Air America Radio: Gnow What?

The news was mixed to good to what the hell for those of us who plug in daily to the Air America Radio network, good because the troubled little network has a backer, mixed because Al Franken is hanging up his microphone—perhaps to chase bigger and better things—and to what the hell because Franken’s departure leads to the rocket promotion of a bearded professor of a man called Thom Hartmann.

For those of you living in a cave, provided that the cave has food, heat, cable, and every other amenity besides a satellite radio receiver or a high-speed Internet connection, the announcement came down at noon today, as Franken himself announced that the Greens of New York would be purchasing the property and that he, Al Franken, would leave the microphone Feb. 14. He did not provide the two of this one-two punch and tell us if he intended to run against Norm Coleman in Minnie Soda.

It is, surely, a relief to know that the Air America Radio has a backer and that it will survive. It would have been a profound shame to have lost this, once the pluckiest presence in the genre, indeed, that which formed the genre, which previously had consisted of Hurricane Randi in the Sunshine State, Alan Colmes at the improbable Fox “News,” Big Ed, and the chronic SFX-abusing Stephanie Miller. Before the Air America, there was some scratching at the gate but no leaping over and no explosive smashing through. Say what you will of the network’s reliance on brand and big name dropping. It got them through the door, and it was Franken—whose “Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot” was so groundbreaking it’s difficult to remember that it was—who led the crush.

So realize how much oxygen Franken’s departure will suck out and how, once again, the Air America seems rather unprepared for the transition.

I should rush to clarify my thought because I do not mean to insult Mr. Hartmann. I am a fan of his. He is a profoundly logical populist who backs himself up with the Federalist Papers better than anyone—in fact, he might just be one of 70 in this country who’s ever read them. No, the Hartmann show is a competent choice. But will it counter the giant sucking sound?

Recently, “terrestrial” radio heard that sound loudly and clearly when Howard Stern left the air. Think what you want about Stern, but there is no question that his departure to the satellite radio not only deprived the “free” stations of content but affected the medium so profoundly that it may be figuring out for years how to redefine itself so as not to see the old Buggles song played out. Often subtraction is more influential than addition, as I think it might be, to a smaller scale, regarding Mr. Franken’s departure.

And the biggest, boldest move the Air America could create to counter it was, let’s move this show over to here. Plop.

I find it sad that this scrappy little startup got the pioneering beat out of it so early, so sad that Mr. Montvel Cohen didn’t have what he said he had and that the Air America suffered a bloody lip before it even knew how to pee straight. Back in the day they said, get me a militant rap king, a funny funny lady, and a cross-dressing lesbian, and see what happens. Go. That’s radio. And that was not guaranteed to be good or great, but it was guaranteed to be by the seat of your pants. And it spawned a star, Dr. Rachel Maddow, who is wonderful.

My wish for Air America Radio has always been to return to that spot outside the box because I’m convinced that, had it stayed there, even just a little, its successes would eclipse the astounding achievement of “finding a buyer to snatch us from the jaws of bankruptcy.” Why not offer Marc Maron, who any serious AAR-phile acknowledges was the network’s potential giant snapped off too soon at the knees, half of Franken’s salary to create a big crazy noon show to fight for the weirdly important because-it’s-when-Rush-is-on time slot? Or how about a show based in Hollywood, on the nexus of show biz and politics and music and culture? Or why not a show based in Washington, D.C., an answer to my perpetual question of AAR, an entire network concerned with public policy and you’ve not got any single solitary presence in the Nation’s Capital?  

Don’t get me wrong. Hartmann will be fine. It just seems to me that when the turtle-shell frames that got you here’s about to split, you want to be rolling out something explosive, new, and cool as hell—not a show you’ve only been excited enough about to this point to call “syndicated,” leaving it to stream and podcast.

No offense, Mr. Hartmann.

And You Thought Dick Sr. Was Scary

Liz Cheney’s opinion piece ran in yesterday’s Washington Post, but it is worth reexamining today. I am not certain that one central idea therin has sufficiently terrified the lot of us.

Here is what the daughter of the current vice president wrote: “America faces an existential threat. This is not, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi has claimed, a ‘situation to be solved.’ It would be nice if we could wake up tomorrow and say, as Sen. Barack Obama suggested at a Jan. 11 hearing, ‘Enough is enough.’ Wishing doesn’t make it so. We will have to fight these terrorists to the death somewhere, sometime. We can’t negotiate with them or ‘solve’ their jihad. If we quit in Iraq now, we must get ready for a harder, longer, more deadly struggle later.”

Liz Cheney is a very good writer.

Never before have I seen the Neo-Warhawk’s position distilled so eloquently, so effectively stripped down to its habeas corpus. We’re
going to have to kill them all eventually, she warns, so we might as
well kill them all right now.

I am well aware of Godwin’s Law. But I think my risk of admitting
default defeat is nil by suggesting that, once upon a time, 5,032 miles from here, a guy with a funny mustache and a penchant for wolves, eagles and Richard Wagner had a similar idea.

War without diplomacy, without any hope for a political solution, without superior intelligence, without support, faith, and required sacrifice from the bulk of your people, war that insists that victory can only be achieved through attrition, that brand of war is not war. It is only killing. And this form of killing, the sort of killing where one society decides that another society is the problem and takes the initiative to wipe that society from the face of the Earth, it has a name: Ethnic cleansing.

I am not arguing that the United States is in the business of ethnic cleansing per se, though I do believe we are probably supporting it directly and indirectly within some of Iraq’s nooks and crannies. However, I am arguing that Liz Cheney’s opinion piece and the thinking that served as its engine perhaps reveal that the people who are still banging away on the war drums don’t really have a problem with it or wouldn’t even recognize it if it bit them in the nuts.

During the 2004 presidential campaign, John Kerry said this: “I believe I can fight a more effective, more thoughtful, more strategic, more proactive, more sensitive war on terror that reaches out to other nations and brings them to our side and lives up to American values in history. And the Republigoats pointed at him and called him a faggot. It’s three years later, and our outcomes regarding the “war” on “terror” are mixed to tragic.

Methinks that Liz Cheney and her ilk need to start realizing that he was right.


The 60 Minutes interview of the current president certainly was useless, wasn’t it? Did we learn anything new? The current president believes in what he’s doing despite the facts, and also, that there is something horribly wrong with is brain.

You’ve known a guy like this, haven’t you? A guy whose mannerisims seem somehow childlike, demented, and uncertain? About whom you can’t help but feel every time you speak to him that there’s something just a little “off,” and though you can’t put your finger on it, you know it’s there and it makes you a little uncomfortable because you know you shouldn’t make fun, but you just can’t help but to do so?

Anyway. Here I though was an interesting development to follow from the interview into today’s New York Times. First, the current president:

Scott Pelley: You are gambling a lot, Mr. President, on the [Iraqi] Prime Minister [Nouri] al-Maliki. Why do you think that’s a gamble worth making?

The Current President: Scott, I’m actually counting on the unity government of which Maliki is the head. Prime Minister Maliki and others who I talk to in the government understand that our patience is not unlimited.

PELLEY: Let’s be blunt. You’re a plain speaker. Let’s be blunt. What have you told Maliki he has to do?

BUSH: I told him it’s time to get going. He’s got to provide the troops he said he would provide inside Baghdad and we’ll help him, and that’s why I’ve called for more troops. I said: when our guys get moving along with yours, you can’t get on the phone for political reasons and stop the troops from going after killers. What they’d do is, we’re going after this killer, and they say, well he’s, for political reasons, don’t. Killer is a killer. And we expect them to go after both Shia and Sunni murderers in order to provide the security for Baghdad. [ SNIP ]

Now, from today’s Times:

“Just days after President Bush unveiled a new war plan calling for more than 20,000 additional American troops in Iraq, the heart of the effort — a major push to secure the capital — faces some of its fiercest resistance from the very people it depends on for success: Iraqi government officials.

[ SNIP ]

First among the American concerns is a Shiite-led government that has been so dogmatic in its attitude that the Americans worry that they will be frustrated in their aim of cracking down equally on Shiite and Sunni extremists, a strategy President Bush has declared central to the plan.

“We are implementing a strategy to embolden a government that is actually part of the problem,” said an American military official in Baghdad involved in talks over the plan. “We are being played like a pawn.”

I’m working on a new theorem for Bush. It is being tentatively called the “George W. Bush Theorem on the Horrifying Dichotomy of Blissful Ignorance and Sheer Omnipotence.” It essentially states that, quite often, the current president is either completely ignorant about something, or he is literally omnipotent on the matter and is choosing to act like an ignorant ape because he and his friends stand to gain personally. The gist of the theorem is that, in either case, you should probably be frightened.

A Peace Proposal

By Shel Silverstein

Said General Clay to General Gore
“Really must we fight this sill war
To kill and die is such a bore”
“I quite agree,” said General Gore

Said General Gore to General Clay,
“We could go to the beach today
And have some ice cream on the way”.
“A grand idea”, said General Clay

Said General Clay to General Gore,
“We’ll build sand castles on the shore”.
Said General Gore, “We’ll splash and play”.
“Let’s leave right now”, said General Clay

Said General Gore to General Clay,
“But what if the sea is closed today
And what if the sand’s been blown away?”
“A dreadful thought”, said General Clay.

Said General Gore to General Clay,
I’ve always feared the ocean’s spray.
And we may drown.” “It’s true we may.
It chills my blood”, said General Clay.

Said General Clay to General Gore,
“My bathing suit is slightly tore.
We better go on with our war.”
“I quite agree”, said General Gore

Then General Clay charged General Gore
As bullets flew and cannons roared.
And now, alas, there is no more
Of General Clay or General Gore.

* reprinted knowingly without permission. But I don’t think Uncle Shelby would have minded.

The War Is Stupid

The War Is Stupid

A few years ago, I felt that I needed a simple phrase that would distill everything I needed to know about the invasion and occupation of Iraq by the United States into one simple sentence. The phrase came to me as if it dropped out of the sky and bonked me in the noggin.

The war is stupid.

It is. Every piece of it, any piece of it, the very idea of it, its aims, its implementation, its offered justifications, its every single solitary failure, stupid is, stupid does, stupid.

In discussing Iraq, I often find myself quoting a little movie that made a bit of a stir in 1983, “War Games,” a film that was likely the beginning of my unexplainable crush on Ally Sheedy, a film where the mega-computer Joshua about to end the world concludes prophetically that the only winning move is not to play. This is indeed the case regarding Iraq. Every time I hear a Republigoat whine that the Democrats don’t have any good answers, my reply is that it’s because there are no good answers, because the only good answer was used up in March 2003, the one where we don’t invade Iraq.

It was stupid to invade in the first place. There were only two tasks required of our government following September Eleventh, justice and peace, and our invasion of Iraq has accomplished neither and didn’t promise to during the buildup. Whatever evidence they had linking Saddam and the Al-Kahda was meager, tenuous, and not of a standard that justified this radical, immoral action. All other justifications offered up by this administration were feeble and irrelevant.

It was stupid not to do it correctly in the second place, not to provide enough soldiers, not to swiftly seize and maintain order, to fire all the Baathists creating a new, huge class of unemployed people, to hire cronies and political hacks for vital rebuilding tasks such as health care and financial markets, to invade while apparently ignorant of the local sects and the thousands of years of history behind them, and I do not have the time nor the capacity to finish this list.

It was stupid, perhaps most stupid of all the stupid, for the current president and his cronies to lie to you and to Congress to get us there. I really don’t have the patience to list all the lies, all the apparent justifications for the Stupid. See last evening’s episode of Olbermann for an excellent roundup.

The war is stupid, indeed. And last night, the current president shared with America that he had drawn a conclusion that only he could draw: We need more stupid. Extend the stupid. Throw good stupid after bad. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

This is why I was so thrilled this morning to see Congress beating up on Condoleeza. Listen to Republigoat Sen. Chuck Hagel call the Extension of The Stupid “the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam, if it’s carried out.” I have not heard music so sweet since the first time I listened to Led Zeppelin IV. Tear her a new one, guys. Make her cry. These dicks have proceeded sans resistance against The Stupid for entirely too long.

(The war is stupid. The end.)

…hanging from a telephone wire…

I think that if you’re a protestor type, and you intend to disrupt an ongoing public hearing, the least you can do is approach it with a sense of humor. Like, instead of standing up in the middle of Condie Rice’s testimony and barking LIAR LIAR LIAR LIAR or whatever that fella did this morning, you stand up and sing the song, man! LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE, HANGING FROM A TELEPHONE WIRE.

Abbie Hoffman, man, he knew how to do that shit. Raise the Pentagon, dump cash on the stock exchange. Don’t just look like a crazy idiot. Have a sense of theater about your protest. I’m just sayin’.

Geraldo Rivera Reveals He’s A Cannibal

Via Crooks and Liars:

Apparently Geraldo was visiting with 104.1 FM’s Monsters just before Christmas, when they asked him about the time he made international headline for disclosing too much information about troops in Iraq. Geraldo claimed the incident was blown out of proportion, largely by NBC — and specifically Olbermann. Geraldo then began mumbling semi-audible names, seemingly meant to describe Olbermann: “midget … punk … slimeball.” But then, with the Monsters helpful prodding, Geraldo went a step further, leaving no doubt about what he was saying. He called Olbermann a coward — specifically a He then said he was ready to fight him, saying: “I would make a pizza out of him.”


I suspect that Geraldo has always sort of sniffed at the Right-Wingos® Brand suppositories. He probably rolled them around in his hand a little, maybe even sniffed them, maybe even placed them gently between his cheeks once in awhile. Boy, oh boy, it seems that our boy has certainly given himself the full treatment now, hasn’t it? Screw it, he said, everyone’s doing it, and he just jammed those jagged little pills right up his ass, didn’t he?

This is what happens when you do take the medicine: You lose your damned mind. You fantasize about turning a popular cable news reader into your dinner. In this idiocy, Keith Olbermann is Scott Tenorman and Geraldo is trying to be Eric Cartman. That means that Keith Olbermann has suckered Rivera into buying pubes, and that Rivera’s previous plan for vengance was to lure Olbermann into a field and to train a pony to bite off his weiner.

You never heard Eric Sevareid threaten to stuff his competition into a Crock-Pot. Weirdo. 

Rolling Up Their Sleeves

I have just figured out why Republigoats are so eager to establish a “guest worker” program in the United States of America. It is because they believe that money grows on trees, and they are concerned that they will need someone to harvest it for them.

I tuned in to C-Span Radio on the internets yesterday. I got in just in time to listen to them debating “PAYGO.” PAYGO, according to the C-Span Congressional Glossary, “compels new spending or tax changes to not add to the federal deficit. New proposals must either be ‘budget neutral’ or offset with savings derived from existing funds.”

The first time I heard the concept of “pay as you go” referred to as the odd D.C. contraction “PAYGO,” it fell out of the current president’s hula-jawed mouth. It made me laugh very hard. Only later did I learn that PAYGO is actually Washingtonese.

The interesting thing about this afternoon’s debate on this portion of House rules was how shocking and foreign the concept of “paying for things with money you actually have” is to Republigoats. Republigoat after Republigoat stood up and warned that, if this crazy lunatic plan of the Democrats was approved—get ready for this—it might lead to tax increases.

Here’s Republigoat Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana: “…I will oppose this element of the rules package having to do with the  ‘pay-as-you-go’ provisions, which,  while they sound in a common sense way attractive, this particular version, I believe, is lacking for three reasons. I believe it is a weak and watered-down version of PAYGO proposals of the past, including Democratic Party proposals of the past. Number two, it doesn’t reduce current spending levels or require a reduction of current spending levels. And number three, it is, as so many of my colleagues have said, a means of justifying tax increases on working families, small businesses, and family farms. In a very real sense, the American people ought to know that this proposal translates to, ‘You pay as Congress goes on spending.'”

Smile when you say that, dude. It’s your party, your gaggle, your current president, “all ya’ll,” who held the purse strings while the United States spent like a college kid with a gold card. All right, my metaphor isn’t nearly as good as the one offered during that debate by a DemocratIC Congressman—wish I remembered which one, sorry—who said the Republigoats were acting like horses in a stable complaining that the farmer wasn’t holding the shovel correctly.

Congress didn’t even have to be in session this week. Often, Congress will take the week off after the New Year. But Speaker Nancy Pelosi has opted to hit the ground running. The PAYGO rule passed, as did a rule against anonymous earmarks, as did an ethics package that bans gifts and trips from lobbyists, restricts privately funded junkets, and prohibits members from threatening retaliation against firms that hire people who do not share their political affiliation. (Hey, isn’t that last one already illegal?) Not to mention that Pelosi and Majority Leader Harry Reid (that is so cool to type that!) have already expressed a nearly surprisingly stalwart opposition to the Iraq “surge.”

Indeed, Pelosi intends Congress to work a full five-day week, a concept that brought complaint from Republigoat Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia, who is reportedly used to flying home on Thursdays and returning to Washington on Tuesdays. “Keeping us here eats away at families,” said Kingston. “Marriages suffer. The Democrats could care less about families—that’s what this says.” Wah. I say, more power these Democrats, showing off what a legislature can do when it rolls up its sleeves.