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By Clay Waters | February 22, 2011 | 6:45 AM EST

After a lull, in which the Times' initial assumption the Tucson shooting had something to do with political conservatism was refuted by reality, the paper again tried to use the tragedy to smear conservatives, in Frank Rich’s Sunday column, “The G.O.P.’s Post-Tucson Traumatic Stress Disorder.” 

It’s a truly weak effort that will change no  minds. Still, Rich’s absurd and mean-spirited attempt to link falling numbers for Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin should be noted.

 Six weeks after that horrific day in Tucson, America has half-forgotten its violent debate over the power of violent speech to incite violence. It’s Gabrielle Giffords’s own power of speech that rightly concerns us now. But all those arguments over political language did leave a discernible legacy. In the aftermath of President Obama’s Tucson sermon, civility has had a mini-restoration in Washington. And some of the most combative national figures in our politics have been losing altitude ever since, much as they did after Bill Clinton’s oratorical response to the inferno of Oklahoma City.

By Noel Sheppard | February 22, 2011 | 12:04 AM EST

UPDATE AT END OF POST: 'Limited Memory' Matthews gets Washington's birthday wrong!

A Gallup poll released Friday found Americans are most likely to say Ronald Reagan was the nation's greatest president.

On Monday, MSNBC's Chris Matthews was visibly angered about these results and actually insulted those in Reagan's camp as having a "limited memory" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

By Tim Graham | February 21, 2011 | 11:22 PM EST

AP reporter Ryan Foley's update from Madison on Monday night included details about a rock musician causing the crowd to to roar: "At noon, guitarist Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine took to a stage on the Capitol steps to fire up the crowd. He said he flew in from California to lend his voice to the protest."

While reporters like Adam Nagourney "worry" out loud that the Wisconsin Republicans are going to look too extreme, AP somehow left out Morello's truly appalling and extremist stands, like speaking fondly of Philadelphia cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal and the Maoist Shining Path terrorists in Peru. If that didn't seem pro-violence enough, then there's Morello praying for the drowning of President Bush in 2007, as reported in the Washington Post:

Onstage, when the Nightwatchman [Morello] sang, "I pray that God himself will come and drown the president if the levees break again," the Jammin' Java crowd's attitude was chilling. People were praying.

By Noel Sheppard | February 21, 2011 | 10:57 PM EST

UPDATE AT END OF POST: Ann Coulter agrees!

Lawrence O'Donnell on Monday made a prediction that most who hadn't heard of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker until a week ago might find astonishing.

On MSNBC's "The Last Word," the host told his perilously liberal guest Ezra Klein that if Walker's budget repair plan goes through, "He would instantaneously become the greatest hero in the Republican Party nationwide, I think would go to the top of Republicans' lists for possible presidential nominees in the upcoming election" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

By Jack Coleman | February 21, 2011 | 10:16 PM EST

Normally you'd expect a left-winger like MSNBC's Rachel Maddow to do cartwheels if current-day Republicans agree with opinions held by Franklin Roosevelt during the depths of the Great Depression.

This is not one of those times, however, as we are learning during the ongoing battle in Wisconsin over public-sector unions.  

What's happening in Wisconsin, according to Maddow, is an existential threat not just to unions but to the Democratic Party. Since the Supreme Court ruling last year in Citizens United v. FEC, Maddow said on her show Friday, Republicans have increased their advantage in political donations from outside groups such as corporations, unions and advocacy groups --

By Noel Sheppard | February 21, 2011 | 9:57 PM EST

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration somewhat under the radar a few weeks ago rebutted Nobel Laureate Al Gore's claim that January's heavy snowstorms across the country were caused by global warming.

As readers might remember, the man that has been made rich advancing the myth that carbon dioxide is destroying the planet weighed in on the inclement weather at his blog on February 1:

By Noel Sheppard | February 21, 2011 | 8:16 PM EST

MSNBC's Chris Matthews tried Monday to push the liberal media meme that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker exempted police and firefighters from his budget repair plan because their unions endorsed him in last November's election.

"Well one more time you're completely uninformed," replied Republican State Senator Glenn Grothman who then proceeded to tell the facts to the obviously clueless "Hardball" host (video follows with transcript and commentary):

By Matthew Balan | February 21, 2011 | 7:02 PM EST

On Monday's Newsroom, CNN's Martin Savidge teamed up with guests Rachel Sklar and Nick Ragone to oppose a proposed bill in Texas that would allow college students with concealed carry permits to carry handguns on campus. Savidge only had conservative talk show host Ben Ferguson on to voice his support for the bill during the segment, who faced off against the three.

The anchor brought on Sklar, Ragone, and Ferguson 48 minutes into the 2 pm Eastern hour for a panel discussion on the Texas legislation. He first turned to the former Huffington Post editor: "Rachel...what do you think of the idea of Texas allowing students to carry guns?" Predictably, Sklar ripped the idea:

By Lachlan Markay | February 21, 2011 | 6:14 PM EST

This is going to be messy. Kathy Griffin, Hollywood's favorite D-list vulgarian, will apparently be playing a Tea Party candidate loosely modeled on Sarah Palin in an upcoming episode of Fox's "Glee", according to The Hollywood Reporter.

What could go wrong?

Griffin discovered not so long ago that bashing Palin and her family can help prop up her sagging career - without controversy, Americans might just be asking, "Kathy who?" After this gig, though, it will be sheer comedy simply to see the lengths Griffin will go to mock the former governor.

By Ken Shepherd | February 21, 2011 | 6:01 PM EST

Leave it to "On Faith" to offer a Marxist/left-wing liberation theology twist on the public sector unions protesting Gov. Scott Walker's (R-Wis.) budget plans.

On Saturday the Washington Post/Newsweek online feature published a "Guest Voices" by Wendy Cooper in which the divinity student lamented that middle-class government workers in the Badger State have much in common with the masses in Tahrir Square in Cairo, as well as the ostracized imperial Roman tax collectors of Jesus' day  (emphasis mine):

By Ken Shepherd | February 21, 2011 | 4:38 PM EST

Is context a four-letter word to MSNBC's Chris Matthews?

During the "Sideshow" segment on Friday's "Hardball," Matthews ripped a comment conservative Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) made during a recent speech to the Federalist Society in order to paint DeMint either as a birther or as one playing cynically to those who believe President Obama was not born in the United States.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Here's what he said: "This whole idea that the president is the leader of our country is a mistake." This whole idea that the president is the leader of our country is a mistake. How does that make any sense, unless you're a birther, and that's what he sounds like.

The liberal Talking Points Memo (TPM) blog broke that story Thursday afternoon, but at least TPM provided the full context of DeMint's February 17 comments (emphasis mine):

By Geoffrey Dickens | February 21, 2011 | 4:07 PM EST

NBC's Kelly O'Donnell, on Monday's Today show, lumped the Wisconsin and federal budget fights together and depicted the Republicans, in both cases, as being on the defensive. Starting in Wisconsin O'Donnell reported that over the weekend "Protesters backing union workers vented anger" but didn't mention the Tea Party had a counter-protest. Then O'Donnell, moving to the budget struggle on Capitol Hill, passed along Democratic talking points as she reported: "Democrats claim Republicans are too stubborn and their budget cuts too severe" and advanced: "The '90s government shutdown, with empty offices and closed national parks, left the Republican majority then with real political damage. A cautionary tale today."

O'Donnell aired sound bites from Democratic Senators Dick Durbin and Chuck Schumer on the offensive, warning against a government shutdown with Schumer charging Speaker John Boehner with being "reckless." However when it came to the GOP side O'Donnell aired a clip of Senator Tom Coburn defensively admitting: "It's good for political rhetoric to talk about a government shutdown, but I don't know anybody that wants that to happen."

By Matt Hadro | February 21, 2011 | 3:32 PM EST

For about seven minutes on Monday's "Morning Joe," Chris Matthews celebrated his President's Day fawning over former President Clinton. Matthews had nothing but praise for the nation's 42nd president in anticipation of the documentary "President of the World" – apparently Clinton's new title – airing at 10 p.m. EST Monday on MSNBC.

"You know, Churchill's huge in this country and he's 70-30 back in England, and Nixon is probably 20-80 here, but in France he's about 60-40. You know, he's 100-0 around the world, Bill Clinton," Matthews remarked. Apparently Clinton is more liked around the globe than Churchill.

"He is, I don't know what IQ, what, 160? I don't know what it is" Matthews rambled, in awe of Clinton's intellect. "He studies economics an hour a day," he added. "He gets up every morning and does, like, a daily office....Somebody asked me the other day what makes him click? I said he won't quit. He doesn't want the lights to go out. It isn't complicated. I don't want to go to sleep, mommy."

By Scott Whitlock | February 21, 2011 | 3:03 PM EST

Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos on Monday repeatedly lobbied Wisconsin's Scott Walker to compromise in the budget battle over public employee unions. Arguing that the unions were making reasonable efforts to compromise, he said of the protesters: "They're going to stay out as long as it takes. Are you read to negotiate?"

Repeating union talking points, Stephanopoulos pressed, "...Your critics say this is not about balancing the budget, it's about union busting. And the unions and the Democrats have said they're willing to take the concessions on wage and health benefits."

After Walker argued for the necessity of state workers to contribute to their retirement, Stephanopoulos rebutted, "But, they already said they're willing to give that up. But, Governor, they already said they're willing to give up on the pensions and the health care. They already said that."

By Kyle Drennen | February 21, 2011 | 1:03 PM EST

In an interview with the Democratic minority leader of the Wisconsin state senate on Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Erica Hill proposed a solution to the political stalemate over curbing benefits for public union workers in the state, suggesting Democrats "work together" with "more moderate Republicans" to "come to some sort of agreement that could then put pressure on the Governor."

Minority Leader Mark Miller eagerly agreed: "Absolutely. I think cooler heads need to prevail....There is such a thing as compromise. The Governor needs to be part of that." Earlier, Hill had explained that: "There's been a proposal put forth by moderate Republicans in the state which would effectively take those collective bargaining rights away [from teachers unions], but only for two years, it would bring them back in 2013." To which Miller remarked: "Well, the problem is, is that the Governor has to agree. And the Governor has not done anything except has to be his way. All or nothing. And the Governor needs to recognize that this is a democracy, and in a democracy, you negotiate."