James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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Posts Tagged ‘Bob Cesca’

Save the economy by ending welfare to Republicans

Posted by James McPherson on February 16, 2009

Democratic strategist Paul Begala, in a piece for CNN, offers a suggestion that if taken to its logical conclusion might actually save the American economy: We should stop giving away money to the people–generally Republicans–who say we should stop giving away money.

Begala specifically addresses Mark Sanford, a vocal critic of the economic stimulus plan despite the fact that he is the governor South Carolina, a state that has been “a ward of the federal goverment” probably since slavery ended there. The nonprofit Tax Foundation estimates that South Carolina takes in $1.35 for every dollar it pays in federal taxes. And though we might quibble about the exact numbers, there is no doubt that the states that are most heavily Republican tend to suck in money–or, as some conservatives might term it, to engage in theft–from more progressive states that pay more in federal taxes than they get back.

Besides South Carolina, the welfare queens include  the red or usually red states of Alaska (what, you let Sarah Palin convince you that the oil up there made that state self-reliant–ha!), Arizona (maybe John McCain should pay more taxes on his houses), Alabama, Arkansas, both Dakotas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

There also are a few Democratic states on the list, but then Democrats almost all favored the stimulus plan. It is true that the numbers are a few years old, so some of those states may now be paying their own way–but with the way the economy has slammed the states, it’s more likely that they’ve become bigger bums than they were before. On the other hand, a minority of states–including Barack Obama’s Illinois, Joe Biden’s Delaware, New York and California–are subsidizing those conservative deadbeats elsewhere.

Since conservative critics think we should stop spending, the solution is obvious: Let’s stop giving them our money. The bank bailout was an obvious mistake, since most bankers are Republicans. But we should also stop giving subsidies to farmers, most of whom seem to be welfare-opposing conservatives. And it should be safe to assume that anyone who voted for Republican (or for Democrats who oppose the stimulus bill) automatically wants to forgo any stimulus benefits.

Wow, I’m feeling richer already. Of course I live in Washington, one of those states that’s been helping out most of the rest of you for a long time. Unfortunately, as Begala suggests about Sanford, it’s tough to wean a conservative off of welfare, “because for all his rhetoric about hating federal spending, he can’t wait to get his hands on our money.”

Thursday update: In a critique mostly of Sean Hannity, Huffington’s Bob Cesca points out that we’re all “socialists”–and that even the most fervent dittoheads are unlikely to be turning down any money.

Posted in History, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments »

McCain’s ‘no-talk express’ going where unwanted to avoid rough road

Posted by James McPherson on September 24, 2008

John McCain has spent much of his time the past couple of weeks trying to overcome his comments about “not knowing much about the economy” and–on the day the current meltdown began–about “the fundamentals” of the economy being strong. The Huffington Post’s Bob Cesca today humorously wrote that McCain’s “very serious and mavericky campaign strategy can be described in four simple words: Blurt Out Random Crap.”

Even conservative intellectual George Will has compared McCain to a “flustered rookie playing in a league too high” and Alice in Wonderland’s decapitation-happy Queen of Hearts. This week Will called McCain’s behavior “childish” while noting: “For McCain, politics is always operatic, pitting people who agree with him against those who are ‘corrupt’ or ‘betray the public’s trust,’ two categories that seem to be exhaustive–there are no other people.”

Now, despite the fact that he has had 26 years in Congress to try to help avoid the economic mess, McCain today suspended his campaign “to help negotiate a Wall Street bailout“–prompting David Letterman of all people (and doesn’t it get a bit frustrating having so much of the most relevant political commentary coming from late-night comedians?) to comment: “You don’t suspend your campaign. This doesn’t smell right. This isn’t the way a tested hero behaves.”

It seems to me that McCain recognizes that the electoral tide seems to be going against him, and he is again grasping at straws. After all, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has already said McCain’s presence would be more of a hindrance than a help. That’s assuming McCain can still find the Senate–keep in mind that this is the same guy who hasn’t cast a vote in Senate since April 8. He couldn’t even show up to vote for a Medicare bill for which even a cancer-stricken Ted Kennedy appeared.

In addition to suspending his campaign, McCain called for a postponement of his scheduled Friday night presidential debate with Barack Obama–and the vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and the suddenly helpless Sarah Palin, though Obama and debate organizers said the presidential debate, at least, would go on with or without the GOP nominee.

McCain also cancelled tonight’s appearance with Letterman. He bailed out despite the fact that the two men were in the same city (he apparently ditched Letterman for Katie Couric), and this might have been an opportunity for someone who wanted to act presidential to calm people’s fears–apparently prompting Letterman to comment, “What are you going to do if you’re elected and things get tough? Suspend being president? We’ve got a guy like that now.” Incidentally, McCain was replaced on Letterman’s show by liberal MSNBC commentator Keith Olbermann, who, oddly, might be the only person in America left who could generate sympathy for the GOP nominee.

My recommendation for when McCain should start his campaign back up: Nov. 5. After all, he’ll only be 76 for the 2012 election, he’ll have four more years to brush up on the economy (our woes probably won’t be close to over by then) and Palin will have four more years of moose-hunting experience–maybe enough time to work in a couple of press conferences and half a dozen media interviews.

Same night update: McCain’s odd “financial crisis timeline,” including an apparent visit with millionairess “financial advisor” Lynn Forester de Rothschild.

Friday update: The tide continues to rise for the McCain campaign. Today conservative columnist Kathleen Parker calls for Palin to step down because she is “clearly out of her league.” One of the most damning quotes: If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself.”

Posted in History, Politics, Written elsewhere | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »