Jim Bunning, (R-KY) Has Bad Taste

Jim Bunning (R-KY) spoke out about Ruth Bader Ginzberg’™s cancer this weekend, actually predicting he imminent death. There is no excuse for a grown man being so crass. But he is a Republican, and there are many examples of such ugly behavior from that side of the aisle, so many that this should not surprise us one bit.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

I’™m willing to say it, that a comment implying anyone is dying soon is in very poor taste. That’™s what he said Saturday at the Hardin County Republican Party’™s Lincoln Day Dinner. Evidently predicting the death of someone he doesn’™t care for. . . he knows yhat will plat to his base? From the Louisville Courier Jounal:

U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning predicted over the weekend that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg would likely be dead from pancreatic cancer within nine months.

During a wide-ranging 30-minute speech on Saturday at the Hardin County Republican Party’™s Lincoln Day Dinner, Bunning said he supports conservative judges ‘œand that’™s going to be in place very shortly because Ruth Bader Ginsburg ‘¦ has cancer.’

‘œBad cancer. The kind that you don’™t get better from,’

Friday, August 5th, 2011 by Richard Blair |

An American Outrage: Bernie, AIG, and Us

Why are we outraged at AIG and not the state of homelessness, of children in poverty, of Bush-backed torture, of innocents slaughtered in Iraq, of worldwide hunger, of corporations ignoring our overheating planet. Is money truly the root of all the outrage?

Commentary By: Walter Brasch

by Rosemary and Walter Brasch

There have now been more than 4,000 deaths and 30,000 casualties of American military in the war in Iraq. More than 100,000 Iraqis and others, most of them civilian, have also been killed in what is now known to be an unnecessary war. But, we as a nation are not outraged.

We have recently learned that former President Bush and former Vice-President Cheney had authorized the use of torture. But, we as a nation are not outraged.

The Supreme Court has ruled there have been significant and substantial constitutional violations during the Bush–Cheney era. But, we as a nation are not outraged.

More than 46 million Americans don’t have health insurance. Millions don’t get the health care they need or are turned away because they can’t pay. But, we as a nation are not outraged.

The unemployment rate has climbed past 8 percent. More than 12 million Americans are unemployed and actively looking for work. About three million have been unemployed more than half a year. About 2.6 millions jobs were lost just in the past four months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Companies have eliminated jobs, forcing the remaining employees to work beyond their capacity. These companies have cut wages and benefits; they have shipped jobs overseas. But, we as a nation are not outraged.

About 38 million Americans are living in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But, we as a nation are not outraged.

About 3.5 million people were homeless last year. More than one million of the homeless are children, according to the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. Over a half-million are veterans. But, we as a nation are not outraged.

Almost every reputable scientist has told us that the world’s environment is in jeopardy from man-made destruction. But, we as a nation are not outraged.

We are killing off our animals by a combination of neglect and planned destruction of their lives and habitat. About 1,600 animal species are critically endangered, according to the World Conservation Union; about 25 become extinct every year. But, we as a nation are not outraged.

But, we are outraged about one thing. Our money.

We are outraged that Wall Street financiers, corporate bankers, and real estate brokers have seemingly conspired for personal greed, leading to a plunge in the value of our own stocks and investments, forcing the nation into the worst economic crisis in more than seven decades.

We, as a nation, are outraged that Bernard Madoff scammed individuals and charitable foundations for billions.

We, as a nation, are outraged that executives at failed insurance giant AIG are receiving millions in bonuses paid for by taxpayer funds. In Congress, conservatives and liberals, many of whom were part of the problem of the subprime mortgage crisis, have united for the first time in years and have expressed their outrage. The President, who inherited this mess, is outraged. The media who had failed to adequately report this mess are outraged. Almost every American is outraged.

And why are we outraged? Because it’s money.

As homeless children sleep beneath bridges, as millions desperate for work are told to go home and collect a pittance in unemployment, as inn

Thursday, April 30th, 2009 by Walter Brasch |

Value Voters Summit – An Eclectic Mix of Values, With “Obama Waffles”

What’s better than a gathering of 24%er’s at a conference which includes the conservative stylings of such “values” luminaries as Bill Bennett, Tom DeLay, Stephen Baldwin, Phyllis Schafly, Rudy Giuliani, and Newt Gingrich? Why, the conservative entrepreneurial spirt and the sale of Obama Waffles, of course!

Commentary By: Richard Blair

You are excused if you missed the memo, but the annual Values Voters Summit is taking place this weekend in Washington, DC. I’m not going to write extensively about the summit, because quite frankly, it’s little more than another gathering of angry 24%’ers who think that George Bush has been too liberal on “values issues”. If you really want a blow-by-blow rundown of the summit (no, Larry Craig was not invited, as far as I can tell), go here.

Still, it’s always kind of interesting to check out the list of speakers at these kinds of events. Here’s a short run down of some of the highlighted guests, who are lecturing America this weekend on how to behave:

William Bennett – noted gambler and addict
Tom Delay – noted crook and future felon
Newt Gingrich – noted adulterer
Rudy Giuliani – see Gingrich, above (and noted cross-dresser)
Stephen Baldwin – noted “D”-list actor and drug and alcohol addict
J. Kenneth Blackwell – noted voter suppressionist & minority disenfranchiser

Draw your own conclusions.

Anyway, a big hit at the VVS has been the sales of Obama Waffles. (No, I’m not going to link to their site – I assume you, unlike John McCain, know how to work the google.) This culinary delight was apparently selling like hotcakes (no pun intended) to the fundie crowd, until event organizers took heat for the vendor booth and shut it down on Saturday afternoon. Here’s what the box looks like. Check out the top and the sides, as well as the front:

Thursday, April 30th, 2009 by Richard Blair |

GOP Surprised by Specter Announcement, NYTimes Headline

The GOP leadership in the Senate was caught by surprise by Arlen Specter’s becoming a Democrat. That shows how out of touch the GOP leadersip is. They will be surprised this morning that the New York Times sees signs of change in the GOP on the gay marriage issue. No, the Times is wrong on this one. The GOP will remain bigoted.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

The GOP Senate leadership was surprised by Arlen Specter’s defection from the Republican Party yesterday. Considering the failures and incompetence demonstrated by Republicans over the last eight years or so, a picture of a bunch of befuddled GOP Senators seems appropriate to me. One thing I don’t expect is any immediate change in the Republican platform in order to create a “big tent.” (Scarborough this morning noted that the GOP is suffering from a “small tent,” and there’s no sign of a wonder drug to help with that.) But the New York Times, in a journalistic coup, has spotted signs that the GOP is softening its stance on gay marriage. Really, here’s the New York Times headline: “Signs G.O.P. Is Rethinking Stance on Gay Marriage.” This may be the stupidest story of the year from American print journalism in the “not in WingNutDaily” category.

The Times story is based on a couple factors. First there was former McCain campaign staffer Steven Schmidt who wrote about how the GOP should de-emphasize the issue of gay marriage. Hey, NYTimes, that’s the opinion of one guy, and if you look around at the GOP reaction to Steven Schmidt’s opinion you’ll see that the rank and file think he should just shut up. Then the Times cites the Specter defection as a sign the GOP is thinking of changing its tune on gay marriage. Hey, even if GOP outlier Olympia Snowe shows regret for Arlen Specter leaving the GOP, that just isn’t a sign that the GOP is softening its anti-gay stance. Good God, the big headlines all over the right side of the blogosphere was “Swine Flew” in response to Arlen Specter’s defection yesterday – and while I’m unsure that the headline is anti-semitic, it can’t be denied that there’s just one Republican JEw now in Congress, Eric Cantor. The GOP is alienating both Jews and gays.

The New York Times here is right to note that demographics are not in favor of the GOP on the gay marriage issue, and that those demographics are getting worse everyday. Here’s a snippet fromt eh Times article:

Consider this: In the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, released on Monday, 31 percent of respondents over the age of 40 said they supported gay marriage. By contrast, 57 percent under age 40 said they supported it, a 26-point difference. Among the older respondents, 35 percent said they opposed any legal recognition of same-sex couples, be it marriage or civil unions. Among the younger crowd, just 19 percent held that view.

. . .

This does not mean, Republicans said, that most Americans are suddenly embracing the idea of same-sex couples going to the chapel. It is more that, for a lot of these Americans, gay marriage is not something they spend a lot of time worrying about, or even thinking about.

For younger respondents, this shift may in part be cultural: the result of coming of age in an era when openly gay people have become increasingly common in popular entertainment and in public life, not to mention in their own families or social circles. Familiarity in this case breeds relative comfort, or perhaps just lack of interest.

Again, this may be reality on the ground, but nowhere here is there evidence that the GOP is recognizing that reality and changing as a result. I suppose I expect them to recognize that their virulent opposition to gay marriage, and their close ties with a religious right wing that is bigoted on the issue, is harmful to the GOP, but that recognition is a long way off. For the Times to crow in a headline about how they’ve read tea leaves that show there are portents of change int he GOP – HOGWASH!

The big stories here are that the GOP is blind to the future. They couldn’t see that Specter was ripe to switch parties and were supposedly stunned by the development. They can’t see that such divisive and extremist views such as they hold on gay marriage are only going to further alienate Americans who believe in offering, as Olympia Snowe notes, “individual opportunity” to Americans. Heck, the Dems sure knew Specter was ripe to switch parties, with Biden, Casey and Rendell all recruiting Specter for the Dems for a month or two prior to this announcement. There’s your stark difference there between the parties. The GOP is not only “just say no,” but also a bit of an ostrich with its head in the sand concerning political reality, especially on issues like gay marriage. The Dems, on the other hand, are bringing about change, in Vermont and DC and Iowa, for sure, but also in PA with the gain of a Democrat in the Senate.

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Why the Philadelphia Inquirer is in Bankruptcy

They hired Rick Santorum to write a column. $1,750 per column is chicken feed, but Santorum’s was a quota hire. They needed a Republican on the opinion pages, no matter the quality. Santorum has since turned in bad writing based in faulty logic and data in severe need of a fact check. Philadelphia Inquirer = FAIL.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

It is all about poor judgement. A couple of years ago Brian Tierney, a PR man clearly over his head running Philadelphia Newspapers Inc., the Inquirer’s parent, led a consortium that took control of the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News. Tierney worked hard to turn the corporation behind, including renegotiating union contracts and enlivening the advertising base of both papers. But those of us in the know were ready for Brian Tierney, long a Republican operative, to put his right wing stamp on the papers, and he did so by hiring Rick Santorum, failed former Senator from Pennsylvania. That’s just a bad business decision.

Hiring Santorum to write a column that is never anything more than a meandering screed about how Democrats are flirting with the anti-Christ, attacking Santorum’s blessed traditional values, playing right into the hands of “Islamofascists, etc., is simply a poor choice. Santorum is not a good writer and his ideas are extremist and his use of logic is ill, and not a good “ill,” either. Santorum is basically of the Republican school of “if they disagree with me, then they are the enemy,” a school that is about as anti-American as it gets. But the Phildelphia Inquirer puts him on its editorial pages every two weeks, without editing or fact-checking, once every two weeks.

Friday in Clout we found out what the Philadelphia Inquirer pays Rick Santorum:

Former U. S. Sen. Rick Santorum is collecting $1,750 a shot for the columns that appear every other week in the Inquirer, according to documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The checks are sent to a post office box in Great Falls, Va. – close to a Starbucks, we figure.

OK, it’s only $3,500 a month, but I could probably find 1,000 people who would write a better column than that of Rick Santorum who would cost less and inform the readers more. This is simply a bad business decision. They hired a poor writer with substandard thinking skills who is also a failed extremist right wing politician to write a column solely so the Inquirer had a voice fromt he right wing on its pages. The Bush Administration showed incompetence for eight years, and I suppose Brian Tierney, the CEO of Philadelphia Newspapers, Inc., is just continuing the tradition.

When it comes to it, I say no bailout for any newspaper, not after this kind of demonstration of gross incompetence.

Monday, April 20th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

$350,000 Bonus Weeks Before Bankruptcy

Brian Tierney, CEO of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News, was awarded $350,000 in bonuses despite already planning to take the company into bankruptcy. Most of us would have problems with this, and his creditors appear to agree with us. But it is par for the course, a Republican rewarded for incompetency, isn’t it?

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Brian Tierny, CEO of the Philadelphia Inqurier has surely been trying hard to revive his small piece of the failing newspaper industry, Philadelphia Newspapers, Inc., the parent corporation that publishes the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News. Heck, Brian has brought in insipid and failed Republican shills like Rick Santorum to write columns on the OpEd page, and he’s placed advertisements on the front page. The ad campaign for the papers boasts of the huge savings one can get from coupons rather than the fine reporting that used to be the core of the paper. Meanwhile, the reporters who are responsible for that fine reporting, are ever in danger of layoffs.

It turns out that just a couple of weeks before Brian Tierney took the company into bankruptcy he accepted a bonus for his stellar efforts. From Editor and Publisher:

The company filed for bankruptcy in February, citing $395 million in debt, much stemming from the 2006 purchase by a group of local investors led by Tierney.

The newspaper company recently lowered its 2009 income projections from $25 million to about $10 million before taxes, interest and other expenses.

Nonetheless, the company in a court filing defended $1.34 million in bonuses paid to 45 employees at the end of 2008, shortly before the Feb. 22 bankruptcy petition. The filing did not specify the amount of Tierney’s bonus, but published reports have put it at $350,000, on top of his $518,000 salary.

Let’s see. In 2006 money was easy to be had, so Brian Tierney, in all his forward-thinking wisdom, brought together investors who leveraged themselves in order to buy the paper from McClatchy, which had recently acquired the paper in its takeover of Knight Ridder. Times change. The newspaper industry may just be going the way of the buggy whip, as John McCain might say. Of course, the lenders owed money by PNI are not all that happy with Brian Tierney, as reported, honestly, it seems, by his own Philadelphia Inquirer, complete with Tierney’s whiney defense:

Tierney said he was looking forward to testifying on the taping and the lenders’ charges that he was enriching himself with raises and bonuses despite the company’s financial distress.

The lenders said in a court filing that Tierney “has used the debtors’ assets to further his own self interests.. . .”

Tierney said the major creditors had sought to retain him as CEO and offered him generous compensation if he instituted their restructuring plans.

“They offered me $2.5 million in equity value . . . up front,” Tierney said. He said they also offered him an additional $1.2 million in salary and bonus, that would bring the entire package to $3.7 million.

“This is what I will testify under oath next week,” he said. “I have it in writing. I rejected this. This is why it’s so disingenuous for them to say they’re upset.”

The bottom line for me is that if a company is failing so much that it is headed for bankruptcy protection, handing out bonuses for strong performance is idiotic. Of course, it is possible these are not bonuses for strong performance, but bonuses negotiated by Tierney that kick in no matter his performance. It isn’t like a Republican shouldn’t be rewarded for his incompetence, after all.

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Neil Cavuto of FauxNews is a Time Traveler

Neil Cavuto travels back in time to cover a protest in the past, the Million Man March, and compares FauxNews coverage of that to the sex crazed Republican teabagging thing. Of course, he ignores the fact that FauxNews wasn’t on the air yet for the Million Man March.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

In his defense of FauxNews promoting the massive right wing sex protest known as teabagging, Neil Cavuto claims FauxNews is all about covering protests, though he sort of skips over the charge that he and FauxNews are promoting this sex party protest. Here’s the video from Media Matters, and here’s a bit from the transcrpt at Firedoglake:

We are are going to be in the middle of these protests because at Fox, we do not pick and choose these rallies and protests. We were there for the Million Man March, even though, as I pointed out, it turned out to be well shy of a million men. We were there for the Iraq war protest, and the protest against the Iraq war protest. So you see, we really don’t decide what populist causes matter – just that when a whole lot of people gather in a while lot of towns and cities across America, it is indeed worth checking out not just shutting down.

Umm, Neil, the Million Man March happened before FauxNews went on the air. It just isn’t hard to catch these guys spewing falsehoods, is it?

Sunday, April 12th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Teabagging and Fox News Douchebaggery

Do they just not understand the pseudo-sexual references (both straight and gay) to the phrase, “teabagging”?? Whoever ginned up this campaign at Fox is looking like a total smacked ass at this point.

Commentary By: Richard Blair

As many have commented here and other places over the past week or so, the upcoming Fox News-inspired “Tax Day Tea Party” this coming Wednesday raises the bar on the concept of total lunacy.

Teabaggin’. Do these morons simply not understand the cultural sexual references, both straight and gay? Perhaps this video will help them grasp the concept:

Every time that I think that Fox News (and GOP media hacks in general) has lowered the national discourse to its lowest possible level, they surprise me. But still, I suppose it “sells” to their core audience.

Friday, April 10th, 2009 by Richard Blair |

Philadelphia Inquirer Publishes Advertising as Opinion Column

The Inquirer today published on its OpEd pages as column by a Comcast executive that is basically an apologia for why their customers will not be getting the NFL Network this fall. Seriously, it is a worked over press release. So, want to bet that Comcast is one of the biggest ad buyers at Brian Tierney’s new and improved Inquirer?

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

I was about to go to the gym. I made some coffee for my wife, as she will end up changing and feeding Jack while I’m gone and needs that early morning wake-up. Then I trotted downstairs and picked up the paper. Yeah, we’re still a print family, and we subscribe to the Philadelphia Inquirer, once a fine newspaper. I admit, I read the sports section first, then I breeze through the news. Typically I’ll hit the opinion pages for a moment, check out the topics to be discussed this morning, then head off to the gym. But today’s column on the opinion page stopped me cold. It is basically an advertisement for Comcast. OK, to get technical, it’s more like a press release, but it has a big name signing it, so that must be OK, journalistic integrity be damned.

It is a column by David Cohen, an Executive Vice President of Comcast Corporation. Cohen is a big deal here in Philadelphia. He was Chief of Staff for Mayor Ed Rendell in the 90′s, and he served as Chair of the powerfully connected Ballard Spahr law firm until 2002 when he left to join Comcast. In the interest of full disclosure, I have seen David Cohen speak just after he left for Ballard, and his speech, which retold a true story from Buzz Bissinger’s A Prayer for the City, was warm and engaging and brought the audience to tears, myaelf included. But this isn’t about how I was personally impressed with David Cohen. This column is about the fall of the Inquirer from being a fine newspaper. It is about the Philadelphia Inquirer giving prime OpEd page space to a corporate giant so that corporate giant can give whiney excuses about its service to its customers.

Yes, that’s what happened. Instead of a column on a topical political or local issue by a renouwned expert or pundit, or even a has been politician like Rick Santorum, the Inquirer got David Cohen to write a column. The subject? Cohen writes about why the NFL Network is so greedy that it may force Comcast customers to go without. Seriously, the column is an apologia, giving whiney excuses from Comcast to its customers about why they won’t be getting the NFL Network unless they pay extra. I kid you not. Look, I’m not going to debate Comcast’s policies and whether they put out a good product. This is about a newspaper that published a press release as an OpEd column, an outrageous act even for Brian Tierney, the man who is transforming the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Look, I seriously understand that print media is going the way of the buggy whip. Brian Tierney, the publisher of both the Inquirer and the Daily News has worked hard, and wrongheadedly, to right these floundering ships. He has, for instance, emphasized advertising and coupons, selling space ont he front page and boasting of how much coupon savings there is in every Sunday paper. That’s OK. Tierney has also provided over a change in the Philadelphia Inquirer’s political slant towards the right. Part of that is the publication of Rick Santorum’s insipid and poorly thought columns. Santorum brings Tierney name recognition, so the assumption must be that he’ll bring readers, but the effect is to dumb down the paper and move it to the extremist right. Now Tierney has given a slot on those OpEd pages to a corporation to defend its policies.

Don’t mistake that Comcast getting an OpEd spot is a little thing. Competitors DirectTV and Dish Network would LOVE to run an ad on the OpEd page about how they can’t carry the Phillies at any cost because of Comcast’s monopolistic policies. Alas, Comcast probably spends far more in advertising dollars with Brian Tierney, so that’s not going to happen. Because that’s the real bottom line here, cash trumping Editorial policy. And that’s about the lowest you can go in journalism.

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |
Category: Media,Philly

Gun Nut + Unemployed + Glenn Beck/NRA = Dead Policemen

There are connections between the Pittsburgh rampage earlier today, which left three policemen dead, and the kind of wingnuttery as represented by the NRA and Glenn Beck. Sure, the man responsible is clearly a fruitcake, but he was worried about the false and rabid rumor spread by the NRA that Obama was going to take his guns.
Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

That’s the equation in Pittsburgh. Oh, sure. This is really about a lone whack job. It will never be shown in the papers that the NRA or Glenn Beck or making up wild rumors about Obama had anything to do with this tragedy. But three policemen are dead today. And the gunman, a former right wing internet talk show host, recently laid off, was heard by his neighbors to say that he was fearful that Obama would take his guns away. From FoxNews, the home of Glenn Beck:

Pittsburgh police say a man wearing a bulletproof vest opened fire on officers during a domestic disturbance call, killing three of them.

Police chief Nate Harper says the motive for Saturday’s shooting isn’t clear.

Friends say the gunman recently had been upset about losing his job and that he feared the Obama administration was poised to ban guns.

. . .

One of the gunman’s friend, Edward Perkovic, said Poplawski feared “the Obama gun ban that’s on the way” and “didn’t like our rights being infringed upon.”

Another longtime friend, Aaron Vire, said Poplawski feared that President Obama was going to take away his rights, though he said he “wasn’t violently against Obama.”

Perkovic, a 22-year-old who said he was Poplawski’s best friend, said he got a call at work from him in which he said, “Eddie, I am going to die today. … Tell your family I love them and I love you.”

Perkovic said: “I heard gunshots and he hung up. … He sounded like he was in pain, like he got shot.”

Vire, 23, said Poplawski once had an Internet talk show but that it wasn’t successful. Vire said Poplawski had an AK-47 rifle and several powerful handguns, including a .357 Magnum.

Another friend, Joe DiMarco, said Poplawski had been laid off from his job at a glass factory earlier this year. DiMarco said he didn’t know the name of the company, but knew his friend had been upset about losing his job.

Crooks and Liars, in MUST READ reporting, has been on the case of right wing whack jobs ginning up the fear of rabid NRA types who say Obama is going to take away the guns from people, which is of course absurd. They note an article from the right wing Pittsburgh Tribune-Review about increased gun sales attributed to the notion. And, of course, Crooks and Liars showed video of Glenn Beck and NRA Honcho Wayne LaPierre on a show in mid-March that was essentially hysterical ranting about how Obama was going to take away guns.

A rational man, even if he had a stockpile of guns and could shoot “hundreds of rounds,” according to a witness, would likely not open fire in this situation. No, the mainstream media will not connect this act of the murder of three police officers with the rabid and extremist rhetoric of gun nuts and complete whack jobs like Glenn Beck. I’ll make that connection explicit. Throw a match towards some of these gun nuts, in this case lay him off of his job, and the result can be devastating.

Yes, Richard Poplawski, a bare 23 years old, is responsible for shooting and killing officers Eric Kelly, Stephen Mayhle and Paul Sciullo III. But it seems like Richard Poplawski was influenced and inflamed by the irresponsible rhetoric that comes from the NRA and from Glenn Beck. Were FoxNews responsible, they would fire Beck on the spot, and further, they would boycott NRA spokespeople from editorializing on any of their shows. Don’t hold your breath on that one.

Saturday, April 4th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |
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