Saturday, February 14, 2009

Blog #75: A Loving Harangue

People, we need to start giving some credit where credit is due. We’re talking about those Republican know-nothings who went through the past eight years spending our hard earned tax money like it was going out of style, resulting in the tanking of our economy. Those losers sure haven’t lost their voices. In spite of the disastrous results of their recent tenure they aren’t the least bit tongue-tied in their criticism of President Obama’s stimulus plan which is aimed at giving our lifeless economy a much needed shot in the arm. And true to the one-sidedness of their message, their rant hasn’t changed one iota since the Reagan-Gingrich-Gramm triumvirate lock-stepped our lemming-like march over economic cliffs, both past and present. Their analysis is word for word the same pro-private enterprise, anti-government spending malarkey that diehard Reaganites have been preaching since that dreadful Morning in America they tried to foist on us, the very same swill that Republican Senators and House members are chanting in mantra as we write. We would like to remind one and all that these are the exact policies which got us neck deep into this big muddy of an economic meltdown in the first place, a point they claim to be well beside their point.

“Generational theft,” says a defeated but far from deflated John McCain. Takes one to know one, eh John? If they didn’t invent it, “generational theft” became the way of life during those lovely Bush/Cheney years that you tried so hard to carry on. And you did jump each and every time Bush barked. In summing up we would remind Senator McCain and the rest of his Republican cadres that the fundamental question that we voted on last November was this? Did we want a federal government that only serves the very rich and powerful, allowing them to become much richer and more powerful and which in turn does little or nothing for the rest of us? Or did we want a federal government which is looking out for the interests of all of its citizens? A fed which offers real checks and balances against the greed of individuals and corporations alike, and which can offer us real aid in our times of turmoil. We had eight years of Uncaring Greed manning the till, and in the face of four more years of the same, 53% of voting Americans elected to select change. They voted for Barack Obama.

It is amazing to me how the television news organizations seek out the very same conservative diehards who touted Bush/Cheney’s leadership through the swamps of war and pestilence for their evaluation of Obama’s stimulus package. I mean, you would expect no less of Fox News, but come on CNN, CBS, NBC, and ABC, what gives? And these all-wise know-nothings have the audacity to sputter and criticize Obama’s attempts to lead America out of this Gigantic Mess of their Party’s creation, and they are doing it to the tune of the very same platitudes which got us into this mess in the first place, extolling them as if they were the words of an all-knowing deity.

That’s not to say that these Republicans are not within their rights. This is a free country, in truth it’s a helluva lot freer a country than it has been these past eight years. Republicans have every right to believe and espouse each and every bit of nonsense that they see fit. But what I have trouble comprehending is the television news business’ penchant to stick a camera in their faces, and open their microphones thereby giving these economic Flat Earth know-nothings a voice in the conversation. Who in their right mind gives a tinker’s damn what a Rush or a Newt or a Shelby or any of the rest of these losers think about Obama’s solutions to our economic problems? Phil Gramm for economic guru anyone? Hah! Only in our nightmares. These wiseacres had their chance at leadership, and eight years of lock step disaster followed in their wake.

Unlike some presidential candidates that come to mind, Barack Obama was never devious in his run for the office of president. He clearly and succinctly ran on a platform of change. And it was so compelling a message that it wasn’t long before John McCain was attempting to usurp it. However, McCain fooled no one and when the election was finally held America voted unanimously for Obama’s change. And true to his word Barack Obama, his administration and the Democratic party are backing their pre-election promise loud and clear with real and meaningful legislation.

Last week’s Sunday morning talk shows mostly put Obama’s stimulus package through the ringer. Patrick Buchanan on the McLaughlin Group announced that the era of the bipartisanship is a myth, Republican ex-candidate John McCain brushed off the stimulus package as “generational theft,” while neglecting to point out that Bush/Cheney practically invented “generational theft,” with a willing Republican Congress gleefully rubber stamping their profligacy every step of the way, as drum major McCain’s twirling baton led the parade. And finally on the Sunday circuit, a breath of fresh air as Barney Frank pointed out to the Meet the Press audience that Republicans are always screaming pork, EXCEPT when it comes to the military. In fact, by racing along when he sensed opposition Frank ended up revealing more truth about the way the government really works than had previously been heard on the Sunday talk show circuit. And suddenly we can see how lucky we are that Frank is in place chairing the House’s Financial Services Committee. There could be hope for the United States after all.

And in a U turn to our initial topic we continue to ask, how come our news media purveyors are always dredging up these Bush/Cheney apologists to evaluate Obama’s stimulus bill? I suppose the answer is that they are playing an age old game called “balanced” news. They feel they must seek the voice of the other side so as not to seem biased in favor of the Obama administration. In their view that is their job. And indeed if you stop and think about it, it probably IS their job, although where were the investigative journalists during the Bush build up to the Iraq invasion? On the other hand as readers and listeners it is our job to evaluate what we hear, and to put those various prognosis into their proper receptacle, which in most cases would be our File 13 bin. By all means people, become exposed to those ideas. But give them the weight they deserve. On a scale of one to ten – we would rate most of them Zero. What the hell else can we give them after the eight year run that Republicans had and the economic mess Bush/Cheney left us in?

It is not that we don’t wish the Republicans well. We wish them every little thing they deserve. May a benevolent future bring our Republican comrades all of the Rushes, the Newt’s, and the Shelby’s that their bleeding hearts desire. Also may we wish for a quiet resting place for that mountain of Republican outmoded economic ideas. We see a rosy future for them in the incessantly squawking, seagull circling, garbage dump of failed Republican economic strategies.

For any of you intellectuals out there who prefer reasoning rather than opinionated rant, might we suggest Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, Jr. whose musings along similar lines lurk here! And Post columnist David Broder explains vice president Biden’s problem understanding where House Republicans are coming from here!

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Bursting with indignation, legions of legalize-marijuana advocates are urging a boycott of Kellogg Co., including all of its popular munchies, for deciding to cut ties with Olympic hero Michael Phelps after he was photographed with a pot pipe. The leader of one of the biggest groups, the Marijuana Policy Project, called Kellogg’s action “hypocritical and disgusting,” and said he’d never seen his membership so angry, with more than 2,300 of them signing an online petition.

“Kellogg’s had no problem signing up Phelps when he had a conviction for drunk driving, an illegal act that could actually have killed someone,” said Rob Kampia, the group’s executive director. “To drop him for choosing to relax with a substance that’s safer than beer is an outrage, and it sends a dangerous message to young people.”

Also urging a boycott were the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the Drug Policy Alliance. They encouraged their members to contact Kellogg to vent their views. In one sign of the campaign’s impact, the Phelps saga took precedence over the tainted peanut butter outbreak in the recorded reply on Kellogg’s consumer hot line Tuesday.

“If you would like to share your comments regarding our relationship with Michael Phelps, please press one to speak to a representative,” said the recording. “If you’re calling about the recent peanut butter recall, please press two.”

In the meantime it is a basic law of human nature that every time you have a celebrity skating on the edges of illegality you have a police chief, sheriff, or district attorney waiting in the wings seeking to ride his/her backside to self-righteous fame and higher elected office. Evan Borland and the Associated Press report that in the case of Mr. Phelps police in the South Carolina county where Michael Phelps was photographed have been arresting people who were at the party as they seek to make a case against the superstar swimmer, a lawyer for one arrested person said today.

Attorney Joseph McCulloch said he has a client who was charged with possession of marijuana and questioned about the now-infamous party Phelps attended near the University of South Carolina campus in November. He said his client’s roommate was also arrested. McCulloch did not name his client, who faces up to 30 days in jail and a $200 fine if convicted on the pending charge. The Richland County Sheriff’s Office would not comment on the lawyer’s remarks.

The effort to prosecute Phelps on what would be at most a minor drug charge seems extreme compared to similar cases, lawyers said, and have led some to question whether the sheriff is being overzealous because he's dealing with a celebrity. "The efforts that are being made here are unlike anything I've ever seen before," said Jack Swerling, a defense attorney in South Carolina. "I know Leon Lott, I know him to be an honorable guy. I've known him for 30 something years. But the efforts here are extraordinary on simple possession cases."

After the photo was published Feb. 1, Sheriff Leon Lott said his office would investigate and possibly bring a charge against Phelps, though his spokesman has not specified what the offense might be. Additional information may be found here!

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It took just short of 50 years but the San Diego school board has issued an apology last week for attempting to block a concert of folk singer Pete Seeger at a San Diego school in May 1960 by attempting to force him to sign a paper denouncing communism. He refused, the A.C.L.U. took his case to the courts, and at the last minute a judge found that the district was blocking Mr. Seeger’s right of free speech and allowed the concert to proceed, thereby allowing 1,400 fans to attend the event.

On January 18 of this year Pete Seeger was featured in a nationally televised concert celebrating the inauguration of President Barack Obama. He performed standing between Bruce Springsteen and his grandson Tao Rodriguez. The three of them led the vast audience in the singing of Woody Guthrie’s folk anthem, This Land is Your Land. A San Diego school board member Katherine Nakamura, who wrote the apology resolution, said that seeing Seeger on television singing before President Barack Obama’s inauguration last month inspired her to right the decades-old wrong. The 89-year-old singer/songwriter appears willing to accept the board’s apology, saying the board’s resolution is a “measure of justice that our right to freedom of expression has been vindicated.”

“It just seemed to me to be the right thing to do, and I had an opportunity to do it,” Nakamura said after the meeting, where she and fellow board members voted 5-0 for the resolution. “You don’t always get a chance to reflect on these things and the way they might have been or should have been.” The resolution also invited Seeger to return to San Diego to perform.

For those wishing to see the Seeger/Springsteen video again we tried playing it from our Blog #72, but found that it has since been removed from YouTube for “terms of use violations.” However the more adventurous among you can find a higher quality version of it on the bit torrent site Mininova by simply typing “seeger springsteen this land” into their search engine. The size is 21.24 MB, and at 10:31am on 2-13-09 there were 22 seeds. To download the video you will need a torrent client, such as Vuze (Azureus.)

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In last week’s blog we reported that Rush Limbaugh ranked seven points lower in a poll than Rev. Jeremiah “Goddamn America” Wright, and eight points below former Weatherman terrorist William Ayers!. Others are beginning to take note of this Limbaugh renaissance, namely Faye Fiore and Mark Z. Barabak of the Los Angeles Times. In a story headlined Limbaugh message concerns the GOP they point out:

In 1994, Rush Limbaugh was a field marshal in the Republican revolution, rallying troops fervid in their passion, armed with a change agenda and determined to shake Washington, D.C., upside down. Fifteen years later, Republicans are politically hobbled and Democrats are fervid in their passion, armed with a change agenda and determined, along with their new president, to shake Washington upside down. And again there is Limbaugh, master of the talk radio universe, unchanged and unbowed. If anything, his prominence and political import has increased.

Obama is “obviously more frightened of me than he is Mitch McConnell. He’s more frightened of me, than he is of, say, John Boehner, which doesn’t say much about our party,” Limbaugh said on the air referring, respectively, to the GOP leaders in the Senate and House.

That may be cause for personal congratulation (not to mention a bigger audience). But as Republicans grapple with their fall from power and undertake some inevitable soul-searching, not all are comfortable with Limbaugh’s suggestion that he, by default, has become the party’s unofficial leader. “He motivates a core Republican, who is a very important part of the Republican coalition and we need those guys to be interested and active,” said Jan van Lohuizen, a GOP strategist in Washington. “But it’s not enough. The Republican Party has shrunk and it needs to be expanding.”

While the GOP’s star has fallen, Limbaugh’s has soared. As party leaders struggle to find their voice, Limbaugh’s baritone booms loud and clear three hours a day, five days a week on 600 radio stations across America. If a $400-million contract and the title of most influential talk radio personality — as voted by industry pros — isn’t sufficient proof, consider President Barack Obama’s decision to pick a fight with him three days into his presidency.

Serving as host to Republican lawmakers at the White House, Obama called out his nemesis by name. “You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done,” Obama said, pitching his economic stimulus plan and offering a priceless advertisement of Limbaugh’s influence.

The radio host happily responded on his next program. “I am Rush Limbaugh, the man President Obama has instructed you not to listen to!” he crowed, adding to a long list of self-appellations that includes America’s Truth Detector; Doctor of Democracy; Most Dangerous Man in America; and All-Knowing, All-Sensing, All-Everything Maha Rushie.

Limbaugh’s listening audience is relatively narrow — it is predominantly white, male and politically conservative — but highly motivated. Many of the 20 million or so who tune in each week are willing, even eager, to pummel their opponents with letters, phone calls and e-mails to make their voices heard. They can make a difference. Among their achievements, talk-radio listeners helped kill President George W. Bush’s immigration reform effort. Recent polls suggest that, despite Obama’s high approval ratings, public support has declined for his stimulus bill since Limbaugh and his broadcast peers began railing against it.

To some people, Limbaugh crossed a line when he recently rooted for Obama’s downfall. Asked along with other prominent political types to write 400 words on his hopes for the president, Limbaugh said: “I don’t need 400 words. I need four: I hope he fails.”

“That sort of thing is going to turn off moderate voters. It’s going to repulse some people,” said David Barker, a political scientist at the University of Pittsburgh and author of “Rushed to Judgment: Talk Radio, Persuasion, and American Political Behavior.” “There are a whole lot of people right now who just want to go ahead and give (Obama) his shot, hold back the arrows for a minute. And by immediately pulling out the partisan card, which is what Rush is doing, I think that repels more people than it attracts.”

But Limbaugh is accountable to no one but his faithful fans, his words flung like spears from the Palm Beach, Fla., studio he calls his Southern Command. Enemies rooting for his comeuppance have been disappointed more than once.

“The question is are we going to have an all-white-man litmus test under the Republican Party? Or is there room for diverse opinion on environmental issues, on the issue of right to life, the issue of taxes and spending?” said Rich Bond, a GOP strategist and former chairman of the Republican National Committee. “There must be room for dissent in the Republican party. It must be sincere. It must have comity.”

Unfortunately, until that new day comes, the microphone is his.

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In next year’s Republican primary voters of Louisiana might actually get a choice for a change, a choice to either vote to reelect a noted master of hypocrisy, Senator David Vitter, a man whose name appeared multiple times in the datebook of the late D.C. Madam while he publicly spouted a purer than thou line, or perhaps they would pay heed to a buxom, straight talking porn queen named Stormy Daniels.

People she doesn’t know have put up a website urging Ms. Daniels to run for the Senate next year against incumbent Vitter. And though she says she hasn’t yet decided whether or not she will, she reports that she is taking the challenge seriously enough to plan a tour of rural Louisiana to sound out people in various parishes. Ms Daniels works in the adult film industry as a dancer, actress, and producer, and when interviewed by television about the Senatorial position, with a twinkle in her eye added, “politics can’t be any dirtier than the job I’m already in.”

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In these days of political extravagance the late comedian George Carlin is sorely missed. There is a big hole in our national funny bone, with no Carlin to place our politicians and other potpourri into their rightful holes in the pegboard of our information age. Cheer up, all is not lost. There is someone carrying on in a parallel universe of sorts. He is Bill Mayer. His film Religulous hones in on Carlin’s take on religion and moves it one giant step forward. Meantime Mayer’s satirical outpourings put the spotlight of humor upon our extremely fallible world in direct lineage to the tradition of the trail blazing Carlin.

Mayer has done a promo for his 2009 HBO show Real Time for The Daily Beast, and thanks to modern technology’s ability to embed short video clips and copy them onto our websites, it is with a great deal of pleasure that TRLE brings you Mayer’s promo for this season’s Real Time debut which happens February 20 on HBO at 10:00 Eastern. With the advent of this commentary the mantle has now been officially passed and we are happy to report that the state of standup satirical comedy is well and healthy, and rests in good, capable tonsils as it blooms anew in the upcoming HBO season. Mayer’s take on Rush Limbaugh leading the GOP: “Republicans looked into the future and they found radio.”

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As we near the end of this week’s blog, we would call your attention to several stories of interest, but which we haven’t the space to deal with. How about: Shades of the Cold War? A Russian and U.S. satellite collide in space? Here! And next let us give a resounding happy birthday to Charles Darwin, who would have been 200 years old on Thursday!, and modern science is finally beginning to catch up with some of his theories. And last but certainly not least, how about some fresh blather from Rather ! Dan Rather, that is.

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And finally in this day and age where newspapers the size of the N.Y. Times are struggling to make their payroll comes an idea for how online readers could painlessly make contributions to support the news outlets and blogs of their choice. The idea comes by way of Steve Outing writing on the Editor&Publisher website, where he tells of Kachingle, a pay service where the reader would join, pay a monthly fee, and then tell the site how he/she wanted the fee to be allocated. This system mirrors the system that National Public Radio and Public Television use to pay their bills. Like NPR-PT it would be completely voluntary, readers could opt out of paying for content altogether. But for readers who would like to support the newsroom or blogger of their choice, it would work like this. Kachingle would put icons on news/bloggers sites which sign up. Then Kachingleers would click on the Kachingle icon on the websites they wish to support. Kachingle would then allot a member’s contributions according to input from their icons the placed on member websites.

Will it work? Like NPR-PT it would be completely voluntary, but at pledge time people do give NPR-PT their support. And whereas its true that most people using the web expect things to be free, Apple’s iTunes store has proven beyond doubt that people will support paying for content if it is painless, and if it is simple to do. There’s a lot more to Kachingle than we have time to go into here. Next week we’ll look into it more closely. Meantime if you wish to find out more, you can click here!

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And so the inevitable rug is pulled out from under another week’s edition of Little Eddy’s blog. We’re pleased that both of you came to call this week, and we invite you back next week. In the meantime, if you have a friend or two who might get off on our skewered humor and/or purloined videos, please shoot them this URL: And by the way, it’s Feb. 14. Happy Valentine! ❤ Bye now.

The Real Little Eddy

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