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Marion On August - 15 - 2010

I’ve been thinking a lot about Watergate lately.

Watergate, as much as it was a political coming-of-age for America, coincided with my own personal coming-of-age. The actual break-in occurred just weeks after I’d graduated from high school and the initial furore continued throughout the summer as I prepared to leave for my first year at college. The repercussions, investigations and hearings continued throughout my first two years at college and culminated with Richard Nixon’s resignation, when I was in summer school in Spain in August 1974. I watched his resignation speech on a flickering black-and-white television set in the living room of my host family at 2AM in the morning, European time.

It’s not unusual at all that the current political climate in the US should make me think about the definitive political scandal of the late 20th Century. After all, the media has been looking for another Watergate since the last one was resolved (as much as it could ever be). Every newspaper reporter, every media journalist fancies himself this decade’s Woodward or Bernstein, never mind the fact that they happened upon their golden egg purely by chance. One of Watergate’s many legacies is the intense desire on the part of the media to discover some socio-political scandal latent in every subsequent Administration, and so almost every official in every subsequent Administration has been subjected to the scrutiny, for better or for worse, by the Fourth Estate.

And the Fourth estate has mutated rampantly since the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine under President Reagan.

But the name which keeps popping up in my mind more often than not, lately, isn’t one of the bigger guns from Watergate – not Haldeman or Erlichmann or John Dean – but a lesser-known character called Donald Segretti.

Segretti was a young lawyer, who, during the early 1970s, was engaged by the Committee to Re-elect the President (aptly anagrammed CReeP). He specialised in a particular brand of practical joke, or dirty trick, designed to make the victim look particularly bad. The aim of CReeP wasn’t only to insure that Nixon was elected to a second term; the principal aim was to insure that the Democratic party fielded the weakest candidate possible in 1972, one that would virtually guarantee Nixon a Presidential victory.

Of course, Nixon’s chief political strategists at the time, the late Lee Atwater and Roger Ailes (yep, that Roger Ailes), were busy formulating a tactic which they would call The Southern Strategy – convincing all those Southern Democrats who were less than lukewarm about the idea of Civil Rights, that their natural political party was none other than the GOP, considering the fact that George Wallace’s reincarnation of the Dixiecrats – the American Independence Party – had disbanded after its third party attempt in the 1968 election. But to really secure a second term, Nixon and Co would have to be absolutely certain that the Democratic candidate was loser material.

It was practically a foregone conclusion that the Democratic candidate for 1972 would be Maine Senator and former Vice-Presidential candidate Edmund Muskie. Muskie was impressive as a speaker during the campaign, and the Democrats, rightfully, thought that he would stand a good chance in challenging Nixon. After all, America wouldn’t wash 8 years of Dick Nixon.

Right before the silly season started, North Dakota Senator, George McGovern, a very Leftwing and very progressive politician, announced that he, too, would seek the nomination.

CReeP’s aim was to discredit Muskie to the point that Muskie would drop out of the race. With no other Democrat on the horizon at that point, and the Democratic Party in a weakened state, generally, McGovern would run and lose heavily.

This is where Segretti stepped in. Financed by funds from CReeP – laundered money, really – Segretti did his stuff. Segretti engaged hundreds of young Republican volunteers – mostly college students and recent graduates. Their mission was to imbed themselves in various Democratic offices and campaigns as volunteers, walk the walk and talk the talk of Democrats, get close to staffers and other genuine volunteers, even to the candidates themselves, get the gossip, sow discontent and be subtly, but brilliantly divisive.

The strategy was amazing. Someone managed to steal some sheets of Muskie’s Senate stationery, along with some samples of his handwriting, fished from rubbish bins in his office. The result was two, seemingly original notes, penned by “Muskie” on official notepaper, trashing Canadians in objectionable terms. Someone else started rumours of Muskie’s wife having a drinking problem and mouthing off about another Democratic politician in a lewd way. Mores forged notes emerged, depicting Muskie as speculating about another Democratic Senator, Henry Jackson of Washington, having a lovechild by a 17 year-old girl, and passing hints alluding to Hubert Humphrey’s sexlife as well.

The end result was Muskie, who’d denied all these allegations, giving an impassioned defence of his wife’s honour, so impassioned that he ended up in tears, a fact which, effectively, ended his Presidential aspirations, and paved the way for George McGovern’s nomination.

A few years later, in the course of the Watergate investigations and trials, Donald Segretti’s part in all of this was revealed. Segretti told Bob Woodward that such practices, which he’d perfected to art form, were known to him and his circle as “ratfucking.”

Ratfucking was only in its rudimentary form as developed by Segretti. There was plenty of room for development and improvement.

Oh … and one of the many of those earnest, young Republican volunteers who infiltrated the Democratic party, undercover, for Segretti was a Texas college senior named Karl Rove.

Rove took ratfucking to another level in his work for George Bush. At first, he developed the doctrine of “continuous campaign,” of never allowing the Bush Administration to get comfortable with its success, of operating every day with the aim in mind of securing a second term. 9/11 handed them their modus operandi on a plate: keep the public scared and use fear to keep the usually liberal media on side too. After all, when the country’s under attack, no one wants to be labelled “leftist and unpatriotic” (which had almost come to be synonymous).

Rove’s ultimate aim was an unbroken hegemony of Republican Administrations – something akin to Hitler’s vision of the Fourth Reich lasting 1000 years – which meant that whatever had to be done to secure that aim, was sanctioned. This time the Ratfucker-in-Chief was operating inside the White House and on the public payroll.

When the Republicans lost the White House in 2008, Rove moved to Fox News as a political commentator – a natural move, considering Fox’s CEO was none other than that same Roger Ailes, the Nixon strategist from the years Rove was a lowly ratfucking operative under the tutelage of Donald Segretti.

A couple of months ago, Rove, rather disingenuously announced that he’d had a strategy in place for awhile that would result, not only in delivering substantial gains to the Republican party in this year’s Mid-Terms, but it would also insure that Barack Obama served one term and one term only, that the Republican Party would regain the White House in 2012. Rove admitted that, as he spoke, he’d had “operatives” working the length and breadth of the country for the past couple of years, dedicated to dividing and conquering the Democratic Party and its ambitions.

Empty rhetoric and bragging?

Maybe, but Rove’s never one to brag without substance to his bragging.

Rove, if he knows nothing else, knows the American people. He certainly knows the base of the Right, and he’s probably made it his business to know the base of the Left. He’s also astute enough to capitalise on the similarities between the two, and the basic similarity amongst the two ends of the political spectrum is the overwhelming ailment affecting the American public as a whole – the singular inability to think for oneself and to think critically.

Both ends of the spectrum are television addicts. They read little, comprehend less and live for entertainment and instant gratification. Unable to digest and bored by news bulletins, their information must be delivered with panache and passion – thus, they need to be “infotained.” More than being infotained, they need to hear the opinions voiced of various and sundry paid talking heads on television – people who voice and articulate that which the average person from the extreme end of the Rightwing and the average person from the extreme end of the Leftwing are thinking. If the opinionator is likeable and amusing, he or she will gain not only a fanbase, but a disciple.

And, as television is an illusion, what if the people voicing opinion on the box, are just selling the brand of what their network is supposed to be? What if the opinionators are merely … salesmen?

The lack of critical thinking in all this never ceases to amaze me, as I watch various and sundry opinionators from both the Left and the Right.

That the social-climbing ex-wife of a former Republican Congressman and oilman, a woman who’s never been anything else in her adult life spent in two countries, than the most conservative of conservatives, a woman who led a virulent and strident campaign for Bill Clinton’s impeachment, a woman who taught Andrew Breitbart all the fine points of blatant press hackery (another form of ratfucking), should decide – the day after the 2004 defeat of John Kerry – that the Left needed an internet aggregate to challenge Matt Drudge and could result in being a nice little earner for her, that in the space of 24 hours, Arianna Huffington could go from being a neocon’s neocon (and devotee of Newt Gingrich) to being a fully paid-up Progressive, without ANYONE in the media batting an eyelid, is pure shallowness in and of itself.

I never bought the original Damascene conversion, and I never bought this one, especially not during the 2008 campaign season when Huffington’s attacks on Hillary Clinton became increasingly nasty and personal.

The only thing I do know is that, of all the Presidents I remember, and I remember a lot, this President is the only one whom I’ve known to be criticized, second-guessed, ridiculed, name-called and parsed by the Rightwing media and equally so, by the media on the Left, the so-called “Professional Left.”

It’s important to remember that the Professional Left is, more than likely, on the payroll of the Corporate Right, who are also bosom buddies with Rove, who writes for their bible, the Wall Street Journal.

When the Shirley Sherrod incident saw light, not only Fox, but also MSNBC, ran with the story that Breitbart propagated that very first day. It took CNN and The Atlanta Journal Constitution to get the real facts out and amongst the people. Fox then, promptly, apologised. MSNBC pulled all evidence of their hysteria from their website. No one … no one blamed Breitbart in this. He got scant mention; the emphasis was all on the Administration’s preciptous reaction. It was all how quick to jump the gun Tom Vilsack (and by extension, the President) had been, how weak the Administration was, how frightened of Fox News they were perceived to bel. Ed Schultz, in his usual bullying way, intimated that this Administration were pussies. Later, during his appearance at the Netroots convention, big Ed let slip that the real reason he was throwing a strop was because the President wouldn’t appear on his hour-long MSNBC program to be shouted at and hectored; instead, he preferred to be interviewed and interrupted by Bret Baier of Fox News.

At the end of the day, the Rightwing media treats this President like an escaped slave who needs lynching, and the so-called Professional Left treat him like the natural child of a token Affirmative Action appointment and Prissy from Gone With the Wind.

And either way, that boils down to one, singular, unmentionable thing.

When Robert Gibbs vented his frustration in that infamous interview last week, it came on the heels of having watched Dylan Ratigan, another sudden convert from corporatism to Progressivism and a thug who pretends to be a journalist, slate the recently passed States’ Aid Bill as a “bailout for the teachers’ unions,” Gibbs had had enough. And rightly so.

The allusion to the “Obama is like Bush” meme comes right from the whining mouth of Bill Maher. He’s been preaching that sermon for over a year, even alluding to the President as “Barry,” a name commonly used by the disaffected, old white men of the Teabagging Party, but then, earlier this season in an attempt at satire, Bill donned a Teabagger’s hat, and if it fits …

The Professional Left has done its fair share of deliberately misinforming, spinning and ratcheting up discontent amongst its base and convincing them why they should be disaffected with the President. The plain truth is simply that the base of the Left, as well as the base of the Right, for some reason either doesn’t read or doesn’t read widely enough and can’t for some reason think for themselves enough to form opinion without cravenly depending on people who get paid the corporate penny to spin for the network they serve.

Sometimes they, like the broken clock which is right twice a day, reveal their real intentions, which sometimes seem to be the opposite to the posture they effect:- Bill O’Reilly lets slip he favours a public option in Health Care Reform, Chris Matthews admits racism in admitting that sometimes he forgets Obama is a black man, Bill Maher admits to being in favour of the death penalty, something no real Progressive would admit.

Maybe some of the Professional Left are really Rove’s operatives – this generation of refined ratfuckers. After all, Bill Maher follows Rove on Twitter and Rove follows Bill. Rove and Huffington go way back in association. Last week on his syndicated radio program, in the wake of Gibbs’s outburst, Ed Schultz urged Progressive listeners NOT to vote in the Mid-Terms, to stay home. (Ed, by the way, is an ex-neocon, himself, who once ran for Congress as a Republican, and not too long ago.)

Yet if anyone challenges any devotee of a media opinionator, from Beck to Bill Maher, from Hannity to Olbermann and Schultz, the challenger is meant with a stream of invective as strong as if one had insulted a personal friend, a relative or a loved one. In fact, insulting one of these people is as though you’ve issued a personal affront to the disciple’s own opinion and mindset.

Here is a news flash: The Professional Left is the same as the Professional Right – bought and fully paid-up members of the corporate club, be that club Murdoch, ComCast of TimeWarner. They don’t give a rat’s ass about their devoted fans. Their aim is to generate ratings/clicks etc which generate profits, which mean fatter wallets for them which will accommodate their even fatter wallets. That Arianna Huffington attempts to speak for the middle class whilst her daughters attend debutante balls and hobnob with titled gentry from Europe makes her Progressivism as much of a joke as John Kerry’s multimillion dollar yacht.

What happened last week was simply this: Gibbs got frustrated and gave the Professional Left a dose of its own medicine which it had been hurling at the President for months, and the Professional Left couldn’t take it, after dishing it out. Big Ed Schultz, the biggest mouth and the biggest bully of the lot, even cravenly attempted to convince his regular viewers that this criticism wasn’t about him, really, it was directed at them. (It wasn’t; Gibbs clarified precisely whom he was criticizing). That was crass. Even crasser was his exhortation for the Democratic base NOT to vote – in short, to enable the Republicans to come in and undo every incremental thing upon which real progress and real change could be built. But hey, Big Ed would still have his Bush tax cuts, right?

This whole ordeal, this whole new level of ratfuckery – because that’s what it is – was foreseen by the writer Paddy Chayefsky, in his screenplay Network, a brilliant film made in 1976. It’s worth a watch again these days, because everything alluded to in that film has come to pass, regarding the television industry. And so I leave you, with the prescient words of the film’s hero, the iconic Howard Beale, juxtaposed with some contemporary images which enhance the prescience of a film made 34 years ago:-

Maybe it’s time for those of us who consider ourselves to be Democrat and progressive, to turn off the television, and learn to think for ourselves and to think critically.

55 Responses so far.

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  1. foxisms says:

    Toto, we’re not in the land of AH’s anymore!
    Marion, I like the way you don’t mince words!
    Mince…rhymes with wince.
    Wincing can be very good for the facial muscles!
    I feel rejuvenated already.

  2. chazmania says:

    Its not just a matter of critical thinking..its a cultural and social brain washing that has been going on sins Nixon..Carl Rove is just one of the many many many operators that have become diseased with the rat fucking mentality, he just happens to be the king rat fucker…watch any Adam Curtis BBC documentaries for a good dose of this systematic brain washing in the form of the neoconservative and the corporate culture of greed trickle down mentality that has permeated every nook and cranny of American life…Most lefties and progressives seem to have NO CLUE they too are fully diseased with it..Its a Money Worship CULT now…the words “financial” “economy” “401K” all words that if disparaged is near blasphemy for most People that seem now no more then corporate cubical zombie drone’s..
    OH YES the TV has done its number on the minds of Americans..its sold them not only products but whole belief systems indoctrinations into a Banking mafia lifestyle social culture all designed around one fundamental principle.. exploitation.. the greatest CON job in human history… the basic Right left corporate strategy has been to Get the people to contribute to their own theft by adjusting their beliefs to actually do the work for you… Its really not much different then any fascist style society that ends up all joining the abuse of its own for the benefit of a few that have the game playing out behind everyone’s realizations..
    And the unfortunate truth is that Obama is a part of it…
    Obama was the Hero we never had. He lived among the corporate zombies he worked like one, raised a family like one and is fully embedded in the thinking of one, The first clue was the bail outs, the second was the Health care disaster, the third the wars ongoing, gitmo, These things i can not ignore no matter how much hope and changy crap I whole heartedly voted for and stood in AWE of his surrounding himself with the same architects of the same disastrous policy making that got us so royally RAT FUCKED as a country in the first place..Its one thing to be rat fucked by some slick rat fuckers but its another thing to seemingly ENJOY IT.
    And one other thing this bizarre hold Israel has over him and this country is all but IGNORED BY EVERYONE SUPPORTING HIM.
    Its one thing to have critical thinking and a fully other thing to just ignore what critical thinking tells you because you have some “need” to believe in BULL SHIT for some psychological personal agenda that gets off on Believing.. This the very thing Carl rat fucker and friends have used to great effect to have at the RAT FUCKING of a nation and its belief systems…And we get to watch the entire democratic political establishment cheer the rat fucking along and hold us all down wile the Repugnantcants give it to us HARD….Once again….

  3. GN says:

    This is a wonderful, educational piece and should be required reading for lefty media producers and analysts, including bloggers. I’m a little sad that there has been such a failure of multiple media institutions, both online and in more traditional media outlets, to reign in excess, hyperbole, and sensationalist content, thus making those institutions very easy prey for ratfucking. I think that the media environment has become similar to that during the runup to the Iraq War: full of lies and hyperbole which function to get Americans to act against our own best interests.

    Thank you for such a measured, reasoned, and factual admonition to leave the sensationalist portions of the media behind, and employ critical thinking instead.

    Tell the truth, shame the devil.

  4. Marion says:

    The problem is simple, and -- actually -- John McCain got it kinda right during the campaign when he referred to Obama as a celebrity. A lot of people saw him as just that and didn’t see past the celebrity enough to listen to what the man actually said in his speeches.

    Just like kids in awe of rock stars or film stars project their own image and ideals onto these people, so seemingly mature and intelligent adults did the same with Obama. They heard what they imagined him to say -- hence, the shock that he upped the ante in Afghanistan (like he said he would do) and didn’t push for single-payer (as he never promised), amongst other things. So, it’s not the President’s fault that these people are too immature to listen.

    Also, a helluva lot of people in the country -- and that includes the pundits -- don’t really understand how government works -- the separate branches with the checks-and-balances system, the responsibilities of each branch, the fact that the President can’t legislate, which was the basic furore for many concerning HCR. Obama did that right. He handed it to Congress to deal with, as opposed to Bill Clinton, in 1993, sending the author of his HCR to Capitol Hill (Hillary)with a plan already written up and a two-word message: Pass it. He learned the hard way, by getting smacked down by a Democratic Congress. Again, it’s not Obama’s fault that Congress is dysfunctional.

    And one other thing: I think a lot of so-called pundits, as well as people who voted for Obama, did so because they thought it would be a cool thing to do. I’m sure manchild Maher did, as many references as he’s made to the “cool, black President.”

    • whatsthatsound says:

      He pushed for single payer, in front of the ACLU. It’s not the fault of the audience because they listened to what he said.
      Nor is it hard to comprehend the left being upset about Afghanistan despite the president’s “promise” to up the ante in Afghanistan. For one thing, I doubt that a single progressive voted for him BECAUSE he said he would pursue that campaign more aggressively. BUt more importantly, and I am sure you realize this, his plan for Afghanistan’s ONLY appeal was that is was a PART of a greater Middle East strategy that called for finishing up in Iraq and getting out of Afghanistan as soon as possible. The Middle East currently looks like a “never ending war” strategy that Pete Townshend would surely understand as he warns of new bosses looking like old bosses.
      There may be some who viewed him as a cool celebrity, as you say. There are more who actually didn’t want him to begin with, were a bit surprised at how quickly he rose, were disappointed to see Richardson and Kucinich and Edwards drop away so rapidly, were distressed at the choice between Hillary and Obama, the two most centrist candidates of the pack, and held their noses as hey voted for anyone but John McCain and more of the same.
      They, we, are not bashing Obama so much as grieving over the current state of affairs. It is hard to keep cool, fair minded and rational about what the president and Congress can do, when all around in the country things seem so UNcool, so UNfair and so IRrational that people are beginning to wonder if it is even possible for things to get back on track. If this span of years that coincides with the Obama administration turns out to be the time when it becomes most apparent that America has fallen and can’t get up, then Obama may end up being unfairly blamed for that. But a far greater tragedy than that will be what we witness, and millions will have worse things to gripe about than Gibbs.

      • Marion says:

        Where is there a link, which I can listen to, MYSELF, which has the President campaigning for single-payer? He looked into a single-payer program for Illinois when he was a state senator, and then realised how difficult it would be to implement -- taking medical personnel onto the state payroll et al -- and dropped it. He SAID during the campaign, that if we were starting from SCRATCH, single-payer would be the way to go; but too many people were satisfied with the insurance they had and the physicians they attended and single-payer was off the book.

        What is YOUR experience with single-payer? I’ve had 29 years of it and it’s tanking in the UK. The Conservatives, voted in BY the people, are dismantling the thing. Contrary to what you might believe, it’s not free -- there’d be a substantial increase in payroll taxes, maybe even a new one -- and you’d notice that. Your care and treatment is only as good as your local health authority is at managing the budget set by the government. And it doesn’t cover you from cradle to grave -- the past four years have seen us $150,000 lighter in the purse for paying for my father-in-law’s nursing home care, because he had too much money to be covered by the National Health Service, after having paid into their system since its inception.

        Please … spare me the single-payer rant. I’ve been there and done that for 29 years, with stories to tell that would curl your toes in horror.

        • whatsthatsound says:

          Here’s the video, Marion. “I happen to be a proponent of single payer healthcare”

          • Marion says:

            Ever lived under it?

            • whatsthatsound says:

              Yes, I’m on single payer in Japan, although I don’t necessarily consider myself living “under” it. Like Kalima, I’m very grateful for it. It’s far from perfect, but I don’t think perfection is possible where healthcare is concerned, since the very necessity for it comes from the imperfections of our own bodies.
              I wish people in the States ATE better, though! I think that would be the biggest thing in terms of improving the general health of the nation. Japan has far lower incidences of diabetes and heart disease, for example. And nothing approaching the obesity epidemic.

            • Khirad says:

              Actually, the correct answer to that was that that video was from 2003.

              Also, I didn’t particularly see the General Election results as a resounding mandate for the Tories. That they are dismantling the NHS nevertheless is true enough, though.

              Nor am I aware of this phantom contingent whom believe single-payer is free.

              I don’t believe single payer is the only answer. I would like a dual system of some kind. All I know is that the way it is now is not working and while the HCR bill was a good start, it was not enough.

              But, speaking of ratfucking, the “single-payer is free” meme sounds like that old hand-out meme of the right.

              I never underestimate the distinct possibility that you’ve heard na

            • Kalima says:

              I have Marion, and our NHS was doing just fine until Thatcher got her nefarious claws on it, butchering it into small pieces. I was twice admitted to hospital in my years in London, there were no waiting lists for beds, I was admitted the very next day. There were family doctors who came out at a minute’s notice to see their patients any time of the day or night. Where are they now?

              Now the Tories are back in power to finish the job that she started, going for the jugular just to make sure it stays dead. It’s not even that it wasn’t functioning, it’s just that more people were willing it to fail by not providing the necessary funds to keep it afloat, and of course the wasted resources by the big knobs.

              As they say, “Too many cooks spoil the broth.”

            • Kalima says:

              Marion, I’m very sorry to read about your horror story with the NHS and know that these things do and can happen. I’m going on the personal experience I had, and that of my family, my friends, their families and their friends when I say that in many cases it must be the luck of the draw and in the district or which part of the U.K. you reside in. Apart from waiting for hours in crowded waiting rooms and again having to wait weeks or in some cases months for an appointment with a specialist, I’ve heard nothing to equal your story from anyone that I know.

              We have a national health care service here in Japan, I qualify because my husband is Japanese and also because I work for our company. The cost is payed in our monthly taxes and I go to the hospital at least once a month for a chronic illness of 23 years. I pay just 30% of my hospital bill, the rest is payed by the government. It is not unusual to wait for months to see a specialist here either, and if admitted to a hospital, I would have to pay from

            • Marion says:

              I’ve lived in the UK since 1981. The first year of my marriage, I was involved in a bad traffic accident. My right leg was virtually shattered. I woke up in a traction outfit that had to be out of the gulag archipelago, in a ward of 30 beds, most of whom were occupied by very elderly women in varying degrees of dementia. I had to wait 2 weeks, lying in bed, until the consultant got back from a golfing trip to Brazil, before I could have surgery. My hair wasn’t washed in 2 weeks. Finally, after I’d had surgery, with my leg in a cast to my hip, I was moved to a 4-bedroom ward with a toilet. There were three elderly ladies in the ward and two of them regularly “missed the pan.” Try going to the toilet in a hospital in an ostensibly modern country with shit all over the floor. I had to hobble on crutches down the hall to use the public toilet, which was a little bit cleaner. This wasn’t some podunk provincial hospital, this was in South London. I was there one month.

              I was in the UK in 1985, when Thatcher upped the contributions and took dentistry and eye care off the NHS. People stopped going to dentists. Ever hear of the syndrome known in the US as “British teeth?”

              In November 1992, I found a lump in my breast and promptly went to the doctor. I saw a woman practitioner at the surgery. She tut-tutted and told me not to be a silly girl. I wasn’t menopausal and I couldn’t have breast cancer. That night, I read in the paper where Nigel Lawson’s oldest daughter, who was my age, had just died … from breast cancer.

              The next week, I saw my proper doctor. He managed to get me on the shortest WAITING LIST to see a consultant surgeon for a biopsy. That meant waiting until late January 1993 for the needle biopsy, then being referred for a lumpectomy, which took place in March 1993. Two weeks wait for the result that it was cancer. Surgery scheduled again for removal of breast tissue and a lymph node … AFTER EASTER in April. Then a wait for chemo of 8 weeks.

              I’m lucky to be alive. Well into the watch of Blair, I found another lump. It took the fact that I had a South African doctor who wasn’t impressed with the NHS, to bully an appointment with a consultant the next day. Luckily, that turned out to be nothing; but don’t glorify the wonderful single-payer NHS to me one minute. It’s a postcode lottery. When women are denied herceptin and handed a death sentence because the health authority couldn’t afford the drug, when communities have to hold charity events to buy medical equipment or to send a sick child elsewhere for treatment, you have to wonder.

              The voting public was well aware of exactly what David Cameron would do with the NHS -- they’re more cynical than Americans, and they’ve been buying into the private health insurance adverts which air nightly on the commercial channels here.

  5. whatsthatsound says:

    Where I dispute this article is in how it lets the administration off the hook for the criticism, as if it is just being stirred up in a vacuum, rather than as a reaction to both substance-based and stylistic flubs of this administration.

    Iraq is not moving toward the end the president campaigned for. Afghan is a mess and yet the president sees fit to proceed with it with an Orwellian, “Oceania is always at war” mentality. This while the money the war costs could so OBVIOUSLY be spent keeping Hawaiian kids in school on Friday, paving roads, and giving MIT graduates USEFUL work to do to create a new, green economy rather than sell their souls to the Military Industrial Complex. A giveaway to the banks has NOT improved the unemployment situation anywhere other than Wall Street, a health insurance plan that NO country that already has a national health plan of some form could possibly envy (this is the BEST we could do?). No firm support for Elizabeth Warren. Little inclination that the president understood/understands the immensity of the tragedy of the Gulf.
    Either the president is, through sins of commission or omission, bringing the criticism on himself, or “fifty million Frenchmen” ARE wrong and the blind are misleading the blind to not recognize something that I too am obviously blind to -all is well in the U.S., we are heading in the right direction, those in positions of power have seen the light or have been brought kicking and screaming toward the Light Side of the Force, and all we have to do is let this administration play itself out in order to see how the U.S. was able to overcome the greatest threat to its integrity and viability ever encountered, the abandonment of the Middle Class by the key players on Wall Street and in the Beltway.
    Believe me, Marion, I would LOOOOOVE to be wrong about what I see happening, and hope I am. But I believe that Gibbs overreacted to mostly deserved criticism.

    • bitohistory says:

      Dear Mr. Obama, could you please end two wars that have been ongoing for years. While you are in the area how about finally taking care of that pesky Israel/Palestine thing, which has been sitting on the shelf since 1948. Seems no one, but you, can fix that.
      Then can you completely overhaul the whole financial system? Take the banks over if you have to, who cares? Of course we want 1% unemployment and an 8% raise.

      We need a huge stimulus bill to get this country moving. make it a big as you need to repair all the crumbling roads and bridges, keep the teachers, firefighters,law enforcement, health care workers working and enough money to keep all of the states in the black.

      Yeah, I know that most healthcare systems were reformed and nationalized in Europe because they had to start from scratch-those pesky wars left them without much healthcare-but will you just get a single-payer national health care system over all objections of the moneyed lobbying? Just start from scratch. And of course, again, don’t worry about that pesky congress, tell them to do what you want and just pass it.

      On that whole green energy thing (wasn’t that in your “too small” Recovery Act? Well more has to be done on that front. Now! Oh, I know, Nixon brought up that “independence from foreign oil thing” just a few years ago, and that Carter fellow was always trying to get things done, and things do take time, but it needs to be done now and by you!! Force everyone to install solar water heaters, photovoltaic systems, demand car manufactures to produce only green vehicles and force people to purchase and drive them!

      Oh, I know I’m leaving many more tasks that you have to get done, but I want you to appoint our poster child Elizabeth Warren! Just because you got a financial reform bill passed, which was fought by the usual suspects at every step, everybody knows that it was a weak POS. Only!! ONLY!! Elizabeth Warren can protect us from the banks. If she is not appointed or if everything on my list isn’t done in 24 months (do you think you should have a full term?), I will just ignore my best interests and not vote. I may just bend over and vote Republican. Now get something done, will ya?!?

      Always willing to help, 😉
      Purity Principle

      • whatsthatsound says:

        bito, I am guessing that, had McCain been elected president, you would not be so quick to defend him for not bringing these “ongoing war” to an end.

        • bitohistory says:

          McCain is my senator, I rarely support him on anything. He said he had no problems in keeping US troops in Iraq 50-100 years. On Afghanistan he “knew where OBL was and how to get him.” His secret plan. He had no plan to end the wars. Do you remember “Bomb-Bomb-Bomb-Iran?” His big hit on the charts.

          • whatsthatsound says:

            I hope my comment was in no way taken as support of McCain, who I consider to be a pretty awful person. I just meant to refer to your satirical letter’s seeming willingness to give Obama time and patience and understanding about the situation (by the way, my original comment didn’t mention Palestine/Israel, and I don’t hear a lot of noise from progressives that Obama needs to hurry up and solve that problem -certainly I personally don’t feel it’s his responsibility), and I supposed that if the exact same situation were occurring now under a McCain plan, you would be less patient. For me, it’s not about the person, it’s about the policies. I KNOW Obama is doing really good things for this country in numerous ways, but I am more concerned about the negatives of this presidency. NOt because they are his fault, but because I want to see this country wash itself clean of its current systematic belligerency and descent into Banana Republicanism.
            As for “my solution”? All I can say, bito, is that you, myself, and 330 million other Americans can all be very relieved and happy that I did not consider taking on the responsibilities of the American presidency. I would be hopeless! But hopefully as a citizen I still have a right to whine about the person who was crazy/brave/smart/stupid enough to actually give up his whole life for the job, eh?

      • whatsthatsound says:

        It’s a good thing people weren’t able to silence all the “whiners” in 1776.

        • Khirad says:

          But they did, WTS. Though in 1788. Much more could have been done with the Constitution, things that would have saved us a Civil War, among other things.

          But, they compromised, rather than sinking the whole thing. It was painful, but necessary to bury intractable divisions.

          Ever since, it has been a gradual process at improving -- another thing Obama is criticized by the Right for acknowledging.

        • bitohistory says:

          Whine all you like WTS, but if you choose to whine about Obama, whine about things that Obama has ability to change with out Congress. You mention Ms. Warren and her appointment. Do you that there are holds and filibusters in the Senate on some of the lowest appointments he can make in both the executive and judicial branches? District judges (the lowest in the federal system)being put on hold by a repub Senator?
          Unheard of previously

          Am I a partisan? Hell yes! Am I also a pragmatist? Yes. Amazingly this has been a very productive congress in many aspects, even with daily holds procedural delays and filibusters.

          Perhaps when you were here, you remember ‘moderate’ Repubs in the Senate. They no longer exist. To walk across the aisle is to get shunned, exiled, purged.

    • dildenusa says:

      I’ve been reading Paul Krugman’s book, “Depression Economics” and Nouriel Roubini’s book “Crisis Economics” and most left of center economists agree and some right of center, that there hasn’t been enough fiscal stimulus. Only the whackos from the Austrian School with their philosophy of creative destruction and the “leave-it-alone liquidationists” would have the zombie banks fold into a heap of junk. In the long term however there does need to be a shakeout to keep out the incompetent high rollers that pervaded Wall street and Main street for so many years. That is what got us into this mess. An orderly liquidation, instead of propping up zombies is what will get us out.

      • whatsthatsound says:

        Nationalizing the zombie banks, and forcing them to use stimulus money to make loans to businesses is what should have happened. The banks, and the bailout, should never have been anything other than a conduit through which to fund companies in the productive sector, not the financial sector.

        • bitohistory says:

          Nationalizing the zombie banks, and forcing them to use stimulus money to make loans to businesses is what should have happened.

          And how do you propose that could have possibly been done. Nationalizing segments of businesses or industry,civilly, does not work in the U.S.
          As far as the banks and the bailout are concerned, those were from the previous administration.

          • whatsthatsound says:

            nationalizing the banks does “not work”…okay, so this is “working”, then?
            See this is the thing. Obama supporters always want to say, “You people don’t know how government works”. Yes, in many cases I suspect that to be true, for myself and others. But it’s not about knowing HOW things work as it is recognizing that they aren’t working. That’s where the anger, frustration, and criticism come from, the recognition that things aren’t working.

            • dildenusa says:

              There has not been a US government that has “worked” (read “functional”) in modern times since at least JFK. Why? One reason is the narcissitic bipolar nature of politicians.

            • bitohistory says:

              And your solution to the government not working is what?

            • bitohistory says:

              And ‘if the President did it, it’s legal.’

            • dildenusa says:

              Well, Tricky Dicky Cheney would say we need a strong (read “strongman”)
              “unitary executive.”

          • Marion says:

            Thank you. Too many people forget that TARP was Bush’s baby.

            • Khirad says:

              Only a third of Americans (34%) correctly say the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) was enacted by the Bush administration. Nearly half (47%) incorrectly believe TARP was passed under President Obama. Another 19% admit they do not know which president signed the bank bailout into law. Notably, there is no partisan divide on the question.


              I’ve been diagnosed with ADD, so I’m at a loss at what the rest of the country has…

            • dildenusa says:

              Absolutely. While Alan Greenspan was singing the praises of Ayn Rand and neo-liberal free market economics, guess what happened.

              Fannie and Freddie do not make loans. They purchase mortgage loans and earn fees for guaranteeing payments on the loans. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, in 2006, Fannie and Freddie accounted for 33% of total mortgage backed securities issuance. In the first half of 2010, they accounted for around 64% of new issuance. They were forced to pick up the slack and buy more when Wall Street’s private label securitization Ponzi scheme blew up.


  6. dildenusa says:

    Apparently, and I don’t know for sure, The interview that Robert Gibbs did was not on video. Still, the detractors on the left really don’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to President Obama’s ability to pass legislation in the face of total ignorance by the republican leadership in congress. The detractors on the left in essence are giving “aid and comfort” to the enemy. They are just as ignorant as the republican leadership.

    Now there will always be people like Rove and Huffington. But there are ways of dealing with them that minimize their effects. For the left to pile on Obama like this isn’t minimizing Rove and Huffington, it makes them bigger than life.

  7. bitohistory says:

    But who is Rove et al, ratfucking for? His benefit? The R’s benefit?
    Oh, the tactics may change but doesn’t the goal remain the same? Corporate Control? The BS line of “we little people own the corporations” is just that BS, it is mostly owned and controlled by that same 1-.05% that owns most everything.
    Then we have the Teabaggers who say they will take up arms and “take their country back!” Yet will bend over at the pie in the sky presented to them by corporations. Just the other day some of the “Tea Party” came out against Net Neutrality with their whine ” it gives ‘The Government’ too much control.”

    Radke said the Tea Party opposition to net neutrality stems from concerns over increased government power.

  8. Kalima says:

    I watch almost no news for the last year on the tv, one reason maybe because here in Japan my choices on cable are CNN international and BBC World. For the last 3 years I prefer to pick what I watch from my iTunes podcast, no commercials and the power at my fingertips to mute, stop and fast forward when KO has AH on as a guest.

    In the beginning KO’s direct honesty in calling out the bs was refreshing, I applauded loudly as he took apart the RW limb by limb. Unfortunately he started to come across as increasingly whiny some time before the passing of your HCR bill and I started to feel uncomfortable listening to his Special Comments telling your President that he had to be much more forceful about keeping the PO in the bill. This started me thinking about the fact that if even I, over 5000 miles away, not even a citizen, had grasped the breadth of the opposition he faced to even pass the watered down bill that had been allowed to trickle into a shadow of it’s former self by Dems too weak to take a stand in the Senate, why couldn’t the constant whiners see it to?

    In essence your President was pushed in between a rock and a hard place not only by the party of NO, but by the very people, the Dems in Congress who were elected to make a difference for the people who elected them.

    Sen. Obama wasn’t elected because he claimed to be a Progressive, and yet that it was what they expected from him. When he didn’t deliver what they only thought they had heard him promise, they chose to ignore the many bills he had signed, the fact that a HCR bill thought to be dead had been passed and signed for the first time in 60 years because he alone wouldn’t let it die. The Stimulus, which was too much until it was too little, never mind the fact that it helped millions from drowning in the quicksand created by Wall St and greedy financial institutions. The Financial Reform bill also passed despite the strong opposition from the idiots on the Right, and yet because it doesn’t meet the perfection of some on the Left, nothing this President does receives the appreciation it deserves. I’m beginning to believe that there is nothing that will ever satisfy these whiners, and for them the grass will continue to be that much greener on the other side as they stomp their stubborn feet and declare like the small children they appear to be, we will show the administration and the President that they can’t mess with us, we will just not vote, that will teach them. Problem with that act of defiance will be their own loss, and as the GOP go on to win a majority in the House and Senate what exactly have these people achieved?

    I like Rachel, she gets to the heart of the bs with much more realistic gusto than KO, but then again I was disappointed in her remake of the President’s Oval Office Address during the crisis of the oil spill in the Gulf. Was that really necessary, did she have to belittle the President’s efforts to suit her own agenda, yes she had every right I suppose, but did she really intend to make Obama look weak on the crisis, because that’s how it came across to me watching her over 5000 miles away, so I wonder how her U.S. viewers reacted?

    What I point out has nothing to do with the fact that people on the Left have every right to voice their disagreements with the President’s policies, you are the tax payers, you pay his salary, but when there is little distinction between that criticism on the Left and the Right, isn’t it time to take stock of why he was elected and why you are and vote for a Democrat, Liberal or Progressive in the first place. These loud voices drowning out the voices of the American people because they have a soap box on which to reach more people through another box in almost every living room, have a responsibility to not further the imagined or real anger of the voters. In this case we all know for sure that the grass is not greener on the other side, and likening Obama to your 8 years of Bush is ludicrous to say the least.

    What exactly do these people want, do they require the President to use his power to overrule the Senate’s decisions by EO for the rest of his term?

    I thought that you had a democracy going on there, thinking that the President alone could change the course of the reform he has promised sound less like a democracy and would surely resemble a dictatorship in any other country it occurred in. Patience is a virtue we are told, but I see very little being practiced by so many in your country and it is destroying the very foundation that makes the Democratic party so vastly different from the dimwits in the GOP. I hope with all my heart that there won’t be enough “stay at home voters” in the crucial election in November, if there are, then whatever happens, the blame sits squarely on their shoulders, I sincerely hope that they wake up in time to realize this.

    As for me, I tired of self proclaimed pundits on your airways years ago and don’t turn on my tv to watch the news anymore. I believe that if you have strong convictions and you believe in something, the hysterical outbursts on the tv or the rants in the blogs, should just drip like water from a duck, if it doesn’t, then maybe it’s time to take an inventory of your core principles and find out exactly who you are, what you want and what you really believe in.

    • Khirad says:

      No, I’ve felt the same about KO and Rachel. I still think Rachel is a rare gem on the MSM, though.

      Ratigan lost me within the first two weeks. He just got more and more shrill -- so much so that I yearned for the mellowness of Ed. Ed has said quite a few breathtakingly counterproductive things that leave me going “WTF?” which are not even mentioned by you or Marion. Mind you, I can’t recall what they were, but I just know that there are a few other examples of his purity. I just know the definitive moment where he jumped the shark for me was when he was for killing the HCR bill.

      Nevertheless, as pompous and contrived as KO’s “Special” Comments had gotten ever since the actual cathartic ones in the Bush Admin, which he didn’t have to manufacture so much “outrage” over, I do admit -- his recent one on the Mosque issue had me stand up and clap. “Finally,” I said (though it still had an air of Ben Affleck’s “Miss Precious Perfect” bit). He still does some good from time to time. Otherwise, I watch to keep tabs on what is what in the left’s news stories of the day.

      • Kalima says:

        I suppose you must be talking about Ed Schulz, and I don’t get his show over here even on iTunes podcasts, so unless it’s mentioned here, I have no idea what he did or didn’t say.

        Even if I do have my beef about KO’s overreaction at times, he is still better than most of the other news stations. Occasionally I am very impressed with Anderson Cooper when he cuts through the bs that’s out there. At least with podcasts I can chose and thankfully a lot of the really bad stuff is not available. Like you I watch KO and Rachel for the latest news and outings of the Repubs and TBers, even if it’s more than half a day later on iTunes over here.

        • Khirad says:

          I also agree with you on Anderson Cooper the fluff pieces irritate the hell out of me, but once in a while I see him cut through what his producers probably want (anodyne pap). Also on CNN, Fareed Zakaria on Sundays. Ever since Christiane Amanpour moved to ABC, I haven’t caught her. I don’t watch much of any network TV, so I rarely catch its news.

          • Kalima says:

            You have a Mac right, I subscribe to both Christiane Amanpour and Zakaria on the Podcasts from iTunes, you should maybe check out the free Podcast subscriptions at the iTunes store on your Mac.

    • bitohistory says:

      Bravo, Kalima!!! (goodness, that at 8:00? :-))

      • Kalima says:

        Good afternoon dear bito, for some reason or other I seem to be getting up before the birds for the last one week. I turn my A/C up to 27C at night when I sleep, it was already 30C at 5:30 this morning. I know that your temps are hotter but I think you cool off at night while we stay at 27C until the next morning.

        Just fed the refugees, they are mad at me because of the heat. Everything is my fault. :(

        😆 That’s about all I’m capable of today, because as the mercury starts it’s merciless climb, my brain begins to scramble.

  9. escribacat says:

    The republicans don’t need to do a damn thing. They can just sit back and have some popcorn while watching the left eat itself.

  10. LABC63 says:

    Brilliant! I may be the minority, but I liked what Gibbs said and that he didn’t walk it back. I am so sick of the so called voices of the left, stomachs and pocketbooks filled, lecturing the rest of us and taking every accomplishment of this administration and shitting on it. It is easy to stand on the sidelines and play armchair president, but much harder to actually govern.

    I love, love Network -- how frightening true it has become. But I am also reminded of a South Park episode when I listen to the self procliamed heros of the left (Looking at Olbermann and Glenn Greenwald as well -- I loathe these two…):


    • Khirad says:

      I actually got a lot of pushback, unsurprisingly, at HP, when I defended what Gibbs said, too.

      LOL, & the SP ref.

    • choicelady says:

      I’m there, too. Perhaps because I am a lobbyist (declared by CA ethics analysts to work for “the original Good Guy organization, though!) I am in awe of Obama’s successes. The grip the right has on all parts of this nation is scary, and while I think the ratfucking is no longer a “for sure” measure, I do think people are amazingly gullible. Within the context of freaked out Congress people, House and Senate, Obama has passed huge things. WTS -- Obama got $20 BILLION out of BP to avoid what happened with Exxon Valdez settlements that dragged through years of litigation. I think he knew better than anyone what HAD to be done.

      As far as the war -- we’ve talked about the rock/hard place issue that once Bush got us IN, pulling out leaves women like the one on the cover of TIME. I do NOT know what the solution is, but the drawdown in Iraq is on time, and the shift to non-military presence to aid Iraqi’s own control of their government is amazing. Afghanistan just got hugely worse with the floods in Pakistan and the lack of western help getting in. It’s our chance to provide not only the necessary supplies BUT to build some major bridges with the Muslim extremists, and it CAN be done. One thing Obama must do -- keep OUR Christian extremists OUT.

      I think Obama has done amazing things given the massive and despicable opposition from both sides. I am furious with the so-called Left (and I agree that Maher is actually a tea bagger with better language skills)for its narcissistic arrogance and whiny decision that if they did not get EXACTLY what they wanted, they’re going to sit out the election and show the DEMS, that’s what. It is 1980 all over again.

      If we lose either house, we will make NO more progress, Obama will be mired in total and unmitigated crap -- they promised “investigations” and it will happen -- and this nation will implode. It used to be said about Buffalo, NY that yes, sooner or later every city shoots itself in the foot, but only Buffalo goes back and reloads. Well, now it can be said of our country. We’re about to reload.

    • bitohistory says:

      Well then, I am In that minority also. I heard a discussion by a lefty who was Hispanic. The discussion was on immigration reform and the lack of leadership a “really forcing a bill through” Congress.

      And he is a “professional pundit” for the left-for Hispanics? Has he even noticed what happens to a bill in the Senate? Of course he must, but he feels he has to blame President. Not a peep from him about McCgrumpy and Graham pulling support for their own bipartisan bills!

      I don’t expect cheerleaders, but a little grasp of the facts.

      • Marion says:

        Well, if that dildo -- or should I say, gilipollas flamante, as he’s Hispanic -- knew anything at all about politics, he’d know that the President does not legislate. So he’s struck out there.

        • bitohistory says:

          It seems that many talking heads either never took grade/high skool civics and history or they have the memory of an etch n’ sketch and some one shook them.

  11. dildenusa says:

    All the pontificating and hand wringing following the Watergate Scandal and the campaign finance laws obviously missed the mark. Now the supreme court has thrown the doors to unlimited “pimping” of rats during election season while we sit transfixed in the warm glow of electrons moving to and fro across the screen.

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