Our Stupid Media

Friday, June 06, 2014

The Spy Who Smeared Me

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Is there anything more pathetic than an 80 year old ex-CIA agent running his own home-based spy shop in San Diego?  Maybe . . . maybe a professional journalist who takes the private spy seriously enough to write long pointless Exclusives! for Fox News based on the private spy’s “secret intel” alone.

The ex-spook, in this instance, is one Duane “Dewey” Clarridge who served in the CIA during the 1980s as a senior operations officer. Clarridge was indicted for lying to Congress during Iran-Contra hearings, but was pardoned by Poppy Bush during his trial.

Clarridge was forced to resign from the CIA but wasn’t quite ready to quit spying and contracted his expertise out.  His story, needless to say, is interesting, in its own right, and anyone who wants to do a deep dive can find long form articles in The New York Times, here and here.

In my opinion, it is enough to say that Mark Mazzetti, of The Times, got it in one when he described Clarridge’s operation as “something of a cross between a Graham Greene novel and Mad Magazine’s “Spy vs. Spy.”

Clarridge communicates with his “field operatives” in Afghanistan and Pakistan—complete with code names like Willi and Waco—via email, then, poolside in San Diego, he compiles the info received into intelligence summaries that he peddles around to a network that includes such intelligence mavens as Oliver North, spy thriller novelist and frequent guest of Glenn Beck, Brad Thor, and, most recently, James Rosen of Fox News.

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Posted by Bette Noir on 06/06/14 at 03:40 PM
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Categories: PoliticsBedwettersNuttersOur Stupid Media

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Speaking Truth To Impotence

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Suddenly, and none too soon, an interesting assortment of ordinary Americans have somewhat miraculously rediscovered their voices.  Maybe it has something to do with the evolution of social media; or perhaps it’s a reaction to being completely ignored, for too long, by our governmental representatives; or maybe it has to do with witnessing our rights, freedoms and values being trampled, ignored and distorted into an ugly incomprehensible mess.  Who knows?  But a tipping point seems to have been reached and, I for one, find it very refreshing to see everyday citizens rearing up and letting loose.

In the short space of just a few weeks a number of powerful reactions to a diverse set of issues have rocked the American scene. 

Here are some of the most notable . . .

Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) is a Republican.  He is also the ranking minority member of the Senate Committee On Veterans Affairs and, ostensibly, quite dedicated to our veterans’ welfare.  Indeed, Sen Burr and his fellow committee members worked diligently on crafting the Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014.

Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) were delighted by how comprehensively the bill would address some of the biggest problems facing all American veterans and offered full-throated endorsements of the bill.

Here’s what just one VSO, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Association, had to say, in their letter to the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs endorsing the bill:

This legislation would accomplish many of the goals for which veterans and military service organizations have been advocating for years, including strengthening the Post-9/11 GI Bill, expanding advance appropriations for more of the VA’s budget, expanding dental care coverage for veterans, expanding benefits for surviving spouses, expanding care related to military sexual trauma, instituting new rules for VA’s claims processing reports, and much more.

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Posted by Bette Noir on 05/27/14 at 01:44 PM
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Saturday, May 24, 2014

House Orders Pentagon To Forget All That Science Stuff And Buy The World Some Coke Instead

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Think Progress reports:

Earlier this month with the release of the National Climate Assessment, 300 leading climate scientists and experts told Americans in no uncertain terms that time is running out to confront the dangerous impacts of climate change.

This week, 16 military experts agreed, telling Americans in a report that climate change is already threatening national security and the economy. The CNA Corporation Military Advisory Board authored the report, titled “National Security and the Accelerating Risks of Climate Change.”

The House of Representatives met that news with a collective raspberry and ordered the Pentagon to fuhgeddabout using any of their funding to address climate change related national security risks, via a party-line passed amendment to this year’s Defense Department budget.

The amendment reads:

None of the funds authorized to be appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used to implement the U.S. Global Change Research Program National Climate Assessment, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report, the United Nation’s Agenda 21 sustainable development plan, or the May 2013 Technical Update of the Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis Under Executive Order.

Take that Obama, you and your Marxist Executive Orders and Agenda 21 New World Order. 

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Posted by Bette Noir on 05/24/14 at 08:51 AM
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Categories: PoliticsNuttersTeabaggeryOur Stupid Media

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Cheney Suffering From Goldilocks Syndrome

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Dick Cheney, Vice Chancellor of the ever-shrinking neo-con brand, is having a terribly hard time trying to sort out whether President Obama is weak or tyrannical or both while the rest of us puzzle over why any sane person is chasing his opinion.

It’s certainly not as if Cheney has a particularly illustrious background as a statesman and it certainly can’t be his dedication to the truth, governmental ideals or constitutional law that inform his perceptions of how everyone else is doing in office.  Certainly he can’t think that his term in the White House could ever serve as any sort of standard for future administrations?

This is a man who told us:  “I think Barack Obama is a one-term President;”  and, in regard to the invasion of Iraq, “My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.”

So it can’t be his remarkable perspicacity that induces news outlets to continue to drink from this particular poisoned well.  Maybe it’s as simple as the fact that Dick Cheney is a living caricature and, in show biz, villains get as much of a rise out of audiences as heroes.  Or maybe the GOP is trying to make a sentimental appeal to the “Do You Miss Me Yet” members of the Bush Brigade.

I know that Lynne Cheney is hyping her book but, really, Mrs. Cheney if you want those books to sell, dragging Dick out of hibernation doesn’t seem like a very savvy marketing plan.

Oh well, it doesn’t really matter why we’re still seeing Cheney’s face in the news.  But, if I were, say, Reince Priebus, I wouldn’t be clicking my heels over it.  One thing that has become clearer and clearer, as the Obama presidency goes on, is that hate and fear and cultural divisiveness make for pretty confusing assessments.  And, since it is the Republican Party that is serving up this ridiculous hash they are the ones who are coming across as confused and disjointed.

The whole Goldilocks approach that Republicans have taken toward Obama—is he too weak? is he too dictatorial? does he try to do to much? or not enough? is he too aggressive? or not aggressive enough?—is a very weak political strategy.  It doesn’t create a strong lasting image that voters can get sign on to.  It’s vague and blurry and provides only negative energy but more importantly, it will mobilize only a small fraction of rabid anti-Obama base and they probably don’t require any mobilization.

Americans are results oriented and they don’t generally mistake obstruction for action.  So.  Who has accomplished anything over the last 6 years?  The Do-Nothing Congress with a 9% approval rating? or the President who, despite having to fight relentless headwinds has: eliminated Osama bin Laden, ended two wars, lowered the deficit to record levels, reduced unemployment, reinvigorated the economy, while facing down idiots who believe that government shutdowns are a viable political strategy, to say nothing of saving the American auto industry, and substantially improving health care options for all Americans.

Come on, GOP, surely you can do better than the Goldilocks Stratergy.

Posted by Bette Noir on 05/20/14 at 09:38 AM
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Categories: PoliticsElection '14NuttersOur Stupid Media

Monday, May 12, 2014

George Will Just Seems Extra-Insufferable Lately

I’ve commented on George Will before, but usually having to do with climate change—his denialism, for a supposedly smart person, is tiresome in its sheer repetitive belief that science somehow works like politics does. But to be pretty honest, on any forum he’s been on, he has a habit of talking down as if he’s a guy who knows things, so listen to his plausible bullshit, okay?

I think of it as “Willsplaining” for obvious reasons.

So I shrugged off his kind of “Hey, kid president, get off my White House lawn”  column of a few weeks back because—why yes, I did think it was pretty insulting to basically call the president childish, but on the other hand, I don’t yet know what it’s like to have a president who is younger than me, and I guess that might feel weird, huh? I mean, if Marco Rubio became president, he’d still be a whole year and a half older than me.  Maybe that is kind of a mindscrew. Who is this punk who uses the slang and has smoked the marijuana and thinks he is the boss of the country anyway, the whippersnapper? It’s a generation gap thing. Maybe Will can’t, like, relate.

But this thing here about putting down hashtag activism is pretty awkward in more than a few ways:

CHRIS WALLACE: I want to turn back to the kidnapping, the terrible kidnapping of these Nigerian schoolgirls in the little bit of time we have left in this segment. Because this week Michelle Obama and Malala Yousafzai joined the Bring Back Our Girls movement. More than 2 million people have now tweeted the hash tag. And George, I’m just curious. Because I’m not saying I was that familiar with this phenomenon. It’s even got a name, #activism. And I’m curious what you make of it. Do you think that this is significant and helpful? And can make progress? Or do you think it’s really about helping the people who tweet the hash tag feel better about themselves?

GEORGE WILL: Exactly that. It’s an exercise in self-esteem. I do not know how adults stand there facing a camera and say, bring back our girls. Are these barbarians in the wild of Nigeria are supposed to check their Twitter accounts and say, oh, Michelle Obama is very crossed with us, we better change our behavior.

WALLACE: It’s trending on Twitter.

WILL: Power is the ability to achieve intended effects. And this is not intended to have any effect on the real world. It’s a little bit like environmentalism has become. But the incandescent light bulb becomes the enemy. It has no effect whatever on the planet, but it makes people feel good about themselves.

I’m just going to start with “barbarians in the wilds of Nigeria” if you don’t mind—WTF?  I get that he is calling Boko Haram barbarians and not the average Nigerian, but, I hate to break it to Will, over the last two decades, the cell phone has kind of become a thing. It’s internet-capable and people all over the world have used them to stage demonstrations and plan things. Yes, I think they are aware of Twitter. No, I don’t think hashtag activism necessarily influences what they will do, but it might inspire heads of state and legislators who do have power to act. Because in a functioning democracy, citizens petition their representatives with their concerns. It isn’t about “feeling good”—activism doesn’t always get one the desired goal and there are only so many things regular people can do. But is is better than nothing. And what does he think about “letters to the editor” or “writing one’s congressperson” or “signing a petition” (many of which are basically about mailing-list trolling anyway)? Could it be hashtag activism is such a waste of time in his estimation because he has no concept of the technology, and maybe it’s about “self-esteem” because (shaking fist) “these kids these days think they’re so hot”?

But comparing sympathizing and wanting to do something about these children who are in a terrifying situation and light bulbs is a special kind of assholery. Okay, we get it. Old Grumpy Grampy Wills doesn’t care for the tree-hugging hippies who are trying to take his old reliable Edison-era volt-hogs away. And there is probably some overlap between folks who love the new-fangled lower-energy devices and also think girls should not be stolen from their families and sold. But I would very much like to think the default setting on our morality should be that we do not like the idea of girls being kidnapped and sold and whether we care for new-fangled things like the Twitter-box or those swirly-bulbs is besides the point. Because pompously putting people down for giving a basic human shit about other people is kind of awful.

So I’m saying George Will is awful, and I do not know how one as an adult gets in front of a camera and compares kidnapped children to light bulbs.

(X-posted at Strangely Blogged.)

Posted by Vixen Strangely on 05/12/14 at 11:37 PM
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Categories: MessylaneousPoliticsEditorialsOur Stupid Media

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Release The KRAKEN!!

What’s it been now? almost a week since Speaker Boehner decided to Release the Kraken! and, already, I suspect he’s black and blue from excessive #facepalm-ing.

Meanwhile, Judge Gawdy (R-SC) is powdering his wig and spreading himself thin in a pre-game talkathon about what a regular - nay, totally unremarkable and unassuming - hero he is, who just happens to be sitting on a shock-and-awe-ful pile of bullpuckey evidence that has eluded his well-meaning but bumbling colleagues who just don’t fully grasp how the criminal mind operates.

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Yep.  A week into it and this latest chapter of Benghazi!Benghazi!BENGHAZI!! is about to take a serious turn toward the absurd, as only conservatives know how to turn things.

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Posted by Bette Noir on 05/08/14 at 09:27 AM
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Monday, April 28, 2014

Hey Bro, Your Cunning Disguise is Slipping

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I remember the day that it dawned on my nine-year-old self that yelling “I’m rubber, you’re glue” was a pretty ineffective defense.  And it was somewhere around the tenth grade that I realized that turning an argument inside out, while a good trick, wasn’t the same as winning it.  That probably explains America’s recent impatience with the “both sides do it” school of partisan political debate.

At 64, I have lived through some of America’s most fraught historical decades, I won’t get into listing milestones—everyone here can count backward and figure that out.  Suffice it to say that I have lived through enough to develop some amount of perspective regarding what counts and what fades away.

There are times when I despair that our national discourse has become so thoroughly dumbed-down that it’s barely worth participating.  Maybe sending men to the moon, and technological advances that we never dreamed of, and a few that we did, have exhausted us and resulted in the current backlash against science, history and facts. 

We are now in the process of banning books that mention masturbation, in high schools, [maybe they won’t find out?], teaching children that evolution is debatable, that history isn’t true and, more seriously, denying that our actions are destroying the environment that we depend on.

We are slipping inexorably into a slough of silliness, while life is still just as seriously life-or-death as it ever was for some.  But, the most disturbing trend, in my opinion, is the tendency to disown our reality.

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Posted by Bette Noir on 04/28/14 at 10:56 AM
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Saturday, April 26, 2014

And Let Me Tell You One More Thing About The Wingnut, Mr Spicer

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Sean Spicer is pissed, PISSED!! I tell you, that, somehow or other, the public have identified racist old right-wing desert moocher, Cliven Bundy, with The Party of Lincoln-Inside-the-Beltway.  Sacré Bleu!

In his own words:

The issue with Cliven Bundy has absolutely nothing to do with his party, zero.  He is a Nevada rancher that had a beef with the federal government’s continued overreach and suddenly this became a question when he made some inappropriate comments about what every Republican needs to answer for. That’s absolutely ridiculous. [Full video rant here]

Now, I truly don’t believe that all Republicans are racists, homophobes, conspiracy theorists, junk-scientists, theocrats, revisionists or misogynists.  They just pander to those groups for votes.  And those groups vote for Republicans because a) Republicans pander to them and b) Republican policies more closely comport with said groups’ respective ideologies than other parties.

Additionally, Fox News has carved out a media niche specializing in dog-whistling for conservative votes based on the neuroses listed above.  For their part, Republican Party leadership say nary a discouraging word no matter how Fox News skews and screws with news events to keep their far-right audience in a “let-me-at-that-ballot” lather.

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Posted by Bette Noir on 04/26/14 at 10:28 AM
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Categories: PoliticsNuttersOur Stupid Media

Thursday, April 24, 2014

ALEC:  A Legislator for Every Corporation

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Ever notice how when something particularly butt-headed, laughable or creepy happens out in the state “laboratories of democracy,” it is usually accompanied by the unsettling sound of ALEC flapping its leathery wings overhead?

For those of you who are blissfully ignorant of ALEC and its doings, ALEC is a corporate-sponsored lobby shop and “bill mill” dressed up as a non-profit charitable organization.  Corporations pay huge annual dues to sit on ALEC task forces, in each state, and hold state legislators hands throughout the law-making process.  So, it is far from surprising that the resulting state laws are exceedingly corporate-friendly.

And the reason this happens on a state level rather than the federal level? because it CAN.  Here’s a good explanation of how this works from progressivestates.org:

Even as state legislatures make spending decisions of the same order as federal legislators, they generally lack any comparable staffing or support. Most state legislatures are made up of poorly paid, part-time lawmakers with few if any staff to research or evaluate the laws they are asked to approve.

So when ALEC delivers “model legislation” to its legislative allies to promote, there are few staff members in the legislature to challenge the expertise presented or uncover the hidden payoffs for corporate interests contained in the legislation.

Moderate legislators appreciate the attention to their needs served by ALEC, so in times of political crisis (“crises” often created by the drumbeat of local media stories generated by ALEC corporate allies), they often feel they need to sign onto some legislation to solve the crisis.

And if there is no alternative legislation available, ALEC can create majority support for its legislation just by being the only serious legislation being discussed on the matter. Since states have little or no public reporting requirements that would require disclosure of junkets and gifts awarded to legislators, ALEC can spirit key state legislators off to luxury “conferences” to win them over to their legislation. And the lack in most states of public disclosure laws for lobbying means that ALEC and its allies can usually operate under the radar of any serious media or political scrutiny.

SWEET!

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Posted by Bette Noir on 04/24/14 at 12:16 PM
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Categories: PoliticsBqhatevwrOur Stupid Media

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Don’t Fence Me In

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Looks like the jig might be just about up for Cliven Bundy.  As it turns out, rather than a Noble Patriot deserving a place of honor in the How The West Was Won Hall of Fame, old Cliven is just a pretty pathetic garden variety liar.  Or, if you prefer, a high plains grifter . . .  in keeping with the western motif.

A local Nevada TV station was inspired by Bundy’s stirring personal history to do a little digging into his background and found that the details differ significantly from the King James Version elicited by BundyBooster, Sean Hannity, et al.

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Posted by Bette Noir on 04/23/14 at 10:27 AM
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Categories: PoliticsBqhatevwrNuttersTeabaggeryOur Stupid Media

Monday, April 21, 2014

Meet The Press Hosts Panel of Dicks To Discuss Presidential Low-T

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David Brooks must be pining for his lost youth now that he’s a newly-single balding, middle-aged guy tending toward paunch.  That’s the only good explanation for the sophomoric little round-robin that took place on Meet the Press yesterday, during which Brooks questioned President Obama’s testosterone levels, while the rest of the bobbleheads nodded and grinned:

Basically since Yalta we’ve had an assumption that borders are basically going to be borders, and once that comes into question, if in Ukraine or in Crimea or anywhere else, then all over the world … all bets are off . . .

… And let’s face it, Obama, whether deservedly or not, does have a — I’ll say it crudely — but a manhood problem in the Middle East. Is he tough enough to stand up to somebody like Assad or somebody like Putin? I think a lot of the rap is unfair, but certainly in the Middle East there is an assumption that he’s not tough enough.

How insipid is that?  Let me count the ways . . .

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Posted by Bette Noir on 04/21/14 at 08:19 AM
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Categories: PoliticsBarack ObamaBedwettersOur Stupid Media

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Free Your Mind

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Aiming at who-knows-what entertainment value, Fox News, on Friday, launched a “robust discussion” of the current state of racism in America.  Or, at least as robust a discussion as five white conservative pundits, including a B-list comedian, could have on that topic.

The timing of the program probably had to do with Attorney General Eric Holder getting all “uppity,” a few days ago, about being disrespected by Louie Gohmert (R-TX), and follow-up remarks by Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) when he was asked if Holder had played “the race card.”

The discussion meandered along most of the well-trodden paths leading to Post Racism America.

Comments like these abounded:

This race thing is – you know, at this point, I can’t believe they’re still saying it.

I might even agree with you that there may be some racism left in America, but who cares?  Anyone who does or says anything racist is always punished for it immediately. So why do we even talk about it anymore?

Dana Perino even managed a deftly worded boy-who-calls-wolf admonition when she wondered if “playing the race card so promiscuously actually drains the power of calling someone a racist.”

Eric Bolling and Andrea Tantaros seconded the theme that most Americans aren’t even concerned about racism anymore.

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Posted by Bette Noir on 04/13/14 at 02:10 PM
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Categories: PoliticsNuttersTeabaggeryOur Stupid Media

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Banality of Evil: Rumsfeld Edition

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Seems like a lifetime ago, in the 1960s, philosopher Hannah Arendt gave us the phrase “the banality of evil” to describe Nazi Adolf Eichmann’s demeanor during his war crimes trial in Jerusalem.

Despite all the efforts of the prosecution, everybody could see that this man was not a “monster,” but it was difficult indeed not to suspect that he was a clown. And since this suspicion would have been fatal to the entire enterprise [his trial], and was also rather hard to sustain in view of the sufferings he and his like had caused to millions of people, his worst clowneries were hardly noticed and almost never reported (p. 55).

Arendt has always had critics of her thesis about Eichmann’s “ordinariness.”  Still, I find her ironic notion of the “banality of evil” a very useful device for characterizing some of the inexplicable nuttiness afoot in 21st century America.

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Posted by Bette Noir on 03/26/14 at 12:36 PM
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Categories: PoliticsBqhatevwrBushCoNuttersOur Stupid Media

Friday, February 28, 2014

Noonan Haz A Sad, Channels Ophelia

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Apparently Peggy Noonan took to her fainting couch recently, suffering from a touch of SAD, and found herself scribbling away and projecting her depression on all of America.  I tend to avoid conservative propaganda outlets, such as Fox News and The Wall Street Journal, mainly because of their insalubrious effect on my blood pressure.

But this communique from the inimitable Nooners exploded across my desktop like a multi-car accident and I just had to become a gaper.

She had me by the first sentence, which reads:

The constant mischief of the progressive left is hurting the nation’s morale.

A bold premise but deftly supported by citing those experts on the American psyche—Gallup, of Gallup polls.  Gallup found, in December, that a record number of Americans, 72% to be exact, feel that big government is a bigger threat to the future than big business and big labor.

This probably came as no surprise to the good folks of Gallup because so it has been, every single time that they have asked that question since the first time, in 1965.  Indeed, Noonan, herself, points out that this is a fairly predictable data point.

None of these numbers are new, exactly, as they reflect long-term trends.

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Posted by Bette Noir on 02/28/14 at 04:24 PM
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Categories: PoliticsBedwettersBushCoOur Stupid Media

Monday, February 24, 2014

Tears Of A Clown

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You know, I could run for governor and all this but I’m basically a media creation. I’ve never really done anything. I’ve worked for my dad. I worked in the oil industry. But that’s not the kind of profile you have to have to get elected to public office.

In an interview with the Midland Reporter Telegram on July 4, 1989, quoted in Bush’s Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential (John Wiley and Sons, 2003) by James Moore and Wayne Slater, p. 161.

The man above is either a) a sociopath, b) a masochist, c) dumb as a bag of hammers or d) all of the above.

Despite the fact that my life has spanned the 1960’s civil rights movement, America’s open season for assassins, the Vietnam War and the Nixon administration, I must admit that I have never seen anything on national television quite as nauseatingly abhorrent as the spectacle of George W. Bush shedding a gentlemanly tear over the thousands of lives he wrecked to remedy his Daddy Complex.

This is how “sad” Dubya’s “mistakes” made him in 2012:

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Posted by Bette Noir on 02/24/14 at 12:15 PM
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Categories: PoliticsBushCoOur Stupid Media

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