Glenn Beck Compares Obama’s America to ‘The Planet of the Apes’

As he was doing his standard daily channeling of Howard Beale Thursday, Glenn Beck referenced an even earlier cinematic cautionary tale. In the middle of a rant about President Obama‘s remarks to the AFL-CIO, he said he felt as though he’d slipped through a wormhole in the middle of the night, exclaiming “It’s like the damn Planet of the Apes!”

This looked like nothing more than a rather unfortunate melding of foot and mouth, especially for a guy with Beck’s tenuous grasp of race relations, until I got a load of Joan Walsh‘s Stormfront dot-connecting. We’ve let the clip run a little longer to make sure we didn’t miss any context.(h/t Michi)
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Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin Return to Their New Jobs

Those of you who know me best know that I will do almost anything for a joke. It doesn’t even have to be a good joke, just one that makes me laugh. So, after watching Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin spend all of last week fighting it out over President Obama‘s new NASA plan, the first thing I thought of when I saw Ke$ha‘s backup dancers on Saturday Night Live was “So, that’s what they’re doing for extra cash now.”

Add to that the fact that this performance is made of 9 different varieties of AWESOME, and I was determined to build a Mediaite blog post around that one joke. I will long consider it a personal failing that I could not manage it. Now, the moment is gone, but if ever there are two astronauts battling it out in the public square again, I can simply link to this post. In the meantime, enjoy the best thing I’ve seen on SNL in awhile.

Is President Obama Racist, or Just Blind-ist?

Tommy_Christopher 036

I really had to laugh to myself when I saw this item at Hot Air, in which New York Governor David Paterson’s wife, Michelle, seems to indicate that race and/or disability may be behind the White House’s attempt to get him not to run.  Here’s what she said:

“You never heard of that before,” Michelle Paterson, in her first comments on the situation, said following a luncheon in Midtown.

“David’s the first African-American governor in the state of New York and he’s being asked to get out of the race. It’s very unusual and it seems very unfair.”…

In a passionate defense of her husband, New York’s first lady, Michelle Paterson, tells News 4 it’s wrong for the White House to get involved in a local race. She admits there have been some very disappointing times recently where it seemed her husband might not be able to survive politically. But she said he’s “a fighter” who is staying in the race. Mrs. Paterson says she believes David’s blindness is contributing to his low poll numbers.

Here’s why I laughed. On Monday, I was playing a game of “What’s the worst possible question I can ask Robert Gibbs at my next briefing?”  It’s an amusing pastime that I engage in on long car trips, or while waiting at the DMV.  It’s actually a helpful exercise, too, but I’ll get to that later.

So, Monday’s entry, as I drove back from Manhattan, was “Robert, did the President ask David Paterson not to run for re-election because he’s black, or because he’s blind?  Or was it the combination of those two factors?”

It’s a useful exercise because it can help to reveal a deeper point from a superficial starting place.  In this case, I’ve sat through many briefings and press conferences in which reporters tried, repeatedly, to get the White House to weigh in on one race or the other, in even the teensiest way, only to be rebuffed.  Eventually, someone would say “OK, how about this: Can you confirm that a Senate race exists in Illinois?”  Gibbs: “It would not be appropriate for the President to comment on another race.”

So, I was really surprised to learn that the White House had asked Paterson not to run for re-election, in a fairly public fashion.  It’s a bad move on several levels, actually, and inconsistent.

First of all, no-one was under any illusions that Paterson earned himself any goodwill with the White House with his handling of the Hillary Clinton Senate seat.  His poll numbers are also not terrific.  Issuing a decree like this isn’t all that necessary, and has no upside for the White House.  The best case scenario is that Paterson steps aside, something that could have been accomplished with more subtle pressure.  Worst case: Paterson defies the White House, and puts a dent in their leadership credibility.

I also found my mock question illustrative of another prickly point in recent political discourse.  The idea that Joe Wilson’s “You lie!” outburst was related to race has not really been framed all that well by the media.  The question isn’t whether Obama’s race made him do that, but whether it failed to prevent it.  Nobody had ever heckled a white President in such a setting, just as no white Democratic New York Governor has had this problem before.

You also have  to wonder if the President would have called an iconic white pop star a “jackass,” and what the reaction to that would have been.

If we’re all being honest, race does frequently have some impact on the way we deal with people.  As a writer, I know I’ve found myself debating the use of seemingly innocuous phrases that could be distracting when applied to a black President.  I recall changing the word “tarred” in reference to a negative campaign ad, for example.

One of the reasons that discussions of race are so poisonous is that the objective, frequently, is not to gain greater understanding, but rather to score points.  That’s really too bad, because this kind of on-the-job learning could be a valuable object lesson  for the rest of us.

I didn’t know the first thing about Joe Wilson before “You lie,” but since then, I’ve been informed that he supported the flying of the Confederate flag, and that he disparaged the illegitimate black daughter of Strom Thurmond.  Still, people can learn and grow, and if Wilson had held a press conference after his outburst to say something like, “Upon reflection, and despite my continued belief in the substance of my objection, I think it is possible that I might not have done that to a white President,” well, a statement like that would impress the hell out of me.  Unfortunately, it would also lead to headlines like “Wilson a Self-Avowed Racist!”

Conversely, the right has already shown no compunction about calling the President a racist, and all Democrats along with him.  So, instead of “teachable moments,” we get ugly little food fights.

Breaking: Kanye West Strikes Again!

This is getting out of hand.

Sarah Palin Exploits 9/11 in Response to President Obama’s Speech

I was perusing my Facebook wall today when I noticed that a private citizen had posted a response to the President’s 505px-Sarah_Palin_Kuwait_22aaddress on health care.  “Oh, it’s Sarah,” I thought. “This ought to be good.”

Sarah is one of my Facebook friends, and while she knows very little about health care, her rants on the subject are frequently entertaining.

This one was shaping up to be a disappointment, however, a lame rehash of things that Republican politicians have been saying.  Then, right towards the end, she brung it, and brung it good:

Finally, President Obama delivered an offhand applause line tonight about the cost of the War on Terror. As we approach the anniversary of the September 11th attacks and honor those who died that day and those who have died since in the War on Terror, in order to secure our freedoms, we need to remember their sacrifices and not demonize them as having had too high a price tag.

Amoosehuntersayswhat?

I’m pretty familiar with the President’s speech, and I don’t remember the “War on Terror” coming up at all.  I went back over the transcript, looking for this demonization, and this is the closest thing I could find:

Now, part of the reason I faced a trillion-dollar deficit when I walked in the door of the White House is because too many initiatives over the last decade were not paid for — from the Iraq war to tax breaks for the wealthy.  (Applause.)  I will not make that same mistake with health care.

Now, even granting that the Republican “mind” equates the Iraq War with 9/11, a talking point that the reality-based community has long since dismissed, I’m hard-pressed to see the demonizing in that statement.

The President did make mention of the war in Afghanistan later in the speech:

Now, add it all up, and the plan I’m proposing will cost around $900 billion over 10 years — less than we have spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and less than the tax cuts for the wealthiest few Americans that Congress passed at the beginning of the previous administration.  (Applause.)

Again, Sarah, I’m not seeing it.

What I am seeing is a pretty offensive attempt by a former politician to score political points by exploiting one of our nation’s greatest tragedies.  Of course, it makes more sense when you realize that, as David Corn reports today, Palin has joined forces with the neocons to try and mess up Afghanistan as badly as they did Iraq.

I have been the first person to defend Sarah Palin when she has been treated unfairly, despite my nearly full disagreement with her on just about everything, but this is indefensible.

The fact that no-one else seems to have noticed is a testament to her newly-found private citizen-hood.  She’s quickly proving that, as a leader, she’s a pretty good Facebook friend.

Hmmm…Does the President Support the Public Option?

heckle

During President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress last night, delivered over the din of Republican obstruction, he spent 7 paragraphs speaking about the need for a public health insurance option, and included one in the White House’s reform plan.  What did the Associated Press take away from all of this?

Analysis: Obama willing to deep-six public option

This analysis seems to spring from these two sentences:

For example — for example, some have suggested that the public option go into effect only in those markets where insurance companies are not providing affordable policies. Others have proposed a co-op or another non-profit entity to administer the plan. These are all constructive ideas worth exploring.

So, two sentences placating the GOP’s and Blue Dogs’ macaroni art constitutes a repudiation of the public option?

Read the rest at Mediaite

Transcript:President Obama’s Address to a Joint Session of Congress on Health Care

REMARKS AS DELIVERED BY THE PRESIDENT
TO A JOINT SESSION OF CONGRESS
ON HEALTH CARE
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Keith Olbermann Issues “Fox-twa” on Glenn Beck, Roger Ailes

Cross-posted from Mediaite

Countdown host Keith Olbermann has issued a call to the millions of readers at Daily Kos to dig up some dirt (real dirt, not this kind) on Fox News personality Glenn Beck, his producer, and Roger Ailes.  The “Fox-twa” comes on the heels of the resignation of Obama adviser Van Jones, whose abrupt departure has been attributed to a weeks-long campaign by Beck.  The Scrabble-averse pundit has already set his sights on new quarry, and Keith is pushing back.

In a blog post at Daily Kos, Olbermann makes this straightforward plea:

I don’t know why I’ve got this phrasing in my head, but: Find everything you can about Glenn Beck,  Stu Burguiere, and Roger Ailes.

Predictably, Olbermann’s decree has been met with apoplexy from the right, casting Beck as the future victim of a “smear campaign.”  I’m not sure what the logic here is, unless the right is now conceding that Van Jones was also the victim of a smear campaign.

So far, the lion’s share of the 1,350 Kos commenters have ignored Olbermann’s request, however, leaving some poor intern to sift through suggestions to stop watching The Simpsons and NFL Football.  Good luck with that.

Others have posted links detailing some Beck that has already slipped through the cracks:

  • agreed that America’s only hope is for Bin Laden to blow us up.
  • fantasized about choking Michael Moore to death.
  • advocated beating Rep. Charles Rangel with a shovel.
  • declared that he hated the families of 9/11 survivors.
  • declared that he hated Katrina victims, whom he called scumbags.
  • incited people to commit tax evasion.
  • accused Obama of having a deep seated hatred of white people (but isn’t a racist?).

Olbermann also announced plans to issue his plea on Tuesday’s broadcast, and to set up a dedicated tipster’s email.  In future news, Keith Olbermann’s Tipster Email Spammed By Conservatives.

Also noteworthy: Olbermann again denies that he ever agreed to a truce with Bill O’Reilly, and in the comments, observes unironically that “This guy does not take criticism well.”

It’s tough to say whether a TV and blog audience will be able to outdo some googling and a Lexis-Nexis search, but Beck is unlikely to gain any traction playing the victim here.  Much of that depends on the zeal and methodology of Keith’s million deputies.

Americans Overwhelmingly Oppose Pubic Option

screwdriver

The current sticking point on health insurance reform is the public health insurance option, with a majority of congressional Democrats favoring it, a handful of Blue Dogs wetting themselves over it, and the Republicans hallucinating about it.  What’s being left out of the equation in Washington is how the American people feel about it.

Polling on this issue has been misleading.  After a June poll showed 76% support for a public health insurance option, pollsters simply stopped asking that question.  Instead, they’d ask overly broad questions about the overall reform effort, and the headlines were all about “slipping support.” Nowhere was it considered that the “slipping support” might have had something to do with the regular reports of the death of the public option.

When they finally did ask again, 79% of Americans said they favor a public option.

What hasn’t really changed, and what everyone acknowledges, is that almost everyone opposes the pubic option.  That’s the one where the insurance companies have you by the short ones, able to refuse you coverage for a pre-existing condition, deny your services with their own death panels, retroactively terminate you if you get sick and made a mistake on your application, and pretty much just build their profits into whatever coverage you get, because your life depends on it.

The problem is, the public option is the only real solution to the pubic option.  There’s no way to pass regulations strong enough to ensure that you don’t end up with cheap, junk insurance that’s already putting people in the poor house (Try to remember the last time your auto insurance paid for anything).  The public option will serve as that safety net, and despite even more recent rumblings that it’s been left for dead, the President can, must, and will make sure it passes.

President Obama Should Promote Van Jones to ‘Mom Czar’

Van_Jones

This should take care of your Van jones.

There is mounting pressure from the right to have the President’s special adviser on green jobs, Van Jones, served up on the ol’ Underbus Platter.  I say he should promote him.  Sure, “Mom Czar” is one idea.  He could be in charge of making sure that all Americans at least listen to their mothers, even if they don’t comply.

I think Jones is uniquely qualified for this, having discovered what happens when you don’t read something before you sign it, but I would settle for any promotion.

Jones is the right wing’s current shrieking point, an Obama appointee who is being targeted because his signature appeared on a 9/11 “Truther” petition.  At face value, it’s weak sauce, but Jake Tapper and others have added considerable water to the now thin broth.

When I first heard about this, I applied the standard righty litmus test: What if this had been a Bush appointee (perhaps signing a Vince Foster petition?)?  I really gave it some thought, and it led me to two conclusions.  First, there would have been a round of blog posts on Crooks and Liars, TPM, Huffington Post, et al, but I seriously doubt anyone would have even asked Bush about it. There are a hundred stories like this that never went anywhere.

My second conclusion was that the media plays along because of Bush.  They let the worst President in history walk all over them for 7 years, catching on only after the rest of us had moved on.  Now, they are applying the level of scrutiny that Bush deserved to Barack Obama.  Normally, you would need a reason to give a shit that a peripheral appointee signed a politically charged petition once, but because the media blew it so badly with Bush, the Spidey sense is tingling.

The right, desperate to erase the Bush stain, starts with the assumption that Obama is worse, then builds the facts around that conclusion.  They forget that Bush earned his dirty diapers.

The President has taken the path of least resistance in these matters in the past, preferring to let controversial aides and appointees step aside to avoid “becoming a distraction.”   Early indications here portend more of the same.  While there has been some wisdom to this in the past, I think this time, the President ought to show the shrill wingnuts who’s boss.  Hell, make Jones the Gun Control Czar, that’ll show ’em.