Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Media Snoozed When Glenn Beck Called Cindy Sheehan a "Slut"


MSNBC host Ed Schultz has been suspended for a week after he called conservative radio host Laura Ingraham a "right-wing slut." The episode has caused a huge uproar in both the mainstream media, as well as the right-wing blogosphere and talk radio. Ingraham herself has waded into the controversy by accusing Schultz of "misogyny."

But how many people recall back in 2005 when Glenn Beck called Cindy Sheehan a "slut"? Don't feel bad if you don't remember this. Unlike the uproar over Schultz's remark, the mainstream media snoozed when Beck called Sheehan a "slut." And of course, Ingraham was silent about her good buddy Beck's remark back in 2005.

Beck faced absolutely no punishment or reprimand for his 2005 remark. Indeed, this episode is completely forgotten today. Since then, Beck has gone on to enjoy an astonishingly lucrative career. For example, in 2009 alone, he pulled down a cool $32 million, mostly from his vast radio and publishing empire.

The moral of this story, of course, is this: if you're a Republican, you can pretty much say anything you want these days (including using violent rhetoric against Democratic politicians). But if you're a Democrat, you've got to be very careful and watch what you say---or you will be immediately punished, as Schultz found out.

It's all just another sad example of the double standard that exists in public political discourse in this country.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Newt Gingrich Borrows Chapter From Reagan's Racist Playbook


Like his hero, Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich has become a master of using subtle racist messaging techniques to rally support on the campaign trail.

And like Rush Limbaugh, Gingrich has learned to skillfully dance around the "N" word and other racist language, without actually using overt racist language. At the same time, Gingrich uses race-baiting language that would warm the heart of any KKK member. Recall when Gingrich made his bizarre claim that President Obama has a "Kenyan, anti-colonial" worldview?

But nowhere is this racist appeal more potent than when Republicans imply that the government is "taking hard-working white people's money and handing it out to lazy black people." Like attacks on affirmative action, this is a proven technique that rallies deluded white working-class voters to the party of billionaires in election after election.

Of course, Reagan was hardly the first racist Republican politician. But he was the first to realize that using racism to appeal to bigoted white voters works best if it is subtle.

In 1976, Reagan gave a presidential campaign speech in which he attacked a "welfare queen" from Chicago's South Side. Reagan never explicitly said that this "welfare queen" was black. But then, again, he didn't need to. His speech skillfully got that message across to white voters.

And it proved to be a powerful message. Many Republican voters continue to believe to this day the twisted fantasy that there are millions of lazy blacks who live all their lives off welfare. (Never mind the fact that nobody lives off welfare indefinitely, thanks to Bill Clinton's 1996 "Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act," which gutted the welfare system).

Of course, tens of millions of Republican voters don't grasp this reality, any more than they grasp the reality of Global Warming or evolution.

Like Reagan, Gingrich has learned that there is no better way to rally "Conservative" white voters than subtle race-baiting propaganda techniques. He has begun attacking Obama as "the food stamp president."

True, Gingrich didn't specify that the food stamp recipients were black. But he didn't need to, any more than Reagan needed to when, in 1976, he talked about a "strapping young buck" using food stamps to buy T-bone steaks at the grocery store.

Of course, like Limbaugh, Gingrich vehemently denies that he is a racist. And indeed, his despicable racist techniques do raise a question: just what does it mean to be called a "racist" in 21st century America? As far as I can tell, you're not really considered a racist unless you're stupid enough to use the "N" word near a tape recorder.

And even then, it's debatable as to whether that would really hurt your career these days. Mel Gibson, for example, continues to make movies and earn multi-million-dollar paychecks. And former L.A. cop Mark Fuhrman has enjoyed a nice lucrative career, between writing books and hosting radio programs.

In today's America, if one dons a white hood and joins the KKK, they're considered racist.

And yet the subtle racist techniques employed by the likes of Gingrich, Reagan and Limbaugh are actually just as contemptible as anything that goes on at a Klan rally. In fact, I give the KKK credit for one thing: they're at least upfront and honest about their racism. The likes of Gingrich and Limbaugh are nothing more than race-baiting cowards.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Mike Malloy: A Beacon Of Truth Against The Flying-Monkey Right


With his fury and righteous anger, Mike Malloy is a bit like right-wing talkers such as Michael Savage and Mark Levin.

Except Malloy is a progressive.

And he doesn't tell lies.

And he is well-informed.

And he tells the truth (unlike the right-wing talk radio hate-spewers).

Actually, come to think of it, Malloy is nothing like fascist nutbag sleazeballs like Levin and Savage. But he does get angry. And Malloy's rage has been a beacon of truth and sanity for many of us since the darkest years of the Bush era.

Malloy continues to speak Truth To Power today (even though he's had a devil of a time finding a permanent home on the radio dial).

First he was unceremoniously booted by Air America (which left a big black mark on that network in the eyes of many of us progressives). Then he lost his subsequent gig, when the progressive network Nova M folded.

In the spirit of "if you wanna get something done, you've got to do it yourself," Malloy bravely set up shop on his own a couple of years ago and is now self-syndicated.

I suppose some timid listeners will find Malloy too abrasive. But I think Malloy's hard-hitting, take-no-prisoners style is exactly what we need to counter the likes of Limbaugh and Levin. It's time we Democrats grew a pair. It's time we started fighting fire with fire. And last, but not least, it's time we started getting angry. Why, I've always wondered, is it that the Right-Wing talkers are the ones who're always angry. We on the Left have a lot more to be angry about, for Chrissakes!

And if you're a progressive, please consider signing up and supporting Malloy's program, which currently exists solely through the subscriptions of its listeners. It only costs 25 cents a day. I call that a great investment to keep Malloy on the air, spreading the truth that you will never hear elsewhere (certainly not in the corporate mainstream media).

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

America Finally Got Bin Laden, But Along The Way, We Lost Our Soul


I was unable to bring myself to join in the recent jubilant celebration over the death of Osama bin Laden. Nearly a decade after 9/11, I can't help but think that America is a nation that has lost its soul. Once, we were the good guys in the world. Now, we're not.

It's hard to fathom how much America has changed since 9/11. We've inflicted an enormous amount of senseless damage on other nations---far more damage than we ourselves suffered on that terrible day.

Yes, "we" finally got Bin Laden. We shot dead an unarmed man. A man who was never even charged with anything, much less tried or convicted. In fact, the FBI, in its "Most Wanted" list, never even mentioned the 9/11 attacks in its entry for Bin Laden.

Bin Laden was clearly no angel. But once upon a time in this country, we considered people innocent until proven guilty. And Bin Laden is hardly the only person America has killed in recent years, without any sort of charges or trial. It's now become routine for the U.S. to fire drone missile attacks in remote Pakistan, killing people we believe are "terrorists."

And just who says these people are terrorists? The CIA?

We all know what a stellar track record the CIA has for accurate information. After all, these are the incompetents who were completely blindsided by the 9/11 attacks, the most deadly terror attacks ever launched against any nation. The CIA also signed off on George W. Bush's case for war on Iraq.

It seems to me that, for all the hundreds of billions of dollars we've lavished on the likes of the CIA, this agency has been bumbling and incompetent for many years. I'm unclear what we've gotten back for all the billions we've spent on the CIA. Certainly not national security.

I can't help but think that the CIA has been symbolic in many ways of how much America has changed since 9/11.

Once, it was unthinkable that the U.S. would officially embrace torture as a means of policy. Now, it's routine. What's worse is that, an increasingly bloodthirsty public, fueled by HateWing radio and Fox News, now supports it.

Before 9/11, the Constitution was held with reverence. Maybe it wasn't always followed to the letter, but it was still regarded as the bedrock of our democracy.

Today, after eight years of Bush, the Constitution lies in shreds. Between blatantly illegal warrantless wiretaps, waterboarding, and the "Patriot" Act, it's clear that this nation simply no longer holds the Constitution in high regard. Of course, things are better under Obama, but the damage remains.

Yes, the U.S. finally took out Bin Laden. But how many innocent people did we murder along the way? Since 9/11, hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi and Afghanistani civilian men, women and children have died violent deaths at America's hands for no good reason.

With the death of Bin Laden, Americans proclaim that "Justice Has Been Served."

But what about justice for the hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis and Afghanistanis, slaughtered with American Predator drones, Tomahawks, and Hellfire missiles?

Watching the jubilant crowds celebrating Bin Laden's death frankly left me with a queasy feeling. Something, I thought, just didn't seem right. In fact, I've increasingly felt this way ever since 9/11. America is today a vastly changed place. It's no longer the America that I grew up with.

Once upon a time, the random execution of civilians without trial was something that other nations did----usually corrupt dictatorships. Torture was something that only occurred in places like Stalin's Gulags. Warrantless wiretaps only took place in totalitarian states, far away from America. Unprovoked warfare was something only other nations like Hitler's Germany engaged in.

But 9/11 changed all that.

We Americans could have responded to 9/11 like we've always done during crises in our nation's history. We could have shown the world that American democracy and respect for the rule of law is always stronger than any crisis.

But instead, America took a darker path after 9/11. In many ways, we became the bad guys.

So, yes, we did finally kill Bin Laden. But somewhere along the way, in the decade after 9/11, America lost its soul.

Update:In the piece above, I wrote: "America finally got Bin Laden, but along the way, we lost our soul."

Two days later, Michael Moore was being interviewed by CNN's Piers Morgan. Moore talked about the death of bin Laden and said, "We've lost something of our soul." In the interview, he made many of the same points I did in the article above.

Interesting. Clearly, Moore and I think alike.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Obama's Birth Certificate Release Won't Change Birthers' Minds


Conventional wisdom has it that President Obama's recent decision to release the long-form version of his birth certificate will finally silence the birther crowd. After all, these are the same people who've been clamoring for years for Obama to release the long-form certificate.

However, conventional wisdom in this case is wrong. It assumes that the birthers are reasonable people, who think logically and aren't blinded by irrational hatred.

Have you ever tried to argue with a birther? If so, you'll know that these aren't reasonable people. They simply can't be reached. They suffer from what Bill Maher has described as a "cone of silence" that acts as a shield to prevent factual info from entering their brains.

These people harbor a white-hot, intense hatred for Obama. They don't care about the facts. Rush and Fox News have told them that Obama is the source of all their woes. The fact that these people are racists just intensifies their hatred of our nation's first African-American president. You'd sooner persuade a KKK member to donate to the NAACP.

I don't expect the birther controversy to go away. Fox News and HateWing radio are already spinning the story to sow doubts. Last week, Fox News ran an analysis by an "expert," who concluded that the recently released long-form certificate shows signs of being Photoshopped.

If you need any more evidence that the birther conspiracy story is alive and well, consider this: Jerome Corsi's upcoming book, Where's the Birth Certificate?: The Case that Barack Obama is not Eligible to be President already ranks 44th on's Top Bestsellers list. The book is scheduled for release on May 17. No doubt, it will sell truckloads, fueled by the hatemongers on wingnut radio.

Birthers are like all wingnuts in that they exist in their own information bubble. They never get viewpoints outside of those presented by the likes of Limbaugh and Fox News. While the birther "controversy" has been a complete non-issue for non-wingnuts for years, it's still an article of faith among the HateWing radio/Fox News crowd.

These are the same people who fiercely reject the idea that Global Warming is real (while the rest of the world as long accepted it as the documented science that it is). In fact, these are the same people who continue to believe that Bill Clinton was somehow connected to the "murder" of Vince Foster.

Foster died 18 years ago. Yet right-wing kooks continue to sow doubts about his death. I expect the birther "controversy" will continue at least as long.