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

Saturday, March 31, 2012


Ever wonder why there's no "Fox News for Dummies" book? Yeah ... that'd be redundant.


Without Irony

A right-wing friend of mine posted these two images on Facebook within a five-minute span.

This is what the world has come to.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

It's not a Contest

Stories like the one above about the 2007 murder of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom have been floating around the Internet lately. I agree that this was an awful, horrifying crime, no doubt. But I remember that there actually was a lot of media coverage at the time (and some of it turned out to be exaggerated and sensationalized--many of the mutilation details, for example).

But the main reason there was less media coverage than the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman wasn't primarily because of racial implications. The criminals in the Christian/Newsom case were arrested and convicted. There was at least that level of justice and closure.

But George Zimmerman killed an unarmed 17-year-old kid and hasn't even been arrested, despite obvious flaws in his account of what happened. The media has latched onto this story because it's still open-ended in so many ways. How can there be closure for anyone when the justice system failed its basic test of accountability in this case?

Race enters into the issue because the United States has a two-centuries-long history of black people being owned, abused, and murdered by white people without the appropriate consequences to those countless crimes.That still means something, no matter how many people try to dismiss that horrible part of American history as irrelevant.

My daughter and son-in-law are only a little older than the couple in the photo above, and my son is only a little older than Trayvon Martin. These crimes rock me to the core because I see my white children just as much in Trayvon's black face as in Channon and Christopher's white faces. I don't want anything like these crimes happening to anyone, regardless of race. Both or these violent cases are horrible in different ways. It's not a contest to see which case gets more media attention. Any attention to outrage against a terrible crime is a good thing, no matter who the victims or the perpetrators were.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Guest Appearance on the Tim Corrimal Show

I had a great time talking about current events and my new book Tales of a Real American Liberal on the Tim Corrimal Show. Above is a quick sample from the show. To listen to the whole show, click here.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Gandma's Gonna Be Just Fine ...

Hey, did everyone notice that Obamacare turned two years old the other day, and ... wait for it ... there are no death panels executing grandmas!

The next time anyone hears all those Republicans talking about overturning Obamacare, take a look at this informative little infographic from

And most of the benefits and savings to the federal budget don't fully kick in until 2014. Obamacare keeps getting better, so don't believe the right-wing lies. If Republicans get their way, they will set the nation's health care back decades and return the power from the people to the insurance companies. 

No matter how many times Republicans say "Obamacare" with a sneer on their faces, it still sounds a lot better than "Let 'em die!"

Remember what Grandma says ... "Obamacare because Obama cares!"


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Definiton of "Unreasonable"

Republicans in Florida just created a law calling for random drug testing of state employees. As a state employee (in Connecticut) I have some words for Florida Republicans. I won't spell them out because I'm a polite person, but the initials are "f.y." Also, there's this annoying little thing called the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
Can someone please tell me the "probable cause" for suspecting that state employees are on drugs? This law is completely unconstitutional at the most basic level.
Update: One day after the governor signed it into law, the drug testing of state workers in Florida has already been suspended because of legal challenges to its constitutionality.
Update 2: The law has been struck down in federal court.
The law doesn't help with job creation, it would actually cost the state money rather than reduce the budget, and it unfairly singles out a group of citizens as targets of discrimination. Yep, that's how today's Republican Party rolls.

Blame Obama: Standard Practice at Fox Fake News

Check out this chart showing how Fox News blames gas prices on President Obama far more than any other news sources. Fair and balanced or ridiculously slanted? 

By the way, if the chart makes it look like Fox News is giving the finger to the American public, that's because Fox News does exactly that.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Speak Out!

Hard to believe, but the seller of this anti-Obama bumper sticker with an abbreviated usage of the "N-word" is defending this disgusting product. What absolute and hateful ignorance!
We all need to speak out against any racist (or any kind of "ist" or "phobic") stuff that gets spread around these days. Limbaugh, Fox News, and the rest of the right-wing media has pushed the limits of hate speech to the point where people thing something like this bumper sticker is acceptable. When I spent just ten minutes on the internet today, I saw many people rationalizing or even applauding this bumper sticker and others like it. 
Unfortunately, not everyone has the sense to find things like this revolting. We all need to speak out against this kind of hate because silence is sometimes misinterpreted as consent. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Parenting and Patriotism

Here's are thoughtful and wise words on parenting and patriotism from an excerpt from the excellent new book, Confessions of an American Dad, by Russell King:
Patriots are proud of their country for the ideals to which it aspires, the values it holds dear, and the good that it does. That patriotism leads to a feeling of responsibility, both for what we do and who we are today and for what we want to do and be tomorrow.

Nationalists are proud no matter what the country does, which leads to simple, stupid, blind arrogance. Nationalists are obsessed with having their nation be “greater” than all other nations, even if it means lying to themselves and others ...

Put into parenting terms: patriots are like the parents who recognize the good and the bad in their children and who work hard, every day, to help them grow up to be the best men and women they can be; nationalists are like the parents who can see no wrong in their kids, who coddle them, spoil them, make excuses for them and fail to nurture them. Once again, it comes down to responsibility. Good parents and patriots take responsibility; bad parents and nationalists do not.
Read the whole excerpt here, and order this terrific book here.


Fox News Poll Favors Obama ... and Reveals that One Particular Fox News Lie is Working

A new Fox News poll shows President Obama beating Mitt Romney (by 4 points), Rick Santorum (by 12 ponts), Ron Paul (by 12 points), and Newt Gingrich (by 18 points) in head-to head election matchups.

The Fox News polls are usually far more "fair and balanced" than the network's actual "news" coverage, which is mostly dishonest right-wing propaganda. For example, this same poll showed that voters generally disapprove of the president's handling of gas prices. As a distraction from other good economic news, Fox News has been blaming the president for the recent rise in gas prices, despite the fact that serious analysis shows that other factors control the price.

In reality, no president has much control over gas prices, as Fox's Bill O'Reilly himself and others said ... back when that president was George W. Bush.

Just because the propaganda may be influencing voters' opinions doesn't mean it's based in fact. Just don't tell O'Reilly and his coworkers.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Shameful Right-Wing Character Assassination

When right-wing extremists in the media lie in their desperate attempts to make President Obama look bad, they don't seem to care who gets hurt.

Sean Hannity and Sarah Palin, among others, criticized the president for his association with the late Derrick Bell, a distinguished scholar and Harvard law professor. Right-wingers dishonestly tried to paint Bell as a radical racist, and somehow blame Obama for his connection to Professor Bell 20 years ago.

These right-wingers didn't count on Professor Bell's widow, Janet Dewart Bell, speaking out about their character assassination against her husband. Contrast her dignity with the shameful dishonesty of Hannity, Palin, and the rest. I'll take dignity over shameful any day.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Rorschach in Chief

I had a discussion today with someone who thought President Obama's classy response to Rush Limbaugh (see post below) was all for show. No matter what, we were not going to agree on the issue.

I've come to realize that the president seems to be the ultimate Rorschach test for America these days. The experiences and personal qualities we bring to our observations actually help to shape those observations. I look at recent events related to the contraceptive issue and see the president behaving as an honorable man taking a significant risk to prevent discrimination against women in a world still sadly fraught with paternalism and mysogyny. Some people see a manipulative jerk who would use his own daughters to score cheap political points. Others see the savior of humanity. Still others see a Kenyan Muslim Socialist who is once again trying to take away our freedoms because he hates America and Jesus and wants to control us all.

But there is an actual reality in the Rorschach test--it's an ink blot on a piece of paper. Like the Rorschach test, what form the president takes depends in large part on what pair of eyes are doing the looking.


Our Classy President

President Obama speaking yesterday about Rush Limbaugh's recent attacks on Sandra Fluke: 
“The reason I called Ms. Fluke is because I thought about Malia and Sasha and one of the things I want them to do as they get older is to engage in issues they care about ... I don’t want them attacked or called horrible names because they are being good citizens ... All decent folks can agree that the remarks that were made don’t have any place in the public discourse.”

Our president has class.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Republican Anti-Citizen Ideology

Ohio's Republican governor, John Kasich, has rejected federal disaster aid in the wake of the deadly tornadoes that struck the state last week. This is another glaring example of Republicans putting their radical anti-government ideology ahead of the interests of citizens. 
From an excellent piece on the blog Winning Progressive:
"Unfortunately, today’s conservatives have a pathological hatred of anything that suggests government--especially the federal government--might be able to help average Americans."

Words of Wisdom

Some words of wisdom from Benjamin Franklin that apply particularly well to Rush Limbaugh and his followers: 
“We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.”
Limbaugh's recent attacks on Sandra Fluke and his non-apology have generated lots of media attention and outrage, but he has been saying the exact same kind of hateful and fact-free stuff for decades, and it's finally catching up to him. This is just the latest example. Most prominent Republicans have praised him or appeared on his show, despite his long record of intolerance, ignorance, and dishonesty. 
So anyone who has been a fan or follower or even a guest on his show Limbaugh has just been enabling and emboldening his brand of crap for a long time.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

When There's Nothing Left to Say ...

I had a long, drawn-out discussion the other day with a right-wing acquaintance who simply refused to accept basic facts. Instead, he kept repeating (louder and louder) Fox News and Rush Limbaugh talking points that had no connection to reality. At a certain point, I had to say goodnight and leave him with this thought:


R≠D ... Here's the Difference

In the Senate today, 45 Republicans (plus 3 Democrats) voted against contraception being covered by insurance, and 50 Democrats (plus 1 Republican) voted for contraception being covered by insurance. The Republicans stuck this issue onto a bipartisan transportation bill. They went out of their way to be on record opposing health care for women. It's clear that Democrats support women's health care rights and Republicans don't. 
And the Republican presidential candidates hold the same position, as does my home state senator, Republican Scott Brown. We all need to keep this in mind the next time we step into the voting booth. A vote for Republicans is a vote against equality for women.
Strong majorities of Americans support contraception being covered by insurance, while an overwhelming majority of Republicans in the Senate disagree with the will of the American people on the issue.
Does anyone still believe the myth that there's no difference between Democrats and Republicans?