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Print view: George Will trashed the whole birther world--unless you watched Clown Princess Maddow
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IT’S TIME FOR HER TO GO! George Will trashed the whole birther world—unless you watched Clown Princess Maddow: // link // print // previous // next //
MONDAY, MARCH 7, 2011

Milbank’s tiger blood: Dana Milbank—Yale, and Skull and Bones too!—is part of our fatuous press corps elite.

One month ago, he played the fool, begging off mention of Sarah Palin (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/24/11). He vowed to deny himself the pleasure for a good solid cold-turkey month.

Yesterday, in the Post Outlook section, Milbank wasted everyone’s time again, returning to the same subject.

Milbank marveled at the strength it took to honor his month-long commitment. Why, even when Bristol hit the news, he showcased his hot tiger blood!

Civilizations have crumbled beneath the weight of such inane elites. In this case, he’s often called “Lord Dowdinpantz”—except he isn’t that bright!

Big Eddie makes Walker’s case: Should governors like Walker, Christie and Cuomo raise state taxes on upper-end earners?

It’s obvious that the top one percent should pay more on the federal level; Warren Buffet should pay tax rates that equal those of his staff! But is that also true at the state level, where certain types of problems apply?

In Saturday’s Washington Post, Allan Sloan said no. He said Cuomo and Christie are basically right to resist the urge to tax high earners. In the New York Times, the editors disagreed, speaking only of Governor Cuomo.

Last Thursday, Ed Schultz tried to discuss this topic. The analysts recoiled, then openly cried, stung by his hapless attempt.

Good lord! The group IQ on MSNBC seems to get lower by the day! Here’s what happened when Schultz tried to scold Walker on this basic point, which Schultz has been pushing for months:

SCHULTZ (3/3/11): Republicans would like you to believe that slashing spending on the backs of the poor is the only way to fix a budget crisis. But, of course, that is a lie.

How do we know? Because Democratic governors facing the exact same problems are doing something a little bit different. They’re proposing to [whispers] raise taxes. Is the Earth still spinning? Somebody is going to raise taxes? That is right, facing a $25 billion budget shortfall, California Governor Jerry Brown has had to cut funding to many state programs, but he also wants to extend across the board tax increases.

Illinois has a $15 billion budget gap. Governor Pat Quinn raised both personal and corporate tax rates. Scott Walker found that hysterical:

WALKER (videotape): We still have this for tourism—it’s a bumper sticker that says "Escape to Wisconsin." And instead of sending it to tourists, we are going to send it to employers down in the state in Illinois.

SCHULTZ: That will turn a lot of people, governor. Except even with the increase, that the tax rates in Illinois are still lower than Wisconsin’s. And Governor Quinn’s plan will net seven billion of revenue to boot.

Good God, that was stupid! Unknowingly, Schultz made Walker’s point about the problem with raising taxes.

Even after Illinois raised taxes, its rates are still lower than those in Wisconsin! So Schultz said, not realizing that this is the very case Walker makes.

Like other governors, Walker says he can’t raise taxes because employers (and high earners) will flee to neighboring states—to states with lower taxes. The analysts cried when Big Eddie reinforced Walker’s point.

So it goes on MSNBC, where the intelligence level seems to drop by the week.

By the way, this news report in the New York Times discussed the Illinois tax situation. Under Governor Quinn’s temporary plan, the state income tax went from 3 percent to 5 percent, for all citizens. Illinois has no higher rate for upper-end earners; everybody pays the same rate. By way of contrast, Wisconsin has a graduated state income tax—and its rate for the highest earners is 7.75 percent.

Despite these facts, Big Eddie tells us that Walker should raise Wisconsin’s rates, just like heroic Quinn! Illinois’ marginal rate in 5 percent; Wisconsin’s is almost three points higher. Despite this, Governor Quinn is the man—and Walker should take his rate higher! Meanwhile, this later report noted that Quinn’s bump in income tax rates was passed in January—and he proposed no additional taxes in last month’s full budget proposal, despite Illinois’ large shortfall. (“Even after Illinois raised income and corporate tax rates last month, Gov. Pat Quinn is proposing a budget that would cut aid to the poor, skimp on many services and count on borrowing billions to pay overdue bills.”)

Was Big Eddie twisting his facts just a tad? On MSNBC, if it weren’t for the twisted facts, would there be any facts at all?

How should the various states deal with taxes? We’d love to see a serious discussion, but it won’t likely occur on The True Liberal Channel. That said, the question is more complex on the state level than it is for the feds.

At any rate, the analysts howled, writhed and cried when Big Eddie made Scott Walker’s case. His staff may be the worst on the channel. Big Ed himself doesn’t seem to notice—and he keeps making us liberals dumb.

IT’S TIME FOR HER TO GO (permalink): George Will’s new column appeared in yesterday’s Washington Post.

Will is a very prominent conservative—has been for decades. That’s why yesterday’s column is a potentially helpful big deal.

In his piece, Will trashed Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee. He called the pair “weird” and “delusional”—and he even trashed Steve Malzberg, a fairly significant slimeball figure from conservative radio.

Perhaps most importantly, Will also denounced the culture of birtherism, calling it “paranoia.”

Liberals, progressives and Democrats have been trying to deal with birtherism for several years now. Its culture involves the kinds of kooky claims that made life hell for both Clintons, and then for Candidate Gore. (And then for Candidate Kerry.) Now, a major conservative has trashed the whole movement, throwing Gingrich and Huckabee under the bus as he did.

Will does these all things in his most recent column—unless you watched last Friday evening’s Rachel Maddow Show. On that program, Maddow focused on a different fact—the fact that Will said a naughty, embarrassing word in this column. Using this naughty, embarrassing word, Maddow proceeded to indulge herself in a few of her favorite games.

Then too, there was the fairly obvious lie she told, in which she seemed to revert to an inaccurate claim Politifact scolded her for.

Question: Has it ever been more clear that the time has come for Maddow to go? That it’s time for her to get the help she seems to need, to let the liberal/progressive world develop a serious politics?

Before we review Maddow’s latest round of silly-girl clowning, let’s make sure we understand what George Will said in his column.

In his column, Will addresses Huckabee’s recent spate of garbage talk about the president’s upbringing. As he starts, he gives a sense of where his column will go. According to Will, “vibrations of weirdness” are “emanating” from the GOP field:

WILL (3/6/11): If pessimism is not creeping on little cat's feet into Republicans' thinking about their 2012 presidential prospects, that is another reason for pessimism. This is because it indicates they do not understand that sensible Americans, who pay scant attention to presidential politics at this point in the electoral cycle, must nevertheless be detecting vibrations of weirdness emanating from people associated with the party.

According to Will, “vibrations of weirdness” are “emanating from people associated with the” GOP. “Sensible Americans” are surely detecting these vibrations, he said. Before long, Will explained who he had in mind—Gingrich and Huckabee. He trashed them for their slimy statements about Obama’s upbringing and/or place of birth.

And make no mistake—Will trashed these major Republicans hard.

“Let us not mince words,” he said near the end of his piece. After that, he said the following words, denouncing a pair of major Republicans and the whole culture of birtherism:

WILL: Let us not mince words. There are at most five plausible Republican presidents on the horizon—Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, former Utah governor and departing ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, former Massachusetts governor Romney and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty.

So the Republican winnowing process is far advanced. But the nominee may emerge much diminished by involvement in a process cluttered with careless, delusional, egomaniacal, spotlight-chasing candidates to whom the sensible American majority would never entrust a lemonade stand, much less nuclear weapons.

Because of their talk about Kenya and colonialism, Will denounced Gingrich and Huckabee as “delusional, egomaniacal, spotlight-chasing candidates”—the type of candidates who might do harm to more serious GOP hopefuls. And ouch! Will said the pair were such stone-cold nuts that American voters would never entrust them with even “a lemonade stand!” Nor was that all: Earlier in the column, Will essentially called Huckabee a liar. He and Gingrich are dealing in “paranoia” concerning Obama’s background, Will essentially said.

In context, the claim of “paranoia” extends to the whole birther movement.

In a rational world, liberals and Dems might see this column as significant—and as potentially helpful. Given Will’s status on the right, this column could be a strong tool with which to bat vile nonsense down. But you didn’t hear any such judgment expressed if you watched Friday’s sad Maddow show. On that program, Will’s column became the latest excuse for Maddow to clown and behave like a child, vamping in the phoniest ways and begging us rubes to adore her.

Maddow staged one of her silly-girl acts, helping us see how special she is. It would be hard to be much dumber—or to be a bigger fake.

Then too, there was that once-denounced lie which Maddow seemed to retell.

A bit of background:

On Friday, extensive portions of Will’s column had been pre-released to the press. On that afternoon’s Hardball, Chris Matthews read most of the text we’ve posted above; more specifically, he read Will’s denunciations of Huckabee. (The part of Will’s column dealing with Gingrich may still have been under embargo.) Matthews and David Corn then discussed the various things Will had said.

Incredible! Matthews read the bulk of Will’s column—and then led a serious discussion!

But four hours later, on Maddow, Rachel chose to play familiar silly-girl games, the kinds of games that are designed to make us rubes adore her. She very briefly discussed Will’s remarks, then zeroed in on a troubling fact: George Will had used the word “vibrator” at one point in his column! (This was a reference to the “vibrations of weirdness” coming from Huckabee/Gingrich.) And then, our own egomaniacal spotlight-chaser did what she so often does—she feigned embarrassment about the embarrassing word Will had naughtily said. This now became the total focus of her treatment of Will’s piece—and she extended this nonsense throughout her program. Clowning and playing her viewers for fools, Maddow pretended she was too embarrassed to say that embarrassing word.

Darling Child Rachel was too embarrassed to say that very bad word! This is a familiar part of her shtick, of course—but in this way, a significant column was transformed into a chance for Rachel to frolic.

How phony will this egomaniac be when she feels the need to vamp about, seeking new adoration? As always, you really have to watch the tape to take the full measure of Maddow’s dishonesty. (Seriously—you really have to watch her performance, in which she wrings every ounce of deception out of her plainly ridiculous claims. Just click here.) But here’s how she started her first segment on this matter, talking shit with every word:

MADDOW (3/4/11): I’ve always wanted to do one of those text polls? On TV? Um—they do them on other shows here on MSNBC. But for a long time, I didn’t really understand how to do them. And then once we figured out how you do them, it took us a long time as a staff to figure out a question that would be an appropriate one to use for a text polling—a question that really requires instant answers from our viewing audience.

Then at today’s news meeting, we realized—finally! Finally, we have exactly the sort of day for which you need that text-y, poll question, instant response thingy. Because for us, the question is: What’s more embarrassing today? So, get your cell phones ready.

Translation: Hey, you big dumb fucking rubes! Look here! Please, please adore me!

Seriously, do you believe a single word Maddow says in that passage? Do you really believe that Maddow “always wanted to do one of those text polls,” except that, “for a long time,” she “didn’t really understand how to do them?” Please. To state the obvious, every anchor knows how to do such a poll: You tell your producer you want to do it, and he or she sets it up! But Rachel was playing her silly-girl games, begging viewers to love her even more. (Again: You really have to watch the performance. You really have to watch the way she sells that ridiculous tale.)

One more question: Do you really believe the nonsense which followed those first statements? Do you really believe this: “Once we figured out how you do them, it took us a long time as a staff to figure out a question that would be an appropriate one?” Obviously, none of this piffle is actually true; Maddow was simply adopting a standard pose, a pose in which we’re asked to see how innocent and authentic she is, despite all her glory and wealth. Helping drive the play along was Darling Rachel’s little-girl language, in which she discussed her drive to conquer that “text-y” poll question “thingy.”

Darling Rachel is so adorable—so unrelentingly cute!

At any rate: After a brief review of Huckabee’s week, Darling Rachel was finally ready to quote Will’s actual column. But then, as she started to read Will’s text, she engaged in one of her greatest ploys. She read Will’s text right up to the place where the naughty word “vibrator” appeared—and then, the blushing bride broke down! The word “vibrator” could be seen on the screen. But our darling girl just couldn’t say it.

Maddow has played this phony game many times in the past. Turning Will’s column into a joke, she revived a familiar old chestnut:

MADDOW (3/4/11): This Huckabee media round…is being criticized by a prominent conservative columnist expressing concern for the circus-like atmosphere around the Republican presidential nominating practice so far. The Washington Post’s George Will gave a preview of his column on the subject to Politico.com today.

Here it is. He writes, "Sensible Americans must be detecting vibrations of weirdness emanating from people associated with the party. The most recent—

[four-second pause]

Uhhh—

[two-second pause]

I don’t think I can say that out loud. I will just let you read it off your screen. “The most recent –

[two-second pause]

OK?

Um—all of this brings us to our question...

Manfully, Matthews had managed to read that embarrassing word. After that, he conducted a real discussion of the things Will said. Not Rachel! Egomaniacally, she turned the spotlight on herself—on the endearing way she can’t make herself say bad, embarrassing words.

As she continued, the faking did too. What follows is perfect Grade A bullshit— Grade A bullshit which took the place of a real discussion:

MADDOW (continuing directly): All of this brings us to our question. Now, it is time for your cell phone. Are you ready? I’ve never done this before—I hope we do it right. Ready?

Today`s question: What`s more embarrassing? A, Huckabee saying stuff like the president grew up in Kenya... Or B, Mike Huckabee vaguely not apologizing for saying stuff like that but telling anyone offended to buy his book. Or C, George Will calling Mike Huckabee (two-second pause) a something I’m not going to say. Which is more embarrassing?

We’re doing this for real! Text A, B or C to the number 622639. I’m supposed to say, “Message and data rates may apply!” 622639. Text A, B, or C.

They tell me that we were supposedly going to have the results a little later on this hour, which I sort of can’t believe, but that`s what they say. So, if they’re right, that will be true, in just a minute.

In the highlighted passages, Rachel was extending the familiar ploy in which she pretends to be a confused, helpless child. We strongly advise you to watch that tape. You’ll be watching one of the biggest phonies in cable history.

Also, one of cable’s least honest performers, as we’ll note below.

Why does Rachel like to stage this “I don’t really know what I’m doing act?” (It’s a major part of her arsenal.) Why does she like to stage this “I’m too embarrassed” nonsense? Presumably, these endearing tics are designed to make gullible cable viewers like her. And sure enough—all over the web, Rachel got a lot of attention for her “I just can’t say it” act. (Just search on “Maddow Huckabee vibrator.”) Gullible liberals believed it—they seemed to think her “I can’t say it” act was truly spontaneous. For one example, read this credulous piece from the Huffington Post.

Later in the show, Maddow gave the results from the instant response poll thingy—and of course, she continued to vamp. She still couldn’t make herself say that very naughty word—and of course, she feigned amazement at the number of messages she had gotten during her thingy. To watch the tape of this second gong-show segment, go ahead—just click here.

But this nonsense dominated two full segments—taking the place of a real discussion of the useful things Will had said. In the world of Darling Maddow, the need to build adoration for the host routinely comes first.

A person could imagine a world in which this utterly silly vamping wasn’t that big a deal. When it comes to Maddow’s obsessive vamping, that isn’t the world we live in. Maddow loves to build viewer adoration. (Cable ratings suggest that her various ploys are working.) Beyond that, there’s the miserable lack of political smarts, and of course the incessant apparent lying, that typify the performance of this poorly-wound cable host.

Maddow’s political analyses have been woeful in the past several weeks. Asking her to analyze domestic politics is a bit like asking Pee Wee Herman to critique the Bolshoi Ballet. She rarely knows what she’s talking about—but she advances her theories with massive assurance.

Then too, there’s the incessant apparent lying. Consider what she did Friday night.

In yet anotrher segment, Maddow tried to discuss Scott Walker’s plan to send layoff notices to Wisconsin workers. Here too, the discussion had to make way for another Maddow favorite, in which she plays tape of private security workers in Afghanistan drinking vodka from each others’ butt cracks. This too lets her cringe in hyperbolic fashion, letting us see how childishly modest she is. In truth, the tape isn’t relevant at this point—but Maddow has found a way to play it twice in the past few weeks.

Last Friday, this was the silly banter as she ran that embarrassing butt-crack tape again. As she starts, Maddow is talking about an action Walker apparently took when he was county executive in Milwaukee. To watch this nonsense, click here:

MADDOW: Mr. Walker overruled the country board, he fired all the union guards, and he replaced them with new ones from Wackenhut—a private, nonunion foreign company that was sort of already a household name, at least in certain households, because they are the same company that became famous for this thing I’m about to show you . Uhhh—sorry, Mom. Um—parents, it is time to put your hand over your child’s eyes if you are the sort of parent who puts your hand over your child’s eyes. OK, ready?

[tape starts]

Yeah.

Uh, remember? Yeah.

Yeah.

These are the Wackenhut guys who we, the American taxpayers, paid to guard the U.S. embassy in Kabul. These guys found a really, really novel way to spend their down time, dancing around naked, some of them—some of them in coconut brassieres to celebrate the challenge of drinking vodka out of really hard-to-reach places in the rear-facing portion of one another’s naked bodies.

As my grandmother might have had me put it, if she were still watching by this point, they drank spirits from each other’s nethers.

Actually, no—the fact that some guys drank vodka out of colleagues’ butt cracks doesn’t really have much to do with Walker’s past or current actions. But Maddow likes to play that tape—as she feigns her standard embarrassment, even on Grandma’s behalf.

This was the third separate segment in Friday’s program in which we got this absurd entertainment. But as she continued, Maddow returned to a standard story about Walker—a story Politifact shot down, a story Maddow and her staff swore she never said or meant to imply. When he became governor, did Scott Walker “cook the books?” Did he gin up a fiscal crisis, turning a surplus into a deficit? At one point, this claim was widely asserted. Two weeks ago, Maddow’s pool boy, Bill Wolff, wrote two e-mails to Politifact insisting that Maddow never believed it and hadn’t meant to imply it.

But so what? Last Friday, vamping and basically lying, Maddow pretty much went there again:

MADDOW (continuing directly): Thanks to Scott Walker, Wackenhut became Wisconsin’s problem, too. Scott Walker improperly fired the union security guys, brought Wackenhut in instead, took $5 an hour off the wages, slashed the benefits. Wackenhut in turn hired a man with a criminal record who had done jail time and put him in charge of security at Milwaukee`s courthouses and other city buildings.

Now, because the courts have ruled that Mr. Walker did all of that improperly under the very transparent cover of a ginned-up financial emergency—sound familiar?—Milwaukee is locked into paying double right now for a service it already has. The old union security guards are back, and they still got the booty-hind vodka Wackenhut on the job as well.

When he was country executive, did Walker fire government workers “under the very transparent cover of a ginned-up financial emergency?” We don’t know; we’ve learned in the past that you can’t believe things you hear on Maddow’s program. But when she threw in that “sound familiar?,” it was clear what Maddow meant.

Earlier in the segment, Maddow had described Walker’s earlier action like this: “When the county board tried to stop him, tried to save him from himself really, he overruled them, citing that fiscal emergency he had evidently cooked up.” In short, he “cooked up” an emergency as county exec—and that conduct should “sound familiar” now.

There’s a narrow way to read Maddow’s words in which they might be said to be technically accurate. But we’ll tell you what happened all over America. All over America, viewers thought they heard Maddow recalling that earlier story, the one in whiuch Walker created the current shortfall. That’s the story Politifact shot down. It’s the story Maddow’s staff renounced on her behalf.

In e-mails, Maddow’s staff swore she doesn’t believe that. Friday night, she tickled those strings again.

Maddow is a charismatic performer—but she’s also a near basket case. Last Friday, she clowned and played and sought adoration in several silly, standard ways. In the process, she dumbed her viewers way, way down—and seemed to reinforce an old lie.

Progressive really can’t win this way. A certain phrase comes to mind. Isn’t it time for this “egomaniacal spotlight-chaser” to go?