There Is Nothing Controversial About Melissa Harris-Perry’s MSNBC Promo

You may have heard that the right-wing hysteria machine is at screaming level over an MSNBC thirty second promo.  I cannot believe the reaction she’s receiving from the paranoid right.

If you get a chance check out the comments on Mediaite.  Here’s just one example:

Esteban Rey  Ima Winnah • 31 minutes ago

I thought white conservative southerners used to like it when black women raised their kids for them.

Ima Winnah  Esteban Rey • 15 minutes ago

Mammy obviously doesn’t know her role.

(D-Ed. note:) Ms. Perry is a Professor of Political Science at Tulane University.


Everything that Melissa Harris-Perry says in her latest “Lean Forward” promo for MSNBC is completely reasonable. And no, that last sentence was not sarcastic.

Since the “controversial” promo first appeared this past weekend, conservatives have been apoplectic over its content. Glenn Beck called the ad “almost a parody.” Fox News’ Eric Bolling said she “declared war on the American fabric.” And, Sarah Palin was so angry she had to invent a completely new word: “unflippingbelievable.”

Those three and others across the internet and on TV are utterly outraged that Harris-Perry would suggest that America should take a more “collective” approach to child-rearing. They can’t believe she dared to tell them that their children, don’t just “belong” to them, but also are part of a larger community. It’s those two words–”collective” and “belong”–that are at the root of conservatives’ outrage, and also their major misunderstanding.

Starting with “collective,” Harris-Perry says “We haven’t had a very collective notion of these are our children.” As Bob Beckel pointed out on The Five today, that word is often associated with socialism. As in, everyone works together for the collective good and shares the wealth. That’s fundamentally not what Harris-Perry is talking about here. As Beckel said, it may not have been the best choice of words for her to use, but she is simply using the word “collective” to describe the way members of a community help each other, while clearly maintaining their own, capitalistic identities.

The issue with the second word, “belong,” I believe hinges on two distinct definitions that often get conflated and confused. Someone or something can “belong” to another person in terms of being their property. Or they can “belong” to an organization in terms of being a member. This issue arose during the Democratic National Convention last September when another promotional video featured the phrase “the government is the only thing we all belong to.”

Mitt Romney‘s campaign attempted to turn that innocuous line into the second coming of “you didn’t build that” by proudly declaring in response “We don’t belong to government, the government belongs to us.” Just as Romney seemed to miss the fact that the word “belong” can have two meanings, critics of Harris-Perry do not realize that while a child can be the “property” of their parents, they are a “member” of the community. These are two very different notions that Harris-Perry to tying together using the word “belong” for rhetorical effect.

Obviously, there is something about Harris-Perry and the words that came out of her mouth that have conservatives enraged. But when you break it down, all she was saying is that by attending school every day, and living in the world, children are members of a larger community than just their nuclear families. In no way is she suggesting that the government owns your children and should have the right to take them away or make any other major decisions about how they are raised.

On her MSNBC blog today, Harris-Perry “doubled-down” on her comments, writing, “One thing is for sure: I have no intention of apologizing for saying that our children, all of our children, are part of more than our households, they are part of our communities and deserve to have the care, attention, resources, respect and opportunities of those communities.” When she puts it like that, it doesn’t sound so crazy, does it?

Current TV shows the commercial (partially) and analyzes the right-wing “shock and anger” response:

GOP ‘Appalled’ Over Obama Granting Castro’s Daughter Visa, Ignores Trips Under Bush

Another case of Obama Derangement Syndrome

Think Progress

When the State Department granted the head of Cuba’s National Center for Sex Education, Mariela Castro Espín, a visa to chair a panel on LGBT issues at the Latin American Studies Association in San Francisco later this week, the Republican response was as obvious as the Cuban LGBT activist’s relations to the Caribbean island’s Communist dictators. Her father is Cuban President Raúl Castro, her uncle is revolutionary leader and longtime dictator Fidel Castro, and the Republicans were “appalled.”

“The State Department needs to wake up from its delusional love fest with the dictators in Havana,” said right-wing House Foreign Affairs chair Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). Republican Members of Congress released web videos and organized conference callsdenouncing the visa as “outrageous.”

Even presumptive GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney got in on the action, releasing a statement accusing the Obama administration of “a slap in the face to all those brave individuals in Cuba who are enduring relentless persecution.”

Ros-Lehtinen and Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), David Rivera (R-FL) and Albio Sires (R-NJ)  wrote a strongly-worded letter to the State Department saying:

The administration’s appalling decision to allow regime agents into the U.S. directly contradicts Congressional intent and longstanding U.S. foreign policy.

If it’s “longstanding U.S. foreign policy” to deny Mariela Castro a visa to enter the U.S., someone forgot to tell President George W. Bush. The Bush administration granted Castro not one but three visas to enter the U.S. in 2001 and 2002. State Department spokesman William Ostick  told the Miami Herald:

Mariela Castro visited once in 2001 and twice in 2002. I can’t discuss her visas specifically, but you can assume she needed one to travel.

An Obama surrogate, Freddy Balsera, told the Herald:

In fact, the top State Department Official in charge of Latin America at the time was a Cuban American. Where was their criticism then? Nowhere, because ultimately this is all about politics for them.

A ThinkProgress search of the Lexis Nexis news database for Mariela Castro’s name during 2001 and 2002 returned no results relevant to her trips to the U.S.

Former attendees at the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) said that Cuba has long been a presence at LASA conferences. This year, the State Department accepted 60 visas, denied 11, and is still processing 6.  A State spokesman said visas couldn’t be rejected simply because “we don’t like you.”

LASA’s president  told the Associated Press that Castro’s appearance at the conference was “an academic issue, not a political issue,” and that she’d answered a call for papers like any other conference speaker.

Karl Rove’s hissy fit: “Offended” by Chrysler ad

Salon – Joan Walsh

If Clint Eastwood sounded like Obama, it’s because the GOP has ceded optimism to the Democrats…

I admit it: Chrysler’s “Halftime in America” Super Bowl ad reminded me of President Obama’s best recent speeches. Actor Clint Eastwood, the face of rugged American individualism, talked about “tough eras” and “downturns” and “times when we didn’t understand each other,” but then declared:

But after those trials, we all rallied around what was right, and acted as one. Because that’s what we do. We find a way through tough times, and if we can’t find a way, then we’ll make one…

This country can’t be knocked out with one punch. We get right back up again and when we do the world is going to hear the roar of our engines. Yeah, it’s halftime America. And, our second half is about to begin.

Karl Rove heard echoes of Obama’s rhetoric too, and implicit optimism about the direction of the country, and cried foul.

“I was, frankly, offended by it,” Rove said on Fox News Monday. “I’m a huge fan of Clint Eastwood, I thought it was an extremely well-done ad, but it is a sign of what happens when you have Chicago-style politics, and the president of the United States and his political minions are, in essence, using our tax dollars to buy corporate advertising.”

Rove wasn’t the only Republican who tried to cast the Chrysler ad as essentially payback to the president for supporting the bailout that kept the domestic auto industry alive. Michelle Malkin tweeted her horror Sunday night: “Agh. WTH? Did I just see Clint Eastwood fronting an auto bailout ad???”

Now, Clint Eastwood is no Democrat – he voted for John McCain in 2008, has been a Republican for most of his life, and now describes himself as having “libertarian” leanings. It’s hard to imagine he’d lend his name to an openly and intentionally pro-Obama ad. Chrysler has denied any political motive behind the Eastwood ad.

The flap over the ad confirms the GOP’s serious branding problem: The problem for Rove and the rest of the GOP is that their party’s narrative has become relentlessly negative, pessimistic and uninspiring. They’ve left the language of optimism and resilience, higher ground and common ground, to the Democrats, and lately President Obama has grabbed every opportunity to employ that language.

Rove is essentially complaining that anyone using rhetoric of resilience and tenacity, or suggests “we all rallied around what was right, and acted as one” sounds like a gosh-darn … Democrat.  That’s good news for Democrats. There’s more good news in recent polls showing that Obama is winning back at least some white working-class voters with his feistier message of economic populism.  The president’s approval/disapproval ratings have been dismal with whites who make less than $50,000, with his approval dropping into the low 30s and disapproval up in the mid-60s regularly over the last two years.

Continue reading…

The GOP’s ever-shifting stance on Obama’s leadership

Basically, whatever President Obama does, he is wrong, in the eyes of the opposition as well as some Dems.

By E.J. Dionne – Washington Post

Leaders do not operate in a vacuum. When they make strategic adjustments, their opponents do, too. President Obama has prompted just such a pivot by Republicans.

They’re criticizing him not for the decisions he’s made but for the ones he hasn’t, and the ones he delayed. They are attacking him not as a liberal ideologue but as a man in full flight from any ideological definition. If they once said his plans were too big, they are now asking if he has any plans at all.

The immediate focus for the new GOP approach is the president’s extended deliberations over Libya, with criticism raining down from various points on the GOP spectrum.

Mitt Romney, a likely presidential candidate, issued a string of denunciatory adjectives — “tentative, indecisive, timid and nuanced” — to characterize Obama’s Libya policy. (Here’s hoping for an explanation of why being “nuanced” about complicated foreign policy choices is such a terrible thing.) Newt Gingrich called the administration “inept.”

And many conservative Republicans have joined left-of-center Democrats in asking why the president didn’t seek congressional authorization for the Libyan action. “The United States does not have a King’s army,” said Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.)       

But Republicans had started shifting their lines of attack against Obama before the controversy over Libya. They did so in response to Obama’s own moves since the 2010 election designed to place himself above partisan infighting in Congress and to cast him as a moderate, forward-looking, non-ideological voice trying to talk reason to politicians mired in the past’s unproductive bickering.

As a next-generation politician, they argue, Obama is untouched by these old quarrels and ready to move the nation beyond them.

 Continue reading…

Poll: Republicans Who Want To Repeal Health Care Law Should Opt Out Of Gov’t-Sponsored Health Plans

Well, given that those politicians who oppose or want to repeal the Health-Care Law are so adamant about doing so, it would be a show of good faith for them to opt out of their government sponsored health care plans.  Let’s wait and see how this one pans out…

Think Progress

Last week, responding to Rep.-elect Andy Harris’ (R-MD) hypocritical demand for government-sponsored benefits, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) began circulating a letter among his Democratic colleagues calling on Harris and other members of Congress who want to repeal the new health care law to forgo their own government health care plans. So far just two incoming Republican freshmen — Rep.-elect Mike Kelly (PA) and Rep.-elect Bobby Schilling (IL) — have agreed. But a new Public Policy Polling survey has found that most Americans “think incoming Congressmen who campaigned against the health care bill should put their money where their mouth is and decline government provided health care now that they’re in office”:

Only 33% think they should accept the health care they get for being a member of Congress while 53% think they should decline it and 15% have no opinion.

Democrats are actually the most supportive of anti-health care Congressmen taking their health care, with 40% saying they should accept it to 46% who think they should decline. But Republicans and independents- who put these folks in office in the first place- strongly think they should refuse their government provided health care. GOP voters hold that sentiment by a 58/28 margin and indys do 56/27.

The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein estimated that Republicans could save the federal government $2.4 million if they forgo health care for a year. New members have 60 days (after being sworn-in) to select an insurance plan from the federal health insurance exchange, which will become available on the first day of the following month. Returning members can opt-out of the government-sponsored health insurance coverage until the end of the open-enrollment period, December 13th. The Wonk Room has more on why not opting out would be a betrayal of Republican candidates’ pledges to “listen[] to the people who sent us,” and on the scheme of Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), a reform proponent, to make the GOP lawmakers put up or shut up on repeal.

The Right’s One Big Happy Mix of Ignorance

As usual, Mario Piperni is spot on…

Mario Piperni

Balloon Juice’s mistermix

“…conservatives are allergic to facts, they do love anecdotes. Nothing disproves years of global warming research like a cold day in July, and food stamps are a waste of money because some guy somewhere traded them for a flat-screen TV. As soon as a conservative pundit has found one counterexample, he’s done all the research he’ll ever need.”

Isn’t that the truth.  I’ve had my share of discussions with people from the right who believe that if they could show a single example that proves my position to not be all encompassing, then they’ve won the argument.  Dumb.  It reminds me of a college acquaintance who once argued that seat belt laws were unnecessary and an infringement on his rights and freedoms.  He ‘bulletproofed’ his position by pointing out that he had been driving for years without a seat belt and – here it comes – was never injured.   Ok.

I can already hear wingnuts screaming out that libs do the same sort of thing.  Well, yes, some certainly do but not nearly to the extent as those on the right. Libs don’t have to.  Liberalism, being the fact-based approach to understanding that it is, does not require smoke and mirrors to make a point.  On the other hand, wingnuts and teabaggers have been schooled on the art of debate by the likes of Limbaugh, Savage, O’Lielly and Beck while years of watching Fox News has literally turned their political brains into mush.  For these sorry saps, there is no distinction to be made between facts, lies and opinion.  It’s all become one big happy trail mix bag of ignorance and nuts.

Sometimes (but not often) I actually feel for them.

Mario Piperni: Mitch McConnell And The Poor Downtrodden Rich

Mario Piperni

If you had to give a face to Republican’s heartless to-hell-with-the-middle-class attitude, I can think of no better one than that of Mitch McConnell’s disgusting mug.  Here he is on the Senate floor defending tax cuts for the richest 2 percent.

“We can’t let the people who’ve been hit the hardest by this recession, and who need to create the jobs that will get us out of it, foot the bill for the Democrats’ two-year adventure in expanded government.”

The tens of millions of unemployed and families who have lost their homes, health insurance and life savings over the last year will by glad to know that the wealthiest in the nation have been hit harder by the recession than they have.  Someone should tell the 1 in 7 Americans who live in poverty to stop the bitching.

A McConnell spokesman came out the next day to spin explain what McConnell really meant.  Whatever.  The truth is that McConnell’s statement expressed Republican concerns perfectly…concerns which have nothing to do with the poor or middle class of America and everything to do with sucking up to the rich and special interest groups who fill their campaign coffers with millions.

If you’re not making $250 K or more, rest assured that the Republican party doesn’t give a flying f*** about you or your measly concerns.  Don’t take my word for it.  Just ask Mitch McConnell.

An Extremely Important Message To Conservatives & The GOP From Rachel Maddow

I have never hidden the fact that I feel Rachel Maddow is by far, the best and most well prepared commentator on television today. 

 Her doctorate in political science shows in every broadcast.  She is not cocky or full of herself.  She’s not arrogant or belligerent to her guests or in her reporting.  When Rachel sees a problem in the political spectrum, she tells her audience about it and explains what may have caused that problem. 

The following video is one such case.  Her message is directed to her base audience, but more so to those who refuse to appear on her show, mainly conservatives and members of the GOP.

MSNBC’s Scarborough: ‘Every Republican I Talk To On The Hill’ Tells Me John Boehner ‘Is Not A Hard Worker’

I’m not surprised in the least.  It’ shows with the entire GOP leadership. 

Think Progress 

On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough made a damning accusation against House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), with whom he used to work in the House of Representatives. Scarborough said that the rap on Boehner amongst people who know him best is that he’s lazy:

SCARBOROUGH: I hear it on the Hill, I’m sure you hear it on the Hill all the time, it’s not reported but so many Republicans tell me this is a guy that is not the hardest worker in the world. After 5 o’clock, 6 o’clock at night, he is disengaged at best. You can see him around town. He does not have, let’s say, the work hours of Newt Gingrich. … Every Republican I talk to says John Boehner by 5 or 6 o’clock at night, you can see him at bars. He is not a hard worker.

Growing exasperated, Scaborough scolded VandeHei: “How can you not know if he’s a hard worker! You work for Politico, you guys say you’re the smartest guys on the planet. You’re the young guns that get all these spreads, that you own Washington. You hear from people more than I hear from people. What do they tell you about John Boehner’s work ethic!?” VandeHei responded that while he has heard that concern, it is “not the knock I hear most frequently.” After Scarborough called Boehner “lazy,” VandeHei responded that he’s “not necessarily lazy,” but rather, he doesn’t have “fresh ideas” and a “vision.”  Watch:

Politico’s co-founder and executive director Jim VandeHei, doing his best to defend Boehner from Scarborough’s accusations, first tried to dodge the discussion but then said, “Well, a lot of those bars are fundraisers for Republicans, his people might say.”

Scarborough retorted that his accusation about Boehner’s work ethic “comes from every Republican I talk to on the Hill.” VandeHei, again defending Boehner, said that’s “not the biggest knock” on him and added that he didn’t know if John Boehner is a hard worker.  Watch:

Not only is Boehner apparently “lazy” and lacking in a “work ethic,” but he’s also disconnected. Yesterday, the House Republican leader compared the financial crisis to an “ant” that Democrats are trying to solve with a “nuclear weapon” in the form a financial regulatory reform bill. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that comment demonstrated “how out of touch” Boehner is.

Update:  In an email to Politico, Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said, “Boehner grew up with 11 brothers and sisters and his dad owned a bar, but the only time he’s ‘around town’ these days is to raise money for our House Republican team.”
Update:  Scarborough tweets, “How sad that Republicans get upset when I simply repeat what GOP members say about DC leaders every day.”

Senate Republicans block measure to provide additional benefits to homeless veterans.

Between the GOP stalling on the passage of a jobs bill which would help millions on unemployment, the GOP has stooped even lower by blocking a measure to provide additional benefits to homeless female veterans.   Why are Conservatives so damned heartless?

Think Progress

Today, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) brought her bill — the Homeless Women Veterans and Homeless Veterans With Children Act — to the Senate floor seeking unanimous consent. Murray said the bill would “expand assistance for homeless women veterans and homeless veterans with children and would increase funding and extend federal grant programs to address the unique challenges faced by these veterans.” However, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) objected on behalf of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) to this seemingly non-controversial issue:

McCONNELL: Madam president, reserving the right to object and I will have to object on behalf of my colleague Sen. Coburn from Oklahoma. He has concerns about this legislation, particularly as he indicates in a letter that I’ll ask the Senate to appear on the record that it be paid for up front so that the promises that makes the Veterans are in fact kept. So madam president I object.

This is pretty low, even for Republicans,” the Washington Monthly’s Steve Benen said. While Murray pledged to continue to fight for the bill’s passage, Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) spokesperson said “Republicans have their priorities backwards — according to them, it’s OK to give tax breaks to CEOs who send American jobs overseas, but not to help out-of-work Americans and homeless veteran.”