The Fox News of the left: Pundits who forgot their concern for Social Security and Medicare after Obama strengthened both

Since Obama took office, I’ve been disappointed to observe that a significant segment of left punditry prizes their ideological hang ups over accuracy. The third party left, whether Green, Libertarian or Socialist, campaign for their party by ignoring anything positive Obama does and exaggerating every negative. They feel they need to undermine support for the two major parties at all costs. Those who advocate direct action tactics in place of electoral politics, do the same. Some progressive Democrats join the chorus, made hardened cynics by years of disappointing third-way politics.

It has become clear that we can’t rely on many of these pundits for honest commentary or an accurate picture of what’s really going on. They always push the same message of disappointment and cynicism, even when there’s reason to celebrate a victory. It’s the same pattern of placing ideology over reality that we see from Fox News.

We know what to expect from Fox, conservative talk radio, and House Republicans. Anything Obama supports, they oppose, even if they supported it the week before. Their commentary is a non-stop parade of speculative accusations and exaggeration. It’s important that we call out and rebut those voices on the left who engage in the same behavior, lest we mirror the echo-chamber in a bubble that the talk-radio cult of the right has become.

I could catalog a long list of examples over the past four years, but today, I’ll stick with the most recent episode. A pundit-blogger complex of hysteria has emerged around threats to Social Security and Medicare. No doubt, we must speak up to protect these programs that are under assault, and Obama must be pressured to stand by them. There’s indication that he’s at least willing to negotiate with Republicans who want to fundamentally change both programs. But, the effort to defend has escaped into the realm of fantasy by the pundits who cry wolf.

The reality of what Obama says on Social Security and Medicare are things most progressives support. He speaks about minor reforms, like lifting the income cap on paying into the system. He does not publicly advocate major cuts or the privatization schemes favored by Republicans. Despite the lack of any discernible effort by Obama to attack either program, there’s a mountain of anonymous-source stories and tortured interpretations of vague statements to prove that Obama is out to put grandma in the poor house!

We were told the Simpson-Bowles “cat food commission” was proof that Obama was leading the assault on Social Security. That turned out to be a false alarm. The cuts they proposed were not large, and would have made the system more progressive by increasing benefits to low-income retirees. They even proposed lifting the income cap on paying into the system, which is the only change Social Security really needs. But, Obama refused to support even those minor changes because the recommended cuts were too deep. To my knowledge, none of the pundits who predicted the deficit commission was part of Obama’s secret plot to destroy Social Security admitted to their error. They readied for the next scare.

Next, we were told Obama was selling out retirees in the debt ceiling fight. Once again, it didn’t happen.

Most recently, they were sure Obama was itching to deeply cut Social Security and Medicare. Not just because he was forced to negotiate with a Republican majority in Congress who hate the middle class, but because, as Cenk put it, it’s what he really wanted all along. Cenk and others similarly minded would have us believe that, despite years of plainly expressing strong support for Social Security and Medicare, Obama has been waiting for just the right moment to leap out of the shadows, revealing his true self, thirsting for the blood of poor seniors! Does he remind you of NRA leaders who convince fearful gun owners that Obama is just waiting for the right moment to take everyone’s guns away? Continue reading The Fox News of the left: Pundits who forgot their concern for Social Security and Medicare after Obama strengthened both

Take Five (Who'da Thunk It edition)

ONE: Scumhog Millionaire et al.

Donald Trump wrapped up his latest and most Rococo exercise in crass, self-aggrandizing buffoonery on Monday with the altogether unsurprising announcement that he has decided not to vie for the GOP Presidential nomination after all.

Trump used the opportunity both to pat himself vigorously on the back and to indulge in some rank untruths, all of which was also altogether unsurprising:

“This decision does not come easily or without regret, especially when my potential candidacy continues to be validated by ranking at the top of the Republican contenders in polls across the country.”

What Trump should have said is “ranking down there with ditch water,” since his Icarus-like fall from political favor has been swift, despite most Republican voters being unable to distinguish Shineola from, let’s say, um, Santorum:

Trump’s support for the Republican nomination fell from 26 percent in April to just eight percent in early May in surveys done by Public Policy Polling.

The announcement came hot on the heels of Mike Huckabee’s admission a couple of days earlier that he doesn’t particularly feel like getting his ass kicked by Barack Obama next year either:

“All the factors say go, but my heart says no.”

Trump was quick to offer up this ludicrous tidbit of congratulation and commentary on the Huckabee announcement:

“Mike Huckabee is not going to be running for president. This might be considered by some people, not necessarily me, bad news because he is a terrific guy — and frankly I think he would be a terrific president. But a lot of people are very happy that he will not be running, especially other candidates. So, Mike, enjoy the show. Your ratings are terrific. You’re making a lot of money. You’re building a beautiful house in Florida. Good luck.”

Now, you might be thinking at this point that the race for the Republican nomination just got a little more rational. And you would be dead wrong:

Rep. Michele Bachmann said Tuesday she’s close to deciding whether to jump into the 2012 presidential race, and she suggested that Mike Huckabee’s and Donald Trump’s exits from the field make it more likely she’ll get in.

Huckabee’s and Trump’s decisions have “changed the grass roots and what they’re looking for,” the Minnesota congresswoman said on Fox News Channel on Tuesday. “Our phones have been ringing off the hook, our Facebook has been lit up, our donations are pouring in. People are saying ‘Michele jump in, we want you to run.’’

Bachmann has decided to utilize a two-tier approach to campaign fundraising:

… asking supporters to choose to donate small amounts if they want her to stay in the House, or larger amounts if they want her to pursue the presidency.

No word yet on how big a donation is required if one simply wants her to shut up and disappear, but I have my checkbook handy. Continue reading Take Five (Who’da Thunk It edition)

About Those Incredibly Loud and Usually Wrong Media Pundits

If you’ve been watching cable news lately, you have been listening to a multitude of pundits pontificating to no end on all sorts of issues as shit happens in our world. Witnessing their sideshow recently, I have been amazed at just how little they know, and  how unwilling they are to concede to all of the facts, instead of just some.

For the past few days, the big story has been concerning Libya and the United Nations’ actions implementing the No-Fly Zone. I believe that pundits were caught off-guard on this one, and were somewhat surprised that the UN has acted so forcefully and so quickly. In fact, instead of calling it what it is, an intervention, pundits have declared that a legally sanctioned UN action is an act of war. No matter that the real war is between a dictator’s imported army of rented mercenaries and thousands of Libyans whose only crime was publicly and peacefully gathering to voice their justified frustrations with their government.

Most of these pundits won’t bother reminding us that it is precisely the 8,000 Libyans already dead at the hands of Colonel/Dictator Muammar/Moammar Gaddafi/Qhadaffi/Qaddafi which prompted the United Nations to act as they did in the first place. In addition, they forget to own up to their own words of a few weeks ago, telling us that the United Nations was bureaucratically ineffective and downright good for nothing, and would never, ever act, period.

Yesterday, the pundits were suggesting over and over again that perhaps the United Nations took too long to act. Many of the pundits have included the US President in their accusations of dithering. Of course, if the United Nations had acted three weeks earlier (which seems to be the pundit-approved timeline in this case) the death toll may not have been high enough to get the countries needed to ratify a resolution for a No-Fly Zone on board, but never mind that. If only, “as some say,” the United States had simply acted alone three weeks before, all would have been just perfect. Except of course, had it happened, the pundits would have simply lost their marbles then, which some are now doing anyway. Continue reading About Those Incredibly Arrogant and usually wrong Media Pundits