Sunday, August 10, 2008

TV: The stench of 'public affairs' programming

Each of the three broadcast networks debuted one series worth watching in the last 12 months. NBC, as we noted before the fall season began, had Chuck. Since they're foolishly not airing it this summer, we plan to offer our full review of Chuck either before season two starts airing or right after. CBS spent months offering garbage but began airing Flashpoint this summer. ABC? That was going to be the focus of this week's review but how can we cover greatness in entertainment when what passes for public affairs programs remains so insipid, vapid and dumbed down?

So this week, we're putting ABC's best show again on hold and instead wading back into the sewer someone's dubbed "public affairs."


You can step into the sewer without bumping into Pravda on the Hudson's Amy Goodman's so let's start with Friday's broadcast of Democracy Sometimes! which set a record for low I.Q.

Friday, Goody wanted to talk Olympics (currently airing on NBC) and it was obvious that information and facts weren't really prerequisites. Thick-necked and emotional Dave Zirin was Goody's guest, it was a wealth of stupidity.

Dave Zirin had a semi-infamous appearance with Goody long ago where he praised Barack Obama. Our own Mike noted that he disagreed with it and was disappointed by it. Which led, months later, to Dave screaming like a banshee in an e-mail to Mike. Mike was wrong! Mike didn't know what he was talking about! Dave never praised Barack! Blah, blah, blah.

Mike was, of course, right. And we should probably step back to note that Mike and Wally promoted the hell out of Zirin's book What's My Name, Fool? (This site praised the book as well.) There was never a thank-you to Mike (or Wally) for that. But when Dave was held accountable it was time for the knuckle-dragger to go ballistic on Mike. It was an embarrassing (but telling) moment for Zirin because he had in fact praised Barack. Or is a radical sports columnist comparing a political candidate to Roger Clemente supposed to be an insult?

We mention that early on because (a) we're not in the mood for any s**t from Dave and if he tries to beat his chest like Tarzan in e-mails, we'll cut him off at the knees and (b) it's increasingly obvious that Zirin has no control over what he says and even less recall.

Here's Dave, babbling on and trying to sound informed but only revealing gross ignorance on Friday:

So, it's all being done to try to sell products to consumers, who Madison Avenue, they describe them--it's a very creepy phrase, if you think about it--they describe them as "unbranded." I mean, it has almost a slavery connotation. But they’re unbranded, meaning they don't yet have the brand loyalties to say, "Well, I'm an Adidas person, not a Nike person. I'm a Coke person, not a Pepsi person." So it’s an opportunity to reach those consumers that, frankly, is unprecedented. I mean, it's like the equivalent of an oil company finding oil somewhere in the world that's yet to be tapped, and there is a passion by Western corporations to get in there and tap those markets.

It should be noted that, like the typical radical White male New Yorker on the fringes, Zirin immediately has to turn everything into race and, for that set, 'race' means what they generally call the "Negro experience" (see "You can learn a lot from a movie" this edition). It's laughable but if the fringes couldn't remain stuck in the 1950s, they wouldn't have anything to babble on about today.

That's because they're so grossly ignorant. And that's revealed in Dave's remarks above where he babbles on endlessly, attempting to get a few laughs and the only laughs coming are from the ones grasping how uninformed Dave Zirin is, how uneducated and how under-educated.

I told 'em what drove me crazy was my last creative consultant

job, with the Ritz Cracker mogul, Mr. Nabisco. It was

my job to come up with snack inspirations to increase sales.

I got this idea to give Cracker Consciousness to the entire


I said, "Mr. Nabisco, sir! You could be the first to sell the

concept of munching to the Third World. We got an untapped

market here! These countries got millions and millions of

people don't even know where their next meal is coming from.

So the idea of eatin' between meals is something' just never

occurred to 'em!"

That's the allusion Dave's weak and starving mind was attempting to make. Jane Wagner wrote the above words and Lily Tomlin brought them to life in the smash and Tony award winning The Search For Signs Of Intelligent Life In The Universe. (Lily won the Tony for Best Acress.)

Maybe "Intelligent" scared Zirin away from the still frequently mounted production?

Amy Goodman and Sharif Abdel Kouddous 'hosted' that segment and no point in waiting for one of them to add, as Dave finished babbling, "That sounds like a lot like the Lily Tomlin play!" For the New York Radical Red, "feminism" will always be a dirty word -- which goes a long way towards explaining how Goody could find herself publishing in the misogynist skin magazine H**tler this decade. By choice! She disgraced herself and other women by her own choice! How very Madonna of her.

We'll come back to the above points in a moment. But let's note the obvious, if you're talking about the advertising on the Olympics, it's pretty much incumbent upon you to talk about . . . the advertising. But somehow they managed to avoid it, over and over. Even with Dave Zirin babbling on, at the end, about "pressure that we should be bringing to bear upon NBC, because NBC is, of course, owned by General Electric. General Electric, independently of NBC, is one of the top ten sponsors of the Games in China . . ."

Blah, blah, blah about pressuring NBC. A bunch of carping is not going to hurt NBC (or General Electric -- they actually enjoyed our slam of their 'environmental' special last summer). You want to bring pressure, you hit the pocketbooks. That means going to the advertisers. Two advertisers should have been noted and you know one was the one they find so hard to criticize. Barack Obama bought $5 million in advertising spots, John McCain followed with a $6 million buy. "Public affairs" programming -- not just Pravda on the Hudson -- has no power to bring pressure on McCain because they've resorted to mindless, nonsensical attacks (see Goody earlier turning a reporter asking McCain if he thought Barack was a Socialist into "McCain's suggesting Barack's a Socialist!") but their Christ-child must never be questioned. As they delight in cooing over and stroking Barack day after day, maybe they could have taken a moment or two to insist that pressure be brought on him for advertising during the Olympics? Then again, maybe they're still reeling from how he 'responded' to pressure on him last month to keep his promise on FISA? (He blew it off.)

The reality is that, and many know this already, an ad on the Olympics is not an ad smart companies seek out. It's not the Super Bowl in that it doesn't begin and end in one evening/night. It goes on and on and on and on, for days and days, and commercial breaks, when they come, do not provide a captive audience as viewers, instead, rush off the bathroom, to the kitchen, etc. The televised Olympics is an endurance marathon and viewers tend to use commercial spots as rest breaks. (As one NBC exec pointed out, both campaigns would have been smarter advertising in the second hour of primetime on CBS Monday nights which continues to pull in a healthy and attractive demographic even in summer repeats.)

In a supposed segment on the politics of the Olympics that regularly spoke (badly) of the sponsors, somehow the two presidential candidates were never named. $11 million is apparently chump change.

As is becoming increasingly obvious, the real chumps are the consumers of this crap who think their time is well spent. Heaven forbid, on a supposedly higher level of discourse -- commercial free and non-sound byte discourse, that anyone could actually be informed.

The following segment of Friday's Pravda on the Hudson seemed to testify further to how low the 'exchange of ideas' could sink: Thomas Frank.

Friday Hillary Is 44 noted:

Donna Brazile: A new Democratic coalition is younger, it is more urban, as well as suburban, and we don't have to just rely on white blue-collar voters and Hispanics.

David Axelrod: The white working class has gone to the Republican nominee for many elections, going back even to the Clinton years. This is not new that Democratic candidates don't rely solely on those votes.

The rantings above by Brazile and Axelrod are inspired by theories espoused by Jude Judis and Ruy Teixeira about the emerging Democratic majority. The basic premise is that African-Americans and young voters and liberals are the new Democratic majority. The old FDR coalition is, for these strategists, too old and too out of fashion.

The Creative Class, as the nutroots flatteringly call themselves, love the snakeoil of an emerging Democratic majority that does not have to bother with the majority of the country -- white and particularly white working class voters. The dream of the nutroots, er excuse us, the Creative Class is that Democrats can't win white working class voters and other groups so just chuck them out of the way and come up with some new formula to win. In other words, stop competing and get a gimmick. Gypsy Rose Lee would be proud.

The nutroots are no different than their predecessors (immediate ones being the TV gasbags of the chat & chews) and every decade brings its hula hoops sold as the miracle cure that will deliver votes . . . by not getting out the votes. Of the current "snakeoil" artistes, few stand out as prominently as Thomas Frank who is neither a thinker nor an original.

What is he? He's a lot like David Brooks with the pseudo social science but he offers a deep helping of paranoia to the mix in his chatty, breezy 'books' that make Helen Gurley Brown look like Plato by comparison. If you're not getting how anti-thought and anti-discovery Frank is, you missed this nonsense on Friday (lucky you): "I was able to find an article published in 1928, and it was written by -- or maybe it was an interview with the president of the US Chamber of Commerce. And these guys are big players in Washington now, just as they were in 1928 in the Coolidge administration, big, you know, conservative powerhouse down there."

Frank comes onto a program to 'enlighten' and he decides to reference an article but doesn't even know whether it was "written by -- or maybe it was an interview with"? That goes to the shoddy methodology and the lack of intellectual integrity to be found in his 'work.' He brought up the article, he thinks it's very important, but he doesn't even know if it was a column or an interview?

Determining whether an article is an interview or a column doesn't require an advanced degree but it was apparently beyond the limited intellectual prowess of Frank and why are we not surprised? He would gas bag on about "public servant" and "bureaucracy" and "civil service" -- all terms are meaningless when Frank starts gas bagging because he lacks the precision to even stick to one term -- and then demonstrate his ignorance even further as, speaking about the conservative movement's long war on the civil service, he declared, "The most interesting thing, though, is what the Bush administration has done, sort of their signature initiative, what they are going to be remembered for--you know, in addition to, like, the Iraq war, you know, that sort of thing--but what they’re going to be remembered for, in terms of their, you know, innovations in governance, is turning everything over to the private sector, right? Outsource the job. Get--you know, take these jobs away from career civil servants and hand them over to the big federal contractors who have these offices around the Washington Beltway."

Yes, Frank really is that stupid.

While there's no question that Bully Boy has continued the establishment's love of outsourcing, it is also beyond question that Bully Boy increased the civil service. He didn't strengthen that segment, but his policies increased their number. That's a fact, that's reality and it escapes Frank because he lives in his own little bubble where his paranoid fantasies are encouraged and his every utterance treated as gospel. A little mingling in the real world would have brought home the reality that many conservatives see the increase in civil servants as a big betrayal of the conservative movement and rank it up there with Bully Boy's father's raising taxes after the pledge not to do so. Goody and Sharif could have raised that point but they seemed eager to wallow in stupidity.

Frank would go on to gas bag about other topics (making multiple factual mistakes) and end one long winded section declaring of the right-wing, " They would get donations from various big companies and beat up on the left on campus. Very interesting. There’s a lot of money to be made in being a conservative, as it turns out." While it's true that the public left continues to avoid calling out George Soros, or even owning up to how many of them are on the Soros Blood Money dole, that's not what we want to zoom in on. We want to zoom in on this illuminating moment that follows Frank's declaration:

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: And then he went on to found the United Students of America Foundation --
THOMAS FRANK: Yeah, that's--yeah.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: --that took on Nader's Public [Interest Research] Groups. Who were some of the companies funding the USA Foundation?
THOMAS FRANK: Oh, God, I don't know. I'm sorry, I don't.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Well, I mean, how were they taking on Nader's groups?
THOMAS FRANK: Well, it was groups--according to this report, it was people like--I mean, the reason why they would be interested in fighting, you know, getting involved in a campus battle, [. . .]

Frank is supposed to be discussing an article he wrote for Harper's magazine and Sharif is asking about research that Frank allegedly did for the article. Frank's response, "Oh, God, I don't know. I'm sorry, I don't." He's completely unprepared for any factual discussion because his work is not rooted in facts, it never has been.

What's The Matter With Kansas? was the 'book' that brought him minor fame and, if the title reminds you of something Natalie Merchant might have written for 10,000 Maniacs, don't be deceived, the 'book' is far less interesting. It's the work of someone not overly interested in facts, someone who cherry-picks facts to back up his preconceived hypothesis (no, that is not how the scientific method works but we told you already Frank is no thinker) so that he can let his paranoia run wild.

The late Ellen Willis demolished the anti-thought that was required for that opus, noting that these quick-fixes not only do not work, they conceal the real problem [PDF format warning, click here]. Frank, like his DLC predecessors, argues Dems could win if they abandoned the 'culture wars' because they just 'drag' the party down. But at the same time, Frank argues that the 'culture wars' have allowed Republicans to win repeatedly because they . . . don't abandon them. That the inconsistency in his own work, the fatal flaw, never stood out to Frank goes a long way to explaining why his work is nothing but a thought-free rant.

As Willis rightly pointed out, Reagan didn't just rail against advances won, he co-opted those advances with his rhetoric, using the desire for freedoms that drove the 'cultural wars' (also known as "progress") to market himself and his destructive plans. Reagan neither stepped away from the 'cultural wars' or disowned what drove them. But Frank argues that Democrats need to do just that. It's another hula hoop that excites the ill informed and encourages one losing campaign after another.

Non-thinker Katrina vanden Heuvel has used her nearly four years of steering The Nation magazine to drive it into a ditch. An opinion journal -- allegedly existing to argue ideas in the public square -- has become nothing but a bunch of lies and distortions that wallow in quick fixes and miracle cures which never come. Hula hoops are, by their very nature, quick fixes. They are never about building anything lasting. To build something that stands, you have to be honest. You don't fret over 'framing' (another hula hoop) that allows you to trick and deceive, you just focus on informing. The likes of vanden Heuvel have done serious damage to the left in this country by refusing to trust the power of ideas and instead attempting to ride quick fixes through one election cycle after another.

The left is in a serious crisis and no one's supposed to notice as they repeatedly hitch their wagons to this and that Democratic candidate and think they can have 'impact' after an election.

It's never worked out that way in American history and it will never will. Progress comes only when the left is willing to fight in the public sphere, to give voice to ideas and needs that a majority of people can relate to. For some, it's being introduced to something totally new; for others , it's confirming a desire they held but thought they were alone in holding; and it allows those already supporting some concept or program to band together with others. That's how a movement is built. It is not built through trickery and deceit. Nor can you 'quick-step' and 'short-cut' your way into a movement. Building, by it's very nature, construction, requires immense work.

Frank can't even discuss his own work (the Harper's article) without confessing he doesn't know what he wrote about or confessing that he doesn't know if something was a column or an interview. He will never raise the level of discourse or inform anyone. But 'books' by Frank aren't supposed to. They're supposed to sell off the shelves on the feel-good nature of "We're so much better than the right-wingers." Consider it this century's opium for the masses and just as destructive as anything Marx and Engles called out.

Which is how you get centrist Gwen Ifill on Friday's Washington Week bringing up John McCain's calling out Barack's use of the race card and Gwen insisting Barack didn't even do that. What world does Gwen live in?

First off, bi-racial Barack plays the (Black) race card all the time and, in fact, played it to great effect for the South Carolina primary. He can't stop going back to even though his campaign has known for months that it's created a huge backlash as it's always done because it can be toxic when it's played. Barack, as Glen Ford noted again last week, offers nothing to advance racial discussions in this country and certainly advocates no changes to combat racism (even when race is reduced solely to the most simplistic terms of Black and White).

What did Barack say? It's not a one-time thing. He's made remarks about McCain repeatedly and it was most noticeable from June 13th through June 20th. He tried it out, added to it, weaved in a little more each time and, finally, on June 20th, was quoted by Reuters saying this at a Florida event:

We know what kind of campaign they're going to run. They're going to try to make you afraid. They're going to try to make you afraid of me. He's young and inexperienced and he's got a funny name. And did I mention he's black?

The psychic Barack? "We know"? Gwen 'knew' as well and came off sounding like one of the increasingly deranged crackpots on CounterSpin -- hilarious last Friday -- who "know" everything except the facts. Barack was again playing the race card (he just can't resist) but he's a changeling. A hypothesis we can go into in the future if needed. What's needed right now is facts.

Fact. John and Cindy McCain adopted a daughter from Bangladesh. That's a fact that was well known by Democrats and the left earlier this decade. It was discussed because the Bully Boy smeared McCain in the 2000 South Carolina primary by saying the daughter was his Black child born out of wedlock from an affair he supposedly had. (The child was one of two Cindy brought back to the US for medical treatment, at the request of Mother Teresa.) South Carolina where the race card never stops being played.

Gwen (and the nut-jobs at CounterSpin) are able to peer in John McCain's soul and know he was calling out Barack for some nefarious reason. The reality is just as likely that, having had the race card played on him and his family in 2000, McCain was in no mood to put up with what everyone from Joe Biden to Hillary (and Bill) Clinton took throughout the Democratic primaries. Reality is that -- and even Arianna Huffington knows this though she'd never bother to mention it today -- McCain was grossly offended by what was done in South Carolina at the start of this decade.

But the pyschics had to whore and what better way than to sell out the truth before they sold their own asses. It's also why you get the non-stop talking point that John McCain voted against MLK day. In 1983, in the US Congress. They leave out this: "We can be slow as well to give greatness its due, a mistake I made myself long ago when I voted against a federal holiday in memory of Dr. King. I was wrong and eventually realized that, in time to give full support for a state holiday in Arizona." That's McCain speaking and it's also part of the public record.

"It is embarrassing to see a grown woman cheapen herself by lying to her neighbors," says Judith (Lily Tomlin) in The Incredible Shrinking Woman and it's embarrassing to see some of the left cheapen themselves by lying. But that's really all they resort to these days, isn't it? They've got a candidate to sell (Barack) and he has no record so lies remain the only tool left in the arsenal. We can imagine the rejoinder is something similar to what Woody Allen boasts of in Manhattan, "Yeah, I'm a bigot, but for the left."

Oh, lucky us!

Comedy. Last Sunday, we noted the damage 'reality' TV has caused on our culture. Last week's broadcasts telegraphed another damage -- a damage to public affairs program. We don't go ga-ga over Jon Stewart and we don't try to slam him (except when he recycles stale jokes). Stewart is a very talented stand-up comedian who proved that he was also effective in TV from his early days on MTV. But he is a comic, as he himself admits, not a journalist. His Comedy Central program, The Daily Show, is very popular and it's left an impression on our public affairs programming. ABC's This Week now features the "Sunday funnies." Which often aren't, but that's a milder form of the slow creep of influence The Daily Show has had.

Last week revealed many more damaging effects. Take Washington Week where someone we know revisited his Clinton hatred publicly. That's fine, he's a guest. What's not fine is everyone finding it amusing including Gwen. That really surprised us but Bill Moyers Journal just shocked us.

The Journal felt the need to resort to snark to such a degree that we had to ask ourselves, "Is this the same Bill Moyers who regularly offers the soft-pat treatment to Republicans who come on his show?" Newt Gingrich was treated as a punchline. Word to Moyers, attempts at catch phrases are rarely funny and any good comic knows that to get the laugh you generally have to have earned it.

But there was Moyers and his two guests yucking it up at just the mention of Newt Gingrich. This is the higher level of discourse PBS intends to bring us?

The Journal offered a strong report on predatory lending and, good thing, because without reporter Sylvia Chase and the young Latino woman featured early in the story, women wouldn't have been absent for the hour. The Journal is the program that repeatedly celebrated a "Black" man's historic campaign all year but never had a kind word (or even an acknowledgment of) the historic run by a woman. Both of those points are worth remembering as you grasp that four episodes were aired in July and two already in August. During that time, though numerous men were judged to be worthy of a 'sit down' with Bill, only one woman (Jane Mayer) has been. The 'sit down' is for experts and the message repeatedly sent by the program is that women do not qualify as 'experts.' It's worth noting what a woman has to do in order to qualify as an 'expert' in Bill's eyes. Take Jane Mayer who has owned the torture beat and whose reporting -- actual reporting on it -- has surpassed any other American reporter. Mayer truly is an expert and so she is invited on as such. But men?

For the bulk of Bill's 'experts,' the only qualification appears to be that they pee standing up. That was driven home yet again on Friday when he wanted to follow up Chase's report on predator lending by discussing "the credit crisis . . . out of control" with two men. Dean Baker's a journalist but one with an economics framework so his qualifications were not in question. Bob Herbert?

The New York Times columnist is not an expert on the economy. He is not trained in economics and his laughable columns of late do not focus on the economy. The Times' columnist who is an economist is Paul Krugman. To shore up Herbert's onion-paper-thin 'credentials,' Moyers plugged Promises Betryaed, an idiotic 'book' of musings that, like many mass-assembly 'books,' 'borrows' from the alternative media. That 'book' is not about the credit crisis nor is it 'new' (it was published in May of 2005).

If you still don't grasp Herbert's lack of bona fides, note this comment by him, "The class war is over, and we lost. There was a class war. We've been defeated." You may be nodding with that. If so, stop. Would you nod along if you knew he laughed before and while declaring it?

Only a useless gasbag could find that something to be 'amused' by. But useless gasbag is all Herbert's become. He made his name at The New York Daily News (and interested The Times) by regularly demonizing young African-American males so you can see a great deal of him in Barack. At his new job, he did some fine work early on but somewhere around the time Juan Williams decided to demonize African-American males in 'book' form and Herbert decided to endorse that, he lost his way. Or, as they put it at his paper, He's Come Undone.

That's been obvious for months; however, two weeks ago, he turned in a typed, incoherent scream as a column and it has his current position in doubt (we're told he offers some sort of excuse in his latest column but are in no mood to read it). No surprise, Bob Somerby (who worships the penis) was praising Herbie last Monday while ripping apart Gail Collins. "No surprise" because Somerby rarely calls out men and the fact of the matter is that those in power at the paper (that would be the family) are more concerned with Herbert's recent psychoctic ramblings than they are with Collins' immature scribbles.

His laughter at the lost class war did nothing to reassure the family (and our phones didn't stop ringing the moment he treated that very real loss in such a 'humorous' manner). We encouraged all offended to find laughter in the increasing bags under Herbie's eyes. The man has serious problems. But to Bill Moyers, this gasbag is an 'expert' (read "male"). It doesn't matter that the discussion is over his head (he did a very weird swipe of his face when Dean Baker was speaking near the end, indicating he can no longer even handle the heat of the lighting required for TV -- reminding us of a certain diva's embarrassing sweat-soaked, vocal cracked performance at the AMA's back when she was still insisting she didn't use drugs). It doesn't matter that he contributed nothing to the conversation (unless you count nodding to someone else's point), he got invited for the penis factor.

There is a credit crisis. (There is also a housing crisis and someone should inform Gwen in this week's online chat that she and her guests were wrong when they repeatedly stated Friday the crisis was something taking place in the last year. Not only do its roots go back much further, Gwen and the gasbags were discussing it on August 25, 2006 -- two years ago -- as we noted when we first tackled that program.) And it effects everyone. The message sent by Moyers on Friday is that women may suffer along with men but only men can discuss its underpinnings.

All of the above goes to the death of intellect in so-called public affairs programming. It's a dangerous dumbing down and all the more reason that public broadcasting better stop pointing the finger at others and start looking in the mirror.

While Bill examines his reflection, he might want to question himself as to why he and his guests could rave over Barack (the biggest joke was Bob Herbert being described as a reluctant supporter of Barack's -- read his body of work, not just one column) yet no one could bring up the fact -- while discussing a credit crisis -- that Barack sided with the banking industry and against the people in voting to strongly restrict the abilities of citizens to file for bankruptcy? That's sort of central to the story, when you think about it. Someone who is financially ruined by the credit crisis might do what? Declare bankruptcy. Thanks to Barack and Big Money, that's a step that most Americans will now find more difficult to qualify for.

November 2008, some Americans will vote. (Some won't.) Four years have been wasted in dumbing down the discussion of very real issues in order to pimp candidates. If those performing in the public square had been doing their actual job, there might not be a rush by so many to (falsely) claim that you can hold a candidate accountable -- to demands you never make -- after an election. At the end of the broadcast (right before the credits), PBS elected to air a bit of back-patting where various of the network's 'voices' spoke of how important PBS was to an informed electorate. If Ray Suarez truly believes what he said, he needs to get The NewsHour covering all the candidates and not just Barack and McCain. Moyers popped up with nonsense about this election being monumental.

Can we all drop the fear tactics? This election is no more monumental than any other. The United States will continue to muddle along regardless of the election's outcome. If a Bob Barr, Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader becomes president, it might even do a great deal more than muddle along. (We'd hope that would be the case, but we'll leave the role of Psychic Sue to Gwen and the nut-jobs at CounterSpin.)

We rarely praise US Secretary of State Condi Rice -- for the obvious reason that she does so little that is worthy of praise. But we'll grab this opportunity to note remarks she made in an interview last week.

QUESTION: Now, Madame Secretary, a lot of people have asked you about serving on a ticket with Senator McCain. If asked, you would you serve on a ticket with Senator Obama?
SECRETARY RICE: I -- I don't need another job in government with anybody. Look, I'm a Republican, all right? Senator McCain is a fine patriot and he's really the – he would be a great president. But there's something to be said for fresh blood. And I know that there are a lot of very good people who could be his vice president.
QUESTION: Would you feel safe with a President Obama?
SECRETARY RICE: Oh, the United States will be fine. I think that we are having an important debate about how we keep the country safe. I think we are having an important debate about our responsibilities, our obligations, our interests in the Middle East in the wake of the now increasing evidence of success in Iraq. Those are important judgments for the American people to make.

Leave aside Iraq (Condi will most likely go to her grave believing it was a 'success'), and you've got Condi saying that "the United States will be fine." Condi the Fear Mongerer stating the obvious. Where is that in the public affairs programming as we're repeatedly told that either McCain or Barack will be the death of the United States? They won't be. Nor would Barr, McKinney or Nader.

If you believe (as we do) that Bully Boy has ripped apart the Constitution and done serious damage to this country, you have to accept the fact that the Democrats refused to impeach him. That they continue to refuse to impeach him. As Adam Kokesh observed last month, "The Democrats have become a sorry excuse for an opposition party. I don't think any of the many potentially deserving members of the Bush Administration will ever be impeached for the same reason that we didn't have impeachment hearings today or even months ago. The Democrats are just as corrupt, and complicit. Spineless Democrats are Neocon Appeasers and the blood is on their hands too." (Adam is supporting Bob Barr and writing for himself. He is co-chair of IVAW which neither requires nor demands that its members get behind any one candidate or any candidate at all. They are an organization dedicated to ending the illegal war and not an organ for -- or arm of -- any political party.)

Impeachment should have taken place and if you want to see partisanship, and how it's destroyed our left in this country, look no further than that issue. A number of people hopped on that bandwagon. Some because they honestly believed in impeachment. Don't kid that The Nation magazine ever believed in it. While they did publish a cover story calling for impeachment at the start of 2006, you should note that as soon as Democrats were handed control of the Congress in the November 2006 elections, the same magazine was insisting that impeachment was not feasible. In 2006, one of their columnists published a book on impeachment and then . . . forgot the topic entirely. (Way to promote that book!) While some activists were truly supporting impeachment, mature adults need to grasp that a lot of 'voices' were only using that topic to try to elect Democrats.

The left has been co-opted and corrupted in this country by a lot of voices who not just define the left as "Democratic" but also define the role of the left in politics as nothing but showing up on election day to vote Democratic. That's an ugly truth that people need to stop denying.

Another one is that public affairs programming has been increasingly dumbed down. Bill Moyers is fear mongering in his PBS PSA for why PBS coverage will help the electorate. His remarks need to be pulled from that PSA because he is partisan and everyone knows who he is supporting and has since January. But his remarks should also be pulled because the country doesn't need them.

When the left resorts to fear mongering, they not only cheapen the public discourse, they also feed into fear mongering. They make it all the easier for another Bully Boy to use a very real tragedy (like 9-11) to scare the country witless and dismantle the democracy we're all supposed to take pride in having. When you traffic in fear mongering, you can't turn around and call out others for doing the same. By the same token, when you sell out your beliefs for an election, you can't turn around and pick them back up after the election. You've destroyed your own integrity. In the words of Aretha, "Look it up in your dictionary."

We had hoped to take this week to highlight Eli Stone. It's the best program ABC introduced in the last 12 months. We'll hold our comments, except to note it currently broadcast in the last hour of primetime each Saturday night on ABC, because we would like to give it the sort of review the program's earned. But it's hard to discuss or address entertainment while public affairs programming sinks further into the gutter and degrades us all.

If you're not getting that, let's return to Friday's Journal for a moment to note two things. First, Bill Moyers does not have a weekly hour on PBS because he is psychic. But, Psychic Sue that he is, he felt the need to ask about "the next administration" and what might happen "whether it's McCain or Obama"? One of those two may likely be the winner. But it is not known that they will be -- neither even officially has their party's nomination at this point. In that remark, he rendered all other running for the office invisible. That's not why PBS exists and it really shouldn't require us pointing that out. In the second thing to note, Bob Herbert laid down the line you'll be hearing a great deal of in the coming months and, should Barack be elected, in the new year: Health care isn't an issue that America can tackle. Bob doesn't think the votes are there for the issue. The votes? No, not the American people who supports single-payer coverage. Bob's looking to his 'betters,' those serving in Congress.

Health care, like impeachment, was an issue -- a very real issue and one that goes to the credit crisis and the economy -- used for partisan reasons by 'left' 'voices.' If you missed that, you only had to catch the 'coverage' which regularly distorted what Barack was actually promising (damn little) and only really came to life when Michael Moore's Sicko was released. A brief flurry of attention over that film. With no grasp of the fact that Moore had long ago lost his standing as an independent critic after his self-embarrassing antics during the 2004 primaries and election. A few years back, pay attention Joan Baez, the Moore name (or 'brand') was a license to print greenbacks. That's because he seemed an honest voice who would call out the nonsense. The backlash on the right didn't damage Moore (whose support largely came from the left -- Democrats and non-Democrats, independents/swing-voters as well as disaffected Republicans). He damaged himself when he traded in his role of critic for cheerleader.

It's why a number of 'names' who regularly popped up on The New York Times bestselling books list in 2002, 2003 and 2004 can't move books today. The American people (and this includes grassroots Democrats) are looking for information, not indoctrination. Proselytizing has always had a very short shelf life. That's something so-called public affairs programming should keep in mind.
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