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Daily Howler: I see myself in others, he says. Maddow and Olbermann won't
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OBAMA ABANDONED! I see myself in others, he says. Maddow and Olbermann won’t: // link // print // previous // next //
FRIDAY, APRIL 17, 2009

Re-electing Perry: Could a Democrat win the Texas state house next year? We have no idea. On the Republican side, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison will challenge incumbent governor Rick Perry. Last night, Chris Matthews got busy re-electing Rick. On Fox, Geraldo may have been even worse.

Matthews was re-electing Rick in the standard manner—by aiming repeated insults at Texans from his Yankee lair.

A bit of background: Perry has been mouthing off a bit this week—though not as much as Matthews conjured. On Tax Day, Perry was asked about secession—and he gave an overly-flogged, if suggestive, reply. (It has begun producing reaction in Texas.) But Matthews was especially vapid last night when it came to the question of “sovereignty.” In the process, he may have been busy re-electing Rick.

It was a classic performance. Perry had been involved in some matter involving “sovereignty,” the perpetually uninformed host seemed to know. Throughout the program, he offered wild thoughts about what the unexplained matter could mean. Early on, the following ruminations emerged—before Matthews began to lecture the world about what the Civil War meant:

MATTHEWS (4/16/09): When you talk about the sovereignty of the state of Texas, are you talking about nullification? What are you talking about, the right of the state to deny the role of the federal government? What right are you insisting on when you say sovereignty? Like it’s an independent country again?

As is his wont, Matthews sustained this floundering through the full hour. By the end of the show (7 PM program only), he was thrashing about with Roger Simon, a fellow uninformed Yank—and he was churning strings of remarks about “nut country,” “crazy world,” Perry’s “sanity.”

Music to Rick Perry’s ears? (To watch that last segment, click here.)

Matthews never seems to do any research on any topic, of course. In this instance, he plainly had no idea how the topic of “sovereignty” had arisen. But then again, this is hardly surprising. Before the “sovereignty” flap-doodle reached the mainstream, it got itself filtered through Drudge.

What was up with the “sovereignty” deal? The story emerged this week, through Drudge’s edit pen—but it dates to April 9. On that day, Perry endorsed Texas House Concurrent Resolution 50—a resolution which continues to draw little attention in Texas newspapers. But this is how the helpful word “sovereignty” got into the mix.

Here’s part of Perry’s statement from April 9. At no point in last night’s program did Matthews show any sign of knowing about this resolution—let alone about what it says:

PERRY (4/9/09): I am here today to express my unwavering support for efforts all across our country to reaffirm the states rights affirmed by the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I believe that returning to the letter and spirit of the U.S. Constitution and its essential 10th Amendment will free our state from undue regulations, and ultimately strengthen our Union.

A number of recent federal proposals are not within the scope of the federal governments constitutionally designated powers and impede the states right to govern themselves. HCR 50 affirms that Texas claims sovereignty under the 10th Amendment over all powers not otherwise granted to the federal government.

Last night, a full week later, Matthews was wondering if the “sovereignty” yap amounts to a claim that Texas is “an independent country.” We’re not sure—does it sound that way? If you acknowledge all powers granted to the federal government under the U.S. Constitution, are you claiming that you’re a new country?

In endorsing HCR 50, Perry endorsed his state’s “sovereignty” over all powers not otherwise granted to the federal government. It happened on April 9—and no one said boo about it. So someone peddled the tale to Drudge, and he improved it a tad. DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS GOV DECLARES STATE SOVEREIGNTY, one April 14 headline said. One day later, Politico’s Andy Barr simplified things somewhat further:

BARR (4/15/09): Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s star is rising among a new constituency—the anti-tax “tea party” crowd—in the wake of his recent endorsement of a Texas state House resolution affirming the state’s sovereignty.

The resolution urges that “all compulsory federal legislation that directs states to comply under threat of civil or criminal penalties or sanctions or that requires states to pass legislation or lose federal funding be prohibited or repealed.”

The Republican governor’s public embrace of that language—a thinly veiled reference toward the conditions set by the Obama administration’s financial stimulus package—and his efforts to reject some of the stimulus funds have made him popular among the big government opponents who attended Wednesday’s “tea party” events across the nation.

If you read all the way to paragraph 3, you learned that this was a thinly-veiled reference to certain parts of the stimulus package. But if you read the first paragraph only, you read something vastly simpler. And let’s face it: Very few major broadcasters seem to make their way past that first graf.

Last night, Perry got what he may have wanted—a string of Yankees lecturing Texans about their obvious lack of sanity. A certain kind of southern pol has won elections this way forever. Matthews was highly uninformed last night (Geraldo may have been even worse). And who knows? As he thundered and flailed and pronounced, the typically under-informed cable host may have been re-electing Rick.

Too perfect: On Hardball. Roger Simon sent Perry the perfect Care package. “Maybe if we could keep Austin and a few other places and give them the rest,” the Yankee scribe wistfully mused. What a perfect bit of messaging! We’d have to guess that Governor Rick is hoping all Real Texans watched!

PART 4—OBAMA ABANDONED: We progressive news consumers got a major break last night. The dick jokes and clowning largely stopped on our cable news programs—with Obama as proximate cause. You see, the president had announced some decisions on torture—and that’s pretty much the only topic that gets taken seriously on our programs. (As it should be taken, of course.) Result? Olbermann and Maddow put on their dark suits and acted like they were half-human. The dick jokes largely faded, though Olbermann managed a few. (“Tea-bagging has now petered out,” he cleverly said, throwing in a clever reference to “the penal code.”)

The pair of progressives put on their dark suits and acted like serious people for once. Torture is taken seriously here—though other subjects may produce clowning. How silly can the policy work get on Countdown? The analysts simply shook their heads at this Wednesday night Olbermann riff:

OLBERMANN (4/15/09): Our fourth story on the countdown: The Republican governor of Texas, Rick Perry, seeming to prefer anarchy and despotism. Governor Perry joining in today’s tea-bagging and in false outrage over federal tax dollars that he is more than happy to spend.

Governor Perry telling tea-baggers in Austin this morning that if any in the crowd were right-wing extremists, quote, "I`m with you." Adding that Texans, quote, "will not be ignored." Quote, "We are sending a very clear message that we won`t stand for our pockets to be picked, our children`s futures to be mortgaged, and our rights to be taken away. We will not be ignored."

Not so much ignored as perhaps ignorance, when you consider that Texas gets back 88 cents out of every federal tax dollar it sends to Washington. In comparison, Minnesota gets back just 46 cents, with only half of its Senate contingent present—true taxation without representation. Delaware only 42 cents, less than half of what Texas gets back.

We don’t know where Olbermann got his data, though Texas does seem to be a “donor state”—a state which gets back less in federal spending than it submits in taxes. (For Tax Foundation data, click here.) No, those data aren’t really relevant to Perry’s current complaints. But how silly can “analysis” get on this program? According to Olbermann, Texans are somehow supposed to be pleased because they get 88 cents on the dollar! (Indeed, this comparison was offered to help show Perry’s remarkable “ignorance.”) Does Olbermann know that a dollar contains 100 cents—and that 88 cents is less?

Yes, that was a comical moment. We point it out for one reason only—to help you see the Potemkin nature of such cable “analysis.” On Countdown, the occasional fact is thrown in the stew to create the illusion of analysis—but it’s really all about the name-calling. Consider something else Olbermann said Wednesday night—a segment he did about a new report by the US Public Interest Research Group.

In this second instance, Olbermann went off on one of his famous, highly theatrical rants. On the whole, his rant was aimed at Fox News personnel—but he didn’t miss the chance to insult some less exalted citizens. Keith was mad—he even cursed—as he discussed a type of topic he pretty much never discusses. Yes, he was mad at Cavuto and Beck. But then too, he also seemed mad at “the simpletons in Sacramento,” the “handfuls of sheep” who had been “herded” that day, just like some actual sheep seen earlier on this same program:

OLBERMANN (4/15/09): And number one, Tea Bag-gate. As handfuls of sheep, possibly wearing LED vests, as seen earlier in Oddball, are herded into made-for-TV protests of taxation with representation, the US Public Interest Research Group has now analyzed a Senate report from last year that showed just how much we lose as a nation in tax revenues hidden by corporations in places like the Cayman Islands. The opportunities to do so growing immeasurably under the Bush administration.

The total figure is up to 800 billion dollars a year. But U.S. PIRG has now figured it out state by state. Texas would be losing eight billion a year, eight billion its ordinary citizens have to pay in taxes. So is New York State at that amount. Residents of California have to make up 11 billion lost to tax-dodge island. The District of Columbia, 713 million. Even Alaska—Alaska!—174 million that Alaskans have to pay because Alaskan corporations do not.

So where are your damned tea-bag protests about that? Where is the Fox out-of-business network on this corporate piracy? Where is Neil Cavuto explaining to the simpletons in Sacramento that they’re getting ripped off by international outfits like, oooh, News Corp? Where is Captain Tea Bag himself, Glenn Beck? Why don’t you take credit for this idea from somebody else? Get up there and weep about U.S. corporations making us, all of us, rich and poor, pay 100 billion dollars of their taxes so we get the privilege of getting to buy their products and bail out their failures?

The study concerns a serious topic—a topic Olbermann never discusses. He ranted and yelled about Fox News—prospectively, since the report in question had only appeared that day. But in the process, he pleasured his viewers with a few choice insults—insults aimed at the less exalted. But then, his has been a basic feature of “progressive” news for the past week.

That’s right! Average people attending those Tax Day events have been name-called on these shows for a week. “Prurient” insults (Maddow’s term) have rained down on their heads—even on the names of their towns. (An event was held in Marble Falls, Texas. This made Olbermann, who supposedly isn’t a simpleton, think of what’s found in a scrotum.) In this particular Countdown segment. these people were described as “simpletons,” “handfuls of sheep;” there was no apparent need to explain. But so it has gone for at least the past week as “progressive” news mavens insult average people for their stupidity—even as these mavens keep presenting bungled, gong-show news reports.

Consider what happened Tuesday night when Rachel Maddow tried to discuss Obama’s speech on the economy.

By the rules of “progressive” pseudo-journalism, it had to start with some “prurient” jokes. That particular gob-smack accomplished, Maddow quickly observed a distinction between herself and Obama. She had been taking a “juvenile approach” to this unfolding story, she acknowledged. (She just couldn’t help herself.) By way of contrast, in his speech, Barack Obama had not:

MADDOW (4/14/09): Here on Tea Bag Eve, one form of response to the great tea-bag gob-smack of 2009 is, of course, to laugh at it, even while trying to report on it, which is the prurient, juvenile approach that I admit I have taken over the past week. I can’t help myself.

Today, further illustration of why jerks like me can’t be president of the United States. President Obama, today, seriously addressed his critics, taking them on as if he has been able to discern within the tea-bag blizzard some legitimate concerns that require rebuttal. Unlike giggling TV hosts, he has identified points of concern that people may have with him and he logically walked through those concerns and gave his responses to them.

President Obama’s speech today explained what he thinks is going on in the economy and why he thinks it’s going on. He enunciated and justified his policies to respond to the crisis. In the process, he spelled out and answered the criticisms he has encountered from left, right and center, and in the case of the tea-baggers, from over the top.

According to Maddow, Obama had taken on his critics “as if he has been able to discern...some legitimate concerns that require rebuttal.” Throughout the bungled report which followed, she seemed to suggest that such “legitimate concerns” had come from the left, the right and the center—but not from the “tea-baggers” themselves, whose concerns had come “from over the top.” (That was a play on what occurs when a fellow lowers his scrotum onto a sex partner’s face.) To help us see how stupid these “tea-baggers” are, Maddow offered three examples, captured and edited down on tape:

MADDOW (continuing): In the process, he spelled out and answered the criticisms he has encountered from left, right and center, and in the case of the tea-baggers, from over the top.

JESSICA COLON (videotape): Spending is not the solution.

CHAD LANG (videotape): It’s putting hippos on the Titanic. That’s all it’s doing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (videotape): They are robbing my children. They are robbing them for the rest of their lives! They are robbing my grandchildren!

MADDOW: From grandchild robbery and Titanic hippos to the president’s response.

After sneering at the tea-baggers (“grand-child robbery!”), Maddow played tape of Obama’s smart response.

Who were the “tea-baggers” offered on tape? For the record, Colon is a Young Republican activist; Lang seems to be an average Joe. To state the obvious, Maddow’s use of what Lang said was a typically disingenuous case of nut-picking; if you get tape of enough people speaking, you can always make someone look dumb, especially if you’re willing to take one odd comment out of all context. But for ourselves, we were most struck by the third “tea-bagger,” the unidentified young woman who spoke with great concern about her children’s and grandchildren’s futures. To Maddow, this young woman was just one more “tea-bagger”—one more person to be mocked and insulted, then tossed on a pile like a big smack of gob. The young woman hadn’t gone to Stanford, after all—and she’d never been a Rhodes Scholar! She was thus ripe for sexual insult from a deeply disrespectful young host.

That young woman was worried about her children. Frankly, she ought to be worried about them—though Maddow, drawing gigantic swag, will never have to worry like that. At any rate, Maddow was soon speaking with former DNC chairman Howard Dean. Dean brushed off the tea-baggers too—then made a rather odd statement:

MADDOW: In terms of the political strategy [in Obama’s speech], I was, I was struck by the timing, just because it seems like he is—these weren’t straw-man arguments. He wasn’t building up arguments that are easy to knock down. He seemed to be taking on arguments from the right that don’t really exist, honestly. He’s taking on arguments as if they are being, he’s being more rationally criticized than he is right now. Republicans—

DEAN: I agree. That’s why I don’t think he is responding to the Tea Party or whatever they call it, because there’s no real message in that. I mean, people are mad. OK, well, that’s fine. But there’s no real focused message on the part of the people who are doing the tea-bag party.

What Obama was doing, I think, was explaining things that ought to be explained. What about these big deficits? People should be worried about those. What about a government bailing out the banks? Those are legitimate questions that lots of people have concerns about, not just the fulminating talk-show hosts on the far right.

And those concerns deserve to be answered and I think he did that. I do think it was a really good speech. And what I thought was so great about it—it totally lacked the soaring rhetoric of most of his speeches. It’s look them right in the eyes on Main Street and explain in very plain language why he‘s doing what he is doing.

Maddow seemed to self-contradict; Obama wasn’t setting up straw-man arguments, she said, just before saying that the arguments in question “don’t really exist.” But then, Maddow made little sense at any point in this long segment on the economy, except when she was insulting people who hadn’t quite made it to Stanford. But we were struck by Dean’s comment here: People should be worried about those big deficits, he said. (And about the bank bail-outs.) We were struck by that comment for an obvious reason; to state the obvious, those big deficits may be the very thing which have that young mother so concerned—the concern which Maddow so instantly mocked. Surely, this might be the source of her fear—and here was Dean, saying that people should be concerned about this.

Question: If people should be concerned about that, why was that young woman mocked?

Earlier, Maddow had tried to discuss those deficits—the deficits to which Dean now alluded. And uh-oh! Although she’s more brilliant than that young woman—everything in the GE machine tells us that—Maddow had done a rather poor job handling this part of her brief. It came right after she showed tape of Obama explaining the thinking behind his stimulus package:

OBAMA (videotape): If everybody—if everybody, if every family in America, if every business in America cuts back all at once, then no one is spending any money—which means there are no customers, which means there are more layoffs, which means that the economy gets even worse. That’s why the government has to step in and temporarily boost spending in order to stimulate demand. That’s exactly what we’re doing right now.

MADDOW: That makes sense. That’s the “paradox of thrift” from Econ 101. That said, it’s less fun than talking about hippos on the Titanic. He also took on conservative criticism about the deficit.

SEN. JUDD GREGG, R-NH (videotape): We’re talking about a deficit in the $1 trillion range for as far as the eye can see. The practical implications of this is bankruptcy for the United States. There’s no other way around it.

MADDOW: Rather than pointing out that these same Republicans presided over the exploding deficit of the past eight years, President Obama left that alone and identified the main culprit of the growing deficit that he attempts to deal with in his budget.

OBAMA (videotape): I absolutely agree that our long-term deficit is a major problem that we have to fix. The key to dealing with our long-term deficit and our national debt is to get a handle on out-of-control health care costs—not to stand idly by as the economy goes into free fall.

Does Maddow know if Obama’s analysis is correct? Since she never spends any time on such topics, we have no idea—but we’d be quite surprised if she did, despite her endless insults aimed at those dumb tea-baggers. Her throw-away comment about Gregg’s remark did strike us as less than astute. Gregg made this statement on March 22, two days after the CBO released its gob-smacking deficit projections for the next decade—projections which presumably include the effects of Obama’s health care proposals. (For Lori Montgomery’s March 21 news report, just click here.) Gregg was right about one thing: The CBO is projecting deficits in the trillion-dollar range for years 7-10 (2016-2019), long after our presumed recovery from the current recession. And in fact, the CBO’s projected deficits dwarf the “exploding deficit of the past eight years,” the crutch to which Maddow quickly turned in her pointless reaction to Gregg.

What do the CBO’s projected deficits look like, as compared to Bush’s actual deficits? To see the Washington Post’s striking graphic, just click here. This graphic doesn’t adjust for the expanding size of the economy—but still, the contrast is rather startling when we compare the size of Bush’s deficits to those projected under Obama. (And yes, those are Bush’s actual deficits. They do include war costs.) That’s the situation to which Dean referred when he said that people should be concerned about “those big deficits”—after ridiculing any “tea-baggers” who might be concerned about them, that is. But then, let’s be candid about the garbage Olbermann and Maddow have been pumping out since last week. (Yes: The garbage.) Let’s be truthful: Their programs have been insult masquerading as news—the latest gong-show pseudo-news product churned by MSNBC.

Let’s return to that unidentified woman included in Maddow’s tape.

Based on the things we saw her say, we would guess that she is concerned about those “big deficits.” She should be concerned about them, Dean said. But she and her kind have been insulted for the past several weeks on our “progressive” news programs—endlessly mocked in sexual terms, vilified for their stupidity. As Maddow and Olbermann have dished these insults, they have also presented a series of hapless reports—know-nothing segments which nicely dove-tail with their previous lack of work on these subjects. Those CBO projections appeared on March 20, for example; have you ever seen the brilliant Lady Maddow make any attempt to discuss them? Dean says they constitute a real problem; any time Maddow wanted to, she could have brought experts on the air to analyze what those projections might mean. (And to analyze the explanation Obama gave in his speech.) But mainly, she’s dealt in crude, stupid insults—dick jokes aimed at regular people, night after night, for more than a week. She has taken a “prurient, juvenile approach,” she admits. She can’t help herself, she explains.

But then, for as long as we’ve been alive, some young “liberals” have tended to act this way toward citizens like that young woman. They love to ridicule red-state rubes—the ones who didn’t quite make it to Stanford. (Or to Cornell, in Olbermann’s case. To Harvard, in the case of Bill Wolff.) Long ago, they helped elect Nixon this way—and they seem to be hard at their labors again. Upscale “progressives” love to mock less brilliant people—the kind of people who get interviewed at strip malls, as Maddow’s three “tea-baggers” did. They’ll play the fool all week long, as these TV stars did, to bring their friends this prize.

Marble Falls! Mount Juliet! And omigod! Mount Vernon!

Obama tends toward a different approach, an approach he has long discussed. I see myself in others, he says; he says that he is all about seeing the merit—the point of connection—in the other person’s viewpoint. Obama has never insulted young women who worry about their children and grandchildren. It would be comical if it weren’t so sad: Young “progressives” who fawn about Obama the most can’t wait to reject his approach.

Maddow seemed surprised to see Obama giving serious answers. But Obama was responding to real concerns—real concerns of real people. By contrast, Maddow has been hired, by General Electric, to aim crude insults at lesser beings on behalf of you and yours. In fairness, she’s the most skillfully crafted news product, by far, that has ever rolled down GE’s line.

I see myself in others, Obama says. Maddow and Olbermann won’t.

The saddest day at the fair: For the crowning blow, Olbermann brought out the ludicrous Janeane Garofalo last night—and she explained, in endless detail, that the people at those Tax Day rallies were just “a bunch of racists” with extremely bad limbic brain problems. To see a performance which couldn’t be parodied, you know what to do—just click here.

Keep an eye peeled for the finniest moment:

GAROFALO (4/16/09): Fox News loves to foment this anti- intellectualism. That is their bread and butter. If you have a cerebral electorate, Fox News goes down the toilet very, very fast.

Given the astounding blather which went before it, that statement was really too much.

By the way: Keith introduced her as “an actor.” Look who’s talking, the analysts said.

Susan Boyle sang: Were you thrilled by the scene when Susan Boyle sang? The audience was laughing before she began. She was sooo beneath their level. We thought of Keith and Rachel.

By the way: Here’s what Boyle told ABC News, Jennifer Macey reporting:

MACEY (4/17/09): The international media have been lining up outside her house in the Scottish village of Blackburn where Susan Boyle lives alone with her cat Pebbles. She says she started singing at 12 and has appeared in the odd karaoke competition.

BOYLE: I'm gob-smacked. Absolutely gob-smacked. I haven't seen YouTube or anything like that but I understand it's quite immense. All I can say is thank you. I'll take it all in my stride. Take it all in my stride. I am enjoying it, I am.

Oh. Our. God. She said that word! On this side of the pond, two very-hip urbandic souls would have mocked her for it.