Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Stacking The Deck

I would imagine that most of us are aware of the current controversy going on about remarks made at the funeral of Coretta Scott King by Jimmy Carter and The Rev. Joseph Lowery, so please allow me to add my voice to the chorus stating how ridiculous it is for anyone to object to their comments (I don’t know what Imus said about the funeral, by the way, but Imus is an insect unworthy of mention anyway as far as I’m concerned, so I pay him little regard).

Update 2/10: This brilliant column shows why Wolcott is who he is (first hat tip of the day to Atrios).

Update 2/11: This is a great post from Al Franken comparing the Coretta Scott King funeral to the memorial for Paul Wellstone and his family, to refute the Repug argument about "liberals and funerals."

(I look at it this way; I and many others had to endure a boatload of historical revisionism about the Reagan presidency when Ronnie Baby died a year and a half ago, so the least some of the right-wing peckerheads can do is look the other way when someone at a service for someone they oppose actually speaks the truth - and how sad is it that they opposed MLK and Mrs. King?).

(This occurred to me a few minutes ago...I've seen some photos of the ceremony for Mrs. King, but I couldn't locate "the beautiful mind" anywhere, though I could have missed her. If not, I wonder what happened. Did the presence of so many "Negroes" at the ceremony remind her of her encounter with Katrina's victims in the Astrodome and scare her away? Or did she - gulp - actually have an attack of conscience and decide not to show her face out of shame?).

Part of the reason why I’m bringing up the funeral and some of the coverage is because I came across this CNN link where Miles O’Brien and Jeff Greenfield, two widely known members of our bought-and-paid-for corporate media, are quick to chastise Carter, Lowery and others who sympathize with them, but, as always, give the right-wing bloviators a pass. I find it humorous that Greenfield was surprised by “how quickly this became an item within the other side, within the political right.”

Why? Aren’t you aware of how lefty and right-wing bloggers (with myself, again, being a “little fish” in the former category) watch this stuff and each other (the “big-hit” sites, anyway) so we can fire at each other? The way I see it, this is a necessary exercise, but there’s a lot more “sport” in it for some of the other bigger names, I would speculate.

This, though, is the main reason why I want to point out why Greenfield, who I once respected as a legitimate journalist, has now completely “gone over,” as far as I’m concerned. As he and O’Brien continued to flap their gums about what they thought all of this meant, Greenfield uncorked this little gem that communicates to me that he is now a true partisan.

I do, however, think that in a more subtle way, this actually rebounds to the credit of President Bush. I mean, he came to the funeral, changed his plans, made a gracious speech. And I think for people who are not politically committed -- I mean, if you don't like George Bush, this was fine. If you like George Bush, this was horrible.
To me, it sounds like a wash. If you like Bush – and God help you – you’re going to despise anything those damn lefty, terrorist-loving libtards (love that one) do anyway. If you utterly loathe him, like me, you’re going to be very happy about the fact that, as one astute commenter pointed out (at Think Progress, I believe), Dubya was forced to listen to Carter and Lowery and other people who properly eulogized not only Coretta Scott King but her husband also, sitting and squirming all the while because he was out of his protective “bubble” full of either his fawning sycophants or our service people who have no choice but to afford him the respect of his office and endure his idiotic statements.

Given all of that, how can someone who pretends to be objective consider this as something that “actually rebounds to the credit of President Bush”?

Also, though I know Greenfield is partly trying to understand the Bush-lovers by stating what may appear to be “horrible” to them, I think that this column by Katrina Vanden Heuvel of The Huffington Post will portray something that truly qualifies (particularly this noted excerpt, from a post dealing with the separate issue of the Ken Mehlman/Hillary Clinton dustup, and it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to see where I come down on that one):

Hmmm…. Do Clinton’s conclusions reflect anger, or an accurate assessment of an administration which has gutted the treasury, eroded the environment, added millions to the rolls of those without health insurance, botched this medicare prescription drug plan, increased those living in poverty, divided our society, rolled back our hard-earned civil rights and liberties, ruined our reputation, frayed our military, undermined our security, and overall weakened America? Perhaps, Mr. Mehlman, the Senator's onto something. I think there are a lot of citizens who are mad as hell about what's happening to a nation they love. Have you checked out the polls on how many folks believe this country is heading in the wrong direction?
What she describes above is more “horrible” than anything Greenfield or O’Brien can imagine, as far as I’m concerned.

(By the way, I realize that I could spend huge amounts of time at this site, even more so than usual, dissecting a vast array of MSM nonsense like this, but the people doing God’s work at Media Matters For America are much better at it than I will ever be.)

OK, now let’s move on to Cokie and Steve Roberts, shall we?

This appeared recently in The Bucks County Courier Times as a sap of sorts to the moderate-to-lefty types among the paper’s readership (toss yours truly into that mix, of course). To properly refute the column, it will be necessary for me to reproduce it here (and by the way, please take note of the's important because the senator from their home state turns out to be their "white knight").

Update: I meant to point this out yesterday, but the Robertses, in this previous column, came up with this bit of faux journalistic fluff from fantasyland:

Backing (John) Roberts (for Chief Justice) won't alter the court's "balance," since he would replace a like-minded jurist, the late William Rehnquist. And by breaking the vicious cycle of partisanship that grips Washington today, Democrats might even help their cause by eliciting a similar gesture from the president.
"A similar gesture" from the president, huh? Tell me what state of inebriation you were in when you saw Dubya EVER grant an act of conciliation to a member of the opposition party?

OK, now the column...

FT. LAUDERDALE, FLA. — In a cartoon by Nick Anderson in the Louisville Courier-Journal, two Democratic donkeys are pondering Samuel Alito's elevation to the Supreme Court. "Where did we go wrong?" asks one. "November 2004" answers the second.
I have to reluctantly admit that that’s a good point, though the column quickly goes downhill from here.

Exactly. All the talk that Democratic senators failed to interrogate Alito and reveal his flaws is beside the point. The court has moved to the right because Democrats lost the last presidential election and gave ground in the Senate. The real question now is: can Democrats reverse that trend in 2006 and 2008?
Actually, read Cenk’s great analysis on this from “How The Repugs Rig The Game” in the upper right corner of this page (with help from chicken dems, I should add) to get a lot better of an understanding of what happened with Alito.

Sen. John Kerry demonstrated what the Democrats should not be doing: pandering to their own left wing.
Get ready for another sap to that same DLC and “Third Way” bunch that does nothing but lose elections any more, in case you hadn’t already guessed that that was coming (and I love the casual ease with which the punditocracy so easily dismisses our concerns, don’t you?).

His last-gasp, half-baked attempt to lead a filibuster against Alito showed again that Kerry is in the grand tradition of Al Gore and Michael Dukakis — defeated Democrats who fail to grasp a basic truth about modern American politics.
I don’t know whether or not Harry Reid knew Kerry’s filibuster was coming – that really should have come from Reid, but in all fairness, he got left hanging out to dry on the John Roberts nomination by the same bunch who tuned out Kerry on Alito. I also noted the perverse manner in which the Roberts team applied the same “broad brush” to Gore and Dukakis…gosh, generalizations in lieu of actual investigation and analysis comes so easily for them, doesn’t it? I don’t think Gore should run again either, but at least he’s been showing a spine over the last year or so, which is plenty more than I can say or ever will for his former running mate and others in his party.

In 2004, only 21 percent of the voters called themselves liberals, while 45 percent said they were moderates. And it was Kerry's failure with white middle-ground middle-class voters in swing states like this one that cost him the election.
I would argue that electoral fraud in Florida and Ohio played into that also, but I will reluctantly agree with the authors that Kerry’s team fundamentally misunderstood the dynamic of the 2004 election, and that was who would keep us safer. The fact that Kerry lost on that is tragic partly because that election was eminently winnable for him with the right strategy, even with the red state zombies chanting “Only Dubya can save us and keep the gays from marrying, only Dubya can save us and keep the gays from marrying…”

An analysis by Third Way, a Democratic think tank, concluded that these voters "feel that Democrats are hostile to, not champions of, their interests."

So how do Democrats change that perception? A new ABC/Washington Post poll provides some clues. When asked to rate President Bush's handling of 10 key issues, a majority approved of his performance on only one — terrorism. That's the core of the president's political strength: Americans think he will keep them safe.

Democrats have to challenge that assumption. They have to ask a version of Ronald Reagan's famous question in 1980: Are you really safer than you were four years ago?
They could try, and they should, but you guys would still allow them to get drowned out by the right-wing noise machine (just stating a fact, that’s all).

When Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressed surprise at the triumph of Hamas in the Palestinian elections, her words had a painfully familiar ring. This is the same administration that was surprised by the insurgency in Iraq and by the flood in New Orleans. Do you really trust them? Do they really know what they're doing?
I actually agree with a good bit of that analysis, but you’ll get a good laugh out of their conclusion.

In the same poll, at least 60 percent disapproved of Bush's performance on three issues: Iraq, health care and the budget deficit. Those numbers suggest possible Democratic campaign themes aimed directly at middle-of-the road voters.

Every hospital rebuilt in Baghdad is one not repaired in Biloxi. Every year under Bush, a million more Americans have lost health insurance. Cutting taxes again in the face of rising deficits makes no sense — and every voter who runs a household knows that. As for incendiary social issues, moderation also sells. Americans favor legal abortion, but don't mind reasonable restrictions. They want gay couples to have civil benefits, but not legal marriages. Democrats can stay true to their principles without alienating the voters who determine elections.

For guidance, party strategists should pay attention to Democrats who run well in red states. In Florida, Sen. Bill Nelson, who faces re-election in the fall, refused to filibuster Alito, but explained his vote against the nominee by repeating key words: Alito was not a "centrist" or "impartial" or "independent."
Oh, that’s truly a hoot.

Let’s see now, Nelson voted for CAFTA, the tort “deform” legislation, and the bankruptcy “reform” bill (as noted here by David Sirota, and as always, when any politician talks about “reform,” make sure you hang onto your wallet.)

So even though Nelson voted against Alito’s confirmation at the floor vote, he didn’t support Kerry’s filibuster (a la Lieberman). So he didn’t have the courage of his convictions to truly follow through and oppose Alito if he believed he was a bad judge because he didn’t want to stand up for what he believed in (either that, or he wanted to make sure nobody thought he was one of those bad “lib-uuu-ruuls”). I see now.

Oh, and did I mention that Nelson voted for the confirmation of John Roberts as chief justice of the Supreme Court?

At town meetings, Nelson stresses "energy independence" and rails against the administration for refusing to require higher fuel efficiency from big auto companies.

And he lambastes Bush for opposing legislation that would enable Washington to negotiate lower prices with big drug companies. This is exactly where Democrats need to be: in favor of working families on basic issues, from the air they breathe to the pills they swallow.
And Kerry and the senators who supported Alito’s filibuster don’t believe in those causes also?

Then there is Tim Kaine, the new governor of Virginia, chosen to give the Democratic response to the State of the Union. Few labels have hurt the Democrats more in the last 40 years than the "anti-faith party."
A slur gladly repeated by you, Greenfield (who, again, implied that the conduct of some Democrats and their sympathizers during the Coretta Scott King funeral was “horrible”) and your like-minded pool of media stenographers, as we know.

The rising power of the religious right has obliterated the tradition of progressive believers like the Rev. Martin Luther King, but Kaine, in Jerry Falwell's home state, is resurrecting that tradition.
Can someone please explain to me what that sentence means (“obliterated the tradition of progressive believers…”)? I’ve read it about six times, and I have no bloody idea what the hell the author is trying to say.

His campaign ads stressed his service with Jesuit missionaries in Honduras and he says bluntly of his public career: "I wouldn't be doing this if it weren't for a commitment to serve other people, and that commitment to serve other people is rooted in a very fundamental thing — and that's my religion." Calling the Democrats the "anti-faith party," he says, is "just flat wrong."
Second time you’ve managed to repeat the slur…I’m sure a lot of people who hadn’t given that a though now have it ingrained in their minds. Good job!

If the Democrats want to stop complaining about Republicans judges and start picking their own, they can begin by listening to Bill Nelson and Tim Kaine.
I have a suggestion for the Roberts team (and I mean the writers, not the judge). Try traveling above the Mason-Dixon line next time to ACTUALLY TALK to some of the people you’re writing about (i.e., those baad Northeastern Democrats, as well as those other brave souls who supported the Alito filibuster because they saw him for the wingnut that he truly is – more info here).

I want to point out, though, that I admire Tim Kaine in many ways. I think he “hits a lot of the right notes.” However, he supports the war in Iraq. I understand that probably plays well in his home state (though the opposition is growing), but I think he must show a principled disagreement and say enough is enough on that vital issue.

As I read and considered all of this, I realize how truly splintered the Democrats are, and it is crystal clear why many people would consider them viable as a default alternative only. This has always been the case, though Bill Clinton was able to work the political miracle of getting enough of the party leadership to play along (unfortunately, the party organization atrophied also, which Howard Dean and others are working to correct as hard as they can). Also, even though I despise Karl Rove with words that I won’t use here, it is also obvious how effective he has been in driving a wedge among the members of our party on the issues. And I see no illumination at all into that from the empty media vessels I’ve highlighted here, nor do I expect that I ever will.

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