Keith Olbermann delivers another Special Comment... this time on the wrangling over the FISA law and the president's demand that telecom companies, which cooperated in the governments surveillance of phone calls, be granted a blanket immunity .
Olbermann takes the president to task over his parsing of words and his seeming disregard for the intelligence of the American public.
I've always enjoyed The Onion. They're now presenting their "faux" news in video format on YouTube...and the following is one of my favorites.
The gist of the "story" is that the Mitt Romney campaign is doing all they can to dispel the accusations that the candidate believes in tolerance. The focus is on the campaigns efforts to reject Romney's apparent tolerance of homosexuality in the past.
The Onion wants to know what Romney can do to prove his newfound homophobia is genuine. The reporters ponder whether the former Massachusetts governor can shore up his wavering support among bigots by making disparaging remarks about women or Mexicans...a quick ethnic slur or two if you will.
Every now and then fiction and reality seem to merge. The following video suggests we're witnessing just that with the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. The premise is that Hillary's efforts to win the 2008 presidential election are reminiscent of Reese Witherspoon's hard work as Tracy Flick in the 1999 movie, Election.
It remains to be seen if the outcome will be the same. Feel free to share your opinion.
Lewis Black takes creationism to task with his typically dry wit. He goes on to share his thoughts on the assertion that fossils are "The Devil's Handiwork", those who think the Flintstones was a documentary, and how God transformed from his angry days in the Old Testament to his kinder, gentler self in the New Testament.
Sadly, we never know for sure when death will arrive...some of us live well into our old age having traveled far and wide...some of us depart in the middle of the journey...some of us are still undecided about which journey to take. It's doubtful we'll ever know for sure where Heath Ledger stood on that continuum.
We're left to hope the time he spent here was deliberate and meaningful...we're left to imagine our own alternate endings...but we're also lucky to have had the opportunity to observe the trajectory of his emerging career. Fortunately, as we each take a moment to visualize our preferred final scene for his life's script, we have a rich blueprint to build upon.
I posted the following video shortly after the release of Brokeback Mountain. This video is a compilation of scenes from Brokeback Mountain set to the James Blunt song "Goodbye My Lover", one of the best songs (IMO) off of his CD Back To Bedlam. It seems a fitting tribute.
Samantha Bee wants to know why Congress thinks it's fair to require lobbyists to forego hiring surrogates to stand in line for them in order to assure them a seat in upcoming congressional hearings.
Bee heads to Congress to find out what's up with this latest attack on those poor misunderstood lepers of the political process. Samantha gets up close and personal with the odd characters who stand in line for hire...all the while waiting for the moment when "the lobbyists are coming, the lobbyists are coming".
She closes by enlisting Congressman Dennis Kucinich to stand in line and order her lunch.
If this were the only incident of Romney mincing words, one might be inclined to disregard this latest episode. However, one would have to be blind to miss that the well-heeled and carefully coifed candidate has done so on numerous occasions; not to mention the fact that he recently unveiled his umpteenth stump strategy as a non-establishment, change agent, Washington outsider. While the former governor is adept at covering his tracks, I suspect these tactics are wearing thin and appear far too coy for a number of voters.
I'm reminded of the GOP's frequent efforts to pejoratively peg Democratic candidates. They labeled John Kerry a "flip flopper" and they spent years attaching "Slick Willie" to President Clinton. With that in mind, I think its time to tag Romney with an appropriate alias.
A number of pundits have referred to Romney by his actual first name, Willard, and others have taken to calling the GOP candidate Mittens (think here kitty, kitty). Nonetheless, the existing choices just don't seem to capture Romney's political essence.
I think a concerted effort is warranted to help accurately identify and appropriately describe candidate Romney. In looking for a starting point, I couldn't help but recall Jon Lovitz' Saturday Night Live character, "Tommy Flanagan...The Pathological Liar".
Feel free to offer your suggestions in the comments and maybe we can start a list and have readers pick a favorite.
Also, don't hesitate to propose some new versions of existing words that define Romney's willingness to finesse the truth. The one that immediately came to mind is a "mittrepresentation"...which could easily be substituted for misrepresentation. Obviously, this would also work for misinformation, resulting in the word "mittinformation".
The more time I spend watching and listening to Mike Huckabee, the more I'm reminded of George W. Bush prior to his election in 2000. Huckabee, like Bush, presents himself as an affable character with a penchant for making simplistic connections with average folk. I contend that makes Mike Huckabee the logical successor to George Bush as the embodiment of the candidate voters would be inclined to select because they would enjoy sharing a beer with him.
At the same time, I suspect any presidential candidate is driven to win...and that desire likely leads candidates to adjust their positions on policies in order to be victorious. Many times this can lead a candidate to believe they must straddle the fence on controversial issues in order to maximize voter appeal. In that regard, I believe Mike Huckabee is also more similar to George Bush with each passing day.
Prior to his election, George Bush sold himself as a compassionate conservative...a position he frequently suggested had its origin in his evangelical faith. Mike Huckabee has put forth a comparable persona. Doing so affords a candidate the ability to broach volatile issues in "kinder, gentler" ways...at least superficially. It also has the added benefit of drawing more votes.
The goal of telegraphing is to sound sufficiently reasonable (moderate) to those voters who are uncomfortable with the targeting of any particular segment of society while also communicating one's willingness to enact measures that do exactly that (targeting) to those voters who harbor bias for any number of reasons; not the least of which include homophobia and racism...although they are often couched as religious convictions or legalistic justifications.
To the impartial observer, the strategy often appears schizophrenic since rationality can rarely reconcile the divergent statements. At the very least, reasonable individuals are apt to notice some level of dissonance when placing the two statements side by side.
With George Bush, the dissonance was exhibited in numerous ways. On the one hand, the President spoke in support of the dignity of all Americans and against acts of discrimination directed towards gays. At the same time, he made strategic pronouncements in favor of an amendment to the Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage...spoken in terms that were broad enough to allow moderates to believe he may not oppose the affording of some benefits to same-sex couples while also leaving the far right convinced the President understood the absolute necessity of the amendment and the negligibly vague references to "allowing" for some lesser rights for gays.
The fact that the homosexuality of the Vice President's daughter, Mary Cheney, was seemingly acceptable provided another avenue for telegraphing. Dick Cheney's ability to voice some level of disagreement with the President's occasionally more definitive position helped muddy the waters and allowed observers to draw whatever inferences they favored.
I'll offer one final observation relative to telegraphing. I believe George Bush's success with the strategy was enhanced by his belief that these discordant statements should be delivered proximate. The less time allowed between the statements helps to nullify the negative impact of both while still delivering an important message to each constituent group.
I view Mike Huckabee's current strategy with regard to illegal immigration (Mexicans) much the same. I doubt telegraphing was initially a key element of his campaign. However, my impression is that Huckabee is an able politician...but even more so an astute learner. In short order, this crafty Christian has discovered the merits of message manipulation.
The following videos track the subtle, though significant, Huckabee shift on immigration. Note that in the first video (April 13, 2007) he focuses upon his compassion and understanding for those who are here illegally...suggesting that there should be a process for them to pay some fines and begin their assimilation. He doesn't indicate his desire to send them all back home before this can begin.
Huckabee On Immigration - April 13, 2007
In this second video, the former governor positions himself as a person of compassion...going so far as to tell voters that if they're looking for a president with a mean spirit, he's not going to do it and they should choose another candidate.
Huckabee On Immigration - September 5, 2007
In this third video, Huckabee wants to first make clear that he and most American's aren't and shouldn't be angry at immigrants; instead the problem is the failure of the government to enforce our existing laws. He avoids talk of sending all of the immigrants home while attempting to infer that there should be a simple process to have employers identify illegals and press them to begin the appropriate legal process.
Huckabee On Charlie Rose - November 1, 2007
In this fourth video, Huckabee is addressing the remarks he made the prior evening at the YouTube debate. Note his recognition that immigration is an issue that angers and impassions voters. He seems to still be struggling to abandon his compassionate stance though one gets the sense he's increasingly frustrated at his inability to redirect the dialogue. He's more defensive than in his prior discussions.
He closes by alluding to his position being apt to make his staff cringe and to possibly cost him the election. I suspect he and his staff sense his rising poll numbers and they're struggling to reconcile themselves to an unpopular position on immigration.
Huckabee Following The YouTube Debate - November 29, 2007
In this final video, which follows on the heels of his victory in Iowa, the former Baptist minister starts off with a comment that suggests he'd be happy to avoid the subject. He then moves to quickly defend his position to send illegals home with two defensive arguments. One, he argues we need to have a speedier path to legal immigration...lessening the wait illegals may have in returning to the U.S. Secondly, he posits that the dignity of illegals is dependent upon their compliance with the law...arguing they will feel better if they do it right.
In essence, Huckabee is well on his way to successfully straddling the fence...and doing so while preserving the bulk of his all-important compassionate credentials.
Huckabee During New Hampshire Debate - January 5, 2008
Hence, Mike Huckabee has completed his telegraphing of an immigration policy that satisfies the far right. In so doing, he improves his chances of ingratiating himself to the base of the GOP while removing a formidable obstacle to his acceptability.
Note that this new Huckabee plan avoids any meaningful discussion of a temporary-worker program. In doing so, Huckabee is catering to those who he initially characterized as mean-spirited and likely racist. By and large, this message by omission is now palatable to the voter demographic that views the influx of Mexicans as a threat to the political status quo. Therefore, he can now entice those voters who believe that a rapidly expanding Hispanic population would be apt to undermine the ability of the GOP to promote its preferred ideology.
Simultaneously, his previously unabated compassion for the plight of 12-15 million illegals and their "innocent" children has morphed into a dissertation on the fundamental attributes that will afford these individuals the dignity that comes with obtaining their citizenship...by returning home and getting in line to obtain legal status. In presenting his message in this manner, he succeeds in distracting from the harsh reality of his new position by focusing upon the idealization and elevation of the American dream...a vastly popular and innocuous concept.
Say what you will about the foibles of the George Bush presidency but one should never underestimate his political acumen. Granted, history may frown upon his accomplishments, or lack thereof, while in office...but it may also note his success in achieving his goal of serving as the president for two terms in an evenly split, though wholly divided, nation.
In less than a year, we will know if Mike Huckabee succeeded in adopting much of George Bush's political template. I shudder to think he just might pull it off. If he does, the critical question will instantly be whether the nation can survive more of the same. I have my doubts.
Never let it be said that George Bush lacks a comprehensive energy policy. The President ended his Middle East tour by "asking" (think pretty please) Saudi Arabia to increase OPEC's oil production to lessen the impact of energy costs upon the world economy.
One hour after his plea for more Saudi oil was publicly rejected by the kingdom's oil minister, President Bush made a private visit to Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah to again ask him to open the spigots.
The White House revealed Bush's private meeting with the Saudi monarch to reporters aboard Air Force One as the president flew to Egypt on the next leg of his Mideast trip.
The president went over the head of the oil minister and made his case to King Abdullah and White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said the private conversation may have yielded some daylight in the Saudis' hard-line stance.
"The king says that he understands the situation. He's worried about high oil prices and how they can negatively affect economies around the world," Perino said aboard the presidential jetliner. "The president said there's a hope that as a result of these conversations that OPEC would be encouraged to authorize an increase in production … to help deal with the tight supply problems in this time when we have growing economies across the world, especially in China."
Earlier, Bush told ABC News' Terry Moran how he would lobby the king.
"I will say to him that, 'If it's possible, your majesty, consider what high prices are doing to one of your largest customers,'" Bush said. "In other words, the worst thing that can happen to an oil-producing nation is that the price of oil causes the economy to slow down, because that will inevitably lead to fewer purchases [of oil]."
When Bush ran for the White House in 2000, he said he would "jawbone" America's Saudi allies to lower the price of oil. The price of oil has hit a record of $100 a barrel, but has slipped to a current price of $91 a barrel on fears that the U.S. economy is headed for a recession.
Perhaps I'm ignorant, but if I were the President, I don't think I would run around telling reporters my strategy if all it involved was sweet-talking his majesty. Further, if I'm the Saudi's, Bush's notion that higher prices will "lead to fewer purchases [of oil]" does little more than provide a good laugh to the members of OPEC at their next meeting. It seems pretty simple to me - without an alternative to oil, who are we kidding in thinking OPEC can be pressured?
Little did we know that the meaning of "jawboning" would ultimately culminate in George Bush kissing up to the Saudi's in hopes they would increase oil production. Yes, it sure looks like the President had an effective plan in place. After all, look at the results...record oil prices! Oh, and don't forget all the oil we're getting from Iraq...you know...the oil that was going to pay for the war effort.
OK, with that said, I decided to offer my own "pulled from thin air" version of the President's comprehensive energy policy. I suspect it has as much potential to succeed as the one being followed by George Bush. So here it is...
The President will soon unveil a new strategy...one that is sure to touch a soft spot with the Saudi's and OPEC. After much consideration, he has decided to reach back into the annals of musical history (think Dusty Springfield) to create his "Wishin' & Hopin'" tour. Say what you will about the President's intellect, but his plan to use his charms to woo OPEC into handing over more oil is sheer genius.
Hence, the following graphic shall serve to launch the President's "Wishin' & Hopin'" strategic energy policy. Let the oil flow!
George W. Bush - Wishin' & Hopin'
Dusty Springfield & Martha Reeves - Wishin' & Hopin'
Any doubt that Mike Huckabee is the dream candidate for most evangelicals can be dispelled by watching the following video. In the span of 30 seconds, the former Baptist minister makes his clear argument for a theocracy. Nothing like calling for the virtual discounting of more than 200 years of constitutional governance in order to pander to those who believe that "Biblical Law" should supersede all else.
Yep, so much for the separation of church and state and the freedom to worship as one chooses or to not worship at all. Perhaps Mr. Huckabee's next move can be to call for a Crusade to vanquish all other religions so we can live under the laws of the "one true god". Why not...it gives the christians someone new to attack now that the allure of gay bashing seems to be waning.
If one were looking for a silver lining in the Huckster's statement, perhaps this will give the Mexicans a momentary reprieve while we focus on the Islamists and the "foolish" beliefs they garner from the Qur'an.
After all, how can we have compassionate conservatism until we vanquish all those who hold false beliefs. Looks like the Axis of Evil just grew exponentially. It just goes to show that religious tolerance may well be the ultimate oxymoron...and Mike Huckabee wants us to know that he is one hell of a moron.
Another installment of Mo Rocca 180. In this man-on-the-street report, Mo posits the question of whether Mitt Romney should use his alleged full name, "Mittens" or continue to use the shortened version Mitt. To spice things up a bit, Mo tosses out a few alternatives while keeping with the cat motif...like whiskers of fluffy.
Romney's first name is actually Willard...so adding to Rocca's ruse, one might argue that Willard Mitt Romney's propensity to change his positions is consistent with his two dichotomous names. On the one hand, Willard clearly harkens back to the 1971 movie of the same name...a tale of a troubled loner who enlists his pet rats to exact revenge on his antagonizers; on the other hand, Mittens is a clear reference to cats. Given that cats and rats are akin to water and oil, is it any wonder that Willard Mitt can't make up his mind?
Expanding on the critters theme, I've also included a video of The Unicorn Song by The Irish Rovers (adapted from the Shel Silverstein poem, The Unicorn)...which includes the lyrics, "there were cats and rats and elephants (think GOP), but lord I'm so forlorn, I just can't see no unicorn". Perhaps Willard Mitt's message is as ethereal as a unicorn? Feel free to expand on the theme from there.
About Mo Rocca:
I've always felt Mo Rocca was one of the most underrated comics in the business. Perhaps that's a function of my interest in politics and the fact that Rocca is as knowledgeable as most of the news reporters we see on television. Even better, his skill at deadpan comedy in a political setting is unmatched.
Rocca has covered a lot of territory in is career; having worked as a correspondent on The Daily Show, worked on Larry King Live as a consultant/political historian, and now as a feature player on The Tonight Show. He also appears on PBS, VH1, The Food Network, and has a regular show on Sirius Satellite Radio.
His work during the 2004 Democratic and Republican conventions is some of his best. Besides being quite funny, his knowledge of U.S. presidents is extensive and the fact that he wrote a book on the pets of the presidents titled, All the Presidents' Pets: The Inside Story of One Reporter Who Refused to Roll Over, only adds to his comic depth.
It looks like Chris Crocker and Britney Spears are karmically connected in some bizarre way. Most likely it stems from Chris's obsession with all things Britney.
I doubt the timing of Chris's latest video (a "cover" of Britney's song "Piece Of Me") was planned to coincide with Britney's latest episode...but it's rather amusing that Chris is back on the scene just as Britney is literally and figuratively "out of it".
While I prefer Chris's hysterical crying to his singing...because it's much funnier...I felt compelled to post his latest YouTube offering. Perhaps it's just me, but his "studio mic" set up is a hoot...ya gotta love his determination to be just like his idol.
Warning: While the video doesn't contain nudity, some may find portions to be offensive. It isn't to me, but I thought it better to include the caution than not.
Favor who you will for the presidency in 2008...but the speech Barack Obama gave tonight following his victory in the Iowa Democratic primary will no doubt be noted as memorable and significant. Should he go on to win the presidency, history will likely record this as the pivotal moment in defining his political relevance and maturation.
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