Catapulting the Propaganda: Tender Sensibilities and Faux Outrage

When a foreign official accuses another nation of engaging in Goebbel-esque propaganda campaigns, it’s sure to make news. Yesterday, Brazil’s trade minister accused “rich nations” (read: the U.S.) of using Joesph Goebbel’s infamous strategy of repeating lies enough times that the lies become conventional wisdom. The Bush administration reacted sharply – but didn’t deny the accusations, only the reference.

Commentary By: Richard Blair

Faux outrage always amuses me, particularly when it’s projected for media / public consumption. Here’s how it works: someone (say, a politician) will make an outrageous or insulting accusation; hyperbole to emphasize a point. Someone on the opposite side of the political fence takes public umbrage – “Gasp! How can you say that? Oh, my tender sensibilities!” – without disputing the main point of the accusation.

Such an occasion occurred yesterday at World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. According to reports, in advance of a WTO meeting this week, Brazil’s trade minister Celso Amorim accused “rich countries” of engaging in Goebbel-esque propaganda in attempting to ram through the Doha trade accords:

Brazil sought to play down a spat with the United States on Sunday that threatened to sour a week of key World Trade Organisation talks after its foreign minister likened arguments of rich countries to Nazi propaganda. Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim told reporters on Saturday that “misinformation” about the WTO talks recalled the comment of Nazi propaganda chief Josef Goebbels that a lie repeated often enough will be accepted as truth.

A spokesman for U.S. trade chief Susan Schwab said Washington regretted the comment. “We are here to negotiate on substance and that kind of venomous name-calling does not have a place in these talks,” spokesman Sean Spicer said on Sunday…

By way of background, the Bush administration has been trying to hammer out an overarching WTO deal (many core issues in dispute, at least in terms of agricultural trade).

In the end, though, Celso Amorim probably accomplished what he intended to do with such inflammatory remarks. He made the point that the U.S. is controlling the WTO “message” in a manner that does little more than amplify the interests

Friday, August 5th, 2011 by Richard Blair |

McCain-Palin: The Perils Of Promoting The Past As Prologue?

John McCain’s decision to attach the imagery of Bill Ayers to Barack Obama is reckless. By casting this election as a continuation of the ideological conflict that characterized the unrest during the era of the Weathermen, John McCain may well be fomenting the reemergence of radicalism.

Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

It seems to me that a significant question will emerge in the aftermath of the 2008 election. The crux of that question has been framed by the inflammatory rhetoric of the McCain-Palin campaign in recent days. In its effort to sway voters and win this election, the McCain campaign has chosen to ignite animosities that will undoubtedly linger beyond November 4th…animosities that have the potential to unleash the very kind of violence that typified the groups and individuals the McCain campaign has attempted to link with Barack Obama.

At the core of the conflicts that marred the sixties and

Friday, August 5th, 2011 by Daniel DiRito |

Bushie Kyle Sampson Claims Ignorance of the Law

It wasn’™t just Monica Goodling who broke the law in the DOJ and appointed career attorneys based on political criteria. Kyle Sampson also broke the law, though in his case he’™s making the usual whiney excuses, such as the notion that he, a member of the Justice Department, didn’™t KNOW the law he was sworn to uphold.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Our own Daniel DiRito has an excellent article about the lawbreaking of Bush Justice official Monica Goodling, a marginal lawyer, at best, who was empowered to make huge decisions in the Bush Justice Department under Albert Gonzales. This case will be part of the Bush legacy of both incompetence and politicization of our government’™s functions, a shameful legacy indeed, for surely the Justice Department is designed to serve all Americans, and not just Republicans. But it is the incompetence I write about today, and not Monica Goodling. In separate stories in the Washington Post and the New York Times, Kyle Sampson’™s lawyer, Bradford Berenson, gives a couple whiney excuses for Sampson’™s behavior, excuses that show Sampson himself was incompetent to fill his role in the Bush Justice Department. First, in the Washington Post

Friday, August 5th, 2011 by Richard Blair |

Deciphering What Is Written On The Bathroom Stall

Clearly, there has been an inordinate historical focus upon the pursuit and punishment of those engaged in same sex encounters’¦likely a derivative of established social norms and values. Over time, it also appears that there has been a growing awareness that programs to limit public sexual activity need to evolve and to begin incorporating methods that seek to extinguish the behavior as opposed to criminalizing it.

Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

As the blogosphere has sought to digest the meaning of the Larry Craig incident, it has begun to spur a worthwhile debate‘¦one which has been ignored and has lurked in the background in ways eerily similar to the behavior that led to the arrest of the Senator.

Generally speaking, the public is opposed to encountering unexpected or offensive behaviors in public environments’¦and that is a reasonable concern for those within government to address. Clearly, the opinions regarding which behaviors constitute a nuisance or create the conditions under which to charge an individual with a crime will vary from individual to individual’¦often dependent upon one’™s values, one’™s religious beliefs, ands one’™s propensity for tolerance. The fact that there are discordant beliefs simply complicates the task for those charged with monitoring such activities.

By and large, citizens believe that law enforcement departments are committed to treating each individual fairly and with the same level of respect for their civil liberties. At the same time, history tells us that this isn’™t always the case. Regardless, most citizens afford our law enforcement departments the benefit of the doubt’¦which is as it should be’¦but only to a point.

In writing about the Larry Craig situation, I broached the question of whether the targeting of men who have sex with men (I avoid using the term gay because studies indicate that many of the men who participate in these clandestine encounters are married and consider themselves to be heterosexual) receives a level of attention that is commensurate with that given to those who engage in opposite sex liaisons in public locations.

I have asked readers and colleagues to ponder the question and to cite any examples whereby tactics similar to those employed in the Senator’™s case are being utilized to charge those engaged in opposite sex public encounters. At the moment, I have not been provided with any such examples’¦though a few individuals have cited prostitution stings as examples. I have discounted such examples because they constitute a specific crime that is not at play in circumstances like that of Senator Craig’¦meaning that the individuals charged in men’™s restrooms are engaging in consensual sex without the exchange of money (by definition the exchange of money is an act of solicitation), which generally leads to charges of lewd behavior, indecent exposure, or disorderly conduct.

I don’™t want to devolve into a legalistic discussion though some basic understandings are required for this debate. Firstly, laws can and do vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction so one size doesn’™t fit all. Secondly, courts have offered a number of rulings on the subject though no definitive across the board position can actually be derived.

Relevant to this topic, the Senator’™s actions constituted disorderly conduct’¦despite what he may have intended to do. In essence, intention doesn’™t necessarily equate with the ability to convict on the lewd behavior charge. The fact that he plead to the lesser charge (disorderly conduct) is evidence of this reality. Further, in some of these cases, the accused have successfully argued that their actions in a closed door stall in a restroom facility cannot equate with disorderly conduct because their actions didn’™t actually take place in public. The argument is open to interpretation and it can progress into questions of a fundamental granting of constitutional privacy privileges.

With that said, one can see that the issue is more complex than one might expect. Notwithstanding, it is important to note that the issue isn’™t solely one of legality as it is reasonable to consider other factors’¦such as what the public can legitimately expect upon entering a public restroom. While I am personally opposed to using these restrooms for sexual liaisons, the issue requires a much more comprehensive analysis.

To introduce the other considerations, let me begin with a simple example that will hopefully illuminate my concerns. Suppose one conducted a survey whereby the objective was to gauge the public’™s reaction and response to witnessing an apparent sexual encounter in a public restroom. In the study, the respondents witness 50% of the situations involving same sex participants and the other 50% involving opposite sex participants. In both cases, the sex of the participants is obvious, as is the sexual nature of the activity.

The respondents are then confronted as they exit the restroom in order to gauge their reaction as well as what they believe to be the appropriate response from law enforcement. Each respondent is asked to explain what they believe they witnessed to insure that they properly identified the sex of the participants. Once that is determined, they are asked to respond to a multiple choice question outlining the action they believe should be taken.

The first answer is, ‘œWhile I don’™t think they should be doing this in a public restroom, I’™m not in favor of it being a crime.’ The second answer is, ‘œI think that they should be charged with a crime in the event that a law enforcement officer were to be summoned’. The final answer is, ‘œI think that law enforcement needs to establish a sting operation to target those who might intend to engage in such activity in order to catch and charge them’.

My own belief is that the responses would be skewed towards answer number one with regards to opposite sex participants and towards answer number three with regards to same sex participants. I say as much because it would likely reflect the beliefs held by most Americans’¦meaning that heterosexual sex is viewed to be more acceptable than homosexual sex. In fact, I would contend that many of the respondents would laugh off the heterosexual activity while many of those witnessing homosexual activity would be outraged.

Therefore, one must ask whether the existing law enforcement actions being conducted in situations similar to that in Minneapolis’¦which led to the arrest of the Senator’¦reflect a societal bias with regards to homosexuals. In the absence of similar operations aimed at heterosexual activity, it seems safe to conclude that the treatment is not equal’¦and is likely reflective of prejudice.

Let me offer an even simpler example to reinforce my argument. All things being equal, a kiss between same sex couples in public will elicit a negative reaction (a moral judgment)’¦while a heterosexual kiss may elicit no reaction or at worst a negative reaction that such behavior doesn’™t belong in public’¦but rarely a negative moral judgment.

If that same bias is being applied to the actions of law enforcement (and it seems difficult to assume otherwise), we have a problem with selective and unfair discrimination.

Let me share part of a discussion I’™ve been involved with on this very topic. The information is from an individual who works with this issue and the men who are being charged with these types of offenses. I am not including his name or the organization as a matter of privacy. While I don’™t agree with every point made, I think it provides some important insight into a perspective that is often omitted from discussions of this issue.

Ok. The agency I work for has worked on hundreds of these cases. We have won lawsuits on the matter so I am going to respond to this last post with a few items.

1. Undercover operations have 0 deterrent effect. There is no evidence that sting operations against gay men have a deterrent effect. In fact the opposite is true. When members of the public see uniformed police ‘“ THAT is a deterrent. It makes many people feel more safe and if you combine it with signs saying that illegal behavior will be prosecuted or that surveillance is occurring (it doesn’™t have to be occurring) then you could argue there is a deterrent goal by the facility. But hiding a police officer does not prevent crime all it does is A. catch criminals or B. invites entrapment by overzealous cops who are frustrated with cautious perpetrators that refuse to take the bait. This is the reality.

2. Charging people is the goal. Police are very politically motivated. Their jobs and their bosses jobs are very much designed around getting rid of undesirables including queers. These operations usually carry a higher charge like in the Craig case where he claimed he had to negotiate it down to a misdemeanor. Charging felonies is about getting queers on the sex offender registry, shaming them in public, or costing them so much money they won’™t dare fight the charge in court. We had a case of 770 arrests in 4 months. Almost all were innocent. 50 of the guys got in touch with (agency name omitted) and all were acquitted because the officer refused to show up for court, meaning that he would commit perjury about what he put in the police reports. There is a fine for the charge, a fine for the court fees, attorney fees and sometimes there is a ‘œnuisance abatement’ charge so they can take your car which costs hundred to get it back. This is thousands more if you go to court. I repeat. These charges do not deter men or else every cruisy area where there were arrests would see reductions. This is not the case.

3. Police mostly are not responding to public complaints. Police know about cruisy restrooms because of websites and a few public complaints. We have filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) after FOIA after FOIA and never once have we received a public complaint of public sex. If this is such a big problem, which justifies an undercover operation, there should be some documentation. Nada. In (state omitted), the State Police even called their operations ‘œBag a Fag’ operations and printed T-Shirts saying so. This is the sign of bias not serving and protecting. If there are really people observing public sex (which is rare because most of this activity is committed by guys that do not want to be seen or caught) then a uniformed cop walking in should be able to see the same thing right. Right. But they don’™t want to deter it or stumble across it, they want to invite it. They want it to happen. 9 times out of ten these men never get a warning and sent away. They invest so much money and time that they love charging on the first offense, charging high and publicizing the hell out of it.

4. I have trained over 1000 police, some as a condition of our lawsuit and nearly all of them believe that gay sex is so sick they would do anything to root it out. I have had cops say out loud in a training that they would watch two women go at it, send a str8 couple home and bust a gay couple. I have also had cops admit in these trainings that these operations are scams designed to make money and shame people. Some chiefs and some prosecutors won’™t honor them at all. In (state omitted) we have shut down many of these when high level chiefs have admitted that uniformed cops are an effective way of dealing with the ‘œproblem.’

I think this is invaluable information’¦information that gives the reader a first hand view of the realities confronted by those who have engaged in such activity and the obstacles they face’¦but it also provides insight into which methods may be effective in limiting or deterring these activities as well as exposing the possibility that the motivations of those who establish programs like the one found in Minneapolis may be biased and misguided.

It’™s difficult to argue in favor of a program that isn’™t effective’¦unless, of course, one is particularly prejudiced against those who are participating in the behavior. If the goal is to extinguish this activity, it appears that these sting operations are less than effective.

Rather than rely upon one source, I consulted a document prepared by the U.S. Department of Justice titled, ‘œIllicit Sexual Activity in Public Places’. The following excerpts are from this lengthy document and they reiterate and reinforce some of the concerns shared in the prior quotation.

There are widely different perspectives on public sexual activity. Some do not believe the behavior constitutes a public safety threat; some view the behavior as a ‘œvictimless crime’ involving two consenting partners; and some see the behavior as a threat to the community’™s ‘œmoral decency.’ ‘œImpersonal,’ ‘œcasual,’ and ‘œanonymous’ sexual behaviors have negative connotations to many people, as they stand in contrast to ideals of romantic love, monogamous relationships, and long-term commitments. Moral overtones pervade discussions of nudity and sexuality, particularly when they address same sex interactions. These judgments often underlie the public’™s concern. Community morals and beliefs about how the law should regulate morality will affect how each community addresses the problem. This guide does not adopt any particular moral perspective; it is intended to inform you about the effectiveness and consequences of various approaches to controlling public sexual activity.

Primarily, such activity constitutes nuisance behavior and does not pose a serious threat to community safety.

The responses to public sexual activity can be fraught with difficulty. Charges of harassment, entrapment, bias and discrimination against homosexuals have historically surrounded efforts to address public sexual activity between men. Therefore, it is vital that you objectively analyze the problem so that you develop fair and effective responses.

Certain patterns (e.g., opposite-sex coupling at a ‘œlovers’™ lane’) have not been studied empirically, while others (e.g., same-sex contact in public restrooms) have been studied much more extensively. It is important to note that engaging in same-sex activity does not necessarily imply a homosexual identity; in fact, many men who have sex with men in public places are married or otherwise heterosexually involved, and do not consider themselves to be gay.

When apprehended, many offenders may suffer substantial social repercussions, in addition to any criminal justice related consequences that may ensue. Threats to their marriages, friendships, jobs, reputations, and social standing often cause them to try to distract attention from their behaviors by showing exaggerated degrees of respectability, such as strong ties to the religious community or passionate condemnation of homosexuality. The larger the community’™s moral objections to public sexual activity mean that participants have much to lose if they are discovered.

Two things are immediately apparent. One, The Justice Department realizes that efforts to limit this type of activity have moral considerations’¦and that can lead to prejudicial judgments. Two, the fact that same-sex activity is the only activity that has been extensively studied supports my contention that little effort is expended to suppress similar heterosexual activity. It also suggests that a bias has existed for many years with regard to homosexual activity and it has often been targeted.

A lack of privacy may also be the reason for male sexual activity in public restrooms. In particular, men with heterosexual identities may want to conceal their behavior from significant others. Their heterosexual identities also deter them from using other, less-public venues such as gay bars or sex clubs. Some homosexual men also lack the freedom to pursue same-sex partners privately due to family or peer disapproval. A community’™s condemnation of homosexuality may drive the behavior to remote, although public, locations, particularly among those exploring their sexuality and not yet connected to the gay community.

Most researchers and practitioners agree that focusing solely on arresting those engaging in public sexual activity is unlikely to reduce the overall scope of the problem. In your response strategy, you should acknowledge that it will be difficult to affect people’™s motivations for engaging in the activity. A balanced approach combining enforcement strategies and those targeting environments that support the behavior is most likely to decrease the prevalence of the activity and the public’™s concern about it.

Used alone, enforcement efforts are likely to lead to displacement. Although not the most desirable outcome, there is evidence that when displacement does occur, the magnitude of the problem decreases with the move to a new location.

In addition, an exclusive focus on environments in which same-sex interactions occur can result in charges of bias and discrimination. Therefore, you must address the full range of public sexual activity and target particular locations based on objective, justifiable assessments of threats to public safety.

Again, the report confirms many of the same conclusions offered by the party quoted above and with whom I discussed the issue. I view the warnings in the last paragraph to be a tacit acknowledgment that there has been a focus upon same sex encounters. Note the use of the word objective’¦a

Friday, August 5th, 2011 by Richard Blair |

The Loaves And Fishes Election?

This may be a Loaves & Fishes election…but a McCain victory won’t feed the masses and it won’t be seen as a miracle. Since magic is equated with a sleight of hand, I suspect history would record a McCain victory as the efficient execution of one exceedingly cynical, but equally slick, illusion.

Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

If this election turns out to be about religious ideology…while ignoring the real implications of electing a candidate who supports the same policies of the president who created the troubled economy we’re now enduring…it may well be appropriate to call this “The Loaves and Fishes Election”…although I doubt either will be abundant…and they most certainly wont be free.

Troubling as it is, a number of voters seem poised to place matters of morality in front of their own economic self-interest. What remains to be seen is the depths to which voters are willing to sacrifice their pocket books in deference to the religious rhetoric being bantered about by the GOP.

Perhaps the news of the decision by the government to take over the troubled mortgage giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, will provide the impetus for voters to think twice before granting the GOP another four year…on top of the eight during which the national debt nearly doubled and personal income failed to advance.

Let me attempt to make this simple. Under the Bush administration, huge tax cuts were enacted…primarily for the wealthiest of Americans. At the same time, mortgage interest rates were kept artificially low. That allowed for a housing bubble which enabled millions of Americans to borrow and spend newfound equity. It also allowed for those with capital (think those who received the tax cuts) to invest in and profit from the financial market.

Jump forward to the end of 2008. The Bush administration and John McCain favor extending the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans…arguing that we can’t raise taxes in a down economy. The problem with that logic is that the tax cuts helped facilitate the shoddy economy we have. It also allowed the rich to get richer and it allowed millions of Americans to borrow what they thought was an expanading equity in their homes. That ability to access equity served as the candy coating on an otherwise unsound economy.

However, as they say, it’s now time to pay the piper. So what does this mean for the average American? Well, it means that millions of Americans will see their home values decline, their debt increase, their access to better jobs diminish, and ownership of an expanding national debt that will have to be addressed.

And what does this mean for the wealthiest Americans under John McCain’s more of the same administration? It means that they will have benefited from years of a reduced tax burden. It means they were able to invest this and other money in a finance industry that was fueled by artificially low interest rates…w

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009 by Daniel DiRito |

Palin and Pelosi, Together at Last

According to a poll by Public Strategies Inc., we trust Palin and Pelosi about equally to identify and solve problems, and that trust is pretty close to nonexistent. Well, we knew Pelosi wasn’t trusted, as she has been so demonized by the right. And sane people knew Palin wasn’t competent. This poll seems on the money.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Isn’t it sweet, that Sarah Palin and Nancy Pelosi are the bottom dwellers when it comes to trust about identifying and solving problems for our nation. Of course Obama still ranks high in the trust of the people in this Public Strategies poll, consistent with other polling over the last few months. But Pelosi and Palin together? Odd bedfellows, eh? From Politico:

In a new Public Strategies Inc./POLITICO national survey of 1,000 registered voters, Obama outdistances figures on both the left and the right in earning the public’s trust, with two-thirds of respondents saying they trust the president “to identify the right solutions to the problems we face as a nation.”

Of those who said they trust the president, 31 percent said they trust him “a great deal.” An additional 35 percent said they have “some” trust that Obama will find the correct solution. Thirty-one percent said they trust Obama either “not very much” or “not at all.”

Voters were asked the same question of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Republican Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, former Massachusetts Republican Gov. Mitt Romney, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh and the two major political parties. Among those choices, only the Democratic Party was trusted to find the right solutions by a majority of voters, 52 percent to 40 percent. Forty percent of those surveyed said they trusted the Republican Party, compared with 54 percent who did not trust the GOP.

Only 26 percent said they trust Pelosi, the lowest total in the group. Palin attracted the highest percentage of those who did not trust her at all to identify the right solutions, topping Pelosi 33 percent to 32 percent. Romney got a mixed reaction, with 38 percent of voters saying they trust him and 39 percent saying they don’t.

Sane people didn’t trust Palin anyway, but I’d say it is encouraging that more people are waking to their own sanity. Still, who are those numbnuts saying they trust the woman to run the economy? Man! Even John McCain won’t mention her name.

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

McCain Leads Fight to Pardon Jack Johnson

John McCain is fighting for a pardon for his good friend Jack Johnson. McCain was an amateur boxer back in the day and long admired Johnson’s fighting, or so he says. Once he gets the bill in front of Barack Obama McCain is all set to yell “Get Off My Lawn” again fromt he comfort of his porch.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Hooray for John McCain. He has enlisted several folks to help him procure a pardon for Jack Johnson, the boxer. Johnson was charged with the Mann Act and served a year in Leavenworth a long, long time ago. The Mann Act? That’s for transporting women across state lines for immoral purposes. Peter King and a few others are joining McCain in sponsoring a bill to pardon Jaohnson, though why they don’t just send a petition I don’t know. Wouldn’t Barack Obama be receptive? Still, hoorah for John McCain working hard to posthumously pardon one of his childhood heroes. Childhood heroes? From

Sen. John McCain wants a presidential pardon for Jack Johnson, who became the nation’s first black heavyweight boxing champion 100 years before Barack Obama became its first black president.

McCain feels Johnson was wronged by a 1913 conviction of violating the Mann Act by having a consensual relationship with a white woman – a conviction widely seen as racially motivated.

“I’ve been a very big fight fan, I was a mediocre boxer myself,” McCain, R-Ariz., said in a telephone interview. “I had admired Jack Johnson’s prowess in the ring. And the more I found out about him, the more I thought a grave injustice was done.”

He had admired Johnson in the ring? Johnson last fought in 1938 while in his fifties, far past his prime and when John McCain was in his infancy. I mean, I know John McCain is older than dirt, but even he isn’t old enough to have admired Johnson’s fighting. Sure, Ken Burns did a documentary about Johnson that aired in 2005. Yeah, maybe that’s what McCain is talking about, but the context speaks otherwise to me.

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

“I’m John McCain, and I Never Approved of Squat”

John McCain is denying responsibility for an ad run by the RNC on his behalf last fall. Evidently he did not approve of that commercial, though the judge is not buying it, and is allowing Jackson Browne’™s suit for infringing on his song ‘œRunning on Empty.’ The GOP wankers should have tried using Browne’™s ‘œRosie.’

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

In last fall’™s election campaign the GOP used an ad in Ohio that ripped off the Jackson Browne golden oldie, ‘œRunning on Empty.’ The point they were trying to get across was that the Obama campaign energy policy would leave us without gas, or something like that. Jackson Browne was offended by the ad, and has sued all of the above, John McCain, the RNC, and etc. Turns out John McCain’™s defense is that he never approved the use of the song. The man helped write the campaign laws, for Christ’™s sake, and he can’™t take personal responsibility for this kind of bungling? Here’™s his defense, from

I was not involved at all in any way in the writing, creation, production, distribution or dissemination of the video, nor do I have any knowledge whatsoever of how this video was written, created, produced or disseminated or who was involved in any aspect of the writing, creation, production, distribution or dissemination of the video. I was completely unaware that this video even existed until I was informed of it after this lawsuit was filed.

The judge didn’™t buy it.

Despite McCain’™s claims of being a hapless dupe for his party, U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner said (.pdf) the RNC and McCain were so intertwined ‘” what the judge called an ‘œagency relationship’ ‘” that McCain stays in the case. The judge wrote that, even if McCain’™s statement were true, ‘œonce an agency relationship is established, the principal is liable for the acts of her agent, even if the principal does not expressly authorize or instruct her agent to take any action.’

The judge also did not agree with the Republicans and McCain that Browne’™s lawsuit was bogus. Among other things, the judge kept the lawsuit alive to give the defendants a chance to demonstrate how using about 20 seconds of the song in the commercial was a fair use.

Yes, persons running for political office are responsible, just like we are, for using and paying for the artistic products they want to emply to back their own ambitions.

In the interest of full disclosure, my son goes to sleep quite well to Jackson Browne’™s ‘œJamaica Say You Will.’ I have not played ‘œRosie’ for him.

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009 by Richard Blair |

GOP Catfight Brewing In TX: Palin v. Hutchinson

Is there a cat fight brewing between two of the most prominent Republican women in the country, Kay Bailey Hitchinson and Sarah Palin? If so, Palin has scratched first, endorsing Rick Perry for Texas Governor over Hutchinson. This could be a very interesting race that pits GOP Christian conservatives against old guard Republicans.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

I suppose someone might have seen this coming back in the fall, when Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson was passed over the nomination as John McCain’s VP nominee in favor of Sarah Palin. Well they were both in TV news at one point, and they are both of huge value to the NRA, but it seems this cat fight is about abortion.

One thing is sure concerning the Palin nomination over Hutchinson – if Kay Bailey wasn’t pissed, she sure was channelling that feeling to at least one reporter. From NewsMax, the transcript of some candid comments on MSNBC last September:

Peggy Noonan: Yeah.

Mike Murphy: You know, because I come out of the blue swing state governor world: Engler, Whitman, Tommy Thompson, Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush. I mean, these guys – this is how you win a Texas race, just run it up. And it’s not gonna work. And…

Noonan: It’s over.

Murphy: Still McCain can give a version of the Lieberman speech to do himself some good.

Todd: I also think the Palin pick is insulting to Kay Bailey Hutchinson, too.

Noonan: Saw Kay this morning.

Todd: Yeah, she’s never looked comfortable about this.

Murphy: They’re all bummed out.

Todd: Yeah, I mean is she really the most qualified woman they could have turned to?

Noonan: The most qualified? No! I think they went for this – excuse me – political bullshit about narratives…

Todd: Yeah, they went to a narrative.

Murphy: I totally agree.

Noonan: Every time the Republicans do that, because that’s not where they live and it’s not what they’re good at, they blow it.

I’m thinking Noonan and Murphy were wrong. Hutchinson and Palin are alike in several hard core Republican issues, such as gun control, and they are both women. Good candidates, except, of course, that Hutchinson can put together a sentence and Palin needs some help with that difficult task. There’s too big differences between the two. Hutchinson is older by 20 years, and thus couldn’t have balanced out McCain’s age on the ticket, and the kicker. Hutchinson supports Roe v. Wade, with restrictions. Palin is banking on the virulent anti-abortion extremist Christian vote in four years. So what does Sarah Palin do the other day? Palin endorses Rick Perry, despite that he’s rumored to be gay, because Rick Perry is the darling of the extremist right wing Christian conservatives down there in Texas. (Reports on Palin’s endorsement of Perry can be found in both the Christian Science Monitor and the Wall Street Journal.) Here’s a few quips about Perry from Palin from the Monitor:

“He walks the walk of a true conservative,” she said of Perry. “And he sticks by his guns – and you know how I feel about guns.”

. . .

“Not every child is born into ideal circumstances, but every life is sacred,” Palin wrote. “Rick Perry knows this – it is at the core of his being.”

There’s the ticket. Sarah Palin is beginning her 2012 Presidential run in Texas appealing to the extremist right wing Christian crowd by backing Rick Perry over Kay Bailey Hutchinson in the Governor’s race. Texas has a lot of delegates, so it seems a smart political move for Palin, but time will tell on that, of course. One wonders, of course, if her backing of Perry also has to do with Hutchinson’s luke warm response to Palin’s Vice Presidential candidacy. Is this a form of payback? Now that’s old fashioned politics we all know and love, isn’t it?

Well, it cannot be denied that Hutchinson was luke warm to Palin last fall. An article in the Dallas Morning News on September 4, 2008 shows Hutchinson as a bit less than inspired by Palin, and lots of folks last fall were wondering why McCain picked Palin over Hutchinson (like here) if he wanted a woman on the ticket. But I’m thinking this is not Sarah Palin playing hardball and getting back at Hutchinson, who for the most part played the good GOP soldier after McCain picked Palin. This is simply a case of Sarah Palin snubbing the woman in a shrewd poltiical move to enegrize the extremist right wing Christians she will need if she decides to run for President.

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Rick Santorum Hates Everyone

Rick Santorum slams both Barack Obama and John McCain today, implying that bipartisanship is the product purely of political calculation and playing to the media. That’s a twofer: Whining and blaming the media and complaining about anyone to the left of Mussolini. Yes, Rick Santorum is clicking on all cylinders today.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

And he’s a fool.

Rick Santorum starts today’s column with the following, which looks like it might be complimentary to someone, doesn’t it? From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

I have been to New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington in recent weeks. In those cities, at least, you cannot watch the news, pass street vendors selling T-shirts, or browse magazine racks at the grocery store and not feel good about our next president, his family, and our nation’s future.

There is an air of something big, something grand, something electric about to explode upon us. Barack Obama’s visage is everywhere. His relaxed and reassuring – even beatific – smile is omnipresent. So are his irrepressibly cute girls and their together mom.

Pretty soon the undertone of a whine sneaks into Santorum’s column. This isn’t admiration anymore, or even respect, but blame for Obama’s popularity on cynical politics, or gullible media, anything but that the people like Obama and the policies that he’s advocated. Go read the article – Obama promised bipartisanship, and back when he did so Santorum said it would never happen. Now that Obama is planning to bring John McCain inside the tent, Santorum hates McCain. Make no mistake, the next excerpt from Rick Santorum’s column drips with the diseased disdain of sour grapes:

This unlikely ace can deliver not only the GOP moderates needed to break a filibuster, but also the stamp of bipartisanship: the 2008 GOP standard bearer, John McCain.

McCain was once the mainstream media darling, back when he joined Democrats on a host of issues. He prized his maverick moniker and used it to propel himself onto the national scene in the 2000 Republican presidential primary. Early in the Bush years, he shored up his status as the media’s favorite Republican by opposing Bush on taxes and the environment.

But this love fest came to a halt when McCain became the front-runner for the GOP nomination. First he began to sound more like a conservative by altering his stands on immigration, the environment and taxes. Then he named Sarah Palin his running mate. It was too much for a media that had fallen head over heels for Obama. The media had a new darling.

In McCain’s mind, however, losing the presidency will not be the final chapter of his life story. He knows the path to “Big Media” redemption. Working with the man who vanquished him in November will show them all the real McCain again.

Remember, it was this onetime prisoner of war who led the charge to open diplomatic relations with Vietnam. If that past is prologue, and McCain’s legislative record is any guide, he will not just join with Obama but lead the charge in Congress on global warming, immigration “reform,” the closing of Guantanamo, federal funding for embryonic-stem-cell research, and importation of prescription drugs.

But McCain won’t stop there in his effort to rehabilitate himself in the media’s – or maybe his own – eyes. He will forge common ground on a long list of initiatives that go far beyond where he has gone before, including the stimulus package.

Alas, the two White House rivals now stand positioned to help secure each other’s place in history.

History tells us Rick Santorum lost by historic margins by embracing the extreemist right wing of the GOP. History will tell us also that John McCain lost his election to the popularity of Barack Obama, but also bewcause he chose a Vice Presidential nominee in a move to appease the extremist right wing. Both bits spell the end of Rick Santorum’s brand of politics, and that’s what the sour grapes is about. Barack Obama is maintaining his popularity, and Rick Santorum, by embracing ugly extremism, lost his own approvavl of voters. That’s also what the sour grapes is about. Finally, Barack Obama is showing that he is bipartisan and intends to govern in a bipartisan fashion, something Rick Santorum’s bitter right wing extremism doesn’t allow him to do.

Rick Santorum hates everyone, except for those who agree with his extremist right wing Christian agenda. The Philadelphia Inquirer continues to publish this ugly and extremist misanthrope, to their shame.

Thursday, January 15th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |
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