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Archive for October 20th, 2009

Studios to Stars: No Twitter for You

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 20th, 2009 4:49 am by HL

Studios to Stars: No Twitter for You
There was a time when Hollywood studios kept their stables of stars on a short leash, keeping close watch over their public personas and even arranging their marriages. Actors at least appear to have more leeway these days, but some studios are requiring that they refrain from broadcasting the minutiae of their daily lives via social media like Facebook and Twitter. READ THE WHOLE ITEM

Diaz

There was a time when Hollywood studios kept their stables of stars on a short leash, keeping close watch over their public personas and even arranging their marriages. Actors at least appear to have more leeway these days, but some studios are requiring that they refrain from broadcasting the minutiae of their daily lives via social media like Facebook and Twitter.

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Michael Meranze: Citizens or Stakeholders?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 20th, 2009 4:48 am by HL

Michael Meranze: Citizens or Stakeholders?
“Stakeholders” is the contemporary version of the language of exclusion. It is a historical retrogression, in effect an updated version of the early modern notion that only property holders should have a voice in politics.

Julie Menin: Women Have The Most To Lose if Health Reform Fails
Imagine that you recently had a baby through a cesarean section and had planned on taking off a few years to stay at home…

Doug Lamborn Town Hall In Springs Turns Heated
Civility took a beating Monday when Rep. Doug Lamborn held another town hall meeting on the nation’s hottest political topic: health care. A vocal minority,…


Eric Boehlert: Why the NFL and corporate America reject Limbaugh and Beck

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 20th, 2009 4:47 am by HL

Eric Boehlert: Why the NFL and corporate America reject Limbaugh and Beck

So much for being “impotent and powerless.”

That’s how Rush Limbaugh taunted his critics early last week during an interview on NBC’s Today. By the end of the week, after his attempt to purchase the NFL’s St. Louis Rams had crashed and burned in spectacular fashion — after Limbaugh had been thrown under the bus by his fellow investors — the talker was railing that his critics, no longer so impotent, had morphed into all-powerful players who tricked the gullible NFL into opposing the talk show host’s ownership bid.

Of course it wasn’t liberals or Democrats or preachers who derailed Limbaugh. It was Limbaugh himself, and his well-documented history of divisive, hateful, and often race-baiting commentary. (e.g. “[I]n Obama’s America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering.”)

Limbaugh last week learned the overdue lesson that there are real-world consequences for trafficking in hate speech. That there are free-market penalties, including the fact that the NFL decided for itself that it can’t, and won’t, be connected with Limbaugh.

It’s the same lesson Glenn Beck learned this year when he discovered that his niche, on-air rants (Obama is a communist-racist-fascist-Nazi) don’t speak to the masses. Instead, they freaked out nearly 100 former Glenn Beck advertisers who have gone on record as refusing to be associated with his show. These are blue-chip, small-“c” conservative advertisers who’ve dropped Beck quicker than a wobbly JaMarcus Russell pass.

For both Limbaugh and Beck, the awkward realization in recent weeks and months is that viewed outside of the dark, paranoid confines of right-wing talk, both men are seen as toxic by the business elite they likely admire the most. It’s like at a teen party in the basement when the lights suddenly get turned back on. Nobody in corporate America, and certainly nobody within the mighty NFL, wants to be seen holding hands with Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck.

Of course, a hysterical right-wing media treated the Limbaugh rejection as some kind of clarion call to action, trumpeting his failed NFL vanity deal as a turning point in American history and being “dangerous to the property and free speech rights of all Americans.” Limbaugh, of course, was in heated agreement, exclaiming, “This is about the future of the United States of America and what kind of country we’re going to have.”

In truth, Limbaugh’s humiliating face plant was entirely predictable, because every few years Rush Limbaugh tries to leave the protected bubble of right-wing radio and venture out into everyday American culture (“tiptoeing into the mainstream,” Limbaugh calls it), and every few years the reaction is swift and unambiguous — get lost!

A Wall Street Journal editorial last week whined that “the left” had tried “to drive Rush Limbaugh and others out of American political life.” Not true. This was the NFL’s doing, not “the left.” The billion-dollar league couldn’t care less about Limbaugh’s role in America’s “political life” and did nothing to try to impede it. All the NFL owners did (i.e. those super-exclusive Republican, country club multi-millionaires) was reject Limbaugh’s attempted entry into their mainstream entertainment and pop culture pursuit. The NFL owners know branding better than perhaps any other group of sports professionals, and they knew instinctively that Limbaugh’s presence would be poisonous for the sport and for their business.

Of course, this isn’t the first time the NFL sent Limbaugh that message. The talker tried to sidle up to pro football as a pre-game analyst with ESPN in 2003. It took the talker just a few weeks before he said something insulting about black athletes (as well as the press) and was summarily fired.

The ESPN fiasco represented a classic case of Limbaugh trying to export his race-baiting commentary from the ugly confines of AM talk radio and dump it into the American mainstream; in this case into the sports world. To this day, I doubt Limbaugh thinks there was anything wrong with his claim that the press was giving Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb too much credit for the team’s success simply because they wanted to see a black quarterback do well. Limbaugh thought it was a perfectly reasonable comment, and Dittoheads nationwide likely nodded their heads in agreement. (The liberal media love to root for blacks!) But the sports world’s collective jaws hit the ground, and once again the gaping divide between the world of the radical right and the rest of us opened up for everyone to see.

Same with last week’s humiliation, which represented a full-throated rejection of Limbaugh, his career, and the hate movement he leads. The NFL’s unambiguous bottom line? Limbaugh’s bad for business.

The fact that it was the NFL, the quintessential all-American, hard-hitting macho game, that summarily rejected Rush is what probably caused such an unhinged, foot-stomping response from the talker and his legion of Dittoheads. Being rejected by the urban-centered NBA could have easily been explained away by the right wing. But the heartland-loving NFL? Only losing out to NASCAR would have stung Limbaugh more.

His apostles just didn’t want to believe that their radical hate politics was being rejected out of hand. They didn’t want to believe that outside their cloistered world of partisan politics virtually nobody came to Limbaugh’s side in the NFL debate.

Instead, the far right — and certainly the GOP media — remains under some grand illusion that they speak for the masses; that corporate America is quietly down with their all-consuming Obama Derangement Syndrome antics. The right-wing pretends the 1 percent of Americans who watch Fox News somehow reflect Main Street America. But the NFL fiasco and the sweeping Glenn Beck ad boycott tell us a very different story.

Why the disconnect? Because the far-right media and their partisan followers have a completely twisted sense of reality and their own self-importance. They think they have juice because they spend their days and nights locked inside a right-wing echo chamber listening to Limbaugh, watching Beck, and reading Michelle Malkin online. (They’re the same people who saw 2 million people marching in the streets against Obama in Washington, D.C., on September 12, and were off by 1.9 million people.)

They’re hermetically sealed. But when they’re forced out into the daylight that is American society, the rest of us send them a pretty clear message: Go away!

For the NFL, the rejection of Limbaugh was a no-brainer. As former ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith noted while appearing on CNN last week:

And at the end of the day, the NFL is a multibillion dollar business. And [Limbaugh’s] clearly a polarizing figure. And there’s nothing broke about the NFL. They have replaced baseball as America’s pasttime and you don’t want to upset the apple cart and he was definitely going to do that.

The NFL leadership was keenly aware that the next time Limbaugh suggested that Americans were being encouraged to bend over and grab their ankles and root for Obama to succeed because his father was black (or something equally demented), that a few hundred, if not thousand, protesters would be marching outside the home of the Rams in St. Louis the next day. That was just a given. And there was simply no way that the controversy-adverse NFL suits, who pride themselves on longstanding commitments to the community, would want that kind of constant political firefight surrounding the team or the league. (Ironically, by turning his failed ownership bid into a partisan pie fight, Limbaugh precisely proved the point of owners who didn’t want Limbaugh’s incessant, and divisive, self-promotion around.)

From a pop culture marketing and public relations perspective, Limbaugh is positively toxic. Of course, Limbaugh’s free to push his AM brand of loathing, and within that world he sells lots of ads. But why on earth would sane businessmen who have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in a mainstream entertainment franchise want to be associated with Limbaugh’s paranoia and divisiveness? Guess what? They don’t want anything to do with the guy.

The same is true with Beck, who unleashes his own type of hateful insanity on Fox News. Beck’s show has become as unappealing as a virus, and more than 80 advertisers have fled since Beck called Obama a “racist.”

The stunningly successful ad boycott, led by ColorofChange.org, is reportedly costing the Glenn Beck show $600,000 in lost revenue each week, as Madison Avenue’s who’s who of clients bolt the show: Applebee’s, AT&T, Bank of America, Best Buy, Campbell’s Soup, Capital One, ConAgra, Clorox, ConAgra, CVS, Ditech, Farmers Insurance Group, GEICO, General Mills, Johnson & Johnson, Lowe’s, Men’s Wearhouse, Mercedes-Benz, NutriSystem, Procter & Gamble, Progressive Insurance, RadioShack, Sprint, State Farm Insurance, Traveler’s Insurance, Subaru, Toyota-Lexus ,Travelocity, The UPS Store, Travelers Insurance, Verizon Wireless, Verizon, Vonage, and Wal-Mart, among others.

And by the way, what does getting rejected from corporate America sound like? It sounds like this:

  • “We will not be airing on that show [Glenn Beck] any longer.” [Subaru of America]
  • “Lexus ads are not appearing on the Glenn Beck show.”
  • “You will not see our ads on the Glenn Beck TV program.” [UPS Store]
  • “You will not see Flexitol commercials on the Glenn Beck show. Period.”
  • “We hear your concerns and are no longer advertising on the Glenn Beck show.” [Ditech]
  • “Ashley Furniture HomeStore pulled its advertising from Glenn Beck.”
  • “We have taken steps to make sure that [Sprint] will not be advertising on the Glenn Beck show.”

As part of his elaborate on-air pity party last week, Limbaugh whined that criticism of his NFL bid was “all about smearing mainstream, traditional conservatism.” In truth, Limbaugh and Beck have done more to smear “mainstream, traditional conservatism” this year than any liberal ever could have dreamed of.

Both the NFL, which violently stiff-armed Limbaugh, and the nearly 100 big-time advertisers that have run away form Glenn Beck, helped illustrate that point.


Muslim Ex-Bush Official: ‘Intern Spy’ Hunt Threatens Careers Of Good Americans

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 20th, 2009 4:46 am by HL

Muslim Ex-Bush Official: ‘Intern Spy’ Hunt Threatens Careers Of Good Americans
Says former Bush official Suhail Khan of the GOP “Muslim intern spy” hunt on the Hill: “Really what they’re trying to do here is to scare otherwise thoughtful members and chiefs of staff from hiring Muslims.”

Yes Men, Activist Group, Teamed Up On Chamber Hoax
The Chamber of Commerce hoax was perpetrated by the Yes Men, in tandem with a group of activists known as the Avaaz Action Factory.

GOP Lawmakers Dawdle While Muslim ‘Intern Spies’ May Be Conspiring Further
Four Republican lawmakers have not submitted a request to the House sergeant at arms to investigate a threat that one of the four described as a terrorist-linked group possibly “running influence operations or planting spies in key national security-related offices.”



Report: Iran cannot make nuke for six to eight years

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 20th, 2009 4:42 am by HL

Report: Iran cannot make nuke for six to eight years
Excerpt: A report in the Washington Post on Sunday contradicts claims in the media that Iran is on the verge of producing nuclear weapons and states that Iran is incapable of making nukes for at least six to eight years. The report debunks “five persistent myths about Iran’s nuclear program.” The significance of this report and the […]


Dead Heat in New Jersey

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 20th, 2009 4:41 am by HL

Dead Heat in New Jersey
With just two weeks to go, the race for New Jersey governor couldn’t be any tighter.

A new Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Poll finds Gov. Jon Corzine (D) and challenger Chris Christie (R) in a dead heat with each candidate getting the support of 39% of likely voters. Another 14% say they will vote for independent candidate Chris Daggett. Earlier this month, Christie held a narrow 3 point lead over Corzine – 43% to 40% — with 8% for Daggett.

Said pollster Patrick Murray: “Democrats who flirted with Chris Christie earlier in the year have come back into the fold. It also looks like some GOP voters may have become disenchanted with their white knight. That’s not a good sign for the Republican at this late stage of the game.”

Christie Aide Who Got Loan May Have Helped Campaign
When news broke during the summer that Chris Christie (R) “had lent $46,000 to a top aide in the federal prosecutor’s office, he said he was merely helping a friend in need. He also said the aide, Michele Brown, had done nothing to help his gubernatorial campaign,” the New York Times reports.

“But interviews with federal law enforcement officials suggest that Ms. Brown used her position in two significant and possibly improper ways to try to aid Mr. Christie in his run for governor.”

This is not exactly the type of news that will help Christie in a tight race.


Bill Moyers: How Can the U.S. Be an Empire and a Democracy at the Same Time?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 20th, 2009 4:40 am by HL

Bill Moyers: How Can the U.S. Be an Empire and a Democracy at the Same Time?

An interview with Mark Danner, whose new book, Stripping Bare the Body, explores the strange notion of a democratic empire and the wars it wages.

Why Obama Has to do What Letterman Did: Refuse to Pay Hush Money

The former labor secretary says that by buying off Big Pharma in return for its support on health-care reform, the president has succumbed to blackmail.

Will the Soldiers We Train in Afghanistan End Up Trying to Kill Us in the Future? It’s Happened Before

For 30 years we've been deeply involved in creating, financing, and sometimes arming a part of the world that has shown willingness to create violence on our own soil.

Meet the Senators in the Creepy Right-Wing Cult Trying to Defeat Health Care Reform

The Family has spent decades consolidating power within the GOP and may have come to dominate the party even among those who do not belong to the cult.


Taliban Finances

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 20th, 2009 4:38 am by HL

Taliban Finances
The piece this morning on the Taliban’s financial network reminds me of Napoleon’s famous quote, “an army marches on its stomach”. Without the up to $400 million from the opium trade, that is used to pay the fighters, the Taliban…



Sponsored Topics: AfghanistanTalibanOpiumAsiaSociety and Culture

Does Citigroup Need China?
Most of the economists and pundits who could not see an $8 trillion housing bubble are telling us that the United States desperately needs for the Chinese government to keep buying its debt. This crew of failed analysts argues that…


Sponsored Topics: United StatesCitigroupChinaU.S. governmentChinese government

Red Scare! Weekly Standard Goes After J Street Attendees ++ TIME’s Tony Karon Reviews Israel’s Terrible Week
I love it. All these years working in the pro-peace, pro-Israel camp and we could never dream of scaring the “Israel firsters” the way J Street has. The bad guys were able to just ignore us. No more. They are…


Sponsored Topics: Middle EastIsraelJ StreetWarfare and ConflictIsrael-Palestine


Husband joins Army so cancer-stricken wife can get health care.

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 20th, 2009 4:37 am by HL

Husband joins Army so cancer-stricken wife can get health care.
One of the worst tragedies of the recession has been people losing their health insurance because they lost their job. Nearly 14,000 Americans lose their insurance every day. Wisconsin father Bill Caudle was laid off from his job at a plastics company in March 2009, which resulted in his family losing their employer-subsidized health care […]

One of the worst tragedies of the recession has been people losing their health insurance because they lost their job. Nearly 14,000 Americans lose their insurance every day. Wisconsin father Bill Caudle was laid off from his job at a plastics company in March 2009, which resulted in his family losing their employer-subsidized health care coverage. This put the family in an especially precarious position, because Bill’s wife, Michelle, was an ovarian cancer patient. After months of unsuccessfully looking for work, Caudle did the only thing he could to get his wife chemotherapy — he joined the Army:

billnmichelleBill needed a job. He needed health benefits. […]

The Army would solve their health coverage problem. In years past he would have been too old, but in 2005 the age limit for enlistment was increased from 35 to 40, and a year later it was raised again to 42. The tradeoff would be his absence from home.

In the end, although he risked leaving Michelle to fight cancer on her own, Bill chose the Army. He signed on for a job as a signal support systems specialist, a soldier who works with communications equipment.

“Seventy percent of the reason is for the insurance,” said Bill’s mother, Marguerite Hemiller. “He told me, ‘I’ve always wanted to do something for my country and I have to help Michelle.’”

The United States is the only industrialized country in the world that does not guarentee comprehensive health coverage to all of its citizens. In the rest of the developed world, Bill would not have to leave his cancer-stricken wife behind and risk his own life in order to get her care.


Federal Diary: New boss moves quickly to change sluggish Patent Office

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 20th, 2009 4:36 am by HL

Federal Diary: New boss moves quickly to change sluggish Patent Office
You know things are bad at a government agency when a Cabinet secretary says as much while swearing in the new boss. It happened at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in August, when Commerce Secretary Gary Locke showed up to swear in the new director, David Kappos, and told the rank-and-file that…


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