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Marion On May - 4 - 2010

New Rule: Bill Maher must take a leaf from Charlie Crist’s book and come out of the closet … as a Blue Dog Democrat.

And that’s being kind.

Bill can no longer gad about the nation, advertising himself as a spokesman for Progressives any more than his BFF, Arianna Huffington, can presume to present herself as a spokesman for the middle class.

Bill regularly touts himself as a Progressive, laments about the state of political representation in Congress of real Leftists and loves to advertise his Leftwing credentials, as one who always speaks the truth to America on behalf of the Left.

Well …

Maybe Bill likes to think of himself that way, and that’s admirable. Maybe he aspires to be a paragon of Progressivism, but the real truth is, simply, that he’s not really all that liberal.

Until now, I’ve been willing to give him a pass on the fact that, as a declared Progressive, he’s:-

– in favour of the death penalty

– in favour of racial profiling at airports

– virulently anti-union

– opposes government-funded arts programs

– supported President Bush’s Iraqi surge

After all, in anyone else’s political language that whiffs, more than just a little bit, of ardent Republicanism; but, hey, this is Bill. He’s pro-choice, wants cannabis legalised and is an atheist (for the moment, at least, while it’s fashionable). We real Lefties are tolerant enough to indulge Bill’s peculiar brand of  “Progressivism” for those opinions alone.

But Friday night, I’m afraid, he crossed the Rubicon and is straying dangerously close to the dark side.

Last year, from June onwards, Bill incorporated, as part of his schtick, a species of Obama-bashing. Obama was being seen too much on television. He was becoming too much of a celebrity. He was beginning to believe his own publicity. His only major action during the first 100 days was to buy a dog. He’d achieved nothing in six months and even less in eleven. He should be more like Bush, he was too much like Bush, he was everything and nothing.

Most of all, he was “Barry.”

The gratuitous criticism released a welter of discontent amongst the Left’s base, as misinformed and unknowledgeable in their own way, as their counterparts on the Right. Grumblings on the Left erupted and soon ruptured the new-found Democratic unity. People, rather pompously, declared they would boycott the gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey last November, they would boycott the Massachusetts senatorial election in January, the mid-terms; they hoped for a primary challenge to Obama in 2012 – never imagining that such an open display of dissent would play right into a gameplan for a sure-fire Republican victory. Kucinich, Dean, Alan Grayson … all were touted as what essentially became the Great White Hope of the Left.

In the meantime, Bill traipsed from talk show to talk show, touting the fact that he was the first of all the pundits to dare to criticize the “Chocolate Jesus” and people followed suit.

However, when Real Time returned for an eighth season this past February, it seemed that Bill had imposed a moratorium on Obama-bashing. Some petulant tweets about “Barry’s” handling of Afghanistan and the Underpants Bomber were met with some feisty criticism from his more discerning and more mature fan base; and when the healthcare reform bill was passed, Bill gave the President some long-overdue respect  – so much so, people were willing to allow him the privalege of the occasional “Barry” reference.

Friday’s show arrived at the end of a week, which was dominated by news of an oil spill off the Gulf Coast of the United States, as well as increasing tension surrounding the new Arizona Immigration Law and the AFL-CIO’s march on Wall Street, after some particularly rancorous hearings on Capitol Hill between the Senate and Goldman Sachs.

Plenty of fodder for the Real Time panel, which consisted of economist Laura Tyson, conservative NYT columnist Ross Douthat and Bill’s long-time friend and commentator Chris Matthews, with Congressman Anthony Weiner appearing as the fourth guest.

Instead, the panel was dominated by a discussion based on two random quotations made by President Obama and taken entirely out of the context in which they were originally found.

Bill was angry with the President. Again. Because of two sentences uttered by the President.

In the wake of the oil spill, Bill explained to the panel that he was angry with Obama and blaming him for the whole catastrophe. In fact, in his words, he couldn’t understand why “more shit wasn’t being heaped on Obama” because of this. After all, when Obama announced, some weeks previously, that he was proposing to begin  highly regulated and limited off-shore drilling as a short-term solution to a long-term problem: weaning us off oil dependency whilst developing newer, greener technology and energy sources. In the meantime, the President had said, something had to be used to keep wheels turning and lights on, and that may as well be domestic, rather than Middle Eastern oil.

However, at that time, the President had stated that he’d received assurances from people who should be in the know, that oil rigs, as they are in the present day, pose little danger to the environment and were, for the most part, safe.

As the panelists, including the conservative Ross Douthat, pointed out, just because this tragedy coincidentally occurred on Obama’s watch, didn’t mean that the blame should be shouldered by the President, and least of all, should he be apportioned blame for proposing to begin off-shore drilling again. As Bill’s initial interview guest, the ueber-conservative John Bolton, pointed out, in that sort of industry – as in the coal-mining disaster some weeks previously – these things happen. Besides, the President’s proposed off-shore drilling wasn’t due to occur for another few years.

Bill tried to justify his anger by saying that Obama had caved in on off-shore drilling, only to appease the Republicans and curry bipartisan cooperation, something Bill cannot abide. As he put it, he realised politics was all about compromise and decision-making, but this was just wrong, in his mind.

As Tyson, the economist who’ d served the Clinton administration, then reiterated, the bipartisanship was already there in the climate-change legislation, itself. In fact, it wasn’t bipartisanship, it was actually tripartisanship, as the bill was being co-authored by Democrat John Kerry, Republican Lindsey Graham and Independent Joe Lieberman. The concession to off-shore drilling wasn’t a sop to the Republicans, but the fact did remain that Republican votes were needed for the eventual passage of the bill.

The usual brouhaha ensued, with Douthat chiming in about the expense of new green technology and Tyson agreeing that eventually energy would have to be taxed in this country in the same way it was taxed in Europe (e.g, value added tax) until the whole discussion climaxed in a surreal argument between Bill and Chris Matthews, which originally concerned wind turbines on the Massachusetts coast, but which terminated in a totally incongruent comparison, by Bill, of the late Senator Edward Kennedy with Roman Polanski.

What wasn’t said and what should have been highlighted were these points:-

1. Candidate Obama had always campaigned on the possibility that he might have to initiate off-shore drilling – again, regulated and limited – as a carryover whilst greener fuel-types were developed. He said, specifically, that developing greener fuel technology would involve some tough decisions, of which he was unafraid to tackle – like, specifically, initiating limited, albeit stringently-controlled, off-shore oil-drilling. He said this, again and again, on the campaign trail. Maybe Bill missed that  part, because I know that Bill, unlike many of his fans who supported Obama, actually listened to the man’s speeches. I know that because in a recent interview with Laurence O’Donnell, in referencing the healthcare issue, Bill actually remarked on Obama having said that single payer health cover would be ideal, only if the US were starting from scratch in establishing a health insurance system. So I know that Bill very well heard the whys and wherefores of Barack Obama’s decision to implement off-shore drilling.

And:

2. In all of the discussion surrounding the oil spill on Friday, two spectres hovered in the background like Banquo’s ghost. Their presence was certainly felt, but they were never acknowledged. In the entire discussion, not one participant even ventured to mention the name “Cheney” or “Halliburton.”

Tucked away in the print media that day, was a reported fact that the reason behind the oil rig explosion was due to a particular safety valve not having been installed. This is a required piece of equipment in many oil-producing countries. However, it’s not standard in the UK, home base to BP, the owner of the oil rig. Dick Cheney, it was told, surreptitiously confirmed that BP needn’t install the device, as it would cost some $500,000; this was after Cheney’s old mate company, Halliburton, had actually built the structure.

Now, I understand Ross Douthat, the token Republican on the panel, choosing not to bring up either Cheney or Halliburton. I understand Laura Tyson, perhaps, not knowing. But neither Chris nor Bill ever turn down an opportunity to Cheney-bash, or Cheeney-bash, as the case may be with Chris. At the moment when it might have seemed Chris might bring this up, instead he dove into the discussion about wind turbines and how Ted Kennedy compared to Roman Polanski.

The point is that Bill deliberately cherry-picked a sentence spoken by the President and spun it into a veil of blame, encompassing Obama and only Obama as concerned the oil spillage. When Tyson eventually pointed out that one of the President’s first reactions was to call an immediate halt to all off-shore drilling until the causes behind this tragedy had been investigated, Bill’s rather high-handed retort was, “Flip-flopping. Well, that would be one flip-flop I could believe in.”

The second comment which had evoked the ire of Maher this week, in relation to Obama, was a sentence he’d spoken at the meeting of Wall Street bankers some days before, when Obama remarked that Wall Street and Main Street are alike. Considering the fact that the previous week, Bill had admitted not understanding the stock market – honesty which I admire, because I don’t understand that system, myself – he took umbrage at that, remarking that it was the sort of stupid thing George Bush would say. He asked Tyson, the economist, for her thoughts.

She gave a beauty of an answer, before attempting to explain why Wall Street and Main Street were similar.

“Well,” she began, “Considering I don’t know the sentence that was spoken before that particular one, nor the one which was spoken afterward, I’m not prepared to venture an opinion, and neither should you.”

That one observation was all that needed to be said about and to Bill this week, because the entire panel discussion centered around two blatantly cherry-picked remarks, spun into a skein of righteous indignation and thrown into the public domain for consumption.

Please, don’t get me wrong. Criticism of our leaders and our government is allowed and expected, but as they have to be responsible in their actions on our behalf, so we must be responsible in our criticism. In past programs, and most notably, this season, Bill has, rightly, taken the likes of Fox News and the Teabagging contingent to task for irresponsible and wanton criticism of the President – for basically, clutching at the flimsiest of straws – a remark, an action, a nuance – and spinning it into something sinister and frightening.

In fact, Bill markedly pointed the finger at one particular demographic, within the Republican party, whom, he reckoned, guiltiest of inciting such discord: old white people. Old white people, he’s said repeatedly, are the one demographic group who hate Obama. They are the ones, who pluck a word or sentence out of context and parse each word meticulously, until they are able to prove a pejorative point regarding the President’s motives. They are the ones who listen to the likes of Beck and Hannity as they do the same and reinforce their prejudices. Old white people, mostly those who are – in Arianna Huffington’s words – male, stale and pale, are the ones who regularly call the President “Barry.”

And “flip-flop” is an equally pejorative term used by people on the Left to refer contemptuously, and rightly so, about the craven denial of principles in exchange for votes, practiced by the likes of Mitt Romney or even John McCain. Obama deciding to halt a practice in the wake of a tragic accident concerning the relevant industry isn’t flip-flopping. It’s showing responsible caution.

The White House have confirmed, since, that it’s too early to decide whether to rescind their original proposal to re-institute off-shore drilling. That doesn’t mean they’re being stubborn and recalcitrant. It means they are looking into all the details surrounding this tragedy and getting the mess cleared up and paid for by the guilty parties, before ultimately deciding. That’s deliberating, not knee-jerk.

Bill ended his program with an editorial warning Islamic religious fanatics of our cultural superiority as ingrained in our written Constitution. His final words deemed Freedom of Speech in our country as “not negotiable.” That’s true, as long as one exercises such freedom responsibly.

Political pundits indulging in parsing individual sentences spoken by the President of the United States and presenting their meaning as something totally different in order to promote their own agenda or to incite the public is the stuff of hacks like Beck or Hannity, whom Bill recently dubbed “Hack Hackington.” When Bill does this sort of thing, for whatever reason, he’s as irresponsible as they.

Bill’s better than that. He knows better than that, otherwise he risks being identified with that particular demographic who are white, over fifty and call the President “Barry.”

Categories: News & Politics

33 Responses so far.

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  1. dildenusa says:

    Would someone please tell this man that we already live in a hell created by the Goldman -- Sachs of the world and that the Sky isn’t heaven and that God is not a hairy old white man.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/36986481/ns/us_news-life/

    • Mightywoof says:

      …….. and, in his supreme ignorance, expects the ‘leader’ of the Islamic faith to stand up and denounce terrorism.

      Maybe I’m ignorant but does Islam have a ‘leader’ like the Pope or the Archbishop of Canterbury?

      I’ve heard plenty of Muslims speak out against terrorism -- I think this man’s ears are closed to what he doesn’t want to know. It must suck to be him.

  2. FrankenPC says:

    Nicely dissected analysis!

    I’m baffled that the Feds aren’t scrambling to inspect ALL oil rigs to verify the use -- or not -- of blowout valves. I guess that’s a can of worms no one wants to tackle? It seems like the most rational thing to do right now.

    As for going after the prince of darkness, good luck with that. Apparently Cheney is covered in grease.

  3. dildenusa says:

    The sheep dip just keeps on coming. Watch out, hypocrit on the loose.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/05/gulf-oil-spill-palin-camp_n_564407.html

    Not only that,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Todd_Palin#Career

    Where does it end?

  4. Khirad says:

    I think of him more as a left-leaning Libertarian than a Blue Dog, but it’s a bit of a hybrid, considering the surge and profiling types of issues. His advocacy of pot and hookers isn’t exactly Blue Dog, is what I mean.

  5. LiseLives says:

    I have mixed feelings about Maher --
    He’s clearly got a brilliant mind, he’s sharp, funny & articulate --
    But, I wasn’t aware (not having watched his show all that much) that he was (love the C&P tool) 😉 :
    -- in favour of the death penalty
    -- in favour of racial profiling at airports
    -- virulently anti-union
    -- opposes government-funded arts programs
    -- supported President Bush

  6. Questinia says:

    Didn’t Eleanor Roosevelt say great people speak about ideas, average people speak about events, and small people speak about other people?

    I’d place Maher somewhere between events and other people. Leaning toward people. But, hey, it’s a living.

  7. dildenusa says:

    What the mainstream news outlets are not telling us is that all of the easily available light crude oil has been found and exploited. Now the oil companies are going after heavier crude in less accessible areas of the world. The refineries have to be modified to process this heavy crude so the wells are drilled and capped.

    It’s obvious that technology has to be brought up to date if these crude oil sources are going to be exploited. Otherwise the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is the tip of the iceberg.

  8. VegasBabe says:

    OMG these articles are gettin’ long. As for Maher, well, we’re all entitled to our opinions as he is his. Like McCain is a disappointment for some rethugs, Maher has long since been a disappointment to me. As strictly a comedian, he can still be funnee. As a political satirist, he’s no Jon Stewart. Satirist….did I spell that right? 😉

    • choicelady says:

      Sorry VegasBabe (I always wanted to be choicebabe, but it was taken) -- largely the problem of some of us who are “high context talkers” meaning we tell you more than you EVER wanted to know about absolutely ANY topic. I’m the worst. Marion did a superb, carefully parsed analysis. My reply is just rant. Sorry!

  9. KQ says:

    Marion another great take. Maher is nothing but a reactionary which makes him the ultimate opportunist just like Aryanna. Anyone blaming this spill on anyone but BP and the contractors working for BP does not now how things work. Regulation has a physical limit. Regulators cannot be everywhere all the time and in the end companies have to regulate themselves in many industries. Again Americans are being hypocrites. We all want our cheap gas but don’t understand that the very need for cheap gas is why we poke holes all over Gaia to fill our insatiable appetite for fossil fuels.

    • PatsyT says:

      They (Oil companies) got what they wanted, government got out of their way.
      They (Oil companies) can’t be bothered to regulate themselves they have been too busy marketing themselves.

      http://www.api.org/aboutapi/ads/

      Notice the ads that were running 24/7 are MIA after this Gulf of Mexico disaster.

    • Marion says:

      We are the Greece of oil consumption. Greece wanted (and got) highly-paid sinecure jobs in the public sector for 1 out of 3 people, who, then, paid no taxes.

      Laura Tyson on Real Time was right. The first step is paying VAT on energy. But Bill made absolutely no sense whatsoever in his blanket blame of Obama in this. Considering the fact that the follwing evening, he was going to be in the same room as the President (along with about 2600 other people), I think this was an attention ploy. He hoped either the President may have watched his program or someone may have apprised him of it, the Prez would have clocked Maher at the function and spoken to him, which is what he wants -- not so he can call the man out, but in order to try to secure an interview. He tanked.

      • KQ says:

        I don’t know if you saw last week but President Obama just said he might possibly consider looking how VAT taxes worked and the right went into an apoplectic spasm. The politics of raising any taxes is so toxic in this country it will only happen when bankruptcy is inevitable.

    • choicelady says:

      You nailed it, KQ. Thank you!

  10. PepeLepew says:

    Choicelady, you are right about “Religulous,” Maher pretty much focused on crazies and whack jobs. There were only a couple of brief interviews in the movie with “sane” religious people.

    I would like Maher more if he weren’t so damn pompous and arrogant. Sometimes he’s funny, sometimes he’s just acerbic for the sake of being acerbic.

  11. Chernynkaya says:

    Well, what do you expect by now, Marion? Mahre is a comedian and societal commenter, and not nearly as good as Carlin was, or many others I could name. He is not the leader of a political Party nor of a movement. He will take cheap shots if he thinks he can get a response of a chuckle. And he’s on HBO-- hardly a ratings powerhouse. I think he’s amusing and definitely hit-and-miss.

    • Khirad says:

      You put my feelings in a nutshell. I enjoy watching him when I get HBO in a hotel, but see him as you do. Definitely hit-and-miss.

      I thought he was off on the Muslim commentary he had last I saw him. A little blog no one, including mainstream Muslim bloggers have heard of does not constitute the whole Muslim community caring about Muhammad dressed as a bear.

      Still, I’m a hypocrite. I still find the Mormon and $

      • LiseLives says:

        “You put my feelings in a nutshell. I enjoy watching him when I get HBO in a hotel, but see him as you do.
        Definitely hit-and-miss.”

        Ditto !

      • Marion says:

        I was more than just a little bit uneasy at that Muslim editorial. It sounded to me almost as if he were flexing alpha-male American muscles in an eerily Republican sort of way -- the assimilate or else threat. This was an unusual editorial, especially considering the fact that Jon Stewart covered this brilliantly the week before, when it only got a mention on Bill’s show. Also, people have been saying Bill never criticized Islam -- well, he did so now, and in a pretty shitty way.

        I just found it ueber hypocritical that he expostulated about freedom of speech and also that he previously had criticized Glenn Beck for cherry-picking and spinning, and he did the same thing this week. Well, he also remarked that Glenn Beck was the sort of person you’d see masturbating on a park bench. Can we expect to see Bill, sat on a park bench in LA, having a good wank?

      • choicelady says:

        Hi Khirad -- I know nothing at all about either Scientology OR Mormon. What I know is what I get from NON participants, and I no longer trust it. Scientology bashing took an ugly turn a couple of years ago when “Anonymous” (look it up on Google) targeted them -- and then mainstream religion and destroyed web sites. Anonymous members adopt “Guy Fawkes” masks which makes me very confused since Guy Fawkes was a symbol of resurgent Catholicism in England and behind some of the Gunpowder Plot. So where does an anti-religious group get off wearing masks of the most religious fanatic in modern history? Zany to say the least, and creepy to boot. I know one Scientologist, and she’s nice as all out doors. So what am I to think? Mostly -- MYOB. Not my problem. I hear they’ve issued death threats against people who leave, but…?????

        I just have had a belly full of comics passing as philosophers. Enough already. Most of us are not as awful as the rest of us would have it be. Probably not even the teabaggers if you were to sit down with coffee. Might have some agreement. Shouting and sneering are our national distemper. Arrogance is our hereditary disease.

        • Khirad says:

          I found the Mormon and $cientology things easier to deal with because they were cuter. I’m not against a criticism of Islam (yes, even the mainstream form), but Maher’s analysis was so spiteful and sloppy on facts, that it made me a little sick to my stomach -- for real.

          Mormons are very good people, as I know growing up in a very LDS area. And I’m sure Scientology does too.

          But, the Joseph Smith story and L Ron Hubbard one invite a good cutting remark -- as do other religions and non-religious alike.

          In these two cases, it’s just so much easier.

          The latter is a criminal organization though. I’m serious. The word cult gets thrown about too liberally, but they are moderately cultish, in the kindest interpretation.

          I have nothing against zany beliefs. But, as I’ve said before, $cientology has a great propaganda wing and plays the victim and freedom of religion card off any criticism of them. And then they sue, cut off families, take your life savings, and drive some to suicide.

          All in all, it’s just a big scam to get you to hand over your life savings. Latter Day Saint’s are beset with problems; but I save my real scorn for $cientology, because it is first and foremost about money.

          I don’t know about the Guy Fawkes thing, that is ironic, and they may have been emulating the movie “V For Vendetta”?

  12. choicelady says:

    Marion -- this is brilliant. The care with which you have dissected this absurd conversation is incredibly helpful.

    I detest Maher for the gross superficiality he brings to every conversation, all with the sneering disdain of someone “in the know” who in fact knows very little. I can listen to or read conservatives such as David Brooks who is very careful in his analysis, gives credit where credit is due, and has regard for his opponents’ intelligence. I can eagerly listen to Rachel Maddow who, in her progressive critique is equally careful to document her sources and reasons. But I simply CANNOT abide people who have slippery values, sneering disdain for democracy and anyone who practices it, and is impressed by one and only one thing -- his own ideas no matter how ill formed or poorly conceived.

    I never gave him a pass on being anti-union, anti-women, anti-Muslim, and anti-religion. Everyone here knows I work for a large progressive faith organization. I’m not at all “religious”. I’ve not seen “Religulous” because the trailers let me know it was a set up -- pick the WACKIEST religious people you can find and knock ’em down to prove your point. But he does that with everything that sticks in his craw and does so without regard to the breadth of the field he’s dissing. Find something (usually an anomaly) to sneer at, and work it til it caves under his superior intellect. He creates straw men then kills them off, and he is SOOOOOO impressed with his own wit.

    Bill Maher defines the term solipsism. He is the darling of people such as Araianna who do the same. I asked a progressive analyst of the US financial system if following Arianna’s “move your money to community banks, dahling” would make a difference, and he said not really. It’s great for individuals, might help beef up capital for community investments, but the financial system is multi-layered and huge portions of it are untouched by our personal decisions. But it’s Arianna’s idea, so it MUST be the answer, right?

    So we do have huge numbers of well educated, self-styled progressives looking to Maher and Arianna and deciding, without evidence, that Obama is the cause of all bad things and that he’s a liar and failure and needs to be replaced. This is a disaster for the nation if they then decide “they are too good to vote” since they will repeat 1980 with that tactic.

    What the hell is wrong with Americans? I saw this narcissism rampant in my boomer peers back in the 60s -- we ALL knew EVERYTHING about ANYTHING. We were the leaders -- messianic in no small measure -- and no one could tell us or teach us anything. It led to gross generalizations about everything from what Black people wanted (WE knew even if we were white suburban kids) to contempt for blue collar workers, to disdain for people’s struggles.

    As we aged, many of us were no longer were radical, so we started creating justifications for our decreasing concern for others (not that it was that high in the first place -- symbol over substance) so we worked for Wall Street or in academia, or whatever and found ways to make real victims less victimized than, well, our own selves.

    I say “we” knowing Cher will keep me honest and honorable because of course it’s NOT everyone. Many of us defied the process and got MORE radical as we aged -- how, I ask, could one NOT with all the injustices and pain we see every day? That is what makes people such as Maher and Arianna so pernicious. Adopting the ‘progressive’ label means when they dismiss people -- union folks, say -- as awful, others think that IS progressive and just being “honest”.

    When my friend, Eyal Press, contributing editor at The Nation, wrote about the murder of Bart Slepian, the abortion provider in Buffalo who was assassinated, Eyal’s own father was the sole surviving doctor. Eyal wrong an amazing book, “Absolute Convictions” about Buffalo’s abortion wars, telling his family story about the aftermath. He mentioned that his father, deeply committed to women’s reproductive health, might not have been so comfortable with abortion had his patients all been practicing free love. Well -- Katha Pollitt at The Nation went nuts and screamed in her column that Shalom Press had done more damage to women’s right to choose than any RW Christian with that comment of Eyal’s. I know Shalom Press, he was my doctor whose office and patients I protected for over 12 years. I know that his concern involves physical health, that multiple abortions as birth control is physically very damaging to women’s bodies.

    Pollitt took it as a MORAL judgment which it was NOT. We want doctors who care about us and our health -- until it comes to abortion when some seem to want Mr. Goodwrench who just fixes things, no comment. Because of HER column, many women came to believe that Shalom Press was a bad doctor and a bad man. How absurd! Pollitt has NO skin in the game -- never put her butt on the line for anyone -- and has pilloried an outstanding practitioner because he dared to have a medical judgment she misunderstood and thus could give full vent to expressing = as a progressive.

    Well, she is not. And Bill Maher and Arianna are, at the core, capitalists, and we must NOT forget that! We have way too many phony progressives who are just seeking ego gratification rather than genuine change in America and the world.

    Time to call them out. Time to emphasize what real progressivism IS, and it’s not the cute quip, the phony rhetoric, the sacrifice of our best people. This is carrying “political correctness” into the realm of the damning. If we lose in 2012, this nation may never recover in our lifetime. But maybe that’s what the whiners want? Bitching is SO much more fun than working for change. When I see Maher and Arianna actually doing something, I’ll know we have achieved paradise on earth. I’m not holding my breath.

    • kesmarn says:

      Beautifully written, c’lady.

      I suppose a bit of slack might be cut for 1960’s activists on the grounds of youthful arrogance and presumption. But that excuse certainly won’t fly for Maher and Huffington. There’s surely something much more cynical going on with those two. Capitalists would indeed be the descriptive word for them.

      While comparing Americans to children is hardly jaw-droppingly original, I have to say that we do remind me of dysfunctional children. When a “parent” like Dubya is an ego-fragile drunk, we seem to feel obliged to protect, defend and enable him…lest Daddy “break” and disappear forever. On the other hand, a father-figure like Obama — strong, sane and principled — comes along, and suddenly everyone feels safe in going into attack mode because we know we can count on that very same paternal sanity and restraint to avoid on a much deserved adolescent smack-down.

      We really need to grow the hell up. The president is not “Daddy.”

      Your mention of the abortion issue reminded me of that fact also. (America’s childish simplicity of thought.) When are Americans going to be ready to deal with the complexity of the issue in the way that Dr. Press did? Not long ago I saw an objection to late term abortion based on the notion that fetuses of over 20 weeks gestation are able to feel pain. The answer from some on the left was that this simply isn’t true. How do we know this? I mean, I haven’t seen a conclusive study one way or the other. Could we not at least talk about this? Frankly, as much of a lefty as I am, I have to admit that it seems quite likely to me that a fetus over 20 weeks old does feel pain. That’s not exactly a comfortable thought for me to hold, but I would rather know what is true, than assume what supports my beliefs. That’s what makes me a liberal and not a right winger!

      So — no — constructive conversation is not advanced by the Maher/Huffington tactic of reducing dialog to trench warfare. All we get then is a lot of snark-bomb lobbing.

      • choicelady says:

        Kes -- thank you, dear heart. You are spot on -- the issues MUST be discussed. As someone who walked women into doctors’ offices and clinics for 12 years, the issue of “when life begins” was HUGE for me and all of us. We were lucky to have a doctor on our volunteer group who told us that pain cannot be felt until the brain stem and spinal column fuse -- about 23-24 weeks. So 20 weeks -- not likely since that simply does not happen. Roe v Wade is VERY clear that the state has interest in the third trimester (24 weeks on) in large part because this is not only when pain is sensed but when viability occurs. Viability -- the ability to live outside the womb with or without intervention. PRE viability -- no matter what you do, the fetus cannot live. CANNOT. Now what gets dicey is that 22-24 week period since gestation is hugely uncertain which is why yes, ultrasound is incredibly important. The ONLY time a viable fetus can legally be aborted is when there is something terribly wrong with it -- and if it dies in utero, it will harm the mother.

        So I read up on all of this and at one point, ESCORTS at one clinic REFUSED to volunteer there because the doctor who owned it wanted to do late second trimester abortions (17-23 weeks) -- without ultrasound. We said NO WAY since we did not trust he could possibly be accurate. He backed off. We really do care. Viability is a huge issue. Twenty weeks? Never. That is an effort to pretend something that does not exist -- pain in fetuses that in fact cannot feel to garner anti-abortion sympathy from the ordinary folks.

        I am fine with the restrictions on late term abortions -- totally fine with that. I am NOT fine with lies and deception. The “partial birth abortion” rant? No such thing, and a lie start to finish. If you do not like abortion, you do NOT have to lie about it. That just sucks. And we do NOT get a chance then to talk about it!

        And I escorted them into the offices because women are terribly valuable, too. Women are NOT just empty vessels waiting to give birth. They hold up half the sky!

    • Marion says:

      Choice, did you see This Morning on Sunday? Bill was part of the panel, which included George Will (as always), Katrina van den Heuvel, Matthew Dowd and Al Sharpton. Bill tanked. Jake Tapper did his homework to a tee and showed him up for the empty suit he was. He walked right into a trap laid by Tapper to expose his narcissism and his intellectual laxity. He blamed Obama again, but wondered why we, as a nation, were still dependent on oil, when Brazil had been oil-free for 30 years.

      Of course, George Will questioned that, saying he thought Brazil still used quite a bit of oil (classic understatement). Bill then started floundering, and said nothing more for that segment, but when Tapper was wrapping the segment up, Bill cried out for a judge to fact check the Brazil bit.

      Will NEVER let up after that. He called Bill out for making the remark about “if you’re a racist, you’re probably a Republican.” When Jake Tapper asked Bill if he had a solution to the immigration problem, Bill was so intimidated, he passed.

      • choicelady says:

        Marion -- no did NOT see it and wish I had!

        • Marion says:

          It’s on ABC’s website. You can watch the whole episode, or just the panel discussion part. Bill is reduced to looking like the child at the adults’ table. The Green Room is a classic. When you see Al Sharpton side with George Will, that’s something. Bill’s only defender throughout was Matthew Dowd.

  13. kesmarn says:

    While it’s hardly an original thought, I can only say that, with friends like Arianna and Bill, Barack Obama doesn’t need enemies.


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