Ted Koppel, Be a Man!

I heard Ted Koppel bloviating on the NPR talk circuit today, just hours after having heard Keith Olbermann Bloviate Koppel into Oblovion. Ted is more than a little indignant that his attack on MSNBC in the Washington Post last week was so badly received by Olbermann. Apparently he thought Olbermann was Barack Obama and would want to play nice.

In truth, Olbermann was not the main target of Koppel’s op ed, but the MSNBC host was caught in the backdraft and correctly pissed off. Koppel did Olbermann and MSNBC a disservice and needed to be called out. I think Koppel is covering for the Washington news establishment and dodging his personal responsibility, as grand old man of television news, to set the record straight.

The worst thing Koppel wrote, and the BIG LIE he needs to be called on, is that there is some equivalence between MSNBC and Fixxed news. Koppel makes Rachel and Keith the left wing equivalent of Head Manratty and Glenn Beckman. Fixxed News, and the fact distortion syndicate that runs the fake information stream we are swimming around in these days, loves this. Ted Koppel thinks Manratty is as honest as Olbermann. This is where he is wrong. Olbermann does not twist facts, tell lies or pass off lies as “honest opinion.” The opinion that Obama is a Moslem, for example, or the non-fact that it cost $200 million a day for Obama to travel to India. The former is still treated as a valid opinion by FIXX, and the later was treated as reportable fact. MSNBC deals in real facts, not lies or opinions. When they see bullshit, they call bullshit, and we should all stand up and make that point clear. For whatever spin Olbermann puts on it, you can count on the facts he starts out with as being true facts.

Koppel’s big point, which he lays out as though it is a revelation, is television news is no longer profitable, and coverage is suffering as a result. Duh. It is disaster when the bean counters and marketing guys take over health insurance, but it is a mark of the decline of civilization when these same people have more power over news content than editors. I cannot doubt that soon we will all agree that Brawndo has electrolytes, which are what plants crave.

This is all true what he says about bean counters and editors, but it is also an excuse. What if the editors are just lazy or sloppy or incompetent?  That is pretty much what they were from September 2001 through about August 2005 when the incompetence and stupidity of the Busch administration became too obvious for anyone, even the Washington press corps, to ignore any longer. And where was Ted Koppel during that time? Sitting comfortably on his throne, the most widely regarded journalist of his time, balancing a dog biscuit on his nose.

I will give this much to Koppel. The dean of Washington television journalism, a legitimate claimant to the mantle of Ed Morrow and Walter Cronkite, did at one time apologize for his incompetence in covering the lie machine that lead up to the invasion of Iraq. (See this Democracy Now interview.)  He now seems to have found a convenient scapegoat for his failure… the bean counters and marketing hacks who really run the show.

Thank Keith Olbermann for not letting him off the hook that easily. History should record that Ted Koppel and a gaggle of like-minded know nothings led the charge into Iraq by ignoring the facts, refusing to look closely at the record and helping Busch feed the nation bullshit for months before the war. He had an opportunity to make journalism truly great, a chance to leave a legacy as big and powerful as Uncle Walter’s, and he blew it. The least he can do now is fess up to it and stop harping on those who are doing the best they can to walk in Walter’s footsteps.

And one more thing. He could use the considerable cache he has remaining and assault Fixxed News for the lying manipulative tool of the Christofascist oligarchy that it is.

Am I Getting Through To You, Mr. Beale?

I was fond of Keith Olbermann’s “Special Comment” of last evening; I even embedded it here for a moment with a headline that indicated that Olbermann’s soliloquy had provided me with a certain bodily release. This made me laugh quite a bit, and then, for reasons to follow, I killed the post.

Because then I actually read Koppel’s column. And, I have to say, Keith missed the boat on this one.

The bulk of Koppel’s opinion piece isn’t a simple examination of “commentary” versus “he said she said” journalism, which is how Keith framed it last evening. Koppel centrally argues, and I think pretty forcefully, that it’s not simply a matter anymore of whether or not good, credible journalism practices are followed. It’s a matter, says Koppel, that even if a reporter wanted to follow those good old-fashioned 5-Ws, he or she would be structurally prohibited from doing so.

Anotherwerds, it’s not a question about what good journalism is or what it isn’t anymore. It’s that good journalism cannot exist.

Koppel recounts a history that anyone who’s spent any time observing or working in media is familiar with: Once upon a time, the federal government required broadcasters to provide some sort of public interest programming. To keep their licenses, the networks established news divisions, which they never expected to be anything more than a cost of doing business. When this notion changed, and news divisions became expected to bow to the profit motive like any other division, Koppel argues, good journalism became structurally impossible.

Koppel presents one concrete symptom of this new reality in media: The modern dearth of real, fully-staffed news bureaus overseas.

Keith did not refer to any of these points in his commentary. Yet they are the central thesis of Koppel’s article.

It is true, one cannot fairly conflate the journalistic practices of Mr. Olbermann’s employer with those of the Fox “News” Channel. However, to attempt to argue that one of these news networks is more or less beholden to corporate interests is absurd. In our brave new world, news is just another commodity.

Stupid Wins Again!

In Oklahoma they passed a measure that would make it illegal to apply Sharia in the state courts. A stupid notion, you say. The Constitution of the United States prevents the establishment of any religion in the courts or anyplace else, so this is a bullshit deal.

Certainly a waste of time unless you are a GOOPer and you want to get a passel of dumb shits to the polls. That’s why Newty Gringo started promoting the idea several months ago, and it sure worked well in Oklahoma. Dumb shits by the bushel swamped the polls on November 2 to vote against the Muslim hoards and protect us from Sharia. Incidentally they elected vast GOOP majorities in every office.   Any sensible person who opposed the measure was pretty much run out of office, if not out of town. Oklahoma is now a cesspool of ignorance and greed run almost exclusively by right wing nuts. A great experiment that will be worth watching.

In the meantime, a group of those darn Muslims have challenged the new Oklahoma anti-Sharia law claiming it is unconstitutional. It is, on a number of counts. (Makes you wonder which Constitution all the right wing Constitutional authorities are reading.)

First of all there is the freedom of religion thing. How can you single out one religious tradition for exclusion without having officially sanctioned those religions that are still ok in OK? This is establishment of religion.

More importantly (because I am not sure the Supremes care much about religion unless it’s the Catholic religion, but they do care about basic corporate rights), the measure violates the Commerce Clause by interfering with choice of law in interstate commerce. Oklahoma Courts cannot choose Sharia as the basis for understanding an agreement that may have in fact been based on the law, say, of Saudi Arabia. In practice, all major commercial contracts include a choice of law clause. It would not be unusual for a contract for oil drilling equipment to include a Saudi choice of law clause… the Saudis choose Sharia.

Furthermore, it is a prima facia violation of Article I, Section 10, which provides that no state shall pass any law “impairing the obligation of contracts.” Oklahoma’s proposal would limit the ability of any person entering into a contract in Oklahoma to apply basic principles of Islamic law in a business agreement, even though that is common practice in Moslem communities.  Historically, the Supremes protected the right of corporations to abuse their employees by finding a right to contract in the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause.  In either case, adequate grounds for protecting the right to contract from Oklahoma’s voters can be found.

As more and more Moslems migrate to the USA, we may see communities that apply Sharia. Some states have been accommodating. Newty Gingo’s home state, Pennsylvania, allows arbitration by Sharia tribunals in cases where all parties agree. (Said agreement being a contract.)  Some financial institutions have developed loans for Moslems who do not believe in usury. (Unlike Medieval Christians, they do not believe lenders should charge interest or that borrowers should pay interest. The Christians applied the usury rule only to lenders, leaving them free to borrow from Jews …which explains why Jews were protected in some jurisdictions from time to time. Devout Moslems borrow the cost of the item being purchased grossed up to cover the cost of money and pay it back over time. Everybody has a loophole.)

One curious court decision in New Jersey allowed a Moslem husband to abuse his wife because it was permitted under Sharia. That decision (consider the source) was overturned by an appeals court, but not until it has been used widely in right wing circles to underscore fear of invading Moslem fanatics.  (I predict that someday the right to abuse our spouse will become a Christofascist cause.)

Ultimately, I am certain the Supremes will overturn the Oklahoma law. That will not keep it from continuing to have value as a wedge issue used by unscrupulous GOOPers to gin up fear in the ignorant masses for many elections to come.

Wrong!

During his interview with Rachel Maddow, Jon Stewart was trying to make the case that he is somehow more on the sidelines politically then are folks like Maddow and such. As an example, he said that “Roger Ebert doesn’t make movies…”

Wrong! Roger Ebert has indeed made movies.

From the Wiki:

Ebert co-wrote the screenplay for the 1970 Russ Meyer film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and likes to joke about being responsible for the film, which was poorly received on its release but is now regarded as a cult classic. Ebert and Meyer also made Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens, Up!, and others, and were involved in the ill-fated Sex Pistols movie Who Killed Bambi? In April 2010, Ebert posted his screenplay of “Who Killed Bambi?” aka “Anarchy in the UK” on his blog.

This is one of those things, one of those little details you don’t think matters, like when PB pointed out about who actually, historically, created “fake news.” One might not think it matters so much. But to say that “Roger Ebert doesn’t make movies” is actually an inaccurate portrayal of the man’s career. Roger Ebert was, at one point in his career, involved in making films. Sorry.

Come On In! The Bedfellows are Strange!

So today the common taters of NPR are opining how Hairy Reed is asking Liza Merdcowski, who is most likely to continue to be the senator from Alazka, to join the Democrat Caucus. (Notice I have lost so much respect for my party that I have Gooperized it?) Liza Merdcowski is now an independent and all and homeless now more or less.

The argument is she is so mad at the GOOP because the GOOP is not only backing this Miller nut, but also hiring lawyers to challenge her write-in victory, that she will happily join the Democrat. WOW! I guess Liza Merdcowski surely should be willing to come over to the Democrat Caucus after that kind of treatment.

And she has so much in common with the Democrat Caucus, after all. She voted against every initiative of the Obama Administration, then jumped in and gobbled up all the pork chops she could get for her state. She is pro-business, anti –consumer, anti-tax if it affects rich people, anti-environment (pro oil), she has a 70 percent rating from the John Birch Society, which is about as high a rating as she gets from anyone… except, curiously, NARAL, which gives her a 75 percent. Not that she spoke out against the maumauing of the abortion amendment as a means of  watering down the health care bill last year.

Yes. The Democrat Caucus sure wants Liza Merdcowski . She looks just like them. (Notice I am not saying us any more.)

We’re All Out Of Bubblegum

A Unanimous Commentary by the Bonks

There is an iconic moment in the John Carpenter ’80s classic “They Live,” when the solitarily enlightened Nada, played by Roddy Piper, runs into a bank with his stolen police shotgun, pauses, and proclaims:

I am here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I’m all out
of bubblegum.

These days this action-hero catch-phrase roams our imaginations like that damned “Tubthumping” song, because we hope that, one day soon, Barack Hussein Obama will stand before a joint session of Congress and say it.

Yes. It is clear to us Bonks that it is time for the POTUS to get a new set of balls, or as they say at the GOOP Ladies Guild, “Man Up, Barack!”

Yes, we agree that Obama first established his national presence by pushing a conciliatory message that gave his 2008 campaign a viral energy. But this is 2010. We have tried the kumbaya shit for two years and learned it only feeds the political opposition. More poop for the GOOP. It should now be clear even to Barack Obama that the opposing political party wants nothing more than to eat Obama’s face off. You cannot charm a school of piranha with soothing music.

On the whole we must note that Obama has been an most effective President. Your average run of the mill newspaper reporter can’t remember who is responsible for TARP but can tick off the list of Obama accomplishments (perhaps assisted by whatthefuckhasobamadonesofar.com). And it is even true that many of these accomplishments are lasting, respected and historic.

But the presidency is not a string of legislative victories that few people understand. A President is not just an administrator. He is not just a guy rolling a rock up a hill. As leader of the party he must move the rock and elicit adulation for every inch he moves it and shame the hell out of those who are not convinced that moving the rock was the salvation of the nation. Obama has failed at this.

The President has lost the battle for hearts and minds by failing to pay attention to the important details of leadership that let everyone know who is in charge and what the agenda should be. We know that from the get-go that The President has been tone-deaf to the interests of his own base. Some of us have not forgotten that he invited Christofacist Rick Warren to give the invocation at the inauguration. Certainly, we are still pissed off that he conceded the Public Option before the health care debate began on Capitol Hill. We wonder what the hell happened to his “fierce advocacy” for the rights of our gay brothers and sisters and uncles and aunts and nephews and nieces and cousins.

But it is not the abandonment of the base that rankles now. We have been critical, but steadfastly supportive (liberals know how to do this). We have understood, despite the intensely earnest Obama campaign, that “hope” and “change” might get stuck in the Washington blender and come out looking more like “cheapen hog” or “peach hen go,” and we’re fine with that. As long-time observers of Washington, we understand that mutual back-scratching is wildly rampant there. No, in the larger scheme of things, President Barack Obama has been effective even despite the vagaries of American national politics, and we acknowledge this.

But the President’s response to the vicious attacks, lies and intimations of the GOOP often come off as George McFly to the Republigoats’ Biff Tannen. I mean, WTF is this noise, offered at Obama’s post-rout press conference?

I am very eager to sit down with members of both parties and figure out how we can move forward together.

What was Mitch McConnell’s response to this olive branch?

President Obama can lick my sweaty taint. He’s a big homo, and he’s smelly. Screw that guy. I hope he gets AIDS and dies alone and broke and his dick falls off. I’ll give you an award, you big Nobel homo. Here’s a Dixie Cup with some poop in it. And, you know what? It’s my poop. Dick-hole.

Okay. We embellished. But not by much.

A joke from a bygone era: There was this guy named Franklin Delano Shit-head. And he went before a judge and said he wanted to change his name. The judge asked him what he wanted to change his name to, he said “George Shit-head.”

Popular joke at the time. FDR was not adored by all. He knew it. He reveled in it. From his second inaugural address, which announced the Second New Deal:

For twelve years this Nation was afflicted with hear-nothing, see-nothing, do-nothing Government. The Nation looked to Government but the Government looked away. Nine mocking years with the golden calf and three long years of the scourge! Nine crazy years at the ticker and three long years in the breadlines! Nine mad years of mirage and three long years of despair! Powerful influences strive today to restore that kind of government with its doctrine that that Government is best which is most indifferent.

For nearly four years you have had an Administration which instead of twirling its thumbs has rolled up its sleeves. We will keep our sleeves rolled up.

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace—business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me and I welcome their hatred.

I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master.

KNEEL BEFORE ZOD!

That’s how it’s done. FDR stood up and stood strong, and guess what: He Died In Office.

In the current political climate, homilies to bi-partisanship only sound like so much tomato fertilizer, and tomato fertilizer is like kryptonite to guys like us. All it accomplishes is to annoy the people who swarmed to get Obama elected.

President Obama should choose the 2011 State of the Union Address as the occasion to announce that he’s all out of bubblegum.

If he doesn’t, it may very well be time for these bloggers to begin considering other Article II scenarios.

I Am Not Making This Up

Oh, the analogies. The analogies.

Cops: 5 Attacked Man With Flag Pole in Wantagh

By Timothy Bolger on November 4th, 2010

Five men, including a father and two sons, were arrested for allegedly beating a Wantagh gas station worker with American flags on Tuesday night.

Nassau County police said an employee at OK Gas Station on Wantagh Avenue was kicked and punched about the face and head and struck over the head with two flag poles at 7:33 p.m.

The alleged attack occurred after an earlier confrontation with another station employee. An officer was interviewing one of the employees about the prior assault when the suspects returned, ignored the officer’s orders to stay outside of the station’s store, then turned on a second victim who was pumping gas, police said.