except, as we know, that’s complete bullshit. Obama and the Democratic Congress, with the Republicans blocking their every move, have been pretty damned center right, if not outright right-right. That’s not good enough for the GOP, though, because that group has moved so far right that they’d probably drum Nixon out of the party, if he didn’t leave voluntarily. When they say “center right,” they mean to the right of, say, Charlie Crist, who clearly is too far left for the Florida Republicans. Hugging Barack Obama obviously triggers an automatic suspension of your “I’m a Card Carrying Conservative Bastard” card.

So flip on any cable news show this week and hear this: The voters are angry about Obama’s liberal overreach instead of taking care of the things that are really important, like jobs and health care …

And here’s the part you won’t hear: … like jobs and health care, which the Republican minority and the blue dogs watered down so far that it was barely recognizable just to protect the capitalist interests of the banks and the insurance companies (yeah, I know, and STILL they called it socialism).

And right after that, you won’t hear the discussion progressives have been having for months, if not years – how the fuck is it that the GOP can so completely hornswoggle voters like they do? Are this many Americans really that stupid? Or that glued to the latest episode of Dancing With The Stars?

No, my dear colleagues are already working on the script for 2012. Here’s a hint – they really want Sarah Palin to win. They want America’s first woman president to be somebody they can feel smug over, someone they know isn’t as smart as they are. That’s why they won’t stop paying attention to her even though she has dismal approval numbers across the country and her “endorsements” appear to be as much of a hindrance as a help.

But I’ll make my own prediction on that. It’ll be Mike Huckabee. He’s a cool dude, man. Plays bass guitar. You could have a beer with him, that is if he weren’t a Southern Baptist teetotaler. But he’s the perfect extremist white Christian fundamentalist conservative.

Our own leftist extremists will try to primary Obama, but they will be labeled racist for doing so. Many of them actually will be, but that’s not the real reason behind the move to get a more progressive candidate at the top of the ticket. Getting a more progressive candidate at the top of the ticket is the real reason. It won’t work though, and Obama will be renominated. He’ll keep Joe Biden. He’ll lose, because, golly gee whillickers, Mike Huckabee is just so swell.

And hey, maybe he’ll pick Palin as vice president too, and 10 years from now we’ll have completely forgotten what a creep she actually is, and she’ll win too.

All of that will happen because my colleagues won’t come anywhere near the truth about what happened on Tuesday. They’ll just sit around their tables and laugh at each others jokes and say stupid shit about how “cannibalism” kept not only Christine O’Donnell but also Christian Reconstructionist Sharron Angle from winning their Senate races. They won’t say it was because they are batshit insane, and, thanks to the spotlight that progressives – and in some cases even my dear colleagues – kept on them, the erstwhile voters in their states figured that out before it was too late.

The only place that didn’t really happen was in Kentucky, where apparently the voters are as crazy as the candidates and thought Rand Paul, the George W. Bush of the Paul family, should go to the Senate. Good luck with that, Kentucky. Hide your Social Security checks. He’ll be coming for them.

The Christianists are all whining that the Dems abandoned them this election, saying that led the fickle fundamentalists to go back to the Republicans who are the only ones who really care about them anyway. I say it had more to do with the abandonment of Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy, the kind of strategy the Republicans have been using for decades. The kind of strategy that got Obama elected and turned both chambers of Congress over to Democrats.

At any rate, America, caveat emptor. No returns, no refunds. The Republican-led House will keep its promises – to shut down the federal government, impeach the president, hold dozens of hearings on the first two years of the Obama administration, repeal the Affordable Health Care Act, privatize Social Security, increase defense spending, cut all social programs (eliminating many), extend tax cuts for the rich permanently, pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, decimate the First Amendments guarantees of freedom of speech and religion, expand the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and attack Iran. And that’s just for starters. They have a mandate to do all that, John Boehner says, just like George W. had a mandate when the Supreme Court gave him the presidency in 2000.

Oh and, when all that comes to bite Boehner and buds in the ass, they’ll blame the black guy.

And it’ll work too. As long as the Democrats keep up with their spineless response to all the lies and distortions.

But hey, at least half the blue dogs are gone now, replaced by bright red Republicans. That should make it easier for the White House to tell friends from enemies … oh right. Obama stepped in it when he inferred that some of the more wascally Wepublicans were “enemies.” Only Republicans are allowed to call their political opponents “enemies.”

Or “traitors.” That’s what we are to them. Certainly not real Americans. Never real Americans.

The reality of being Sarah

I seriously don’t want to write about Sarah Palin — mostly because I’d like to avoid the chorus of “Why does Sarah Palin frighten liberals so much,” since she doesn’t — but she just won’t go away. Besides, something hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks the other day, and after I cleared the rubble and dressed the cuts and scratches, I knew I should let you in on it.

And it’s this: Sarah Palin doesn’t scare us, although should she become president, that would be worse than all the Halloween movies plus Saw put together. It’s the train wreck phenomenon. We just can’t stop watching the horror. Unlike a train wreck, Palin can occasionally be amusing, but mostly it’s just the continuous unfolding of disaster, tinged with the uncomfortable knowledge that a subset of people in this country actually like her.

Hell, Willie Nelson even likes her, personally, although he isn’t so sure about her politics.

It’s as if my colleagues are colluding in broadcasting (and writing about) the biggest reality show ever. Sarah Palin’s Alaska is so unnecessary. We’ve got Sarah Palin’s America 24/7, The Truman Show with a willing participant.

And you know what? It’s embarrassing. Here’s a woman who wants to be taken seriously as a politician entertaining us with tweets and Facebook posts to the president (pick up the phone, moron), gallavanting around the country making up bullshit to say and tossing her personal family business out to my colleagues like dog biscuits.

See Sarah confront woman with “worst governor ever” sign (Gee, you think quitting half way through the term so she can get more media coverage — and jack up her bank account — had anything to do with it?). See Sarah mock herself by writing answers on her hand for Fox News interview (actually, she gets a couple of points for that, but then they’re erased because what she wrote on her hand was wrong). See Sarah make up words and compare herself to William Shakespeare. See Sarah go camping with Kate Gosselin.

All this resonates with a certain subset of the American population. The ones who think reality TV actually has some semblance of similarity to actual life. For the rest of us, it’s back to the train wreck value, at least for those of us who aren’t so disgusted with the idea of people displaying their ignorance for all to see while never realizing just how stupid they actually are (maybe Sarah could make a guest appearance on Jersey Shore).

Some days, I really miss Jerry Springer.

Remember when we were all appalled that Americans elected an actor president? Palin doesn’t even have that going for her. She’s just cultivating celebrity, just like the villains on Survivor. Name recognition, she’s got it. But celebrity doesn’t make a good president.

Certainly there’s plenty of politicians who don’t chase their names in lights who would make horrible presidents. Most of them, to be more precise. We seem to have completely forgotten what the role of the president is — to think of the greater good, to act in the best interests of the country and not some ideological ideal.

The conserverati, of course, claim Obama is doing just that. But after Robert Gibbs’ “professional left” bullshit, there is no question that’s just another rightwing lie. Not even close. Obama is looking at the big picture and trying to find his way to the greater good for all of us, but he’s too prone to giving away the farm for that illusive idea of Republican support — never gonna happen. I suppose he’s too afraid of actually being an ideological president to actually do the right thing and just push his ideas through.

Republicans don’t have that problem. They don’t give a shit about the rest of us, and Sarah is most certainly one of them. And trying to gain the presidency by building her celebrity is certainly a novel approach. But do you really want a president who is on TMZ as often as the actual news? More often, really, since what Palin does isn’t actually making news — it’s making fun of it.

Wonder how much it cost her and how long the PR firm took to come up with Lame Stream Media? Oh, so clever. And adolescent.

Wanna know what’s really lame? My colleagues pretending Sarah Palin has anything coherent to say about anything, so I guess in that respect, she’s right to label us the LSM. Not what she means, I know, but accuracy has never been her strong point.

On the other hand, the Palin ship seems to be leaking profusely, in more ways than one — including that all important “support.”  Perhaps there’s hope for Americans yet, since it seems the more America sees of Palin the less we like her.

Anyway, the next installment of Sarah Palin’s American should be starting any minute now. I sure don’t want to miss her take on Levi Johnston’s run for mayor of her town.

Calling bullshit

I’ve been laughing for two days. That conservative nimrod Andrew Breitbart and the PR wing of the Teapublicans, Fox News, got caught with their pants down on this Shirley Sherrod thing.

They ran with an edited video, a specialty of Breitbart’s, and then, alluva sudden, it turned out their “interpretation” of the edits was spectacularly wrong.

Of course, the NAACP and the Obama administration get black marks for this too. In typical, knee-jerk, liberal fashion, they caved to the great conserverati and blasted poor Shirley to kingdom come. Cost her her job, one she was imminently qualified for.

Ben Jealous, the NAACP president — to his credit — called Sherrod and apologized. The Obama administration? Well, the president agrees with his Agriculture Secretary’s boneheaded decision to force Sherrod out, proving once and for all that it is led by the nose by the conservati.

Here’s the thing: what Sherrod was doing in that video was having the conversation about race that we all need to be having. The one the administration can’t be bothered with, and the one the conservarati don’t think is necessary. Unless you’re a minority. White people, of course, are just the poor, downtrodden victims of the liberal drive to destroy the true American (read white) culture.

Honestly, man, there is no white culture, unless you count collecting guns and whining that they pay too much taxes in a country with one of the lowest tax rates in the world. Just about everything else about white “culture” came from somewhere else, somebody else, some other culture.

But this is not rocket science. The conservarati and their deluded followers would have us believe there is no racism anywhere. They’d have to be trying to convince us of that if they have the gall to say there’s no racism in the Tea Party.

That’s why Breitbart and Fox are after the NAACP, pretty much the same way they went after ACORN and killed it (although every investigation exonerated ACORN and we learned that Breitbart’s pimp video was bullshit too).

They’re all pissed off because the NAACP passed a resolution (which, incidentally, won’t be completely official until and unless its board passes it in October) that condemned racist elements in the Tea Party and called on its leaders to do so as well.

As usual, the conservarati lied about what the resolution said, thus creating a false controversy that my colleagues have dutifully kept in the spotlight. Contrary to what you may have heard, the NAACP did not call the Tea Party racist. It simply pointed out racist elements, you know, like the Tea Partiers who carry big posters of the president with a bone through his nose.

I’m beginning to believe, though, that these throwbacks to the Jim Crow era may really believe that the things they do and say aren’t racist. Take Tea Party Express spokesman Mark Williams and his ridiculously stupid “letter” from Jealous to Abe Lincoln, in which he has Jealous complaining that emancipation means the “coloreds” actually have to work to get their wide screen TVs in every room.

Williams thought he was being cute. But he was really just being a jackass. And now this Sherrod thing — damn, even RedState’s Erick Erickson says it’s a load of crap.

But not the president. He’s behind AgSec Tom Vilsack and his uninformed decision to have his people force Sherrod to resign.

Chalk up another wasted opportunity. Here’s what Sherrod was doing. In her speech, one she’s actually delivered several times, she talks about the first time she had to work with a white farmer who was in danger of losing his farm. Now, Shirley and her husband Charles are also farmers, and back in the 1960s, they joined with a bunch of other black farmers to create a land trust called New Communities to help black farmers do what they do — farming. So Sherrod had a lot of experience, several decades worth, helping black farmers in rural area (in her case Georgia) deal with the institutional racism that kept them from getting the help they needed and that white farmers and corporations got all the time.

But one day 24 years ago, she was assigned to a white farmer, Roger Spooner. In her speech, she talks honestly about her own racism — and how it nearly derailed her efforts to help the Spooners. But she wised up and got them the help they needed, saving the farm.

What she’s doing in this speech is using personal experience to teach about changing attitudes, about stepping outside ourselves and looking at a much larger picture, in this case, once that included a white farmer in rural Georgia. It’s called a “teaching moment,” and Shirley Sherrod uses that moment well.

But then come the racists who don’t think they are, bound and determined to soil the NAACP and wrecking Shirley Sherrod’s career in the process. “This isn’t about Shirley Sherrod,” whined Breitbart on CNN.

Yeah, it is, Andy, you fucker. You made it about her by presenting what she was doing in a way you damn well knew was wrong. But that didn’t stop you, because you have made it your life’s goal to obliterate humanity from the United States of America. What a pitiful, despicable goal that is.

And how much better you’d be — we’d all be — if you realized this was another teaching moment, one in which you’d learn something.

But he won’t. None of those assholes will. Erickson, while admitting Breitbart had screwed up, nevertheless defended what the jackass was trying to do — prove that black people are racists too and that those aforementioned poor, downtrodden white people are constantly being called racist simply because they are angry that black people get all the breaks.

Like hell.

Here’s what I’m hoping for — I’m hoping that my colleagues finally get it this time that we need to be calling bullshit on this crap. We cannot continue to give these fools precious airtime to spread their vicious lies, and it doesn’t matter if they’re self-styled conservative website publishers like Breitbart, batshit insane congresscritters like Michelle Bachman or Fox Fucking News, which has been beating the racism drum for months now with no one daring to call them on it.

That needs to be all over. Conservatives have good ideas. But they don’t bother with that. Instead they instill fear and loathing in the populace by promoting complete distortions like the tale of Shirley Sherrod. It’s time my colleagues let go of the idea they have to present “both sides” to be fair. When one side believes completely insane things, you’re not being fair. You’re stupidly elevating insanity to the level of reason.

This country used to know that. But since my colleagues have, for the most part, abandoned their obligation to get to the truth and tell that out of some fear of offending the lunatics, very few of us know it now. Instead, when we turn on the television or read a newspaper we hear Jon Kyl, the other crazy senator from Arizona (what is it with that state anyway?) saying that cutting taxes for the rich isn’t spending money so it’s OK if that increases the deficit that the conservarati are absolutely apoplectic about if it has anything about helping people who need help.

I am so fucking sick of hearing the talking heads blather on with their spin-laden talking points on every goddamn cable television show. They don’t say a damn thing that means anything, and yet, there they are, again and again and again and again.

And Shirley Sherrod lost her job. But it’s not about her. It’s about killing real freedom and hitting the knees of this country with iron bars.

Oh, right. It’s the people we should be concerned with. The white people. Particularly the rich ones. And they must be Christian, and no gays allowed.

Shirley isn’t one of the “real” Americans, you know. She’s just a lazy black woman who’s worked her whole live for justice and learned somewhere along the way that justice for all really means all.

That’s something the conservati can’t accept. Damn them for it. They need to get their heads out of their own asses and live up to their (for now) false creed of being “for the people.”

I know what I know if you know what I mean

Delusion. Most of us, when considering delusion, think primarily of delusions of grandeur. I don’t know if that’s the most common type, but movies and the news are full of people who likely carry delusions of grandeur. Think Lindsay Lohan or Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers movies.

Delusion comes in many more guises, though, and I’m quite sure you’d recognize most of them.

A fellow named Karl Jaspers was the first to define delusion, many, many moons ago.

    certainty (held with absolute conviction)
    incorrigibility (not changeable by compelling counterargument or proof to the contrary)
    impossibility or falsity of content (implausible, bizarre or patently untrue)

In layman’s terms, or the plain English of wikipedia, a delusion

a fixed belief that is either false, fanciful, or derived from deception. Psychiatry defines the term more specifically as a belief that is pathological (the result of an illness or illness process). As a pathology, it is distinct from a belief based on false or incomplete information, dogma, stupidity, apperception, illusion, or other effects of perception.

Some of the types of delusion, according to that great online dictionary in the intertubez, include

Nihilistic delusion: A delusion whose theme centres on the nonexistence of self or parts of self, others, or the world. A person with this type of delusion may have the false belief that the world is ending.

Delusion of reference: The person falsely believes that insignificant remarks, events, or objects in one’s environment have personal meaning or significance. For instance, a person may believe they are receiving special messages from newspaper headlines.

Persecutory delusion: These are the most common type of delusions and involve the theme of being followed, harassed, cheated, poisoned or drugged, conspired against, spied on, attacked, or obstructed in the pursuit of goals. Sometimes the delusion is isolated and fragmented (such as the false belief that co-workers are harassing), but sometimes are well-organized belief systems involving a complex set of delusions (“systematized delusions”). People with a set of persecutory delusions may believe, for example, they are being followed by government organizations because the “persecuted” person has been falsely identified as a spy. These systems of beliefs can be so broad and complex that they can explain everything that happens to the person.

and of course the ever-popular

Religious delusion: Any delusion with a religious or spiritual content. These may be combined with other delusions, such as grandiose delusions (the belief that the affected person is God, or chosen to act as a God, for example).

A delusion may be classified as bizarre or non-bizarre, and it may involve extremes of emotions such as anger or depression.

And of course, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has its own definition.

A false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained despite what almost everybody else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary. The belief is not one ordinarily accepted by other members of the person’s culture or subculture.

But what happens when an entire subculture is in the thralls of a delusion or three or four?

Mass delusions. Mass hysteria. Most commonly this manifests as a group psychogenic illness, or, bizarrely, something more akin to the Dancing Plague of 1518 in Strasbourg, France, when over the course of a month, hundreds of people danced themselves to death by heart attack, stroke or exhaustion. Some believe the Salem witch trials of the 17th century may have been stoked by mass hysteria as well.

And history is filled with cultures that ignored the clear and ominous warning signs of their own destruction until it was far too late, thinking, as many teenagers do, that nothing could possibly happen to them.

I don’t know what was going on in Strasbourg in 1518, but I’ll bet it was a scary time for its people. That’s the origin of most mass delusions — fear. And that’s where we are these days, too — a time of great change, on many different levels — and, quite frankly, change is one of the most frightening things we face, for the simple reason that we don’t know what’s coming.

Now, here’s the thing about delusional people, be they in groups or singly: Facts mean nothing to them. Your persuasive and passionately held arguments, not to mention your utter disbelief that the delusional can hold to such obvious falsehoods, will not move them one iota and, in fact, will likely only strengthen the delusion.

Their argument, of course, will be that you are the delusional one because you can’t see what’s so obvious to them.

That’s how it is with cognitive dissonance. Think about it. If you’ve believed something all your life — say, that the earth is flat — no amount of facts, like pictures from space, could change your mind, especially if you associate with like-minded people. To change your mind would mean admitting you were wrong, and that’s just way too difficult for an awful lot of people. And besides, all those pictures were faked.

The only solution is to peel back the delusion one step at a time, the way it formed in the first place. And that’s not a quick process, leaving us in much the same place as all those historical cultures who failed to heed the truth in time to save themselves.

It’s no wonder we want to scream and shout, grab those delusional souls by the shoulders and shaken some sense into them.

But it won’t work.

The only thing that will is a calm, centered approach, a patience that speaks of the endless time we don’t have and our own certainty that a spoiled Gulf of Mexico is a disaster is not a delusion, that tax breaks for the rich never help anyone but the rich, that educating our children is the best and only way to ensure our culture’s longevity.

And that each and every human being deserves the same rights, regardless of the color of their skin, whom they choose to love or whether or how they choose to believe.

These are not delusions. They are the core of who we are, all of us. Even the truly delusional.

But as the people of Strasbourg and Salem learned, mass delusion is a killer, and if the rest of us have learned anything from the long history of this earth, it’s that delusions must be neutralized or we must start again.

Disgusted

Dammit to hell.

I’m driving home from work a night or two ago, and as the miles tick by, I’m composing, in my head of course, a most perfect post. It’s my first in a while — I’ve just been too busy to write, and too tired, from all the news that has swamped my team in recent weeks. I’m sure you know what all that is, so I won’t reiterate it here.

It’s a damn good post, and I am excited about it. But once I arrive on the homefront, the 45 things I need to do before I can take some time for myself get in the way, and by the time I’m done, I really am too damn tired to write.

Curse me for not dictating it while I was driving, because now I’ve forgotten the whole thing. Except for the first word.

Feh.

It’s a word I use most often to indict my utter disgust at something. And that’s just not very helpful — I’m pretty damn disgusted right now, and nothing is standing out as the thing that disgusted me enough that night to want to write it all out.

It could be anything. My colleagues, for example, did a good job of disgusting me last week with their handling of Helen Thomas’s unfortunate choice of words and her subsequent and sudden retirement. “Get the hell out of the Middle East” just isn’t a very wise thing to say to Israel, although I can certainly understand the sentiment. But my god, you’d have thought my colleagues had heard her add “and throw them into the ovens” at the end. They reminded me of nothing so much as Donald Sutherland in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” hissing at pointing at those who aren’t like them.

Even the liberals. But then, they had no choice. Daring to criticize the Israelis is suicide in this country. If they hadn’t en masse joined in the hissing and pointing, they’d have been the ones hissed and pointed at, labeled anti-Semites no better than the Nazis.

See, in this country, calling someone a Nazi is OK, unless, of course, he or she really is one.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Back in Black – Glenn Beck’s Nazi Tourette’s
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

Take Glenn Beck, for example, who disgusts me pretty much every time he opens his mouth. He has a long history of labeling people he doesn’t agree with Nazis and fascists, right up until he promotes an actual fascist Nazi-sympathizer on his show, which apparently as AOK at Faux News.

I’m pretty sure my disgust wasn’t triggered by Yuma, Arizona, Mayor Al Krieger, because I just found out about him tonight. But it coulda been. Al, back on Memorial Day, delivered a speech praising the U.S. military for things like the invasion of Normandy, and then said

I cannot believe that a bunch of lacy-drawered, limp-wristed people could do what those men have done in the past.

He later defended those remarks, saying he was pretty sure that George Washington and Abraham Lincoln woulda said the same thing. And that his remarks came from the heart.

No, Al, they didn’t. They came from pure, unmitigated ignorance. Nobody asked Al if he really believed that no gay soldiers stormed the beach that day in France, or, as certainly happened, whether any lost their lives there defending their country. And nobody, of course, followed up with “Are you really that stupid?”

Apparently, he is. At least the religionists have something of an excuse for their ridiculous bigotry. Ignorance is never an excuse. It’s just ignorance. And, like most conservative ignorance like this, it’s willful.

Then there’s the fucking oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Any part of that might have been what triggered my disgust — John Boehner insisting that the taxpayers should pay for the clean-up, BP’s utter incompetence, Obama’s pansy-assed response, Bobby Jindal, CNN’s inability to talk with anybody about the disaster except Billy Nungesser, James Carville and Mary Matalin, oiled birds, the ever-increasing flow estimates, British politicians whining that we Yanks are being mean to BP, Michael Bloomberg saying it’s not BP executives fault. Oh wait, that last one was just today.

How about Democrats voting with Alaska’s Lisa Mikulski to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its ability to regulate greenhouse gases because, apparently, the highly politicized, partisan Congress without a scientist among them could do it better? Thankfully, that vote failed. For now.

Yeah, that’s pretty disgusting. But so is the unemployment rate. And the lack of prospects to see it drop anytime soon. And Congress’ (and the administration’s) complete unwillingness to do anything about it. Instead, our elected officials and their appointed advisers would rather fret over the non-issue of the deficit.

People, the deficit don’t mean shit. Most of the money we owe we owe to ourselves. Nothing but some serious deficit spending is going to get people back to work. And if we don’t get people back to work soon, the deficit isn’t going to matter at all, under any circumstances. It’s a bullshit issue, and there again are my colleagues, playing politics like the politicians.

But unemployment doesn’t affect the rich. In fact, they’re happy about it because their labor costs are down and they can pocket more money. What is gonna happen, and real soon if something doesn’t give, is that we’re going to be plunged back into the late 19th century, with a permanent underclass that can’t find work. The Victorian era. Robber barons. Rampant disease. Good times. Can’t wait.

Anything could have triggered my disgust that night. I just can’t remember what it was. Guess it doesn’t really matter, though. I’ve probably become a member of the new permanently disgusted class.

Feh.

Bachmann Palin Overdrive

I know you’re going to be disappointed. But I just can’t help it. I have seen the light. I know the truth. It hurts, but it’s there in plain bright kleig lights.

I have become a Teabagger.

No, seriously. A Tea Party Teabagger.

How did this happen, you may ask?

Well, I’ve been watching The Most Trusted Name In News, and I’ve seen it all there. The real truth. From the Best Political Team On Television.

Erick Erickson, for example — the newest member of the BPTOT — he’s been very convincing in John King’s living room set. Well, actually, John King is in the living room set. Erickson is on via satellite feed, presumably from Atlanta, World Headquarters of The Most Trusted Name In News.

But even better is reading Erickson’s site, Red State. He cleaned up all his Tweets, you know, so CNN would hire him. So you can’t find him calling David Souter a “child-molesting goat-fucker” — although cracks about “ugly feminists” turned up as recently as February — and until now you couldn’t find him suggesting we go beat our congresscritters to a bloody pulp. But I guess he figured that was OK, cuz it’s back.

At what point do the people tell the politicians to go to hell? At what point do they get off the couch, march down to their state legislator’s house, pull him outside, and beat him to a bloody pulp for being an idiot?

“Bloody pulp” seems to be a favorite phrase at Red State, by the way. Searching for that phrase found two pages of links, plus the “similar links omitted” standard, including a reference to beating “Obama’s ass to a bloody pulp” and a suggestion that Sarah Palin should beat Levi Johnston “to a bloody pulp.”

I would suggest getting a little more creative with the terminology, but what else are you gonna do with idiot Democrats and lying liberals? They won’t listen to reason.

Reason, you know, like Obama was born in Kenya. Or somewhere. Just not the United States. He needs to show us his birth certificate, and not that official one from Hawaii that he showed to FactCheck.org. We know that one’s fake because Hawaii is in on the cover-up. And also not that fake generator one from the Internet. Hell, I’ve got a birth certificate from that one that shows I was born in Kenya.

And I agree with Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, you know. All this brouhaha about Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell dissing slavery as any kind of important issue, it don’t amount to diddly. Everybody knows blacks are better off because of slavery. Without that, they might still be in Zimbabwe living under Robert Mugabe. Or they might have died in the Rwandan genocide. Or they might be dead from malaria because the pansy-assed Democrats over here banned DDT, which does a damn good job of killing those pesky mosquitos.

And besides, TMTNIN had on Mr. H.K. Edgerton, a black confederate re-enactor, who said it’s a tragedy the way America won’t let the South’s side get told and it’s just not true that if the South had won the War of Northern Aggression then blacks would have it even worse than they did today. And de-segregation was  a Northern plot to further demonize the South, which was filled with good, honorable men.

And Candy Crowley is right. The left and the right have gone overboard with their violent rhetoric. A teachers’ union — a fucking teachers’ union! — is praying for the death of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Dear Lord this year you have taken away my favorite actor, Patrick Swayze, my favorite actress, Farrah Fawcett, my favorite singer, Michael Jackson, and my favorite salesman, Billy Mays. I just wanted to let you know that Chris Christie is my favorite governor.

Now, the liberals say that’s just a joke. But boy howdy when we say something is just a joke, they get their panties all in a wad and say we can’t just spit out something, like, say, John Edwards is a fag, and then call it a joke. I’m sure that Rev. Wiley Drake, who said that Dr. George Tiller’s murder is the answer to his prayers and that he’s also praying for the deaths of “B. Hussein Obama” and most other Democrats as well, is just joking too. Jeez, liberals. Lighten up.

And man, I was so wrong about Sarah Palin. I retract every evil thing I said about her when I wrote “Why I Hate Sarah Palin.” What could I have been thinking? She’s obviously for the little guy, like me, and would make a damn good president. She has more experience that Barry Obama, for sure. And hosting that clips show in Fox is gonna give her even more experience. She’ll hear from all kinds of powerful people who’ll speak about what’s good and right in America, although she already knows all that already.

That’s one thing CNN is missing. Sure, they’ve got Erick Erickson, but Fox has Sarah. Maybe they could give a show to Michelle Bachmann? I mean, it was sure cool when she jumped out at that State of the Union address and gave GW Bush a big sloppy one on National TV.

Speaking of which, she’d make a great vice-president for President Sarah Palin, doncha think?  I mean, whatta team. They could make Tom Tancredo secretary of Homeland Security and John Bolton secretary of State, Tom Delay could be secretary of the Treasury and Dick Cheney could head up the CIA AND the FBI. Wow. That would be so super.

And if Sarah gets tired of the $400K salary, well, Michelle will be ready to step in.

I can see it now.

Palin 2012/Bachman 2013.

So, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but they don’t call me The Most Twisted Name In News for nothing.

Troubled waters

Ruh roh. Looks like the Grand Old Party is having some serious problems.

Couldn’t happen to a bunch of nicer guys.

First, Tony Perkins, the Jim Dobson protege who heads up the Family Research Council, calls on members to stop donating to the Republican National Committee.

I’ve hinted at this before, but now I am saying it–don’t give money to the RNC. If you want to put money into the political process, and I encourage you to do so, give directly to candidates who you know reflect your values.

Tony’s all upset onaccounta the RNC paid $2,000 for some young studs to go to a simulated lesbian bondage strip act. He’s also ticked off that the RNC hired Ted Olsen to do some legal work for them — because Olsen, a tried and true conservative — argued in favor of gay marriage before the California Supreme Court in the Prop 8 challenge.

Sarah Palin’s ticked at the RNC too. They won’t take her name off an invitation to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, where she will be speaking. Seems she thinks the invitation makes it sound like she’ll be attending fundraisers, which she won’t. She’ll just be speaking. And for a handsome fee, I’m sure.

Speaking of Palin, y’gotta love Fox News, which hired her to host an interview show. Only apparently she won’t actually be conducting the interviews. Those will be recorded god knows how long ago. LL Cool J got wind of this and protested, so Fox sent out its usually snippy response, referring to Cool as “Mr. Smith,” his real name being James Todd Smith, and saying they are surprised he wouldn’t want to be a part of something that’s so positive and wishing him well with “his fledgling acting career.”

Of course, Republicans really have nothing to worry about. Thanks to decades of Republicans screwing with things like education, Americans are now, by and large, pretty stupid, having  been trained their entire lives to believe anything Republicans say, no matter how insane or obviously untrue.

Gotta hand to ‘em on that. To turn millions of rational, thinking adults into couch potato dunces with no ability whatsoever to look at a situation and think it through — on their own — well, that’s quite an accomplishment. It must be true the good guys always finish last.

Also love the Republicans and Teabaggers now falling all over themselves to get distant from the violent, racist, bigoted base. One guy, holding a sign that used the “n” word, actually told reporters he hadn’t seen any racist slogans or anything at Tea Party rallies. Maybe that’s because he was standing behind his own sign.

Others claim nobody called John Lewis “nigger” or Barney Frank “faggot.” They also claimed nobody spit on Emmanuel Cleaver, or they did until a video showing the incident turned up. Nothing like film at 11 to put a stop to that nonsense.

And of course, not a one of the lot said anything about Republican congresscritters egging on the protesters.

They’re also falling all over themselves to get distance from the Christian terrorist cell the FBI busted up in Michigan. Well, except for those who aren’t. They’re saying it’s a free speech issue. Never heard any of ‘em say anything like that about the underwear bomber. Wonder why?

And somehow, I just don’t think building bombs and preparing to kill law enforcement officers is a free speech issue. Call me crazy.

And everybody’s talking about CNN’s ratings fall. Interesting thing about that. CNN’s numbers — the number of views that count in the ratings — hasn’t changed much since last fall when the network was actually beating Fox in some of the night time demographic. What has happened is that there are significantly more viewers for cable news now than then — and virtually all of those new viewers are watching Fox.

Funny thing, that change happened almost overnight at the end of 2008. Right after we elected a black guy president. I’m not sayin’, y’all, I’m just sayin’.

Now, I don’t believe that all Republicans and Teabaggers are scum. I believe that some of them genuinely believe the non-bigoted things they’re saying, when they’re not being bigoted. But I’m pretty damn sure that most of that number have been snookered.

The problem is that it’s pretty clear they oppose things that Democrats support because they fear somebody will get something they don’t deserve and they’ll have to pay for it. And the problem with that is that they think they’re the ones who can decide who’s deserving and who’s not.

There’s the decider for you. How’s that fair and balanced-y thing working out for ya?

Which reminds me. The Catholic Church. Boy oh boy. Well, that’s probably an inappropriate thing to say, or maybe just a pun. Anyway, they’re screwed up the … never mind.

There was a prophet once, kinda Nostradamus-like, who prophesied about the popes who’d be coming up after his pope, Celestine the something. The current pope, Papa Razi? Next to last. Could it be true?

But Bill Donohue, the one-man Catholic League, thinks everything’s just fine with the Catholic Church. Like Tony Perkins. Bill is another guy who just can’t let go of the gay thing, though.What is it about these conservatives that makes them so obsessed with other people’s sex lives anyway? Bill says the church doesn’t have a child abuse problem, it has a homosexual problem, because, apparently, all gay men are pedophiles, something the rest of us know isn’t true because we’ve seen the studies that show most pedophiles are straight, even the ones who abuse boys.

But the quivery-joweled Donohue is another one of those mal-informed folks who can’t be bothered with facts.

No, that would be just too much trouble. Better to leave facts for the weak. Why mess up a perfectly good tirade with silly little facts, huh? Nobody’s gonna believe ‘em anyway. We’ve been taught better than that.