Roundup for Thursday 4/16/2009

Check out this cool BMW ad that was put up in response to an Audi ad across the street:

Cool BMW ad

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Joe Klein on the alleged divisiveness of Obama:

Given the fact that Obama had to take dramatic action, at home and abroad, to start lifting the country from the mess Bush made almost everywhere–and also begin to turn the country away from the myopia and greed of the Reagan era–it’s amazing that he hasn’t raised more dust or teabags. And, I should add the fact that the alleged polarization mostly results from the fact that Obama gets extremely low ratings from self-identified Republicans, who constitute an extremist shard of a party at this point, is a badge of honor.

In the long run, it’s a safe historical bet that Bush will prove more polarizing than Obama because he was such an abject failure in the job–I doubt we’ll ever see Obama submerge to approval ratings in the mid-20s, or launch wars peremptorily without cause or purpose. The constant sniping from Rove, Wehner and the others during Obama’s first 100 days is a deeply neurotic reaction to the enormity of their own cockups in office. It shows a profound lack of class or grace, but then, that’s no surprise with these guys, is it? They ran the country like thugs, and thugs they remain.

Zing!

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Matt Taibbi on the mentality of “teabaggers”:

the reason the winger crowd can’t find a way to be coherently angry right now is because this country has no healthy avenues for genuine populist outrage. It never has. The setup always goes the other way: when the excesses of business interests and their political proteges in Washington leave the regular guy broke and screwed, the response is always for the lower and middle classes to split down the middle and find reasons to get pissed off not at their greedy bosses but at each other. That’s why even people like Beck’s audience, who I’d wager are mostly lower-income people, can’t imagine themselves protesting against the Wall Street barons who in actuality are the ones who fucked them over…

It’s a classic peasant mentality: going into fits of groveling and bowing whenever the master’s carriage rides by, then fuming against the Turks in Crimea or the Jews in the Pale or whoever after spending fifteen hard hours in the fields. You know you’re a peasant when you worship the very people who are right now, this minute, conning you and taking your shit. Whatever the master does, you’re on board. When you get frisky, he sticks a big cross in the middle of your village, and you spend the rest of your life praying to it with big googly eyes. Or he puts out newspapers full of innuendo about this or that faraway group and you immediately salute and rush off to join the hate squad. A good peasant is loyal, simpleminded, and full of misdirected anger. And that’s what we’ve got now, a lot of misdirected anger searching around for a non-target to mis-punish…

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Thoreau on the absurdity of debating torture:

On another forum I’ve tried to argue with people who want to split some legal hairs and it just doesn’t work for me. There’s a place where “Well, I respectfully dissent from your view, while appreciating the spirited and intelligent manner in which you offer it” ends and “Fvck you, this sh!t is just plain wrong” begins. We can argue over where that exact point is, but once you’re beating somebody according to a KGB manual, it’s safe to say that that bad point has been reached.

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John Cole on Al Franken winning his Senate multiple times:

I was under the impression that Franken had been declared the winner again the other night, but according to the NY Times, that apparently was not the definitive win. Does anyone have any idea how many more times Franken has to win before he is considered the winner? And at what point did Senate elections turn into the political equivalent of the World Series?

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Unchecked spying powers lead to abuses. Greenwald on the unsurprise of the century:

The [NY Times] article reports that the spying abuses are “significant and systemic“; involve improper interception of “significant amounts” of the emails and telephone calls of Americans, including purely domestic communications; and that, under Bush (prior to the new FISA law), the NSA tried to eavesdrop with no warrants on a member of Congress traveling to the Middle East.  The sources for the article report that “the problems had grown out of changes enacted by Congress last July in the law that regulates the government’s wiretapping powers.”

… These widespread eavesdropping abuses enabled by the 2008 FISA bill — a bill passed with the support of Barack Obama along with the entire top Democratic leadership in the House, including Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer, and substantial numbers of Democratic Senators — aren’t a bug in that bill, but rather, were one of the central features of it.  Everyone knew that the FISA bill which Congressional Democrats passed — and which George Bush and Dick Cheney celebrated — would enable these surveillance abuses.  That was the purpose of the law:  to gut the safeguards in place since the 1978 passage of FISA

8 Comments

  1. Ted

    from the comments in the BMW link:

    http://www.thetalentjungle.com/hospitality_blog/index.php/archive/1/index.php/item/279

    (another ad war between audi and BMW, and Bentley decides to step in)

  2. Ian

    So your comment by Taibbi about sums it all up, and illustrates why I can’t stand to listen to guys like Olbermann or O’Reilly. These guys dedicate entire portions of their shows to tearing apart what the other said. How stupid is that? They’re divisive for no purpose outside of demonizing the other side. They draw the lines in the sand, just like politicians do, and they try to force you to picking a side. You waste time idling you brain on such moronic crap as “Rush Limbaugh said something stupid yesterday” instead of thinking about the things that are actually affecting your life.

  3. Chris

    Ted,
    Cool ads 🙂

    Ian,
    Olbermann is at least being funny about his “feud” with O’Reilly. And influential people like O’Reilly and Limbaugh should be called out for spouting bullsh*t. As long as refuting them doesn’t take an inordinate amount of time or energy, I’m glad it’s being done.

  4. Ian

    I don’t see why you think Olbermann is any more free of bullsh*t. His “Worst person in the world” thing is ridiculously unnecessary. The problem with reporting on what O’Reilly and Limbaugh say is you legitimize them by doing so. If Limbaugh didn’t get so much attention from news sources outside of his show, he most certainly wouldn’t wield the influence he does. Nothing makes what Limbaugh says any more significant than what you or I say, but I think you would agree that we don’t need a news source to sit and refute every comment made on a blog.

    Who listens to these refutations anyways? Conservatives watch O’Reilly, Liberals watch Olbermann. Its stupid that people who don’t even watch O’Reilly sit and listen to a blowhard talk about the hypocrisy he spouts. Each side gets to hear about how wrong the other is WITHOUT ACTUALLY EVER LISTENING TO THE OTHER SIDE and then they get to feel all righteous that their guy speaks the truth. There is likely some overlap in audience, but I doubt it is significant. There is something fundamentally wrong with having to choose between two filters you can receive your news through. Its thought manipulation of the highest order and all works to reinforce a system that as Taibbi points out is “full of misdirected anger”. You choose your version of truth, and it just so happens your available choices are determined by two political parties. This is as bad a state run media.

    What we need from the news media is the news. That’s it. If I want comedy through a liberal/satirical filter, I’ll switch to Stewart/Colbert (and I do). If I want news on TV…I feel like my only option these days is C-SPAN, and that is some slow moving stuff there. That’s why I get most of my news from the internet.

  5. Chris

    Ian,
    Limbaugh has a sizable audience on the radio. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t be able to command millions for running it. Rightwing politicians bow to him. Criticizing Limbaugh does give him more publicity, but I’m not convinced he should go unopposed even if that’s the case.

    While Olbermann is bombastic and similar, in theory, to O’Reilly and Limbaugh, I still think there is more value in what he does and has done. Until Maddow joined him on the MSNBC lineup, there were no liberal hosts of news shows on TV. Olbermann made it work, and provided some balance to a medium dominated by Republican/establishment interests.

    While I’ve grown annoyed at how reflexively pro-Obama Olbermann can be, I’m impressed that he’s stood up to Obama on wiretapping and detention/torture of alleged terrorists. Those sorts of principled stands are simply not a significant part of the O’Reilly/Limbaugh world, outside of the battle over Mexican immigrants.

  6. Ian

    It isn’t the responsibility of the news media to oppose Limbaugh though. This isn’t an issue of opposition. This is an issue of truth and spreading the facts. It doesn’t make sense to do it through an overly liberal mouthpiece. I certainly wouldn’t go to Limbaugh/O’Reilly to do my fact checking on Olbermann. If I were a conservative who listened to O’Reilly or whoever, why should I believe anything a guy like Olbermann says about him? Why would I even bother to tune in to Olbermann in the first place.

    We don’t need a liberal answer to Fox News. It serves no purpose but to further polarize people and legitimize biased news reporting. If other news sources stayed as unbiased as possible, Fox News would look like what it is: right-wing propaganda posing as news. Instead it just looks like where conservatives are supposed to get their facts free from left-wing propaganda.

    As for Olbermann going after Obama on rare occasions, Limbaugh does the same for the Republicans too. Remember when he said something about, “I’m so glad I don’t have to try and defend these losers and their bad ideas” when the Republicans lost a lot of seats in Congress in 2007 or so? Oh and he stood up to Colin Powell (“It was all about race!”). Are you impressed? I honestly don’t hear much of what he says, but I am willing to bet he calls out some Republicans on a fairly regular basis. It doesn’t make him any less of a party shill.

    Oh, and keep in mind, the media still has “establishment interests” at their core. Olbermann only gets his time slot because he sells ad space, just like Limbaugh and O’Reilly. Its all about money and manipulation.

  7. Daimao

    I would agree with Ian that we don’t need a liberal response to FOX because it only polarizes things further. I think liberals would do fine if FOX were the only biased news source out there, or if there were no (blatantly) biased news reporting.

    I usually watch CNN, but I find O’Reilly’s show to be more entertaining than Olbermann. He doesn’t seem quite as smug for one. Also I don’t know if I would consider O’Reilly to be in the same boat as someone like Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh.

  8. Chris

    Daimo,
    O’Reilly’s show is good entertainment. I always get riled up watching him. I can hardly believe that a few years ago I used to agree with a lot of the stuff he said.