March 18, 2005
The BuzzFlash Mailbag
The opinions expressed in the Mailbag are not necessarily those of BuzzFlash. Read the BuzzFlash FAQ for info on submitting to the Mailbag.
Subject: In Praise Of Flavia Colgan
and Lawrence O'Donnell
Even when we get our opportunities it’s evident that many of our people are not quite ready for Prime Time because they don’t really know how to play the talk show game (“Don’t answer the question, just use it as an opportunity to get your talking points out,” “Continually interrupt your opponent,” “Run out the clock towards the end of the segment so you are sure to get the last word,” etc.) Robert Reich and Katrina Vanden Heuvel know how to play and win this game. Ever since his abortive campaign for President, Wesley Clark has done quite well for himself in these situations, and Paul Krugman has really gotten it together in the last year. But as is pointed out virtually every day by Bob Somerby of The Daily Howler, we still lag behind the conservatives, and our spokespeople/pundits rarely fully capitalize on the few opportunities offered to us.
But there are two liberal Democrats out there who near always acquit themselves well and I wish had wider exposure: Flavia Colgan and Lawrence O’Donnell, political analysts for MSNBC. Especially last Fall, they were turning up regularly on many MSNBC shows, most often on Hardball and on Scarborough Country, a show which I find hard to watch unless one of them is on. Flavia and Lawrence can also occasionally can be heard on Air America Radio (she on Majority Report, he on Al Franken.) O’Donnell can also been seen periodically on The McLaughlin Group, Joe Scarborough obviously likes to have Flavia Colgan on because she’s both articulate and attractive – which makes for “good TV.” (Actually there are quite a few conservative bloggers who find Flavia “hot” and wish she were on their side; I’m not aware of any liberals – and, no, I don’t count Bill Maher as one - who consider Anne Coulter to be “hot” – and certainly none would want that wacko on our side!)
On Scarborough Country Flavia always acquits herself quite well, and she’s especially good when attacking the usual conservative charges of liberal bias in the media. as the did in this memorable appearance on January 15th which Bob Somerby immortalized in a recent Daily Howler:
Wow! In a few brief minutes she brings up Judith Miller, Dan Rather, Al Gore and the Swift Boat LIARS, all liberal hot buttons. And later, when the segment is wrapping up, Joe has to admit that Flavia has over taken control of the conversation.
I wish more people had witnessed that appearance. And I especially want to thank Somerby for continually bringing it up as an example of how our people should be handling themselves on TV. In a similar vein, Lawrence O’Donnell has been doing quite well lately on The McLaughlin Group, occupying the “guest” or “liberal #2” chair; one wishes he could become a regular like Pat, Tony and Elizabeth. In the last year or so The McLaughlin Group has become one of the few TV talk shows on which the liberal side gets equal time. Host/moderator John McLaughlin has been openly critical of many of Bush’s policies and actions. In fact last week it seemed like John was commiserating with Lawrence against Tony and Pat! I’m happy Lawrence is getting more airtime. After his shouting match on the October 21, 2004 Scarborough Country with Swift Boat Vet John O’Neill, I’m amazed that he’s gotten out of the woodshed. Substitute host Pat Buchanan was openly horrified when Lawrence started to go ballistic and call O’Neill a “liar” and a “creep.” It’s been estimated that Lawrence used the words "lies" "liar" or "lying" a total of 46 total times in a little over 10 minutes (much of which he was not talking). Check out the video at Crooks and Liars:
Like the Colgan appearance cited above,
it was “good TV” and made several points
for our side. A quick search at the
Daily Howler website will turn up numerous
examples of TV appearances in which
Flavia Colgan and Lawrence O’Donnell
not only defended themselves against
the conservative bullies, but effectively
and concisely expressed our beliefs.
We need more like them!
Subject: They Need More Asterisks For Everything Today
Think back to the days of Roger Maris in 1961, when he hit 61 Home Runs, and broke Babe Ruth's record. The record keepers back then were determined to put an asterisk next to that 61 Home Run count, because Maris did it by playing in more games than Babe Ruth.
Now let's roll ahead to today's entire world of events and numbers. Today, we have hearings in Congress with Baseball Players and others, who are being questioned about the use of Steroids, to put those large home run counts in the "bogus record books." Yet another need for a Large Quantity of "Sports Records" Asterisk.
Back in 2000, Bush was (S)elected as President by The Supreme Court and not the voters. Yet another need for a "Bush Election Fraud" asterisk.
Then we went to war in Iraq because "Saddam had WMD," which everyone in the media pumped into our brains. Wolfowitz kept saying that "We will be greeted as liberators," and Bush kept firing anybody who told him how many soldiers we would need or how much the war would cost. No WMD was found, the Iraq People keep killing our brave soldiers instead of greeting us, we actually needed the number of soldiers that Bush was told and the war continues to need supplemental Iraq Spending Bills for the War that are in the Billions. Yet another need for an "Iraq War" Asterisk.
Back during the "Go-Go" Stock Market Boom, we had companies showing supposed "fantastic earnings." The deck of cards fell on the floor for companies like Enron, WorldCom and many others, when Wall Street discovered those earnings were fake numbers. The companies went bankrupt and the CEOs said they "knew nothing about the fake numbers." Imagine that. And Bush wants Social Security to be invested into the Stock Market? Yet another need for a large quantity of "Fake Company Earnings" Asterisks in the Annual Reports.
And in the past week, it has been disclosed that the television, radio and print "news" has actually been spewing out Propaganda to their viewers, listeners and readers at a rapid pace, as so-called "real news." At least the "news" media could change their Bushevik Program Names into what they produce - Propaganda told to us by Pravda, and place a viewable asterisk in the upper corner of the screen or article and a beep on the radio when it is fake! The Propaganda Agencies, ie: "TV News" stations, could also put an asterisk on any "Fake News" story that is running on their crawler on the bottom of the screen. Oh well, yet another leap in the need for a Large Quantity of "Fake News" Asterisks.
The Propaganda Reporters should look at themselves in the mirror, like Laurie Garrett did when she quit Newsday, and decided that she had had it with Reporting Propaganda. They could say they will not report any future propaganda at their place of work and get rid of "asterisks in the news" - or - they could quit if their boss insists that they continue with the propaganda. Too bad we all know that Faux will only increase their propaganda - and be proud about it.
We will know pretty soon who is, or is not, going to have the guts
to be the next "Laurie Garrett" of the news media. Watch
for any turnover or truth starting to get reported. It's up to any
brave reporters to stop their "Pravda Reporting" Asterisks.
Liz Hrenda from Harrisburg is right to say that "pro-lifers" really aren't. I note that people who call themselves "pro-life" also favor war and the death penalty. How is that "pro-life?" We pro-choicers should talk louder about this, and also about the fact that there is more to choice than abortion.
I have never had an abortion myself, because I've never been pregnant. I exercised my right of choice by using contraception during my child-bearing years. No abortion necessary, thank you very much. Besides letting the "pro-birth" faction (surely that's more accurate than "pro-life," since they care nothing about the children after they're born) get away with calling themselves "pro-life," we've also let them get away with calling us "pro-abortion." In my experience, nobody is pro-abortion; nobody thinks abortion is a good thing and everybody should have one. We are pro-CHOICE, which means a woman herself should be the one to make the decision, and the rest of us should butt out.
Liz is right when she says that only good information and effective contraception will reduce abortion rates. But the "pro-birth" lobby doesn't want us to have those things either. Perhaps we should call them the "pro-barefoot-and-pregnant" lobby. They are anti-choice and anti-woman, and we need to talk a lot louder about that.
Thanks, Buzz - you keep us informed.
Subject: Bush's Budget And Iraq
Subject: With Democrats Like These ... Who Needs a Hangman ...
I call it "rotten investment results," to see all of
these Democrats voting to keep giving Bush money, when he has shown
no accountability at all. None. Activists worked their asses off to
get many of these people in office and they do nothing except kiss
Bush's royal ass.
Subject: Re: Bush
Is No Gibbering Halfwit, He's Worse ... He's A Moral Imbecile --
A BuzzFlash Guest Contribution by Mark Crispin Miller
Do it enough and we can force the news media to either drop using anything out of the White House, or at least force them to identify those that they are using and in the process embarrass the crap out of those who use the propaganda machine.
[BuzzFlash Note: You mean, kind of like the pressure put on CBS about the National Guard memo?]
Subject: letter to Senator Stabenow
A letter to my senator. ...Thank you for taking notice of the little gestures we make to take back our country.
Subject: Advise And Consent
... so they have the option to refuse an appointment, no?
Subject: Jeff Gannon
Subject: Neal Conan "quotes" International Republican
We need NPR to stop shilling for the Neocons. Just yesterday, they did a puff piece on Michael Chertoff, for goodness sake.
A BuzzFlash Reader
Subject: Sleeper Cells
Who is this new FCC chairman? Another guy groomed and suddenly
brought forth … Seriously, reminds me of the “Sleeper Cells” they
keep talking about all these years in the Arab/Muslim community
who have “infiltrated” America.
Well, who are these new people? This FCC guy, like so many other uber Conservatives, seems to look like he just graduated from a master’s program somewhere. They “never paid their dues, never worked their way to the top, never ran for and won an election on their own” but suddenly they are chairman this or judge that or director whatever, or policy advisor to who knows? And like so many of the appointed life-time judges they are so young with so little experience, with so little wisdom, with so little moderation, so little appreciation of history, so little appreciation of diversity.
Subject: Henry Waxman - Not My Hero
Many of you admire my Congressman, Henry Waxman, for the many letters he writes to the GAO and other entities demanding investigations of outrages committed by the Bush Administration. He does this in his role as the Ranking Minority Member on the Government Reform Committee.
Oh, how easy it is to write letters. But when the chips are down, he votes against the wishes of his very liberal, anti-war constituency and for the Bush agenda. He voted for the resolution to attack Iraq, even though 99 percent of his constituents were against starting a war of aggression. Now he just voted FOR giving the administration another $81.4 billion for continued U.S. occupation of Iraq. Forty-three courageous Members of the House (eight from California) voted against this additional funding (and additional deficits). I wish Henry Waxman had been among them.
Mr. Waxman has been in Washington for over 25 years. I believe he has lost touch with the people in his district. Many consider him among the best the Democratic party has to offer. He saddens me.
A BuzzFlash Reader
Subject: The Dictator's Civil War
You had better convince your state Governors to call back the national guard, from the “Butcher of Baghdad’s” folly, because if he keeps up his domestic policies: IE his blatant disregard for the U.S. Constitution, and complete overthrow of our government, he will have a civil war on his hands. He has found a way to retain power after his term is up. His four step plan is very similar to Hitler’s.
Step 1. Create a fictitious war overseas so he can send in the National Guard.
Step 2. Create civil unrest at home, with his off the wall domestic policies.
Step 3. Unleash our regular army on the people, when they demonstrate.
Step 4. Declare marshal law and suspend any future elections until we bow to his rule.
You folks had better exercise your right to impeach, or at least oppose, our DICTATOR'S policies, or you, too, will go the way of the German Legislature.
DO NOT ALLOW ANY MORE CHANGES IN THE RULES THAT GOVERN CONGRESS. America needs you to stand up against this dictator. Thank You for your time.
Subject: Bush's Oil Policy
"Too true," says I, and it is because Bush will not
even try to negotiate with OPEC as Clinton did when he was president
and kept oil prices below $32.00 per barrel. She simpered some ghostly
semblance of a smile, said not a word and scurried away from the
challenge. We must never fail to remind them all of "The Bush
Subject: Containing My Rage!
How do these Republicans go home and explain to their constituents
that they are only concerned with their corporate masters? Better
yet, how do those people in red states explain to their kids why
they won't have any vocational training any more, or can't go to
the doctor because they've been dropped from Medicaid? I am confused
about the red state people, how can they vote against their own
Subject: Interesting Maneuver To Cut Medicaid Backfired On
Democrats earn a two-for-one deal: Successfully preventing Republicans from cutting Medicaid and as a result they can blame Bush for driving up the deficit by $14 billion more.
The White House's Republican legislators almost pulled off a cut in Medicaid yesterday, but a number of moderate Republicans joined the Democrats to pass a bill that essentially continued the current funding for the program. This vote was significant not only because it caught seniors a break, but also because it went against the Republican strategy to cut benefits.
Let me explain. After 9/11, the Republicans knew that their party was emerging as the real power in the legislature. If they had been waiting sixty years for a time when they could reform the government, their moment had arrived. That is why they have been so aggressive in passing judicial nominees, tax cuts and Social Security privatization. Obviously we know that the GOP slogan is smaller government, which means cutting and eliminating as many public sector programs as possible. But you can't just cut programs at will; there needs to be an excuse.
Bush's strategy was to drive up the yearly budget deficit as high as possible to provide an excuse to cut social programs. You may be thinking, "Why would any president ever want to intentionally drive up debt, therefore putting the country in more of a fiscal predicament?" Well, this is nothing new to Republicans. In fact, no Republican president has balanced the budget in more than thirty-five years. George W. Bush even said himself that surpluses are bad. "A surplus in tax revenue, after all, means that taxpayers have been overcharged," Bush said as he tried to promote his first round of tax cuts just one month after being sworn in as President in 2001.
The President got his wish. The 2005 deficit is expected to reach its highest level ever: $427 billion. This red ink is giving Bush an excuse to cut education, Social Security and Medicare guaranteed benefits, and environmental protection - following true to Republican form. But it has not been that easy.
So far the White House has suffered setbacks as they have been trying nonstop to pass Social Security privatization. Only 35% of Americans approved Bush's handling of that issue, according to the latest Washington Post poll. And yesterday Bush faced another setback, this time on Medicaid cuts. His goal, as he has stated publicly, is to cut Medicaid by $40 billion. Obviously Bush sited the deficit as the main reason why he had to cut the costs of programs like Medicaid. However the Congress didn't buy it.
The 2006 budget proposal contained $14 billion worth of cuts in the program. But in a 52 to 48 vote, the Senate stripped that amendment from the budget, meaning that, in order for Bush to pass Medicaid cuts, he would have to make them part of a separate bill - which would not pass.
Instead of the President using his intentionally increased deficit as an excuse to cut Medicaid, the plan backfired. Now the cuts won't occur and the deficit will increase even more - essentially embarrassing both the Administration and many among the Republican Legislative majority.
Democrats can thank a moderate Republican Senator from Oregon by the name of Gordon Smith for cosponsoring the bill. Other Republicans that joined the Democrats to secure funding for Medicaid benefits included Olympia Snowe, Arlen Spector, Mike DeWine, Lincoln Chafee, Norm Coleman, and Susan Collins. The Senate's one Independent, James Jeffords, voted with the Democrats as well.
Each of them deserves their due. They proved yesterday that the
Senate is willing to stand together in a bipartisan fashion and
hold Bush accountable for intentionally driving up the deficit so
he can use it as a reason for cutting programs that have helped
millions of Americans ever since the Roosevelt Administration.
CLICK HERE FOR PART 2 OF THE MARCH 18, 2005 BUZZFLASH MAILBAG.
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