‘They made the world’s largest pizza, so we burned down their city hall’

Over the past few years right-wing radio, in a seemingly coordinated effort, has cast George Soros as the Great Satan. I’m not sure how, or why, he became Public Enemy No. 1, but to conspiracy-minded conservatives he’s the puppet master of the shadowy Marxist underground plotting to take over the world.

But according to Neil Clark in the New Statesman, Soros’s role was crucial in the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. From 1979, as an advocate of ‘open societies’, Soros financially supported dissidents including Poland’s Solidarity movement, Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia and Andrei Sakharov in the Soviet Union, donating $3 million a year according to Clark. In 1984, he founded his first Open Society Institute in Hungary and pumped millions of dollars into opposition movements and independent media.

Meanwhile, the left, in a seemingly coordinated effort, has come up with their own Soros, or Soroses. Anonymous a month ago, the Koch Brothers have emerged as archetypal robber barons funding a reverse class warfare.

The KOCH brothers must be stopped. They gave $40K to Scott Walker, the MAX allowed by state law. That’s small potatoes compared to the $100+ million they give to other organizations. These organizations will terrify you. If the anti-union thing weren’t enough, here are bigger and better reasons to stop the evil Kochs. They are trying to:

1. decriminalize drugs,

2. legalize gay marriage,

3. repeal the Patriot Act,

4. end the police state,

5. cut defense spending.

So about that third party …

Jimmy Carter: Worse than Timothy McVeigh

That’s the consensus of 43 conservative bloggers asked to rank the 25 worst figures in American history. Charles Manson didn’t make the list. Neither did Jeffrey Dahmer or John Wayne Gacy. Or even Jim Jones. An ineffectual one-term president who deregulated the beer industry ranked first, followed by Barack Obama and FDR. McVeigh finished 9th — right behind Ted Kennedy and the president who passed the Civil Rights Act.

This is what happens when rabid partisanship infects the brain. Say goodnight, perspective.

Fearing Minnesota

I’ve criticized the rhetorical excesses of certain conservatives during the health care reform debate, and I’ll be equally unsparing toward hyper-paranoid partisans eager to play the victim:

Think about it – do you really feel safe in Michele Bachman’s state of Minnesota any more? I’m not sure we should assume we’re safe anymore at all in our own country. You better check your car bumper stickers to make certain you don’t have one that reveals that you voted for Obama. After all, Bachman’s encouraging her constituency to become “armed and dangerous” Americans. Last time I checked, Minnesota was not a state full of Al Qaeda terrorists, which means if armed and dangerous Minnesota folks are in the mood to go target hunting, people like you and me are in big trouble.

It Depends on How You Define ‘Outburst’

Much has been made of the SOTU “face-off” between President Obama and Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. Leave it to both sides to try and score political points of a non-issue.

“It almost defies logic, reason and respect; however, Barack Hussein Obama did the unthinkable during his first State of the Union Speech and tried to intimidate the Supreme Court of the United States,” wrote one conservative blogger.

“So much for separation of powers, but Obama thinks he is above everything.”

Meanwhile, on “Meet the Press” this morning presidential adviser David Axelrod described Alito’s silent rebuttal as a “inappropriate outburst.” Really? Mouthing the words “not true” qualifies as an outburst?

Both Obama and Alito may have broken tradition but the exchange hardly merits hand-wringing. Presidents can, and do, disagree with Supreme Court decisions. And justices, like everyone else, have the right to disagree with the a president’s assessment. Neither was trying to usurp the other — they were just being honest.

when partisans attack

Far right Republicans accuse the opposition of giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Far left Democrats accuse the opposition of being the enemy:

You’re helping Hitler. You’re as a bad as Hitler.

Hard to say which is worse, but that’s a pretty fair assessment of the state of political discourse among those who speak the loudest.

partisan media prevailing

MSNBC, having recently surpassed CNN in ratings for the first time, has added another liberal stalwart, radio yakker Ed Schultz, to its nightly line-up.

Fox News, MSNBC’s conservative counterpart, has also seen a ratings spike, thanks in large to the baffling popularity of nutcase Glenn Beck.

No one should confuse these purveyors of propaganda with legitimate news operations. Their success is troubling.

That’s because there’s pretty good evidence that we generally don’t truly want good information — but rather information that confirms our prejudices. We may believe intellectually in the clash of opinions, but in practice we like to embed ourselves in the reassuring womb of an echo chamber.

the myth of media watchdogs

The two most prominent such groups, Media Matters and the Media Research Center, are starkly partisan.

Representing the left, Media Matters:

Pulling a collective Rip Van Winkle, the White House press corps has awakened from its extended nap just in time to aggressively press the new Democratic administration, just as it dogged the last Democratic president during his first days in office back in the 1990s. Conveniently skipped over during the press corps’ extended bout of shut-eye? The Bush years, of course.

And for the right, the MRC:

Shortly after the House on Wednesday passed President Barack Obama’s “stimulus” package, ABC and CBS commiserated with Obama over his unsuccessful efforts to woo Republicans.

Hard to be a watchdog when you have an agenda. Then again, if Nancy Pelosi can claim to be “nonpartisan”

random observations of the week that is

*Rahm Emanuel is a dick. That seems to be the consensus, and he represents the kind of attack dog partisanship I detest. That said, I wouldn’t read too much into his appointment as chief of staff. His job is to be the president’s gatekeeper. He won’t be the public face of the president, nor will he be instrumental in crafting policy. Maybe you need an asshole in that position. Still, I hope we don’t see an abundance of hacks in Obama’s administration.

*If Republicans weren’t so wed to narrow-minded ideologues Bush would’ve never been president. They could’ve nominated McCain in 2000, but he committed the cardinal sin of badmouthing narrow-minded fanatics like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. The base then lined up behind Bush, he fucks up, and now McCain takes the fall. In retrospect I wish Mitt Romney had won the nomination — he deserved to be humiliated.

*I hope Obama doesn’t appoint Robert Kennedy Jr. to head the EPA. He’s an activist, not a scientist, and he comes off as something of an alarmist. Plus, his voice annoys the hell out of me. Shouldn’t he have completed puberty by now?

*Sorry to see Gordon Smith lose his Oregon Senate seat. Smith was a reasonable Republican, moderate on issues such as gay rights. The GOP needs centrists, as much as they don’t want to acknowledge it.

*Unfortunately, Minnesota congresswoman Michelle Bachmann was re-elected. Now she’s praising Obama, though she hasn’t forgotten Joe the Opportunist.

*Rush Limbaugh called Obama a “Chicago thug” today. Welcome to exile, fat ass. (I read an interview with him recently in which he admitted to crying after his cat died. So I rescind the slur.)

fraud, what fraud?

Partisan hypocrisy defined:

The right wing, the McCain/Palin camp, and now even CNN is screaming fraud on based on 2000 bogus ACORN registrations in Indiana. Like most “Conspiracies” this is probably a case of incompetence rather than any attempt at registering no existent voters for some kind of grand scheme to allow folks to vote multiple times or some other nonsense.

I’m sure the Daily Kos would be similarly assuaged if ACORN was registering mainly pissed-off old white guys.

Read the allegations before dismissing them.

“We believe their purpose is to attack ACORN and suppress votes,” Mellor said. “We believe that by attacking ACORN, they are going to discourage people that have registered to vote with ACORN from voting.”

No denial — barely an acknowledgement. That type of response always makes me skeptical.

The forms included registrations submitted in the names of the dead — and in one case, the name of a fast-food restaurant, Jimmy Johns. Sally LaSota, a Democrat on the board, called the forms fraudulent and said whoever filed them broke the law.

Worth following (though not obsessing over). Also note that nothing has been proven.

Basic civics.

the blatant dishonesty of professional partisans

Overheard on Larry King …

1. A Democratic strategist, assessing Sarah Palin’s brief media tour: She did great in her interviews with Charlie Gibson and Hannity, though admittedly she had a couple of “rough moments” in her sitdown with Katie Couric.

Why does the media acommodate propaganda? Strategists are paid by parties and/or candidates, and they give a shit about objective analysis. Their job is to prop up their employer, and if that means calling Sarah Palin a formbidable adversary, so be it.

Don’t blame the whores for pushing. Blame the lazy media for buying.

2. Liberal talk shot host Ed Schultz: Obama delivered 2/3 of House Democrats for the bailout measure.

Obama didn’t deliver anyone, for or against. He has remained distant throughout the process, and though he says he supports the plan, Obama’s done little or nothing to ensure its passage. A phone call from Obama to, say, John Lewis, one of the bill’s opponents, might’ve made a difference. Obama was able to convince him to rescind his endorsement of Hillary in the primary — maybe he could’ve influenced Lewis again.

Instead, Obama voted “present.”

i got a house you can foreclose

I don’t know whether the bailout should’ve passed or not. But when I hear what caused it’s defeat, I’m outraged. Once again, the children prevailed.

The first middle finger of blame points to Nancy Pelosi, whose partisan grandstanding apparently swayed House Republicans to vote against the plan.:

Outstanding leadership, Miss Pelosi! But I have two middle fingers, and the second points to those same House Republicans who based their votes on little more than sophomoric indignation.

Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., the whip, estimated that Pelosi’s speech changed the minds of a dozen Republicans who might otherwise have supported the plan.

Way to stand on principal!

What a disgusting display.

from the country that brought your freedom fries

In San Francisco, sales of the coincidentally named Palin Syrah wine have plummeted since Sarah Palin was added to the GOP ticket.

“Before McCain made his announcement it was selling very well, because it’s an affordable wine and it’s from South America,” Guillou said. “Then he made his announcement and we hear people making comments constantly about the wine.”

Meanwhile, in Houston …

Palin Syrah has been flying off the shelves at Cepage Noir Wine Company. The store, in the Republican stronghold of Texas, once had cases stacked 20 high, but now only 74 bottles remain.

What’s next: Republicans refusing to drive on Jimmy Carter Boulevard? Democrats avoiding Ronald Reagan Parkway?

learning about sex before learning to read?

Two weeks ago, most Republicans didn’t think they could win the presidency. Two weeks ago, most Democrats didn’t think they could lose. Now the GOP is confident and the Dems are nervous.

You see it on the cable news shows. It’s getting irrational. It’s getting nasty. And it’s only going to get worse.

the farce that is cable news

The three cable news channels have taken sides, and they don’t even bother to veil it anymore. CNN is, in fact, the Clinton News Network, employing former advisers James Carvillle, David Gergen, Wolf Blitzer and the execrable Paul Begala, who on Wednesday actually described Joe Biden as “half-steelworker, half-patriot.” CNN is the establishment’s choice — the best place to pitch talking points and partisan blather.

Fox caters to the Hannity wing of the Republican Party — blindly conservative and dim. It’s been a parody of itself for years now, which keeps me watching from time to time.

Meanwhile MSNBC has cast its lot with the self-righteous asshole wing of the Democratic Party. Pied piper Keith Olbermann is so much like his adversary, Bill O’Reilly, that it’s obvious he hates himself. And he says “shame on you” a lot.

The former sportscaster’s smug certitude appears to be wearing thin among colleagues.