Commentary on current events, politics, government, and popular culture from John Sheirer, author of the book, Make Common Sense Common Again.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Click here for some help with the "crazy uncle" discussions at your Thanksgiving table.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Boehner Gets Obamacare!

For years, Republicans kept asking, "If Obamacare is so great, how come Congress exempted themselves from it?"

Like so many other Republican claims about the Affordable Care Act, that's an outright lie. The Speaker of the House, who tried to repeal the law more than 40 times, just signed up for it. The sign-up process took him less than a day.

Whenever Republicans talk about Obamacare, there's a very good chance they're lying. 


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Happy birthday, Joe Biden (one day late)!

Happy birthday, Joe Biden!

Remember his "chocolate" bullets letter? Classic Biden.

Dear Vice President Biden,
I have a great idea to help make the country safer, better and the best. I think guns should shoot out chocolate bullets. The no one will get killed and on one will be sad.

Dear Myles,
I and sorry it took me so long to respond to your letter. I really like your idea. If we had guns that shot chocolate, not only would our country be safer, it would be happier. People love chocolate.
You are a good boy,
Joe Biden


Friday, November 15, 2013

Comparing MSNBC and Fox News is like comparing apples to rotten apples.

Republicans love to say that MSNBC is left-wing and Fox News is right-wing, as if the two are equally biased.

There's a technical term for that kind of comparison: bullsh*t.

MSNBC is a news network with left-leaning, reality-based opinion shows in the evening. Fox News is Republican propaganda. Anyone who doesn't understand the difference is accepting the big lie that allows Fox News to tell hundreds of smaller lies every day.

Check out a prime example where a Fox News talking head forgets that their bias is supposed to be sort of a secret.,, and all debunk Fox News lies on a daily basis.

For a detailed examination of the Fox News propaganda business model, check out the book The Fox Effect.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

When Fringe Becomes Mainstream

Two guys recently set up posters on a local street corner showing President Obama with a Hitler moustache. They yelled at passing cars that President Obama was a foreign, Nazi, mass-murdering terrorist who should be impeached and sent to prison. Between shouts, they pushed flyers at glaring pedestrians.

I walked up and politely asked what evidence they had for their claims. "It's all in here," one guy said, shoving a flyer toward me.

"I'm asking you as one human being to another," I replied. "When did the president commit mass murder?"

I looked into his face until he finally made eye-contact. He couldn't answer my question--literally couldn't answer. Both guys actually stopped talking and looked embarrassed, suddenly more interested in studying the sidewalk than talking with me.

Because I didn't know the next time I'd be face-to-face with people voicing such ridiculous views, I asked some simple follow-up questions: "Where did you get your information? Do you know that I found five factual errors in just a ten-second skim of your flyer? Who's paying you to be here? Are you trained to ignore people who ask reasonable questions? Do you really believe this stuff, or is this just performance art?"

But they turned their backs and resumed yelling their nonsense with slightly less gusto. Either they were ashamed of what they were saying or they were ashamed of their inability to defend their accusations.

Our nation is full of people who inhabit the fringe of public opinion. Unfortunately, many aren't limited to yelling on street corners. Radio host Alex Jones rants about the Aurora and Newtown shootings being "false flags" staged by the government. Glenn Beck spins tales of impending government concentration camps. Rush Limbaugh--well, everything he says is a farcical froth of belligerent misinformation.

Lunacy exists, and I suppose it always has. When I was a kid, some crackpots claimed that Blacks and Jews would come from the city to our farms and imprison or kill us. Back then, though, most of those people didn't have powerful microphones. They just whispered their crazy theories in church basements to people too polite to tell them to screw off.

Unfortunately, there's not much difference between the street-corner guys yelling about Obama and many "mainstream" Republicans these days. More and more, they sound like church-basement whisperers of my youth. Prominent Republicans make frequent guest appearances for Jones, Beck, and Limbaugh as if they're on the nightly news and not legitimizing unhinged ignorance.

Many current Republican positions are so absurd that no one should take them seriously. Tax cuts for the wealthy trickle down to the middle class. Poor people are lazy. More guns leads to fewer gun crimes. Government is evil. Smaller government is always better--unless you're gay or pregnant, in which case government must be big enough to invade your most private places.

And then there's the litany of lies about the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. One after another--from death panels to socialism to the IRS carting us off to jail--these lies all get debunked. That doesn't stop Republicans from repeating them and creating more.

Republican representative Joe Barton said in a Congressional hearing that a secret message in the Obamacare website strips Americans of their medical privacy. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who once said Republicans should stop being "the stupid party," recently told six lies about Obamacare in less than a minute on national television. In his defense, he never claimed that Republicans shouldn't be "the lying party."

Republican are now led by far-right reality deniers like shutdown champion Ted Cruz and serial-plagiarist Rand Paul. They spread their lies on propaganda-enabling Fox News and are rarely challenged by sloppy journalists in the mainstream corporate media. Long-time conservatives get primaried out of office by Tea Party neo-confederates who campaign on birther jokes and gun conspiracies. Twenty-seven Senate Republicans recently voted to condemn their two-week-old votes to avoid a debt default, denouncing even their own temporary sanity.

Some of my Republican friends on Facebook post charts to prove that Obama caused the recession in 2008. When I point out that Obama took office in 2009, they reply, "spoken like a true liberal," as if they've made a winning persuasive point. They use "liberal" as a safe word to make me stop hurting them with sadistic facts. Then they tell me that God will punish me, but their cringe-worthy spelling would make any higher power blush.

Some Republicans compare liberals to Saul Alinsky (repeating a name they probably don't know but have heard their right-wing media role models use), or they just accuse us of being crazy or dishonest when we cite facts. I generally ask them to look up "projection" in a dictionary of psychological terms. As my father once said, "Some people should flush the B.S. in their own toilet before they start sniffing around their neighbor's bathroom."

We live in a free country where we can all voice our views--but freedom requires responsibility. The jerks with the Obama-as-Hitler poster couldn't answer basic questions. Members of Congress blather about secret computer codes. Facebook friends post obvious falsehoods and flail against facts. 

When people abuse freedom of speech with ignorance and outright lies, they just look like fools. Our country deserves better.

Originally published in the Daily Hampshire Gazette.


Seriously, gun people?


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Stop the Republican War on Christianity!

That's the kind of right-wing media headlines we would read 24 hours a day if Democrats tried to roll back Sunday early voting to keep certain Christians from voting. But that's exactly what Republicans have been doing, and no one from the right has uttered a word of protest. 


Friday, November 8, 2013

Republican agenda ... let's fire gay people!

The Senate voted yesterday on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). More than three-fourths of Senate Republicans voted to say that it's okay to fire someone for being gay.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Three out of four Senate Republicans think it's okay to fire someone for being gay in the United States of America in the year 2013.

Keep that in mind the next time you enter a voting booth.