Olbermann: A $10 Million Chandelier

Appearing on Dave Letterman’s show last night, Keith Olbermann talked about being fired by Current TV the other week. “I screwed up really big on this,” he said. “It’s my fault that it didn’t succeed, in the sense that I didn’t think the whole thing through.”

“I didn’t say, ‘You know, if you buy a $10 million chandelier, you should have a house to put it in.’ Just walking around with a $10 million chandelier isn’t going to do anybody a lot of good.” Olbermann went on to quip, “And then it turned out we didn’t have a lot to put the house in… or a building permit.”

Hmmm. We should all be so lucky to get $50 million (the reported amount of Olbermann’s contract) for a thoughtless, ill-fated decision that quickly turned out to be a big screw up that eventually terminated in complete failure.

WPITW: Fox & Fiends

The late great Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” Unfortunately that concept is totally alien to Fox “News” that gets busted in this instance for blatantly misrepresenting unemployment figures on graphs to fit its own counterfactual narrative:

As for the actual “winner” being the crowds attending the GOP “debates” that seem prone to enthusiastically cheering for the death penalty, allowing the uninsured to die without treatment, fatally electrocuting illegal immigrants, and putting poor black kids to work cleaning school latrines… Pretty standard fare for the average Republican primary voter, apparently. There really is no proposition too outlandishly crazy, mean-spirited, or downright inhumane for these feverishly angry crackpots not to support with tremendous gusto.


A trifecta of sexism, ignorance and paranoia today:

In fairness to Republican hopeful Herman Cain, at least he had the decency to preface his crackpot theory with the caveat of not having the facts to back it up. Too bad the other nuts in the GOP clown car aren’t as candidly forthright about the baselessness of their assertions.

Update: Great new hash tag courtesy of TDSWJS:


Do Teabaggers Read Books?

Well, not that much, apparently. At least if sales figures for the latest raft of books penned by Tea Party icons are any indication of that group’s appetite fer book learnin’…

Despite widespread media hype, TroubleMaker, by vacuous non-witch and failed Senate Tea Party candidate Christine O’Donnell, sold a paltry 2,200 copies nationwide during its first week – of which 1,500 were actually purchased by aides working for O’Donnell. The audio version fared even worse with total sales of just 12 copies. Yep, count ‘em, twelve!

While O’Donnell may be the most epic failure of the bunch, authors of other Tea Party books aren’t faring much better.

According to Neilsen’s Bookscan, as of last month, Rand Paul’s memoir, The Tea Party Comes to Washington, had sold just 6,000 copies and Boiling Mad, a highly-touted study of the Tea Party by reporter Kate Zernike, had only sold around 2,000. Last year’s manifesto Give Us Liberty, by FreedomWorks’s Dick Armey and Matt Kibbe has managed to move more than 20,000 units to date, but it has to be kept in mind that much of that came through bulk purchases by right-wing interest groups and friendly PACs (the usual method of gaming the “best-seller” lists).

Perhaps there is some hope to be gleaned from these numbers that the Tea Party is becoming an increasingly unpopular aberration, but of course that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be any less influential. Consider that while in a recent poll the Tea Party ranked lower in approval than any of the other 23 groups asked about, another group approaching it in unpopularity was the Christian Right, which nonetheless remains a key driver in American politics.


So, Keith Olbermann’s Countdown program came to an abrupt, somewhat puzzling end tonight. (Did he quit… was he fired?)

Although the announcement itself came as quite a surprise, it has to be said that this development wasn’t entirely unexpected.

It seemed to me that for the past several months, if perhaps not even longer, Olbermann appeared to have grown increasingly uncomfortable in the role of being MSNBC’s primetime liberal flamethrower. Or at least that was my impression.

It was an entirely fitting touch that Olbermann concluded the final edition of his program with a reading of James Thurber’s fable The Scotty Who Knew Too Much, the moral of which is: “It is better to ask some of the questions than to know all the answers.”

Fear Factor

Well, here we go again with another study purporting to demonstrate the difference between the mentalities of “conservatives” and “liberals” in terms of physiological discrepancies in their respective cerebral structures.

According to findings by neuroscience researchers at the University College of London (apparently in response to a whimsical challenge launched by actor Colin Firth on a BBC Radio chat program), it was discovered that conservatives have thicker tissues in a part of the brain called the amygdala (also sometimes colloquially referred to as the “lizard brain”), which is responsible for fear and other primitive emotions, whereas liberals have thicker anterior cingulates, which are associated with presumably more refined emotions such as optimism and courage.

Seems most probably bunk science to me, but one never knows… it could certainly explain a lot of things.

p.s. Speaking of Colin Firth, I watched the Tom Ford movie “A Single Man” the other night. What an absolutely beautiful, meticulously drawn film.

No Labels

I’m not quite sure what to make of this new “grassroots” political movement taking shape south of the border, but as a something of moderate centrist by nature, did find a certain amount of affinity with its non-partisan objectives.

What struck me as amusing, and perhaps an unintentional legitimization of its core premise, was the vicious reaction from both the most vocal left and right poles of spectrum immediately following its launch.

On a recent “Worst Persons” segment, Keith Olbermann described the group as “ludicrous” and then went on to embellish that by denouncing the organizers as “a bunch of fraudulent, conservative democrats pretending to be moderates and a bunch of fraudulent Republicans pretending to be independents.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the hyperpartisan battlefield, there was comedian Rush Limbaugh blasting the group as nothing more than a bunch of unemployed liberal hacks reacting to the insurgent mandate of the mid-term elections, as you can see here:

In a later broadcast, Rush went on to dismiss No Labels as “elitist snobs” and furthermore claimed for good measure that the group was “racist” in nature, by virtue of an obscure ruling from a court in South Carolina that determined not having party designations on the ballot would somehow disadvantage black voters…

And so it goes in the land where, as Jim Hightower famously said, “There’s nothing in the middle of the road but a yellow line and dead armadillos.”

Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat…

[insert pejorative of choice here]

As bizarre and reprehensible as Pat Robertson’s remarks about a spurious “pact with the Devil” being the root cause for Haiti’s latest misfortune, at least the senile old kook urged his viewers to contribute to the CBN’s Disaster Relief Fund to help the suffering victims of the earthquake (which makes no logical sense if they’re supposedly in league with the Devil, but that’s another matter…)

In contrast, Rush Limbaugh followed up his cynically racist remarks about the disaster “playing right into the hands” of the Obama administration that, according to Rush, would use Haiti to get closer to the “light-skinned and dark-skinned black [communities] in this country,” by yesterday urging people not to donate to Haiti relief effort because that country is run by “dictators and communists” and declaring that Americans have already helped Haiti more than enough in the form income taxes.

On last night’s Daily Show, Jon Stewart quipped that he’d figured out the reason for Rush’s recent heart problem — “You don’t have one!”

“Meals on Wheels” Update: You really have to wonder at what point Rush’s legion of dittoheads might possibly become a wee bit embarrassed by the despicable things this hateful clown says every day.

Another Fool’s Errand

So much for the naïve idea of “hope and change” that for just a brief while seemed so very promising at the time the White House was being fumigated last January. “Patience ebbs” indeed.

Some might still hold out some faith in Obama, but I see little reason why they should.

For a preview of the rationale that’s to be expected from President Obama when he addresses Americans from West Point tonight (photo-op alert!), Joe Sestak attempts to explain the convoluted new strategy behind the latest escalation of forces in Afghanistan. Press Secretary Gibbs also fatuously weighs in some alliterative spin… (translation: “blah, blah, blah blah…”).

Maybe the U.S. president should have spent less time over the past several weeks and months listening to his generals and political fixers and more of it watching The Fog of War (Sec. of Defense Robert McNamara’s shameful apologia for the debacle in Vietnam) or reading Jim Perry’s excellent book about imperialistic bungling in remote corners of the world — what Kipling called the “savage wars of peace.” Either of those intellectual endevours might likely have given Obama greater insight as to how the misadventure in Afghanistan will almost certainly play out.

An additional voice in the wind…