When the Republicans determined that ACORN had somehow helped President Obama win the 2008 presidential election, and following a heavily-doctored video prank by James O’Keefe and Andrew Breitbart, the Republicans began a legislative witch hunt that ended with the total eradication of ACORN even though it really hadn’t done anything wrong — other than being conspiratorially associated with the Obama campaign. Oh, and it helped poor people, and Republicans will have none of that.
With the ACORN victory under its belt, the GOP aimed its crosshairs at Planned Parenthood. In this case, it wasn’t necessarily because it was associated with the Obama White House, but because of yet another selectively edited and therefore highly deceptive O’Keefe/Breitbart video. The de-funding campaign by the Republicans hasn’t yet been successful at the federal level, but Republican-controlled state legislatures are hard at work on the process, too, with successes in Ohio, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin — all of which have cut funding to the organization.
I’m sure you recall a video that circulated around the tubes before the election of an African American woman who was attending a roadside rally for the Obama campaign. In the video, the woman ranted somewhat incoherently about her apparently free “Obamaphone.” As soon as Drudge plastered her face above his logo, far-right Republican heads began to immediately explode over the notion of “minorities” receiving free phones from the White House as alleged bribes for volunteerism and votes.
Yesterday, Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Ark) announced that he and Michele Bachmann were co-sponsoring legislation to eliminate the so-called Obamaphone program.
The calculus is that everyone who votes for hooples like Griffin and Bachmann will believe that taxpayer money is being funneled by President Obama into fancy-shmancy cellphones for lazy, shiftless poor people (“lazy, shiftless” dog whistle words intentional). Why do they get a free iPhone (they don’t) when they can’t be bothered to get a job? And why do I have to pay for it with my money that I earned?! Makers and takers! Makers and takers!
The truth is that the Lifeline program has been around since 1984 when, that’s right, Ronald Reagan helped to create it. In 1996, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) set up a non-profit outfit called the Universal Service Administrative Company, which receives financial backing via the Universal Service Fund. According to its website, money for the program is contributed entirely by “long distance companies, local telephone companies, wireless telephone companies, paging companies, and payphone providers,” and none of the funding comes from taxpayers via the federal government. It’s all privately donated money.
Wingnut conspiracy theorists might ask how Reagan could possibly have anything to do with cellphones way back in 1984. Well, some time later, TracPhone Wireless created SafeLink, a cellphone service that was tacked onto the Lifeline program. SafeLink provides the minutes and TracPhone provides the phones. And, again, not a penny in funding comes from the federal government in any way, shape or form — in the same way that government funding isn’t used for Planned Parenthood abortion services. So when exactly did the SafeLink cellphone service begin? 2008, when George W. Bush was president.
Fact: President Obama has nothing to do with the program, that is unless he owns a time-traveling Delorean and traveled back to 1984.
Of course the goal of the program is to make sure low income Americans have access to an affordable telephone in case of emergency or for the job search process. Sure, it’s possible that some recipients have abused the service and used it for… who knows what. But there are abuses everywhere. It’d be like shutting down a soup kitchen because a few people went back for seconds of the corn casserole.
Instead of going after oil companies that receive massive taxpayer subsidies while earning record profits and simultaneously charging us high gas prices, the Republicans much prefer demagoguing and eliminating services like Lifeline and ACORN because it’ll score them points with their mouth-breathing, racist base. And party is all too willing to flat-out lie to its base in the process, knowing full well that the Drudge-fueled conspiracy theory was thoroughly debunked the second it appeared. But that doesn’t matter when there’s racial resentment and hatred to be exploited for a few more votes.
And so what happens if they succeed in eliminating the program? The federal budget and the deficit will remain unchanged in its absence; welfare recipients will lose access to affordable phone services making it more difficult to call an ambulance or to get job; and Bachmann and Griffin will get to say they snatched away those evil Obamaphones from evil, lazy and shiftless poor people who probably hate America, too.
By the way, while traditional news media pundits concern-troll the president’s recent approval ratings, perhaps they ought to take a good look at what the American people think of the congressional Republicans who only seem motivated to play grabass with legislation like this Griffin/Bachmann bill. Truth be told, the president’s approval rating is the same as it was on Election Day: 50 percent, with a 46 percent disapproval rating. The congressional Republicans on the other hand have a 23 percent approval rating and a whopping 72 percent disapproval.
Yeah, I wonder why. Hmm. What could it be?
Step aside, Louie Gohmert and Michele Bachmann. I believe we have no choice but to crown the new chairperson of the House of Representatives’ Crazy Caucus. Incidentally, the crown is more like the creepy wire mask worn by Hannibal Lecter. You know, to prevent spitting and biting.
It’s easy to qualify for Crazy Caucus membership. All you have to do is to repeatedly pop off with remarks that not only confound sanity, reason and rationality, but the remarks also have to make us wonder how the hell you qualified to be one of the elite 535 members of the U.S. Congress tasked with authoring and voting upon laws that impact the most powerful nation in the world and its 300 million citizens. Oh, and it’s a Republican-only club that includes the aforementioned Michele Bachmann and current chairperson Louie Gohmert, along with Steve King, Paul Broun, Scott DesJarlais, Virginia Foxx and Jack Kingston. Allen West and Joe Walsh are former “emeritus” members, but there’s always a chance they’ll make it back to Congress somehow.
And that brings us to the crowning of Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) as the wearer of the crown (mask). I’ll get into specifics after some brief background.
Blackburn has a long history of ridiculous statements. The first time I noticed her was back in 2009 when she said about healthcare reform, “There is no test case out there that they can point to, no pilot project they can point to where a government-controlled health care system has brought down the cost, increased the access, taken care of those with pre-existing and chronic conditions, allowed portability, dealt with malpractice reform.” No case — except for nearly all industrialized nations and Mitt Romney’s state of Massachusetts.
More recently, Blackburn brazenly parroted Alex Jones pro-gun talking points and seriously considered the notion that the president was lying when he said he’s shot skeet at Camp David. Both of these incidents catapulted her into the Crazy Caucus in the first place, and with the most meteoric rise to the top of the crazy heap, Blackburn has attained the leadership post with the following statement about why she voted against the Violence Against Women Act:
When you start to make this about other things it becomes an “against violence act” and not a targeted focus act that there is there to address the issue of violence against women. [...]
I didn’t like the way it was expanded to include other different groups. What you need is something that is focused specifically to help the shelters and to help out law enforcement, who is trying to work with the crimes that have been committed against women and helping them to stand up.
That’s right, she said she voted against the bill because it would’ve protected LGBT couples, Native American women and undocumented women who are victims of domestic violence. In other words, women in certain demographic or racial categories don’t deserve the same protections under the law, so she refused to allow anyone to receive special protections. Regarding Native Americans, ThinkProgress pointed out:
Additionally, the reauthorized VAWA includes provisions to prevent serial rapists and similar abusers from preying on Native American women. If Blackburn considers Native American women a “different group,” then it’s one she should be most concerned about: Three out of every five Native American women has been assaulted by an intimate partner.
Not only are Blackburn’s no-vote and subsequent remarks misogynistic (women can be misogynists, too), homophobic and racist against arguably the most decimated ethnic group on the continent, but her statement is also the same thin, tired argument that gets wheeled out every time hate crime-style laws come up for debate. The argument claims that no group should receive special protections against certain types of crime — instead, we ought to rely upon existing crime prevention and law enforcement. But women, members of the LGBT community and racial minorities are too often victims of special varieties of crime specifically because the assailants attacked them out of a violent and sociopathic hatred of who the victims are, and therefore the victims require special law enforcement protections and outreach beyond what the law currently provides.
But I’m admittedly dealing in logic, fairness and sanity in the face of the new chairperson of the House Crazy Caucus. There isn’t any logic, fairness or sanity to found there. Blackburn would rather pander to the darkest, most twisted instincts of the Republican far-right. After all, if there wasn’t money and votes in being crazy, there wouldn’t be a Crazy Caucus.
Bill Maher explains why Romney lost the election:
Mitt Romney lost because of the Republican brand and Republican policies. There are other reasons, of course, like Mitt being unlovable to anyone not named Ann Romney, but nothing trumps the idea that 2/3rds of America thinks the other 1/3 is a frightening conglomerate of Bible-thumpers, xenophobes, and vaginophobes. (Not a word, but should be.)
Take Mitt’s pivot from being “severely conservative” to being “the white Barack Obama.” Sure, everyone tacks to the middle after the primaries, but Mitt’s performance was different: it was a full-scale repudiation of just about every idea that conservatives hold dear. The positions were changed. The rhetoric was completely different. He was basically Barack Obama, Caucasian Edition.
Now I know what you’re saying: this is what Mitt Romney always does. Being a shape-shifting phony isn’t an act; that’s who he is! And this is true.
But it isn’t who Michele Bachmann is. When it comes to nutty right-wing beliefs that are completely false, she’s a true believer. And yet what was Michele Bachmann saying during the waning days of her too-close-for-comfort campaign? She was putting out an ad distancing herself from her own Party — even her conservative district:
“Michele Bachmann is an independent voice working for us, saying no to big spending by both political parties but bringing them together…”
Then Michele pops on the screen and says, “That’s why I’ve been an independent voice working for you…”
Wow. …I’m just saying. When even Michele Bachmann can’t run as a proud Republican, your brand identification has reached “pink slime” territory.
Maher hits the nail on the head here – the Republicans are going to continue to have a hard time electorally because their party has now divvied off into so many extreme factions, there’s no coherence whatsoever. Romney was always going to have a hard time getting elected given the ideological gymnastics he had to play just to get through the primaries. He had to shore up the crazy Right and disown 99% of his record to become the Republican nominee, then pretend that it never happened in the general election in order to pick up votes from the center. The Democrats simply sat back and ran Romney’s own words against him making their job relatively straightforward (bar Obama’s atrocious first debate performance).
Obama has successfully re-branded the Democratic Party to encompass right wing foreign policy with a center left economic platform, giving it electoral coherence that doesn’t require too much shape shifting when running for office. Agree or disagree with what the Democratic Party now stands for (and in regards to foreign policy, I certainly don’t), it’s definitely working.
1. Look for Mitt Romney to attempt a ‘game changer’ during the debate. This could come in several forms – trying to look human, attacking Obama for his association with Rev. Wright (yes, really), or a revelation that he has black ancestry….
2. How many times will President Obama use the ”47%” remark against Romney? Surely there’s a drinking game to be had out of this?
3. Stupid questions from the moderator. Remember when CNN’s John King asked Michele Bachmann the incredibly important question as to whether she preferred Elvis or Johnny Cash? Let’s hope we don’t have repeat tonight.
4. Who looks ‘the most Presidential’. This is the most important question the mainstream media has come up in 60 years of Presidential debates. Which candidate’s suit fit better? What color was their tie? Did they smile and mention God enough? You know, the stuff that matters…
5. How many times will both candidates use their campaign slogans ‘Forward’ and ‘Keep America American’? Another drinking game?
We’ll be doing a live blog of the debate here at The Daily Banter so check back in later!
By Bob Cesca: Something hilarious and weird happened yesterday. No sooner had I posted my column here about the Republican Medicare Scam, but Mitt Romney surrogate John Sununu returned to CNN, clipped on a microphone and shouted down Soledad O’Brien with the same crap-on-a-stick that I wrote about yesterday. Specifically, he repeated the whopper lie that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka. “Obamacare”) cuts $700 billion from Medicare, implying that benefits were cut.
$700 billion. Keep that number in mind.
Sununu said, “When Obama gutted Medicare by taking $717 billion out of it, the Romney plan does not do that. The Ryan plan mimicked part of the Obama package there. The Romney plan does not. That’s a big difference.”
So let’s get this straight. Sununu just said the Paul Ryan Medicare Plan — the one that Romney said he would’ve signed into law had he been president — cuts $717 billion from Medicare? Interesting. Thanks for clarifying, Mr. Sununu.
Lanhee Chen, Romney’s chief policy director told TPM, “Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have always been fully committed to repealing Obamacare, ending President Obama¹s $716 billion raid on Medicare and tackling the serious fiscal challenges our country faces.”
It’s $716 billion now?
Mitt Romney said to First Read, “But my plan for Medicare is very similar to his plan, which is ‘Do not change the program for current retirees or near-retirees but do not do what the president has done and that is to cut $700 billion out of the current program.”
RNC Chairman and Star Wars Cantina Alien Reince Priebus said, “President Obama… stole $700 billion from Medicare.”
Right-wing apparatchik and Sarah Palin fanboy Rich Lowry repeated the $700 billion number on Meet the Press last Sunday.
Now it’s $700 billion. This is the number I wrote about yesterday, and today the flood gates opened wide and this lie has been released into the world like the Motaba Virus.
Back in June, however, not a single Republican was saying $700 billion. Back then, the commonly repeated number was $500 billion. That’s a huge difference.
After the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Obamacare, Republican Rep. Jon Runyan said, “My constituents simply cannot afford the $500 billion in new tax increases and $500 billion in Medicare cuts required to pay for this flawed legislation.”
Mitt Romney said something similar in June, “Obamacare cuts Medicare — cuts Medicare by approximately $500 billion dollars.”
As far back as a year ago, the quoted number remained $500 billion.
Here’s Michele Bachmann during a debate in June, 2011: “Senior citizens get this more than any other segment of our population, because they know in Obamacare the president of the United States took away $500 billion — a half-trillion dollars — out of Medicare, shifted it to Obamacare to pay for younger people.”
Mitt Romney in the same debate, “Obamacare takes $500 billion out of Medicare and funds Obamacare.”
So somehow in the last few days, the amount that was “stolen” from Medicare has magically increased by $200 billion! That’s amazing.
But of course it’s all lies. The notion of $500 billion in “cuts” ostensibly “stolen” from Medicare has been thoroughly debunked and discredited by everyone from Politifact to The Washington Post, both of which note that there aren’t any cuts to benefits — none. So it’s no surprise to learn that the bigger lie about $700 billion (or $717 billion or $716 billion) in cuts has also been widely debunked by fact-checkers everywhere including Bloomberg.
And yet they keep repeating it over and over and over, and, in fact, as we get closer to Election Day, the number is mysteriously increasing. At this rate, I suspect the Republican number to reach $1 gazillion-gajillion by October.
To repeat what I wrote yesterday, Obamacare doesn’t cut a single penny from Medicare benefits. In fact, it increases benefits through a variety of new programs including full coverage for preventative medical care without coinsurance or deductibles, discounts on prescription drugs and the gradual closure of the Part-D “donut hole.” In total so far, 220,000 retirees have saved $3.4 billion they would have otherwise paid out-of-pocket without the dreaded Obamacare legislation.
Meanwhile, Obamacare trims $428 billion in waste, fraud and abuse. Not $500 billion and certainly not $700 billion. No cuts to benefits, just increased efficiency, fraud protection and a reduction in Medicare Advantage payments to the same levels as Medicare proper. That’s all. The savings will add another decade of solvency to Medicare, while, according to the CBO, Medicare spending is expected to nearly double by 2020. Meanwhile, Medicare Advantage premiums are lower and enrollment is up.
The Republicans, including Mitt Romney, are vocally against these obviously positive changes to the system, and they’ve vowed to repeal Obamacare and all of the Medicare provisions within, including the streamlined savings, the preventative care coverage and they’ll re-open the donut hole, leaving retirees with potentially thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket drug expenses every year. At the same time, the Romney camp is positioning itself as the true savior of the program — a claim that’s absurd on its face and exactly the opposite of their true intentions.
So it turns out that the $717 billion number that Sununu was screeching about on CNN was pulled out of a July 24 CBO memo about the House plan to repeal Obamacare. Doug Elmendorf explained, “Spending for Medicare would increase by an estimated $716 billion over that 2013–2022 period.” There’s nothing in there about benefit cuts or anything else the Republicans have said. Nothing.
Mitt Romney’s choice for his VP running mate really tells you all you need to know about the choice this year for the Presidency. Paul Ryan is about as far right as you can possibly get on the economic spectrum – a hardcore Ayn Rand ideologue who’s policy proposals consist of stripping away what is left of government and leaving the country to the ravages of the free market.The ‘Ryan Plan’ was touted as the boldest conservative economic proposal in the history of the Republican Party, meaning it was in reality, completely insane.
But not only is Ryan a militant libertarian, he’s also a lazy one who doesn’t actually bother to check whether his sums add up. Writes Paul Krugman of Ryan’s lauded economic proposal:
Ryan hasn’t “crunched the numbers”; he has just scribbled some stuff down, without checking at all to see if it makes sense. He asserts that he can cut taxes without net loss of revenue by closing unspecified loopholes; he asserts that he can cut discretionary spending to levels not seen since Calvin Coolidge, without saying how; he asserts that he can convert Medicare to a voucher system, with much lower spending than now projected, without even a hint of how this is supposed to work. This is just a fantasy, not a serious policy proposal.
Vice Presidents don’t have much say over actual policy when in office, but Romney’s pick was designed to be symbolic. He’s reaching out to the hard right this election and clearly aims to draw a stark contrast between himself and Obama in economic terms. Given Obama is pretty centrist when it comes to policy (at least in international terms), this is actually pretty scary.
George Bush’s Presidency was extremely militant from a foreign policy perspective, and a Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan Presidential ticket would equal that from an economic point of view. They would make Bush look like a socialist if they enacted even a fraction of the proposals in Ryan’s plan for the country. As Nate Silver writes:
Various statistical measures of Mr. Ryan peg him as being quite conservative. Based on his Congressional voting record, for instance, the statistical system DW-Nominate evaluates him as being roughly as conservative as Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.
By this measure, in fact, which rates members of the House and Senate throughout different time periods on a common ideology scale, Mr. Ryan is the most conservative Republican member of Congress to be picked for the vice-presidential slot since at least 1900. He is also more conservative than any Democratic nominee was liberal, meaning that he is the furthest from the center.
If you needed another reason to get out and vote for Obama this November, this is a pretty damn big one.
Welcome to this weeks edition of The Daily Banter Mail Bag where Bob, Ben, and Chez answer reader’s questions on a variety of Banter worthy topics!! Today, we discuss John McCain’s partial redemption, Romney’s retroactive retirement, and Anthony Weiner’s proposed comeback to politics!
Hi Bob, Ben, Chez, what did you think about John McCain’s rebuke of Michele Bachmann? Is this redemption for his appalling behavior in 2008, and going off the edge in terms of wanting to blow up anyone who disagrees with America? Given the state of the GOP it was a ballsy move if you ask me.
Ben: In a word, no. Look, I’m all for giving credit where credit is due, and McCain did the right thing by standing up to the xenophobia in his increasingly insane party. But the man is a loose cannon who was responsible for allowing Sarah Palin to get near to real political power – a crime I would say is almost akin to treason. Not only that but McCain has cheer led war at every given opportunity, supported Bush’s massively irresponsible tax cuts, and refused to stand up to his party on matters that really make a difference (the debt ceiling, global warming, gay rights etc). I don’t buy into the whole ‘Maverick’ brand around McCain -I think he’s a pretty nasty, Right wing career politician who will say or do pretty much anything to make himself relevant.
Bob: Every once in a while, between filibustering with the Republicans on everything, McCain tosses in one of these kinds of speeches in order remind people of his cred as a “maverick.” But in the absence of any real legislative action, the gestures ring hollow. Besides, he successfully repeated the conspiracy theory on the floor of the Senate and for the record, thereby, in a roundabout way, reinforcing it. Remember, too, that McCain participated some of the Obama-pals-around-with-terrorists fearmongering in 2008, not to mention the red-scare “spread the wealth around” talk. What would be truly ballsy is if McCain voted in favor of cloture during a filibuster or took the initiative to work with Democrats on some bills. Instead, he followed up his historically irresponsible act (elevating Palin to be potential vice president and, perhaps, president) by caucusing with the Republicans on everything.
Chez: Sorry, man, but no way. Yeah, McCain smacked down Bachmann but all that really tells you is just how far off the deep end the latter has gone. It takes a lot to become a pariah in the modern Republican party but I think Bachmann may finally be doing it; she’s leaving anyone with a brain no choice but to tell her to sit down and shut the fuck up. As for McCain, he’s getting credit from the left for something that requires no real effort at all; it’s something he should be doing. Plus, while it was a welcome comment, he’s got a long way to redeem himself for opportunistically foisting Sarah Palin on this country. I’m not sure he should ever be forgiven for that.
Can you please explain retroactive retirement? How does Romney get to decide when he retired even though there’s a paper trail with explicit evidence detailing exactly when he stopped having anything to do with Bain? Is this something rich people just assume they can get away with?
Chez: The beauty of Romney’s campaign is that I think it’s progressing on a dare. Romney’s become so adept at lying — it’s now so instinctual for him — that I’m not sure he even notices when he does it anymore and if he does he’s comforted by recent experience which has taught him that no one will ever call him out on it. The “retroactive retirement” thing is preposterous to the point of being a punchline, and yet Romney’s people don’t care one bit about putting it out there. They know full well that the media won’t call their guy a flat-out bullshit artist — the equivalent of a ten-year-old who comes up clever excuses for why his parents caught him with a hand in the cookie jar — and they just assume the general public is fucking stupid. Which it kind of is, unfortunately.
Bob: Oh yes. You’re exactly right — rich people and powerful CEOs absolutely feel entitled to do things for which the rest of us would be chastened or arrested. In this case, Romney is likely fighting against a lot of seriously bad fallout, so it’s both a move of entitlement and desperation. If he perjured himself on his financial disclosure forms, there could actually be some sort of legal action here. At the very least — at the bare minimum — the Obama campaign, by seizing on this aspect of Romney’s career, have neutralized the one thing he really had going for himself: his private sector experience. As soon as he mentions it in a debate or in front of the press, he opens himself up to attacks like, “Oh, your private sector experience in which you made your money by outsourcing jobs overseas and dodging taxes with offshore bank accounts. Good job!” I don’t the president will say “good job” at the end because he’s not as snarky as me (thankfully).
Ben: In the world of political doublespeak, I actually really like this one. Retroactive retirement is a brilliant concept and one I shall be using from now on. On my high school record, it says I was suspended for bad behavior aged 15, except now, I’ve decided that I graduated aged 14 so wasn’t actually there at the time. You see? I never did it!
Do you think Anthony Weiner should get back into politics? He’s an ambitious guy and I think he won’t stop at Mayor. How far can he actually go given the nature of his ? Ben Cohen’s article was interesting and I kinda agree. He seems like a complete narcissist/ego maniac and I think there’s enough of them in politics already.
Bob:He’s welcome to get back into politics if he wants to, but he won’t get my support. He was reckless, stupid and irresponsible and we don’t need progressives and Democrats who act like that. Same goes for John Edwards. Everyone’s allowed to make a living somehow, though I hope he doesn’t try to weasel his way back into politics, otherwise he’ll only continue to embarrass the movement. By the way, let me be clear here. I don’t care about his horny Twitter sexting or whatever he did with his free time. My objection has to do with the stupidity of his behavior knowing how the modern press latches onto sex scandals, not to mention his neophyte behavior in social media — specifically allowing those pics to leak out.
Ben: Yep, you’re spot on Carl. While Weiner is talented and passionate, he is a massive liability who can’t seem to control his urges. I really can’t understand what would drive a human being to want to become a politician – it seems like the most horrendous job on earth, and I think there must be some sort of psychological need for attention to want to put yourself through what is necessary to be successful. I’m not saying they are all like this – there are clearly some good politicians out there – but it’s a bit like the whole celebrity business where people just want to get on TV to give their life some sort of validity. Most people are content with good friends, a somewhat meaningful career and a reasonably happy marriage/partnership. Politicians and celebrities often are not, and they fill the void with attention grabbing antics that would otherwise be seen as a cry for help. You can just tell by his demeanor that Weiner has some big problems – he’s very intense, completely full of himself, and generally a bit of a douchebag; all signs of a deeply insecure person who would benefit from a bit of therapy rather than a career in public office.
Chez: You haven’t seen the last of Anthony’s Weiner. Count on it. The fact that he is such an egomaniac guarantees that he won’t be able to stay out of politics, and as Ben said that’s exactly the reason why it might not be a good idea for anyone to cast a serious vote for him. Yeah, he did some good as a congressman, but then he undid almost all of it by engaging in unbelievably risky, stupid, self-obsessed behavior because his cock apparently demanded it. If he’s his age and can’t control his own sex drive and megalomania then he certainly isn’t someone I want anywhere near the nuclear codes. Wait, the mayor of New York City doesn’t have nuclear codes? Well, in that case bring it on. Maybe he’ll rename the Empire State Building the “Weiner Tower” and have Christo cover the base of it in gray Calvin Klein boxer briefs.
Got a question for the mailbag? Email us at TheDailyBanter@gmail.com and we’ll get to it next week!!!
By Chez Pazienza: A few weeks back I banged out a column for this site that took issue with what I called the misguided, “pipe-dreamy idealism” of Aaron Sorkin’s new HBO show, The Newsroom. After watching only the season premiere I didn’t necessarily claim to know whether the show would eventually wind up being genuinely good TV, but I did think that it had all the necessary ingredients to be cloying and obnoxious as hell. From Sorkin’s at times insufferably overbearing sanctimony, to characters I didn’t really care much about, to, yes, a lack of foundation in anything approaching the real world when it came to how the show portrayed the world of television news, I just wasn’t sure it would keep my attention for long let alone have the kind of impact it was obvious Sorkin was hoping it would on the industry I’d devoted almost two decades of my life to. In that original piece, I said that TV newspeople on the whole simply aren’t idealistic enough these days to be affected by anything that tries so blatantly to both lecture them and appeal to their sense of dignity.
Well, three episodes later I have to admit that I’m kind of hooked by the show — and I actually do wonder if it’s possible that it might be able to have some kind of positive effect on the way news is done in this country. Let me explain why: Other than the ones currently overseas dodging sniper fire and possibly the phalanx of Kool-Aid-drinking dolts at Fox News, there isn’t an American television journalist alive who isn’t paying at least some attention to this damn show. TV people are self-obsessed creatures who traditionally love reading, seeing and hearing stories about themselves, particularly ones that make them appear noble and principled. Everybody loves feeling like a star, like they’re worthy of the attention and of being portrayed as the hero — people in the TV news industry more so than many simply because they want so badly to believe that what they do makes a difference, that it matters. And in Sorkin’s admittedly fairy tale world, television journalists matter very much, or at least they can. And that might be why the show has some small potential to succeed at changing television news for the better.
Two nights ago, on his show on CNN, Anderson Cooper tore into bug-fuck crazy national disgrace Michele Bachmann over the recent, very public nervous breakdown which caused her to claim that the United States government is being infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood. For those mercifully born deaf, Bachmann has been haranguing anyone who’ll listen with hysterical warnings about certain U.S. officials — among them Huma Abedin, the Deputy Chief of Staff to Hillary Clinton — whom she believes might actually be secret warriors in the service of jihad, or some such horseshit. The only “evidence” she has to go on when it comes to this supposed conspiracy involves the discredited rantings of Frank Gaffney — a guy whose theories are so fucking divorced from reality that even the GOP doesn’t want anything to do with him — but that of course isn’t stopping Bachmann from making herself look not only foolish but dangerously unhinged by belting this crap out like a town crier to anyone who’ll listen.
It goes without saying that Bachmann is a liar and a loon, but, in keeping with tradition, it’s rare that anyone in the mainstream, “objective” media calls her out for it. Granted, Cooper has in the past been willing to put his foot down when it comes to specious arguments and general political shenanigans, but he was especially pointed and brutal on Bachmann the other night, essentially coming right out and saying that she doesn’t have a shred of evidence to back up any of her ludicrous claims and that her conduct was thoroughly unbecoming of a member of Congress. Now remember that while you and I understand fully that the responsibility of the fourth estate is to call a lie a lie when it sees one, most journalists are reluctant these days to do just that — and that’s something The Newsroom has taken aim at since its debut. In fact, last Sunday’s episode dealt specifically with that unfortunate fact about the modern news media.
In an episode entitled I’ll Try To Fix You, fictional news anchor Will McAvoy and his producing team label several governmental figures, as well as political pundits, flat-out liars. Among them: lo and behold, Michele Bachmann, who within the context of the show had just called for an investigation into whether some of the views of her fellow members of Congress were “anti-American” (something she actually did four years ago). The crew of the fictional show News Night weren’t having any of it and demanded evidence, labeling her claims irresponsible and McCarthy-like and having no basis in fact. As is typical on the show, it’s the kind of thing you wish you’d see a non-partisan national news department actually do but which almost never happens.
I’m certainly not saying that Cooper watched Sunday’s episode of The Newsroom and decided suddenly that he’d seen the light and that it was his ethical obligation to pin Bachmann to the mat. Coop’s good at his job and he doesn’t necessarily need a TV show to remind him of his duties. But all those young journalists working behind the scenes on his show and at other national media outlets, the ones who likely have their DVRs programmed to record HBO every Sunday night — is it possible that they can be influenced by the kind of clarion call to a higher purpose the show hopes to represent? If you watch the show and try to see yourself as one of the admittedly paper-thin characters simply because your life somewhat resembles his or hers from a professional standpoint, can that push you to imagine that their ideals can be yours?
I’m not sure if The Newsroom really has the power to overhaul television news from the ground up or if it can change many of the cynical minds within the business, but if it manages to light a fire under even a few asses of the people who once believed that the news matters, who knows what that might lead to. What if TV journalists started looking at the fictional News Night and thinking, “Why the hell can’t we do that?”
By Bob Cesca: One of the memes I often have to repeat is, simply put, the Republican and conservative leadership routinely lies to its followers. I mean, outright lying on just about every issue.
They tell their people that President Obama has doubled the deficit (he’s reduced the deficit), raised taxes (he’s lowered taxes) and increased government spending (he’s lowered spending). They tell their people that tax cuts and deficit reduction boosts economic growth during a recession (not true). They tell their people that President Obama is undermining capitalism when, in fact, corporations are showing record profits and the Dow has doubled during the president’s first term. They tell their people there are death panels and forced euthanasia in the healthcare law. They tell their people an army of IRS soldiers will storm through neighborhoods enforcing the individual mandate. The list goes on and on.
One lie in particular is so utterly ridiculous and so outside the purview of reality that we can draw no other conclusion besides the obvious: conservative leaders think their followers are really, really stupid. And considering how many followers repeat this lie, the leaders might actually be right.
Here it is. Human breathing, they say, creates CO2 emissions and therefore liberals want to regulate human breathing in order to prevent the climate change “myth.”
An actual member of the U.S. Senate repeated this one Tuesday. I give you Senator Sensenbrenner (R-WI):
“CO2 is a natural gas. Does this mean that all of us need to put catalytic converters on all our noses? The fact that people think CO2 is a pollutant … basically goes into propaganda.”
We’ve heard this one before.
“Carbon dioxide is basically this. (Exhales.) Look at how much pollution I just put out.”
“We exhale CO2. If were a poison, it wouldn’t be part of the way we stay alive.”
“Carbon dioxide is a natural byproduct of nature.”
“Now I know there is also a movement to say that carbon dioxide should be guided or should be managed by the Environmental Protection Agency. I disagree with that. I exhale carbon dioxide. I don’t want those guys following me around with a meter to see if I’m breathing too hard.”
We know exactly what’s going on here. The right-wing leadership has decided to ignore the incontrovertible scientific consensus in lieu of appealing to the moronic reasoning of simpletons. On the surface, this breathing silliness sounds like it might be true — if you’re really into uneducated, simplistic explanations for very complex topics. Republican followers don’t want to accept that human consumption is hurting the environment because they’d prefer to be gluttons — proudly driving cars too large for their needs and destroying natural resources for the grand cause of human convenience. And so their leadership is feeding them this handy bumper-sticker level lie. Humans exhale carbon dioxide. Oh. Okay. So everything is going to be fine.
It’s easy to debunk with a single example. Water is necessary for human life. We all drink it or else we’ll die. However, if we drink water beyond the capacity of our stomachs, we’ll either vomit or our stomachs will rupture. Or, by way of another example, if sea levels rise too high and overtake the land, people will drown. Water, in other words, can save life and it can extinguish it.
But, but — ummm-doy — we drink water so it must be harmless! Too much of it is just great! It’s natural!
Likewise, carbon dioxide is indeed a gas that we and the rest of the animal kingdom naturally exhales. Trees, conversely, absorb CO2 and release oxygen. The symbiotic absorption by trees and plant life of the carbon dioxide exhaled by animals (including humans) is part of the natural carbon cycle, and has been since the earliest days of life on Earth.
Furthermore, human breathing doesn’t even make the list of serious sources of carbon dioxide emissions. In convenient chart form:
These unnatural and ultimately poisonous sources of carbon dioxide emissions are what’s really causing much of the climate crisis. Duh. The ecosystem wasn’t designed to scrub out unprecedented levels of CO2 released by the burning of fossil fuels and therefore the CO2 is just lingering in the atmosphere, trapping heat and scrambling our weather patterns. Again, just like our water example, we’re drowning in too much CO2, irrespective of what our lungs produce when we exhale.
But if you’re a Republican and you don’t mind being exploited and lied-to with this cheap “breathing” line, have at it. Just be careful of emails from Nigerian princes who want to deposit money directly into your bank account.