Sunday, March 01, 2009

TV: Felons, Frauds and Fluff

Last week, one song kept going through out heads as we followed assorted broadcasts. Sometimes it was sung by Linda Ronstadt, sometimes by the Springfields (Dusty's group).

Silver threads and golden needles cannot mend this heart of mine,
And I dare not drown my sorrow in the warm glow of your wine.

We'd look at each other and start singing during the strong broadcasts and during the weak. And sadly, there was a lot of weak.


Let's start with the strong. Big Bro O tore herself away from sex tips, sex scandals, 'uplifiting' via bad books, Suze Orman (she and Oprah have so much in common) and her usual crap-fest long enough to go to Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Ginmar loathed Oprah's Thursday broadcast. We liked it and for many of the reasons Ginmar hated it. First off, Oprah's nothing but afternoon trash. She started out that, tried to smear a little lip gloss on, but still remains that. This is the woman who gets outraged over every little thing and hoards a hell of a lot more than food but then wants to offer up that happiness comes from doing without. She's a joke and, with each passing year, she becomes more of one. Her recent weight gain only makes it more likely she will orbit the earth -- certainly her feet never touch the ground.

Oprah Winfrey was sacrificed years and years ago. The wig-headed woman in front of the cameras bears as much resemblance to Oprah as it does to an actual human being: NONE.

So the thought of Oprah taking her tired act (and ass) to Walter Reed Army Medical Center was one we found made for strong TV. It's was a bit like seeing John Wayne wandering through the wounded from Vietnam. Or has everyone forgotten that Oprah used her trashy show to pimp the Iraq War? Has everyone forgotten how a woman in the audience called the garbage out and Oprah got curt and nasty?

There was Oprah -- in the only moment of TV she should be remembered for -- getting all mean and nasty, that fat neck tensing up, as she let the little peon know that Oprah knows what's what and so do her guests, thank you very much, now shut up and let Judith Miller provide us with more 'facts.'

That's right, Oprah pimped the war, she even brought on Judith Miller to do so.

Oprah rallied her audience of shut-ins to the Bully Boy and to cheer on the Iraq War.

So the idea that the Closet Case had to be confronted with the loss of limbs she caused was something we really, really enjoyed.

Big O tried to grin and pull it off but she couldn't. No, no one beat her with a prosthetic limb. That would have made for classic TV. There she was in her Della Reese-like wig with multi-layers (she does realize it looks like a bird's nest, right?), wearing her lumpy white sweater (she has no taste) and a pair of tight (on her) black pants which really reminded us of the Big Girl's favorite 'slimming' outfit of a decade past -- bulky dark sweater and leggings.

With one soldier, John Hoxie, you could see Oprah attempting to use that iron will to make his wounds into her own personal salvation but it never took. And if you watched closely, you saw she grasped it as well.

It was like watching Adolf Eichmann touring a Nazi concentration camp.

Yeah, the Big O had a crew of Leni Riefenstahls there to make her look better but, have you watched, these days they can't even make her look 'fresh-faced.'

She posed, she tried to appear interested (the left finger and thumb around the chin while Justin Knowles spoke about a bombing blowing off his leg -- "I saw my leg when I got blown up"), but couldn't pull it off. By the time she was speaking with Nicholas Koulchar, who lost both legs serving in Iraq, it didn't even look like she was trying.

That occasional nervous twitch in her eyes had been replaced with a strained face and more and more white of the eyeball showing. She looked like Joan Crawford in Johnny Guitar -- no, that's not a pretty sight.

Ginmar didn't like the way Oprah interacted with a female soldier because Oprah kept referring to her as a mother -- even emphasizing that more than soldier. We'd agree Oprah showed no respect at all for women who serve but we were actually loving that section as well. Who is Oprah's audience? Largely women staying home with small children. So there was Oprah explaining to America that she herself was one of the great hazards.

No, she didn't put it that way but she allowed her show to be used to sell the Iraq War and a soldier serving there, a mother like so many in her audience, was wounded, lost her left hand. When Juanita Wilson shared that her young daughter asked her for a sandwich, she had to explain that she couldn't make her one.

Oprah's ratings have been falling for some time and the longterm commitment so many stations have to make when they take her syndicated show is the only reason several big markets are still carrying it. Big cities have moved on past Oprah. As her show struggles, it's good to see TV's War Criminal forced to meet her victims.

And grasp that the audience -- still hanging on to Oprah, still living in their own little world, encased in safe reading and celebrity gossip -- Thursday, like Oprah, got confronted with some reality.

We began brainstorming about what we'd like to see. We thought a special that teamed up Henry Kissinger and The Big O. She could accompany him to Vietnam and provide comfort while he was confronted and then they could head on over to Iraq. But would Kissinger provide her comfort?

We decided whether he could or not didn't matter because he'd probably never make the airport -- Vietnam authorities would have locked him away in a jail to await trial. So the second half of the special could do what her series does, exist to fuel her own ego.

Good TV. Not great, but good. Unintentionally, to be sure, but in a weak week, Oprah stood out . . . with blood on her hands.

Weak was Al Sharpton. Al spent last week (and the week before) railing against a comic because, studies have shown, editorial cartoons lead to more school-age violence than any other factor. They don't? Oh, then maybe Al wasted his time? His time? Try his life.

And he made that very clear when he appeared on MyTV last week. Yes, Al Sharpton -- while publicly demonizing Rupert Murdoch -- had a special on Murdoch's MyTV. That's because Al's never been anything but a damn hypocrite. Or, as What About Our Daughters pointed out last November, a camera whore.

So there was 'political' and 'spiritual' leader Al Distraction sitting across from D.L. Hughley (whom WAOD also called out in the previous link) and acting the fool. At one point, when Rev Jesse Jackson was being smeared, Al spoke out, right?


He didn't do a damn thing. Saying Jackson got 88 votes in his 1988 campaign for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination isn't just an insult it grossly inaccurate. 88 votes in that run would not have allowed him to win the primaries in DC, Alabama, Georgia,, Louisiana, Mississippi, Virginia and Puerto Rico. Nor would 88 votes have allowed him to win the caucuses in Vermont, Michigan, South Carolina and Delaware. Rev Jackson received over 6 million votes.

What did Al do?. He looked around. Like a tired, old man. He sat on the couch, looked around. Then looked down, then sort of buried his head.

That last action is something we encourage him to do much more often. Especially when the impulse to speak takes him.

And then there's Barry. Big Barry to some, Princess Tiny Meat to us.

Did he have his own reality show? Was he a contestant on American Idol?

He seemed to be everywhere last week.


Tuesday night he was yammering away in an alleged address to Congress -- one in which he forgot the Iraq War. Supposedly, the US economy is in the toilet and Barack would go on later in the week to continue to commit approximately $11 billion a month to the illegal war. If he was going to talk to Congress -- and address the nation -- he needed to remember the ongoing, illegal war. He didn't. Ross Colvin (Reuters) noted, "When former President George W. Bush addressed the U.S. Congress in January 2008 he gave three pages of his speech to the Iraq war. On Tuesday night his successor Barack Obama spoke a single sentence." What was the sentence? "We are now carefully reviewing our policies in both wars, and I will soon announce a way forward in Iraq that leaves Iraq to its people and responsibly ends this war." (Click here for full transcript.)


Barack's silence on Iraq Tuesday night mirrored the commercial broadcast network's silence Monday evening. Only viewers of PBS' evening newscast The NewsHour would learn that three US soldiers were killed that day. Gwen Ifill, "Three US soldiers and their interpreter were killed in Iraq. The US military reported they died in combat in Diyala Province, north of Baghdad. For the month of February, 13 Americans have died in Iraq." Why does the country need an evening newscast from ABC, CBS and NBC when they can't even report the basics? All three broadcast networks MADE time Monday evening to show footage of the Oscars, to show stock footage from India (due to the best picture win). They, like their president, just didn't have time to do the damn news.

For such a heavily promoted, 'big' speech, interest in it 'waned' quickly. Not that there was all that much interest to begin with. Andrew Malcom (Los Angeles Times) explained the size of Barack's audience Tuesday night, "However, Obama still lags the audience-drawing power of one President Bill Clinton. Sixteen years ago this week, when there were millions fewer Americans, Big Bill drew nearly 15 million more viewers -- 66.9 million for his first congressional speech in 44.2 million homes for a 44.3 rating."

The morning after the not-so-big speech, US Vice President Joe Biden would appear on NBC's Today Show for a segment that lasted approximately five minutes. The last seconds of the interview would find Matt Lauer asking about Iraq. Matt wanted to know, ". . . Are you keeping a campaign promise or breaking a campaign promise" on Iraq in Barack's upcoming speech and Joe replied, "We're keeping a campaign commitment." (The entire Iraq exchange -- it's small -- can be found in Wednesday's Iraq snapshot.)

A promise or commitment was being kept? It wasn't.

But damned if the bulk of the press didn't work overtime to pretend otherwise. Friday morning on CBS' The Early Show, Bill Plante would inform, "The president makes good on a campaign promise today. Down at Camp Lejeune, he will announce an end to the US combat mission in Iraq, . . . with a few conditions, as of August 31, 2010. Just a little later than he promised." The Brookings War Hawk was quoted (by Plante) calling it a "significant change" from Barack's campaign promise and then the Brookings spoke to the camera stating "but to me that's good." Of course it is. And to those who want the illegal war ended, it's bad. But no one appeared to grasp that except for a few elected Democrats who were largely ignored. Remember that.

CBS Evening News with Katie Couric Friday (here for the online folder for CBS Evening News with Katie Couric video) briefly noted them at the end of a report. Chip Reid explained, "Many anti-war Democrats are disturbed that so many troops could remain in Iraq for nearly two years but John McCain who called Mr. Obama's plan naive during the campaign today called the new version reasonable." And then Reid mouthed that US Secretary of the Defense Robert Gates said "Barack always said even on the campaign trail he'd listen to military commanders." Remember that too. We'll be coming back to it. CBS didn't.

They had no time for Democratic opposition (which should have been particularly newsworthy since the president is supposed to be a Democrat) but they had time for passing an editorial by reporter David Martin off as a report. During the days of Cronkite, Martin probably wouldn't have gotten away with his little stunt. He would have had to reword it. Reword what?

"[Joe Dan] Whorely and all the other fighting men and women who carried the rest of us on their backs, have the most invested in the president's decision."

What the hell was that?

CBS News is already looking into that statement (which has already led to a few viewer complaints) but the question is how the hell that ever made it on air?

A good-sized portion of the US public was opposed to the illegal war before it ever started. Speaking as two who were, nobody "carried" us. We didn't ask a damn person to go to Iraq. In fact, we've applauded those who have refused to do so or have refused to return.

One such person is Matthis Chiroux who wrote last month:

March 12, I'll attend a board hearing in St. Louis, Missouri, to determine what the nature of my discharge from the Individual Ready Reserve will be. The Army has alleged "misconduct" and they're shooting for a "general discharge," but I'm pushing for "honorable," as my refusal to deploy was not an act of misconduct.
I will attend this hearing in uniform as ordered, but only for the purpose of these administrative proceedings. I'm not contesting the fact that I did not report as ordered to deploy to Iraq. However, I intend to paint a clear picture of my convictions to the military, and I seek to corroborate them with first hand accounts of occupation.
No person is bound to act against the dictates of conscience, let alone their understanding of the law. I know the occupation of Iraq and further the Global War on Terror to be an illegitimate and ultimately murderous campaign waged for economic gain, fueled by misinformation and greed. I know it to be in violation of not only international law, but the U.S. Constitution. Far more importantly, it is against the dictates of my own conscience, and never again will I compromise my humanity to support or ignore the crimes of my government.

The United States was not attacked by Iraq. How dare David Martin claim that anyone carried our burden, how dare he presume to speak for the entire United States or do so while pretending to just be reporting. That was highly offensive and it never should have made it on air. We spoke to CBS news execs (who repeatedly told us it was being handled) and we spoke to people who worked on CBS Evening News during the Cronkite years. We were told back then that the statement would have immediately been flagged and Martin would have been instructed to rework that statement.

Martin then declared, "And US military officers do not expect to meet their goal of getting all US combat troops out of Iraqi cities by this June." Goal?

The US most likely will not be pulling out of Iraqi cities by June and that's been admitted before. But why is that a "goal"? Every other time they report on the Status Of Forces Agreement, the news outlets tell us that this is happening, that these are contractually bound events, things that must take place. The out of Iraqi cities in June is not a "goal." It's stated in the SOFA that it WILL take place. We think the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement is meaningless. We've always maintained that. But you can't treat it as the Holy Grail one moment and then refer to it as a 'goal' in another.

Martin gets some credit for noting, "In the back of everybody's mind is the last time a president declared combat ending and troops coming home. That was more than 4,000 troops ago." But he loses all credit when his reporting leaves the impression that the US is in Iraq to fight (and fighting) al Qaeda. Explaining how the US has 'succeeded' in some areas such as Falluja, Martin then declared, "al Qaeda is hanging out in places like Mosul." If it's "al Qaeda," it's "al Qaeda in Iraq" (or "Mesopotamia") which is a product of the illegal war. In a report that acts as if the US was attacked by Iraq, that's no small point of difference.

Always on the campaign trail, Barack himself appeared on The NewsHour (click here for transcript and video) with Jim Lehrer and what was most obvious was that, like the previous White House occupant, he tires easily. This explains why he (yet again) trotted out his line about how hard it is for him to sign letters . . . Wait, let's let him tell it (in the cleaned up transcript):

But I will tell you that the most sobering things that I do as president relate to the deployment of these young men and women. Signing letters of those who have fallen in battle, it is a constant reminder of how critical these decisions are and the importance of the Commander in Chief, Congress, all of us who are in positions of power to make sure that we have thought through these decisions free of politics and we are doing what's necessary for the safety and security of the American people.

That's Barack, Friday, all tuckered out, so tired that he makes it sound like, after someone dies in Iraq, Barack's stuck signing their letters. "Letters of those"? No, letter to the families of the fallen. Don't blame us, we never spread the lie that Barack was smart. Nor did we ever claim he could speak well. That would be the press which repeatedly cleans his uh-uh-uhs and stumble-bum speaking manner up. Take the exchange with Lehrer. Here's how PBS' transcript says one section took place:

BARACK OBAMA: And I won't lie to you. I wish that they weren't all having to be made at once. It would nice to be able to stage them on one another.


BARACK OBAMA: Let's - you know, we'll take, you know, the economy first and then we'll take Afghanistan after that and then Iraq after that and Iran after that and, you know, the banking system somewhere out there, autos, you know. It would be wonderful if we didn't have all the planes in the air at the same time.

Here's the way the above really was spoken:

BARACK OBAMA: I-I I won't lie to you. I-I wish that uh-uh they weren't all having to be made at once. It would nice to be able to stage 'em -- one another.


BARACK OBAMA: Let's - you know, we'll take, you know, the economy first and then we'll take Afghanistan after that and then Iraq after that and Iran after that and, you know, uh-uh banking system somewhere out there, autos, you know. It would be wonderful if-if we didn't have all the planes in the air at the same time.

The stumble bum Barack. That is. Not taking in. To account. His pattern of. Creating periods where. There. Are. None. The strip-the-gears way he has of speaking, the start and stop motion that betrays someone with huge fundamental, cognetive problems.

The press created the lie that he could speak well. He can't. And our biggest regret when he speaks today is that he's not wearing a flowing wig. Either a Farrah or one of Tina Turner's from the sixties would work great. That way he could get the hair toss really going as he robotically swings his head from one teleprompter to another. He is stiff, he is robotic and he is one of the worst speakers to ever occupy the White House.

The press refuses to tell you that just like they refuse to tell you he is lying -- and so are they. Washington Week on PBS Friday came closest to getting at the truth. We'll note the following exchange:

Gwen Ifill: And then, Martha, we get to today, in which he goes to Camp Leujune and he says 'we are -- I'm going to keep another campaign promise. I said we were going to be out of Iraq in sixteen months, well, maybe eighteen months, and then he says --

Martha Raddatz: Or nineteen.

Gwen Ifill: Or nineteen. 50,000 troops are going to stay behind. But they'll be gone by 2011. Is any of this possilbe.

Martha Raddatz: I, well, I think first of all you've got to look at his language. Certainly, they're going to start the draw down. And what I've been told is in the next six months, they'll only have eight to ten thousand soldiers and Marines leaving Iraq. The bulk of the draw down that he promised will start in probably January and February and then you'll have 80,000 troops pulling out of Iraq from January to August. That would leave 50,000 trooops. The thing I would quibble with is they will no longer have combat missions. Look at what the mission will be. And General Ray Odierno sent a letter out to the troops today saying essentially their goals would be training Iraqi secruity forces, conducting coordinated counterterrorism mission and protecting our ongoing civilian and military efforts within Iraq. I don't really know how you do that without combat troops and frankly all of the US forces are trained combat troops.

There was a strong discussion on the plan. It offered more reality than most of the 'reports' on other broadcasts did. But even so, it left out an important thing.

We gave you two flags with "Remember that." Hopefully you have.

Barack Obama, the lie says, always said he'd listen to commanders on the ground. Therefore, his blowing off his 16-month 'promise' is not a big deal. Right? That's what he said he'd do, after all.! But it's not what he said.

And it's a damn lie for people to pretend it's what he promised.

During the battle for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton was very clear about what she planned to do. Barack lied the way he always does. He told his wet-pantied-and-briefs crowd one thing and he told reporters another (which rarely received the amplification it needed). Unlike a report read by a few people, the debates were watched by many.

In the debates, Barack was repeatedly clear that withdrawal would start immediately, take 16 months and that there would be no interference with the civilian leadership decision on that. The military could have input on ways to carry out his order but, if president, that would be the order.

Doubt us?

April 16, 2008 debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack, aired on ABC, moderated by Charlie Gibson and George:

GIBSON: And, Senator Obama, your campaign manager, David Plouffe, said, "When he is" -- this is talking about you -- "When he is elected president, we will be out of Iraq in 16 months at the most. There should be no confusion about that." So you'd give the same rock-hard pledge, that no matter what the military commanders said, you would give the order to bring them home?

OBAMA: Because the commander-in-chief sets the mission, Charlie. That's not the role of the generals. And one of the things that's been interesting about the president's approach lately has been to say, "Well, I'm just taking cues from General Petraeus." Well, the president sets the mission. The general and our troops carry out that mission. And, unfortunately, we have had a bad mission set by our civilian leadership, which our military has performed brilliantly. But it is time for us to set a strategy that is going to make the American people safer. Now, I will always listen to our commanders on the ground with respect to tactics, once I've given them a new mission, that we are going to proceed deliberately, in an orderly fashion, out of Iraq, and we are going to have our combat troops out. We will not have permanent bases there. Once I have provided that mission, if they come to me and want to adjust tactics, then I will certainly take their recommendations into consideration. But, ultimately, the buck stops with me as the commander-in-chief.

Is that clear enough for you?

Feb. 21st UT Texas debate between Barack and Hillary Clinton, he declared:

On the issues that have come up that a commander in chief is going to have to make decisions on, I have shown the judgment to lead. That is the leadership that I want to show when I'm president of the United States. On the issues that have come up, that a commander in chief is going to have to make decisions on, I have shown the judgment to lead. That is the leadership that I want to show when I'm president of the United States.

What last week demonstrated is that he is not up to his job. He's either a liar or he's weak-willed. Or maybe both. But let's all drop the lie that what Barack announced on Friday was in keeping with what he promised and that, although it may fudge on the months, he always said he would listen to the military. BOLD FACED LIE. He said he would give the order for a 16-month withdrawal (the mission) and he would take into account their suggestions on how to achieve that mission.

Silver threads and golden needles can't mend these hearts of ours, no, nor can they turn President Pinocchio into a real boy.

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