Friday, November 5, 2010

Steve Benen thinks the suspension is just as overly harsh as I do...

From Olbermann Suspended Indefinitely Without Pay:

I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on the personnel policies of NBC News, but if Politico's account is correct, Olbermann really did seem to break the network's rules. It appears to be a fairly minor infraction, but I suppose the host should have known better. A slap on the wrist, with a stern note about not doing it again, would probably be appropriate.

But an indefinite suspension without pay seems way over the top under the circumstances. We are, after all, talking about three checks -- one each for three candidates. As we talked about earlier, the MSNBC host's donations were made in his personal capacity; he disclosed his contributions; and he never encouraged others to support these campaigns.

As I understand it, the NBC News rule is intended to maintain a professional standard -- media professionals on the NBC News payroll are supposed to appear politically neutral. That's a noble intention. But the last time I checked, Keith Olbermann hosts a show with a point of view. His opinions are not only obvious, they're a key part of his program, which happens to be the highest rated on MSNBC.

As a "Countdown" viewer, I can say with confidence that I'm not surprised he cut a few checks for candidates he liked; I'm more surprised he didn't write more checks for other candidates he liked.

The network policy notes that the restrictions are necessary, because political activities may "jeopardize [employees'] standing as an impartial journalist." But therein lies the point -- those who watch Olbermann are well aware of his politics. Psst -- no one considers him "impartial."

Besides, if we're going to be sticklers for such things, I can't help but notice that Joe Scarborough has also contributed to like-minded candidates -- identified on his disclosure forms as an MSNBC host -- and Pat Buchanan has been writing some campaign checks, too. Neither faced suspension. (For the record, I don't think they should be punished, either.)

And just to reinforce the contrast, let's also remember that News Corp made multiple undisclosed donations to the Republican Governors Association, totaling at least $1.25 million, in addition to a $1 million contribution to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for its pro-Republican election-year activities. Fox News has helped GOP candidates raise money on the air; Fox News personalities are featured guests at Republican fundraisers; while other Fox News personalities continue to help generate financial support for Republican candidates now, even after the elections.

And Olbermann has been suspended indefinitely without pay for $7,200 in donations? Granted, NBC News and MSNBC are legitimate news outlets with professional standards News Corp and Fox News lack, but regardless, it's a reminder that today's punishment far exceeds his fairly inconsequential infractions.

Greg Sargent at the Washington Post thinks the suspension is just as fishy as I do...

Did Keith Olbermann even violate NBC policy?

Last time I checked, Keith Olbermann doesn't pretend to be an "impartial journalist."

Likewise, neither do Joe Scarborough or Pat Buchanan, both of whom have also given political contributions. It seems possible that none of these three would think they may have violated company policy.

Odder still, an anonymous NBC insider told Gawker that it's common knowledge within the organization that MSNBC's left-leaning personalities aren't necessarily required to follow NBC News rules. That makes sense, since MSNBC is pushing the envelope politically in a way NBC, obviously, isn't.

Again: We don't know yet what happened here. MSNBC's P.R. department is not responding to inquiries about whether Scarborough or Buchanan notified MSNBC brass before making their contributions. But it's certainly fair to ask, if they're axing Olbermann.

The fact that it's not even crystal clear that Olbermann violated NBC policy suggests that this firing could be a pretext for getting rid of him because he has difficult relations with management, or worse, because MSNBC is terrified of critics who claim it's becoming the lefty version of Fox News.

Until we learn more, the network's case against Olbermann is looking increasingly tenuous.

Randi Rhodes said it flat out on air. Comcast is buying out NBC/Universal. Comcast could be looking at doing some cost-cutting, so all of this could be a bit of a negotiation.

Keith Olbermann just got suspended, and the reasoning a little shaky.

I've had a lot of problems with Keith over the last couple of months, but I think MSNBC really screwed the pooch on this one.  I have the feeling its about Keith giving money to politicians he's interviewed.

And Huffington Post is telling me I'm right:

MSNBC has suspended star anchor Keith Olbermann following the news that he had donated to three Democratic candidates this election cycle.

"I became aware of Keith's political contributions late last night. Mindful of NBC News policy and standards, I have suspended him indefinitely without pay," MSNBC president Phil Griffin said in a statement.

Politico reported Friday that Olbermann had donated $2,400 each to Reps. Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, and to Kentucky Senate contender Jack Conway. While NBC News policy does not prohibit employees from donating to political candidates, it requires them to obtain prior approval from NBC News executives before doing so.

In a statement earlier Friday, Olbermann defended his donation, saying, "I did not privately or publicly encourage anyone else to donate to these campaigns nor to any others in this election or any previous ones, nor have I previously donated to any political campaign at any level."

Griffin's statement underscores that it was Olbermann's failure to obtain approval, and not the actual political donations, that prompted the suspension.

The move is doubly significant in that it represents a major development in the relationship between Griffin and Olbermann, who once told the New Yorker, "Phil thinks he's my boss."

"Keith doesn't run the show," Griffin told New York Magazine recently. "I do a lot of things he doesn't like. I do a lot of things he does."

I'm sorry, but this looks and smells bad coming off the climate we're coming out of.

Why a full suspension, a punishment usually merited for people who have been accused of crimes, instead of a public rebuke.

Is this MSNBC's way of trying to slap down Keith to prove how neutral they are to the incoming Congress? Not saying that's how it is, but I would bet that the Professional Left is going to have a field day with this, and MSNBC has no one but themselves to blame.

Glenn Greenwald vs. Lawrence O'Donnell (VIDEO)

A perfect representation of what a complete waste of time Glenn Greenwald is.  He is the face of what Liberalism continues to get its ass kicked electorally.  Lawrence ripped him apart, and was far too polite to him in doing so.

UPDATE: November 10, 2010: Finally replaced the video with the MSNBC video, which as you can see is much, much, much clearer:

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Steve Benen sums up my feelings nicely...

I'm finally gettin' around.  This is from "With Great Power"...

I'm frustrated. I'm frustrated about some exceptional lawmakers losing their jobs for no good reason. I'm frustrated about the role of secret money in the elections. I'm frustrated that there's so much idiocy in the discourse -- people think Obama raised taxes, bailed out Wall Street, and socialized health care, all of which is completely at odds with reality -- and that too many people believe it. I'm frustrated about voters saying they want all kinds of things -- less gridlock, fewer candidates beholden to special interests -- and then deliberately choosing the opposite.

I'm frustrated that, after two years of digging out of a ditch Republicans put us in, the country is ready to take the next productive step forward, and now that's impossible. I'm frustrated that the economy desperately needs additional investments to create jobs, but that's impossible, too. I'm frustrated that Republican leaders seem to be making no real effort to hide the fact that they prioritize destroying the president over literally everything else.

But most of all, I'm frustrated that there are no meaningful consequences for successes and failures. Republicans began last year as an embarrassed and discredited minority, and proceeded to play as destructive a role as humanly possible as Democrats tried to clean up their mess. GOP officials refused to take policymaking seriously; they refused to work in good faith; they refused to offer coherent solutions; they even refused to accept responsibility for their own catastrophic mistakes.

They've proven themselves wholly unprepared to govern, but have been rewarded with power anyway. It's ... frustrating.

When I say the Tea Party is speaking in racist code, this is what I mean

This is from another Andrew Sullivan piece (I'm still tired from last night, so I'm not reading as far and wide as I usually do), featuring George Packer talking to the GOP "base":

“I’m a constitutional conservative and I do not ever approve of distribution of wealth, and I am not a socialist, this country is not socialist, we are founded on Judeo-Christian principles. I will riot in the street if I have to. I have never been so ashamed of the way Obama has diminished the Presidency. He calls certain people enemies. He doesn’t dress properly. He talks about certain networks. He is just what he is — a Chicago agitator.”

Like I said...

It turns out that my shifting 4 points to Democrats in every Rasmussen poll was the right thing to do

It was almost a joke around the office. Every time a Rasmussen poll came out, I would automatically shift four points to the Democrats, because...I would explain...that's just how Rasmussen is.

Turns out, I was absolutely, 100-75% right. I give you, Nate Silver (courtesy of this catch by Andrew Sullivan):

Rasmussen polls quite consistently turned out to overstate the standing of Republicans tonight. Of the roughly 100 polls released by Rasmussen or its subsidiary Pulse Opinion Research in the final 21 days of the campaign, roughly 70 to 75 percent overestimated the performance of Republican candidates, and on average they were biased against Democrats by 3 to 4 points.

The President's Post-election Press Conference (VIDEO)

After spending all day at the Pasadena Democratic Office's, and all day in meetings today, I haven't blogged much on the obvious news of the day. So let me start with the President's Press Conference this morning, post-election:

BTW, there's a somewhat-too-subtle Veto threat Obama issues over Health Care Reform at the 17:00 minute mark.

The not-too-subtle threat came after the Presser:

It would be a mistake to spend the next two years re-fighting the political battles of the last two years. The President is proud of the progress we have made for average Americans - from health care reform, to financial reform and reforms to our education system. While he has always made it clear that he is open to ideas from both sides of the aisle to improve these important new laws, he will not accept attempts to repeal or weaken them.

Steve Benen has more:

A couple of angles to keep an eye on here. The first is that the president clearly doesn't seem inclined to budge on this. If Boehner & Co. think Obama will be pushed around on health care, and that with the right leverage, repeal is an option, they're mistaken.

The second is this general framework: re-fighting the battles of the past is a mistake. I get the sense the White House is working on a larger message here -- all Republicans want to do is fight over things that happened in the past, instead of focusing on the future -- which may come up quite a bit in the coming months.

This isn't to say health care tweaks are out of the question, and the president brought up "the 1099 provision" today as "something that we should take a look at." But the underlying message to Republicans intending to push for some wholesale overhaul seemed to be pretty straightforward: don't bother.

Monday, November 1, 2010

President Obama's complete Chicago "Moving America Forward" rally (VIDEO)

While you were at the Rally to Restore Sanity, the President was doing this:

Adam Serwer lists the many, many times Muslim-Americans have helped foil Terrorist Attacks.

Good call, sir:

October 2001: The conviction of “Portland 7” case was substantially helped after a local police officer encountered the suspects engaged in target practice. The police officer had been sent to the area after a local citizen notified police that he heard gunfire.

September 2002: Members of the “Lackawanna 6” are arrested. FBI first becomes aware of their activities in June 2001 when a local Muslim community member tips off the FBI.

March 2002: FBI become aware of a possible terror plot by Imran Mandhai (and later Shueyb Jokhan) after they are notified by an American Muslim named “Saif Allah” who attended Mandhai and Jokhan’s same mosque provides a tip.

June 2003: FBI receive two tips from community members notifying them “military-style training” was being conducted suspect by Ali Al-Tamimi. The tip set in motion an investigation later leading to the arrest of the so-called “Paintball 11” in Northern Virginia.

August 2004: James Elshafay and Shahwar Matin Siraj are arrested largely based on the controversial use of an informant in the investigation. However, NYPD were first notified of Siraj after a Muslim community member anonymously notifies New York police about consistently troubling rhetoric coming from the suspect.

February 2006: Muslim community members in Ohio provide information helping to arrest and eventually convict 3 suspects planning attacks in Iraq.

July 2009: Mosque leaders in Raleigh, North Carolina, contact law enforcement to notify them of “violent, threatening action … considered to be dangerous” leading to the arrest of Daniel Boyd and 6 other individuals.

November 2009: Five Virginia Muslim youth are arrested in Pakistan, allegedly seeking to join a terror group, after family members told American federal authorities they went missing.

April 2010: Senegalese Muslim Alioune Niass first spots the suspicious vehicle used as a bomb to attack Times Square in New York City. Clues from the vehicle and defused explosive immediately led to the suspect, Faisal Shahzad’s, arrest.

June 2010: Suspects Mohammed Mahmoud Alessa and Carlos Eduardo Almonte are arrested, after the FBI first receives an anonymous report in 2006 from one of the suspects’ family members. News reports indicate one of Alessa’s family members provided the tip.

Of course, there's more at the American Prospect.

Andrew Sullivan: That ol' Reagan Magic??

So good, I had to put up the whole thing:

"For all our troubles, midterm finds this Administration and this country entering a season of hope. We inherited a mess, we didn't run away from it and now we're turning it around ... My biggest regret is that because the accumulated damages piled up so high for so long, putting America's house in order has been a tough and painful task ... We've got to prove that what we said about it is true - it'll work."

Barack Obama November 2010?

Nope. Ronald Reagan January 1983.

Wonkette: How low can the Media go? Ehhh, pretty low.

Sad but true:

Seeing as it was just days away from the midterms, people who do polling seriously and for a living decided it was high time they collect some numbers on the most important election happening this campaign season. And that election, of course, is a U.S. presidential election pitting Comedy Central characters Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert against one another. Major news businesses the Washington Post and ABC News put all their profits together to commission this very significant poll, and surely the respondents were eager to have ten minutes stolen from their lives to consider which of these two individuals they would vote for in this teevee comedian presidential election that will be happening any day. “With one in three still up for grabs (mainly undecided), both Comedy Central funnymen may have a great chance to pick up support at their dueling rallies on the National Mall,” a Washington Post journalist wrote, PROPHETICALLY and IN FULL UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT A COMEDIAN IS.

You were saying, Keith?

Krugman on the Austerity Moralizers, and how they're full of @#$%

From "Mugged by the Moralizers". This is a quick handy guide, the next time someone lectures you about the deficit, and the role of Government in trying to fix it:

The years leading up to the 2008 crisis were indeed marked by unsustainable borrowing, going far beyond the subprime loans many people still believe, wrongly, were at the heart of the problem. Real estate speculation ran wild in Florida and Nevada, but also in Spain, Ireland and Latvia. And all of it was paid for with borrowed money.

This borrowing made the world as a whole neither richer nor poorer: one person’s debt is another person’s asset. But it made the world vulnerable. When lenders suddenly decided that they had lent too much, that debt levels were excessive, debtors were forced to slash spending. This pushed the world into the deepest recession since the 1930s. And recovery, such as it is, has been weak and uncertain — which is exactly what we should have expected, given the overhang of debt.

The key thing to bear in mind is that for the world as a whole, spending equals income. If one group of people — those with excessive debts — is forced to cut spending to pay down its debts, one of two things must happen: either someone else must spend more, or world income will fall.

Yet those parts of the private sector not burdened by high levels of debt see little reason to increase spending. Corporations are flush with cash — but why expand when so much of the capacity they already have is sitting idle? Consumers who didn’t overborrow can get loans at low rates — but that incentive to spend is more than outweighed by worries about a weak job market. Nobody in the private sector is willing to fill the hole created by the debt overhang.

So what should we be doing? First, governments should be spending while the private sector won’t, so that debtors can pay down their debts without perpetuating a global slump. Second, governments should be promoting widespread debt relief: reducing obligations to levels the debtors can handle is the fastest way to eliminate that debt overhang.

But the moralizers will have none of it. They denounce deficit spending, declaring that you can’t solve debt problems with more debt. They denounce debt relief, calling it a reward for the undeserving.

The Media meltdown over the Rally to Restore Sanity continues (VIDEO)

Yes, I have my own issues with Keith Olbermann (directly apparently). Still, I missed this tweet, where he claims Jon "jumped the shark":

"It wasn’t a big shark but Jon Stewart jumped one just now with the “everybody on Thr cable is the same” naiveté"


The normally reasonable Ta-Neishi Coates chimed in as well:

I also think Stewart's critique of media as some kind of corrupting force, at times, borders on demagoguery. It's funny to humiliate MSNBC, Fox News or CNN. In fact, both networks are desperately fighting to give their slice of America what they hunger for. We may not like it. It may seem insane to us--but it should never be forgotten that Bill O'Reilly is serving an actual audience, one that would surely invent O'Reilly if he didn't exist. Indeed they've invented him before.

It's interesting that Stewart took a stand on Rick Sanchez's firing. He's certainly argued that Williams shouldn't have been fired before on his show. I may have missed it, but I don't recall him being nearly that generous with Sanchez.

Are we detecting a little media sensitivity out there?


Actually, Ta-Neishi, pretty much everyone in America (except for you, apparently) heard Jon Stewart say...on several occassions...that he shouldn't have been fired.

But it wasn't all bad. Andrew Sullivan chimed in:

The point, it seemed to me, was that politics isn't all there is to life, there is something slightly off about those who think it is, and that political ideology has come to define us culturally and personally far too much. So this wasn't an angry rally for the alienated Democratic left; or even a joyous rally like last fall's March for Equality; or a desperate and frustrated rally like the Tea Partiers. No one was demanding their country back; they were just demanding, well asking, for a little less polarization, and a little more mutual understanding. It was an Obama rally that didn't want to be an Obama rally. And it was only an Obama rally sotto voce because he seems currently the only adult in Washington with any interest in compromising with anyone.

There are, after all, three political groupings in American politics Republicans, Democrats and Independents. But there are also three cultural groupings: ideologues, the pragmatists, and the totally indifferent. This was a rally for the pragmatists, which made it, for my money, the core Obama base.

Remember, Andrew's the Conservative in this equation.

UPDATE 3:21pm, Pacific: Believe it or not, Huffington Post looks like it has a good slideshow on the Media reaction to the Rally.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Okay, so...@KeithOlbermann answered me...

Okay, mucho respect. The man took the time type out an answer. I know he's busy, Game 4's on tonight after all. But he did take the time, so thank you, Keith.

But I didn't get it.. I'm going to put this one on me. Anyone want to help me on this??

the election is Tuesday. One side: Tea Partiers & GOP who say they will NOT compromise. So Libs can only BE compromised

Personally, I see value in both messages. I had one or two reservations about Jon's closing argument (I think you can safely call a lot of Teabaggers racists), but to me, both men were saying, don't reward crazy.

Jon Stewart's closing argument (VIDEO)

Not terribly timed:

I'm looking for better video. Will replace this at the first chance.

The President's Moving America Forward Rally - Bridgeport, CT October 30, 2010

Apparently he was heckled by AIDS Activists:

Another problem has been rising complaints from liberals, who helped sweep Obama to victory in the 2008 election, that he has not done enough for their causes, such as ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, closing the Guantanamo military prison and reforming the immigration system.

At a rally in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Obama was heckled by a small group of AIDS activists chanting "Stop global AIDS," the latest of several such protests at his campaign events. The crowd of 9,000 drowned them out with chants of "Obama, Obama."

Forced off script, an exasperated Obama urged the hecklers to redirect their protests at Republicans who he said had no interest in funding international AIDS programs.

Really, Gay Community? Really?  Do you really think you'll even see the light of day under a Republican Administration?

The Fireside chat for October 30, 2010 (VIDEO)

Ahead of the elections, the President says no matter what happens both parties must work together to boost the economy, and expresses concern about statements to the contrary from Republican Leaders.

@KeithOlbermann One has to ask, what makes Jon's message "terribly timed" and your message (3 days earlier) A-Okay?

I saw Keith Olbermann's tweet about the Rally to Restore Sanity, and I scratched my head:

he did not hurt my feelings. I thought his message, on the eve of an election full of Tea Psychos, was terribly timed

Terribly timed!??

Excuse me, Keith...but didn't your anti-Tea Party/anti-Insanity Special Comment air just 3 days earlier? So how is Jon's message "terribly timed" and yours is fine?

Methinks this has a lot more to do with Jon and Stephen eviscerating the Media than anything.

"I have a memory..." (VIDEO)

This here's a Union message!