Itâ€™s odd when someone like Andrew Breitbart dies. The day before, when news of the passing Davy Jones reached my desk, I knew precisely how to feel. I loved The Monkees. I was nine years old in 1986 when MTV began showing episodes of The Monkees, and I was entranced by the happy, jangling goofiness that show provided. I remember my mother telling me about how the walls of her childhood bedroom were plastered with pictures of Davy Jones, and I took pride in the thought that we shared a love for silly 60â€™s pop. The passing of Davy Jones is immensely sad, and he will be truly missed.
See how easy it is to write about people you like?
Dealing with the sudden death of a guy like Andrew Breitbart is infinitely more tricky. I abhorred his politics, his methods, and his complete lack of journalistic ethics. I wouldnâ€™t even go as far as to say that I found him a worthy and admirable opponent, as he so often resorted to petty stunts and well positioned yet deliberately misleading factual distortions. Laypersons call this “lying.”Â I can claim neither professional respect or personal regard for Andrew Breitbart, and any attempt on my part to perpetrate otherwise would make me just as unscrupulous and dishonest as he was. I could go on, but today is not the day for that.
What do you even call Breitbart? A blogger? A journalist? A writer perhaps? It’s difficult to put your finger on. Those are several different ways to go about not describing what he was all about.Â I heard him called a “Firebrand” today.Â That’s probably closer.Â Â Andrew Breitbart was a trouble maker. His job was to findÂ opportunitiesÂ to humiliate the Left, even if he had to fabricate them. This was his true calling, and he was spectacular at it.
This is the challenge on a day like today. It is sad when anyone dies. This is so critical to the make up of the North American Free Range Liberal that it could easily be our intellectual creed. Mr. Breitbart had a wife and four children. He had close friends and associates. There are people who are in heaving convulsive hysterics today, gasping through the first few stages of trying to process an idea as large as the death of a father, or a husband, or a dear friend.
Ultimately, this makes no difference in my life one way or another. Yesterday Andrew Breitbart was out there, trying to defile everything I stand for. Today he isnâ€™t. Tomorrow someone else will be doing that job. The last thing his family needs is to have some snarky old queen like myself making this even harder for them. What I can say is that he was undoubtedly loved by many, despised by many, and was by all accounts a hard worker and a dedicated agent for his cause. He was good at what he did, even though what he did was despicable. Itâ€™s a little like being the Mozart of ambulance chasers. It is important to respect great skill, even if it is at a universally deplorable task.
I wish I could be as classy as Shirley Sherrod, a woman whoâ€™s life Breitbart tried to destroy. She said in a statement:
“The news of Mr. Breitbart’s death came as a surprise to me when I was informed of it this morning,” she said. “My prayers go out to Mr. Breitbart’s family as they cope through this very difficult time.”
Damn. That is so good. This man got her fired from the White House using a doctored video and some misleading reporting, and she could still find it within herself to strike a elegant and graceful tone. HerÂ defamationÂ lawsuitÂ againstÂ him isÂ likelyÂ to continue, which is fantastic, but even with all Â thatÂ acrimonyÂ she kept it classy. Media Matters was good too:
“We’ve disagreed more than we’ve found common ground, but there was never any question of Andrew’s passion for and commitment to what he believed.â€
See? Isnâ€™t that charitable? If only Andrew Breitbart could have been so dignified. I read this in the Associated Press obituary.
After Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts died in 2009, Breitbart tweeted, “Rest in Chappaquiddick” and called him “a special pile of human excrement.” When critics questioned his tone, he tweeted they “missed my best ones!”
That does a good job of summing up the lifeâ€™s work of Andrew Breitbart. Politics always threatens to devolve into an ugly, brutal, bare knuckled boxing match, and Breitbart was an enthusiastic thug for the Right. His love was not of the nobility and dignity of our democratic process, but of the razor blade in the glove.
I remember when the whole Anthony Weiner thing was happening. Breitbart had been gleefully dismantling his prey for days, and the world was at that moment waiting for a statement from Representative Weiner, who was about to fess up. Weiner was beaten (yeah, I know), and though he didnâ€™t resign for another 10 days, it was obviously the end of his political career. Breitbart had won. It was over. So what did Andrew do? He crashed Weinerâ€™s press conference, demanded an apology from him, the Media and pretty much everyone else, kicked around Weiner a little more, then took off. It was so awful, and so arrogant, and in such bad taste that it was truly funny, even to a life long liberal like myself. That was classic Breitbart. Obnoxious to the point of being almost punk rock.
It is for this reason that I donâ€™t mind kicking Andrew Breitbart around a little today. He was a world class asshole, and I feel like he would be a little disappointed if I didnâ€™t. If he had a legacy, it would be that. Donâ€™t be afraid to play dirty, and if you have to cheat to win, then by all means do. Not that I endorse that legacy. I donâ€™t. Itâ€™s an awful, awful way to behave. It is sad when people die though, and there are people that will miss him greatly, even though Iâ€™m not one of them. Be nice to those people. They are having a rough time, and this is as bad as it gets. I have real empathy for what they are going through. I take no joy in his death, if for no other reason than that I fear what might come along to replace him.
Benjamin Phillips is a Humor Writer, Web Developer, Civics Nerd, and all around crank that spends entirely too much time shouting with deep exasperation at the television, especially whenever cable news is on. He lives in St. Louis, MO and spends most of his time staring at various LCD screens, occasionally taking walks in the park whenever his boyfriend becomes sufficiently convinced that Benjamin is becoming a reclusive hermit person. He is available for children’s parties, provided that those children are entertained by hearing a complete windbag talk for two hours about the importance of science education, or worse yet, poorly researched anecdotes PROVING that James Buchanan was totally gay. If civilization were to collapse due to zombie hoards or nuclear holocaust, Benjamin would be among the first to die as he has no useful skills of any kind. The post-apocalyptic hellscape has no real need for homosexual computer programmers who can name all the presidents in order, as well as the actors who have played all eleven incarnations of Doctor Who.
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‘They’re Not Taking My Gas Stove’: Joe Manchin Teams Up With Hard Core Republicans to Promote False Claims
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) is again promoting the false claim that the federal government is planning to remove gas stoves from private homes, after news last month revealed once more the open-flame appliances are responsible for hundreds of thousands of cases of children’s asthma.
“They’re not taking my gas stove out,” said Manchin, who has made millions from coal and protects his state – which ranks in the top five for production of natural gas – at every turn.
Manchin, a rare breed of conservative Democrat, announced in a Senate hearing on Thursday that he is teaming up with Republican Senators Ted Cruz and James Lankford to fuel the unfounded fears of the federal government coming to rip gas stoves out of Americans’ homes – fears promoted by the right.
“Gas stoves have been in the news lately and I’ve come out strongly against the Consumer Product Safety Commission pursuing any ban of gas stoves,” Manchin declared, despite there being no possibility of that. “In fact, I’m introducing legislation today with Senator Cruz that would ensure that they don’t and separately sending a letter to the commission with Senator Lankford.”
“I’ve always been a proponent of energy efficiency,” Manchin continued, “but the draft proposes efficiency levels that DOE [Dept. of Energy] says at the highest level, up to 96% of gas stoves don’t currently meet. I don’t like where I think they’re going with this and I tell you one thing, they’re not taking my gas stove put. My wife and I would both be upset.”
Manchin went on the claim the Biden administration is “looking to find ways to push out natural gas.”
And he warned the feds to stay out of his kitchen.
“Like I said before,” Manchin declared, “the federal government doesn’t have any business telling American families how to cook their dinner.”
The federal government does have a responsibility, by law, to warn Americans of health and safety issues in their homes. For decades it has been doing just that.
But the West Virginia Senator went even further, stating: “retrofitting or removing stoves that people have had for years is not going to happen.”
Manchin isn’t just blowing smoke – he has a lot at stake in the “gas stove war.”
“West Virginia is the fourth-largest producer of marketed natural gas in the nation,” according to a federal government December report.
“At every step of his political career, Joe Manchin helped a West Virginia power plant that is the sole customer of his private coal business. Along the way, he blocked ambitious climate action,” The New York Times reported last year. It called the West Virginia Democrat “the single most important figure shaping the nation’s energy and climate policy.”
Watch Sen. Manchin below or at this link.
“They’re not taking my gas stove out!” pic.twitter.com/P4zFGC6Kqp
— CSPAN (@cspan) February 2, 2023
‘Firehose of Disinformation’ Sarah Huckabee Sanders Picked to Deliver State of the Union Response in Nod to Trump (Video)
Trump White House press secretary turned Arkansas governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders has been chosen by Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to deliver the Republican response to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address next week.
Speaker McCarthy hailed Huckabee Sanders, 40, as the nation’s “youngest governor” on Thursday afternoon in remarks to reporters (below).
— CSPAN (@cspan) February 2, 2023
The former press secretary was quickly endorsed by Trump, ran a campaign carefully crafted away from the press, and has no relevant experience to run a state.
“Can Sarah Huckabee Sanders be elected governor without ever taking questions or talking specifics about public policy?” Arkansas Times’ senior editor Max Brantley asked rhetorically last summer, calling her campaign “stealth.”
“Her inauguration marks the first time in 42 years Arkansas will have a governor without any experience in elected office,” the AP noted last month.
“She clearly has some national aspirations,” University of Arkansas political science professor Janine Parry told the Associated Press last month. “In order to fulfill those, it’s likely she’ll have to show some capacity for governance.”
According to Speaker McCarthy, she has already accomplished a lot in her first 23 days as governor.
Although McCarthy did not offer any specifics, CNN did: “Within 48 hours of being sworn in as governor, Sanders signed a flurry of executive orders, with one targeting critical race theory ‘to prohibit indoctrination’ in schools and another banning the use of the term ‘Latinx’ in official state documents.”
After the announcement was made, Huckabee Sanders tweeted, “I’m honored to have the opportunity to address the nation after the State of the Union on Tuesday. What America needs – and what Republicans are offering – is a return to common sense and a commitment to the ideals that made America the land of the free and home of the brave.”
But in a joint statement with McCarthy and McConnell, Huckabee Sanders took a much different tone.
“I am grateful for this opportunity to address the nation and contrast the GOP’s optimistic vision for the future against the failures of President Biden and the Democrats. We are ready to begin a new chapter in the story of America – to be written by a new generation of leaders ready to defend our freedom against the radical left and expand access to quality education, jobs, and opportunity for all.”
Responding to the news, critics online pointed to Huckabee Sanders’ history that was fraught with controversy and false claims in the Trump White House.
Indeed, conservative critic Charlie Sykes on MSNBC pointed to Huckabee Sanders’ ties to Trump, telling Andrea Mitchell that Huckabee Sanders was “a firehose of misinformation and disinformation” during the “Trump era,” and noted she has been “prioritizing the culture war” in her short tenure as governor.
“Yet another data point about the Republican party not moving on from the Trump years,” he added.
GOP taps Sarah Huckabee Sanders to deliver the Republican response to Biden’s State of the Union address Tuesday, a pick that Charlie Sykes says is “yet another data point about the Republican party not moving on from the Trump years.” pic.twitter.com/eXAasOQWQ9
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) February 2, 2023
Watch the videos above or at this link.
‘Absolutely Repulsive’: Some House Republicans Are Now Wearing an Assault Weapon Lapel Pin
At least three House Republicans this week began wearing pins in the shape of an assault weapon on their clothing. U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-NY), U.S. Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL), and U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) were all caught on camera with the pins, leading some to express outrage.
U.S. Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) was among the first to circulate images of the two Republicans wearing the pins.
“Where are these assault weapon pins coming from? Who is passing these out?” he asked.
Where are these assault weapon pins coming from? Who is passing these out? pic.twitter.com/CVtzNHX9k2
— Rep. Jimmy Gomez (@RepJimmyGomez) February 1, 2023
Aaron Fritschner, the Deputy Chief of Staff and Communications Director for U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), captured an image of Congressman Clyde wearing the pin on his tie.
they’re not sending their best pic.twitter.com/q7uO6MZHbH
— Aaron Fritschner (@Fritschner) February 1, 2023
“Absolutely repulsive,” Duke University Professor of Global Health and Public Policy, Gavin Yamey said in response to the assault weapon pins. “We have mass shootings almost daily, and the Republicans are wearing assault weapon pins FFS.”
One of the Members wearing the pins, Congresswoman Luna, on Wednesday also participated in a House Natural Resources panel debate to push back on Democrats’ attempt to ban firearms inside the Committee’s hearing room.
She tweeted later, “The same Democrats who are voting to send firearms to Ukraine are telling me I can’t carry one.”
Politico reports the meeting (video below) was “raucous.”
Sociology professor and author Samuel Perry observed, “Republican members of congress are wearing AR-15 lapel pins. That’s not just tone deaf. We find Republicans value gun rights more than any other right, including freedom of speech or religion. No need for a flag or cross pin. The gun is both their patriotic & religious symbol.”
READ MORE: Hunter Biden Is Fighting Back
U.S. Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) also pointed to National Gun Violence Survivors Week.
“While gun violence continues to be the leading cause of death for children in our country,
@GOP members are wearing assault rifle pins during #GVSurvivorsWeek. Shameful.”
American historian of Christianity Diana Butler Bass did not mince words: “Always said it was just a matter of time before the GOP replaced the cross with an assault rifle. Guns are their god.”
Democratic Texas state Rep. Gene Wu said the GOP “has stopped playing coy and is now openly and unabashedly praising mass shooters. Will there be special versions to celebrate specific mass shootings?”
Professor of International Relations Nicholas Grossman said: “Legislators from party that defends recent coup attempt by their up-til-recently—and possibly still—party leader replace traditional patriotic flag pin with a pin depicting a rifle.”
California state Sen. Dave Min weighed in, saying, “The debate over 2A [the Second Amendment] has never been about 2A. It’s about ‘disrupting’ civilized society as we know it, and trolling the ordinary Americans concerned about our insane levels of gun violence. That’s why it’s the biggest assholes who are most loudly touting irresponsible gun access.”
The addition of the assault weapon pins to Republican Members’ clothing comes on the heels of U.S. Rep. Cory Mills (R-FL) distributing grenades to fellow Members last week. In a note he declared they are “inert.”
— Morgan Phillips (@_phillipsmorgan) January 26, 2023
See video and photos above or at this link.
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