BLANCO AND BALKANIZATION: We liberals get to hear silly dumb stupid shit too!


Part 3—Maddow imitates Hannity: At the start of the week, Americans were treated to a very rare sight:

Senators from the two major parties seemed to have reached a general agreement about a major policy matter!

It has been a long time since the two parties seemed to be able to perform such a task. We almost thought we could hear the end of Richard Blanco’s inaugural poem, the one he delivered just last week, in which we the people engage in collective action, just like Obama said:
We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always—home,
always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country—all of us—
facing the stars
hope—a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it—together.
"One country, all of us." Waiting to take action—"together!"

In a sprawling continental nation, that’s a difficult standard to meet. In recent decades, the polarization has grown, driven by various forces.

Yesterday, we said that, for our money, the current polarization trend begins with the invention of pseudo-conservative news orgs. Those entities have spread disinformation, confusion and discord all through our “one land.”

That said, we liberals get to hear silly stupid shit on a near-nightly basis now too. This kind of dishonest stupid conduct makes it harder for us to function as one people—us.

In an age when plutocrats rule, this makes it harder for progressives to advance progressive ideas. Divide and conquer! It’s the way the world’s plutocrats have always amassed and held power!

What kind of dumb stupid shit do we liberals get to hear? For starters, consider the opening segment of Monday night’s Maddow Show.

That’s right—this Monday’s program! The program from two nights ago!

Over the years, we’ve noted the occasional strange behavior of this program’s apparently capable host. More specifically, we refer to her occasional, very strange divergences from the truth.

Usually, these strange inventions involve some public figure Maddow seems to feel license to loathe. Monday night, the figure in question was Jan Brewer, Arizona’s Republican governor.

Eventually, Monday’s opening segment concerned the immigration proposal released that day by those senators. Maddow’s assessment of that proposal would be extremely strange on its own terms, as we’ll discuss below.

But Maddow began with a tribally pleasing presentation about the much-maligned Brewer. She played videotape which let us recall Brewer’s most embarrassing public lapses. She then suggested that Brewer wants to ignore her state’s constitution by running for a third term.

In her familiar way, Maddow made this sound like a thoroughly crazy idea. To sell her mocking portrait of Brewer, she avoided telling her viewers what lies behind the possibility that Brewer might seek re-election.

Simply put, Maddow treated her viewers like real Grade A fools. Sean Hannity has treated his viewers this way for the past too-many years.

What lies behind the possibility that Brewer might seek re-election next year? Duh:

Brewer has only been elected to one term as governor. Before her election in 2010, she served the last two years of Janet Napolitano’s gubernatorial term. (Napolitano had resigned to become Secretary of Homeland Security.)

Consider a similar situation. In 1968, Lyndon Johnson was finishing his first full term as president, though he had also served part of the previous term after Jack Kennedy was murdered. On March 31 of that year, Johnson shocked the world when he announced that he wouldn’t seek re-election.

No one doubted that Johnson could have run again, even though he would already have served one full term and a chunk of another.

Brewer faces a similar situation, though her ability to run again would be governed by the Arizona state constitution. Given the lack of precedent, there seems to be a lack of clarity about what that document might permit.

At any rate, a United States president in her position would be able to run.

This is amazingly simple stuff. But as Maddow ridiculed Brewer, she never explained these blindingly basic facts. Instead, she pretended that the other tribe’s Crazy Lady was engaged in The Crazy again.

This is the way we liberals get dumb—and “one nation” gets turned into tribes.

As she started her segment, Maddow offered a long discussion of the “strangeness” of Arizona’s last nine governors. One such governor was strange because he had only one eye! (Maddow didn’t say so, but this governor’s eye had been removed because of a cancerous tumor.)

Finally, Maddow gong-showed her viewers with this manifest pile of crap, just as Hannity has always done:
MADDOW (1/27/13): Business Week wrote about the strangeness of the history of Arizona governorships recently when the current governor, Jan Brewer, started making noises that she should stay for a third term.

Now, Arizona governors are term-limited to two terms. But the person who is in the job now, Jan Brewer, decided that she should maybe get a third term anyway.

Her long-time attorney started making the case, in an op-ed, that Jan Brewer essentially should refuse to leave office. He explained it's his reasoning that, quote, "It comes down to what does a term mean?"

He is right in a way. What is time? Look, George W. P. Hunt is still there at the Capital Museum!
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Brewer should simply refuse to leave office! After all, what is time?

Sadly, you’ll have to watch the entire segment to learn about the strangeness of Hunt. But Maddow made no attempt to explain the bone-simple facts behind this unremarkable matter. Instead, she proceeded to play her tape of Brewer’s public lapses. She then reinforced our tribal disdain with this sardonic, eye-rolling remark:

“Governor Jan Brewer, Republican of Arizona, always worth watching, wants a third term.”

By now, we the rubes had been grossly misled. On the bright side, we’d also been pleasingly reinforced in our belief that the other tribe is Just Plain Stupid and Crazy. If anything, Maddow’s presentation got even dumber—one might say crazier—as she attempted to or pretended to discuss the immigration proposal.

Here too, Maddow used her portrait of Crazy Brewer as the centerpiece of her case. She focused on one element of the immigration proposal, an element she quickly misconstrued.

Maddow focused on a somewhat clumsy part of the proposal—its call for “a commission of governors, attorneys general and community leaders living along the southwest border” who would “monitor the progress of securing our border and make a recommendation regarding when the bill’s security measures outlined in the legislation are completed.”

That’s a fairly hazy proposal—though we'll suggest that you note the word "recommendation." But among Maddow’s claims and suggestions, none of which were substantiated, she offered these presentations:

She seemed to assume that this commission would have veto power over the move toward conferring citizenship.

She seemed to assume that the commission would have to makes its recommendation unanimously.

She kept suggesting that this meant that Governor Brewer herself would or could have veto power over the move toward citizenship.

None of this made any sense. In fairness, Maddow was copying off Greg Sargent’s work from earlier in the day—and Sargent had jumped to some false conclusions about the commission’s supposed veto power.

As the day proceeded, Sargent semi-corrected himself. Maddow simply jacked up the alleged crazy. Eventually, she offered the following weird presentation, ending with a bogus claim about another Devious Person from the other tribe:
MADDOW (1/28/13): Elected representatives, governors, and other people from southwest border states, they would be put in a position of holding up all of the other advancements in the bill, keeping people from doing all of the other things that are in this policy, from getting in line for citizenship, stopping all the other reforms if this southwestern commission did not certify that the border had been secured, that all efforts to secure the border were complete.

The border security measures would have to be done first. This group has to say they are completed, that everything is secure on the border, and then and only then can the reforms that were unveiled today go forward.

That is the implication of the language that was put out today by this group of eight bipartisan senators, which translated into politicalese means nothing happens until somebody like Jan Brewer says, “Everything OK, everything is OK.”

Maybe Jan Brewer specifically.

Jan Brewer is never going to say everything is OK! Things are not OK for Jan Brewer! Whether it is making stuff up about headless bodies in the desert that don’t exist or trying to market to the nation how excited we should be that she wagged her finger in the president’s face when talking to him about border security.

If it all rests in her hands? She gets veto power? Or any other local official’s hands—to give thumbs-up or thumbs-down as to whether or not the country can go ahead with something that we agree we need as a whole country? That seems like a weakness in the plan.

When asked about this one laugh-out-loud provision in what seems like otherwise a very reasonable proposal, senators and staffers who are on the Democratic side of these negotiations for this bipartisan group said essentially, don’t worry about it. This southwesterners commission will be able to make recommendations, but they won’t be given veto power over what happens for the whole country and millions of Americans counting on reform.

Marco Rubio’s office on the Republican side has given a much more evasive answer, implying that maybe he thinks that Jan Brewer would have veto power. So clearly, that matter is going to have to be settled.
None of that actually is "the implication of the language that was put out today," but Maddow is right in one minor way: Clearly, the way that commission would function “is going to have to be settled.” But Maddow had invented a long strong of crazy suppositions about the way the commission would work, culminating in the picture of Brewer with veto power over the whole immigration proposal. And that highlighted claim about Rubio is just another invention, as you can see if you review the source to which Maddow’s web site linked.

Maddow had invented one last piece of bullshit about the other tribe's Slippery People.

Maddow went to on to excoriate the part of the plan involving that commission. “This one clause frankly does seem to stand out as being too stupid to live,” she declared, having just delivered a long segment whose stupidity was its central principle.

But the whole segment started with that gong-show about Brewer’s alleged desire to serve “a third term.” In the finest tradition of Hannity, Maddow kept her viewers from knowing the elementary facts about that situation. This allowed her to offer a pleasing rant about the other’s tribe’s Terminal Crazy.

To see the histrionics involved in this nonsense, we recommend that you watch this 16-minute segment. It’s a study in the ongoing spread of the tribal divide.

For years, the other tribe has been fed this type of stupid shit—this pleasing, fact-challenged demonstration of the other tribe’s Crazy. Today, we liberals get fed this stupid shit too.

Blanco’s picture of one nation working together struggles under the weight of such presentations.

Cable stars get rich and famous this way. We the people get dumb and divided.

Tomorrow: Our tribe’s rather plain high disdain


  1. You're not allowed to show how Maddow sometimes spews misleading nonsense.

    Some idiot will be along to explain why not.

  2. A comment about comparisons of Johnson, to Brewer. The 22nd Amendment is very specific as to what happens in the case of partial terms. Over two years it counts as a term, two years or less it doesn't. This is very clear language. Kennedy was assassinated in Nov. of 63 leaving less than two years of the term. The wording of the term limits law passed by voters is also clear. No member of the executive department shall hold that office for more than two consecutive terms … No member of the executive department after serving the maximum number of terms, which shall include any part of a term served, may serve in the same office until out of office for no less than one full term.

    In Arizona part of a term counts, with no amount of time being specified. So Johnson had one set of rules and Brewer another. Both sets are crystal clear. Johnson could not have run under the rules that govern Arizona.

    The rest of your point is fair but Brewer's third term is a clear power grab.

    1. From the Arizona Republic:

      Arizona law permits statewide elected officials to serve only two consecutive terms. Article 5, Section 1 of the Arizona Constitution states that, "No member of the executive department, after serving the maximum number of terms, which shall include any part of a term served, may serve in the office until out of office for no less than one full term."

      But Matthew Benson, the governor's spokesman, says the state's Constitution also defines a term as being four years.

      Benson said a "strong argument" could be made that the Constitution was written to prevent a scenario in which a popular governor resigned the office within a week or two of finishing out his or her second term and then claimed they were eligible to run again.

      "They just don't seem to have considered a situation where there is a successor, as Gov. Brewer is," Benson said.

      I would tend to agree with Anon that Brewer can't run for another term until she sits out for 4 years. However, I'm not a lawyer. In any event, it's perfectly reasonable for her to ask for a legal opinion on this matter.

  3. I was going to point out that had Gerald Ford won in 1976, he would not have been eligible to run in 1980, having replaced Nixon for most of his second term. But, jeez, if David in Cal is quoting the Arizona Constitution correctly, it seems old Jan has had her turn, and will have to sit out four years, Cleveland-style, before she can try for another.

    The writing may be atrocious, but the intent seems clear enough. What if she runs, wins, and the court refuses to swear her in, etc., etc?

  4. No one doubted that Johnson could have run again, even though he would already have served one full term and a chunk of another.

    Kennedy was innaugurated on January 20, 1961, and assassinated on November 22, 1963.

    No one doubted that Johnson could have run for a second full term because the language of the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is clear: "No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once."

    Kennedy's remaining term was less than two years, so Johnson had not held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of Kennedy's elected term. Everyone assumed that Johnson could run because they read the 22nd Amendment.

    Likewise, the language of the AZ Constitution is clear: "No member of the executive department, after serving the maximum number of terms, which shall include any part of a term served, may serve in the office until out of office for no less than one full term." The maximum number of terms is two terms. For purposes of term limits, Art. 5 Sec. I includes "any part of a term served" as a term in determining how many terms have been served. After serving a part of a term and a full term, Brewer cannot serve again for at least four years.

    Their is no plausible argument based on the language of the AZ Constitution for the result that Brewer is pushing. The argument that the constitution defines a term as four years is meaningless, because Art. 5 specifies that ANY PART OF A TERM is counted, that is, any term of less than four years is counted, in determining whether the sitting governor can serve another term.

    Further, it doesn't matter what the authors of the AZ Constitution considered or didn't consider when they wrote Art. 5, Sec. 1.

    In interpreting the AZ constitution, the AZ courts follow the principle that "If the language of those provisions is clear, they are the best indicator of the authors’ intent and as a matter of judicial restraint we 'must "apply it without resorting to other methods of statutory interpretation," unless application of the plain meaning would lead to impossible or absurd results.”"

    The language is clear. There is no other rational interpretation of the words. Reading the language the way the language reads doesn't lead to any impossible or absurd results. The Brewer argument that the authors weren't thinking clearly (or didn't foresee what will happen to Brewer) is utterly irrelevant.

    You acknowledge that the question is one governed by the AZ Constitution. Yet you don't discuss what the AZ constitution says, and rather focus on what "no one would have doubted" in the case of Johnson because of the application of an entirely different law. There was nothing dumb about Maddow's presentation, because she is right.