Listen, you little wiseacre: I'm smart; you're dumb; I'm big, you're little; I'm right, you're wrong, and there's nothing you can do about it ~ Harry Wormwood, the antagonist & narrator (portrayed by Danny DeVito) from "Matilda", the 1996 film adaptation of the book by Roald Dahl.
This post was inspired by a blogger who calls himself Willis "Take No Prisoners" Hart (WTNPH). Recently WTNPH used his blog to go off on an individual (who he refers to as "JR") that offended him by insinuating he has an "agenda" of a Right-wing nature. This blog post was essentially a string of obscenities and insults, the gist of which was to suggest that anyone who gravitates to far to the Right OR to far to the Left (which is the case with JR), lives in a "cartoon-like universe of good and evil" and may very well be a "loathsome partisan lowlife".
How does one qualify to be labeled a "loathsome partisan lowlife" by the blogger who doesn't believe in taking prisoners? It's possible that acquiring this badge of honor may be as simple as disagreeing with any of the conservative POVs he puts forth, even though he insists his tirade was provoked when the object of his scorn "mischaracterized" his position. Whether or not this actually is the case isn't going to be the subject of my post, however.
The subject of this post is the application of another label WTNPH applied to someone he disagrees with. In my opinion he got it wrong. Way wrong. I often cite Thom Hartmann, a progressive political commentator with his own radio program, on this blog and elsewhere. Why? Because he's the number one rated Liberal talker in the nation and I listen to him daily. And I also happen to agree with the majority of his political opinions.
The discussion with WTNPH where this label application occurred concerned free trade. WTNPH is in favor of it. According to WTNPH, I (and other progressives, presumably) want to "nationalize industries, force people to join labor unions, raise the minimum wage to $20 an hour, [and] build a trade wall around the entire country". Then he threw out the old Conservative canard that "the Smoot Hawley Tariff Act of 1929 contributed greatly to the Depression".
This I had to respond to, as I believe the facts show this claim is total bunk (here's a link to an article by someone who uses the official government figures from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis to discredit this nonsense). I also quoted Mr. Hartmann who has written that he believes Smoot-Hawley "may have had a slight short-term negative effect on the economy (-1.4 percent at most according to many historians) [but] its long-term effect was to bring American jobs back to America". I also mentioned that Thom Hartmann has authored a book that covers the subject.
In response the Hartster wrote, "Mr. Hartmann is a partisan hack. Dick Morris and Newt Gingrich write books, too. Any idiot can write a frigging book - Sarah Palin wrote a frigging book" (3/29/2011 AT 7:19pm).
According to Dictionary.com a "hack" is "a professional who renounces or surrenders individual independence, integrity, belief, etc., in return for money or other reward in the performance of a task normally thought of as involving a strong personal commitment".
Dick Morris is the a-hole who advised president Clinton to "pursue third way policies of triangulation that combined traditional Republican and Democratic proposals, rhetoric, and issues to achieve maximum political gain". The effect of Dick's advice was to move the Democratic Party forever to the Right (Obama being the second Democratic President to follow the Third Way). According to George Stephanopoulos, "over the course of the first nine months of 1995, no single person had more power over the president". Being a Liberal, I hate this guy intensely.
Dick Morris began working with the Clintons in 1978 when Bill ran for governor of Arkansas. When a prostitution scandal forced Morris to resign his advisory position in 1996 President Clinton "praised Morris as a friend, and thanked him for his years of service". After leaving the employ of the Clintons a grateful Morris embarked on a new career authoring a series of books trashing them. Dick Morris is a partisan hack.
Newt Gingrich pretends there is a possibility he might run for president. A 2/28/2011 Politico article reveals that Newt Gingrich raised 14.5 million dollars in 2010 via his fundraising organization "American Solutions". A large chunk of that money was paid to "The Gingrich Group" in return for "administrative services". This story was also covered by Rachel Maddow on 3/3/2011 with a story she called "He's Faking It". Pretending to run for president is only one of many Newt Gingrich scams designed to separate Right-wing fools from their money. Newt also gives out "awards" in exchange for the modest fee of $5,000. Newt Gingrich is a partisan hack.
Sarah Palin, taking a cue from Mr. Gingrich, does what she can to maintain the illusion that she might run for president. As long as there is a possibility she might run, interest in her books, speaking engagements, Fox News gig, and reality program remains artificially high. If Palin were not MAYBE running for president would interest in the half-term governor who quit be as high? Would she be raking in quite as much dough? I think not. Pretending to run for president, while not actual work, pays very handsomely. Sarah Palin is a partisan hack. (Another person milking this cash cow is, in my opinion, Mike Huckabee. Mike Huckabee will not run a second time. He's also a partisan hack).
Thom Hartmann, on the other hand, clearly believes in what he's selling (or not selling). Evidence of this is the fact that he's giving away books he has written for free. Truthout.org has serialized two of his books: 2010's Rebooting the American Dream and the newly revised edition of Unequal Protection (originally published in 2004). When informing his listeners how they could read these books online for free, Thom mentioned that his publisher was against it because his book (the first one) was selling quite well. He also allows non-commercial affiliates to carry his radio program at no charge.
Thom Hartmann also won't do suck up interviews. Occasionally the topic comes up and he says some politicians will only agree to come on the program if the questions are pre-approved, and Thom Hartmann refuses. This isn't something a hack would do. On 12/8/2010 Thom Hartmann had White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer on the program. Dan Pfeiffer came on to defend the deal President Obama had struck with the Republicans to extend the bush tax cuts (SWTD #71)... legislation which had not yet been passed at the time of the interview.
Thom grilled him for the entire nine-minute segment, all the time trying to convince Mr. Pfeiffer that the tax compromise was a bad deal. Afterward Thom remarked that he believed he probably burned some bridges with that interview and that he would not be asked back to the White House again, but so be it. This is not the kind of behavior you'd expect from a hack.
The accusation made by the doofus Hart that Thom Hartmann is a partisan hack is not supported by the facts. So why did he make it? I think it was simply because WTNPH didn't like the quote from Thom Hartmann I presented to him. In rebutting my argument in favor of protectionism Mr. Hart asked if I had ever heard of Frank William Taussig, an economist who (in addition to dying 61 years ago) is "credited with creating the foundations of modern trade theory". My bad, I guess if I'm going to argue trade policy I should've known who this guy is. WTNPH, having trapped me into admitting my ignorance, declared victory, pointing out that it "spoke volumes" that I "had heard of Thom Hartmann and not Frank William Taussig". Snap!
What irks me is that he goes off on another blogger for mischaracterizing his views when he had already mischaracterized Thom Hartmann as a partisan hack, a person WTNPH obviously knows very little about. As I've demonstrated, Thom Hartmann is anything but a partisan hack. And then the Hart who doesn't take prisoners belittles me when he asks if I've heard of some important economist and I admit I hadn't.
So my views on free trade are "cartoon-like partisan extremist illogical crap"... I can understand how a self-described moderate would reach that conclusion. Obviously I don't agree that my views are cartoon-like, partisan, extremist, or illogical, but whatever - that doesn't bother me (as bad as it sounds). What I don't care for is the hypocrisy. And the fact that whenever he makes what he considers a brilliant retort in response to my "crap" he concludes with an "LOL".
 Dick Morris Admits He Lied About Clinton, Reno & Waco by TheJushuaBlog 4/21/2010.
 Dick Morris' Clinton Book Is a Back-Stabbing Bio by News Hounds 8/11/2005.