President Obama, Harry Reid and John Boehner have reached a budget deal to avert a government shutdown before the election -- but the Speaker apparently still needs time to strong-arm enough of his members into voting for it to pass the House. To give[...]
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To Sean Hannity, there is no difference - none - between a Chick-fil-A magnate who devotes time and money towards preventing gays from marrying where it's not yet legal and ending it where it is, and a Democratic president who for conservative, prudential and - yes - political reasons took a go-slow approach before coming out for equal rights earlier this year.
To any fair-minded observer, however, the two positions could not have been further apart. One was fundamentally reactionary and anti-gay. The other was progressive and pro-gay rights. Yet, Hannity's false equivalence was critical to the absurd point he hoped to make that "the far left" was both partisan and hypocritical for employing double standards that made conservatives look like bigots while liberals were just as bad. I suppose it's part and parcel of the perversity of our times that so many gullible Fox News watchers believed him.
Though Sean Hannity may be an especially stupid man, I refuse to believe he's so stupid that he cannot see - or more importantly, that his producers can't -- the cynical absurdity of conflating President Obama's position on gay marriage with that of Chick-fil-A's president, Dan Cathy.
And so the question that hangs out there (which to non-Fox News watchers answers itself) is: Why did Hannity do it? Why did Hannity's editors allow him to do it? And what, then, does that say about Fox News as a "news" organization that Fox pretended both Cathy and Obama's positions were the same?
As we know, the whole justification for the creation of Fox News and the conservative media generally is that the mainstream media was so hopelessly one-sided in its coverage of events that conservatives in self-defense needed a media of their own that was "fair and balanced" toward their peculiar institutions and point of view.
In an interview on Buzzfeed, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he was happy "there isn't media domination like there was in the days of NBC, ABC, CBS the New York Times and the Washington Post -- particularly since most people on my side of the aisle feel they had a pretty obvious bias."
Those days are now over, said McConnell, adding: "I kind of like this new environment. I think it's much more competitive, much more balanced. From a conservative point of view we have a better chance of competing in the marketplace of ideas."
The Washington Monthly's Ed Kilgore said he felt "chilled" by what seemed to be McConnell's rather "cheerful approbation" of the opportunities media fragmentation had given to the Republican Party to engage in McConnell's particular "brand of vicious partisanship."
You almost get the feeling, says Kilgore, that if McConnell was a Democrat or if the "old media" was reliably Republican, McConnell would have taken the exact opposite side, unclouded "by any concerns about -- you know -- objective truth, facts, or the public's right to know."
The media is not about communicating better with constituents or better informing the electorate, says Kilgore summarizing McConnell's views. It's "simply a matter of the superior ability (if you've got the money) to get to voters first with the greatest throw-weight of propaganda."
But what exactly does McConnell mean when says that three major networks, along with the Times and the Post, had it in for conservatives and refused to cover their worldview fairly, which then compelled conservatives to construct a media apparatus all their own.
Did he mean that the press was especially hostile to the Republican Party? That would seem odd given that so many publishers or network corporate owners lean Republican. Did he mean the press went out of its way to be hostile to capitalism and big business? Again, that would appear unlikely given the media's reliance on business advertising.
No, I think McConnell is getting at something deeper and potentially more unsettling with his charges of media bias against the right wing -- a difference between liberalism and conservatism that is far more fundamental and extreme than just competing ideas about the appropriate bottom line for the federal budget or the optimal tax rate on capital gains.
A real philosophical difference separates the two media, which plays out in how it does its job.
The so called "liberal" press sees America as fundamentally diverse, multi-cultured - and democratic. And so, the assumptions it makes on what is news and how that news ought to be covered is colored by the idea that the press exists as a "Fourth Estate" to guard the public from the predations of the other three, as well as a "watch dog" that alerts the public whenever other institutions in society threaten to exploit it, whether it's the banks, corporations or established churches.
The function of the free press in the liberal view, in other words, is the same one all of us J-students learned from reading Joseph Pulitzer (quoting Finley Peter Dunne), who told us it was our job as reporters to "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable."
It's different with conservatives. Conservatives may take advantage of the rights and privileges afforded them by a democratic society. But their worldview is fundamentally elitist, hierarchical - even authoritarian.
And so this very different view of the way societies ought to be organized colors the way a self-consciously "conservative" news organization, like Fox, thinks it ought to cover the news.
The conservative media is there to support the conservative movement and the leaders and institutions that direct it. That means any reporting which compromises the standing of big business, or the established churches or other approved conservative elites, is instantly labeled "biased," however accurate the actual reporting might be.
Since sowing discord among the population in order to get the masses fighting among itself is also a time-honored tactic of reactionary ruling classes trying to maintain their power and position, we should not be surprised when the conservative media turns out to be divisive, perhaps ruthlessly so, as of course it frequently is.
The nature of "truth" also becomes an elastic concept for media institutions like Fox News, which advocate a conservative worldview in which an educated, well-informed and empowered populace ranks far lower on the conservative To Do List than securing the upper classes in their station with whatever propaganda is necessary - in exactly the same way that Plato's Guardians told their Noble Lies in order to have the individual citizen accept "the status due to his nature."
As far to the right as America has drifted in recent decades, the country hasn't become so extreme that it would sit by quietly to the practical ramifications of the starkly different portraits of liberal and conservative media which I have briefly sketched out here. And so, to blur these distinctions, right wing conservatives go to extraordinary lengths to find similarities between themselves and liberals, however tenuous and absurd, which can then be exploited to show that conservatives are not so alien after all -- it's just that liberals are hypocrites who employ double standards to make conservatives seem extreme.
As Kathleen Hall Jamison and Joseph Cappella report in Echo Chamber: Rush Limbaugh and the Conservative Media Establishment, the repeated charge that the mainstream media covers politics in a way that employs double standards which overlook Democratic foibles while magnifying Republican ones, is the "universally applicable rebuttal strategy" among conservatives. Identifying double standards is a strategy, they say, which the right wing media uses constantly in an effort to discredit the mainstream press and to convince conservative audiences they must always discount anything they see or hear in the regular press as fatally flawed and "biased."
The search for "double standards" that can help deflect criticism of conservatives often goes to absurd lengths, as Jamison and Cappella show. One example was the strategy used by Fox News to extricate Republicans from the politically dangerous corner former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott had backed the party into when he said the country would have been far better off had Dixicrat racist Strom Thurmond been elected president in 1948 instead of Harry Truman.
Lott was praising an individual, we must remember, who ran on a States' Rights Party platform that supported "the segregation of the races and the racial integrity of each race" while at the same time defending a "constitutional right to choose one's associates and to accept private employment without governmental interference."
And so, defending Lott directly was out of the question. At a time when the Republican Party's opponents were ready to ascribe Southern ascension within the GOP to the rise of old fashioned-white supremacist bigotry, the Lott fiasco threatened to turn off moderate and independent voters who wanted nothing to do with a party "they deemed intolerant," wrote Jamison and Cappella.
Yet, it was equally perilous to abandon Lott since Southern conservatives might see that as an insult to their region or "political correctness run wild" and might retaliate by rallying to Lott and against anyone who did not support him.
To help the Republican Party execute this delicate strategic retreat Fox News provided the necessary political cover.
In a clever two-party strategy, Fox News first distanced Lott from the GOP by arguing the Senate Leader had broken with conservative orthodoxy when he tacitly supported the segregationist platform. Therefore, he should step down from his leadership post. As Jamison and Cappella note, this served to undercut accusations the Republican Party opposed civil rights or was racist.
At the same time, Fox gave conservatives ammunition they could use to fire back at Democrats -- as they did, charging that if any party had reason for soul-searching it was the Democrats.
Fox dredged up Senator Robert Byrd's past history as a Ku Klux Klansman. The network noted that Al Gore's father had voted against the 1964 civil rights act when he was senator of Tennessee. It also reported the half-truth that Bill Clinton had once praised fellow Arkansan, and "known segregationist," Senator J. William Fulbright, carefully omitting Clinton's criticisms of Fulbright's checkered past.
Fox News (and Sean Hannity in particular) also played up the Solid Democratic South's long history of racism and segregation, never mentioning of course that it was the region's opposition to civil rights which caused this Democratic region to vote solidly Republican in 1964 and to become the target of Richard Nixon's "Southern Strategy" four years later, an idea planted in 1968 that progressively bore fruit over the succeeding 20 years as Southern racism eventually found its "natural home" in what is today the Solid Republican South.
And so, the next time a rabid right wing mob gathers threateningly (metaphorically speaking) outside a meeting hall where a gay wedding is taking place so that it can shout along with Dan Cathy that America is "inviting God's judgment" when it "shakes its fist at Him" and says we know better "what constitutes marriage," watch and see how Fox is able to win the members of this mob over to the idea that they are the innocent victims of vilification here, at the hands of an "angry left" that wants nothing more than to take away their free speech rights, which is the logical consequence of a secular, progressive, and anti-Christian bigotry that would persecute decent, God-fearing believers whose only real offense was standing up for traditional family values.
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Authorities in Port St. Joe, Florida say a man charged with a hate crime felt inconvenienced by his arrest because he had "only shot a n*gger."
Walton Henry Butler, 59, was arrested by Gulf County Sheriff's deputies on Monday night for shooting 32-year-old Everett Gant, who is black, in the head with a .22 caliber rifle.
According to a charging affidavit obtained by The Star, Butler had referred to Pamela Rogers' child and other children at his apartment complex with racial slurs.
Gant was shot between the eyes when he went to Butler's apartment to confront him over the remarks, the documents said. Butler allegedly closed his sliding glass door and left Gant bleeding on ground outside.
The suspect contacted 911 and had finished his dinner before Gulf County Sheriff Joe Nugent arrived.
Nugent recalled that Butler appeared "inconvenienced" by the arrest, saying that "he had only shot a n*gger."
"He was brought to the investigation unit where he was interviewed and basically admitted to shooting the victim and said he shot a, used a racial slur, and said that is what he shot and acted like it was not like a big deal or anything to him," Nugent told WJHG.
Butler was charged with attempted murder with a hate crime enhancement. He was being held in the Gulf County Jail after an appearance in court on Tuesday morning.
Gant was in stable condition at Bay Medical Center and is expected to survive.
President Obama came to the White House with big plans. He?d halve the deficit. Strengthen the economy. Lower unemployment. What did we get? National Debt over 15 trillion and climbing. Unemployment above 8 percent for 40 straight months. An ongoing economic crisis with no end in sight. He tried. You tried. It?s OK to make a change. – RNC ad transcript
MITT ROMNEY’S foreign policy tour has gone as bad as it can get. That he wasn’t doing anything except trying to look presidential makes it worse. But will any of it matter?
I wonder how much any of this minutiae will matter if the economy doesn?t improve. – reader PWT in a comment
Mitt Romney should already be ahead with the economy this listless, but he isn?t and we saw why illustrated in his lack of political pitch in London to his insulting diplomatic comments about the Palestinians, with his negatives even higher than Obama?s, which have risen 5 points with all the negative ads he?s doing. It’s why Team Obama crafted “The Choice.”
The other side of that is that Pres. Obama wouldn’t be in this mess if he’d decided to craft an economic message a long time ago that threaded from TARP through the stimulus and health care and into the middle class wage fights instead of always weighting compromise toward conservatism, which meant following the Tea Party as they dragged Republicans around by their lost principles. But then that would mean he’d be someone other than who he is.
Answers to questions like the ones above won?t be known until after Election Day.
What we do know is that Romney?s foreign policy tour was ill-planned and not thought out and his briefings were obviously not very good.
What we also know is voters aren?t impressed with anyone this election and who can blame them?
But to change from an incumbent, the challenger must offer a pretty solid case he?s competent on matters that include being commander in chief. However, bad economic times makes the bar on foreign policy a lot lower.
Team Romney knows that foreign policy is a very weak point with their candidate, which is why they decided on the current trip in the first place. Epitomized by Team Romney’s “shove it,” the entire narrative doesn?t help and Romney, as the challenger to the incumbent, can?t keep adding negatives.
Yet the economics of the election remain against Pres. Obama.
If Romney?s team quickly switches to a ?referendum? on the Obama presidency after their convention, they?ll have the money to start pounding Obama, which absolutely has the potential of bringing the race back in his favor. Unless, of course, the Republican convention is a boring bust.
Meanwhile, Romney’s stiff deliberating over Sarah Palin’s presence, coupled with the vice presidential nominee, after his disastrous foreign policy trip, loom larger than ever.
Obama can lose this election.
Romney can do a lot to make that happen, with the RNC ad above a path to help, but not how he and his team are performing right now.
A reader of my piece over at TMV titled “Romney Foreign Policy Tour Turns Into Gaffe Watch,” wrote something that emphasizes the Republican National Committee ad perfectly:
Seriously, Obama is a nice guy, but so is a drunken sailor with a months pay on shore leave for the weekend. I know Romney stinks, especially around here, but some people who think we are headed for bankruptcy will decide to gamble on a different horse, not named hope and change. – TMV reader dduck
Pres. Obama’s waited a long to time craft an economic message and begin convincing the American people he knows what he’s doing. That’s always been an issue and it isn’t going away.
Wodjan Shaherkani’s participation in the London 2012 Games had been in doubt after the International Judo Federation said she needed to remove the head scarf for her match. … She and teammate Sarah Attar, the kingdom’s first ever female Olympic competitors, have both signed agreements agreeing to compete only in kit that ‘sticks to Islamic principles,’ Ms Baker told CNN. The decision comes as the inclusion of female athletes for the first time ever in the Saudi Olympic team has prompted a heated reaction among hardliners in the oil-rich Middle Eastern state. [Daily Mail]
WHY SHOULD A WOMAN be allowed to compete in an Olympic event, regardless of country, if she’s not up to the standards of an Olympian? Would such dispensation be allowed for a man?
Or is this a good thing? Saudi Arabia doesn’t allow women to watch, let alone compete in sports, so perhaps this should be seen as a sign of some sort of incremental progress of some sort, though I can’t name what type at the moment.
On another plane of debate entirely are competitors who may be sympathetic to Shahrkhani?s plight, but say she never should have been allowed to compete in the first place because she is not nearly at the level of the other Olympians ? a blue belt in which everyone else owns a high-level black belt. One former medalist called her a novice, and another competitor warned that judo fighters are not trained to go easy.
Some have also voiced concern that the hijab ? if not sufficiently form-fitting ? could lead to choking, or even offer Shahrkhani a competitive advantage, though one she is presumably not skilled enough to take much advantage of.
It all depends on if you believe the notion that the Olympics are an amateur competition created to bring countries together.
What is Olympism?
The three values of Olympism are excellence, friendship and respect. They constitute the foundation on which the Olympic Movement builds its activities to promote sport, culture and education with a view to building a better world.
So, it’s not about professionalism or ability if you look at the Olympic charter and the definition of Olympism. However, as we see the athletes today, many are professionals, gaining sponsors, endorsements and other deals, though only “official” Olympic corporations can be recognized.
It’s all very contorted, a bastardized version of the original intent.
So, having a Saudi woman, wearing the modified hijab and being held to lower standards, may seem like progress to some, but to many it’s somewhere between a joke and blasphemy.
REPRESENTATIVE OF NBC’S aggressive content fencing, as well as their police grip on everything Olympics, when Guy Adams started ripping the network for their coverage of the London Olympic games, they took action. Twitter obliged.
As you can see above, he’s back, promising an article to follow.
…[update] and as promised, here it is: I thought the internet age had ended this kind of censorship.
Here are three things that NBC prevented their public from being able to watch on network television so far this Olympic Games: live footage of the opening ceremony; live footage of Saturday’s swimming showdown between Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte; live footage of the USA men’s basketball “dream team.”
A fourth thing they do not want people to see is the email address of Gary Zenkel, the executive responsible for this shambles. And a fifth thing is my Twitter feed, which over the weekend contained a couple of dozen occasionally uncouth observations about their coverage, several of which were accompanied by the trending hashtag: “#NBCfail.”
Postscript: …and spoiler alert… The U.S. women’s gymnastic team won the first gold medal since 1996 today. If you’ve been over the Huffington Post, Getty captures the picture.
It's not about Islam. It's about any religion, including Mormons, Catholics, and Evangelicals who not only think they own the copyright on God, but who vigorously shove their faith down the throats of non-believers.I suspect things like this don't happen in America not because the far-right is more humane than the Islamists in Mali, but rather because we have laws against such things and...
(Think Progress)Rep. Steve King, sociopath, is still going on about how we need to re-legalize animal torture. Because not torturing animals means you're elevating them above people, and we can't have that. In response to a question about his support for dogfighting, King responds:
[W]hen the legislation that passed in the farm bill, um, that says that it?s a federal crime to watch animals fight or to induce someone else to watch an animal fight, but it?s not a federal crime to induce somebody to watch people fighting, there?s something wrong with the priorities of people that think like that. [...]Well, I think it's a federal crime to watch people fight to the death for your entertainment, too, but I'm not entirely sure on that.
You have to be kind of nuts (all right, very, very nuts) to make a name for yourself as the pro-animal-abuse guy in Congress. I'm not sure what passes for fun in the Steve King household, but his consistency and aggressiveness on the subject are something to behold. And dogfighting, specifically? That's the thing he goes to the mat for?
There seems to be a certain segment of people who believe that torturing animals for fun is one of their civil rights?that if they don't get to do it, it is evidence that they are being oppressed by the mean, mean government who doesn't understand the great value of torturing animals for fun. Usually, these people go on to live rich, full lives in jail as a result of their other, ahem, belief systems, but occasionally stupid people elect them to Congress.
Being able to lift 267 pounds is only one of the things that makes 18 year-old British Olympic weightlifter Zoe Smith tough. She can also swat down sexist Twitter trolls like they’re flies.
While Smith was preparing to set an Olympic record for Great Britain in the clean-and-jerk event, men (and some women) on Twitter were busy saying she wasn’t attractive enough, or that she was manly, or that there was something wrong with her body because she was so muscular.
So Smith took to her blog to respond:
[We] don?t lift weights in order to look hot, especially for the likes of men like that. What makes them think that we even WANT them to find us attractive? If you do, thanks very much, we?re flattered. But if you don?t, why do you really need to voice this opinion in the first place, and what makes you think we actually give a toss that you, personally, do not find us attractive? What do you want us to do? Shall we stop weightlifting, amend our diet in order to completely get rid of our ?manly? muscles, and become housewives in the sheer hope that one day you will look more favourably upon us and we might actually have a shot with you?! Cause you are clearly the kindest, most attractive type of man to grace the earth with your presence.
Oh but wait, you aren?t. This may be shocking to you, but we actually would rather be attractive to people who aren?t closed-minded and ignorant. Crazy, eh?! We, as any women with an ounce of self-confidence would, prefer our men to be confident enough in themselves to not feel emasculated by the fact that we aren?t weak and feeble.
Sexism seems to be almost as common as sweat at this year’s Olympics — which has a record number of women participating — from female boxers being asked to wear skirts to differentiate them from the men to womens’ teams taking coach while men’s fly first class.
During a tele-townhall late last week, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) fielded a question about his opposition to animal rights and recently introduced legislation that would undermine local standards preventing animal torture. “It’s wrong to rate animals above human beings,” he told the questioner. To make his point, King argued that “there’s something wrong” for society to make it a “federal crime to watch animals fight” but “it’s not a federal crime to induce somebody to watch people fighting.”
KING: When the legislation that passed in the farm bill that says that it’s a federal crime to watch animals fight or to induce someone else to watch an animal fight but it’s not a federal crime to induce somebody to watch people fighting, there’s something wrong with the priorities of people that think like that.
King did not say whether it was also hypocritical that society allows people to get married yet not animals.
Of course, there is a very good reason we ban dogfighting and other similar forms of cruelty: animals don’t have a choice in the matter. Manny Pacquiao chooses to step into the ring. Michael Vick’s dogs did not. Similarly, when a human boxer loses a fight, he is not ritually executed after the fight. The same is not always true in dogfighting.
Unfortunately, King is a longtime advocate for legalizing dogfighting, cockfighting, and other forms of animal torture. Most recently, he fought legislation that would make it illegal to bring a child to an animal fight. He has also set aside his love for states’ rights in order to forbid localities from enacting anti-animal torture standards.