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Guest Commentary (4498)

Tuesday, 15 September 2009 01:42

Sue Wilson: Right-Wing Media Ambush

by Sue Wilson

I was strolling through my local county fair this summer, a small fair, a friendly fair, where cows, sheep, and pigs outnumber food vendors.

The Republican booth caught my eye, but not because of the red, white, and blue decorations. What caught my eye was the sign they'd posted, the sign that summed up the one key issue of importance to local Republicans.

What would it be in this raucous political summer of 2009? Anger over bailouts, fear over death panels? No. The number one issue for Amador County Republicans: "Save Talk Radio."

by Jacqueline Marcus

The lunatic Republicans claim that because of the Tenth Amendment, which states that any power not specifically delegated to the Federal Government belongs to the states or TO THE PEOPLE. They're making this 10th Amendment claim to prevent Federal legislation on health care reform. GOOD! Let's put it on the ballot so that the people can vote on EACH PROVISION directly without having to go through a sold-out corporate conduit called the Congress.

Let's begin with the fact that with very few exceptions, members of Congress work for the big energy industries and insurance/drug companies that pay for THEIR campaigns AND advertisements. The idea that we have a "Representative Democracy" is a joke. It's worse than broke -- it doesn't exist. Our Congressional representatives may give us the usual lip service when it’s election time, but after that -- it's back to cocktails, limousines, and lobbyists. We know that we could have had a single-payer (expansion of Medicare) system a long, long time ago. We know why it hasn't happened. President Obama is, in all honesty, doing his best to accomplish the nearly impossible task, but the corporate media, the corporate Republicans, and sold-out Democrats will continue to block legislation AND slow the process down to a snail's pace, even Obama said that it may take four more years to get action.

Representative Democracy is DEAD. With few exceptions such as the Progressive Democrats who demand a public option, members of Congress are corrupt to the bone; there's no chance of getting what we want through them.

by Steven Hill

Following President Barack Obama's speech on health care, several pundits compared his performance to President Harry "give 'em Hell" Truman. Following his election, they compared him to Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. But for the upcoming health care battle, Obama needs to step into the shoes of President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Especially when it comes to lining up votes from recalcitrant members of his own party, LBJ's brawling, southern style of trench politics is best suited for Obama's challenge.

LBJ has been one of America's most underrated presidents. He was president during most of the 1960s, one of the most tumultuous decades in modern American history. The nation was torn by race riots and a deadly struggle for basic civil rights on behalf of its racial minorities. Despite the obstacles of backward attitudes and stubbornly discriminatory institutions, the hard-nosed Southerner was able to deliver more on the nation's urgent civil rights agenda than his predecessor, President John Kennedy, an Irish Catholic from Massachusetts, ever could have done.

Stories of LBJ's toughness are legendary. He was willing to twist arms and step on toes of his narrowly tribal colleagues in the South. He knew how to stare down some of his former Senate associates, calling them into his office, rolling up his sleeves, poking them in the chest and getting nose to nose, eyeball to eyeball. He could curse, bully, and hound like a red neck thug when he needed to do so.

by Jay Diamond

For months, radio lout Steve Malzberg screamed 10 times a day that "Folks, Barack Obama HATES this country and his WIFE HATES this country."

And when for over 10 years every day, Hannity couldn't survive a fact check in the average kindergarten class, and when he violated Abner Louima with the equivalent of a verbal plunger after Louima had been worked over with a physical plunger, that was nothing else but Vile Poison.

Prior to low-brow, right-wing, dishonest, and hate-fueled talk radio, the political culture of our country would have prevented Joe Wilson from screaming insults at the President of the United States in the midst of an address to a joint session (or anywhere else).

This culture of relentlessly dishonest and utterly ignorant pure hate that is ubiquitous all over low-brow, right-wing radio is nothing other than Vile Poison, even though right-wing apologists try to cosmeticize this swill as merely "entertainment."

by Michael Winship

There was a certain ironic and painful symmetry at work last month. As one iconic image of war was called into doubt, another was being created, a new photograph of combat's grim reality that already has generated controversy and anger.

When it was first published in 1936, during the Spanish Civil War, Robert Capa's photo was captioned "Loyalist Militiaman at the Moment of Death." Better known today as "The Falling Soldier," the picture purportedly captures the gunning down of a Republican anarchist named Federico Borrell Garcia who was fighting against the forces of General Francisco Franco. Dressed in what look like civilian clothes, wearing a cartridge belt, he is thrown backwards in an almost balletic swoon, his rifle falling from his right hand.

The picture quickly came to symbolize the merciless and random snuffing out of life in wartime -- that murder committed in the name of God or country can strike unexpectedly, from a distance, like lightning from a cloudless sky.

Last month, the veracity of Capa's most famous picture was cast in doubt when Jose Manuel Susperregui, a Spanish academic, published a book in which he alleges that the photo was not taken where Capa claimed, but 35 miles away at a location where no fighting had yet taken place; that the picture was posed, a fake. Others disagree, but his evidence is compelling.

Friday, 11 September 2009 08:04

Jeff Fleischer: Pardon the Interruption

by Jeff Fleischer

In the wake of Rep. Joe Wilson's outburst during the president's health-care address, I've already had more than a dozen people ask me what would have happened if a Democratic lawmaker had heckled President Bush during a speech. Progressive blogs have started asking the same question, mostly rhetorically.

I have an actual answer, though. I've seen what happens when a lawmaker interrupts President Bush, and figured this is as good a time as any to share that story.

When I was working at a daily newspaper in Sydney in 2003, President Bush came to Canberra for about 21 hours. His main mission was to deliver a speech to the Australian Parliament, which was mostly just an excuse to thank Prime Minister John Howard for ignoring the vast majority of his constituents and joining the so-called Coalition of the Willing.

Bush and his team accomplished another, more dubious mission that day, as they found a way to alienate most of Australia in just a few hours. Even a fair portion of the right wing. I lost track of how many people I met after that day who, upon hearing my accent, told me they were die-hard Howard supporters but had grown to hate Bush for his behavior that day. (To put that in perspective, Howard's politics were basically Bush's only with a strong economic track record -- he did help grow the economy considerably and raise the value of the Australian dollar -- and well to Bush's right on immigration and race relations.)

How does one man thoroughly tick off that many people that quickly?

by Jacqueline Marcus

Turn on Air America to a liberal talk radio show and what will you hear? Turn on Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann and what will you see?

We all know the answer. Every second of media time is wasted on right-wing lunatics: the birthers, the deathers, the Beckers, Palin, more Palin, wait! there's more on Palin, …

Certainly it's important to inform the public about lies and distortions, but must the liberal talk shows spend every waking minute on FOXTV-Republican nutcases? Could they not use that precious air time constructively by examining progressive efforts by members in Congress or in the White House who are actually working for the people and not for the corporations? Why can't we learn more about the Democrats than about the Republicans?

By Bill Berkowitz

Ignacio Reyes and David Schmidt have the look of a boy band; they're young and flashy, earnest and media-savvy. As leaders of the group Live Action, they're committed to organizing a corps of young anti-abortion activists.

During a town hall meeting hosted by Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), a neatly attired young man rose to ask the congresswoman a question. He identified himself as Ignacio Reyes and he asked Lofgren: "We know that over 90 percent of abortions are purely elective, not medically necessary. Why is this being covered when abortion is not clearly health care?" The question -- a fair one, and asked politely -- was greeted by a round of applause and cheers from some members of the audience. "Abortion will be covered as a benefit by one or more of the healthcare plans available to Americans, and I think it should be," Lofgren responded.

In a story posted at LifeSiteNews.com headlined "Cat out of the Bag: Dem Congresswoman Admits ObamaCare Covers Elective Abortions," Peter J. Smith reported that Lofgren "admitted to her California constituents … what the Obama administration has tried desperately to keep quiet: the health care reform bill covers abortions."

by Mark W. Bradley

Last Friday night, I attended an encore performance of Billy Bob Shakesbeer's Oaf-fellow, the Boor of Menace at Fraud's Theater in Washington D.C. Since its debut in 1944, this classic tragedy has been captivating and enthralling generations of Americans with its unique blend of pathos, grit, rustic flummery, and unsettling reliance on deus ex machina plot twists. Now, on the occasion of its 65th birthday, Oaf-fellow is faced with the prospect of having the plug pulled on its footlights. During the next few weeks, the National Theater Company's Termination Panel will decide under what conditions (if any) the play is likely to be revived. The ultimate decision is, as they say, in the hands of Washington theatrical bureaucrats who aren't answerable to anyone but themselves.

Be that as it may, on this particular evening, the President and First Lady were on hand for the play's final gala performance. Out of respect for their presence, and in tacit acknowledgment of one particularly regrettable mishap that occurred during a previous presidential visit to Fraud's Theater, audience members were asked to voluntarily check their hunting rifles, shotguns, flame-throwers, grenade-launchers, and surface-to-air missiles at the wine bar in the lobby before entering the theater proper, which (to their credit) most agreed to do. The only persons permitted to retain sidearms, derringers, bowie knives, crossbows, and poison-tipped darts for personal protection were, of course, the actors themselves.

But what of the individual merits and unprecedented longevity of the play? The fact that Oaf-fellow has survived on the D.C. stage longer even than the combined runs of Cats!, Les Miserables, and Phantom of the Opera is hardly surprising when one considers that its seasoned cast is a virtual Who's Who of Washington character actors (not to say actors of character). And while this critic has been known on more than one occasion to criticize the well-worn practice of unimaginative type-casting, I must admit that in this case, the virtual melding of these actors with their respective roles achieves the kind of free-wheeling ensemble cast performance that most Tony-winning actors can only dream of.

by Michael Winship

The envelope, please. And the winner for "most influential motion picture in American politics" is... "Hillary: The Movie."

Never heard of it? Not surprising -- very few people saw it in the first place. But "Hillary: The Movie" -- a no-holds-barred attack on the life and career of Hillary Clinton intended for viewing during her presidential campaign -- could prove to have an impact on the political scene greater than even its producers could have dreamed.

In the world of money and politics, "Hillary: The Movie" may turn out to be the sleeper hit of the year, a boffo blockbuster. Depending on the outcome of a special Supreme Court hearing on September 9, this little piece of propaganda could unleash a new torrent of cash flooding into campaigns from big business, unions, and other special interests. "Hillary: The Movie" may turn out to be "Frankenstein: The Monster."

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