Halli Casser-Jayne is the co-host of The Halli and MoJoe Show on BlogTalkRadio dot com and the author of A Year in My Pajamas with President Obama, The Politics of Strange Bedfellows, which takes a provocative, fun, thoughtful look at Election 2008 through the creative eyes of an author with a sassy and distinctive voice. There are many President Obama books, but none quite like this one! Look for her forthcoming novel, Scout Finch's Diary scheduled for an October 2011 release.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


America is a sick nation.

Not from the swine flu pandemic, although surely that doesn’t help, but the U.S. is afflicted with an even graver illness.  At the moment, it’s looking terminal. Health care reform and affordable medical treatment for everyone cannot come too soon.

Like most illnesses, no one is exactly sure when our patient contracted the disease. Sometimes, that’s not important; this time it is. If we can get to the source of this epidemic, we have a chance of preventing future outbreaks from happening.

Thus far, research points to May 15, 1940, the day Roger E. Ailes, the son of a factory worker, was born in Warren, Ohio. Apparently, Ailes was exposed to the AILE-ment when he was quite young. Although it remained dormant for a long time, the symptoms of Ailes’ disease erupted in 1967 when Ailes first met Richard M. Nixon. The disease known as Extreme-Partisanship, has progressed exponentially.

In 1968, Ailes joined Nixon’s presidential campaign. After leading Nixon to victory, Ailes’ symptoms became even more pronounced.

He founded Ailes Communications in New York. About the same time, one symptom, brain dysfunction escalated. Ailes became obsessed with right-wing politics, obsession as an addiction, being the major symptom of the disease.

Many credit Mr. Ailes with Ronald Reagan’s 1984 successful run for the American presidency. Reagan, history tells us, contracted the disease later in his life, in 1962, when he became rabid about his politics. No one is sure exactly from which carrier he contracted the AILE-ment.

But back to Ailes and how his disease manifested itself. No trick was too small for Roger Ailes. Obsessive partisanship exhibits itself through excessive measures. All reason is thrown out the window with this brain dysfunction. When there is no rationale, there is no underlying principle, only righteousness. Ailes hired New York Mad Man Philip Dusenberry to build the supporting ad campaign to further his cause and his candidate, Ronald Reagan.
Dusenberry created ads that seduced the public, infecting them with, according to unnamed sources, “swelling violin music and emotional, issue-free imagery of weddings, flag-raising, home-buying and peaceful, scenic vistas.” It was an alchemy to which many Americans succumbed, not understanding that they were being contaminated with a dose of Ailes’ AILE-ment that is highly contagious.

By 1988, Ailes was seriously ill with the AILE-ment. He helped George H. W. Bush defeat Michael Dukakis. Ailes and political guru, Lee Atwater, who had earlier contracted the AILE-ment, used race-baiting as a tactic to secure the win for their candidate. The subtle and undiagnosed disease was advancing rapidly in both men. Highly contagious, it often manifested itself in excessive meanness.

Radio personality, partisan and King of Mean, Rush Limbaugh, may still not know that he has the disease. But in 1991, Ailes exposed Limbaugh, who has the addiction gene (Oxycontin ring a bell?) to the AILE-ment. Together Ailes and Limbaugh worked on a TV show, but it was short-lived. Limbaugh, of course, has returned to radio where listeners are exposed to a daily dose of the AILE-ment at work.

Following his initial association with Rush Limbaugh, Roger Ailes’ disease went into remission. But in February 1996, Ailes symptoms returned. Rupert Murdoch of News Corporation hired Ailes to create Fox News Channel set to launch on October 7, 1996.

Ailes hired a coterie of right-wing broadcasters including Matt Drudge, Sean Hannity, Oliver North and Bill O’Reilly, all who had already contracted the AILE-ment. He also hired veteran broadcaster Geraldo Rivera who appears to have some resistance to the disease.

By now Ailes disease was full-blown. Did Ailes know that something was wrong? Perhaps as a cover-up, Ailes employed one of his New York Mad Men to create the slogan for Fox News Channel: ”fair and balanced reporting.” Of course, the AILE-ment prohibits fairness and balance because that’s exactly what the afflicted patient lacks as the insidious disease attacks the brain.  

Again, the disease is highly contagious. It has spread across the airwaves. Turn on MSNBC and there is as much obsessive partisanship there as on Fox News Channel. MSNBC has caught the fever!

The other cable network, CNN, is losing viewers daily. Apparently, the disease has not reached the pandemic stage at CNN. It therefore looks weird to the American viewing public, most who have contracted the AILE-ment and no longer relate well to reasonable discussion.

Apparently, only 9% of Americans have full immunity against the AILE-ment. A 2009 Gallup assessment has found an average of 36% of Americans consider themselves Democratic, 28% Republican and 37% call themselves independent, although when pressed to say which party they lean toward, 51% of Americans identify as Democrats, 39% as Republicans.

In other words, 91% of Americans have been exposed to the AILE-ment.

Another manifestation of the AILE-ment is that Americans no longer pledge allegiance to The United States of America, but to their respective parties, an AILE-ment that is quickly bringing America to its knees.

Currently, there appears to be no effective vaccination against the disease. And there isn’t likely to be one soon. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has apparently been exposed to the AILE-ment itself. And besides, the CDC has its hands full with the H1N1 Swine Flu pandemic, for which, thankfully, there is immunization.

Unfortunately, the CDC been unsuccessful in getting the vaccination to the people in a timely matter. They must be suffering from the characteristic brain dysfunction common from their exposure to the AILE-ment, apparently getting in their way of doing things reasonably.

Halli Casser-Jayne is the author of A YEAR IN MY PAJAMAS WITH PRESIDENT OBAMA, The Politics of Strange Bedfellows. To read more of her opinions visit http://www.thecjpoliticalreport.com
c. 2009 All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Here’s a dirty little secret: The worst thing to ever happen to the State of West Virginia may be its venerable Senator Robert. C. Byrd.

While surely there is no nicer, kinder, smarter, caring but misguided man on Capitol Hill than West Virginia’s senior senator, aka the pork barrel king, Robert C. Byrd, in large measure is responsible for the fact that West Virginia ranks 49th in per capita income, can boast that Huntington West Virginia has the poorest health ranking in the country, ranks 51st of 51 states and territories who have students completing a bachelor’s degree, ranks 48th of 50 states where people have achieved a high school diploma.

On the other hand, surprisingly, West Virginia is not in the top ten states with the highest unemployment. Through Sept. 12 of this year, the state had taken 86,752 initial claims for benefits, up about 64 percent from the same point last year. Surely, this is not something to be proud of, but West Virginia has always suffered from job shortage.

And that brings me to the reason why Robert Byrd isn’t necessarily the best thing that ever happened to West Virginia.

Think coal and you’ll understand where I’m going. West Virginia is coal country and King Coal has had no better friend than the esteemed Senator. Coal has barely kept West Virginia afloat or mountaineers employed at a rate equal to that of the rest of the country. It has kept the mountain state next to last in per capita income. Yes, West Virginians are dirt-y coal poor.

But coal has made Senator Byrd a very powerful man, while it has kept most of the state stuck in a time warp. (Coal hasn’t hurt Senator Rockefeller, either). Travel to southern West Virginia where the mines thrive and you’ll feel like you’re in the depression-ridden 1920’s. Men old at age 40 sit on dilapidated porch swings tied to their oxygen tubes, their lungs riddled with black lung disease. If they wanted to, they can’t get another job because there are no other jobs in their part of the state, really, in the state at large.

Thanks to Byrd and all the other politicians in West Virginia funded by King Coal, there has been very little effort to change the dynamics of the state’s commerce. Even as the mines are automated, and mining jobs become scarcer by the day, West Virginia’s piece of the Federal pie most often goes to mining, or other projects that please the mine companies. The state’s coffers are filled with the dirty money of the coal industry, as are the deep pockets of the politicians running the state.

Recently, West Virginia hit pay dirt when Senator Byrd managed to bury more than $4.6 billion in money for the coal industry into a Senate version of the economic stimulus package. Last year Senator Jay Rockefeller added $2.8 billion for the coal industry in the massive Wall Street bailout, a dirty shame.

Imagine if in his over fifty years in the Senate, Byrd had put his efforts to bringing real commerce to The Mountain State. Instead, he is mostly responsible for pork projects like fisheries throughout the state that employ only a few. Only recently he brought the FBI, Coast Guard and the National Wildlife Training Center to the Eastern Panhandle, which, by the way, the rest of West Virginia doesn’t even consider part of its state. Here it is 2009, and not much has changed in West Virginia in half a century.

You could probably say the same thing for the rest of the coal producing states. No fewer than 25 states produce coal, which not only generates income, jobs and tax revenue, but provides a disproportionately large share of their energy. Yet, what was once a gift horse is now an albatross around the coal-producing states. Coal is dirty in every way: for our air, for our heating, for our politicians.

If you live as long as Senator Byrd, 91 years, you’re bound to see changes. And whether Senator Byrd, the State of West Virginia or King Coal likes it or not, the change is now. Coal is under fire by the environmentalists, as well it should be.The United Nations Climate Change Treaty was adopted in 1992. It committed the world to “avoiding dangerous anthropogenic interference in the climate system.” Yet, since that time, greenhouse-gas emissions have continued to rise.

The United States has proved to be the biggest foot-dragger, snubbing the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and refusing to implement any effective domestic emissions controls.For these dirty truths, you can thank Senator Byrd and the leaders in the other coal producing states. Again, their power is fired by King Coal.

As we head into the global summit in Copenhagen in December to negotiate a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, the U.S. is once again the focus of unease. American politics remain strongly divided over climate change – though President Barack Obama has new opportunities to break the coal-jam…but for Senator Byrd and the other leaders of the coal-producing states who stand in his way.

Sadly, President Obama has announced he will not speak in Copenhagen, but will instead collect his Nobel Prize in Oslo, where he says he will address climate change, in deference to Senator Byrd and his coal-powered associates?Robert Byrd, of course, has done much good for his state. But he sold his soul to the company store a longtime ago. Nevertheless, he may be finally seeing through the dirty smoke hovering over the Blue Ridge Mountains and the land he claims to love.

In a recent coal-dust-up with the Massey Energy Company, the largest producer of Central Appalachian coal -- led by the unrelenting villainous character Don Blankenship -- over the refusal of the company to pay to move an elementary school in the contamination field of a Massey project, Byrd spit coal fire at Massey for what he called Massey’s "disregard for human life and safety."

"Let me be clear about one thing -- this is not about the coal industry or their hard-working miners," Byrd said. "This is about companies that blatantly disregard human life and safety because of greed. That is never acceptable."

Byrd, by the way, the son of a coal minor, added, "At a time when coal is under such close scrutiny, coal companies operating in West Virginia should be working together to put their best foot forward.”

Not completely un-self-serving, but proof that at, 91, Senator Robert C. Byrd is not too old to learn dirty new tricks.coal,