Tag Archives: liberal

Gabe Sherman: Bill O’Reilly Is Out at Fox News

Mother Jones

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Gabriel Sherman, who has made a career out of reporting about Fox News, says serial lech Bill O’Reilly is out:

The Murdochs have decided Bill O’Reilly’s 21-year run at Fox News will come to an end. According to sources briefed on the discussions, network executives are preparing to announce O’Reilly’s departure before he returns from an Italian vacation on April 24. Now the big questions are how the exit will look and who will replace him.

…Sources briefed on the discussions say O’Reilly’s exit negotiations are moving quickly. Right now, a key issue on the table is whether he would be allowed to say good-bye to his audience, perhaps the most loyal in all of cable (O’Reilly’s ratings have ticked up during the sexual-harassment allegations). Fox executives are leaning against allowing him to have a sign-off, sources say. The other main issue on the table is money. O’Reilly recently signed a new multi-year contract worth more than $20 million per year. When Roger Ailes left Fox News last summer, the Murdochs paid out $40 million, the remainder of his contract.

O’Reilly’s audience apparently likes the fact that he hits on women constantly in crude and demeaning ways. I guess this doesn’t surprise me. Or does it? I’m not sure. But one thing is for sure: O’Reilly’s audience really, really hates the idea of caving into the liberal social justice warriors.

So: no Roger Ailes, no Megyn Kelly, no Greta van Susteren, no Gretchen Carlson, no Bill O’Reilly. It’s just not the same at Fox anymore. At least they still have Sean Hannity.


Gabe Sherman: Bill O’Reilly Is Out at Fox News

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Pat Buchanan Defends Donald Trump

Mother Jones

Jay Nordlinger and I don’t agree on much, but I’ve never held that against him. However, with 17 days left until we go to the polls, I do hold against him the five minutes of my life that I lost from reading Pat Buchanan’s latest column. But you know what? If I have to suffer, so do you. Ladies and gentlemen, here is Buchanan’s latest defense of Donald Trump:

What explains the hysteria of the establishment? In a word, fear.

….By suggesting he might not accept the results of a “rigged election” Trump is committing an unpardonable sin. But this new cult, this devotion to a new holy trinity of diversity, democracy and equality, is of recent vintage and has shallow roots. For none of the three — diversity, equality, democracy — is to be found in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Federalist Papers or the Pledge of Allegiance.

….Some of us recall another time, when Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas wrote in “Points of Rebellion”: “We must realize that today’s Establishment is the new George III. Whether it will continue to adhere to his tactics, we do not know. If it does, the redress, honored in tradition, is also revolution.” Baby-boomer radicals loved it, raising their fists in defiance of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew. But now that it is the populist-nationalist right that is moving beyond the niceties of liberal democracy to save the America they love, elitist enthusiasm for “revolution” seems more constrained.

Nordlinger comments:

Around the world, there are many, many places that lack the “niceties of liberal democracy.” You don’t want to live there. You would quickly discover that the niceties are more like necessities — a rule of law necessary to live a good, decent, and free life.

Is this just garden-variety Buchanan? It’s been years since I’ve read or listened to him. He’s always been a bit of a lunatic, but it seems like he’s gotten even crazier in his old age.


Pat Buchanan Defends Donald Trump

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As the largest storm in a decade nears Florida, the Caribbean starts to dig out.

Six of the eight U.S. senators from Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas are climate deniers, rejecting the consensus of 99.98 percent of peer-reviewed scientific papers that human activity is causing global warming. The exceptions are South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham and Florida’s Bill Nelson — the lone Democrat of the bunch.

Here are some of the lowlights from their comments on the climate change:

-Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who does not understand the difference between climate and weather, arguing against climate action in a presidential debate in March: “As far as a law that we can pass in Washington to change the weather, there’s no such thing.”

-Back in 2011, North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr said: “I have no clue [how much of climate change is attributable to human activity], and I don’t think that science can prove it.”

-In 2014, North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis claimed that “the liberal agenda, the Obama agenda, the [then Sen.] Kay Hagan agenda, is trying to use [climate change] as a Trojan horse for their energy policy.”

-Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson offered his analysis  last year on whether the Greenland ice sheet is melting (it is): “There are mixed reviews on that, and there’s mixed scientific evidence on that.”

-Georgia Sen. David Perdue told Slate in 2014 that “in science, there’s an active debate going on,” about whether carbon emissions are behind climate change.

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As the largest storm in a decade nears Florida, the Caribbean starts to dig out.

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Democrats Are Freaking Out. But They’ve Been Here Before.

Mother Jones

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The polls are tightening and the freak-out is beginning. With hours to go before the first presidential debate, FiveThirtyEight‘s polls-plus forecast gives former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton just a 53.4 percent chance of winning the election. It’s the closest the race has been since the elections site unveiled its model in June. The “bedwetting cometh,” tweeted New York Times political reporter Jonathan Martin.

But Democrats have been here before. In 2012, President Barack Obama held a modest but consistent lead over Republican nominee Mitt Romney heading into the first debate, only to uncharacteristically collapse. Within a few days, the lead had evaporated—according to FiveThirtyEight, Obama’s chances went from 86.1 percent to 61.1 percent, the steepest drop of the campaign—and his supporters started to lose it. No one captured this liberal angst better then Andrew Sullivan, then of the Daily Beast, who had championed Obama in 2008 and joyfully called him “the first gay president” in a Newsweek cover story.

Following Obama’s first debate with Romney, Sullivan was inconsolable:

Maybe if Romney can turn this whole campaign around in 90 minutes, Obama can now do the same. But I doubt it. A sitting president does not recover from being obliterated on substance, style and likability in the first debate and get much of a chance to come back. He has, at a critical moment, deeply depressed his base and his supporters and independents are flocking to Romney in droves.

I’ve never seen a candidate self-destruct for no external reason this late in a campaign before. Gore was better in his first debate—and he threw a solid lead into the trash that night. Even Bush was better in 2004 than Obama last week. Even Reagan’s meandering mess in 1984 was better—and he had approaching Alzheimer’s to blame.

I’m trying to see a silver lining. But when a president self-immolates on live TV, and his opponent shines with lies and smiles, and a record number of people watch, it’s hard to see how a president and his party recover. I’m not giving up. If the lies and propaganda of the last four years work even after Obama had managed to fight back solidly against them to get a clear and solid lead in critical states, then reality-based government is over in this country again. We’re back to Bush-Cheney, but more extreme. We have to find a way to avoid that. Much, much more than Obama’s vanity is at stake.

A week later, after the vice presidential debate had passed, Sullivan was even further gone. “Obama threw it all back in his supporters’ faces, reacting to their enthusiasm and record donations with a performance so execrable, so lazy, so feckless, and so vain it was almost a dare not to vote for him,” he wrote. And then Obama rebounded at the next two debates and won 332 electoral votes.

The race heading into the first debate tonight is closer than it was heading into the first presidential debate in 2012. If the election were held today, there’s a virtually even chance that Donald Trump would win. But Clinton backers anxiously hitting refresh on FiveThirtyEight and consulting their astrologers would do well to reread Sullivan’s lament. It’s fine to panic, but a 7-point polling swing is nothing a few good debates can’t reverse.

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Democrats Are Freaking Out. But They’ve Been Here Before.

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Here Is the Democratic Party’s Draft Platform

Mother Jones

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The Democratic Party released a draft version of its proposed party platform late Friday afternoon. The platform won’t be finalized until the Platform Committee meets in a week, followed by a vote at the party’s convention in Philadelphia, but it’s a good guidepost for what will make it into the final version. The proposal includes a host of liberal policy ideas, including raising the minimum wage to $15 nationwide; opposing an increase in the retirement age and cuts to Social Security; taxing top earners more to pay into the Social Security trust fund; securing equal pay for women and 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave for all workers; and abolishing the death penalty.

Whether the inclusion of a host of progressive policy throughout the document will be enough to appease Sen. Bernie Sanders remains to be seen.

Read the full draft (plastered, unfortunately, with sight-obscuring background text) below:

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Here Is the Democratic Party’s Draft Platform

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How Should We Talk About Racism?

Mother Jones

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Steve Randy Waldman picks up today on a brief Twitter disagreement from a few days ago. Here’s (part of) his response to my contention that racism was at the heart of Britain’s vote to leave the EU:

It may or may not be accurate to attribute the political behavior of large groups of people to racism, but it is not very useful. Those people got to be that way somehow. Presumably they, or eventually their progeny, can be un-got from being that way somehow. It is, I think, a political and moral error to content oneself with explanations that suggest no remedy at all, or that suggest prima facie problematic responses like ridiculing, ignoring, disenfranchising, or going to war with large groups of fellow citizens, unless no other explanations are colorable.

….It seems to me that the alleged “good guys” — the liberal, cosmopolitan class of which I myself am a part — have fallen into habits of ridiculing, demonizing, writing off, or, in our best moments, merely patronizing huge swathes of the polities to which we belong. They may do the same to us, but we are not toddlers, that is no excuse. In the United States, in Europe, we are allowing ourselves to disintegrate and arguing about who is to blame. Let’s all be better than that.

I don’t have a good answer to this, and I’ve struggled with it for some time. On the one hand, the truth is important. If I believe that racism is an important driver of a political movement (Brexit, Donald Trump), then I should say so. It’s dishonest to tap dance around it just because it’s uncomfortable or politically unhelpful.

At the same time, it usually is politically unhelpful. Accusations of racism tend to end conversations, not start them—and, as Waldman says, implicitly suggest that our problems are intractable. What’s more, there’s a good case to be made that liberals toss around charges of racism too cavalierly and should dial it back. In fact, you can go even further than that. Politically, liberals might very well be off never using the R-word again.

So: should we tell the truth as we see it even if it rarely leads to any useful outcome? Or adopt softer language that skirts the issue but has a better chance of prompting engagement from non-liberals? I don’t know. But speaking just for myself, I generally try not to ridicule or demonize “huge swathes” of the country. Instead, I prefer to put the blame where I mostly think it belongs. In the post Waldman is referring to, for example, I said this about Brexit:

At its core, it’s the last stand of old people who have been frightened to death by cynical right-wing media empires and the demagogues who enable them—all of whom have based their appeals on racism as overt as anything we’ve seen in decades. It’s loathsome beyond belief, and not something I thought I’d ever see in my lifetime. But that’s where we are.

People are people. To some extent, we’re all prisoners of the environments we were raised in and the trials we’ve been through over the course of our lives. That might call for empathy and understanding as much as it calls for censure. But one thing it doesn’t excuse is politicians and media personalities who very much know better but cynically appeal to racial sentiment anyway, either for ratings or for votes. Calling out these folks for appealing to racism—or even just tolerating it—is almost certainly useful. It might not happen fast, but eventually they can be embarrassed into cutting it out. It sure is taking a long time, though.

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How Should We Talk About Racism?

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Let Us Now Figure Out Who to Blame for Brexit

Mother Jones

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Brexit has passed, and now it’s time to find someone to blame. Sure, you can go with the pack and blame David Cameron or Nigel Farage, but that’s not much fun. Here are four plausible but not entirely obvious choices:

Ed Milliband

In order to keep peace within his own party, Prime Minister David Cameron promised a vote on Brexit in 2013. It seemed fairly harmless at the time: Cameron’s Conservative Party was about 20 seats short of an outright majority in Parliament, so he was governing in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats. The Lib Dems opposed the referendum, and as long as they remained in the coalition, there would most likely have been no vote. To maintain this status quo, neither the Lib Dems nor the opposition Labor Party even had to gain any seats in the 2015 election. They just had to hold their own.

But Ed Milliband proved to be such a hapless leader of the Labor Party that he lost 26 seats in the election. This was just enough to give the Tories a bare majority, and that paved the way for Brexit.

Alternatively, you could blame Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, who managed his party’s coalition with Cameron poorly and lost an astounding 49 of its 57 seats in the 2015 election. But Labor was the primary opposition party and should have been able to pick up most of those seats, so let’s stick with Milliband on this one.

Angela Merkel

For all the praise she gets, Angela Merkel has been one of the most disastrous European leaders in my lifetime. She’s as responsible for Brexit as anyone I can think of, thanks to two catastrophic decisions she made.

The first was her insistence on punishing Greece following its collapse after the Great Recession. There’s plenty of blame to go around on all sides for the Greece debacle, but as the continent’s economic leader Germany held most of the high cards during negotiations over Greece’s fate. Merkel had a choice: (a) punish Greece for running up unsustainable debts and lying about them, or (b) accept that Germany bore much of the blame itself for the crisis and that Greece had no way of rescuing itself thanks to the straitjacket of the common currency. The former was a crowd pleaser. The latter was unpopular and would have required sustained, iron-spined leadership. In the event, Merkel chose to play to the crowds, and Greece has been a basket case ever since—with no end in sight. It hardly went unnoticed in Britain how Europe treated a country that was too entangled with the EU to either fight back or exit, and it made Britain’s decision to forego the common currency look prescient. And if that had been a good choice, maybe all the rest of “ever closer union” wasn’t such a great idea either.

Merkel’s second bad decision was more recent. Here is David Frum: “If any one person drove the United Kingdom out of the European Union, it was Angela Merkel, and her impulsive solo decision in the summer of 2015 to throw open Germany—and then all Europe—to 1.1 million Middle Eastern and North African migrants, with uncountable millions more to come.” It’s hard to fault Merkel for this on a humanitarian basis, but on a political basis it was a disaster. The barely-controlled wave of refugees Merkel encouraged has caused resentment and more all over Europe, and it unquestionably played a big role in the immigrant backlash in Britain that powered the Leave vote.

Paul Dacre

Paul Dacre is the longtime editor of the Daily Mail, and he’s standing in here for the entire conservative tabloid press, which has spent decades lying about the EU and scaring the hell out of its readership about every grisly murder ever committed by an immigrant. In a journalistic style pioneered by Boris Johnson—who we’ll get to next—the Mail and other tabloids have run hundreds of sensational stories about allegedly idiotic EU regulations and how they’re destroying not just Britain’s way of life, but its very sovereignty as well. These stories range from deliberately exaggerated to outright false, and they’re so relentless that the EU has an entire website dedicated to debunking British tabloid myths from A (abattoirs) to Z (zoos). The chart below, from the Economist, tots up all the lies, and the Mail is the clear leader.

The EU is hardly a finely-tuned watch when it comes to regulations, but the vast majority of the outrage over its rulings is based almost literally on nothing. Nonetheless, the outrage is real, and it was fueled largely by Dacre’s Daily Mail and its fellow tabloids.

Boris Johnson

Why Boris? After all, it was Nigel Farage, the odious leader of the openly xenophobic UKIP party, who led the charge to leave the EU. This is, perhaps, a judgment call, but I’ve long had a stronger disgust for those who tolerate racism than for the open racists themselves. The latter are always going to be around, and sometimes I even have a little sympathy for them. They’ve often spent their entire lives marinating in racist communities and are as much a victim of their upbringing as any of us.

But then there are those who should know better, and Boris Johnson is very much one of them. The usual caveat is in order here: I can’t look into Johnson’s heart and know what he really thinks. But he’s had a long journalistic career, and an equally long history of tolerating racist sentiments. As a longtime Euroskeptic—though probably more an opportunistic one rather than a true believer—it’s no surprise that he campaigned for Brexit, but in doing so he knowingly joined hands with Farage and his UKIP zealots, providing them with a respectability they wouldn’t have had without him. He knew perfectly well that the Leave campaign would be based primarily on exploiting fear of immigrants, but he joined up anyway.

Johnson is hardly the only British politician to act this way, of course. But he’s the most prominent one, so he gets to stand in for all of them.

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Let Us Now Figure Out Who to Blame for Brexit

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Elizabeth Warren Lists All the Ways She Considers Trump a "Loser"

Mother Jones

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In a Twitter rampage on Monday afternoon, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) enumerated all the ways in which she considers Donald Trump a loser. The liberal favorite launched a barrage of critiques at the Republican presidential candidate, tweeting about everything from the Trump University fiasco to Trump’s numerous corporate bankruptcies. She repeatedly called him a “loser” and concluded, “It’s our job to make sure @realDonaldTrump ends this campaign every bit the loser that he started it.”

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Elizabeth Warren Lists All the Ways She Considers Trump a "Loser"

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Today’s Bad Memes: Faulty Earpieces and Gotcha Politics

Mother Jones

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Donald Trump “explains” why he declined to denounce David Duke and the KKK yesterday:

“I’m sitting in a house in Florida with a very bad earpiece they gave me and you could hardly hear what he was saying,” Mr. Trump said on the “Today” show on Monday, after about 24 hours of condemnation from Democrats and Republicans.

The transcript makes it crystal clear that Trump heard the question just fine. He just didn’t want to disavow the support of white supremacists on national TV. And Laura Ingraham thinks that’s peachy:

We know what’s going on here. David Duke is repugnant, but, frankly, it’s also repugnant to not talk about the issues that really matter to Americans….And the old games of gotcha politics, they’re going to do it, but it’s really not going to help any black American get a job. It’s not going to help any Hispanic American get a job or any poor white guy from West Virginia to get a job.

Yeah, that’s gotcha politics for you. How dare the liberal media play these kinds of games?

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Today’s Bad Memes: Faulty Earpieces and Gotcha Politics

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Big Recessions Are Good For Right-Wing Politics

Mother Jones

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I guess today is David Dayen day. Over at the New Republic, he points me to an interesting new historical study of systemic banking crises. Here’s what happens when the financial system implodes:

Both before and after WWII, the authors find the same dynamic: the voting share of far-right parties increases by about a third and national legislatures become more fractured and dysfunctional. This doesn’t happen after normal recessions. Only after major recessions caused by a banking crisis.

Why? The authors are unsure. One possible explanation, they say, is that financial crises “may have social repercussions that are not observable after non-financial recessions. For example, it is possible that the disputes between creditors and debtors are uglier or that inequality rises more strongly….Financial crises typically involve bailouts for the financial sector and these are highly unpopular, which may result in greater political dissatisfaction.” Or maybe this: “After a crisis, voters seem to be particularly attracted to the political rhetoric of the extreme right, which often attributes blame to minorities or foreigners.”

Since we’re guessing here, I’ll add my two cents. People are, in general, more generous when times are good. Policywise, they’re more likely to approve of safety net programs that help the poor, which are generally associated with the left. But when times turn bad, people get scared and mean—and the longer the bad times last, the meaner they get. When people have lost their jobs, or had their hours cut, or seen the value of their home crash, they’re just not as sympathetic to helping out the poor. They’re looking out for their own families instead.

Politically, the result of this is pretty obvious. Liberal parties think that bad times are precisely when the poor need the most help, so they propose more social spending. Right-wing parties, by contrast, oppose increased spending.

In public, this usually isn’t framed as support or opposition to doling out money to the poor. Liberals talk about stimulus and countercyclical spending. Conservatives talk about massive budget deficits and skyrocketing government outlays. But it doesn’t really matter. What people hear is that liberals want to spend more on the poor and conservatives don’t. When people are feeling vulnerable and mean, the conservative message resonates with them.

From a practical policy standpoint, this makes little sense. Liberals are right that recessions are the best time to spend more on safety-net programs, both because the poor need the help and because it acts as useful stimulus. But human nature doesn’t work that way, and conservatives have the better read on that.

So what’s the answer? Dayen suggests that banks and bank bailouts are central to this dynamic, so we need to take a meat axe to the political power of the financial sector. I’m all for that. But my guess is that this isn’t really key. I think people just get scared when times are bad, and hate the idea of their tax dollars going to other people. This means the answer is to assuage both their financial anxiety and their perception that their money is being spent on the poor. So how about something that dramatically makes this point? Say, a one-year income tax holiday for everyone making less than $70,000 coupled with explicit promises to increase the deficit and help the poor. The tax holiday could be extended year by year as necessary, or phased out gradually.

Why something like this? Because it puts more money in everyone’s pocket and reduces their angst over money matters. It also makes it crystal clear that their money isn’t being spent on the poor. They aren’t paying any taxes, after all. Under those circumstances, helping out the poor would probably strike most people as a lovely idea.

Obviously conservatives would still oppose this, and the tax holiday wouldn’t last forever. Still, it’s worth a thought. You need something dramatic to cut through people’s fears, and this might do it.


Big Recessions Are Good For Right-Wing Politics

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