Matt Damon Takes Out a Libertarian Ambush Journalist

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A blog called Reason has a Reason TV “Hit & Run” offshoot which is pretty much what you’d think it is: ambush journalism. The only thing Reason TV’s ambulance chasers have going for them is they aren’t very good at it so they don’t come off like some sleazy Fox News Jesse Waters pit bull clones. Waters is such a hack even Bill O’Reilly’s right-wing pal Bernie Goldberg won’t defend him against accusations of gross bias.  Yet, I digress.

“Hit & Run” struck gold in chasing down actor Matt Damon who was giving a speech on education at a rally in DC. You see, Matt’s mom is a teacher.

Reason TV’s version of the video is mostly a grab-bag of very brief interviews, including Damon’s. Quite frankly, their piece is a pretty incoherent mash-up of heavily edited clips with the sole point of letting us know the obvious: Libertarians hate public education. If you read the accompanying statistics in their blog post they make the point that private teachers are so much better because unlike the average public teacher earning an average wage, private teachers’ salaries really suck. More evidence the agenda of the right-wingers is to drive down middle-class wages as if we really needed any more.

There is a pleasant twist to all of this. Reason earned a spot on Anderson Cooper’s “The Rediculist” where he has entirely too much fun with the topic. Enjoy!

Fox News Attacks Possible Al Sharpton MSNBC Hosting Gig

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The Reverend Al Sharpton may replace Cenk Uygar at MSNBC’s 6 PM time slot reports Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid rag, the New York Post but that isn’t the only Murdoch property sniffing up Sharpton’s butt on this story. Fox News Watch, ironically a media bias watchdog show that’s one of the more conservatively biased programs GOP TV carries, is all over it as well. Fox News Watch is less interested in discussing the facts but having a partisan political hootenanny attacking the notion.

Notice that “fair and balanced” Fox News needs a ‘liberal’ to legitimize both their fairness and their balance. Enter Kirsten Powers, a Clintonite, who has since realized how rich the milk coming from Murdoch’s tit is. She’s not only drawing a fat Fox News paycheck but double-dipping in the News Corp trough over at the New York Post. While I can’t say she never makes a decent liberal point, she knows well the tolerance levels of the conservative Fox News audience and plays the game accordingly. In this clip you wouldn’t know she had any liberal leanings if I hadn’t already clued you into her Fox News Watch role.

Is the Reverend Al biased? Undoubtedly. He’s the typical team sport pundit who’ll do anything to make an argument defending fellow liberals even if his arguments are thin at best. Yet the obvious irony here is Fox News Watch is loath to criticize anyone except the usual liberal suspects conservatives froth and foam over. I’ll wear out my fingers citing right-wing hosts featured on Fox News such as Bill ‘Papa Bear’ O’Reilly (The O’Reilly Factor), Sean Hannity (Hannity), Greta Van Susterin (On The Record), Neil Cavuto (Your World), Greg Gutfeld (Red Eye), Mike Huckabee (Huckabee), Jon Scott (News Watch), Gretchen Carlson (Fox & Friends), Steve Doocy (Fox & Friends),  Brian Kilmeade (Fox & Friends), Jeanine Pirro (Justice with Judge Jeanine), Brenda Buttner (Bulls & Bears), David Asman (Forbes On Fox), Oliver North (War Stories), Paul Gigot (Journal Editorial Report) and so on.

Perhaps the media watchdog hounds at Fox News Watch will turn a similar critical eye to their own new show The Five. A lame concept where a rotating panel of 5 Fox News second-stringers rapid fire talking points over red meat conservative topics. If you look at their website it looks like a “fair and balanced” line-up of liberals (the Fox News analyst version of liberal) and conservatives. However, if you witnessed Bob Beckel last week in his continual lament it’s a 4:1 right-wing pile on travesty you can pretty much see where that show’s format is headed: Just another featured Fox News conservative propaganda mill. As if the network needs another one!

Charles Krauthammer Blinks; I Laugh (Quite a Bit)

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The sausage-making may be unsightly, but the problem is not that Washington is broken, that ridiculous ubiquitous cliché.

Financial Times called Charles Krauthammer “the most influential commentator in America.” Having a chair at the table of Fox News’ Special Report with Bret Baier certainly puts an exclamation mark to that statement though I’m sure there’s no shortage of talk radio stars like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and Laura Ingraham who might argue the point.
Charles Krauthammer
Nevertheless he still yields considerable weight which he’s leveraging to shill for Speaker Boehner’s debt ceiling plan. You could say he was premature in pushing the Republicans, particularly the Tea Party types, to vote yea on the Boehner plan because the 1st two drafts couldn’t muster enough votes to pass the House. Each interation gets better from Charle’s perspective. With a balanced budget amendment provision added to the package and passage assured, Krauthammer published a syndicated column pleading his case one more time.

That an establishment conservative pundit is backing the leader of the Republican establishment is hardly newsworthy except Charles is typically a real fire-breather talking of deep moral principles and expressing bitter santimony of the shallowness of everything Democratic. I’ve had a hard time watching him on Bret Baier’s panel insist President Obama’s playing politics by requiring the debt ceiling deal run past the next election yet Speaker of the House Boehner isn’t by pushing for at least one more pre-election vote to keep the Republican’s top issue front and center before the voters as they make up who they want to be the next resident of the White House.

Charles Krauthammer’s hypocrisy on this issue digs quite deeper. In his column he assues the Tea Party House members holding out for the whoe enchilada “I have every sympathy with the conservative counterrevolutionaries.” Then he spends the rest of his editorial trying to convice them to give up their principles in favor of real politics. Just be good team players, folks.

Senator Rand Paul said tonight that the Boehner plan serves no purpose. It can’t pass the Senate and the Cut, Cap and Balance Bill they sent earlier, which met the same fate, was much closer to the Tea Party’s ideal. So why is Charles cheerleading this particular link of sausage?

It might take a partial federal government shutdown to press all sides to finally face reality. However, the odds are Speaker Boehner and his buddies probably have gotten as much mileage as they can from this issue. They forced the issue of budget cuts in their favor. They got the Democrats to drop increasing revenues as part of the solution, probably the most foolish aspect of the negotiatons but more on that at the end. Forcing an 11th hour balanced budget amendment with no time to debate this momentous issue is simply irresponsible and has no chance to pass.

So “the most influential commentator in America” puts his weight behind a bill that’s dead on arrival, is a compromise of his cherished principles in all forms, and is such a bad piece of legislation it isn’t a long-term solution by design but a ploy to embarass President Obama closer to election time. Charles gets paid to publish this rubbish? Nice job if you can get it.

America’s running huge deficits. The Republican Party has seized the moment to push their tired meme of shrinking government. However, the terrifying scope and scale of our budget deficit is largely a product of our economy many call the Great Recession. In bad economic times obviously our government must spend more to help the poor and unemployed. Add to this mix the cost of our military adventures abroad. War is expensive. Add further the cost of the Bush tax cut extension. Then there were expenditures to blunt economic crisis: TARP and Obama’s stimulus plan.

Republican national debt forecasts look at current spending and project it forever. Senator Reid’s rival plan points out the obvious: the surge in Afghanistan will end. That lowers the projections but they cry “foul” because it isn’t a new cut. Which is what their argument is really about. They’re not trying to solve the current crisis. They’re just using it as a subtrafuge to fullfil their wet dream of shrinking government to some utopian 18th century mythology.

Which is why revenues should have been kept on the table as the Democrats wanted. Ending the Bush tax cuts – and this would personally affect me – would do much in cutting the deficit. Add in 2:1 or even 3:1 budget cuts and you’re talking real money that would prevent a downgrade in our debt rating (a phony issue, I believe, but I’ll leave that for another day). The wars will end. The recession will end. We can balance the budget in the good times.

Finally, there are obligations which will long-term be a giant debt bomb: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Health care reform should have fixed the latter two. Sadly, it didn’t. However, a sober solution to these complex problems can’t be found during the current toxic debt ceiling negotiations.

Charles should have discussed all this but went for the easy paycheck feeding red meat to his conservative fanboys.

Put ‘The President Does Not Have A Plan’ Meme to Bed

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Weekly “fair and balanced” Fox and Friends trot out Brent Bozell to expose media bias. Which is to say the arch conservative data-mines topics to keep alive the notion the media, except trusted conservative sources like Fox News, is in the tank for liberals.

Today his topic was the liberal media blaming the Republicans for the debt negotiation impasse. My personal observation is rival CNN isn’t bashful about spreading around the blame – often expressing opinions I don’t agree with – but you don’t hear me whining about it. Yet, I digress.

He propped up his argument with the tired talking point President Obama hasn’t written down a plan. Countless conservative Fox News guests have parroted this point. Not to mention Greta Van Susteren beat this topic to death last night on her GOP TV show as did Sean Hannity in his slug-fest with Juan Williams (who put on his liberal hat for a while).

So the conservative Fox News partisans finger-point to a failure of leadership on the President’s part. What’s overlooked is President Obama couldn’t get any practical movement from Speaker of the House Boehner or Majority Leader Cantor regarding general principles. Nor was this the first Democratic attempt as Vice President Biden saw the Republicans walk out on him too. If you can’t reach agreement on broad issues like revenue enhancenents and defense cuts being on the table wasting the President’s time drilling down into the weeds of details is foolish.

I fundamentally don’t understand how such a dumb idea gets so much mileage on Fox News. Oh wait, I did say it was Fox News.

Jon Stewart Double Feature: In the Name of the Fodder & GOP Special Victims Unit

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I’ve waded through the sewer that is Anders Behring Breivik’s manifesto. He wrapped himself in the Knights Templar and cultural Christianity. Certainly he meets no reasonable standard of Christian by practice or behavior. Yet his mania passionately embraced it.

One conservative meme defining “fair and balanced” Fox News is its unending “culture war”. They’re the self-appointed protectors of Christianity in America against the liberal atheist hordes. It doesn’t matter if the idea that Christianity is being persecuted in America is pure hooey. Fox News can data-mine a prayer in school stifled here and a nativity scene banned in some public building there to build mountains from mole hills.

Given this, it’s no surprise Fox News would be hyper-sensitive to any media mentions of a mass murderer embracing cultural Christianity.

Add their equally rabid war against Islam, a religion competing against their own, and this stinking pile of hypocrisy can erupt into hilarity. Nobody’s more skilled at pointing this our than Jon Stewart.

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As funny as the first clip is, I find his second sketch far more satisfying. More fundamental to Fox News’ “fair and balanced” hubris is the way it smears liberals then turns around and whines how mean and evil the liberals are to them. How many times have I heard them complain liberals are taking a page from Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals or practicing the bared knuckled “Chicago way” politics? Too many to count.

Ah… payback is rewarding!

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Laugh of the Day

So I’m driving to the grocery store listening to Fox News’ Fox and Friends morning show on XM satellite radio. We all know Fox News proudly declares itself “fair and balanced”. Fox and Friends daily proves their slogan bull crap with its ceaseless attacks on President Obama which contrasts nicely with them reflexively apologizing for President Bush.

Putting the two things together – their slogan and their hypocrisy – it strikes my funny bone as highly ironic Fox and Friends ran a segment attacking President Obama’s heavy use of the phrase “balanced approach” in last night’s speech as transparently political.

I suppose a pot calling a kettle black would know these things.

Cenk Uygur Sounds Off to Keith Olbermann on Leaving MSNBC

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I have a confession to make. While I don’t catch it very often, maybe once in a blue moon, I do like Cenk Uygur on The Young Turks. Yes, I realize he’s pretty liberal, this is The Propaganda Factory where I criticize the propagandists, and those two things seem radically opposed. Cenk UygurHowever, I never claimed to be “fair and balanced” and Cenk certainly is no wallflower as to his leanings.

Isn’t that the point of MSNBC? Unlike Fox News which pretends to be straight-shooters with their “fair and balanced” bullshit branding, MSNBC chose “lean forward” as theirs. While heavily mocked by Fox News which pretends not to know what it means – hey, maybe the Foxies are that dumb – it’s an obvious admission the cable channel is progressive. With Rachael Maddow, Ed Shultz and once-up-a-time Keith Olbermann in their line-up my argument is they do a bit more than simply lean.

After conservative Comcast’s takeover and Olbermann exiting one had to wonder if they were reigning back in that lean. However, Lawrence O’Donnell fills that liberal void. The few times I’ve watched him he’s as personable as Keith, makes an articulate liberal argument and is less reckless with this tongue than his predecessor.

As much as I liked Cenk on TYT, I wasn’t impressed the time or two I saw him on MSNBC. The charm was gone and replaced by an uncomfortable edginess. I’m not suprised he left. What surprised me is apparently MSNBC wanted him to stay and was willing to pay handsomely for it; Cenk decided to say goodbye over tensions with MSNBC management.

Speaking of Keith, it’s fitting that Cenk ran over to Current TV to tell his side of the story.

So what’s going on? Is MSNBC reigning in the liberalism? Cenk seems to think so. Or is MSNBC just dealing with problem children?

Fox News Turns a Small Touch of Patriotism Into Something Dirty

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I’m watching Hannity – and, no, I’m not going to focus on Sean – which is a real red, white and blue show. The lower third crawler featured an American flag until “BREAKING NEWS” replaced it. Even without the flag literally waving his set’s red, white and blue motif is not exactly subtle.

I served in the military so there’s no lack of patriotism here. However, the wear-it-on-the-sleeve variety featured routinely on Fox News strikes me as shallow. More to the point, it’s lazy because it lacks any sacrifice. So let’s talk about a story with some small element of giving of oneself: the Joining Forces Movie Series.

What is it? Simply put it’s a small token of appreciation Hollywood is showing military families. Special screenings of movies are shown on bases for military families. I mention it because it’s a case of Fox News’ selective patriotism.

Michelle Obama attended a showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two at Naval Air Station Oceana. Here’s a chance for Fox News to spotlight a little piece of patriotism. Yet they didn’t. Quite to the contrary, they turned it into something dirty and it has nothing to do with conservatives thumbing their noses at liberal Hollywood per their habit.

No, Michelle Obama said something Fox News decided to pounce upon with their typical “fair and balanced” partisanship: “How many Harry Potter fans are here?” Michelle Obama asked the crowd. “How many people have read all the books and seen all the movies? Well, you’re right along with the president and my girls. They’ve seen the movie already. They lined right up.”

Did you catch it? I didn’t either until I read the Fox Nation headline covering the event: “With Default Looming, Obama Finds Time To See New Harry Potter Movie…” Clever huh?

Now, the obvious come-back is to point out that President Bush wasn’t exactly the hardest working leader of the free world either. As CBS points out he spend 487 days with his feet propped up at Camp David, another 490 days playing cowboy at his Texas ranch. However, while I’ve used this talking point as debate fodder in the past, quite frankly, I don’t begrudge presidents taking some time off. If you look at all them age in office, they need to recharge their batteries probably more than anyone else in this great nation.

Unfortunately the story doesn’t really end here. Fox Nation links to their source, the conservative Weekly Standard, which also took a shot at the president: “It sure is a politically safe move for the president to reveal himself as a Harry Potter fan, naturally. But one does wonder where the Obamas ‘lined right up’ to see the latest film.”

Lost in all this partisan sniping is a good deed. Forget the First Lady stepping out to spend some time with the troops. I’m sure Fox News sees it as a cynical photo opportunity. You’ll never get them to praise a Democrat unless they rubber-stamp some Republican policy. But the least they could do is highlight the Joining Forces Movie Series initiative.

A story on Joining Forces Movie Series might have encouraged others to support our troops, even in some small way. That’d be a far better outcome than some cheap, partisan sniping.

Wherein I State My Purpose

Politics in America is broken. Can I make a safer statement? If I venture into why I think it’s broken, well now I’ve opened a can of worms guaranteed to draw fire from partisans but politics in America is completely screwed up to the point I can’t contain my feelings so here I sit typing away.

Politics used to be a ‘hobby’, an interest to debate. Sure, I was sincere and passionate but did it really impact my life?

The game’s changed. I have a close, formerly unemployed friend who came within a few months of losing his house. The debate to extend unemployment benefits wasn’t an abstraction, it was the difference between hope and homelessness.