The stupidity of cable news

Is there a better example of the stupidity of cable news than the “black Santa” episode? Frank Rich cites this example in his article about the decline of FOX News.

There ain’t no sanity clause,” Chico Marx told Groucho. There is also no Santa Claus. And there was no sanity in the Santa fracas that became an embarrassing liberal-media fixation just before Christmas. For those who missed it, what happened was this: A Fox News anchor, Megyn Kelly, came upon a tongue-in-cheek blog post at Slate in which a black writer, Aisha Harris, proposed that Santa be recast as a penguin for the sake of racial inclusiveness. After tossing this scrap of red meat to her all-white panel of prime-time guests, Kelly reassured any “kids watching” (this was nearing 10 p.m.) that “Santa just is white.” (For good measure, she added, “Jesus was a white man, too.”) Soon and sure enough, Kelly’s sound bites were being masticated in op-ed pieces, online, and especially on cable, where a passing wisecrack best left to the satirical stylings of Stewart and Colbert became a call to arms. At CNN, one anchor brought on Santas of four races to debunk Kelly. BuzzFeed reported that MSNBC ­programs hopped on the story fourteen times in a single week.

Of course what Kelly said was dumb. But the reaction was even dumber. Every year, Fox News whips up some phantom “war on Christmas” plotted by what the network’s blowhard-in-chief Bill O’Reilly calls “secular progressives.” This seasonal stunt has long been old news, yet many in the liberal media still can’t resist the bait. You had to feel for the NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker, who was drafted into filing a Kelly-Santa story on the Today show for no ­discernible reason other than that she is not white.

When this supposed “national firestorm” (as Al Sharpton inflated it on his MSNBC show) finally died down, only two things had been accomplished beyond the waste of everyone’s time.

FOX is and always has been a propaganda machine. MSNBC saw a business opportunity in going hard left and thus has become a mess. CNN has sucked for years, and adding an entertainment executive like Jess Zucker can only lead to more mediocity. Where’s Will McAvoy when we need him . . .

Bloomberg gives big to Senate Democrats

Mike Bloomberg made it very clear he was going so spend his fortune on causes her cares about, promising to bounce the check to the undertaker. With a net worth of aorund $30 billion, that gives him quite a bit of money to spend. With that as a backdrop, we now have news that Bloomberg gave $2.5 million to Senate Majority PAC which is formed to help Senate Democrats keep their majority. This is a serious commitment and signals that Bloomberg will be very active in this and upcming election cycles, giving the Democrats a powerful money source to counter the millions being spent by the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson.

The mess at CNN isn’t getting better

Jon Stewart continues to have a field day with the idiocy at CNN.

19-year old takes on war on science

The silliness of some conservatives seems to have no limits. We have people building museums showing cavemen living with dinosaurs, and of course we have Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, who is obsessed with finding ways to let teachers inject creationism into the classroom. Now he has to go up against a pissed off 19-year-old kid.

For Zack Kopplin, it all started back in 2008 with the passing of the Louisiana Science Education Act. The bill made it considerably easier for teachers to introduce creationist textbooks into the classroom. Outraged, he wrote a research paper about it for a high school English class. Nearly five years later, the 19-year-old Kopplin has become one of the fiercest — and most feared — advocates for education reform in Louisiana. We recently spoke to him to learn more about how he’s making a difference.

Kopplin, who is studying history at Rice University, had good reason to be upset after the passing of the LSEA — an insidious piece of legislation that allows teachers to bring in their own supplemental materials when discussing politically controversial topics like evolution or climate change. Soon after the act was passed, some of his teachers began to not just supplement existing texts, but to rid the classroom of established science books altogether. It was during the process to adopt a new life science textbook in 2010 that creationists barraged Louisiana’s State Board of Education with complaints about the evidence-based science texts. Suddenly, it appeared that they were going to be successful in throwing out science textbooks.

Jindal got some press after the 2012 election for saying that the GOP should stop being the “stupid party,” but he’ll have his own stupidity to address if he decides to run for president.

President Obama thanks his team in Chicago

President Obama gives an emotional thanks to his campaign staff in Chicago. Here’s a look at the amazing ground game and micro-targeting operation of the Obama campaign.

Four more years for Barack Obama

President Obama was re-elected last night with an impressive margin in the electoral college. The popular vote margin was much narrower, but it looks like he’ll be over 50% with roughly a 2 point margin.

I’ll have much more to say about this, but most of us will acknowledge that this was a very important election. The pundits liked to mock both campaigns for not discussing big issues, but that truly missed the point. Both sides offered very different paths for our future, and most voters understood the profound differences.

With an Obama victory, his signature accomplishment from his first term, health care reform, will now be fully implemented. Mitt Romney would have either repealed or gutted Obamacare, but now the notion of universal health care will be cemented as part of the social compact. We’ll all have to wait and see how Republicans react to Obama’s victory, but hopefully on health care we’ll see a shift away from a reflexive attempt to overturn Obamacare to constructive negotiations to improve it and cut medical costs in general. We’ve heard Republicans pontificate for years about malpractice reform. Perhaps now we’ll actually get some constructive proposals.

We may have a continuation of the political wars, but now we know that any deal will have to be more balanced than the GOP plan of just hacking away at spending on the elderly and the poor. We’ll see how that plays out.

It will also be interesting to see if some conservatives will break out of the right wing media bubble. Conservatives were told to ignore the poll numbers that pointed to an Obama victory, and that the “real” numbers would lead to a Romney landslide. These projections were pure fantasy, just like the Romney/GOP budget numbers that claimed you could miraculously balance the budget by slashing taxes. We live in a divided country and many on both sides are guilty of just listening to their own partisan news sources, but the dogma and partisanship on the right has become absurd. Even respectable pundits like George Will and Micheal Barone drank the Cool Aid and ended up looking just as clueless as partisan hacks like Dick Morris with their predictions of the Romney landslide.

Finally, conservatives and Republicans need to stand up to the lunatic fringe. You can’t encourage the crazies on your side, and then lament when idiot candidates like Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin say stupid things about rape and abortion. You can’t cater to the haters who demonize illegal immigrants and then complain that you got crushed by the Latino vote. We’ll see if there’s anyone in the GOP who has a spine. Chris Christie is an obvious candidate as he’s called out the crazies before, but now he’s on serious probation with the right for saying something nice about President Obama. Perhaps Marco Rubio can help on that front. We can expect serious fireworks within the GOP as they hash out these issues. If they don’t work it out, I’ll be happy to see them forfeit the Latino, African American, Asian and much of the female vote in future elections.

Colin Powell endorses Barack Obama

This endorsement is a big deal. Also, see what Powell says about Mitt Romney and how he’s all over the place on foreign policy. That confirms everything President Obama has been saying about Romney and his constant flip flops.

Fox obsession

If you’ve been watching Fox News, you probably expected Mitt Romney to attack Barack Obama over the recent events in Libya. But of course Romney didn’t go there. Part of it was due to his strategy to hide many of his positions so he could look like a moderate, but it also had to do with the fact that the CIA was telling the administration that the events were sparked by a video.

Colbert mocks Fox’s attempt to hype this controversy.

This spoof ad is hilarious

For Mitt Romney, if you court the lunatic fringe, you risk being tied to the lunatic fringe. Here’s Mitt Romney and his new friend, Richard Mourdock.

Campaigns hitting the home stretch

As the campaigns hit the home stretch in the presidential race between President Obama and Mitt Romney, it’s interesting to see the various tactics both campaigns are using to get to the finish line. The Obama team is clearly focused on a very sophisticated and get out the vote (GOTV) strategy with very clear microtargeting. The Romney team is focused on an avalanche of television ads. Strangely the Romney campaign held back on TV ads for a long time, underspending the Obama team. Also, they seem to pay a lot more per ad based on some highly questionable purchasing strategies coming out of Boston.

Then we have the old-school tactics. The Romney team seems much more invested in yard signs, based on what I’m hearing from some sources. The Obama team has just released their plan in the form of a 20 page brochure to counter the Romney attack that Obama has not focused on a positive agenda. Some in the media have criticized this move for a lack of new ideas, but they will be mailing this to over 3 million voters.

Many campaigns will be focusing on these old school tactics with brochures, posters and yard signs, using online printing options to reduce costs, if they’re smart, like shopping for brochures at UPrinting. The key with these strategies involves efficiency and plenty of volunteers. The new wave stuff, like social media and online advertising, still eludes some of the smaller campaigns. That’s where they can really make a difference between winning or losing.