Archive for October, 2006

Rush vs. Fox Backlash

Posted by Aaron on October 27th, 2006

The right-wing apologists are out in force to defend Rush’s horrible comments (and actions — you can check out Rush’s mimicing of Fox’s movements here) about Michael J. Fox’s “performance” on several ads for Democratic candidates that support embryonic stem cell research. Sean Hannity appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America and largely lied about the records of those against whom Fox has been campaigning, saying that Fox would only support Democratic candidates (in fact, he made a similar ad for Arlen Spector, Republican of Pennsylvania, in 2004), that he was a hypocrite for supporting Maryland Senatorial candidate Ben Cardin because Cardin supposedly “voted the opposite way” that Fox would have wanted (actually, Cardin voted to amend the Public Health Service Act to provide for human embryonic stem cell research), and numerous other distortions.

This is just public record, folks. Hannity and the other right-wing hatemongers know that people aren’t going to be looking up this stuff, particularly the people that they hope to affect with their comments. It’s not about getting swing voters at this point, it’s about minimizing the damage. This talk, not to mention the racist ads being run against Harold Ford Jr. is all about motivating the base. If the talking heads can get the GOP’s base to the polls on election day, they just might tip some elections, and November 7th won’t look quite like the total rejection of the Bush playbook that it would otherwise seem to indicate.

This is all about allowing the GOP base to “feel OK” about hatred. If Limbaugh and Hannity and others, very visible and public figures, can say these sort of baseless things about otherwise good people, then millions of Americans who follow them will think it’s totally OK to behave this way too.

I would think a majority of these people, this large part of the GOP’s base, consider themselves Christians. But I ask them, would true Christians behave like this? I know politics can get very dirty, and it’s all part of the game, but let’s not forget that this was part of the GOP game plan all along for this election cycle. They said it outright. We are going to dig up every bit of information we can on our opponents and use it to smear them. Very Christian of them.

So what did Michael J. Fox have to say to all the hateful speech being directed at him from the authoritarian conservative right? It’s called turning the other cheek, and here is what it looks like: “It is hard for people and I understand, it’s difficult for people who don’t have Parkinson’s or don’t know about Parkison’s to understand the symptoms and the way they work and the way medication works. You get what you get on any given day.”

Hannity, Limbaugh, Levin, Savage, Coulter & Ingraham could all take a lesson there.

Hannity said on GMA, “I think this Michael J. Fox [ad controversy] is going to backfire… I think the race ultimately is going to be decided on issues: national security, immigration, taxes. And when people focus on that, I think it benefits the Republicans.” Gee, that’s exactly what the Democrats tried to do in 2004, and it didn’t work out too well for them did it? Apparently, Hannity is wrong here too though. A study conducted among 955 Americans by HCD Research and Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion (MCIPO) during October 24-25, obtained Americans’ views on the stem cell research before and after they watched the ad (I am quoting a lot of text from the article here because that Yahoo link will only be valid for a couple weeks, as usual). The participants included self-reported Democrats, Republicans and Independents. They were asked to view the ad and respond to pre-and post-viewing questions regarding their opinions and emotions concerning the ad. Here are the findings:

Among all respondents, support for stem cell research increased from 78% prior to viewing the ad, to 83% after viewing the ad. Support among Democrats increased from 89% to 93%, support among Republicans increased from 66% to 68% and support among Independents increased from 80% to 87% after viewing the ad.

  • The level of concern regarding a candidate’s view on stem cell research increased among all respondents from 57% prior to viewing the ad to 70% after viewing the ad. Among Democrats, the level of concern increased from 66% to 83% and Republicans’ level of concern increased from 50% to 60%. Independents’ level of concern increased from 58% to 69%.
  • The perception that the November election is relevant to the U.S. policy on stem cell research increased across all voter segments, with an increase of 9% among all respondents pre- and post-viewing from 62% to 71%. The Democrats’ perception increased from 75% to 83%, Republicans’ perception increased from 55% to 62% and Independents’ perception increased from 60% to 68% pre- and post-viewing.
  • The advertisement elicited similar emotional responses from all responders with all voter segments indicating that they were “not bored and attentive” followed by “sorrowful, thankful, afraid and regretful.”
  • The vast majority of responders indicated that the advertisement was believable with 76% of all responders reporting that it was “extremely believable” or “believable.” Among party affiliation, 93% of Democrats 57% of Republicans and 78% of Independents indicated it “extremely believable” or “believable.”

Respondents were asked to indicate what candidate they would vote for in the U.S. House of Representatives election if it was held today before and after viewing the ad.

  • Republicans who indicated that they were voting for a Republican candidate decreased by 10% after viewing the ad (77% to 67%). Independents planning to vote for Democrats increased by 10%, from 39% to 49%.

Rush later refocused his attack and said that Fox was just shilling for Democrats, and they were taking advantage of victims like Fox to further their own agenda. Fox responded to that yesterday. In an interview with Katie Couric (one that answers all the questions the right-wingers have been asking), Fox was asked about the “rocking effect” seen in the ads.

That’s caused by the medication. What happens is when you I’m 15 years out from diagnosis, one of the problems with medication, one of the reasons they are looking for cures particularly for Parkinson’s is that the medication only has an efficacy that lasts so long and then at a certain point it ceases to, or it works with horrible side effects, which is the dyskinesia that you see. But on any given day, I can’t design where I’m going to be at any given time. You just take the medication and hope for the best. If it’s humid that day, if you get stressed that day, if you eat the wrong thing, if you have too much protein, it doesn’t kick in. It’s just part of living with this. It’s funny the notion that you could calculate it for a fact. People with Parkinson’s out there, we’re just kind of god, would that we could.

Couric then asked him, couldn’t you have done the ad when the dyskinesia was at a “low point?”

Well, when do you know that’s going to be? You don’t know when that’s going to be. Funny, my mother was visiting that day, was in the backroom and she was saying throughout the filming of it — and she was talking to my friends back there– and she was saying “he’s trying so hard to be still” and so she was the one actually when the comments were made, she was the only who was really angry and she said “I can’t even see straight.” I said “Mom, just relax, it’s okay, don’t worry about it.”

I strongly encourage anyone who believes that Fox was “faking it” to read the interview at the link above. Hopefully it will be very enlightening. The outrage against Rush and Hannity’s defense of him is justified, but I have to think that if the Democrats do return to power in less than two weeks, that a prime mission of theirs should be to restore some decency to government — to stop the political bickering that trickles down from the White House and the halls of Congress. It’s about time Congress started looking after the country’s business again instead of the political pandering. Do we really need to worry about flag burning or creating legislation for a 700 mile wall on the southern border that has not even been funded and will never be built? I have no idea if government can even be effective in helping usher in a new era of civility. Perhaps it’s not up to them. But it’s a good place to start. It certainly won’t harm anything, and it could do a lot of good and get this country back on track. Imagine a country where citizens have faith in their government to do the right thing? I wish I could. I can’t right now, but I hope to someday soon.

How Low Can You Go?

Posted by Aaron on October 25th, 2006

It appears when the GOP gets scared it’s going to lose power, anything is fair game. Anyone remember Willie Horton? How about Osama pictured with Max Cleland? How about using Iraq and/or terrorism as a bargaining chip with the general public? As hideous as all these are, there are further depths of depravity yet to be plumbed. Oh yes.

You may have seen one of the Michael J. Fox ads running in various states urging voters to elect candidates who support stem cell research. Some of you may have followed Fox’s story closely, as I have. His last television series was “Spin City,” and my wife and I used to watch it regularly. After Fox announced his battle with Parkinson’s, it was easy to see the devastating effects it was having on his body. His movements were sometimes exaggerated, and he always seemed to have to steady himself by having something in one of his hands — a coffee mug, a notebook. “Boston Legal” is another show my wife and I watch regularly, and we were both surprised when Fox appeared in a few episodes as a guest star. The deterioration in his condition was fairly obvious to us, but we were both happy to see that he was still well enough to once again return to a television series, if only temporarily, since he had noted he would not be returning to television when he left “Spin City.”

Fast forward to yesterday, when that ultra slimy, right-wing apologist and drug addict Rush Limbaugh had the audacity to tell his listeners the following:

Now, this is Michael J. Fox. He’s got Parkinson’s disease. And in this commercial, he is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He is moving all around and shaking. And it’s purely an act. This is the only time I have ever seen Michael J. Fox portray any of the symptoms of the disease he has. I know he’s got it and he’s raising money for it, but when I’ve seen him in public, I’ve never seen him betray any of the symptoms. But this commercial, he — he’s just all over the place. He can barely control himself. He can control himself enough to stay in the frame of the picture, and he can control himself enough to keep his eyes right on the lens, the teleprompter. But his head and shoulders are moving all over the place, and he is acting like his disease is deteriorating because Jim Talent opposes research that would help him, Michael J. Fox, get cured.

He’s ACTING folks. This is what Limbaugh, obviously a physician with years of medical experience treating Parkinson’s patients, had to say about Fox’s “performance.” This was not someone suffering from the devastating effects of a disease that afflicts 4 million people worldwide urging voters to support candidates that would fund research for a cure. Of course not. This was an actor who was being used by the Democrats to elect Democratic candidates in key races.

How disgusting, how low, how un-civilized can you get? How much will people take of this before they say, “enough?” I’m looking through some of the comments in blogs and people say, “well, he was shaking hands and looking very still when he walked into the room to tape that…” Are you kidding me? I cannot begin to believe that these people would even attempt to justify Limbaugh’s hateful comments. This man is suffering from a disease that he (and his family) has to live with each and every day. Fox had to basically give up his career due to Parkinson’s. And when the GOP closes the door on his hopes, and the hopes of four million other people for a cure, is it not right for him to stand up and say, “it’s up to you folks… please help?”

This increasingly hostile level of discourse can, at least in modern times, be placed squarely at the feet of Lee Atwater, but I blame Newt, Rove, and Bush for this recent, most poisonous round.

This administration is always one to have its henchmen do the dirty work. It has learned the lessons of Atwater very well. From push-polling during the McCain/Bush faceoff, to torture at Abu Gharib, this administration sets the policy at the top, then sets its minions off to conduct the finer points of this malice of forethought. But let there be no doubt, this party rots from the head down, and one need not look too far back to see one particularly shining example. On September 11, 2006, just a little over a month ago, George W. Bush spoke these words from the Oval Office:

On this solemn anniversary, we rededicate ourselves to this cause. Our nation has endured trials, and we face a difficult road ahead. Winning this war will require the determined efforts of a unified country, and we must put aside our differences and work together to meet the test that history has given us. We will defeat our enemies. We will protect our people. And we will lead the 21st century into a shining age of human liberty.

Less than ONE MONTH later, on October 2nd, he said the following words while campaigning for a Republican congressional candidate:

There is a difference of opinion in Washington. If you listen closely to some of the leaders of the Democrat Party, it sounds like — it sounds like they think the best way to protect the American people is, wait until we’re attacked again.

This is a sitting president, who is characterizing the opposition party’s differences with his policies as “the best way to protect the American people is wait until we’re attacked again.” If this is the kind of mixed message that’s coming from the top of the Republican party, is it any wonder so many of its members are so misled, confused and angry?

Comments Section

Posted by Aaron on October 24th, 2006

The spambots have been hitting the article comments section of this site pretty hard lately. So far they’ve been caught before anything got posted, but I’m getting tired of having to delete them all in the “moderation” queue every day, so I’m using some new anti-spambot plugins on this blog that should just block them entirely. It shouldn’t impact legitimate posters, but if it does, please send me an e-mail to aaronc*at*bluestateupdate.com (just replace the *at* with the at symbol of course) and let me know you had a problem posting.

Hannity Tells Democrats to “Stay Home” on Election Day

Posted by Aaron on October 24th, 2006

I really have no words for this. I mean, I have a lot of words for it, but I just don’t know where to start or how to say it. Last Wednesday, Sean Hannity told Democrats who were listening to his radio show to just stay home and not vote on election day. Can you believe that? It isn’t bad enough that the Democrats have continually rolled over and let the GOP steal this government, erode the civil rights of every American, and get us into a war with lies about WMD. Now Hannity wants the PEOPLE to roll over. He claims we’re not informed. He claims that the party has abandoned us. Well, the latter is certainly true to an extent, but when your party doesn’t listen to you the answer is not to give up, the answer is to fight to get the party back to what it once was — something the Republicans can’t seem to do. You want to talk about a party leaving you? Whatever happened to the Goldwater Republican? What would Goldwater have thought about the GOP grandstanding on the Terri Schiavo case? This is what the Republicans have become, folks. The GOP now stands for Big Brother. It stands for Big Government. It stands for intervention in your personal lives and personal decisions. It stands for tax cuts for the wealthy. It stands for raiding the Treasury. It stands for promoting fear and uncertainty in the world. Are these the tenets of the traditional Republican? I think not. Even now, there is a military buildup occurring opposite Iran. Is this provocation of the highest order? What is this leading up to? Are we trying to get Iran to attack one of our ships so that we can react in so-called “self-defense?” Is this Karl Rove’s October Surprise?

And just a sidenote about being uninformed — Sean, you might be familiar with this study conducted by the Program on International Policy (PIPA) at the University of Maryland and Knowledge Networks, which shows that those viewers who get their news from FOX News are significantly more likely to be misinformed about current events than viewers of other networks. The study suggests that if you want to be up to speed on the world and current events, you should watch PBS. You might want to look into that, Sean. Apparently, your viewers are the most misinformed viewers in the United States. I guess that says a lot about what you’re feeding them, right?

Hannity is just saying it like it is. He thinks the Democrats will win in November, so he’s begging us Democrats to stay home and not vote. There’s no other way he thinks he can win at this point. I’m not so sure. There are still two weeks to go, and Rove’s promised October Surprise has not manifested itself yet. Not only that, but I’m not sure that America is ready for its own recovery. I have this shaky feeling that people are going to do exactly what some right-wing talking heads have supposed — pull the GOP levers because of fear. We live in the scariest times since I was a child when we were always told about the evil Soviet Union who had enough nuclear warheads to cover every inch of the United States in mushroom clouds. This administration will stop at nothing to stay in power, and massive global destabilization is just one of its tools. People used to vote their pocketbook. Now, they vote their nightmares, and the Bush administration has been very effective in promoting fear throughout the world. When people are so frightened and struggling to make ends meet, are they going to take a chance on something new? I mean, it could get worse, right? And the right-wingers are right there on the radio and the talk shows, speaking to the uninformed and misinformed, feeding them false information and creating Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD). I know the polls say the Democrats are going to have a very good November, but I’m not sure. As I have written about before, Diebold still could be a big player in the upcoming election. Fear is another big player.

And then there’s Hannity.

“Your candidates have absolutely no ideas how to win the war on terrorism. The only ideas that they espouse are ways to undermine the troops in harm’s way and undermine their commander in chief while they’re at war. Your candidates have no idea how to keep this economy strong. They have no ideas except more tax-and-spend policies and rescinding the tax cuts that every American family has benefited from. They have no idea how to protect the border — only solution they have there is to give us amnesty.”

Let’s talk about amnesty for a moment. What is Hannity going to say when the United States finally agrees to attempt to broker some kind of peace deal in Iraq between the Sunnis and the Shiites? Amnesty is a word that Hannity is going to hear a lot when that happens. Amnesty will be given for those who have killed American soldiers. In fact, it’s already being offered to the Sunnis. How’s that for “staying the course?” So what do you say, Hannity? I guess giving amnesty to people who are already living here, working here, and contributing to our economy is much much worse than offering amnesty to insurgents who have killed American troops?

Whatever may happen on November 7th, we’re not going to stay home, Sean. We’re going to come out in droves. It may not make a bit of difference, but we have to try. Your guys have had six years in power, Sean, and how different is the world since the year 2000? How much scarier has the world become? How much more difficult has it been on American families? How much have corporations netted while American families suffered? How many of our children’s lives have you put on the line for your own greed? I’m not just talking about the occupation in Iraq, I’m talking about withdrawal from Kyoto. I’m talking about your “right to a high standard of living” that’s killing the planet. How many people with serious medical emergencies have had to go into bankruptcy because of their illnesses, even when they were insured when they first became sick? And when they did that, they found out about the new laws that you folks passed to make sure they couldn’t get a fresh start if and when they finally either managed to control their illness or got well? What about having the energy companies set the energy policies for the country that have led us to become even more dependent on foreign oil?

Sean, there were plenty of chances for this Congress, this (p)Resident to do the right thing — to really work to make this country a better place for everyone, and you all failed miserably. Will the Democrats do any better? Absolutely. Will they be shining examples of hope and ethics? I doubt it. But they will make sure that we at least try to foster some sense of community with the rest of the world instead of provoking it, and that alone will ensure that we turn off the path of extinction through arrogant imperialism. There are plenty of examples throughout history of empires that thought they could not be brought down. I know you’re not a student of history, Sean, and I know you never even finished college, but you might want to take a look at how much we’re actually in debt to other nations, and then look at the state of our military right now. And then you just might want to vote Democrat on Election Day. Unless you decide to stay home.

Takin’ My Country Back

Posted by Aaron on October 11th, 2006

I was just listening to some podcasts over at The Rational Radical and one of them ended with this kick-ass country song by the Honky Tonkers for Truth (that link is a story on the making of the song, since the ‘band’s’ website is now offline). It’s called “Taking My Country Back,” and you can hear it by pressing “play” on the bar below this article. The only reason I’m hosting it on my site is that I can’t seem to find it online anymore. Apparently it was distributed widely by the authors, but as I said, their website is down now and has been replaced by a search page and I had to search high and low to find it. According to the story above at Buzzflash, it seems the intent was to get everyone to hear the song, so I’m hoping they don’t mind me hosting it here because I want to preserve it for all time, even if just for my own listening pleasure. Great job, folks… Can we have more?

It’s Always The Democrats’ Fault

Posted by Aaron on October 10th, 2006

Jack Kingston (R-GA), vice chairman of the House Republican Conference, said on Fox News Sunday that the Democrats were behind the release of information regarding Mark Foley’s predatory e-mails to a page. His words:

What I don’t understand is where have these e-mails been for three years? Are we saying that a 15-year-old child would have sat on e-mails that were triple-X rated for three years and suddenly spring them out right on the eve of an election? That’s just a little bit too suspicious, even for Washington, D.C.

Does Kingston really think that if the Democrats had this kind of information three years ago and had intended to use it to nail the Republicans that they would’ve waited until AFTER the 2004 general election to come out with the information?? Perhaps the Democrats were just pure genius at strategizing that it would take a couple more years before America was at the tipping point, and that just before the 2006 elections would be a MUCH better time to spring these letters out in the open.

The truth is, according to this article at MSNBC, certain Republicans knew of Foley’s “inappropriate internet exchanges” as far back as the year 2000. Speaker Dennis Hastert claimed that the Republicans only became aware of Foley’s activities last fall. The bottom line is, if Hastert and others knew about this last fall, why didn’t they do anything about it then, when they could’ve controlled the message that was given to the press? Instead, this is turning out to be a huge coverup operation. I guess I understand their desire to make sure none of this got out. I mean, what could be more damaging to the reputation of the “morality party” than to have one of their own be revealed as a potential pedophile?

But now that it (and Foley himself) is out, I think the Republicans would do well to take care of the sorry state of their own party instead of blaming Democrats for what is (once again) a GOP scandal. Particularly since the GOP’s strategy in this case is clearly not working. According to a recent Resmussen poll, a full 61% of Americans believe that Republicans have been protecting this guy for several years, and 69% of voters unaffilliated with either party believe that the Republicans have been protecting Foley. Only 21% of Americans believe that the Republicans “only recently” learned about the inappropriate e-mails. I wonder who those people are? Probably the same twenty percent that have a favorable view of Dick Cheney. Public disapproval of Congress in general is back up to its highest levels. It seems as if the Foley scandal will be placed securely at the feet of the Republicans, despite all their attempts to deflect the blame onto Democrats. Unless there is a late October surprise, I think Rush Limbaugh’s prediction that the GOP won’t lose either houses of Congress is a bit off the mark. I could be wrong though, lord knows I have been before. It just seems so ironic that this party could lose the House and Senate due to a Republican sex scandal… And one involving children at that. Next the right-wing talking heads will say Democrats are “taking glee” at this scandal. No, we’re not taking glee, we’re just breathing a small sigh now that the general public is finally seeing that this party is full of hypocrites from top to bottom. And we’re glad that their attempts to throw blame once again to the Democrats are being dismissed.

Every time the GOP gets caught for its continuing hypocrisy, it plays the blame game. It was always someone else’s fault. Remember, this is the party that was going to return accountability to Washington. I guess we just have to try to remember that everytime the Republicans say something, their plan is to do the exact opposite.

I read in an article somewhere online that Newt Gingrich is somewhat in demand these days on the news/talk circuit because people are trying to look back at the “glory days” of Republicans in Congress. Yeah, Newt is a perfect example of Republican morality, isn’t he? This is a guy who divorces his cancer-stricken wife to go off with his own intern (whom he is now divorced from) at the same time he’s criticizing Bill Clinton for having an affair. Once again, do the opposite of what you preach.

I’m currently reading John Dean’s Conservatives Without Conscience, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to know what this new “modern conservative” really is, and from where this movement originates. Dean traces the history of the conservative movement in the US, and details the contortions of interpretation that were necessary in order for “conservative scholars” to be able to claim such progressive and liberal documents as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution for themselves.

Indeed, for a movement that supposedly prides itself on tradition and extremely gradual change, it is relatively young. Liberalism, meanwhile, can trace its roots to “ancient Greek and Medieval thought.” Dean shows time and again that conservative Republicans are inherently often at odds with the philosophies they claim to represent. For instance, in that same article linked to above at Wikipedia is this passage:

Within the United States, classical liberalism is rhetorically confused with conservatism. The Cato Institute, a think tank known for its advocation of classical liberalism in government, states from its website:
“Only in America do people seem to refer to free-market capitalism–the most progressive, dynamic, and ever-changing system the world has ever known–as conservative. Additionally, many contemporary American conservatives favor state intervention in some areas, most notably in trade and into our private lives.”

Conservatives, in an attempt to steal the flag of patriotism from American liberals, have even tried to downplay the American Revolution as just a minor spat that happened in our history (since the concept of revolution against the government is an anathema to conservative ideals). How such key parts of American history and of American Patriotism could be so radically reinterpreted by conservatives to support their cause is a marvel to behold. Most of Dean’s research is comprised from conservative writers, which makes the read all the more interesting. The book goes on to show how modern conservative “leaders” such as Pat Robertson (who probably has Goldwater rolling in his grave every time Robertson gets up to speak on behalf of conservatives everywhere) have co-opted the mantle of conservativism to push their religious agenda. This leads to an in-depth look at how we arrived at this point of political polarization and hostility that pervades the country at the moment. If you want to know how it is that the Republicans, when revealed by their own actions for the hypocrites they are, can be so bold as to throw all blame to the Democrats, Dean’s analysis of “Authoritarian Conservatism” will be most illuminating.