Tuesday, October 19, 2010


If you are as tired as I am of hearing all the talking heads and self-appointed political pundits ramble on about the mid term elections, raise your hand. There may have been past election years when the choice of candidates included so many extremists, but memory fails me. The best way to really get to know who these people are is to hear exactly what they have said, rather than to hear O’Reilley/Stewart/Colbert/Maddow/Spitzer/Matthews/Gregory/Amanpour/Olberman/Mitchell/Ratigan/Beck/Limbaugh/Hannity/Cooper/Blitzer, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen “interpret” their words. After all, you’re smart enough to figure out what the candidates really mean. While you’re reading and listening to this stuff, ask yourself this: Is this who I really want representing me and managing the United States of America? Really, is it???

CARL PALADINO, Republican candidate for New York Governor, says he thinks unemployed people who are on welfare should be sent to former psychiatric hospitals and prisons where they can learn things like hygiene. Really, he said that. Paladino, a somewhat educated thug who admittedly sends out racist, misogynistic emails and who wants to repeal the ban on assault weapons in NY, is somehow just naive enough to believe that New Yorkers would have him as their Governor. Watch:

KEN BUCK, Colorado Republican nominee for Senate is running neck and neck with his Democratic challenger, even though he has made some pretty outrageous proclamations during the campaign. Just last Sunday he lumped homosexuality in with alcoholism and declared begin gay a choice, because “you can choose your partner.” Watch:

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SHARRON ANGLE, Tea Party lovechild who is running against Harry Reid for the Nevada Senate seat is the gift that keeps on giving for comics and satirists. Decidedly an all-American girl, she seems to think people believe she is Asian. Huh? Watch this video of her speaking to a group made up entirely of Hispanic students. But before you do, know that as of this morning, Angle and Harry Reid are virtually tied in the polls.Go figure:

Christine O'Donnell
, Delaware's answer to Lucy Ricardo just yesterday made the misstep of her entire candidacy. It seems the not-a-witch comic relief of the 2010 mid-years has never read the mere 45 words of the first amendment. You know -- the part that constitutionally established the separation of church and state. Right in front of legal scholars and law students at Widener University Law School, O'Donnell expressed surprise that the amendment addressed the separation. Really. Watch:

At some point we all must step back from party loyalties, collective anger over economic doldrums, considerations of race or gender and let reason re-establish itself. That will be the moment when we allow ourselves to know that there are too many candidates this year that should not have a place in our government. Thugs and sexists and eccentrics racists and ill-prepared political wannabes notwithstanding, this is still America. And in America we have standards to uphold. So that moment that reason re-enters our electoral system is critical. Let's just hope it comes before November 2.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


A few days ago, here on Greenberg Rants, you may have read a story called, “2010: Year of the Political Whack Job.” There are so many from which to choose this election season. So, should we be surprised that Ohio Tea Party favorite Rich Iott likes to relax on weekends by dressing up as a Nazi soldier and acting out actual World War II battles with other grown men? Oy. Even if what Iott says is true -- that historical re-enactments are educational, and that he did it as a father-son bonding experience – at the very least it lacks good judgment. At the extreme, it smacks of anti-Semitism. Oh Rich, Rich. Couldn’t you and your son just go fishing like Sheriff Andy and Opie? Call me crazy, but even the best fiction writer couldn’t make this stuff up. Watch:

Friday, October 8, 2010


Forbes Magazine just published its list of the 100 Most Powerful Women. The top five in media have often conveyed highly inspirational messages from their own life experience. Here is a sampling of what they have to say:

OPRAH WINFREY - Television Host, Humanitarian “Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it.”

ELLEN DEGENERES - Talk Show Host, Comedienne "You have to have funny faces and words, you can`t just have words. It is a powerful thing, and I think that`s why it`s hard for people to imagine that women can do that, be that powerful."

KATIE COURIC - Journalist “I've always tried to stay true to my authentic self. I think sometimes people project things on you, but I'm trying to handle everything that's happened to me with a certain amount of grace, dignity and good manners. You just can't necessarily win all the time.”

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON - Founder, The Huffington Post "Fearlessness is like a muscle. I know from my own life that the more I exercise it the more natural it becomes to not let my fears run me."

TINA BROWN - Founder, Editor - The Daily Beast
"Sexy brain food. Give us something to make us smarter, but for God’s sake don’t make it feel like work. People are in such a glum frame of mind they are looking for confidence, audacity, practicality, and FUN. They want to stop talking about problems and hear about solutions."

Rick Sanchez is a Conventional Idiot

Recently fired CNN anchor Rick Sanchez did his first on-air interview this week with George Stephanpoulos on ABC's "Good Morning America." Sanchez, ostensibly there to offer his mea culpa, instead used the discussion to plug his book, "Conventional Idiocy," not once, but twice. He also once again took the opportunity to express his tedious "poor me" rap about his childhood. Watch:

Important Words From Anderson Cooper and Ellen DeGeneres

Following a series of teen suicides related to bullying, a number of high profile people are speaking out about this pressing social problem. Among them, Ellen DeGeneres and Anderson Cooper have taken a strong stand against bullying. Here is a recent conversation between the two broadcasters:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


In a world where Lisa Rinna’s lip reduction surgery and the Octomom’s home foreclosure are considered news, is it any wonder a whack job like Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell (right) becomes a high profile media figure? Her newest campaign ad begins with the line, “I am not a witch.” Hey, we’re living in a moment when the Governor of Arizona gets legislation enacted that allows a cop to stop a person if he thinks he or she looks like an illegal immigrant. That being the case, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that Nevada Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle had the balls to actually call her opponent and suggest he drop out of the race. Let's say this all together now: ANYTHING GOES.

Angle, (left) another big bowl of crazy like O’Donnell, recently had this to say about unemployment in her state: ''People ask me, 'What are you going to do to develop jobs in your state?' Well, that's not my job as a U.S. senator.'' I promise you she said that. Out loud. Really.

While all of this craziness is splashed across the headlines, Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC)(right) comes forward to say he believes unmarried, sexually active women and gays should not be allowed to teach in the public schools. (Apparently sexually active single men do not present a problem). I wonder if he has any idea how many empty classrooms there would be throughout the U.S. if this came to pass. And how many married, heterosexual nut jobs would end up as teachers?

Meanwhile, Rand Paul,(below, left) the Tea Party Senate candidate from Kentucky (who happens to be the current frontrunner) wants to eliminate the U.S. Department of Education and give full control of the schools to the states. I can’t help wondering: If that would happen, how would
each of the states make up for the millions of federal dollars that are pumped into their economy for education? I guess the individual states would have to raise taxes – a lot. Paul also once said, "…a free society will abide unofficial, private discrimination,even when that means allowing hate-filled groups to exclude people based on the color of their skin." Did he not get the memo that we passed a Civil Rights Act in 1964?

And then there’s good old Joe Miller, (below, right) the GOP Senate candidate from Alaska. Joe, who has been vocal (read: LOUD) about the importance of Federal government bowing out of people’s lives and spending less and less, turns out to be something of a hypocrite. It was widely reported that he accepted farm subsidies from the Federal government in the 1990s, and that his wife received Federal unemployment dollars after she left a job – working for Joe! Miller, it should be noted, is on the record in opposition to Federal unemployment insurance, which he says is not authorized by the Constitution. And still he wins the nomination. Am I missing something here? I don’t think so.

These few examples of the chaotic and often discriminatory mindset of contemporary politicians clearly illustrate the extreme social confusion in our country. Some elements of our culture that we accepted as standard are now being marginalized. Whatever happened to the separation of church and state, for example? Ultra-conservative radio entertainer Glenn Beck (left) is inching closer and closer to preaching when he talks politics. "People aren't recognizing his [Obama’s] version of Christianity," Beck said on "Fox News Sunday." His recent heavily-attended “Restoring Honor” rally in Washington D.C. was described by some as the closest thing to a religious revival they had ever seen. Blogger Dan Riehl interviewed one of the attendees: “He has a spiritual connection to us; you can hear his heart speaking,” said Susan Trevethan, a psychiatric nurse from Milford, Conn. “I believe he has been divinely guided to be here in this place,” she said. “He is doing the research. He is teaching us.”

You know, if Glenn Beck can become Jesus, maybe I can morph into, say, Brad Pitt? Come on.

Guess what other traditional American standard has been marginalized: Civility. It doesn’t really matter, for example, what your political party preference is, when it comes to respect for the office of President of the United States. Even in the worst of times, if Americans were not sold on their chief executive, they moderated their comments and actions in deference to the sanctity of the office. Not now. Now we have people carrying signs at rallies that show President Obama made up to look like Hitler. Just the other day, radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh called Obama a “jackass” and an “ignoramus” live, on the air. At Tea Party rallies, Obama is routinely referred to as a socialist. That is particularly baffling, since many of the attendees are on Social Security and Medicare, arguably the closest programs we have to real socialism. And those programs have been in place and unquestioned for decades. Let’s review: When we abolish the Department of Education and raise their taxes, should we also eliminate Social Security and Medicare? I’m just sayin.’

The bottom line: The Americans who are sullying the political process, promoting the dissolution of Government agencies and departments, blurring the lines between religion and government, lowering the bar on respect for the presidency and generally questioning American standards without offering viable alternatives are radicals. They may point to others in the society as dangerous and un-American, but the truth is that these people are extremists.

I do not want extremists of any ilk or political affiliation making decisions for me. I do not want to see the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution construed to mean that people can carry guns into churches or schools. I do not want the 1st Amendment to the Constitution twisted to suggest that hate speech and bullying are protected under the law. I do not want to see white-haired, white-skinned male legislators enacting legislation that disallows a woman to have an abortion after she has been raped. I do not want to see a Governor use her power to endorse racial profiling. I do not want to see the widespread dissatisfaction with the flailing American economy become the rallying cry for the deconstruction of almost three centuries of American government.

What about you? What do you want?

Monday, October 4, 2010

RICK SANCHEZ: The Newsman Who Became the Story

Rick Sanchez is one of those new age broadcasters who undervalue the concept of journalistic neutrality. During his tenure on television he often pulled inane stunts like having himself tasered (below,left) to demonstrate how powerful the device is. He often spoke before his brain caught up with his mouth: One time he said he couldn’t understand how there could be a volcano eruption in Iceland because it’s so cold there. Remember Will Ferrell’s fictional anchorman, Ron Burgundy? In a way, Rick Sanchez is the real life Ron Burgundy. Bumbling, sometimes ill-prepared, seemingly disorganized and unafraid to look like a fool on television, Sanchez somehow inched his way up from a small TV station in Alexandria, MN to a two-hour anchor slot on CNN. Industry insiders never quite understood it. He morphed from a self-described poor immigrant kid named Ricardo León Sánchez de Reinaldo to a handsome, glib network news guy named Rick Sanchez. With his inexplicably anglo good looks and his self-imposed name change, one might not even know of his Cuban ethnicity.

A few months ago, recently-ousted CNN President Jonathan Klein offered Sanchez a juicy two-hour daytime slot that the anchor decided to call “Rick’s List.” It was a new-wave technology combo of traditional broadcasting paired with social media that allowed viewers to actually drive the content. It was a rather groundbreaking concept. But a concept is only that, unless somebody follows through on it. Sanchez’s follow through was often inept and anything but groundbreaking. Comedian Jon Stewart on Comedy Central’s “Daily Show” often used short clips of Sanchez’s gaffes for his signature “Moment of Zen” segments.

Sanchez evidently didn’t take the ribbing well. His final meltdown took place on Pete Dominick’s Sirius XM radio show, when he described his childhood this way: “"I grew up not speaking English, dealing with real prejudice every day as a kid; watching my dad work in a factory, wash dishes, drive a truck, get spit on. I’ve been told that I can’t do certain things in life simply because I was a Hispanic." He then went on to lump Stewart with what he termed “elite Northeast establishment liberals.” (For the three of you who don’t know this, that’s code talk for Jews). He went on to say, “I’m telling you that everybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart, and a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart, and to imply that somehow they — the people in this country who are Jewish — are an oppressed minority? Yeah.” If you haven’t heard the interview, listen:

Two hours later he was fired.

Sanchez is apparently by nature a reckless man. In 1990 it was widely reported that he was driving his father home from a Miami Dolphins game, when he hit a man who was running between two cars in the stadium parking lot. Reportedly, Sanchez was drunk, as was the victim. Sanchez left the scene of the accident and did not return for two hours. The story that is told in Miami is that Sanchez had buddies on the police force, and he was able to get off with a simple DUI charge. His victim, one Jeffrey Smuzinick was not so lucky. He was paralyzed, ended up in a nursing home, and died in 1995 at the age of 36.

So, let’s review: Here’s what we have so far on Rick Sanchez – Unprofessional, anti-Semitic, bitter and cowardly. To this day, the married father of four has never addressed the hit and run incident. It is as if he pretends it simply didn’t happen. Personally, Sanchez never learned about accountability. Occupationally, despite all of his missteps and misstatements, he never quite got the message that he needed to become more professional and work a little harder. Watch this behind the scenes clip of Sanchez and his staff hours before his fateful radio interview, “preparing” for that day’s “Rick’s List.”

His was a laissez-faire, free-flowing style of journalism. It lacked the main ingredients of good reporting: solid research, meticulous preparation, and well-thought-out words. It opted for off-the-cuff, under-informed and sometimes arrogant banter. Sanchez wanted to come off as the “every man” of journalism. But there was something vaguely discomforting about his delivery. It was too nice, too folksy and not authentic.

Sanchez’s firing from CNN is not so much about a denial of free speech, as it is an example of irresponsibility. To call Jon Stewart a “bigot,” with nothing concrete to back that up was disingenuous. In all of Stewart’s making fun of Sanchez, he never once referred to his ethnicity. To fall back on the old “Jews own everything” argument is an insult to the masses of middle-class Jewish Americans, many of whom were Sanchez’s viewers. Further, blaming the Jews – or any other ethnic group, for that matter – is a copout from a guy who simply did not do the work required to become an Anderson Cooper or Diane Sawyer. One has to wonder if all of this doesn't just come back to professional jealousy on Sanchez's part. There is indeed a disconnect on how the public perceives Stewart as opposed to Sanchez. For example, Sanchez's oddly titled book, "Conventional Idiocy," sold just 802 copies in its first week of release. Stewart's book, "Earth (The Book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race" had a first printing of 1.1 million copies and sold almost 54,000 copies in its first week or release.

Even with the clear Shakespearean nature of this situation, with the antagonist falling on his own sword, I cannot work up much sympathy for Rick Sanchez. In the end, we are all responsible for our own words, and the respect – or lack thereof – we afford other human beings.