Saturday, November 07, 2009

The Drama-Queen Media (The Director's Cut) UPDATED

Latest Newspaper column, as it was originally written before the weak sisters at The Pilot apparently decided I was being too mean to poor Michelle Malkin, Sarah Failin' the Resigning Woman, and Blubberin' Glenn Beck.

A “referendum on Barack Obama". A "bellwether" of how the elections of 2010 and 21012 were going to go. That was the prevailing narrative in the so-called "liberal" media right before this past week's off-year elections.

Among those supposedly "bellwether" elections was the special election in New York's 23d District, which pitted Republican state assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava against Democrat Bill Owens. Scozzafava, however, wasn't nearly ideologically pure enough for the angry, bitter, sky-is-falling wing of the GOP.  Fox news-harpy Michelle Malkin repeatedly referred to Scozzafava as a "radical leftist." Malkin, wingnut pinup girl Sarah Palin,  and Cryin' Glenn Beck came out strongly in favor of a third party candidate, Doug Hoffman, who doesn't even live in the district. When Newt Gingrich tried to reason with the raging right wingers, Malkin, showing the same kind of party solidarity you'd expect from a rabid Shih Tzu,  turned on him. "Perhaps it is time to go your own way, with Al Sharpton and Nancy Pelosi," Malkin sneered at Gingrich. The wingnut attacks got so vicious that Scozzafava eventually dropped out of the race--and endorsed Owens.

Meanwhile, in New Jersey, the battle for the governorship was waged between a Democrat, incumbent John Corzine, who apparently was about as popular in New Jersey as the swine flu, and whose campaign message seemed to be mostly centered around allegations that his Republican opponent, Chris Christie, is fat. In Virginia, Republican Bob McDonnell vied with Democrat Creigh Deeds, who ran a ham-fisted campaign that made John McCain's desperate floundering look positively Machiavellian in comparison.

By Wednesday morning, the results were in: Republicans won the governorships in New Jersey and Virginia, but Bill Owens was the first Democratic House member from NY-23 since the Civil War.

You'd think that these would be reported as, at best, mixed results. But you'd be wrong. "Republican wins deal blow to Obama," blared the supposedly 'liberal", claiming that winning two governorships "inflicted a double blow on President Barack Obama's Democratic Party". They went on to say: "The Republican victories Tuesday in Virginia and New Jersey are a setback for Obama as he struggles to overhaul the U.S. health care system, win passage of climate change legislation, and build political support for his handling of the war in Afghanistan." Because, after all, the governors of New Jersey and Virginia have so much influence on those issues.

Meanwhile, a Democratic win in a district that hasn't elected a Democrat since the 19th century, one in which stars of the wingnuttosphere threw their weight behind a teabagger third party candidate and drove the Republican nominee out of the race for being too liberal, one in which Barack Obama gave his endorsement to the Democrat who eventually won...not such a big deal.

In short, the so-called “liberal” media hyped this as a huge test of the popularity of the Obama administration, then blew off the Democratic win, one that, lest we forget, increased the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. They chose instead to gush over Republican wins that stand to have little or no effect on President Obama's national agenda.

Yeah, those are some liberal media, you betcha.

Not that I'm saying the media are conservative. No, the problem with 21st century "news" as it's practiced by the so-called "serious" journalists is that it's not about liberalism or conservatism any more.  It's about drama. It was foreordained that the media was going to spin this as a huge challenge to the President who's been in office for less than a year. Because otherwise, the off-year election would be like most off-year elections: boring. And they hate boring. That's why the gun-toting Tea Party nuts and birther loons get so much coverage. They may not make much sense, but look how colorful they are! Look, a Nazi flag! Hey, does that one have a gun? Let's go see what pearls of wisdom he has to offer!"  By the same token, "Huge setback for Obama! Can he ever recover? Who will save us now!?" is a much more sexy narrative than "things are really complicated right now." So guess which story gets told?

With its predetermined narratives, nutty characters, and obsession with gaudy trash talking, modern journalism is becoming harder and harder to distinguish from professional wrestling.

God help us all.

Dusty Rhoades lives, writes, and practices law in Carthage.

UPDATE: several days later, it suddenly dawns on the NYT that Tuesday might not have been such great news for the Republicans after all.

"give me the money in the draw"

Bank Notes: a collection of Bank Robbery Notes
Some are funnier than others. I particularly like:

I have a gun in my bag.
Give me $5,000 please.
Thanks a bunch.

And there's a certain simple beauty to this one:

Bank Robbery.

Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan.

Friday, November 06, 2009

More Scenes From the Capitol Health Care Protest
....[A] man standing just beyond the TV cameras apparently suffered a heart attack 20 minutes after event began. Medical personnel from the Capitol physician's office -- an entity that could, quite accurately, be labeled government-run health care -- rushed over, attaching electrodes to his chest and giving him oxygen and an IV drip.


By the time it was over, medics had administered government-run health care to at least five people in the crowd who were stricken as they denounced government-run health care.

Heh. It's easy to denounce "government health care" till you need it. Then it's "gimme gimme gimme..."

Thursday, November 05, 2009

"Under God"--Vitally Important "Indivisible"--Not So Much

Think Progress:
Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) had the honor of leading the anti-health care protesters on Capitol Hill today in the Pledge of Allegiance. To show his fervent devotion to the Pledge, he gave a short speech about the importance of the phrase “under God.” However, when it came time to actually recite the Pledge, he was so excited about that one phrase that he forgot to say “indivisible” before “with liberty, and justice for all.”

Think Progress seems to be treating this as just an amusing gaffe. I think it speaks volumes.

These people LIKE America divisible. They like us chopped up into little segments, red here, blue here, "real American" there, "socialist Marxofascist" over there...each afraid of the other, so they can exploit the fear.

Wingnut Carpetbaggers Not Welcome in NY-23

Watertown Daily Times columnist Jeffrey Savitksie describes why right wing candidate Doug Hoffman lost in the election that gave New York's 23d District its first Democratic congressman since the Civil War:
Hoffman's cash didn't come from somebody in Hermon or Hopkinton or Adams Center or from anywhere that cares about the north country. It came from folks who know so little about the north country that they would likely believe it if you told them Alexandria Bay was an exotic dancer. They know the 23rd Congressional District only as a place they might be able to make a political point for their team nationally. They might know where it is exactly, but I doubt it. They probably just describe it as “somewhere in New York.”

It is somewhere, by the way, where their handpicked Hoffman robot doesn't even live. A minor concern, I suppose, if you have your eyes on a bigger prize and aren't worried about the little people who actually do live in the district. Hoffman and his moneybaggers might be pro-life, but they sure aren't pro-north country life.

One thing the people of NY-23 weren't going to stand for is a bunch of out of staters telling them who they could vote for. I guess the wingnuts don't understand small town America the way they claim to.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Your Liberal Media At Work.

So a Democrat wins a House seat that's been Republican since the 19th century, after wingnut stars like Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin, Sarah Palin and Tim Pawlenty throw their weight behind a teabagger third party candidate and drive the Republican nominee out of the race for being too liberal, and after Barack Obama gives his endorsement to the Democrat who eventually wins...

...and the night is reported as a huge setback for Obama and the Democrats because of two governor's races.

The Republican victories Tuesday in Virginia and New Jersey are a setback for Obama as he struggles to overhaul the U.S. health care system, win passage of climate change legislation, and build political support for his handling of the war in Afghanistan.

Yes, because the governors of Virginia and New Jersey have so much power over those issues.

Liberal media, my ass.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


A forklift driver in a liquor warehouse has an unthinkable accident:

It is to weep.

In a comic book, after a disaster like that, he'd probably rise after weeks in a booze-soaked coma to discover he'd transformed into a superhero or something.

Hey, is it my imagination, or does the newsreader sound like she's had a couple of stiff ones as well? Drinks, I mean.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Lazy Way to Successful Punditry

Latest Newspaper Column:

I tell you, folks, I'm weakening. I'm about to do something I thought I'd sworn off forever.

I'm considering joining the Republican Party again.

Some of my long-term readers may recall my joining the GOP back in '05 and '06 and writing about it in this column. Not because of any ideological change of heart, but precisely because the GOP had no actual ideology other than IOKIYAR: It's OK If You're A Republican.

Back in those days, the knee-jerk Republican defense of everything from adultery to sexually propositioning teenagers to shoplifting suggested to me that whatever I did, I'd always find a host of defenders so long as I had the correct political affiliation. Not that I was going to do any of those things, mind you, but it was just nice to know.

Well, I left the party, but I have to say, I'm sorely tempted to join up again. Not just for the complete lack of moral accountability (even though the David Vitter and Mark Sanford cases show that that's still alive and well), but because it would make writing this column so much easier.

See, I'm basically a lazy person. It's a real drag sometimes when I'm writing this column to go back and actually check various sources to make sure that the things I'm saying about people have at least some basis in fact.

But if I were a conservative Republican, I wouldn't have to do any of that stuff. If I saw something that looked outrageous enough, I could write about it without having to check around and see if it actually happened. And if it turned out not to be true -- hey, who cares?

As an example, let's take de facto Republican Party leader Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh recently went on the air with a real blockbuster of a story: Time magazine reporter Joe Klein had uncovered a thesis written by Barack Obama while Obama was a student at Columbia University.

The thesis was supposedly harshly critical of the U.S. Constitution, stating, "The so-called Founders did not allow for economic freedom. While political freedom is supposedly a cornerstone of the document, the distribution of wealth is not even mentioned. While many believed that the new Constitution gave them liberty, it instead fitted them with the shackles of hypocrisy."

Only problem was, as Limbaugh was informed almost immediately, the story was a complete hoax, a satire posted on an allegedly humorous blog called "Jumping In Pools."

Joe Klein himself denied ever writing such a piece. "It is completely false," Klein posted on Time's online blog "Swampland." "I've never seen Obama's thesis. I have no idea where this report comes from -- but I can assure you that it's complete nonsense."

Rush, as the kids say, had been punk'd.

No matter, Limbaugh smoothly stated in his very next radio hour. He repeated the false quotes, then admitted that they were probably fake, but -- and this is the cool part -- he still stood by them because (a) he himself had been misquoted recently, and (b) he "knows Obama thinks it."

You can see how, to a lazy person such as myself, this would be very attractive. As a liberal, I can't get away with, for example, saying Sarah Palin once actually claimed she had foreign policy experience because she could "see Russia from her house."

As a liberal columnist, I'd have to point out that Palin never actually said that, but that that quote was instead from "Saturday Night Live" performer Tina Fey's hilarious impression of Palin. If I didn't, you can bet there'd be a deluge of letters lambasting me for making something up. And the defense "Well, it's a lie, sure, but I know Sarah Palin thinks that way" just wouldn't cut it.

But if I were a wingnut -- boy howdy, anything goes. I could make a crazy accusation, find out it's false within the hour, and stand by it anyway. Even after it's shown to be a lie, I could circulate the story on the Internet via chain e-mails that circle around in the Internet forever.

It's really tempting. Someone talk me out of it.