Saturday, February 27, 2010

Obama's Old College Try at Bi-partisanship

This past week, Bill Maher likened the President's efforts to achieve bipartisanship to the guy in college who keeps hitting on the lesbian chick: continually rebuffed but ultimately hopeful she'll change her mind about him.

Nailed it, Bill.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Farewell, Mr. Boone


The man they call Aaron "Fuckin" Boone all over New England retired from pro baseball this week. After a brief comeback with the Houston Astros last year, following open-heart surgery, the one-time Yankees 3B officially called it quits on Tuesday. He will join ESPN as a baseball analyst.

Just wanted to say thank you, Aaron Boone, for giving us a classic Yankee moment. (Which NEVER gets old, btw.) We won't ever forget you in the Bronx and hope to see you there very soon, and in pinstripes once again, for Old Timer's Day. Enjoy your retirement, sir.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Eric Erikson @ CPAC: "We've Got Fox News" Duh.

Also, Sarah Palin thinks liberals are not "real Americans"; scalding hot water burns; rock music tends to be played at loud volumes. Jeez...

Obama Thanks You, Dick Cheney

Speaking during a surprise appearance at the CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) convention, former Vice President Darth Vader, um, Dick Cheney predicted Barack Obama would be a one-term president. Seeing as Tricky Dick Jr has a history of being wrong on almost if not everything...

As for those urging Cheney to run in 2012, do they really want a candidate who left office with an approval rating in the teens? That's worse than the 71% that believe Sister Sarah is unqualified to be president. Ouch.

Senator Mellencamp (D-IN)?

AP:
An online effort to draft Hoosier rocker John Mellencamp to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Indiana's Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh is building up steam.

Twitter is abuzz with the rumor and three separate Facebook groups have been set up, with the largest boasting about 2,000 members.

Mellencamp is no stranger to politics. In 2008, he recorded a radio commercial supporting Barack Obama's presidential campaign and requested that Republican candidate John McCain stop playing his songs, including "Our Country" and "Pink Houses," at his rallies.

Mellencamp's songs often have political or social themes. He is a co-founder of Farm Aid.

On Thursday, Mellencamp spokesman Bob Merlis said the musician "has no statement to offer."

The "he's not a real American" countdown starts...now.

Teabaggers, Birthers + Militia: A Love Story

Taking in all this craziness I was thinking about how American this phenomenon is: the guns, the ignorance, the isolationism. But you know what? It isn't just an American thing. Take away the guns part of the equation and you have the same thing in Europe as well. (During a brief stay in Madrid a few years ago, I saw anti-Semitic graffiti in an upscale neighborhood close to downtown; was told to stay in on a night in which a soccer team favored by racist skinheads won a deciding match; routinely came across anti-racism activists, the likes of which I hadn't seen in NYC since the days of S.H.A.R.P. Remember them?)

But more importantly, these people have gained power all across the Old Continent, right-wing extremists representing constituencies in the same manner as our congressmen and women, and in certain instances getting a substantial amount of votes in nationwide elections. And that's where I feel the Sarah Palins and the Michelle Bachmanns want to take the Tea Baggers, Birthers+Militia folks: mainstreaming the fringe into the bosom of the GOP, and redefining the party in the process. Don't forget, these are all constituencies--along with the biggest of them all: the Christian Right--the Republicans have always discreetly courted but ditched whenever politically expedient. Well, looks like they're mad as hell and won't take it anymore. Where this leaves the traditional conservative establishment is anyone's guess.

Basically what we have is the confluence of a reawakened '90s militia movement (with a black president as an incredibly valuable recruiting tool) and a Ross Perot-type phenomenon in the Tea Baggers/Birthers. But while the GOP may feed off the anti-Obama sentiment these groups espouse, they are keenly aware of how these folks could conceivably splinter off into some third party, decisively hurting Republican chances. Which is why you see Sister Sarah patiently trying to nudge these folks off into the Republican side. (Where they could ostensibly support her as a GOP candidate.) Unfortunately for her, a few of these folks have picked up on this opportunism of hers and have been speaking out on the subject. Will it take? I dunno, the lady is very charismatic...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Measure of Today's Racism

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann eloquently touches on the subject:

[T]he president is black, but you can't come out and say that's why you're scared. Say that and in all but the lifeless fringes of our society, you are an outcast. So this is where the euphemisms come in. Your taxes haven't gone up. The budget deficit is from the last administration's adventurous war. Grandma is much more likely to be death paneled by your insurance company. And a socialist president would be the one who tried to buy as many voters as possible with stupid tax cuts.

But facts don't matter when you're looking for an excuse to say you hate this president. But not because he's black. Anything you can say out loud without your family and friends bursting into laughter at you will do.

And this is where those Tea Parties come in...But let me ask all of you who attend these things, how many black faces do you see at these events? How many Hispanics, Asians, gays? Where are these people? Surely there must be blacks who think they're being bled by taxation? Surely there must be Hispanics who think the government should have let the auto industry fail. Surely there must be people of all colors and creeds who believe in cultural literacy tests and speaking English.

Where are they? Where are they? Do you suppose they agree with you, but they've just chosen to attend their own separate meetings, that they're not at your Tea Party because they have a Tea Party of their own to go to?

Friday, February 12, 2010

The 'Reagan Party'?

Check out this gem posted last November:
"While the calendar may say 2009 for the Republican party it's really 1976. The party and millions of angry and alienated former members of the GOP are faced with the same decision their deceased--but very-much-alive--titular leader Ronald Reagan faced then: leave and start a new party or join and transform the one that was closest to their beliefs.

To be sure, the GOP circa 2009 is far closer to the ideals held by Ronald Reagan than it was in 1976, but the real prospect of whether the conservative movement should bolt and start a new party or stay in the GOP tent is once again front and center 33 years later."

Go for it! And take Sister Sarah with you. Please, I beg of you!

Endorsements: No Asian-Americans Athletes, Please ('til Tiger showed up, that is)

Interesting statement from a '90s piece questioning Olympic Gold Medalist Kristi Yamaguchi's lack of high-profile endorsements:

Bill Imada, whose Los Angeles consulting firm advises companies reaching out to the Asian market, feels that American companies are reluctant to use Asian Americans as spokespersons. "People like Kristi Yamaguchi don't represent, at least with marketers, the wholesome all-American image," says Imada. "The people making decisions in advertising, public relations, and marketing are, for the most part, white males who are most comfortable dealing with, and talking to, other white people."

Imada says he's been told by countless companies, from banks to insurance companies to soft-drink makers, that they don't want Asians in their ads because they're fearful of alienating their mainstream -- read: white -- customers. "They're afraid they might lose shares in the general market because there are certain images associated with their products, like Mom, apple pie, and America, and advertisers don't want to jeopardize that," says Imada. "Advertisers weren't exactly banging down Yamaguchi's door to give her endorsements."

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Attack of the 'Liberal' Media

Eric Boehlert, Media Matters:

If you don't think there's a media double standard that favors Republicans over Democrats, then let's play a game of what-if.

What if, in 2006, at Yearly Kos, the first annual convention of liberal bloggers and their readers, organizers shelled out $100,000 for former Vice President Al Gore to address attendees? And what if the same organizers booked as an opening-night speaker a fringe, radical-left conspiracy theorist who'd spent the previous year pushing the thoroughly debunked claim that some Bush White administration insiders played a role in, and even planned, the 9-11 attacks. What if the speaker (also proudly anti-Semitic) received a standing ovation from the liberal Yearly Kos crowd?

Given that backdrop, and given the fact that the 9-11 Truther nut had for weeks bragged about his chance to share the stage with Gore, do you think the press would have demanded that Gore justify his association with a hateful conference that embraced a 9-11 Truther? Do you think pundits would have universally mocked and ridiculed Gore's judgment while condemning the Yearly Kos convention as being a hothouse of left-wing hate? Do you think Gore's appearance would have become a thing?

I sure do.

Gore and liberal bloggers would have been crucified by the press and the D.C. chattering class if the scenario I described ever unfolded in real life. (FYI, it goes without saying that organizers for Yearly Kos, now known as Netroots Nation, would never dream of mainstreaming an anti-Semitic 9-11 Truther via a prime-time speaking gig.)

But this past weekend in Nashville, at the first National Tea Party Convention, the Beltway press did just the opposite with regard to Sarah Palin's keynote address, which did follow a prime-time speech by "birther" nut Joseph Farah, who over the years has carved out a uniquely hateful and demented corner of the right-wing blogosphere. Because, yes, at the Tea Party convention, Farah, a proud Muslim-hater and gay-hater, did receive a standing ovation from the conservative crowd after he unfurled his thoroughly debunked birther garbage. (i.e. Obama "doesn't have a birth certificate.") And Farah did brag in the weeks leading up to the event about his chance to share the stage with Palin, to associate with Palin. ("Sold out! Palin-Farah ticket rocks tea-party convention," read the headline at Farah's discredited right-wing site, WorldNetDaily.com.)

Worst of all, though, the press played dumb about the whole thing.

Fact: Virtually nobody in the corporate media said boo about Palin helping to legitimize Farah by sharing the same stage with him. She was given a total free ride.

And I mean nobody. According to Nexis, there were more than 150 newspaper articles and columns published in the U.S. last week that mentioned both Palin and the Tea Party. (Combined, The New York Times and The Washington Post published 18 of them.) Yet out of all those articles and columns, exactly two also mentioned Joseph Farah by name. (Congrats to the Philadelphia Daily News and New Hampshire's Concord Monitor.)

And keep in mind that lots of scribes, even after listening to Farah's rambling rant, filed dispatches from Nashville stressing how mellow and mainstream the Tea Party convention was turning out to be. According to the Post, the mood at the Nashville confab was "festive, even giddy." And no, not a single word in the Post dispatch mentioned Farah's high-profile birther harangue.

Bottom line: The birther movement embarrasses most conservatives. Yet even when they invite a birther nut to speak at their conference, the press still won't ask tough questions. Instead, journalists politely look away.

It didn't used to work that way. There's been a long media tradition of holding politicians accountable for their public associations, especially when they appear at conventions that feature fringe rhetoric from controversial speakers. Reporting on who politicians agree to share a stage with has always been considered not only fair game, but genuinely newsworthy.

It's just that in this instance, the press gave Palin a complete and unobstructed free ride, a free ride Al Gore never would have been afforded.

In fact, the stage-sharing question was actually of added importance at the Tea Party event, because the movement remains somewhat undefined, since, unlike a political party, it does not have obvious leaders. The people Tea Party organizers choose to associate with provide telling insight into where the movement might be headed.

For the second time today, let me paraphrase Chris Rock: If it's done by the Right, it's alright.

RIP: Murtha; Wilson

Congressman John Murtha (D-PA), a former Marine who became the first Vietnam veteran to serve in the House of Representatives, died on Feb. 8th from complications related to gallbladder surgery. Murtha had represented his district since 1974. He was 77 years old.

Best known as the character portrayed by Tom Hanks in the movie Charlie Wilson's War and for his efforts to fund the Afghan mujahideen fighting the USSR during the Soviet war in Afghanistan, former congressman Charles Wilson (D-TX) succumbed to cardiopulmonary arrest on Feb. 10th in his native Texas. Wilson was 76 years old.

Monday, February 8, 2010

G7 Pledges to Cancel Haiti Debt

BBC News:
The world's leading industrialized nations have pledged to write off the debts that Haiti owes them, following a devastating earthquake last month.

Great. But forgive me if I do a St. Thomas on this one.

All You Need to Know About Sister Sarah

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Guess Who is NOT Rooting for the Saints?

I don't follow the NFL--or football at any level, for that matter--but I'd like the New Orleans Saints to win the Super Bowl for obvious sentimental reasons. (Likewise, I also rooted for the Detroit Tigers to win MLB's AL Central in '09.)

Now, if there was anyone out there who should be rooting for the Saints this Sunday it would be a guy whose name will be forever linked to the government's bungling of all matters relating to Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, but he's not. Are you surprised?

Lupica: Bring Damon Back

[Side note: If he's not coming back to the Bronx, I hope Johnny Damon signs with the Detroit Tigers–who from all accounts are lacking a solid lefty bat w/above average power–and helps them win the AL Central. (Btw, Johnny hit 24 HRs in '09. How many HRs did Bret Gardner, Randy Winn, and Nick Jonson hit last year? 13. Combined.) A recent poll says 73% of Tigers fans would welcome the acquisition of Johnny Damon–as long it's not a break-the-bank type deal.]

I'm not a fan of Mike Lupica's but I agree w/him on the whole Yankee "budget"/Damon scenario:

If the Yankees want to have a budget, tell them to tee it up with the same payroll the Mets have, the Red Sox, the Phillies, the next biggest spenders. Tell them to get themselves under the threshold for the luxury tax in baseball, because they're the only ones over it.

Or tell us that they still can't make money on their baseball operation even winning the World Series. Then everybody in town can get their minds around letting Damon walk away.

And believe me, his side isn't in this for the truth and beauty. Scott Boras believes that baseball teams are just ATM machines for him. Every time he's at one of these Yankee press conferences and shifts his gaze, I just think he's on alert in case somebody has dropped a twenty on the carpet. If he's chafed the Yankees on this one, well, it's not like this is the first time.

It's in his best interests to get his client the best situation as well as the most money. And Damon's best situation is left field, Yankee Stadium, batting second.

The Yankees found $300 million when they wanted Alex Rodriguez back. They found the money for Teixeira. They can still find the money for Johnny Damon. Can they win without him? Of course they can.

But who's forcing them to try?

They were supposed to be done spending money last winter after they spent a quarter-of-a-billion bucks on Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. Then Cashman wanted Teixeira and they weren't done. Nobody is saying Johnny Damon is as important to the 2010 Yankees as Teixeira was to the '09 Yankees.

They're better with him than without him. They don't win the World Series without him.

Bring back Damon.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Obama's Great Opportunity

If the President wants to fully implement his agenda and avoid becoming a one-term president, he has to roll up his sleeves and ditch this idea of bipartisanship. Hell, kick it in the nuts, I say.

Don’t get me wrong: in principle, I believe in bipartisanship. But when you’ve cultivated an atmosphere of fear, mistrust and miscommunication among your base and constituents, as the GOP has done, options have dwindled in earnest. The president brought up this particular point at the Republican congressional retreat last Friday when he accused them of framing health care reform as a sort of "Bolshevik plot" and limiting their ability to come to the negotiating table in good faith.

And when a new poll of Republican voters shows that 63% think he’s a socialist; 53% actually believe Sarah Palin is more qualified to be president than he is; 39% of them think he should be impeached (for what?); 36% don’t believe he was born in the United States; 31% think he’s a racist; 24% believe Obama wants "the terrorists to win" (huh?); and 21% are pretty sure ACORN stole the 2008 election; well…it’s time to man up and do your own thing. Now, before it's too late. (He definitely took steps in that direction this past week.) And don’t even get me started on Joe Lieberman or the so-called Blue Dogs.

From the Huffington Post:

How does a Republican lawmaker explain to his or her die-hard base that it is important to work on legislation with a racist, socialist president who is illegally holding office only because of the help of ACORN?

"This is why it's becoming impossible for elected Republicans to work with Democrats to improve our country," said Markos Moulitsas, founder and publisher of Daily Kos. "They are a party beholden to conspiracy theorists who don't even believe Obama was born in the United States, and already want to impeach him despite a glaring lack of scandal or wrongdoing. They think Obama is racist against white people and the second coming of Lenin. And if any of them stray and decide to do the right thing and try to work in a bipartisan fashion, they suffer primaries and attacks. Given what their base demands—and this poll illustrates them perfectly—it's no wonder the GOP is the party of no."