Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Chris Matthews Is Becoming The Left’s Bill O’Reilly

As a progressive, one of the things that I appreciate about MSNBC’s evening line-up is that although its people have a liberal point-of-view, they stick to actual facts rather than slide down into the slimy half-truths and outright lies that Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and the others on Fox’s right wing mouthpiece network roll around in night after night.

Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow and David Gregory are among the best in class in asking intelligent, probing and penetrating questions, even of talking heads with whom they might agree.

But somehow, Hardball host Chris Matthews is morphing into the network’s Bill O’Reilly, trying to out-stink Mr. Orally (as Olbermann calls him). His dislike of Bill and Hillary Clinton was obvious throughout the primaries, whether through comments, questions or being written all over his potato-like face whenever they were a topic of discussion.

Now, he’s dragging himself back into the Fox-like dirt again with Sen. Clinton widely expected to be Barack Obama’s nominee for Secretary of State. As Media Matter’s Eric Boehlert and Jamison Foser write today, twice in the past week Matthews dragged up old stories about the Clinton’s that were thoroughly discredited 15 years ago, trying to egg guests into repeated old smears.

Without any logical segue, he brought up Linda Tripp – the woman who was tried in Maryland of secretly recording Monica Lewinsky’s confessions of having sex with Pres. Clinton. Matthews then went on to ask Rep. Dan Burton, a Republican congressman from Indiana who insisted for a time that Bill and Hillary killed White House aide Vince Foster, "Congressman Burton, you're no fans of the Clinton(s). In fact, I think you think the Clintons had something to do with killing Vince Foster. What do you say?"

Although you couldn’t prove it by his behavior back when he was pushing the theory back in the 1990s, Burton is not entirely a fool and deftly sidestepped the question by saying he has no interest in re-hashing old news. The exchange went like this, according to an MSNBC transcript:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Congressman Burton, you're no fans of the Clinton. In fact, I think you think the Clintons had something to do with killing Vince Foster. What do you say?
REP. DAN BURTON: Well, I'm not gonna go back and rehash that again, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Well, rehash it for a minute, sir. You do –
BURTON: No, no, no.
MATTHEWS: – believe they had something to do with it.
BURTON: No, I'll be glad to answer questions from you about –
MATTHEWS: Well, it does give me a sense –
BURTON: – how tough she is and –
MATTHEWS: – of what you think of the Clintons, that you won't even say they're free of a murder charge. Won't you do that at least?
BURTON: Chris, I know you – you want me to be controversial. Let me just say, she's a very talented woman.
MATTHEWS: No, you're the controversy, sir. Let me ask you this: Do you believe the Clintons are innocent of any foul play with regard to the death of Vince Foster? Let's start from there and we'll move on to your bona fides in this topic.
BURTON: Chris, you heard what I said. I'm not gonna go back and cover that ground again.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, we just did.

Another guest, Time magazine’s Peter Beinart said, "I really don't think most people, besides Chris, with all due respect, are really interested in rehashing all of the scandals of the 1990s."

Matthews jumped in to say, "No, no. It's a question of whether they're all coming back, sir. That's the question. Rehashing or reliving is a bigger question. Do you want to relive them all?"

Only Vanity Fair’s Christopher Hitchens would play Matthews unseemly game, stating that naming Hillary Clinton as Secretary of state would be a tragic error:

This is the woman whose foreign policy experience consists of making a fool of herself and fabricating a story about Bosnia. This is the woman who, with her husband, has so many connections – fundraising connections overseas, Indonesia, China. Just look up the Senate report on their fundraising activities, the people they have pardoned, the amazing brothers of hers who nearly got the – was it the nut monopoly in Kazakhstan or something farcical like that. Just look it up. It's a ludicrous embarrassment for the president and for the country.

Of course, Mathews never bothered telling viewers that Hitchens has a long history of Clinton-baiting, comparing them to zombies, vampires, werewolves and the faithless.

Not content with watching Hitchens bite off the head of a live chicken on air, Matthews dragged MSNBC political analyst Michelle Bernard into the mess. The GOP’s token black woman commentator said that if Clinton became secretary of state, she will run a "parallel government." Jennifer Donahue, political director of the very conservative New Hampshire Institute of Politics think tank, added that Clinton would try to "create only one term for Barack Obama."

It was learned today that Bill Kristol’s Op-Ed contract with the New York Times is up for renewal and both sides are considering whether they want to continue the association. For the Times, Kristol turned out to be an unmitigated disaster; Chris Matthews is having the same affect on MSNBC. Its management might want to re-assess his value to the network when his contract is expiring.

So Long, Ted. We’ll Miss You.

So convicted felon Sen. Ted Stevens lost his re-election bid.

After three months of Sarah Palin, it’s comforting to know there are some 3,000 more Alaskans who felt he shouldn’t be serving in the Senate and Leavenworth at the same time than there are those who didn’t see a problem with him being found guilty of seven federal felony offenses.

Washington’s Prime Purveyor of Pork is leaving town not just in disgrace but defeat. Still, in a perverse way, it’s a shame that the man who single-handedly provided Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Jay Leno, David Letterman and countless other comics with reams of hilarious material is going to fade from view.

But at least we’ll be able to keep in touch with Stevens thanks to the series of big tubes on the internets (which is not a big truck you just dump stuff on).

So long, Ted. We’ll miss you. Do you need help packing and moving?

Did John McCain Lose Arizona?

– by Denis Campbell, editor of

While Maricopa County Arizona (Phoenix) Judge Edward O. Burke agreed with the state's Libertarian Party that county elections director Helen Purcell did not follow election law, ensure ballot integrity and provide an unbroken custody chain, he ruled against the party’s request for an injunction by saying, "in a county the size the size of Maricopa, perfect compliance with the statutory electoral scheme, while desirable, is not possible due to time, space, the practicalities of the electoral process and the number of persons involved" in denying their injunction for a hand recount last Friday.

Pardon me, but, WTF?

We still do not have a final Presidential result in the state of Missouri, 14 days after the election.

We still do not have all ballots counted in Alaska in their razor close Senate race. We still do not have a result in the Minnesota Senate race and will have a mandatory recount. We still do not have a result in Georgia where a run-off election will be held on December 2nd, but John McCain's state and home county – the largest in Arizona – need not follow election laws because it may be inconvenient for them to so do?

What kind of a banana republic state does the former Republican Presidential candidate represent? I reported extensively in the run-up to this election about problems in Tucson's Pima County where now even the County Manager is distancing himself from the justifiably embattled Elections Director there.

At first glance, John McCain appears to have comfortably won his home state by about 9 percentage points. Barack Obama won Tucson (Pima) and John McCain won Phoenix (Maricopa). Those two counties though account for almost 70% of the total vote. So, if one wanted to hack a series of memory cards or alter the vote's results, these two counties would have the greatest impact and make the most sense.

I'm puzzled.

Aside from losing a wild-card pool pick state – I had Arizona going to Obama, against the odds – how can so many states surrounding Arizona turn blue, yet this one stay so conspicuously red? Why did team Obama, who had a solid run, spend money and time in Arizona? Did McCain actually lose Maricopa County because, if he did, he would lose his home state. When the stakes are so high, it makes one think.

John Brakey is as passionate as they come. This citizen warrior is part of AUDIT AZ and they work tirelessly for election transparency and integrity. Since 1996 they have been battling election authorities in Pima County. Their work has uncovered major systemic problems with Dieboldt and ES&S machines, Indeed, the state's Attorney General still refuses to seize questionable ballots from a 2004 election and order a recount that could resolve the issue.

Brakey says of Maricopa County, "the point of all this is to force this out-of-control election department to resolve chain-of custody issues, to force the county to follow the rules of law."

At trial, evidence was introduced but not addressed in the court's decision. This included testimony given orally and by affidavit about:
• Unsigned poll register tapes;
• The lack of security handling and transporting memory packs; and
• The flimsy and easily manipulated ballot containers and seals.

Jim March, an elections security expert with testified in an affidavit introduced at trial, "The elections department used flimsy plastic containers purchased at Fry's Electronics store that can be easily opened by removing the hinges. This keeps the election department seals intact."

Without a proper chain of custody, properly sealed bags, and memory card on walkabout throughout the county, if someone wanted to ensure a victory there are many ways in which to do that.

This film shows election results arriving without proper seals and custody and elections director Purcell unconcerned then belligerent. All it takes is one infected card to alter the entire tabulation computer's result.

As was shown time and again this election, our nation's voting systems are badly broken. That people have to give up a day or half-day's wages to vote is, as MSNBC's Rachel Maddow suggested, a new form of the Jim Crow era poll tax.

That they stood on line for so long and did so in record numbers is a reason for us all to feel proud.

That belligerent "public servants" can treat an independent election observer and the process with such disdain should be a dismissible offence. There is no room for that kind of behaviour.

Earlier this election season we highlighted a public-private cooperative effort in Humboldt County, California that should be the model for election departments across the USA. Uniform national election laws and procedures for recounts should be a priority before the mid-term elections.
Defensiveness, confrontation and belligerence have no place in such a sacred place as the local election department. It is the one right we must all fight for responsibly and the sooner both sides come out of confrontation and into cooperation the better it will be for us all.

Did John McCain lose his own county and state? We will never know.

And we should.