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It’s pretty sad that Emperor of the Villagers Mark Halperin is only now being suspended for accidentally being caught calling Obama a dick.  Jeebus knows that he fills his blog and columns with fire-able examples of laughable incompetence every day.

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Rush Limbaugh

"Why yes, I'll gladly take a million to pimp a nicotene patch...why no, I don't see anything wrong with that, why do you ask?"

So, it’s come to light that nearly all the big names in conservative talk radio take huge amounts of money from the Heritage Foundation to exclusively push their ideas. As someone who basically thinks the entire think tank model is irreparably compromised and corrupt, I must admit that even I was taken aback by that. I previously saw think tanks as sort of being to academia what for-profit colleges were to, well, actual universities. Turns out that was an overly generous assessment.

The only reasonable conclusion here is that Heritage is not a disinterested academic group devoted to seeking the truth and promoting sound policy, but rather a propaganda outfit intent on crowding out opposing viewpoints (both from the right and left) and using unsavory methods to do so. Yeah, what else is new, but this is a startlingly clear example. In a rational world, this would end the careers of Limbaugh, Hannity, and the rest of the hosts that took cash from Heritage. It should also mark the end of Heritage as well. Alas, we do not live in a rational world, we live in a world where Ralph Reed can pick up where he left off a few years after getting caught up in the Abramoff scandal, where Andrew Breitbart is still courted by mainstream outlets. I don’t doubt that right-wing equilibrium will barely be broken by this revelation. The best we can hope for is that a few of the remaining intelligent and thoughtful Republicans will take note of this and demand better from their party and their movement. After all, why would an allegedly academic institution be throwing so much money at popular pundits? There’s no narrative that makes that not sketchy as hell.

I rather enjoyed David Frum’s article on the matter, as well as his theories on why conservative news is shoddy:

1) Conservative media outlets don’t see themselves as part of “the media.” They are comfortable demanding standards from “the media” that they defiantly reject for themselves, whether standards of objectivity or standards of ethics.

2) Conservative media outlets believe that non-conservative media outlets engage in all manner of deeply hidden bias, corruption, and general wrongdoing — and that these practices not only justify but virtually require conservatives to match their non-conservative adversaries bias for bias, payoff for payoff.

3) Conservative media outlets are harbingers of an emerging American media culture defined by the collapse of traditional revenue sources. In this new world, revenue will be scarcer, competition for revenue more ferocious —and standards will be everywhere pushed downward by competitive pressure.

Let’s adopt shorter versions of these theories: (1) is hypocrisy, (2) is relativism, and (3) is corruption. He, like myself, is most scared of number three. Given CNN’s recent history, it might well be the correct answer. But theory number four could be that it’s simply a huge money-maker to operate the way Rush does, and the way FOX does, and there’s no real incentive for right-of-center people to go against FOX except for doing the right thing for its own sake. Which is to say, don’t bet on it happening soon.

If you’re looking for a positive lining here, I guess you can go with the fact that right-wing media ultimately isn’t going to be able to sustain the popularity it has now for many more years, and that they sincerely believe so much bullshit is an acute political weakness and not a strength. I’m quite convinced that FOX’s bullshit over how the Iraq War was secretly going great, the violence was overstated and the people loved us and so on was to a large extent responsible for GOP losses in 2006 and to some extent in 2008, and while things changed in 2010 I wouldn’t bet on it staying that way.

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I was pondering our execrable national news media today and came to realize that we’re just right royally fucked.

Sometime in the long-long-ago, some brilliant GOP strategist discovered that all they have to do to win the messaging war is create a “controversy” over something.  That way, the media is forced to report on “both sides” – when, in actuality, one side isn’t actually making any kind of empirically valid argument but, rather, is simply relying on the fact that the media is reporting on an argument in order to win the argument.

Take, for example, climate change.  The GOP (and the businesses that bribe them donate to their campaigns) aren’t really relying on any factually based arguments against the theory of man-made climate change – they are basically winning the war because even the Discovery channel is now putting out weather shows with lead-ins like “While opinions differ on what is causing the dramatic rise in global temperatures…”

You can pretty much apply the same analysis to most of the important issues of our day.  Take Medicare for example.  The primary Democratic position is that Medicare basically works but that we need to figure out some way to tackle skyrocketing medical costs.  The Republican position?  Kill Medicare.  What do “serious” people in the media then ask us?  Well — obviously — the serious conversation to have is “how much of Medicare should we kill?

I really don’t know how we’re going to unfuck ourselves when we’ve got a country full of willfully ignorant rubes and a national media that falls all over themselves to enable our collective ignorance.

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No one could have predicted that Donald Trump was just running a long con on our esteemed national stenographer pool media establishment to garner untold millions in free publicity.

Does this teach us that Paris Hilton needs to publicly flirt with the idea of announcing her intent to hold a press conference to announce a new TV special on which she will might announce a run for the Presidency (at some point) in order to burnish her waning brand?

Wouldn’t hurt.

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This Politico post pissed me off: “But the gathering, the first of which took place last Easter, also allows a president whose faith is at times questioned the opportunity to worship with an array of bold-faced names in the Christian community.”

Naturally, the link within the post links to another Politico article on the topic. Which is basically a statement that the only people questioning the president’s faith in the media are, in fact, Politico. Why do they care? I don’t know. This is why I’m pessimistic that birtherism is going to remain a fringe issue. Good on Jan Brewer for vetoing the birther bill, but putatively serious Republican Bobby Jindal is on board with the concept, and I doubt he’s the only one noticing Donald Trump’s success with the issue. The media has rightly responded to the very idea of birtherism with disgust and disbelief, but they also largely believe that the media should never take a stance on anything, ever. I suppose this could be the final straw that breaks the camel’s back, but I’m not exactly expecting it to happen.

Title reference here:

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What a bold, courageous and serious idea!  (via DougJ):

Said Andrew Sullivan of the plan: "While I may disagree with the proposal to turn old people into food, at least this finally got the CONVERSATION STARTED!"

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I was reading an interesting Economist article today on the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile merger when I came across a sentence that really left me scratching my head:

“The suspicion is that Mr Obama, desperate both to build some broken fences with big business and to make progress on connecting every American home to the internet, will give in.”

Can I just ask everyone a simple question?  What quantifiable measure shows that has Obama done anything to hurt “big business” during his time in office? I mean, seriously

For why I’m so nonplussed, dig this inconvenient block of facts from Glenzilla:

Since Obama was inaugurated, the Dow Jones has increased more than 50% — from 8,000 to more than 12,000; the wealthiest recieved a massive tax cut; the top marginal tax rate was three times less than during the Eisenhower years and substantially lower than during the Reagan years; income and wealth inequality are so vast and rising that it is easily at Third World levels; meanwhile, “the share of U.S. taxes paid by corporations has fallen from 30 percent of federal revenue in the 1950s to 6.6 percent in 2009.”  During this same time period, the unemployment rate has increased from 7.7% to 8.9%; millions of Americans have had their homes foreclosed; and the number of Americans living below the poverty line increased by many millions, the largest number since the statistic has been recorded.  Can you smell Obama’s radical egalitarianism and Marxist anti-business hatred yet?

The only thing that explains to my satisfaction this whole “Anti-Business Obama” zombie meme is the apparently stellar ability of the Republican mind control apparatus to implant complete fabrications in the minds of both the media establishment and its viewers.  Any other ideas?  WTF?

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