MSNBC

Transparent Lies

This has been a week of blatant, transparent lies.

First, on Monday, Newcastle United terminated Chris Hughton for lack of "managerial experience."

Later that same day, Barack Obama announced that a "deal" had been reached with the Republicans over the expiring 2003 top bracket income tax cuts. The fact it was called a "deal" was itself a lie. Heck, the 2003 tax cuts were passed under the ridiculous name, "Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act." How were the twenty-hundreds to you and your family? If you were an average American, you probably didn't get a pay raise while working the same job. However the big lie was delivered by the President himself:

I have argued that we can't afford [to extend the top bracket tax cuts] right now. But what I've also said, we have to find consensus here because a middle-class tax hike would be very tough not only on working families, it would also be a drag on our economy at this moment.

That's a complete lie. There is no reason to link the expiration of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans with a tax hike for the middle class. None. They should be separate issues. In fact, the president should have had the upper hand here. He should have gone into these talks with the intent of letting the clock run out, and allowing all tax cuts to expire, not to work out some sort of "deal" with Republicans.

The president's logic seems to be that he was boxed into renewing the Bush tax cuts because the 2009 middle class tax cuts were given the same expiration date (12/31/2010). The talking point from the president's advisors is, "not all the tax cuts were Bush's." Okay. But the unfortunate decision to have the middle class tax cuts expire at the same time as the top tier tax cuts is the fault of the Democrats. But as president, Obama could very easily let it all expire.  He could ask Congress to send him a bill to reinstate tax cuts for the middle class (which he won't get). But he would have plenty of political cover because he wouldn't ask for an extension of the top bracket cuts, nor would he have to sign such a bill if it reached his desk. He has the upper hand, and apparently doesn't understand it.

Extending the top bracket tax cuts only increases the chances of them becoming permanent under the next Republican president. In my lifetime, we've gone from a 50 percent tax rate to a 35 percent tax rate for individuals netting more than $300,000 (net, mind you, after all charitable donations designed to help affluent people avoid the highest tax rate). Amazing. Where's the 15 percent decrease for New Yorkers paying income taxes to three governments, and whose water bills have risen over 10 percent each year for the last three years?

But instead of letting the clock run out, the president is promoting a Republican-led bill that would extend the top tier tax cuts another 24 months, presumably when another president and congress will have to sort it out.

And then it got worse. On Wednesday, the President doubled-down, saying that if the drafted bipartisan bill was not passed, the country might slip into another recession. Fortunately, over 50 House Democrats called bullshit and have pledged to vote against the bill.

This latest failure of the President to battle the Republicans opens the door to a question that a lot of Liberals have been asking lately - does Barack Obama even want to be president? This immediate capitulation, when all he had to do was run out the clock and veto tax cut bills in 2011, is the clearest evidence yet that the president either does not know his job or doesn't want it. Does he already want to pack up and go home to Chicago? Why did he betray a major campaign promise so quickly?

In my opinion, Obama is a very tired man. He realizes now that his great charm and intellect will not win him political battles. And since he is not a fighter, he is simply going to avoid battles altogether. He just wants to go back to Chicago. He's as discouraged and deflated as the rest of us. However, he gets to go home. We're left still needing a strong, progressive leader. He'll be left with free healthcare, paid speeches, and personal security for life. That's not a victory. That's a tragedy. After years of advancement, hard work, and success, Barack Obama finally stalled and failed when his country needed him most.

The president is well read.  Did he ever read this quote by Mahatma Gandhi?

All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender. For it is all give and no take.

And Keith Olbermann makes what should be one of his final Special Comments about this president. There really isn't much more to be said with 22 months remaining. Here's Keith on December 7th, explaining in 12 minutes, how Obama officially betrayed his base, once and for all:

MSNBC: Combating The Crazy

Lawrence O'Donnell restrains himself from flattening a typical right-wing attendee of a congressional town hall meeting,

Chris Matthews interviews a more informed protester, William Kostric, who might be the first man to protest the president while carrying an exposed weapon in many many decades.

Krugman's Best MSNBC Appearance Yet

Thanks to Sadly, No! for spreading this around. Paul Krugman explains the last 25 years of the US economic cycle on Morning Joe. His piece in today's NY Times is great, as usual (registration required).

Good Burnett, Bad Burnett


I have to pause to make a comment on someone we've been seeing a lot more on MSNBC and CNBC lately - Erin Burnett. And like a lot of pundits and loudmouths on TV, she dishes out both good points and totally unfair points.

Here, about two weeks ago, she and Jim Cramer were logical (if a little loud) and explained how banks and smaller financial institution got into trouble by selling too many mortgages (and reselling them) without due diligence or proper risk management. This is correct.

Then, last week on Morning Joe, she went into evil mode. Ms. Burnett argued that not only are the takers of bad mortgages to blame, but in-fact, we are ALL to blame for the credit crunch and economic crisis.

Paul Abrams responds: No, Erin Burnett, We Are Not "All Responsible" for this Mess

Moreover, unlike the marginal homeowner whose purchase decision was binary, either they bought a home or rented, the sellers [of mortgages] were all making money, it was a continuum, just a question of how much. Thus, they did not face the same type of decision as the marginal homeowner.

The sellers, of course, were lobbying and supported by the Republican Congress, the Bush Administration and John McCain. The marginal homeowners did not have a lobby.

Greed is very different from need, even if need turns out to be a bit of stretch.

So no, Erin, we are not all equally responsible.

Catching Up With TIVO

Oddball, as seen on Countdown, September 15th, 2008. Keith Olbermann takes a a jab at the Mets and a laugh at an unlucky groundhog:

Bill Maher, opening monologue, September 12th, 2008. It includes the rarely-seen alternate angle of Sarah Palin's response to the 'Bush Doctrine' question:

Bill Maher interviews Paul Begala, September 12th, 2008:

Bill Maher, New Rules, September 12th, 2008:

Copyright 2008 NBC Universal and Time Warner / HBO.

Complete Keith Olbermann Special Comment, May 14 2008

Twelve unforgettable minutes (and 2,000 words) of American television news. It is my hope that this is remembered by historians and media scholars as one of the most important and visceral TV news moments of this decade. Time will tell.


President Bush has resorted anew to the sleaziest fear-mongering and mass manipulation of an administration and public life dedicated to realizing the lowest of our expectations. And he has now applied these poisons to the 2008 presidential election, on behalf of the party at whose center he and John McCain lurk.

Mr. Bush has predicted that the election of a Democratic president could "eventually lead to another attack on the United States." This ludicrous, infuriating, holier-than-thou and most importantly bone-headedly wrong statement came during a May 13 interview with Politico.com and online users of Yahoo.

The question was phrased as follows: "If we were to pull out of Iraq next year, what's the worst that could happen, what's the doomsday scenario?"

The president replied: "Doomsday scenario of course is that extremists throughout the Middle East would be emboldened, which would eventually lead to another attack on the United States. The biggest issue we face is, it's bigger than Iraq, it's this ideological struggle against cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives."

Mr. Bush, at long last, has it not dawned on you that the America you have now created, includes "cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives?" They are those in — or formerly in — your employ, who may yet be charged some day with war crimes.

Through your haze of self-congratulation and self-pity, do you still have no earthly clue that this nation has laid waste to Iraq to achieve your political objectives? "This ideological struggle," Mr. Bush, is taking place within this country.

It is a struggle between Americans who cherish freedom, ours and everybody else's, and Americans like you, sir, to whom freedom is just a brand name, just like "Patriot Act" is a brand name or "Protect America" is a brand name.

But wait, there's more: You also said "Iraq is the place where al-Qaida and other extremists have made their stand and they will be defeated." They made no "stand" in Iraq, sir, you allowed them to assemble there!

As certainly as if that were the plan, the borders were left wide open by your government's farcical post-invasion strategy of "they'll greet us as liberators." And as certainly as if that were the plan, the inspiration for another generation of terrorists in another country was provided by your government's farcical post-invasion strategy of letting the societal infra-structure of Iraq dissolve, to be replaced by an American viceroy, enforced by merciless mercenaries who shoot unarmed Iraqis and then evade prosecution in any country by hiding behind your skirts, sir.

Terrorism inside Iraq is your creation, Mr. Bush!

***

It was a Yahoo user who brought up the second topic upon whose introduction Mr. Bush should have passed, or punted, or gotten up and left the room claiming he heard Dick Cheney calling him.

"Do you feel," asked an ordinary American, "that you were misled on Iraq?"

"I feel like — I felt like, there were weapons of mass destruction," the president said. "You know, 'mislead' is a strong word, it almost connotes some kind of intentional — I don't think so, I think there was a — not only our intelligence community, but intelligence communities all across the world shared the same assessment. And so I was disappointed to see how flawed our intelligence was."

Flawed.

You, Mr. Bush, and your tragically know-it-all minions, threw out every piece of intelligence that suggested there were no such weapons.

You, Mr. Bush, threw out every person who suggested that the sober, contradictory, reality-based intelligence needed to be listened to, and fast.

You, Mr. Bush, are responsible for how "intelligence communities all across the world shared the same assessment."

You and the sycophants you dredged up and put behind the most important steering wheel in the world propagated palpable nonsense and shoved it down the throat of every intelligence community across the world and punished anybody who didn't agree it was really chicken salad.

And you, Mr. Bush, threw under the bus, all of the subsequent critics who bravely stepped forward later to point out just how much of a self-fulfilling prophecy you had embraced, and adopted as this country's policy in lieu of, say, common sense.

The fiasco of pre-war intelligence, sir, is your fiasco.

You should build a great statue of yourself turning a deaf ear to the warnings of realists, while you are shown embracing the three-card monte dealers like Richard Perle and Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney.

That would be a far more fitting tribute to your legacy, Mr. Bush, than this presidential library you are constructing as a giant fable about your presidency, an edifice you might as well claim was built from "Iraqi weapons of mass destruction" because there will be just as many of those inside your presidential library as there were inside Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

***

Of course if there is one overriding theme to this president's administration it is the utter, always-failing, inability to know when to quit when it is behind. And so Mr. Bush answered yet another question about this layered, nuanced, wheels-within-wheels garbage heap that constituted his excuse for war.

"And so you feel that you didn't have all the information you should have or the right spin on that information?"

"No, no," replied the President. "I was told by people, that they had weapons of mass destruction …"

People? What people? The insane informant "Curveball?" The Iraqi snake-oil salesman Ahmed Chalabi? The American snake-oil salesman Dick Cheney?

"I was told by people that they had weapons of mass destruction, as were members of Congress, who voted for the resolution to get rid of Saddam Hussein.

"And of course, the political heat gets on and they start to run and try to hide from their votes."

Mr. Bush, you destroyed the evidence that contradicted the resolution you jammed down the Congress's throat, the way you jammed it down the nation's throat. When required by law to verify that your evidence was accurate, you simply resubmitted it, with phrases amounting to "See, I done proved it" virtually written in the margins in crayon.

You defied patriotic Americans to say "The Emperor Has No Clothes," only with the stakes — as you and the mental dwarves in your employ put it — being a "mushroom cloud over an American city."

And as a final crash of self-indulgent nonsense, when the incontrovertible truth of your panoramic and murderous deceit has even begun to cost your political party seemingly perpetual congressional seats in places like North Carolina and Mississippi, you can actually say with a straight face, sir, that for members of Congress "the political heat gets on and they start to run and try to hide from their votes" — while you greet the political heat and try to run and hide from your presidency, and your legacy — 4,000 of the Americans you were supposed to protect — dead in Iraq, with your only feeble, pathetic answer being, "I was told by people that they had weapons of mass destruction."

***

Then came Mr. Bush's final blow to our nation's solar plexus, his last reopening of our common wounds, his last remark that makes the rest of us question not merely his leadership or his judgment but his very suitably to remain in office.

"Mr. President," he was asked, "you haven't been golfing in recent years. Is that related to Iraq?"

"Yes," began perhaps the most startling reply of this nightmarish blight on our lives as Americans on our history. "It really is. I don't want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the Commander in Chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be as — to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal."

Golf, sir? Golf sends the wrong signal to the grieving families of our men and women butchered in Iraq? Do you think these families, Mr. Bush, their lives blighted forever, care about you playing golf? Do you think, sir, they care about you?

You, Mr. Bush, let their sons and daughters be killed. Sir, to show your solidarity with them you gave up golf? Sir, to show your solidarity with them you didn't give up your pursuit of this insurance-scam, profiteering, morally and financially bankrupting war.

Sir, to show your solidarity with them you didn't even give up talking about Iraq, a subject about which you have incessantly proved without pause or backwards glance, that you may literally be the least informed person in the world?

Sir, to show your solidarity with them, you didn't give up your presidency? In your own words "solidarity as best as I can" is to stop a game? That is the "best" you can do?

Four thousand Americans give up their lives and your sacrifice was to give up golf! Golf. Not "Gulf" — golf.

And still it gets worse. Because it proves that the president's unendurable sacrifice, his unbearable pain, the suspension of getting to hit a ball with a stick, was not even his own damned idea.

"Mr. President, was there a particular moment or incident that brought you to that decision, or how did you come to that?"

"I remember when [diplomat Sergio Vieira] de Mello, who was at the U.N., got killed in Baghdad as a result of these murderers taking this good man's life. And I was playing golf, I think I was in central Texas, and they pulled me off the golf course and I said, it's just not worth it any more to do."

Your one, tone-deaf, arrogant, pathetic, embarrassing gesture, and you didn't even think of it yourself? The great Bushian sacrifice — an Army private loses a leg, a Marine loses half his skull, 4,000 of their brothers and sisters lose their lives — and you lose golf, and they have to pull you off the golf course to get you to just do that?

If it's even true.

Apart from your medical files, which dutifully record your torn calf muscle and the knee pain which forced you to give up running at the same time — coincidence, no doubt — the bombing in Baghdad which killed Sergio Vieira de Mello of the U.N. and interrupted your round of golf was on Aug. 19, 2003.

Yet CBS News has records of you playing golf as late as Oct. 13 of that year, nearly two months later.

Mr. Bush, I hate to break it to you 6 1/2 years after you yoked this nation and your place in history to the wrong war, in the wrong place, against the wrong people, but the war in Iraq is not about you.

It is not, Mr. Bush, about your grief when American after American comes home in a box.

It is not, Mr. Bush, about what your addled brain has produced in the way of paranoid delusions of risks that do not exist, ready to be activated if some Democrat, and not your twin Mr. McCain, succeeds you.

The war in Iraq, your war, Mr. Bush, is about how you accomplished the derangement of two nations, and how you helped funnel billions of taxpayer dollars to lascivious and perennially thirsty corporations like Halliburton and Blackwater, and how you sent 4,000 Americans to their deaths for nothing.

It is not, Mr. Bush, about your golf game! And, sir, if you have any hopes that next Jan. 20 will not be celebrated as a day of soul-wrenching, heart-felt thanksgiving, because your faithless stewardship of this presidency will have finally come to a merciful end, this last piece of advice:

When somebody asks you, sir, about Democrats who must now pull this country back from the abyss you have placed us at ...

When somebody asks you, sir, about the cooked books and faked threats you foisted on a sincere and frightened nation …

When somebody asks you, sir, about your gallant, noble, self-abnegating sacrifice of your golf game so as to soothe the families of the war dead.

This advice, Mr. Bush: Shut the hell up!

Show Them Your Scars, John. They Turn Brian On.


Thanks to Digby and Crooks and Liars who pointed this out:

Brian Williams, MSNBC, Wednesday March 5th:


You know what I thought was unsaid —they took their position Chris, we’re seeing the replay — they end up in this spot and the sun is coming is just from the side and there in the shadow is John McCain’s buckled, concave shoulder. It’s a part of his body the suit doesn’t fill out because of his war injuries. Again you wouldn’t spot it unless you knew to look for it. He doesn’t give the same full chested profile as the president standing next to him. Talk about a warrior.

Who needs romance novels? We have a natural writer in Brian Williams. The sun. The battle wounds. The full chest of George W. Bush. Oh my. Where's the codpiece?

Don't Taser Me, Bro!



Instead, taser Glenn Reynolds, for attacking David Shuster for asking Rep. Marsha Blackburn a legitimate question. And then, after that shithead General Manager of MSNBC, Dan Abrams, forced Shuster to apologize, Media Bistro did some fact checking and determined that Shuster was correct. And then Glenn comes back with a non-apology and still makes the ridiculous argument that Shuster wouldn't have asked Hillary the same question.

I don't like Hillary, but I think she could name some recent New York State casualties in Iraq. Let's have someone ask her. It is a legitimate question.