PCTC Podcast #23 – What is “MSM” except an easy scapegoat? (Also, news about the new book)

In today’s episode, I discuss the absurdity of the concept of “Mainstream Media” and show you what I mean, with ratings. The fault lies in ourselves, progressives. I also make an announcement about my new book about progressive politics.

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Dear Right Wingers; Free Speech Isn’t What You Think

The first thing everyone – especially those in today’s Republican Party - should understand is that “free speech” and “the First Amendment” are not interchangeable terms. Free speech is assumed to exist, while the First Amendment requires that government protect that pre-existing right for everyone. That means everyone, at least since the 14th Amendment.

The First Amendment guarantees the right to free speech from intrusion by the government, which indicates the right is pretty much assumed going in. You have a right to say anything you like, or express yourself in any way you wish, up to the point where what you say infringes on the rights of others. Hence the famous admonition that freedom of speech doesn’t allow anyone to falsely yell “fire” in a crowded theater and cause a panic that puts lives at risk. If the result of your speech creates a hazard for others, you have crossed the line. And you have done so for a very basic reason; everyone’s rights matter, and are in balance with everyone else’s rights.

The right wingers who make up the bulk of the Republican Party these days don’t really understand the concept of rights for the most part. For some reason, they seem to believe the only rights anyone has are those spelled out in the Bill of Rights, and they think anything not specifically mentioned is a “privilege.” Consider that almost all of them refer to driving as a “privilege,” when it’s not. By their logic, it can’t be a right because we issue licenses and make people buy insurance, which is absurd.

But the one concept they don’t understand at all is freedom of speech, and as a result, they seem to operate under some very strange false assumptions. For example, they seem to think they have the right to say and do anything they want, but no one else has the right to say anything they find offensive. They also seem to think the right to free speech should come without consequence, which is also ridiculous. You have the right to stand in the middle of Harlem and yell the ”n-word”  at the top of your lungs, but you don’t have a right to do so without response. Just as you have the right to say something offensive, others have the right to express their offense. That doesn’t mean they have a right to respond by punching you in the mouth, but the judge will be less sympathetic to the assault if it was provoked.

Right wing Republicans also seem to think that any negative response to their speech is a violation of their free speech, which is another myth. You’ve seen this. A right winger can make any offensive remark he or she wants about President Obama, but when someone objects, the original speaker cries about a violation of their Forst Amendment rights. When a right wing talk show host calls a woman a “slut” on air, and a group forms that tries to take out his advertisers, it’s really not a violation of that talk show host’s rights; it’s the group exercising their right to call him out on what he said. In other words, that talk show host has the right to say whatever he wants, for the most part, but so does everyone else. And they have every right to demand that he be removed from the air. To do so is not a violation of his free speech rights. See, if he gets fired, or loses his show, he still has the right to say what he wants. See how that works? Go write a book and complain all you want. Make speeches and get paid.

Ask “Dr.” Laura Schlessinger how this works. .

For far too many years, ”Dr.” Laura gave half-assed behavioral advice to people who deserved everything she dished out. After all, when you call a radio talk show host for personal advice, you deserve what you get.  No one really cared much, even when she became increasingly hypocritical and combative with her audience, and ever more shrill, politically speaking. But one day a few years back, she decided to use the “n-word” eleven times while speaking to a black woman, who remained very calm and reasonable throughout the diatribe. The audio of the infamous phone call spread far and wide, and the shock and outrage spread with it.  Within days, “Dr.” Laura announced that she was ending her own radio show – several months later – and went all over the right wing media to declare that she was abandoning her radio show to protect her right to free speech, which she claimed was under attack.

Typical right wing claptrap. See, this is what happened:

    • She said the “n-word” eleven times to a black woman, on airwaves that they black woman owns as much as she does. Her producer chose not to initiate the delay that all radio talk shows have to “dump” inappropriate things said by callers, guests and sometimes, the host. In other words, she was not censored.
    • People complained loudly about the issue, which means they were expressing themselves, and exercising their right to free speech.
    • No one even pulled the plug. She couldn’t stand others expressing their opinions, so she ended her own show, and did so four full months after her rant.
    • She later wrote a best-selling book about the entire fiasco, and went all over the media telling them about how her free speech rights were being violated, without noting the irony.

She said the “n-word,” and no one stopped her. People complained about it. She wrote a book and went all over the place complaining about her self-imposed plight, and then hawked the book everywhere. Everyone exercised their right to free speech.

In the case of “Dr.” Laura, she knows her right to free speech wasn’t violated. But her right wing Republican following suffer from such a high level of ignorance, they’ll believe anything she tells them. These are people, after all, who call in and tell their troubles to a judgmental stranger on their radios, to get advice on how to solve personal problems. They’re not brilliant.

This kind of thing is actually quite common on the right. Caribou Barbie (Sarah Palin), for example, has become notorious for posting nonsense on her Facebook page, and then claiming those who object to it are against the First Amendment. Who can forget the time she posted a video on the same day President Obama was to arrive in Tucson to speak at a memorial to the victims of the shooting in Tucson that almost killed former Representative Gabrielle Giffords. The video she posted sought to defend her right to place crosshairs over Congressional districts of Congresspersons she wanted to defeat in the 2010 election.  This, despite the fact that no one ever claimed that she had n right to do so. The issue was always whether she should have, and whether she was contributing to the lack of civility in political discourse. She was asked to take a small measure of responsibility for creating an atmosphere where some think such things are okay.

Here’s the problem, right wing Republicans; with rights come responsibilities. It’s like anything else in society; in order to get, you also have to give. You have the right to operate a motor vehicle on a public street, as long as you can demonstrate a minimal amount of competence and responsibility on the road. It’s not a privilege, it’s a RIGHT, that can only be taken away if you break the law and put others in danger, and after due process. With that right comes a responsibility to drive safely, and not put the rest of us in danger.

You have the right to say anything you want, but words often have consequences, and you have no right to avoid the consequences of your words. In fact, you have a responsibility to society to accept the consequences of your words or actions. You also have to understand that, while you have a right to free speech, so does everyone else. When you offer up an opinion, and others exercise their free speech rights as a rebuttal, that rebuttal does not constitute an abrogation of your free speech rights. When you walk around whining about your free speech rights being “violated” because someone else thinks you should shut up, or lose your radio show or newspaper column, you just make yourself look stupid. Everyone has the right to express an opinion, not just you.

FIXED! PCTC Podcast #22 – How to speak about climate change; cutting the crap on Chris Hayes’ bogus analogy

In this episode of the podcast, I discuss ways that we can talk about climate change that people can accept, and then I discuss Chris Hayes’ asinine article comparing fossil fuels to slavery, and debunk his, um, “logic.”

Here are links to the articles mentioned in today’s podcast:

The New Abolitionism

Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math

Also, there’s a clarification added on to the end of the podcast, so stay until the end. And please support the blog with a donation if you can. Thank you..

 

Please Donate to Help the PCTC Blog Build an Arsenal for the 2014 Election

The Please… Cut the Crap blog is becoming a major compendium of facts and figures that provide ammo progressives can use to outgun the GOP and the right wing in a political debate. It’s about getting the word out about progressive politics, and not just a liberal complaint blog. Like the companion eBook, which should be completed in May, it is chock full of strategies for beating back the Republican right. We absolutely must win this year.

We now have a daily podcast, which will continue to get better, as long as we can afford to make it better. It’s 5 days a week now, but it’ll run 7 days a week for the last few weeks leading up to the election.  I will also be adding pages and pages of information on voting records in key races, to help you give voters the information they need.

This is not a professional left blog. I’m just a guy with a big mouth who’s struggling to make ends meet while trying to create an information source that can put an end to the right wing’s domination of the political system, so that we can return this country to what it once was.

During the Election 2012, this blog had more than 1.5 million hits during the last few months leading up to election day, because what it had to say was useful in combating the GOP spin machine. I hope to do the same thing this year. Democrats have an uphill battle, but we can do it, if we try. I’m going to try…

Please help out with a donation, if you can, by clicking on this button.


It’s greatly appreciated. I don’t have George Soros or Pierre Omidyar cutting me huge checks; I just have facts and figures to impart.

Thanks in advance for your help…

Telling the Truth About Ted Cruz’s Hero, Saint Reagan

The Wall Street Journal did a profile on Ted Cruz Friday, in which they noted that Cruz’s greatest ambition is to emulate right wing icon Saint Ronald Reagan in his political career. The article notes that Cruz’s tactics are working against him, though, with no one really liking him except the Tea Party, whose influence is waning, to say the least. In other words, even though Cruz is trying to be just like Saint Reagan, he’s failing miserably.

Or is he? Let’s face it; what’s so great about being Reagan, anyway? It’s not exactly an advantage in today’s Republican Party to be as, well, pragmatic as Reagan. As for anyone outside of the GOP, there was really nothing that great about Reagan’s presidency. What is it about Saint Reagan that makes so many on the right and the left go all mushy, anyway? Republicans talk about him as if he was a demigod whose name should be spoken with reverence, with heads bowed and hands folded in prayer. There seems to be something in the GOP catechism that requires his mention during every Republican debate. And lefties – especially lefties who were once Republicans and now claim to be far left – speak of him as if he was a breath of fresh air or something, when he was anything but.

It’s time someone told the whole truth and nothing but the truth about Saint Reagan. For example, he really was no saint, nor was he a particularly competent president. In fact, he was barely more competent than Bush, Jr., despite the Republican fawning over him that makes him sound like he’s in a league with Lincoln, Washington and FDR. The Reagan myths are so persistent, even now, more than a quarter-century after he left office, some lefties compare President Obama to him. But make no mistake; there’s no comparison to be made between the two, because Obama is actually competent.

Here are some of the most persistent Reagan myths and corrections to each one. Continue reading

If You Think Both Parties Are the Same, You’re Nuts

Those of you who have read this blog for a while know that it’s not a typical progressive blog at all. For example, instead of constantly complaining that Democrats aren’t perfect enough, I take the current Republican Party. I will continue to do exactly that until such time as we progressives manage to vanquish them politically.

Unfortunately, there is a group of self-described progressives that make that task extremely difficult. I have taken to calling them the Progressive Unicorn Brigade, or PUBs, because their quest for perfection can easily be likened to a child who has been given a pony but cries because it’s not a unicorn. We elected the most progressive president we’ve had in a generation – the first one not sanctioned by the Democratic Leadership Council, and which effectively should have killed the DLC, if we had played it better – and the PUB started whining pretty much as soon as he was inaugurated, because the stimulus wasn’t big enough. This small but very loud segment of the progressive movement has a tendency to be just as bad as the right wingers when it comes to flinging their rhetorical feces. They can be loud and obnoxious, and they like to portray themselves as the only “real progressives,” despite the fact that they constitute a small minority within the progressive movement, and often, their rhetoric actually hurts the cause and further entrenches the current Republican Party.

These “progressives” tend to be white,usually have college degrees, and often have above-average bank accounts, yet they seem to think they know more about what it’s like to be poor, working class and being a minority than those who actually belong to one or more of those groups. Continue reading

The President Finally Says What I’ve Been Saying for Years: GOP’s #1 Strategy is to Depress Turnout.

It’s about time the President finally said something about this. I’ve said it for years.

Over the weekend, in a speech to Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, President Obama said, 

“The real voter fraud is people who try to deny our rights by making bogus arguments about voter fraud. … There are well-organized and well-funded efforts to undo [the] gains (of the civil rights movement). … Just as inequality feeds on justice, opportunity requires justice, and justice requires the right to vote.” (Source)

I’ve said the same thing for many years. In fact, the last time I wrote about this was in January. Here’s what O wrote and posted on January 20, 2014. As you will see from the video contained in this piece, this is not a new Republican strategy:

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Have you ever noticed that Republicans only talk about Voter ID and attempt to purge Democratic voters during election years? Why is that? I mean, if their real goal is to limit the number of opposition voters, the best time to do that would be in odd-numbered years, when no one’s paying close attention. But here’s the thing: Republicans don’t pass voter ID laws and take other measures to suppress voters for the reasons you think. How many people in, say, Pennsylvania do you imagine are walking around without identification and intend to vote? Perhaps 20-30,000? In a state with nearly 13 million people, that’s not enough to swing an election. BUT… Continue reading

Changing Hearts and Minds to Get a Progressive Future

I spent most of my Saturday morning talking to “progressives” on Twitter who acted as if they’re political experts, even though they haven’t the slightest idea how things work. One actually tried to blame the NDCC for not pushing the Democrats in a certain direction, even though the NDCC’s only real job is to raise money and distribute it to candidates. Individual candidates decide their own messaging. Another spent a long time trying to convince me that progressives had nothing to do with the “Blue Dog Apocalypse” of 2010″ that left President Obama with a Republican Congress that has refused to let him do anything positive. They blamed “the Democrats,” “Obama,” “the media” and everything else they could think of, but they could not blame progressives for anything. In other words, progressives have apparently been losing for more than 40 years, even though we’ve been doing everything right. How is that possible? That’s some pretty terrible luck, don’t you think?

Why do so many (mostly white and not poor) progressives blame everyone else for our political ineptitude, as if it is just a fait accompli, and there is no way to stop it? Isn’t that much like attempting to drive to New York and ending up in Phoenix, and blaming the GPS? At some point, you have to look up and realize you’re doing something wrong.

This lack of introspection is enormously frustrating for the vast majority of progressives, who work within the Democratic Party to actually try to make things better for the American people, because we see what’s happening. It’s the main reason the progressive movement keeps spinning its wheels, and it’s why the right wing minority gets to make new policies or destroy existing policies, including some that were good for society as a whole. But what’s really frustrating is that the solution to our dilemma is incredibly simple, and it’s in front of every progressive’s face every single day. Continue reading

Republican Spending Cuts Are Increasing Deficits and Debt

I say this a lot, but this is an important concept that absolutely must be said and repeated ad nauseam, until the average person gets it.

The reason we have a record-high deficit is NOT because the government is spending too much money.

Now, let me explain. This is not to say the government doesn’t waste money. It does. The above statement is not an acknowledgement that every dollar the government spends goes to the right places. However, the government isn’t spending that much more, adjusted for inflation, than it did in 2001, when George W Bush and the Republican Congress were handed a $400 billion surplus. Government spending simply isn’t the problem; the problem is a lack of revenue. Our deficits don’t remain because we spend too much; it’s because we don’t have enough taxpayers providing enough revenue. Are tax rates too low? Not necessarily. Of course, creating more taxpayers lessens the need for higher tax rates.

While Republicans love to do so, It’s not possible to blame Social Security and Medicare for our deficits. Both programs are paid for, and don’t add one dime to the deficit. Social Security alone has a paper surplus that keeps it completely solvent for another generation, absent any changes to the law. In fact, a large portion of the national debt is owed to the Social Security trust fund. To be fair, we have to take Social Security and Medicare off the table. The deficit is more of a danger to them than they are a danger to the budget. Continue reading

Here’s Proof Republicans are Incompetent at Government

There are just so many examples of Republican incompetence at running government, and everyone needs to know this. It’s really simple; when we elect Republicans, or we even help elect Republicans (which many progressives tend to do often), we are putting the government in the hands of politicians whose most fervent followers truly believe government can’t work, so they struggle to try to prove that premise. That’s right, folks. If you are one of those who likes to equate one party that kisses your ass and does everything possible to get you to like them with a party that has a mandate to prove that government is always incompetent, you’re part of the problem. In no way are those two concepts in any way the same?

The Republican Party is far worse than we could have ever dreamed of a century ago, especially since they recruited the worst elements of the Democratic Party back in the civil rights era into the fold. If you think the latest government shutdown and the constant brinkmanship is something brand new, think again. And if you think it’s all about the Tea Party, consider that there are 46 members of the Tea Party Caucus in the House, but this past October 144 House Republicans actually voted to default on the debt. That’s right; 144 “fiscally responsible” Republicans voted to destroy the nation’s credit to prove something even they can’t explain.

The government actually worked well during the post-war era, when Democrats ran the show for 30 out of the 34 years between 1946 and 1980. Republicans have controlled most of the government for 30 of the last 34 years, and it shows.

While I am a partisan Democrat and a liberal, this isn’t just about my ideology. It’s easily provable through statistics. Democrats have a strong record of competence, and Republicans have an equally impressive record of incompetence. And since getting the most progressive government starts with state legislatures and a US Congress that is at least competent enough to get the basics right, it’s important that we understand that Republican Party ideology is what’s holding this country back. Continue reading