Friday, March 28, 2014

Dear Chris Christie and New Jersey Reporters: A Traffic Study Is Not a Fairy or an Elf

Cartoon designed by Juan Navarro www.FWACATA.com
There were far more problems with Chris Christie's Friday afternoon presser than I have time to go into on the last day of my staycation, like why none of these reporters thought to ask Christie why his interview transcripts weren't included in the Mastro report, or if he would be willing to release them, or why no one asked about the many other material deficiencies in the report.

Instead, I'll just focus on two of the most glaring problems, which illustrate the importance of holding the press accountable. First, and of slightly lesser significance, is the assembled press' utter failure, in an hour-plus press conference, to ask any questions on this briefly-mentioned topic:


In case you couldn't hear it (because New Jersey won't ban the .50 cal., but apparently will ban shotgun mics), the reporter is asking Christie why Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno wasn't at the presser with him to answer questions about Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer's allegations. That was the only question to reference the Hoboken scandal. Christie's terse response was, apparently, all the warning shot reporters needed to know that they would get no good tape out of him on that subject. As little as Christie has been asked about Bridgegate in the past two months, he has answered no questions about the Hoboken allegations since that story broke.

Worse than that, though, was the press' continued failure to ask Christie why, if he were really concerned with this matter when he asked his staff about it, did he never ask to see the traffic study that he accepted as an explanation for the disastrous lane closings. That failure reached epic proportions during this exchange, in which Christie says he still thinks there was a traffic study:


"The report seems to indicate that there was a traffic study of some kind."

"You said that was in the report, you didn't say if you believe that."

"I believe what the report told me."

With the presser not even half, neither that reporter, nor any other reporter, asked the obvious followup question (say it with me): Then where the fuck is the traffic report?

He's not being asked to produce the human soul, or Santa Claus, or a non-virgin at a comic book store, he's being asked about an actual real tangible thing. That the reporter would even ask if Christie "believes" it exists is absurd. That Christie, as questions about the lane closings persisted, never asked his flunkies to produce the study, or any documentation about it, is beyond absurd.

Christie won today's presser, without a doubt, but those persistent questions, and many others, will be back around before he knows it.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Hey, Remember How Buzzfeed Ratfucked Heritage Foundation Community Blog Just As Hard As The White House's?

Liberals, liberals, I know you're all het up about Buzzfeed's weird ratfucking of The White House's use of Buzzfeed's community blog, but just calm the fuck down, because it's not as if they didn't do the same thing when The Heritage Foundation used Buzzfeed's community blog to ratfuck Obamacare, right?

Right? Didn't Buzzfeed staffers take to Twitter to explain all the things Heritage left out? It'd be really fucky of them if they didn't.

Kudos to Ben Smith, though, for trying to score an interview. Not sure it's going to do the trick.


Did Politico's Dylan Byers Call MSNBC's Younger Hosts 'Comically Bad'?

It certainly looks that way:
But while Byers says that MSNBC’s frantic attempts to mitigate the damage the MSNBC brand has suffered in 2013, hiring “comically bad” younger hosts in a failing bid to attract viewers of a similar age and feigning even more outrage directed at the usual suspects, he is kind enough to note that the network has a variety of strong brands that deserve preservation.
But maybe he didn't:
Prime time is just hours of what often seems like feigned outrage. And the daytime strategy -- giving shows to kids in their 20s and 30s, in an apparent bid to reach the youths -- is comically bad, and rendered absurd at every commercial break when the catheter ads come on.
Tomato, tomahto, I guess.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Conservative Obamacare Foe Eats Chris Hayes' Face

Jennifer Stefano of Americans for Prosperity has been a guest on Chris Hayes' show before, but never like this. Just... wow. This is the sort of cheap cable news theatrics that All In was supposed to eschew, which is why Hayes looks like a deer caught in an ambush of headlights when his guest, with whom he's had many a cordial chat, suddenly concocts a misogynist personal attack out of thin air.

This segment is a ridiculous shitshow, and something of a culmination of Chris Hayes slowly getting used to the fact that this is not his weekend show, and conservatives who come on it aren't always there for earnest discussion and tasty danish. Some of them are there to earn high-fives from Twitchy, et al. These are not good people, and they will trade any and all goodwill and good faith they have developed with you in exchange for a few dirty points.

The bad news is that it took Chris so long to realize what was being done to him, because he's so fatally sincere, he just can't believe the bad faith when he sees it. The good news is that, despite the fact that this was great TV, there's zero chance Hayes will try to duplicate this, because it was great TV that served no useful purpose. Instead, I will serve one. Jennifer, you were wrong, $94,000 per year is not the Federal Poverty Level for expanded Medicaid, it's the 400% level at which a family of four can no longer receive a subsidy for Obamacare. The FPL for expanded Medicaid, the 133%, is $15,521.10 for an individual, or $31,720.50 for a family of four. Even for a family of eight, the expansion only goes to those making $53,319.70 or less. You, Jennifer, are a liar. How DARE you!

Also, the study Jennifer cited actually shows 27% of respondents were previously uninsured, as of February, but also explains why their numbers can't be compared with Obamacare enrollment figures. Even more recent data, however, shows that the drop in uninsured people since the ACA took effect is pretty close to the number of enrollments reported by HHS. So, liar.


PS: I'd rather have this Chris Hayes than one with a killer instinct, because his pathological good faith usually works out.

PPS: In case I didn't make it clear enough, this was obviously a premeditated attack, the plan beig to go on the air and shout as long a stream of talking points as possible. in a manner sufficiently deliberate to be lipread from space, and when the host tries to inject some form of reason, absurdly paint him as a woman-beater. It's a perfect plan to get media attention, but only if the media plays along. Unfortunately, they are. Mediaite (which linked this post with a hat-tip), Huffington Post, and TPM have all picked up the shitshow angle on this clip, and none of them have bothered to serve the public by explaining what Stefano was lying about. If they did, then the plan would backfire, because Jennifer Stefano and Americans For Prosperity would be getting attention for being horrible liars, and not just "awesome" cable news guests.

PPPS: TPM added a fact.

PPPPS: According to Wonkette, the guest who followed Stefano, White House adviser Phil Schiliro, "refuted" what she said. To be honest, I only half-watched his part of the segment the first time around, so maybe I missed something?

Nope. Phil Schiliro refuted shit. He's right, there's no way to know exactly how many ACA enrollees were uninsured, but Stefano lied about the exact study she was refuting, by half, and the Federal Poverty Level is a real, checkable thing. That's a big problem, but even if he had, who would have noticed? Obamacare advocates in the media need to lose their "Ha, ha, you got me, Biff!" gentility. These lies are vicious, they shouldn't be met with knowing eyerolls and head-shakes.

Romney, Russia, and Racism Revisited

Like Yakov Smirnoff, Mitt Romney is having a Moment, both of which have been brought about by Vladimir Putin's treatment of Ukraine as a nation-sized New England Patriots Super Bowl ring. Coincidentally, my old friend Caleb Howe drew me into a Twitter fight with my longtime sparring frenemy (or enemiend, if you prefer) Oliver Willis over another blast from the Romney past. (Mitt Romney was the Republican nominee for president in 2012.)

On Russia, Romney (and assorted wingnuts) have been crowing about how right Mitt Romney was when he called Russia our #1 "geopolitical foe, which President Obama used to fuel this sick burn during the 3rd presidential debate. Here's where some liberals, the ├╝ber-"fair-minded" variety, like to give Romney a little bit of credit for context. Fuck that, but while the quote was every bit as wrong and revealing as it was made out to be, I will concede that it was misused against Romney. The President, for one, accused Romney of calling Russia our greatest "threat," rather than foe, and failed to point out that Romney also said, in the same interview, that "a nuclear Iran" was the world's greatest threat.

This distinction, though, misses the point of why Romney was wrong. You can be right about 9 things, and the 10th thing can render you completely wrong, like if you name the New York Yankees starting lineup, then call them football players. Here's what Romney was right about:
"They (Russia) fight every cause for the world's worst actors." "when these - these terrible actors pursue their course in the world and we go to the United Nations looking for ways to stop them, when - when Assad, for instance, is murdering his own people, we go - we go to the United Nations, and who is it that always stands up for the world's worst actors? It is always Russia, typically with China alongside."
These things are true, and they were true then. Russia is a truly royal pain in the ass, an obstacle to progress on many issues in the world. Where Romney was wrong was in characterizing them as a "foe" and an "enemy" because of it. In between Romney's remarks and the Crimea invasion, President Obama and our other allies have managed to move the needle on Russian intransigence regarding the very issues Romney cited; namely, Syria and Iran. That was not accomplished by treating Russia as an enemy or a foe, but as a reluctant, pain in the ass quasi-ally.

So, at a time when we were trying to secure Russian cooperation on a wide range of issues (for which we still need them), it didn't seem wise to elect a guy who was running around calling them our enemy, or having his advisers still calling them the Soviet Union. If the mockery was overly-broad, it was still well-earned.

Now, on the Romney racism tip, I took a whole lot of shit in 2012 for pointing out that Romney's "Obama Isn't Working" campaign was evocative of a particular racial stereotype, or as reading-challenged wingers put it, "Lefty Mediaite Blogger: Mitt Romney’s 'Obama Isn’t Working' Banner Is Racist…"

It was an observation that was shared by Goldie Taylor, and in much stronger terms, by Van Jones. Still, because it lacked the overtness required to make it a safe thing for people to call out, not many people were prepared to do so.

In retrospect, I was far too kind to the Romney campaign, as their subsequent climb up the RAF™ Scale demonstrates, but at the time, I gave them the benefit of the doubt that this was mere insensitivity, or at worst, a happy, deniable accident.

I revisit it now because the episode became the subject of a Twitter fight that Caleb Howe started yesterday, then promptly ejected himself from, in which Oliver Willis characterized my assessment of the slogan as "derp."

You can read the entire discussion here, which includes tweets from Goldie, and from Chauncey Devega, who writes the "We Are Respectable Negroes" blog. The reason I bring this up, though, is because until yesterday, I hadn't seen Chauncey's excellent analysis of the "Obama Isn't Working" campaign, which you should also read in full. Seriously, go do that now.

Although amplifying Chauncey's razor-sharp insights is reason enough, the reason I'm writing this is because he made me wonder if, had I read his piece at the time, would I still have bothered, because he correctly predicted the result (emphasis mine):

Mitt Romney's "Obama Isn't Working" campaign is a racial smart bomb aimed at white Independents (and other right-leaning fence-sitters). Ultimately, Mitt Romney is vulnerable on many issues such as his gangster capitalist roots, insincerity, aloofness, religion, the Tea Party GOP's failed economic policies and obstructionist behavior. Romney's flank is also exposed because he is the nominee for a political party that is possessed by Culture Warriors whose views are outside of the American mainstream. These are weaknesses to be exploited.

However, I would suggest that folks not sally forth and engage Romney regarding the racial invective present in his "Obama Isn't Working" campaign theme. To do so, would be to fight on Romney's chosen terrain. Nor would such an engagement offer up many political gains. The cause would be noble; the battle would still be lost.


Of course, Chauncey's warning came about a month too late for me. I took more shit over that piece than a kleptomaniac at the George W. Bush Presidential Library Gift Shop. At the time, I was super-pissed that none of the very prominent liberals who agreed with me in private were willing to call it out.

But even knowing all of that, I'd do it again, and I'd do it stronger, because this is where the mostly-vacant exercise of media criticism has real value. Partisans are mostly interested in using stuff like this to score points, so if a conservative can say "See? The liberal media calls everything racist," it's useful to them, and conversely, if a liberal can't definitely say something is racist, if they can't get the points, then why bother?

To illustrate the latter point, the time I got the second-most shit over an article was my defense of Rick Santorum over his "blah people" comment. There were points to be scored if Santorum said "black people," and no incentive to give the points back.

The real mission, though, isn't to score points, but to get the media to tell the truth, and to hopefully provide a disincentive for this shit. If campaigns know they're going to be called out for this stuff, then maybe they'll think twice next time. As Cenk Uygur pointed out, even if this wasn't intentional, maybe next time, the campaign will employ someone with ears made of something other than tin.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Compleat Tommy Christopher

While the world waits to see where Tommy Christopher will pop up next, take a trip back through the mists of time to the millions of words I've written about politics, the media, and... oh shit, Saturday Night Live? Is that really going to be the last echoing ring of the bell from my five years at Mediaite? Here's that stuff, all 3,788 posts. I'm currently working on a top 3,000 list. Watch this space. (For stuff that was about me, but not necessarily by me, check out the Tommy Christopher tag.)

My first paying journalism job, though, and the one that put me on the map when I got fired from it, was for AOL's The Political Machine, which later became PoliticsDaily, which later got absorbed into The Huffington Borg. You can read my PM/PD stuff here, and for stories on which I shared a byline with my pal Caleb Howe, click here.

I also spent about two years writing for AOL's Asylum.com as a contract freelancer, who hired me days after Melinda Henneberger fired me. You can read that stuff here.

I started another personal blog while I was at Politicsdaily, and continued to supplement my writing there while I was at Mediaite. Then, I stopped using it, and didn't pay for the domain name, so you can read that stuff here, via the Internet Archive. Also on the Wayback Machine is Twits, a Twitter-based site that Caleb and I started so that we could later feel superior to Twitchy.

Hopefully, I will spend my last week of staycation actually chilling, and you will only have these several million words to tide you over.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Breaking News: CNN And The Internet Are Not Pwning Chuck Todd

Lately, I've been feeling like the exact opposite of Lloyd Bridges' Airplane! character, who says "Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue," because I appear to have chosen the correct three weeks to go on a news media staycation. Since I banged out my last syllable for Mediaite, cable news has been completely dominated by the same two glacially-developing stories: Ukraine (which does produce occasional genuine news) and the missing airplane.

Both stories offer rich fodder for media criticism, but especially in the case of the missing Flight MH370, that criticism quickly becomes as repetitive as the story itself. Unfortunately for CNN, they happen to be offering the most clickably absurd coverage, and just when you think they can't possibly top themselves, this happens:



I've got news for both of those guys, the preferred term is "Zombo-American Aircraft."

One interesting wrinkle in the Flight 370 meta-media story is the glee with which media observers are fanning the flames of a de facto feud between Chuck Todd and CNN producer Vaughn Sterling. In case you missed it, Chuck made this observation about the coverage on Wednesday:

At the time Chuck tweeted that, here's what CNN viewers were looking at:


That's pretty tough to argue with, but The Situation Room producer Vaughn Sterling tried anyway:
Sterling tweeted a few more examples, which, according to Mediaite, equaled the "tearing apart" of Chuck Todd, although I'd like to think that headline was a tongue-in-cheek bit of self-satire. Thinking up over-the-top headline adjectives is something of a competitive parlor game, like The Aristocrats! for media writers. I'd have gone with "CNN Producer Rips The Legs Off Of Chuck Todd, Puts Them In His Hands, Then Forces Him To Hit Himself With His Own Bloody Legs While Asking 'Why Are You Hitting Yourself?' Over Breaking News Hypocrisy," but I think that's too many characters.

Here's the thing, though. Chuck Todd wasn't kidding when, on Friday, he clarified his criticism:


Through the feud-oriented lens of media reporting, this sounds like he's saying that CNN is making everyone else look bad, but that's not what he said. Remember, Chuck hosts a show on MSNBC, but he's also NBC News' Chief White house Correspondent, and as such, is a fulcrum in the tension between the two. There's no reason to think that his critique of "Breaking News" abuse excludes MSNBC, or anyone in cable news.

I used to have the same problem when I was at Mediaite. I wrote frequently, and passionately, about the value of racial diversity in media, and invariably, some genius would accost me on Twitter to ask me how many black writers there are at Mediaite. Now, as then, it's not my place to speak for Mediaite, especially about decisions in which I had no involvement. All I can say is that I was free to publish those opinions, and even encouraged to do so, and I would be happy to see more racial diversity at any and all media outlets.

 In much the same way, I'm sure Chuck Todd would be happy to see all cable news channels stop abusing the "Breaking New" or "News Alert" banners. First and foremost, Chuck is a newsman who cares deeply about journalism, and he also has a marked distaste for media feuds. That this has become one is probably endlessly irritating to him, but hopefully, Chuck is also discovering the power and the value of strong media criticism, as illustrated by this observation from Dylan Byers:
UPDATE (10:03 a.m.): CNN led the 10 a.m. hour with "developing story," rather than "breaking news."
If this dustup can, in some small way, help to stem the tide of meaningless "Breaking News" alerts, then I'm sure Chuck would agree that being force to metaphorically beat himself with his own torn-off legs is a small price to pay.

Ted Cruz Poster Artist Sabo Explains He's Not Misogynist By Calling Hillary Clinton 'Bitch'

Hey, remember the artist who created that Ted Cruz poster that conservatives can't stop beating off to, the one Ted Cruz was proudly autographing? Well, he was very offended that someone hinted he might be a tad misogynist (as well as racist and wingnutty), which is no surprise. Racist, misogynist wingnuts aren't famous for their self-awareness.

Also not really surprising, but very amusing, is how Sabo defended himself against the charge in an interview with PJ Media:


He said he has received mostly good feedback from his posters. One exception is a blog post from former Mediaite correspondent Tommy Christopher, who called Sabo a “racist, misogynist wingnut”and a bigot (Sabo fervently denies those accusations). In particular, Christopher took issue with the Hillary flying monkey piece. Sabo defends it, saying, “The wicked witch had her flying monkeys and flying monkeys are spreading the word. The bi**h is coming back. Spreading the word.”
What's almost as funny as Sabo's defense is the fact that the wingnut site trying to backstop him had to prissily edit it. They also felt the need to edit the title of Sabo's "Fag the New Nigger," because of course, there's nothing wrong with it.

So, once again, it's up to the mainstream media to ask Ted Cruz if he agrees that Hillary is a "bitch," or that Questlove is a "monkey," or that the "problem with Jews" is that they have a "self-destruct toggle switch."

Let me be the first to ask.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Dear Liberals (and Paul Ryan): 'Inner City' Is Code Like 'Ack-Blay' Is Code

Which is to say, it isn't code at all. Rep. Paul Ryan has been catching hell for remarks he made last week regarding "inner city" men and their "culture," remarks that he later called "inarticulate," but which he continues to insist had "nothing to do with race."

While conservatives have predictably come to Ryan's defense, it is liberals who have done the most damage in abetting Ryan's flight from media accountability. They've accomplished this, first, by referring to Ryan's "inner city" euphemism as "code," which gives your down-the-middle media types an out in holding Ryan's feet to the fire. It isn't code, any more than "synonym" is code for "thing that means the same thing." If you dispute this, take it up with these flaming liberals, like Fox News' Chris Wallace:




Or how about notably Pavlovian liberal Bill O'Reilly:


So, when liberals concede that this is "code," even a poorly-concealed one, they relieve othrs in the media of the responsibility to follow up on it, people like Wolf Blitzer, who recently demonstrated just how effectively an ostensibly non-partisan journalist can move the needle on an issue like this.

The second way liberals are helping Paul Ryan out is by swallowing their defense that Obama did it, too. I've seen this in a lot of places, but first on last Wednesday's All In, when conservative columnist Robert George repeatedly made the point that "just a week or so ago, the president was also making the same link between opportunity and culture," to agreement from host Chris Hayes. This is the kind of thing that liberals let pass in order to be good sports, or to move along to whatever they think is the real point, without realizing that they are losing the argument right there. There is no comparison between what the President said in his Feb. 27 speech, in which he talked about addressing racial disparities through the "My Brother's Keeper" program.

Far from blaming those disparities on a "culture" in the black community, the President spoke about "groups that have had the odds stacked against them in unique ways that require unique solutions; groups who’ve seen fewer opportunities that have spanned generations. And by almost every measure, the group that is facing some of the most severe challenges in the 21st century in this country are boys and young men of color."

 To compare Ryan's remarks with the President's is like defending Jesse Helms by saying "Yeah, but Martin Luther King also talked about race all the time!"

Instead of partially conceding this idiotic defense, liberals ought to be pointing out that it completely refutes Ryan's later protestations that his remarks "had nothing to do with race."

Both things can't be true. Either Ryan's remarks had nothing to do with race, or they were okay because President Obama also talks about race.

Ryan's remarks were definitely about race, but as that town hall attendee pointed out, that's not why they were wrong. They were wrong because, instead of identifying racial disparities in order to solve them, Ryan identifies them in order to blame them on an inferior culture, which is RAF™ like a mofo, and is just plain wrong. Poor people work very hard, for very little, and the ones who don't work, the ones in those black unemployment statistics that conservatives cite in their totally non-racial argument, aren't exactly turning down work from all those desperate-to-hire job creators in Detroit. People don't become poor because their families disintegrate, families disintegrate because they are poor. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Am I saying that Paul Ryan is a racist? No, what I am saying about Paul Ryan has absolutely nothing to do with him being a racist. It has to do with Paul Ryan saying something racist as fuck, wishing that he hadn't, and trying to worm his way out of it. Liberals should not be helping him.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Nauseating Chris Christie Fanboy Gets Christie to Flip on Gay Marriage

There are a lot of people in the Republican Party who are against gay marriage, but very few who take the special care to be as hypothetically prickish about it as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who invented gay children of his own just so he could tell them they can't get married. At a town hall meeting in Flemington today, though, Christie was coaxed into a new position by an attendee with an enticing offer of domestic bliss.

The guy opened up by telling Christie "You look better in person than you do on TV," and went on to offer his services as laundry, beer, and TV companion. Christie then asked the man if he wanted to get married, and was met with uncomfortable silence, followed by mutually uncomfortable laughter.

Yes, Christie was only joking, because fuck real people who want to get married, and fuck his own hypothetical kids. Maybe for his next act, Christie can ask a Fort Lee resident if he'd like an ambulance.

What's weird, though, is that this Chris Christie fanboy, who began with a display of gushing that would embarrass Chris Matthews, went on to press the Guv about his self-serving explanation of the Bridget Kelly firing. He's the first town hall attendee to bring up Christie's scandals so far.

Christie gave a long answer that you can read on his Youtube page, then shared a last special moment with his future non-husband. "I'll do the dry-cleaning, but not the shirts," the man said, and Christie lamented "You turned down my marriage proposal, as well, by your silence."

Sad face for Chris Christie's imaginary gay kids.




No, Right-Wingers, Jay Carney's Briefings Are Not Fixed, and President Obama Is Not a Clock Nazi

President Obama gave several interviews to local reporters yesterday in order to press for an increase in the minimum wage, and one of those interviews has spawned some Drudge-baiting bullshit. As part of her reporting on her exclusive interview, Phoenix's Catherine Anaya told KPHO viewers that White House Press Secretary Jay Carney revealed, in an off-the-record chat, that questions from White House reporters "are provided to him in advance," and that "sometimes those correspondents and reporters also have those answers printed in front of them."

The Weekly Standard reported on Anaya's remarks, then added an update that read "Carney denies," based on this Twitter exchange:

Ah, but that's just what he would say, isn't it?

TWS also reported on some more of the color that Anaya provided, alleging that "Reporters Held to 4 Minutes With President By Countdown Clock, Looming Aide, and Standing Up."

Let's start with the second one first, because it's the easiest. Anaya dd, indeed, explain the measures that the President's staffers take to try and keep him and the reporters on task and within time constraints, but also explained that she wasn't "held to 4 minutes" at all. In fact, her interview with the President ran over by 75%:


Now, on Carney getting questions in advance, Anaya seems to have misunderstood what Carey was telling her (as well as the meaning of "off the record"). In the clip that TWS pointed to, she says Carney "mentioned that a lot of times, unless it's something breaking, the questions that the reporters actually ask -- the correspondents -- they are provided to him in advance. So then he knows what he's going to be answering and sometimes those correspondents and reporters also have those answers printed in front of them, because of course it helps when they're producing their reports for later on. So that was very interesting." 




 A bit later in the broadcast, Anaya softened that description a bit, saying that "reporters and correspondents, unless it is breaking news, provide questions to him in advance so he is already preparing for the answer," and that "in some cases, he actually prepares that answer for them so that they can have that to work on their reports later on."




Of course, reporters are emailing Carney questions all the time, before, after, and sometimes during the briefings, and as anyone who's ever watched a White House briefing will tell you, there are always 10 different reporters asking slight variations of the same question. That's part of how Carney compiles that binder he brings to the podium with him. We're not "providing" questions in advance, we're just asking questions, and for Carney, it makes sense to answer those 10, 20, or a hundred versions of the same question one time, during the briefing. There's nothing stealthy about it; when Carney gets a question he knows is coming, he will often flip through his briefing book to retrieve, and recite, a prepared statement, which reporters can then ask 10 slightly different followups to.

Some White House reporters, particularly TV reporters, are also prone to asking questions they already know the answer to, just so they can have a piece of tape of them asking about it, and of Carney answering. That's the reporter's artifice, though, not Carney's.

Questions like this, though, are an extreme minority, as most of the White House reporter's job (at the daily briefings, anyway) is to try and catch Carney off guard, and possibly shake loose some news. I guarantee you, for example, that Ed Henry didn't email Carney in advance to ask him if the White House cared about military death benefits during the government shutdown.

Wingnut overreactions aside, though, Catherine Anaya's reporting included lots of terrific color, and a great window into the White House from the perspective of a relative outsider. She also posted some great pictures on her Twitter feed.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Full Video: Chris Christie Being a Fucking Dick to Town Hall Health Care Lady

Your tax dollars at work: The Official state of New Jersey Gloryhole Cam


I got really annoyed watching Now with Alex Wagner this afternoon, because they only played a few seconds of Gov. Chris Christie's exchange with a woman at a South River town hall, and only to show what a fucking dick Christie was being (STOP THE PRESSES!), but not enough of the exchange for a viewer to know what the lady was actually trying to say to him.

As it turns out, I was annoyed at Alex for noting, because the full five-minute-ish clip shows that Christie never really gives Maura Collinsgru (of NJ Citizen Action) a chance to get her full thought out, while telling her, simultaneously, that he'd love to discuss things with her as she shoves her budget report up her ass (that's a slight paraphrase):



 As near as I can tell, Maura wants Christie to do more to "connect" people with health care, and Christie wants to be like "fuck Obamacare," while also bragging about how awesome New Jersey's Obamacare Medicaid kung fu is.

The substance hardly matters, although when I saw Collinsgru on The Ed Show later, she didn't present much of a case against Christie. That's not to say there isn't one, but she didn't do a good job presenting it. He took the Medicaid expansion, but people in New Jersey would have been much better off if Christie had opened a state-based exchange, and if he did more to get people here signed up. Something like 80% of the New Jerseyans who have signed up for Obamacare so far have qualified for federal subsidies, so whether he likes Obamacare or not, the program is good for the people who manage to get on it.

What matters is that Alex Wagner, and all of my liberal friends at MSNBC, and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and every other Democrat I love and respect, will play this clip as a way to illustrate what a fucking dick Chris Christie is, as if that will hurt him somehow. This has been driving me nuts for months, and will continue to do so until Christi is forced to resign under a cloud of scandal, or gets beaten by Ted Cruz.

People are wrong when they say nobody likes a bully. People will claim not to like bullies, and they'll even think they don't like bullies, but have you ever seen a bully operate in real life? They're not surrounded by a crowd of people jeering at them to stop.

People don't like being bullied, but they're fine with a bully, as long as they're convinced he's their bully. Imagine if Barack Obama had told Joe the Plumber "Sure, Joe, you mail me your 249,999th dollar, and I'll pin it to my unicorn's asshole. Now go get your fuckin' shine box."

Barack Obama would never do that, but that would be the shit, and if you ask any liberal, any Democrat, what they are thinking whenever a Republican does accuse the President of being a bully, they will all say "I fucking wish!"

That's not his style, though, and it could never be if he wanted to get elected, because he's black, and therefore has to act like Bill Bixby so white people don't shit their pants, and white people shit their pants anyway, but not enough of them to beat him in a general election.

Calling Chris Christie a bully will never, ever work, and liberals need to stop doing it.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sen. Ted Cruz Now Autographing Racist Wingnut Artist's Posters

So, remember that guy who made the poster of Ted Cruz that all the right-wingers are fapping to these days, who also made the Hillary Clinton flying monkeys "art," and the Barack Obama holding his own exploitable black skin "art," and the one with the n-word, but it's okay, because a gay said it, the guy who clled Questlove a "monkey," that guy? Well, Senator Ted Cruz has now been photographed autographing one of the guy's posters, which means someone, Wolf Blitzer or Jake Tapper or Chris Wallace, really, really needs to ask Cruz if he agrees with the artist's other "works."


The artist, Sabo, complains that "conservative pussies" he works with are abandoning him thanks to his other work, but Cruz is apparently doubling down.

In case you missed it, here's the story so far:

Conservative Hero Behind Tough Guy Ted Cruz Posters Revealed: Natch, He's a Racist Misogynist Wingnut

Now, I know what you liberals are thinking, but this is just another one of those super-rare isolated individuals who mistakenly mistook conservatism for a welcoming repository of bigotry. Caleb Howe at The Right Scoop has uncovered the identity of the artist behind those viral tough guy Ted Cruz posters that right-wingers have been stroking themselves to for the past week: a Los Angeles artist who goes by the name Sabo.

Aside from his Ted Cruz starter spank-bank, Sabo is also the artist behind Flying Monkeys for Hillary (because Wicked Witch, get it?) and the special Barack Obama-edition "Big Brutha is Clocken You, B" poster (because Obama's black, get it?).
behind the

Here he is posing in front of one of his works, entitled "Skins," and subtly explained by Sabo this way: "THE ONLY THING OBAMA IS WORTH IS THE COLOR OF HIS SKIN AND LORD KNOWS HE PULLED IT OVER ON MANY OF YOU RETARDS."


Then, there's his "Fag the New Nigger" campaign, which sounds like it might at least be a tin-eared plea for tolerance of LGBT people, but is actually just a way to make fun of gay people, while also claiming permission to orgasmically use the n-word because he heard a gay say it.

Sabo also has thoughts on "the problem with jews":

 THE PROBLEM WITH JEWS IS THAT THEY HAVE THIS TOGGLE SWITCH. THIS SELF DESTRUCT TOGGLE SWITCH THAT LAYS DORMANT WITHIN THEIR GENETIC CODE.

Then, there's his Twitter feed, which features this reaction to Questlove's lampooning of Michele Bachmann with a derogatory Fishbone track:

Racist as Fuck™? Yes, but at least he didn't USE ALL CAPS that time. That's probably the guy's worst quality, or at least, the one most likely to get him blocked by conservatives on Twitter.

So, conservatives, the next time you get to wondering why people think "racist" when they think "Republican," remember how you all reacted when you found out what a racist nutbag this guy was, i.e., ignoring it and continuing to worship him.

Update: As I mentioned on Twitter, but not here, the media ought to be asking Ted Cruz if he's still into the guy. I asked, let's see if anyone else does. Wolf Blitzer did a hell of a job with Nugent and Abbott, so I nominate him.

Update 2: Sabo stopped by to comment, but got deleted for violating the rules, along with a bunch of his fans. Here's what he had to say on Facebook (again WITH THE ALL CAPS, but bonus points for using the correct form of "you're"):

I WANT TO THANK THE "PROGRESSIVE" BLOGGER MR. TOMMY CHRISTOPHER. WITH ONE BLOG POST HE MANAGED TO GET ALL THE REPUBLICAN PUSSIES I "WORK" WITH TO TUCK TAIL AND RUN LIKE THE LITTLE GIRLS THAT THEY ARE.
HEY TOMMY! YOU'RE A MAN WITH BALLS. IF EVER YOU WANT TO COLLABORATE ON A PROJECT GIVE ME A CALL. (310) 271-9400

Speaking of Republican pussies, I have yet to see or hear any of them disagree with Sabo, so they obviously are no more inclined to piss off his racist fans than they are to "work" with him. Seems like Sabo is caught between a squishy rock and a soft place.

Conservative Hero Behind Tough Guy Ted Cruz Posters Revealed: Natch, He's a Racist Misogynist Wingnut

Now, I know what you liberals are thinking, but this is just another one of those super-rare isolated individuals who mistakenly mistook conservatism for a welcoming repository of bigotry. Caleb Howe at The Right Scoop has uncovered the identity of the artist behind those viral tough guy Ted Cruz posters that right-wingers have been stroking themselves to for the past week: a Los Angeles artist who goes by the name Sabo.

Aside from his Ted Cruz starter spank-bank, Sabo is also the artist behind Flying Monkeys for Hillary (because Wicked Witch, get it?) and the special Barack Obama-edition "Big Brutha is Clocken You, B" poster (because Obama's black, get it?).
behind the

Here he is posing in front of one of his works, entitled "Skins," and subtly explained by Sabo this way: "THE ONLY THING OBAMA IS WORTH IS THE COLOR OF HIS SKIN AND LORD KNOWS HE PULLED IT OVER ON MANY OF YOU RETARDS."


Then, there's his "Fag the New Nigger" campaign, which sounds like it might at least be a tin-eared plea for tolerance of LGBT people, but is actually just a way to make fun of gay people, while also claiming permission to orgasmically use the n-word because he heard a gay say it.

Sabo also has thoughts on "the problem with jews":

 THE PROBLEM WITH JEWS IS THAT THEY HAVE THIS TOGGLE SWITCH. THIS SELF DESTRUCT TOGGLE SWITCH THAT LAYS DORMANT WITHIN THEIR GENETIC CODE.

Then, there's his Twitter feed, which features this reaction to Questlove's lampooning of Michele Bachmann with a derogatory Fishbone track:

Racist as Fuck™? Yes, but at least he didn't USE ALL CAPS that time. That's probably the guy's worst quality, or at least, the one most likely to get him blocked by conservatives on Twitter.

So, conservatives, the next time you get to wondering why people think "racist" when they think "Republican," remember how you all reacted when you found out what a racist nutbag this guy was, i.e., ignoring it and continuing to worship him.

Update: As I mentioned on Twitter, but not here, the media ought to be asking Ted Cruz if he's still into the guy. I asked, let's see if anyone else does. Wolf Blitzer did a hell of a job with Nugent and Abbott, so I nominate him.

Update 2: Sabo stopped by to comment, but got deleted for violating the rules, along with a bunch of his fans. Here's what he had to say on Facebook (again WITH THE ALL CAPS, but bonus points for using the correct form of "you're"):

I WANT TO THANK THE "PROGRESSIVE" BLOGGER MR. TOMMY CHRISTOPHER. WITH ONE BLOG POST HE MANAGED TO GET ALL THE REPUBLICAN PUSSIES I "WORK" WITH TO TUCK TAIL AND RUN LIKE THE LITTLE GIRLS THAT THEY ARE.
HEY TOMMY! YOU'RE A MAN WITH BALLS. IF EVER YOU WANT TO COLLABORATE ON A PROJECT GIVE ME A CALL. (310) 271-9400

Speaking of Republican pussies, I have yet to see or hear any of them disagree with Sabo, so they obviously are no more inclined to piss off his racist fans than they are to "work" with him. Seems like Sabo is caught between a squishy rock and a soft place.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Leftover CPAC Blogger Crashes White House Briefing to Ratfuck Obamacare

Slow clap for Peter Boddie, aka "Pundit Pete," for crashing Monday's White House daily briefing in order to push another bogus Obamascare story. Fresh off of the annual CPAC shitshow, Pete stayed in town an extra day to attend a White House briefing, and use a well-honed technique to get a question in at the tail end of Jay Carney's presser.

You've sincerely got to give the guy props, because there are reporters who raise their hands every day for months, and never get a question in, while Pete is two-for-two using his "Hey, can a humble guy from flyover country get a break?" technique. Last year, he used it to pretend he gave a shit about black people (his is a satire site, you see). and this year, it was to ratfuck Obamacare by pushing his own version of Obamascare.

Carney fell for it again, but seemed to wise up quickly, telling the assembled TV crews to make sure Pete was getting his closeup. Boddie used his time to claim that his wife had lost her health insurance due to Obamacare, and now had to pay "double," but as with most tales of horror from the privileged, doesn't say what the old plan did or didn't cover, or provide any detail at all.

What is clear is that the "getting charged double" claim is new, or at least wasn't worth mentioning at the time the transition occurred. Colorado's health care exchange offers plans starting at $311/mo. for a 54 year-old, though, so if the old plan was $155 bucks a month, it's a pretty good bet that it didn't cover much.

Since Pete's blog is self-described satire, there's no reason to believe any of what he says anyway, but from a performance art standpoint, this is spot-on.



Unfortunately for Pete, Jay Carney has the facts on his side. Every poll has shown that the majority of Americans don't want Obamacare repealed, and most either support it or want it to be even more liberal. As for Pete's claim that most of the people enrolling are folks who had insurance before the ACA, there aren't any solid numbers, but considerable evidence that the opposite is true. In any case, even the folks who had their plans cancelled must be making out pretty well under Obamacare, since the only ones you ever hear complaining are people who don't know, or won't tell, the truth about their own health insurance.

Transcript:

 Peter Boddie: Jay, one more question from Colorado?

MR. CARNEY: Colorado, what do you got?

Peter Boddie: Okay. I just wanted to follow up on that one about Obama -- well, the Affordable Care Act. And you mentioned that the Republicans are giving this pitch to, I guess, repeal the bill. And so my question --

MR. CARNEY: Surely your reporting reflects that.

Peter Boddie: What’s that?

MR. CARNEY: I’m not misstating --

Peter Boddie: No, no, no, it was the reasons you gave that I wanted to ask you about. And the last time I was here, I asked you a question and you didn’t really answer it, so I hope I’ll have better luck this time. (Laughter.)

MR. CARNEY: I think he’s waiting for his -- have you got the camera on him? Go ahead.

Peter Boddie: And I saw you using notes, so I’m going to use mine as well.

MR. CARNEY: Go for it.

Peter Boddie: When the law was first debated and passed -- and we’re talking about the Affordable Care Act -- the polls showed a majority of the people were not in favor of that, and yet it was pushed through. And so in terms of this pitch, the President continued to pitch to get it passed using statements like “you can keep your plan.” And, by the way, I know that’s not true because my wife lost her insurance because of the Affordable Care Act -- that you can --

MR. CARNEY: What’s your question, sir?

Peter Boddie: Well, I’m getting to it.

MR. CARNEY: Okay.

Peter Boddie: We don't get here very often from out in middle country, so when you get your chance, you got to ask.

MR. CARNEY: You’re welcome. Sure.

Peter Boddie: Okay. So anyway, the President’s pitch was that you can keep your plan, that your costs will go down, and I know that not to be true. So my question is: Will the President accede to the greater majority of Americans now who want it repealed?

MR. CARNEY: Well, actually that's not --

Peter Boddie: Why won’t he listen to the American people?

MR. CARNEY: You obviously haven’t seen the data because the majority of Americans do not in any poll want it repealed. The majority supports fixing it and improving it, not repealing it. I would ask you to check your data.

Secondly, the President made that pitch. Republicans in Congress fought it tooth and nail. It went to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court upheld it. It was the principal argument in a presidential election. The President won reelection.

And again, Republicans are free to make the repeal argument. My point was simply that when you go to individuals and you ask them, do you want quality, affordable health insurance, or do you want the insurance company to tell you that you’re not going to get coverage for that condition you have because the fine print says you can't. In fact, your sister, we’re going to charge her double even though you have identical medical histories because she’s a woman --

Peter Boddie: Well, my wife is getting charged double now because she lost her insurance.

MR. CARNEY: Well, again, I don't know the circumstances with your wife. And what I can tell you is that the Affordable Care Act provides quality, affordable health insurance to millions of people. They are -- million are --

Peter Boddie: But that's not true. More people have lost their insurance because of the act right now than have been -- didn't have insurance and have signed up. That is a fact.

MR. CARNEY: Okay, well, you’re entitled to your facts, sir. What I can tell you is that you and others who want to campaign on repeal are welcome to.

What I’m saying is that repeal for millions of Americans is not a good option and for all the reasons that I enumerated.

Thank you all very much.

Mark Knoller: One more question from Bethesda?

Friday, March 7, 2014

Watch: Conservative CPAC Speaker Praises Community Organizer

At the top of CPAC 2014's minority outreach panel, moderator Jason Roe seemed to forget that one of the reasons conservatives even need a minority outreach panel is that they've been such huge, ginormous fucking assholes about community organizing.

Instead, Roe filled his introduction of Robert Woodson, founder of the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, with the kind of fulsome praise that earned him a rousing golf clap from the tiny crowd. Now, Woodson does consistently espouse conservative buzzwords like "free market," but his organization's function is, most definitely, community organizing, and includes securing government assistance and funding for those communities.

Nowhere does Roe include terms like "lax-a-daisical," or intimations that community organizing is not real work. If conservatives can admit why that is, they might just solve some of their outreach problems.


Sometimes a Picture Is Worth Only One Word...

Overcompensating.


White Moderator Tells CPAC Minority Outreach Panel That It's the 'Goodies,' Stupid!

The good news is that this year's CPAC minority outreach panel went marginally better than last year's racism panel, but they failed to learn the important lesson of booking a smaller room for these things.

twitter.com/JohnJHudak

They also, apparently, have not learned that when one of your four panelists bails on you, you don't leave a giant empty chair onstage, and use it to buffer your moderator from the panel.



At this year's CPAC "Reaching Out: The Rest of the Story" minority outreach panel, moderator Jason Roe told the panel that Democrats "going into these communities have lots of goodies to offer, and our guys aren't exactly in the offering goodies business."

That trope, echoing the tone-deaf likes of Mitt Romney, the historically illiterate likes of Rand Paul, and the RAF™ likes of Newt Gingrich, was offensive enough to draw some pushback from Robert Woodson of the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise.

"It's not goodies," Woodson said. "It bothers me that people assume that lower income respond to gifts - food stamps, or things that will be given to them. Nobody wants to be dependent."

He then went on to explain, however, that Republicans should be more like former LA Mayor Richard Riordan, and build community centers. That, as any Republican will tell you, is also a "goody," as is any government spending that doesn't benefit rich white people.

"What liberals do is, at least they express their concern," Woodson went on to say. "Whether what they do is helpful or harmful, they show up! If they show up, they win, if we don't show up, we lose."

What liberals also don't do is spend six years relentlessly deriding community organizers, then head up their minority outreach panel with a community organizer. It's the contempt, stupid. If you start by not viewing black people as plantation-bound criminal Food Stamp Pac Men, the policy solutions you formulate will start to make more sense to them.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ari Fleischer on Morning Joe: Republicans Shouldn't Call the President Weak, But Obama is Weak as Fuck

I know, I'm supposed to be taking it easy and fielding offers, but like a vampire who gets seeds thrown at his feet, I can't help but spring into action when someone says some incredibly dumb shit on TV right in front of me. This is probably not the dumbest thing anyone's said about the crisis in Ukraine (that headline is a slight paraphrase), but there is a valuable lesson in this one.

On Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough was saying how people were mean to George W. Bush about Putin, and they shouldn't have been, and now, they should also shut the fuck up and let President Obama go to work. Actually, Scarborough connected Sen. Harry Reid's "loser" and "liar"comments to a President George W. Bush visit to Putin, but the "loser" comment was in reference to Iraq and the economy, while the "liar" comment was in reference to a local Nevada issue, the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump.

Whatever, the point stands, when there's a foreign policy crisis, people ought to take pains not to undermine the president, a point with which former Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer couldn't agree more. "I didn't appreciate when people treated President Bush like that," Fleischer said. "The person to blame here is Vladimir Putin. He's the one responsible, he's the one who did it."

 He then added "I think there is a case to be made that the President has, through weakness, changed the cost/benefit that Vladimir Putin would go through to decide whether to use force, that's a legitimate issue but it has to be discussed in the proper vein."

 Now, before you go telling Fleischer that you've got his "proper vein" right here, keep in mind, saying dumb shit is what Republicans do, it's like getting angry at the sun for shining, or the New England Patriots for cheating. Think Scarborough saying he wouldn't bring up Monica Lewinsky in "a gazillion years," but also, too, isn't it the solemn duty of the media to bring it up long, deep, and constantly?

No, the real lesson here is in how David Axelrod responded, by sarcastically complimenting Fleischer for his "panache," to which Fleischer essentially replied "Panache? Who the fuck says panache, you pussy?"

That's also a slight paraphrase, of course, but this is the problem with many liberals: they're so convinced of their self-evident cleverness that they don't bother to win any arguments. When a Republican shits on the rug, you need to rub their nose in it, not toss off a good-natured quip. Something like, "Well, gee, Ari, your guy must've been pussy of the year when Putin invaded Georgia, amiright?"

Yeah, it's an obvious point, but it sticks, and the next time one of these guys thinks about saying something stupid like that, they'll remember how it felt to have their own spew forcibly clogging their nostrils.