Game show hack Chuck Woolery thinks ‘we have a Muslim problem in the White House.’
What is it with game show hosts? They’re all hucksters and idiots. Pat Sajak is a screaming teabagger and so is Chuck Woolery. But his latest series of tweets may be the stupidest right wing tweets of all.
Now wait a minute. If they’re in the White House, why are you worrying about them coming to a town near you?
There’s a reason the president said ISIS isn’t Muslim. It’s not enough to claim one is Muslim without actually practicing the tenets of the religion. Sort of the same thing as the faux Christians who pretend they’re Christians while judging everyone around them and sticking their middle fingers in the faces of the poor.
As for the President being Muslim, so what if he is? There’s nothing shameful about anyone practicing their chosen religion in a principled way. It happens that he’s not. He can’t have a Reverend Wright problem and be a secret Muslim. It doesn’t work like that, not even in game show land.
I know many Muslims and none of them cause fear in me. The ones who make me afraid are the fundamental “Christians” who think it’s their God-given right to be the American Taliban, telling women what they can and cannot do while oppressing poor people.
Put Chuck in the same category as the rest of the rich Hollywood wingnuts who choose to live in Fantasyland instead of reality.
Mike Huckabee closed out his remarks at last night’s “Star Spangled Sunday” event by recounting how, many years ago, he used to watch Arkansas Razorbacks basketball games when they were re-broadcast late at night, especially when he already knew that they had won the game when it was played live earlier in the day because, no matter what the score was at any point, he knew that his team would ultimately win.
Huckabee urged those in attendance to apply this same lesson in response to the threat from radical Islam, saying that they should read the Bible in order to realize that the Christians will defeat the Muslims in the end.
“I got good news for all the dispirited and disquieted Christians in America who somehow are afraid that the Sons of Ishmael who are challenging us now in the Middle East will overwhelm the Sons of Isaac,” Huckabee said. “Let me assure you, I have read the end of the Book! My dear friend, we win!”
Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh accused Democrats on Monday of drumming up interest in the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Missouri for their own gain, Media Matters reported.
“Why is this a story? The myth,” he said. “The myth is that whites who are associated with Republicans, white cops, murder innocent Black kids all the time. And that’s why we need people like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and the Nation of Islam and whoever out raising money on all this, trying to do something about this never-ending discrimination which never does seem to end, does it? At least the reports never seem to end.”
Limbaugh did not mention a 2013 study that found that on average, police killed a Black man every 28 hours as recently as two years ago. Instead, he accused the media of promoting fatal shootings “even if it’s once a year.”
He also did not mention that, besides the Aug. 9 shooting of Brown in Ferguson, Missouri — which was followed by a non-fatal shooting four days later — officers have also killed Black men inLos Angeles and Ohio this month alone.
“And right behind that you’ll find the Democrat Party, which needs, as we have chronicled and stated I don’t know how many times, a permanent underclass of subservient, poor low-skilled dependents on government voting for them,” he said. “There are lots of them, and if you run out of them, you import them via illegal immigration.”
Rep. Janice Hahn (D-Calif.) walked out of the National Day of Prayer event at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, saying she was “outraged” after James Dobson, founder of the conservative Christian advocacy group Focus on the Family, called President Barack Obama the “abortion president.”
“President Obama, before he was elected, made it very clear that he wanted to be the abortion president. He didn’t make any bones about it,” Dobson, whose organization recently won a temporary injunction against the Affordable Care Act’s employer contraception mandate, said on Thursday. “This is something that he really was going to promote and support, and he has done that, and in a sense he is the abortion president.”
In an interview with The Huffington Post on Thursday, Hahn called the speech deeply “inappropriate” and a violation of the event’s symbol as a nonpartisan day of unity.
“He goes on about health care and … providing abortions, and at that point I stood up and I pointed my finger at Dr. Dobson and I said, ‘This is inappropriate!’ and walked out,” Hahn told HuffPost.
“Dobson just blew a hole into this idea of being a nonpartisan National Day of Prayer. It was very disturbing to me … and really a shame,” Hahn, the co-chair of the weekly congressional prayer breakfast, added. “James Dobson hijacked the National Day of Prayer — this nonpartisan, nonpolitical National Day of Prayer — to promote his own distorted political agenda.”
Dobson also read from a recent letter he said he had sent to “250,000 people,” in which he proclaimed that “The Creator will not hold us guiltless if we turn a deaf ear to the cries of innocent babies.”
“So come and get me, Mr. President, if you must,” Dobson concluded his letter. “I will not yield to your wicked regulations.”
The event, sponsored by Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), was organized by the National Day of Prayer Task Force, a conservative evangelical Christian non-profit, whose chairwoman is James Dobson’s wife, Shirley Dobson.
In April, task force vice chairman John Bornschein defended the event against criticism that it was promoting evangelical beliefs, describing the day as a nonsectarian gathering.
“This is not about proselytizing,” Bornschein said in April. “This is purely about prayer and praying for our leadership and asking for God’s wisdom and blessing over our leaders.”
It’s time for the right wing to stop lying about the minimum wage, taxes, global warming and more
The great 20th-century economist John Maynard Keynes has been widely quoted as saying, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” Sadly, in their quest to concentrate economic and political power in the hands of the wealthiest members of society, today’s Republicans have held the opposite position – as the evidence has piled up against them, they continue spreading the same myths. Here are six simple facts about the economy that Republicans just can’t seem to accept:
1. The Minimum Wage Doesn’t Kill Jobs.
The Republican story on the minimum wage takes the inordinately complex interactions of the market and makes them absurdly simple. Raise the price of labor through a minimum wage, they claim, and employers will hire fewer workers. But that’s not how it works. In the early Nineties, David Card and Alan Krueger found “no evidence that the rise in New Jersey’s minimum wage reduced employment at fast-food restaurants in the state.” Since then, international, national and state-level studies have replicated these findings – most recently in a study by three Berkeley economists. Catherine Ruetschlin, a policy analyst at Demos, has argued that a higher minimum wage would actually “boost the national economy” by giving workers more money to spend on goods and services. The most comprehensive meta-study of the minimum wage examined 64 studies and found “little or no evidence” that a higher minimum wage reduces employment. There is however, evidence that a higher minimum wage lifts people out of poverty. Raise away!
2. The Stimulus Created Millions of Jobs.
In the aftermath of the 2007 recession, President Obama invested in a massive stimulus. The Republican belief that markets are always good and government is always bad led them to argue that diverting resources to the public sector this way would have disastrous results. They were wrong: The stimulus worked, with the most reliable studies finding that it created millions of jobs. The fact that government stimulus works – long denied by Republicans (at least, when Democrats are in office) – is aconsensus among economists, with only 4 percent arguing that unemployment would have been lower without the stimulus and only 12 percent arguing that the costs outweigh the benefits.
3. Taxing The Rich Doesn’t Hurt Economic Growth.
Republicans believe that the wealthy are the vehicles of economic growth. Starting with Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, they tried cutting taxes on the rich in order to unleash latent economic potential. But even the relatively conservative Martin Feldstein has acknowledged that investment is driven by demand, not supply; if there are viable investments to be made, they will be made regardless of tax rates, and if there are no investments to be made, cutting taxes is merely pushing on a string. Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, two of the eminent economists of inequality, find no correlation between marginal tax rates and economic growth.
In fact, what hurts economic growth most isn’t high taxes – it’s inequality. Two recent IMF papers confirm what Keynesian economists like Joseph Stiglitz have long argued: Inequality reduces the incomes of the middle class, and therefore demand, which in turn stunts growth. To understand why, imagine running a car dealership. Would you prefer if 1 person in your time owned 99% of the wealth and the rest of the population had nothing, or if wealth was distributed more equally, so that more people could purchase your cars?
Every other country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has far lower levels of inequality than the United States. Since there are no economic benefits of inequality, why hasn’t the right conceded the argument? Because it’s based on class interest, not empirical evidence.
4. Global Warming is Caused by Humans.
Even as global warming is linked to more and more extreme weather events, more than 56 percent of Republicans in the current congress deny man-made global warming. In fact, the infamous Lutz memo shows that Republicans have actually created a concerted campaign to undermine the science of global warming. In the leaked memo, Frank Lutz, a Republican consultant, argues that, “The scientific debate is closing [against us] but not yet closed. There is still a window of opportunity to challenge the science.”
In truth, the science of global warming is not up for debate. James Powell finds that over a one year period, 2,258 articles on global warming were published by 9,136 authors. Of those, only one, from the Herald of the Russian Academy of Sciences, rejected man-made global warming. That one article was likely motivated by the Russian government’s interest in exploiting arctic shale. Another, even more comprehensive study, examining 11,944 studies over a 10-year period, finds that 97 percent of scientists accepted the scientific consensus that man-made global warming is occurring.
President Obama’s centrist healthcare bill was informed by federalism (delegating power to the states) and proven technocratic reforms (like a board to help doctors discern which treatments would be most cost-effective). Republicans, undeterred, decried it as Soviet-style communism based on “death panels” – never mind the fact that the old system, which rationed care based on income, is the one that left tens of thousands of uninsured people to die.
It’s worth noting that every time the CBO estimates how much Obamacare will cost, the number gets lower. Odd how we’ve never heard Republicans say that.
6. Rich people are no better than the rest of us.
Politicians on the right like to pretend that having money is a sign of hard work and morality – and that not having money is a sign of laziness. This story is contradicted by human experience and many religious traditions (Jesus tells a graphic story about a rich man who refused to help the poor burning in hell). But it’s also contradicted by the facts – more and more rich people are getting their money through inheritances, and science shows that they are no more benevolent than others.
More and more, the wealthy in America are second or third generation. For instance, the Walton family, heirs to the Walmart fortune, own more wealth than the poorest 40 million Americans. Thomas Philippon and Ariell Reshef have found that 30 to 50 percent of the wage difference between the ﬁnancial sector and the rest of the private sector was due to unearned “rent,” or money they gained through manipulating markets. Josh Bivens and Larry Mishel found the same thing for CEOs – their increased pay hasn’t been correlated to performance.
If rich people haven’t really earned their money, are they at least doing any good with it? Studies find that the wealthy actually give less to charity as a proportion of their income than middle-class Americans, even though they can afford more. Worse, they use their supposed philanthropy to avoid taxes and finance pet projects. Research by Paul Piff finds that the wealthy are far more likely to exhibit narcissistic tendencies. “The rich are way more likely to prioritize their own self-interests above the interests of other people,” Piff recently told New Yorkmagazine. “It makes them more likely to exhibit characteristics that we would stereotypically associate with, say, assholes.”
I had the good luck of debating former Newt Gingrich flack Rick Tyler on MSNBC Sunday. It was good luck, because it forced me to encounter one of the ways Republicans are lying to the country about their defund/delay/repeal Obamacare hostage-taking. Tyler insisted shutting down the government was reasonable recourse for his party because the Affordable Care Act was “rammed through in the middle of the night without a single Republican vote.”
I Googled “Obamacare” and “rammed through” to find that’s a regular GOP talking point, of course. I also found the single worst piece of punditry on our current political crisis, by Michael Barone on Real Clear Politics, using the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to indict President Obama and the Affordable Care Act. I’ll get to that in a minute.
First, let me demolish Tyler’s claim that the ACA was “rammed through” Congress without deliberation or debate, part of a pattern of Obama failing to negotiate with Congress. Well, I knew that was a lie, and I said so to Tyler and host Karen Finney. In fact, the ACA was the result of more than a year of Congressional committee hearings in which progressive ideas like single payer or a public option were jettisoned, and hundreds of GOP amendments to the law were accepted, in exchange for zero Republican votes. Sen. Max Baucus, in particular, drove an eight-month bipartisan process via the Senate Finance Committee in which he and ranking Republican Chuck Grassley held dozens of hearings, released joint “policy option” papers and finally presided over 31 meetings lasting 60 hours with the so-called “Gang of Six” – Baucus and Grassley plus Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) — to try to hammer out a compromise that would attract GOP support. (A Twitter friend shared this helpful history of the Finance Committee’s tortuous process.)
But it wasn’t until I read the Finance Committee summary of its work on the ACA that I fully experienced the inanity of Tyler’s argument. It’s actually painful to read. In fact, it was the administration’s determination to compromise, and to let the centrist Baucus drive the process, that led Democrats to head into the disastrous August 2009 recess without an actual bill they could tout, let alone defend – and that vacuum was filled by Tea Party hatred at town halls that Rep. Todd Akin (remember him?) appreciatively labelled “town hells” for Democrats.
And of course it was August when Grassley echoed Sarah Palin’s death panels lie and claimed Obama wanted “to pull the plug on Grandma.” Still, Baucus worked to reach a deal with him, accepting his amendments to the final bill passed by the Finance Committee, along with amendments by Enzi, Snowe and other GOP members. But he never won a single vote from them. Despite that history of desperate efforts to find common ground and win over Republicans, Republicans lie and say it didn’t happen.
The main reason for GOP intransigence, of course, especially in the Senate, was Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s widely publicized determination to hold his caucus together to deny the new president any victories on his agenda. On health care in particular, McConnell himself told the New York Times, “It was absolutely critical that everybody be together because if the proponents of the bill were able to say it was bipartisan, it tended to convey to the public that this is O.K., they must have figured it out. It’s either bipartisan or it isn’t.”
Former Utah Sen. Bob Bennett admiringly compared the minority leader to a healthcare reform saboteur in an interview with Josh Green. “McConnell knew the places to go, around the tank, and loosen a lug bolt here, pour sand in a hydraulic receptacle there, and slow the whole thing down,” Bennett told Green.
Against this backdrop, Tyler’s claim that the Affordable Care Act was passed without negotiation is farcical. But if he hadn’t made that silly claim, I never would have Googled “Obamacare” and “rammed through” to find the worst piece of mainstream punditry on our disastrous political dysfunction. On Real Clear Politics last week, Michael Barone had the gall to use the bipartisan coalition that came together behind the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to indict the president for, that’s right, “ramming through” Obamacare.
Because Lyndon Johnson worked to get Republican votes for the bill, Barone argued, once it became law, “white Southerners largely acquiesced. Traditional Southern courtesy replaced mob violence. Minds and hearts had been changed.” And that’s what would have happened with the ACA if only Obama were LBJ. Or something.
If Barone really believes “traditional Southern courtesy replaced mob violence” after the Civil Rights Act passed, he needs to get out more. He ought to talk to the siblings of James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, as I did last week, who were murdered in August 1964 after the bill passed; or the survivors of ugly violence at the March 1965 Selma marches, from John Lewis, who had his skull fractured, to the families of Rev. James Reeb and Viola Liuzzo, who were killed for taking part; or the families of Jonathan Daniels or Samuel Younge, or any of the many civil rights martyrs killed after the Civil Rights Act passed.
Sadly, Barone has become a joke. But is it any accident that he casts Obamcare opponents in the role of (vanquished) Jim Crow defenders? Just this weekend an unnamed Republican congressman compared his side to the Confederates who blundered their way into the Battle of Gettysburg. He told the Washington Examiner’s Byron York: “I would liken this a little bit to Gettysburg, where a Confederate unit went looking for shoes and stumbled into Union cavalry, and all of a sudden found itself embroiled in battle on a battlefield it didn’t intend to be on, and everybody just kept feeding troops into it,” the congressman said. “That’s basically what’s happening now in a political sense.
Um, OK. I’ve gotten in trouble for pointing to the role of race and racism in driving the GOP’s anti-Obamcare crusade. But I’m not the one comparing them to Confederates or the Jim Crow South.
Whether or not it’s racism, the disrespect for this president continues to amaze me. Tyler himself derisively told me and Finney that “the president doesn’t understand his job, or isn’t very good at it.” That’s pretty rich, coming from Newt Gingrich’s former flack. Neoconfederates or nihilists, take your pick. They intend to destroy this president, and if they have to take down the economy too, so be it.
A top Republican lawmaker on Thursday invoked Ronald Reagan to say that Obama was weak for not acting more directly in response to Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons, ignoring the fact that Reagan’s White House looked the other way when chemical weapons were used in the 1980s.
Former House Foreign Affairs Committee chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) appeared on Fox News arguing for a military response to the Syrian government’s alleged use of chemical weapons on civilians. While pushing the same limited strikes plan that the Obama administration wants, Ros-Leithein attacked the president for not moving more forcefully against Damascus. In doing so, she told Fox that Reagan never would have stood for the sort of attack that killed an estimated 1,400 civilians:
ROS-LEHTINEN: It is against the norms of international standards and to let something like this go unanswered, I think will weaken our resolve. I — I know that President Reagan would have never let this happen. He would stand up to this. And President Obama — the only reason he is consulting with Congress, he wants to blame somebody for his lack of resolve. We have to think like President Reagan would do and he would say chemical use is unacceptable.
What Ros-Lehtinen seems oddly unaware of, however, is that Ronald Reagan did exactly the opposite. For the majority of the 1980s, Iraq under Sadaam Hussein was locked in combat with the Islamic Republic of Iran in a war that killed more than 1,000,000 people on both sides. The United States explicitly backed the secular Hussein over the Ayatollah Khomeini’s government in Tehran, still smarting from the embassy hostage crisis that had only ended when Reagan took office. That backing not only included the shipment of tons of weapons to support Baghdad, but also looking the other way when Iraq unleashed its chemical weapons stockpiles — including sarin and mustard gas — against Iranian civilians and soldiers alike.
Recently declassified documents from that time indicate that not only did the U.S. government know that Hussein possessed these weapons, but “conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein’s military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin.” President Reagan alsoremained silent during the Al-Anfal campaign, in which Hussein used poison gas against the Kurdish population in Northern Iraq to put down a revolt against his rule. In what has later been called a genocide, more than 100,000 men, women, and children were killed, nearly 100 times more than the attack that took place outside of Damascus last month.
One key factor that has altered campaign coverage comes from the corporate right in the form of “conservative” media. If there has been a vacuum created by the downsizing of newsrooms, conservative media have filled it with an insistent partisanship unseen in commercial news media for nearly a century. The conservative media program has been a cornerstone of the Dollarocracy’s — the big money and corporate media election complex — political program since at least Lewis Powell’s 1971 memo. Initially, the work was largely about criticizing the news media for being unfair to conservative Republicans and having a liberal Democratic bias. Although the actual research to support these claims was, to be generous, thin—one major book edited by Brent Bozell actually claimed corporations such as General Electric were “liberal” companies with an interest in anti-business journalism because they had made small donations to groups like the NAACP and the Audubon Society—the point was not to win academic arguments. The point of bashing the “liberal media,” as Republican National Committee chairman Rich Bond conceded in 1992, was to “work the refs” like a basketball coach does so that “maybe the ref will cut you a little slack” on the next play.
The ultimate aim of Dollarocracy was, as James Brian McPherson put it, “to destroy the professionalism that has defined journalism since the mid-twentieth century.” The core problem was that professional journalism, to the extent it allowed editors and reporters some autonomy from the political and commercial values of owners, opened space for the legitimate presentation of news and perspectives beyond the range preferred by conservatives. That professional journalism basically conveyed the debates and consensus of official sources and remained steadfastly within the ideological range of the leadership of the two main political parties—it never was sympathetic to the political left—was of no concern. It still gave coverage to policy positions on issues such as unions, public education, civil rights, progressive taxation, social security, and the environment that were thoroughly mainstream but anathema to the right. Key to moving the political center of gravity to the right was getting the news media on the train, and that meant getting them to have a worldview more decidedly sympathetic to the needs of society’s owners. Newt Gingrich was blunt when he told media owners in 1995 that they needed to crack the whip on their newsrooms and have the news support the corporation’s politics. “Get your children to behave,” he demanded in a private meeting with media CEOs.
In the late 1980s, conservatives moved from criticism to participation with the aggressive creation of right-wing partisan media. The first decisive move came with AM talk radio. The elimination of the Fairness Doctrine (which required that a broadcaster provide two sides to controversial political issues) and the relaxation of ownership rules such that a handful of companies established vast empires opened the door to a tidal wave of hard-core right-wing talk-show hosts. By the first decade of the century, the 257 talk stations owned by the five largest companies were airing over 2,500 hours of political talk weekly and well over 90 percent was decidedly right wing.
The undisputed heavyweight champion was and is Rush Limbaugh, who emerged as a national radio force by 1990 and who by 1993 was already recognized by the bible of modern conservatism, William F. Buckley Jr.’s National Review magazine, as an unmatched political power in Republican circles; the Review dubbed him the “Leader of the Opposition.” Limbaugh and his cohorts have the power to make or break Republican politicians, and all who wish successful national careers have to pray at his far-right altar or suffer the consequences. As Kathleen Hall Jamieson and Joseph Cappella put it, in many respects Limbaugh came to play the role party leaders had played in earlier times.
Yesterday, as Sen. Rand Paul was conducting a filibuster over the Obama administration’s assertion that there could possibly be hypothetical “extraordinary circumstance” under which it would be necessary for the President to authorize the use of military force or drone strike against US citizens within the United States, Bryan Fischer dedicated a segment of his program to praising Paul for his stance.
In Fischer’s view, Paul’s filibuster was important because President Obama is a tyrant who does not want to allow anyone who disagrees with him to express their views and so, “based on the way the administration is crafting their policy here about the use of drones, you’ve got to be concerned that something you might say at a Tea Party would be used as an excuse” to launched a drone strike against your house: