Saturday, January 16, 2010

Campbell Brown and the human face of the devastation in Haiti

An 11-year old girl who was pulled alive from the rubble of her house in Haiti has died:

The girl -- one of scores trapped beneath buildings that collapsed in Tuesday's 7.0-magnitude quake -- was rushed to a first aid station Thursday evening where doctors told her family they were not equipped to deal with her injuries. Her right leg had been pinned by a large piece of metal for two days.

She died before her relatives could drive her to a more sophisticated hospital outside Port-au-Prince.

Her last words, her uncle said, were, "Mother, don't let me die." She was buried Friday in her mother's hometown, her uncle said.

There are obviously so many stories like this in Haiti, with the death toll in the tens and tens of thousands, but the immediacy and intimacy of a single story like this can, in a way, be so much more powerful, and so much more devastating, than the detachment of a report of such a massive death toll, which is so overwhelming, so horrific, as to be virtually incomprehensible. Speaking personally, while I was strongly affected by 9/11, what ultimately led me to break down on numerous occasions -- and one time in particular, alone in my apartment, listening to the head of Cantor Fitzgerald talk about what happened to his firm, which lost 658 employees on 9/11 -- were those more immediate and intimate stories. It's just easier, I think, to relate to, and feel touched by, the loss of a single human being, or to such personal stories generally, than to the loss of countless people in a tragedy like 9/11 or the Haiti earthquake. It's not that we shouldn't try to understand a tragedy in full, just that the more immediate and intimate stories help us do that more than just those big-picture stories. They help us put a face on the suffering.

Reporting on the loss of that 11-year old girl in Haiti, CNN's Campbell Brown expressed the sort of humanity we don't see nearly enough of on the news -- see the video below. She held herself together, but she showed some emotion, and very nearly broke down, and for that I commend her. I realize that those in the news need to put shields up, but sometimes it's nice when those shields come down so that they, and we, can understand, and communicate, what is happening with greater authenticity. No, we don't need them all turning into emotive Glenn Becks -- Beck, after all, is quite possibly insane -- but it's good and refreshing to see them acting like human beings now and then.

As C&L's Nicole Belle put it earlier today: "If only more talking heads in this country could move past their own limited binary thought of politics to recognize that there is no Left/Right, no Democratic/Rebublican paradigm to this story. There is only humanity and more importantly, human suffering, to which we, as fellow humans, are obligated to respond."

There are some notable and despicable exceptions, like Beck and Rush Limbaugh, but much of humanity is responding with admirable feeling, as well as with concrete support, to the suffering in Haiti.

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Martha Coakley apparently doing everything possible to lose Mass. special election

On a local Boston radio show hosted by Dan Rea, Democratic candidate Martha Coakley actually called Curt Schilling, the former Red Sox pitching great, a Yankee fan. Which, of course, is ridiculous, given that Schilling spent much of his career trying to destroy New York.

In response, Schilling, a loud-mouthed Republican and prominent supporter of Coakley's opponent, Scott Brown, blogged this:

I've been called a lot of things... But never, and I mean never, could anyone ever make the mistake of calling me a Yankee fan. Well, check that, if you didn't know what the hell is going on in your own state maybe you could...

I can think of many things to call Schilling, whom I disliked as a player and now dislike even more now, but it's tough to find fault with him here. Whatever the reality, the perception is that Coakley is clueless, and she walked right into this one, further undermining her own credibility. Her campaign called her comment a "very, very deadpan" joke, a joke on which she "whiffed," but it didn't seem like she was making a joke -- and she was rather taken aback when Rea, astonished, challenged her: ""Curt Schilling? The Red Sox great pitcher of the bloody sock?"

Seriously, if you're from Massachusetts, or anywhere in New England, and you don't remember the bloody sock game of the 2004 ALCS, you're just asking for trouble. Okay, maybe Coakley doesn't know anything about sports, but how far will such ignorance get you in Massachusetts? Next thing you know she'll say she's never heard of Bobby Orr or ask if that Larry Bird guy ever played in the NBA.

Look, I don't want to make too much of this -- every politician says embarrassing things -- but, with the straws accumulating on the camel's back, it's no wonder the Democrats are struggling to hold on to Ted Kennedy's seat, a supposedly safe seat in an overwhelmingly safe state.

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The dark soul of Glenn Beck

Just consider what Beck said about Obama and Haiti:

I also believe this is dividing the nation…to where the nation sees him react so rapidly on Haiti and yet he couldn't react rapidly on Afghanistan. He couldn't react rapidly on Ft. Hood. He couldn't react rapidly on our own airplanes with an underwear bomber... it doesn't make sense... Three different events and Haiti is the only one. I think personally that it deepens he divide to see him react this rapidly to Haiti.

This is ridiculous, of course. What was Obama supposed to do about Ft. Hood? The killer was apprehended. What was he supposed to do about the underwear bomber? The would-be killer was apprehended. Sure, he could have acted more quickly on Afghanistan, calling for the Iraq-like surge sooner than he did, but divisions over the Afghan War have more to do with the policy than with the timing -- and mostly he has faced criticism from the left.

The quick response to the catastrophe in Haiti is hardly dividing the country. Rather, the country seems to be fully behind the president and the rest of the massive international effort to provide aid and relief to a country desperately in need.

Beck's comments are not as noxious as Rush Limbaugh's, but he nonetheless seems to be saying that Obama shouldn't have responded so quickly, that is, that America should have been slow to address the humanitarian crisis -- and presumably should have let more people suffer and die.

Some conservatives -- such as Joe Scarborough, Pat Buchanan, and Bill O'Reilly -- have generally avoided trying to capitalize on tragedy by attacking Obama and trying to score partisan political points over the Haiti earthquake. The notable exceptions thus far are Limbaugh, Beck, Pat Robertson, and Steve King, the last of whom suggested that undocumented Haitians in the U.S. be deported home.

As Steve Benen puts it, this is "a race to the bottom" -- though the right-wing reservoir of odiousness seems bottomless.

If anything, I'd say the situation in Haiti is dividing not the country but conservatives -- with some of the most prominent conservatives around actually arguing that the U.S. should give Haitians the middle finger. They've embarrassed themselves, and their movement, and their party, and everything they believe in, but, thankfully, they aren't in a position to dictate policy, or to stand in the way of Obama doing what's right and necessary.

The darkness of some people's souls, if they have souls at all, never fails to boggle the mind.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

So you think you might want to vote for Scott Brown, eh?

The Republican running in Tuesday's special election in Massachusetts next Tuesday, against Democrat Martha Coakley, may or may not be more liberal than the moderate Dede Scozzafava, the Republican who dropped out in NY-23 back in November, and he may or may not be ahead in the polls, but his record includes a glaring example of WTFery (I just made that up). Here's Greg Sargent with the sordid details:

One month after the September 11th attacks, Scott Brown was one of only three Massachusetts State Representatives to vote against a bill to provide financial assistance to Red Cross workers who had volunteered with 9/11 recovery efforts, we’ve learned.

The Brown campaign acknowledged the vote to us, claiming the measure would have taxed already-strained state finances.

The 9/11 attacks flared as an issue in the Massachusetts race today. The NRSC sharply criticized Democrat Martha Coaxley over a DSCC ad, first reported by Politico, that flashed an image of the Twin Towers. Rudy Giuliani, who stumped for Brown today, also slammed Coakley over the ad, saying it was "unthinkable" and "offensive."

On October 17th, 2001, Brown voted against a bill that would authorize "leaves of absence for certain Red Cross employees participating in Red Cross emergencies." The bill gave 15 days of paid leave each year to state workers called up by the Red Cross to respond to disasters. At the time, state workers called for such emergencies were required to use sick and vacation days.

That's right, Scott Brown voted against 9/11 Red Cross volunteers. Steve Benen makes the right points and asks the right questions:

This suggests an almost-stunning callousness. It's all the more galling that Brown knew it was going to pass -- 148 to 3 -- but opposed it anyway, just to make a point.

I shudder to think what Republicans would say about a Democratic lawmaker who cast a vote like this just a month after the 9/11 attacks

The Brown campaign has said the vote was about fiscal responsibility -- Massachusetts couldn't afford assistance for Red Cross workers who had volunteered with 9/11 recovery efforts.

That's not a bad line, I suppose, but here's my follow-up question: why, then, does Scott Brown recommend tax cuts now that the nation can't afford? Why would tax cuts for the wealthy be more important than help for 9/11 recovery volunteers?

Well, maybe because he's "a favorite of the Tea Party crowd" and not "even close to being a moderate. He's pretty far to the right on everything from torture to taxes, health care to the economy, Wall Street accountability to global warming." In short, he represents "the worst of yesterday."

So why is he possibly ahead in the polls, or why, at least, is the race pretty much a dead heat at the moment? I suspect it has a lot to do with the fact that Democrats just aren't energized nearly as much as Republicans -- teabaggers gone wild -- are. Democrats right now are deeply divided over Obama's policies -- Afghanistan, health-care reform, etc. -- and it's that opposition to Obama and the Democrats on the left that is weakening Coakley's support.

But there's just too much for Democrats to lose (like health-care reform), and they ought to swallow whatever reservations they have and vote for Coakley. I still think the race is hers to lose, and that, ultimately, Massachusetts voters will vote for her, but, to say the least, it's way too close for comfort.

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Massachusetts special election

By Creature

It's really quite simple for Massachusetts, would you like a senator who's going to sit on his hands and say no for the next three years or do you want one that will actually work for their paycheck? You choose.

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Somebody, please, help Tweety talk!

By J. Thomas Duffy

The past two nights, watching Tweety, on 'Hardball', has been, even more, excruciating, as to his reporting on the Haiti earthquake.

He has put on his "Super-Serious" suit, and looks, sternly, into the camera, with all his dramatic announcements.

And, biggest of all, he sounds like a total, Ted Baxter-like jackass, whenever he pronounces the name of Haiti's capital city, Port-au-Prince.

You can go out to 'Hardball' and pull up some of the videos, to check it out.

Even Atizine, on Twitter, noticed "Watching newscasters who pronounce almost nothing else properly, try their hardest 2 say 'Port Au Prince' like a local is absolutely weird..."

Almost overnight, Monty Python created a new "Ministry of Silly Talk", and Tweety is their first, gleaming star graduate.

Most normal people pronounce the name of Port-au-Prince, sounding as "Port-O-Prince".

Tweety has been pronouncing it, apparently, in the Francophile manner, as "Port-O-Prance" really dragging out the "Prance" part, making it sound like "Prawnce".

Much in the same behavior as being the only person, outside of the family secret bunker, that pronounces the name of the former Shadow President, as "Cheeny", versus the rest of the standing world, as "Cheney", or "Chay-ney"

Maybe the Darth Vader clan is okay with his mashing their name ...

But somebody needs to clue Tweety in, that he works for MSNBC, not Le Monde.

Bonus Tweety

Clooney: Wouldn’t Cast Matthews In A Daydream ,,,When Pressed, Matthews Admits Miffed Not Cast in Clooney Film ...“Forget This Zelig Mishmash, I Could Have Played McCarthy … And Played Him Damn Good”

MSNBC's Matthews Uninjured Pulling Head Out Of Judy Miller's Ass ...Hardball Host Fawns Over Former White House Stenographer; Stays Away From Tough Questions

Was Tweety Covering Morning Jokes' Back?

(Cross Posted at The Garlic)

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Fox can't count

By Capt. Fogg

Either that or they just lie, and lie, and lie. I've lost count of how many grossly misstated or simply invented figures have been given out on Fox News recently. Not that it's a new thing, but someone needs to remind them that there is a substantial difference between 15% and 0.15%

"The big banks are set to pay out a record $145 billion in bonuses for 2009. Some Americans outraged by this. President Obama looking to ease some of that anger, promoting a 15 percent tax on the banks that remained or have remained or have returned to profitability."

No, Foxy Friends, President Obama is not supporting a 15% tax on banks that have already repaid the TARP money; the discussion is about a 0.15 percent fee on the largest and most highly leveraged banks like Citibank, with more than $50 billion in consolidated assets. Here's the actual news.

Here's the Fox News:
"It's being assessed only against the banks that have already paid back with interest the TARP money they got. So essentially they're paying back for the banks, they're paying back for Fannie and Freddie, who are not paying -- paying back for the cars, rather. Not the weak ones still in the red which continue to be a drain on the Treasury, like for example, Citibank."

Sloppy journalism? Egregious lie? It's hard to prove either way, but it happens again and again and somehow the misleading, or fake or distorted "news" always favors the Fox Faithful and damns the Democrats. In either case, that Fox is a genuine news organization is not in doubt -- they're not. Rarely will a Fox only viewer ever hear a retraction or correction or apology and only sometimes will they hear the truth. You can count on that.

(Cross posted from Human Voices)


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Hysterical! ... Hitler Learns Leno Is Moving Back To Late Night

By J. Thomas Duffy

If I had watched this, while drinking my coffee, I am absolutely confident, said coffee would have come shooting out of my nose, as I fell off my chair, laughing.

This has been making the rounds, and it is off-the-charts hysterical.

Hitler Learns Leno Is Moving Back To Late Night

We've done a few posts on 'The Tonight Show' fiasco (links below), and one thing is clear, if the suits at NBC thought that trumpets would be blaring in the sky, for returning Leno back to the 11:30 slot, they should be chained to chairs, eyelids taped open, and forced to watch, endllessly, My Mother the Car;

Conan Wins the Hearts and Minds of the Internet

A Safety Valve, Dressed In Jay Leno's Timeslot

Ahhhh ... We Called It ... Leno Moving Back To 11:30

(Cross Posted at The Garlic)

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Images of extraordinary suffering in Haiti

Some conservatives, like Rush Limbaugh, just don't give a shit, preferring to expose their blatant racism, their callous cynicism, their bitter partisanship, at a time of extraordinary suffering in Haiti, at a time when the world should instead be pulling together to help, as much of it is (including this country).

Here are a few photos from The Globe and Mail. The first, it seems to me, is the human face of the tragedy in Haiti. The second... that's a girl who died when her school in Port-au-Prince collapsed. The third... well, that's just a tiny glimpse at the death toll from the earthquake, which the Red Cross now estimates at about 50,000.

The situation in Haiti is now being described as catastrophic.

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Candidate for worst human being in the world: Rush Limbaugh

So incensed am I, I'll let Think Progress explain what happened:

[On Wednesday], hate radio host Rush Limbaugh attempted to attack President Obama for responding to the devastation in Haiti. "This will play right into Obama's hands -- humanitarian, compassionate," Limbaugh argued. "They'll use this to burnish their, shall we say, credibility with the black community — the both the light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country. It's made to order for them."

Dear Leader Rush also said the U.S. shouldn't support Haiti, or send any humanitarian relief:

We've already donated to Haiti. It's called the U.S. income tax.

Yes, he's anti-Obama, but he's also deeply racist. Do you really think he would have said the same things had such a natural disaster befallen a predominantly white country?

Steve Benen is right:

While the remarks have generated some criticism, including some pushback from the White House, no one seems especially surprised by Limbaugh's callousness. Limbaugh spews bile on a daily basis, and is richly rewarded. This is just who he is.

But Kevin Drum asked the same question I always ponder every time the right-wing, drug-addled radio host crosses the decency line: "I wonder what it takes to get the conservative movement to disown this guy?"

I wonder the same thing, but it simply never happens. On the other side of the ideological divide, when a Democratic lawmaker works with or appears at Netroots Nation, there's ample criticism from the right about Dems associating with "liberal extremists."

And yet, no matter how loathsome a figure Limbaugh becomes, top Republican officials not only reach out to the right-wing talk-show host, but effectively treat him as the de facto head of their political party. Indeed, in the rare instances in which a Republican actually offers subtle disapproval of Limbaugh, they invariably apologize to him and kiss his proverbial ring.

The GOP effectively lets Rush Limbaugh call the shots, and when he says disgusting things, Republicans don't dare disagree with their boss.

And so Rush gets away with being... what?... what's the right word for him? Let's just say that, like Pat Robertson, on whom we focused yesterday, he's a leading candidate for Worst Human Being in the World.

He was that already, of course, but he significantly bolstered his candidacy with these comments. Even some conservatives pushed back:

-- Joe Scarborough: "The insensitivity is stunning, the words are deplorable... [It's] indefensible."

-- Pat Buchanan: "They're deeply insensitive, no doubt about it. I think the President of the U.S. speaks for the country when he stands up there... I think Rush's comments were cynical."

No, they were far worse than cynical, but they did, once more, expose Rush -- along with his supporters and admirers, and what he stands for -- in all his naked inhumanity.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ex-Bush mouthpiece hearts Todd Palin

By J. Thomas Duffy

Oh my, this is tremendously embarrassing.

I mean, not that Nicolle Wallace was ever some glaring, burning, brilliant light of intellect, but to be publically drooling, lasciviously panting, over Mommy Moose's husband, that really takes the cake.

When last we heard from her, she was dissing Obama, and pitching the golden virtues of the debunked Maverick's concession speech.

But, today ...


Nicolle Wallace, former senior adviser to the McCain presidential campaign, did little to defend Sarah Palin at a panel discussion for Washington Post reporter Anne Kornblut's new book "Notes from the Cracked Ceiling" on Tuesday night. Asked if the team was "ready for anything" when they selected Palin as their nominee, Wallace replied, "We were never ready ... no one was prepared to defend her. Nobody knew anything."


Wallace did praise Todd Palin, the former governor's husband and the so-called "first dude." Todd Palin was an "extraordinary spouse," Wallace said, adding that he will be a "great model for what the first husband will look like."

How to be professional there, Nickie ...

You trying to make Nancy Puss'n'Boots look good?

Maybe she's sucking up for 2012.

With a comment like that, she should be banished to work with Glenn Beck, since she already has the experience of trying to sell a completely empty, ridiculously unprepared, and totally idiotic candidate like The Wasilla Whiz Kid.

Not to mention, that it's past time for all the Stumblin' Bumblin' John McCain, and Mommy Moose, enablers to drop the "Claude Raines - I'm Shocked, Shocked To Find Gambling Going On Here", when it comes to the profound incompetence of the Dead Campaign Express.

Help Me Mister Wizard!

Make them all go away!

Bonus Riffs

McCain VP Confusion; Staff Had Canadian Actress Sarah Polley In Dayton Hotel For Three Days

"The insinuation, that John McCain, a former prisoner of war, doesn't know how many houses he has, is outrageous!"

Everything He Learned?

Why Do You Think We've Been Calling Him "Stumblin' and Bumblin"?

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

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Let them die - not one more dollar!

By Capt. Fogg

I've lived in declared disaster areas several times and have been involved in emergency communications and food distribution during three category 2 hurricanes in the last 5 years alone and of course, the destruction of property, the loss of power for months is no fun, but to compare any of that with what's going on in Haiti right at this moment shows the inadequacy of the word disaster. In Haiti, the lives of almost all have been a disaster all along and they are a living hell for the lucky survivors.

The first I heard about the earthquake in Haiti was a communication from the ARRL, which represents Amateur Radio in the US, asking us to keep certain emergency frequencies open and to listen for any communications coming out of Haiti. I heard nothing myself, although the Caribbean is at my doorstep. There was nothing but background noise on 14,300 Mhz -- the Intercontinental Assistance and Traffic Net (IATN) until the Rev John Henault, HH6JH, made contact late Wednesday morning. He said that he was safe, but had no power and no phone service. He was operating on battery power and hoping to get a generator running later in the day so he could report on conditions.

It's been reported that the UN peacekeeping force headquarters building has collapsed and may have killed everyone inside including the UN envoy. About 150 U.N. staff members remain unaccounted for and 22 are confirmed dead.

It may be a while before any final death toll can be determined. In a country of such massive poverty people will continue to succumb to disease, starvation and dehydration, but it will, no doubt be a very large number. France has airplanes on the way and the US has arrived and secured the airport so that emergency aid can land safely. President Obama has pledged $100 million in relief and has assured what remains of the Haitian people that they will not be forgotten. The Red Cross is actively soliciting funds with telethons and operators are standing by as you read this.

Rush Limbaugh wasted no time weighing in on the suffering of millions, on the slow, sordid, lonely deaths of countless children, on the agony of those crushed by fallen buildings:

This will play right into Obama's hands. He's humanitarian, compassionate. They'll use this to burnish their, shall we say, "credibility" with the black community--in the both light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country. It's made-to-order for them. That's why he couldn't wait to get out there, could not wait to get out there.

Yes, Rush is a heavyweight in more than one way. Limbaugh, who lives in barely imaginable luxury simply doesn't want another damned thing done for those ungrateful "light-skinned and dark-skinned" people, dying of thirst, hunger and disease. As to private donations to the Red Cross? Forget it!

We've already donated to Haiti -- it's called the U.S. income tax.

Of course, Rush cares about some people, particularly when he can use their deaths to defame anything he defines as liberal: things other people call decency or charity, or humanity, or compassion. We're supposed to be outraged in perpetuity at the death of any American citizen at the hands of Muslims -- white citizens preferred of course, but Rush doesn't give a damn or a dollar for anyone else.

Remember that the next time you listen to him, the next time you think it's so cute how he lampoons his shoddy straw men. Remember the next time you patronize his sponsors. This is the man who looks into the eyes of a bereaved mother, a dying child and says "screw you and screw anyone who gives a damn."

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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Quote of the Day: Harry Reid on Olympia Snowe

Remember when Democrats were trying to work out a deal with Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) in hopes of getting her vote on health-care reform? Yeah, well...

As I look back it was a waste of time dealing with [Snowe], because she had no intention of ever working anything out,

said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), according to an upcoming NYT Magazine piece.

So she was like every other Republican, just more flirtatious -- and, given her toying with the Democrats, as much of an obstructionist as anyone in the GOP.

Assuming this is true, Democrats have something to learn here: Even when you reach out in good faith to the other side, don't expect anything but opposition in return.

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Candidate for worst human being in the world: Pat Robertson

Maybe this should be a new ongoing series here at The Reaction. We'll see.

For my initial post on the disaster in Haiti, see here. For J. Thomas Duffy's post on Robertson and Haiti, see here.)


No natural disaster is complete without some insane Christian fundamentalist coming out and saying something unfathomably insane.

(Although, come to think of it, it's all quite fathomable when this happens, given that it happens all the time.)

I've called Pat Robertson a number of things before, including "dangerous idiot" here, here, and here, but I just can't think of the appropriate word or words to use in response to what he said today on his show The 700 Club about the earthquake in Haiti:

The Rev. Pat Robertson, on his CBN broadcast today, offered his own explanation of the earthquake in Haiti:

"Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it," he said. "They were under the heel of the French... and they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, 'We will serve you if you'll get us free from the French.'

"True story. And the devil said, 'OK, it's a deal,'" Robertson said. "Ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after another."

That's right, Robertson said that the earthquake happened because the Haitians are "cursed" as a result of a long-ago pact with the devil to free themselves from French oppression.

Insane? You betcha, even by the extreme standards of fundamentalist Christianity, even by the standards of Robertson's own insanity, which would seem to include admiration of French (i.e., white European) tyranny and a desire for non-white peoples to be subjected to such godly bondage.

Now, Robertson also said that "right now we're helping the suffering people and the suffering is unimaginable," which is fine, but also, rather disturbingly, that "we need to pray for them a great turning to God and out of this tragedy I'm optimistic something good may come."

Sure, over 100,000 people are dead, sure, the country lies in ruins, sure, it's a humanitarian catastrophe, but if those "cursed" Haitians turn to Jesus and accept the Christian yoke, then, hey, it was all for the best, right?

You know what? Fuck you, Pat Robertson, you fucking piece of shit.

You're one of the worst human beings in the world, a shameful embarrassment to humanity, to America, even to Christianity. You're a disgusting, despicable man with disgusting, despicable beliefs.

And you, dear reader, if you believe this nonsense, you're fucking insane as well.


If you want to watch Robertson in action, here's the clip:

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pat Robertson goes all Angel Heart on Haiti

By J. Thomas Duffy

Quite the awful, terrible, horrific disaster going on in Haiti.

Good thing The Commander Guy is out-of-office, otherwise there'd probably be a massive airlift bringing the Haitians to the New Orleans Convention Center so they could wait for some help.

And we come to expect things.

Like chest-thumping network news anchors "dropping in" to do live stand-ups of repeating their bleatings over-and-over, punctuated by "that's absolutely correct." Brian Williams and the NBC Survivor Team all were throwing around the word "absolutely" so much, I half expected to find out they were sponsored by the vodka company.

Another expectation is for former Republican candidate for president, and raving lunatic, Pat Robertson, to go off the rails and start spouting the events of the alternate universe playing inside his head.

Take it away Pat, courtesy of Think Progress:

Today on his 700 Club television show, Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson highlighted the tragedy and said that his network will be there “to help the people.” However, he then tried to offer an explanation for the earthquake, blaming Haiti’s own people for once making a “pact to the devil”:

ROBERTSON: [S]omething happened a long time ago in Haiti and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French. Napoleon the Third and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, “We will serve you if you get us free from the prince.” True story. And so the devil said, “OK, it’s a deal.” They kicked the French out, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free.

But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other, desperately poor. That island of Hispaniola is one island. It’s cut down the middle, on the one side is Haiti, on the other side is the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, etc. Haiti is in desperate poverty. Same island.

They need to have, and we need to pray for them, a great turning to God. And out of this tragedy I’m optimistic something good may come. But right now, we’re helping the suffering people and the suffering is unimaginable.

(GottaLaff, over at The Political Carnival, has the video.)

Now, you think he would have been happy with just the earthquake.

He's been wishing earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, hurricanes, mixing in trying to hire assassins, calling on God to "smite" this one or that one, on so many people who have different points of view than his, that when one comes along, he could have just left it with an "I told you so."

Ahhh, but that "Louis Cyphre," he's a tricky fellow.

I think something else was going on here.

This is what must have happened:

Netflix screwed up and sent Robertson Angel Heart, rather than Angels With Dirty Faces , and once the scene with Epiphany Proudfoot, played by the steamy, sultry Lisa Bonet, came to the "racy nude and sex scenes," well, Robertson got all hopped up and happy-in-the-pants, and went to bed thinking, actually, dreaming, hoping, that he was Johnny Favorite.

Naturally, he woke up, how should we say, at attention, popped in the DVD for another view of his beloved Epiphany Proudfoot just before showtime and, Ta-Da, he pays his dues by giving old Louis Cyphre his star turn.

If not, get this man on lots, and lots, of Seroquel.

Bonus Pat Robertson Loony Tunes

Wonkette: Pat Robertson Does Usual Pat Robertson Thing Following Natural Disaster

Juan Cole: Pat Robertson's Racist Blaming of Haitian Victims; and the Televangelist Misuse of History

John Cook: Thousands Dying Because Haitian Slaves 'Swore a Pact with the Devil' for Their Freedom


Amanda Terkel: Shep Smith hits Robertson’s ‘devil’ comments: The people of Haiti ‘don’t need that’ at a time like this

Bonus Bonus

Breaking News! Robertson Held For Questioning In Falwell Death ... Threats Against Chavez, Sharon Make 700 Club Founder 'Person of Interest'

Robertson May Have, Inadvertently, Caused Hajj Stampede Deaths ...Was Working On New Material For Bush Video Blitz, Testing New Curses and Condemnations

White House Meets With Robertson; Plan Video Blitz ...Controversial Minister To Produce Al Qaeda-type Videos, Promising Death and Destruction, To Counter Bin Laden's

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

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Over 100,000 dead in Haiti earthquake

(Updated with images and video.)

It is being reported that over 100,000 people have died as a result of yesterday's massive 7.0-magnitude earthquake in Haiti:

The capital, Port-au-Prince, "is flattened," said Haiti's consul general to the U.N., Felix Augustin, who said he believed more than 100,000 people were dead. Hospitals are gone, and medical supplies and heavy equipment are desperately needed, he said.

The country's prime minister said the death toll could be in the hundreds of thousands.

"I hope that is not true, because I hope the people had the time to get out," Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive told CNN.

President Rene Preval said he heard reports of death tolls ranging from 30,000 to 100,000 -- but he said the true toll is not yet known.

What more can one say? It's a catastrophe of such enormity that it's hard even to process what happened. I can only hope that aid and support are getting to the right places and that everything possible is being done to help the Haitian people.


Michaelle Jean, Canada's governor general (our head of state), is a native Haitian, and she spoke today about the devastation:

Jean directly addressed Haitians in Creole, urging them to have "courage" as her voice broke.

In Creole, she explained later that she said "men and women of Haiti, we shall not lose hope. We are known for our strength and resilience and we need to stand courageously before this challenge that is affecting us again."

An aide handed her a tissue as Jean read out her statements in English and French, and spoke of the "the long terrible night, that long day yesterday and that long day today."

"We know that every hour and every day can make a difference between life and death."

Asked if she'd heard from members of her own family, the governor general said she was able to get word that an uncle is safe, but was still unsure of news of other loved ones, but quickly added that "it's not about me today."

"I am only one of many" Haitians worried about their loved ones, she said.

I found her comments deeply moving. (You can see her make them here. She said "it's as if an atomic bomb has fallen over Port-au-Prince," the country's capital city.)

Let me post the clip here:


It bothers me that our (or, rather, our news media's) primary focus -- as reflected in what is reported first -- is on Canadians who have died or otherwise been affected in Haiti. (And this is no doubt the same in other countries, where nationals of those countries are given primacy over the Haitians.)

I understand why this is, and I do not want to make light of Canadian casualties or to disregard the suffering of the friends and families of those Canadians casualties (an Ontario nurse, Yvonne Martin, was the first confirmed Canadian death in Haiti), and Canadians are understandably concerned about and interested in the impact of the earthquake specifically on Canada and Canadians, but the unfortunate implication is that Canadians are more important than Haitians, that a single Canadian death deserves greater attention, is sadder, and is more tragic than the deaths of countless Haitians.

This is to take nothing away from what Canada is doing. Like other countries around the world, Canada has already committed a great deal of support for disaster relief in Haiti. And I certainly do not mean to suggest that Canadians are insensitive to the suffering of the Haitian people. I just find the focus on Canadians -- and the similar focus of other countries on their own nationals -- distasteful, disrespectful, and, at a time like this, rather disgusting.

In contrast, Governor General Jean's statement, which addressed the Haitian people and the enormity of the suffering in human, as opposed to national, terms, was not just moving but the right response, in terms of both tone and content, to a tragedy of this magnitude.


The BBC has images of the devastation -- and of the very human side of it -- here and here. Canada's Globe and Mail has a lot more here

Here are two images from the Globe. The first is Petionville, a neighbourhood in Port-au-Prince. The second is the presidential place in Port-au-Prince.


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2010 threats

Guest post by Jared Stancombe 

Jared Stancombe, a 2009 graduate of Indiana University, is currently an analyst for a U.S. government agency responsible for national security. He is also in the officer selection process for the U.S. Marine Corps. He lives in Washington, D.C. 

Ed. note: This is Jared's fifth guest post at The Reaction. His first three were on Afghanistan and the Afghan War. You can find them here, here, and here. His fourth, which you can find here, was on airline security and information sharing -- MJWS


With the turn of the decade into 2010, many Americans are hopeful with respect to what the new decade will bring. However, those within the national security and defense apparata are looking to resolve the current conflicts and crises while forecasting those to come. Here is my take on what may happen in 2010:

Iraq: U.S. troops will begin leaving Iraq permanently, leaving behind only military elements that can directly support the expansion of national security forces. However, civilian elements may remain to assist the government in building the economy and public institutions. In December 2009, there were no combat-related deaths in the entire country. Friends who have served in Iraq or who are currently in Iraq are completely confident that the current Iraqi regime can exist independently of further U.S. occupation. With the focus currently on Afghanistan, al Qaeda and other foreign fighter groups who were responsible for most of the "post-war" fighting have moved into the mountains of Pakistan and into other unstable parts of the world, such as Yemen. What instability that remains in Iraq is mostly internal, despite recent bombings.

Yemen: Without immediate international assistance, Yemen could become another Somalia, with terrorists freely operating within its borders. The U.S. and its allies should devote substantial defense, development, and economic assistance to the Yemeni regime before it is too late. With the Christmas 2009 airline terrorist attack, U.S. sights have also been turned on Yemen. The U.S. will never send troops to Yemen, yet there could be air strikes from U.S. Predator drones and naval aircraft or AC-130 strikes on suspected terrorist encampments.

Afghanistan: Afghanistan may turn for the better or for the worse. Is 30,000 troops enough? What strategy will actually be adapted? Will U.S. forces pull out of the rural areas to protect the urban ones? 2010 is critical for success or failure in Afghanistan, and the unstable regime may be going through a phase which could render President Hamid Karzai powerless due to rampant corruption. Afghans may have had enough with Karzai and may seek to undermine him, to the detriment of U.S. efforts in the country.

Without a stable and sustainable political solution, military counterinsurgency efforts may prove futile. Afghanistan may have no solution and resources may be once again redirected, as they were for the Iraq War, if another threat from another failed state succeeds with a terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

The impending spring offensive by the Taliban once weather conditions improve could determine how much momentum ISAF forces truly have. U.S. casualties in the spring and summer could reach record levels as ISAF forces attempt to violently and forcefully squash the insurgency in the southern and eastern regions of the country.

Pakistan: 2010 is also critical for Pakistan, as its military bravely fights the Taliban in devastating combat. However, can the Pakistani military succeed? Will Pakistan remain stable? The stability of Pakistan is critical to U.S. success in Afghanistan, and an emergency situation may develop that requires U.S. action. Air strikes from Predator drones may rise as Pakistani intelligence works better with the CIA and Air Force on targeting high-ranking Taliban and al Qaeda officials. However, Pakistan may become the focus of the war against al-Qaeda and diplomatic efforts may be taken to place U.S. special operations forces in the country in a covert capacity.

United States: Domestic terrorism will quite possibly increase, with right-wing extremists feeling disenfranchised with an African-American president and Democratic majorities in Congress. We may see more attacks against government workers and interests. With the conservative media stating that an apocalypse is imminent, fearful and dangerous people may increasingly act out violently, in particular against government buildings and interests.

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Good for Conan

For me, "late-night" television means The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, sports, the Food Network, reruns of my favourite shows (Seinfeld, The Simpsons, Family Guy), movies, and pretty much anything else that isn't on U.S. network TV. Which is to say, no Letterman (or rarely), no Conan, no Fallon, no Ferguson, and, when he was hosting The Tonight Show, absolutely no Leno, whom I consider to be unfunny, irrelevant, given all his success, a sign of American cultural and comedic degradation, if not a Sign of the Apocalypse.

I used to watch Letterman, though, and still like him, and I used to like Conan in the later slot, back when he was in New York, back when he was edgy, or free to be, back before he ended up in dead-end California with the imperative to dumb himself down and appeal like a good corporate philistine to Middle America.

Well, as you may know by now, Leno, a failure in the 10-11 slot (if with a larger audience than the late-night shows), will soon be moving back to the 11:35 slot. The plan, it seemed, was to have Leno host a half-hour show with Conan and The Tonight Show, an entertainment touchstone for decades, following him at 12:05. To be sure, Conan wasn't doing well, losing badly to Letterman, where Leno was beating him, but the move seems to have been motivated largely by poor Leno ratings, relatively speaking, leading to grumbling from NBC affiliates unhappy that their late-night news shows weren't getting enough of a bump from prime time.

And so NBC, a terrible (and, seemingly, terribly run) network, has essentially pulled the rug out from under Conan without ever really giving him the chance to succeed, to build the iconic Tonight Show franchise back to its former glory as its host. And Leno, who was a threat, and who threatened, to move to another network, was appeased with a return to his former slot.

But Conan, understandably angry, isn't having any of it:

Conan O'Brien released a statement Tuesday saying that he no longer wanted to be the host of "The Tonight Show" on NBC if it appeared at 12:05 a.m.

Mr. O'Brien's brief run as host at 11:35 p.m. is to be cut short next month, as NBC decided to restore his predecessor, Jay Leno, to that time period. Mr. O’Brien has been growing increasingly upset in recent days about how he believes he was treated by NBC’s management.


In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Mr. O'Brien said, "I sincerely believe that delaying the 'Tonight Show' into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. 'The Tonight Show' at 12:05 simply isn't the 'Tonight Show.'"

He's right -- perhaps even about the significance of The Tonight Show -- and he shouldn't take such shoddy treatment from NBC, especially as it means that late-night viewers will be subjected to Leno once again.

I'm not a frequent watcher anymore, but I hope Conan moves to another network, ABC or more likely FOX, and gets back to doing what he does best regardless of when he comes on, whether it's up against Letterman and Leno or at midnight or even later. He's a funny, culturally and comedically relevant guy, and he belongs in the prime of late-night TV, not relegated to a post-Leno afterthought.

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We couldn't resist

Okay, one quick one ...

We will have more (oh, such a nice New Year's gift) on Mark "God made me who I am" McGwire, and his ridiculous, sobbing, ego-boasting interview, on his belated admission that he was a lying cheater and steroid user.

With McGwire's constant referencing of "God," his "God-given talents," "the Man upstairs," and "the talents God gave me," well, we half expected to hear this in the background:

Luther Barnes & The Red Budd Gospel Choir - My God Can Do Anything

Then what came to mind is another all-powerful ego entity: Chuck Norris.

So, with a nod to the lads at CNF, we couldn't resist, and have replaced "Chuck Norris" with "Mark McGwire": 

When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night, he checks his closet for Mark McGwire.

Mark McGwire doesn't read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants.

There is no theory of evolution. Just a list of creatures Mark McGwire has allowed to live.

Outer space exists because it's afraid to be on the same planet with Mark McGwire.

Mark McGwire does not sleep. He waits.

Mark McGwire is currently suing NBC, claiming Law and Order are trademarked names for his left and right arms.

Mark McGwire is the reason why Waldo is hiding.

Mark McGwire counted to infinity -- twice.

When Mark McGwire does a pushup, he isn't lifting himself up, he's pushing the Earth down.

If you spell Mark McGwire in Scrabble, you win. Forever.

Mark McGwire' hand is the only hand that can beat a Royal Flush.

Mark McGwire can lead a horse to water AND make it drink.

Mark McGwire doesn’t wear a watch. HE decides what time it is.

Mark McGwire can slam a revolving door.

Mark McGwire does not get frostbite. Mark McGwire bites frost.

Remember the Soviet Union? They decided to quit after watching a Mark McGwire hit a homerun.

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New poll shows broad public support for health-care reform, even as Obama's approval ratings suffer

At The Plum Line, Greg Sargent, delving into a CBS poll on the health-care reform bill currently in Congress, makes a great point about popular support for reform -- and for Obama. Allow me to quote his post in full:

Could Obama's dip to new lows on health care be driven partly by the fact that the reform proposal isn't ambitious enough?

The internals of the new CBS poll suggest that this could be the case: They show that more people think reform doesn't go far enough in multiple ways than think it goes too far.

The CBS poll finds that Obama's approval rating on health care has dipped to 36%. But the poll also asked whether people think the reform proposal, in various ways, goes too far, is about right, or doesn't go far enough:


In every one of those polled — covering Americans, controlling costs, and regulating insurance companies — more think the bill doesn’t go far enough.

To be sure, Americans seem close to evenly divided on the question of whether the proposal goes too far or not far enough. But the latter category outnumbers the former, suggesting that the desire that reform be more ambitious is a key factor driving dissatisfaction with Obama — even though that possibility is rarely discussed by the big news orgs or by top-shelf pundits.

The "big news orgs" have taken up (i.e., manufactured, with the help of Republican propaganda) the narrative that reform deeply divides the American people and may not have the support of a majority, and may actually be losing support.

But there is a big difference between this bill in particular and reform in general. While it is possible to support both, as I do, it is also possible to support reform but not the bill. This is the position of many on the left who, understandably, want reform to go further and therefore for the bill to be more robust, with a public option, if not a single-payer system. (Personally, I support a single-payer system, but I support the bill as lesser reform because I think it's all that's realistically possible given the situation in Congress -- the need for 60 votes in the Senate -- and because I think it's better than nothing and possibly the thin end of the wedge leading to further and more substantial reform down the road.)

The point is, not everyone who opposes the bill is against reform -- critics on the left may align with critics on the right with respect to this bill, but their opposition to it is not at all similar in substance. And I think it's right that Obama's approval rating on health-care reform, feeding his (recently declining) approval rating generally, has been brought down by those who support reform but not the bill, that is, by those who want reform to be more ambitious.

Perhaps the president did what he had to do to get 60 votes in the Senate, which was to promote conciliation with those on the right of the Democratic caucus in the Senate, specifically with Nelson and Lieberman, along with Landrieu, Lincoln, and a few others. In so doing, he pushed away those on the left who wanted him to go further. Had he done that, though, he (and Reid) would likely have lost the votes needed to pass reform. Such are the compromises one must make while sausage is being made. As a result, his own numbers have suffered significantly, but, in the end, he'll get reform passed, and that will be historic, and perhaps, just perhaps, he will end up benefitting from an accomplishment that eluded his Democratic predecessors in the White House.

Otherwise, what is clear, it seems to me, is that health-care reform generally is far more popular than the "big news orgs," the Republican-influenced news media, are letting on. For when you delve into the details, when the specific goals of reform are separated out from the bill itself, when people actually think about what it's all about, as reflected in this poll, support for reform seems to be in the 55-65 percent range. Once they see that reform isn't socialism, or fascism, or whatever the Republican propagandists want to call it, and once they see how it benefits them personally, support, I suspect, will only go up. Like Social Security and Medicare, it will become part of the fabric of American life, opening up the prospect of additional reform including, quite likely, a robust public option.

Whether Obama's approval ratings will go is another matter, but I suspect they will, too -- that is, if his critics, those who support more ambitious reform, come to see, as they ought to, that this reform is much better than no reform, and that, while he could (and should) have done more, he did what he had to do.

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