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Jerk

Michael Savage gets about half of what he deserves. From ABC News:

Several big advertisers have pulled their commercials from the syndicated "Savage Nation" radio show, and now, thousands of parents and protesters are urging Savage to step down, calling his words "hate speech."

This is in response to Savage calling autistic children "brats, idiots and morons," on his nationally syndicated hate-fueled radio show.

Attacking children with disabilities. Real classy.

I guess we shouldn't expect much more from a guy who played a Dead Kennedy's song in celebration when the news broke of Senator Kennedy's brain tumor.

Reading Liberally Read of the Day

The one article every liberal must read today:

THE VAST AND DANGEROUS TRANSFER OF AMERICAN SPYING TO MERCENARY COMPANIES
by Chalmers Johnson, AlterNet

Chalmers Johnson covers the dangerous possibilities of the privatization of American spying. Aside from the fact that this privatization has lead to incompetence and a lack of institutional memory, it also poses an extreme compromise of our national security. American defense and intelligence should not be for sale.

Waiting for a Train: Progressives and Country Music

Rocking Liberally Sound of Change
by Glenn W. Smith

If I said that country music holds a key to progressive political success, would it sound so out of tune that you'd stand up and walk out on me?

Hit the door then, or lend me your ears, because I believe that's the case. I prefer Americana or alternative country over mainstream, country pop. But I embrace the latter, too. There are important values and a profound combination of hope, community spirit, and wariness of authority in much of the music.

Despite the conservative, lily-white image of contemporary country, it's multicultural to the core. The steel guitar, a staple of the music, was imported from Hawaii. The banjo is from Africa. The guitar is of multi-ethnic origins. Barack Obama and country music are cut from the same tree.

"One of the lessons of the last several presidential elections is that he who has the most country music on his side has the electorate on his side," writes Chet Flippo. Lineage alone ought give Obama a leg up.

Progressives recognize the need to better communicate their values, especially values born of empathy and shared responsibility. But it's not enough to just describe them. They have to be performed, in two senses: demonstrated in thought and action and embodied in art and culture. American folk and country artists have been doing so for many moons. It's time to listen, and time to sing and dance the values, too.

Leaked W Trailer

Here's the leaked trailer from Oliver Stone's new film W, a biopic of our party-boy turned President. It looks to be a somewhat sympathetic account of Bush's life stretching from his raucous days at Yale to the Presidency.

Josh Brolin of No Country for Old Men will play Dubya. James Cromwell plays the elder President Bush. Elizabeth Banks, who will also be starring in the new Kevin Smith film Zack and Miri Make a Porno which comes out the same weekend as W, plays Laura Bush. Richard Dreyfuss portrays good ol'
Dick Cheney. And Jeffrey Wright, one of the best stage actors alive (IMHO the best), plays Colin Powell.

Should be interesting. Check the trailer.

Blogging Liberally: Thorough News Roundup


1. Post world-tour Obama's polling lead ticks up to 9%.

2. Suicide bombings in Iraq killed dozens of Shiite and Kurdish Iraqis. At least 300 were wounded.

3. Thomas B. Edsall reviews the current pollster election predictions that show Obama winning the election without any of the tossup states. Another interesting part of this: Pollster lists Arizona as a tossup up state.

4. A news study shows that the media is indeed biased... against Obama.

5. John McCain is old. Really old.

6. Ahmadinejad responds positively to the Bush administration's new Obama-inspired Iran policy. He also say that "Nuclear weapons are so 20th century."

7. Ron Paul sells more than 6000 tickets in 6 hours for his alternative convention in minneapolis. Revolution!

8. 100 days until the election. Here we go!

King Coal: Willing To Kill For Kilowatts

CoalMinerCrucified
When a suicide bomber blows a half dozen of our soldiers into smithereens, Americans get understandably outraged. And here at home, when a deranged malcontent goes postal and guns down classmates or co-workers, we call it a massacre.

But if you kill nine men for the sake of keeping the juice flowing through America's veins, well, evidently, we're so addicted to cheap energy that we're willing to write off dead coal miners as collateral damage. What looks like manslaughter, if not outright murder, is handled as some sort of infraction. The penance? A pittance. Not enough to make much of a dent in King Coal's deep pockets. As the AFP reports:

The operators of a Utah mine at the center of a collapse that led to nine fatalities last August have been fined 1.6 million dollars, health and safety officials announced Thursday.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) said the operators of the Crandall Canyon Mine had failed to report repeated collapses at the facility which meant inspectors were unable to assess practices there.

Two federal reports released on Thursday reveal previously unknown details about the August 6th disaster. Now we know, for example, that the sheer force of the collapse probably killed the six workers who were trapped in the mine pretty quickly. So, they were probably dead long before three rescue workers died 10 days later trying to save them.
It all adds up to nine needless deaths, because the reports also make it excruciatingly clear that the mine's operator, Genwal Resources, had to know that it was risking its workers' lives. One of the reports found that Genwal had ignored warning signs that the mine was unsafe, and concealed dangerous conditions from the MSHA:

In a statement, Richard Stickler, assistant secretary of labor for the MSHA, said the tragedy had stemmed from mine operator Genwal Resources' "reckless failure" to report three previous coal "outbursts," including one just three days before the initial incident on August 6...

..."MSHA also found that the operator was taking more coal than allowed from the barrier pillars and the floor. This dangerously weakened the strength of the roof support."

Ah, but the other report--this one from the Labor Department--sticks Stickler's own agency with some of the blame, finding that the MSHA never should have approved Genwal's mining plan in the first place, and failed to take full control of the rescue operation following the collapse. As Nelda Erickson, whose husband Don was killed in the August 6th collapse, told the New York Times:

"If everything was as bad as it was, then the men shouldn't have been in there...It's hard to swallow. I don't understand how the company got approval to do mining that deep underground."

Terry Byrge, whose son-in-law, Brandon Kimber, was one of the rescue workers who died, told the Times:

"They had those men working in a section they knew was doomed to fail...They were playing spin the bottle with their lives every day and taking a chance on whether those men would come out alive."

What we've got here is a government agency and a corporation who shared the mindset that a miner's life has less value than the coal that lies so deep that you're courting disaster to extract it.

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Batman and Bush's Failure to Combat Terrorism

This past weekend witnessed the release of one of the biggest cinematic events of all time: The Dark Knight. For this auspicious occasion the Living Liberally Blog is rolling out multiple Big Picture reviews in the next couple days. I'm going first. Enjoy!

Of the countless movies made since 9/11, this new Batman film might have the most accurate depiction of the political and social climate of the world as it is today. A world largely uncontrolled by law and order, instead run by criminals, who are in turn pursued by vigilante heroes who stand in for a largely ineffective law enforcement. This leads to feelings of great fear and insecurity among the people of Gotham.

In The Dark Knight, Gotham is faced with its most treacherous villain yet: The Joker. Heath Ledger's brilliant and maniacal anarchist clown should be remembered one of the finest movie villain performances of all time. Ledger's Joker eschews all order, whether it is the power of the state or the invisible hand of capitalism. He appeals to a side of humanity more disordered than even the basest most animalistic parts of our minds. His complete unpredictability becomes a power that he uses to control the population of Gotham, much like the specter of terrorism has dominated the American psyche since 9/11.

Batman, our hero, who, in the time between the first movie and this one, has fought to put most of Gotham's big villains behind bars. He's done so as a vigilante and without much support (and a little disdain) from the people of Gotham City. While much of the film focuses on Batman's trying to reconcile the good that he's doing with the hate he incurs from the public and it's elected officials, the film's true protagonist is the people of Gotham City, whose mood, almost like that of a Greek Chorus echoes throughout each scene.


The political side after the jump!

Reading Liberally Read of the Day

The one release every liberal must read today:

STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT ON SNACTIONS AGAINST ILLEGITIMATE GOVERNMENT OF ZIMBABWE
by George W. Bush, President

President Bush expands sanctions on Muagbe's corrupt and illegitimate Zimbabwe government. In addition, Bush offers greater incentives if a fair election is held. He also expands financial support of Zimbabwe's refugees. Finally, someone learns the meaning of diplomacy. Good job, Mr. Pres.