Sunday, November 08, 2009

TV: Drinking in a time of cholera

The week started with bad TV and, for us, ended with bad TV. Last Sunday we were catching up on an entertainment show, reading scripts, watching episodes and mainly calling a friend on the show to ask, "What the hell is this crap?" Friday, we were rushing around the hotel, attempting to get ready for the day and shocked at the train-wreck taking place on a supposed public affairs program. Both shows are staffed with people who claim to care but at least CBS' Three Rivers can use the excuse that its populated with fictional characters.


Three Rivers is a brand of Whiskey and it is also a drink made with Whiskey (two ounces, plus an ounce each of triple sec and Dubonnet, serve on the rocks). And you'll probably need one or the other -- if not both -- to make it through an episode of the TV show Three Rivers.

Watching, we groaned, we moaned and we wondered when would it ever end. As we told our Three Rivers friend, "No one wants reality, they want to be entertained. Even the 'reality' shows have to get creative and script in a few details." But this is real life, this is what it's like, this is real. That's what we were told anyway.

You know what, real life isn't all that interesting. Certainly not when characters rush around saying things like, "Hey, don't procure that liver until we get it straightened out."

'It' was: Who gets the liver?

The Three Rivers crew or another hospital. Both had patients needing it. In the process of bickering over it, the conditions of the two patients needing the transplant weren't discussed but one doctor did end up with a broken nose. "That really happened!" insisted our friend in the cast. Well it was probably humorous to everyone working at the hospital. But CBS is really hoping to garner a larger audience than that, right?

We'd think so if only because of the commercials before the show began airing. You may have caught them. Where a male voice informed you that something sexy this way comes: Alex O'Loughlin.

We wondered at the time: (a) Why is CBS telling us there's a sexy man on a new show, (b) why is the voice telling us this male, (c) why does this O'Loughlin look like Noah Wylie in a shower cap and (d) who the hell is supposed to find that sexy?

In answer to the last question: Gay men into body fur.

We repeatedly asked straight women we knew if they thought Alex was really that sexy looking? No, especially not with that hair cut. Then we brought the issue up with some gay male friends who told us there was an entire cottage industry devoted to O'Laughlin who is, apparently, bringing furry back. (If so, he's several chests too late. We already noted that trend this fall.)

Type in "Alex O'Laughlin" and "hairy" and you'll be able to eavesdrop on a million and one conversations as various photos of him are posted leading to comments from men like this "I like his hairy chest… And that bulge in his undies too…. He’s much hotter here than in the previous posts… Very lickable and doable…" and this "HOT BUTTERED YUM!!! Nice face, chest, armpit and the crotch!! Though thought it looked to shrink up a bit the more her hands were down there."

Hot Buttered Yum . . . just in time for the holiday season. Ourselves, we're not big on cloves, so we'll pass. And we'll pass on shows where writers spend too much time focused on medical jargon and too little time focused on characters. If you can get past the medical jargon, you'll quickly notice that the dialogue is hideous, on the nose and, worst of all, dull.

Incredibly dull. And when they finally set it aside, usually in the final five minutes of each episode, they strive to find other ways to bore you. So look, there's two men jamming on guitars! Roll the credits! And pretend like it fleshes out characters or has anything to do with what came before. There's a word for shows like this, actually two: Cop Rock.

Thursday, a shooting took place on the Fort Hood military base in Texas. By Friday morning, the death toll was thirteen. CBS News offered a photo essay of the dead and wounded. Mike Cahill, Maj Maj L. Eduardo Caraveo, Staff Sgt Justin M. DeCrow, Capt John Gaffaney, Spc Frederick Greene, Spc Jason Dean Hunt, Amy Krueger, Aaron Thomas Nemelka, Pfc Michael Pearson, Capt Russell Seager, Pvt Francheska Velez, Juanita Warman and Pfc Kham Xiong were the thirteen murdered. The wounded included Spc Grant Moxon, Joey Foster, Kimberly Munley, Keara Bono, Ray Saucedo, Cpl Nathan Hewitt, Amber Bahr, Matthew Cooke, George Stratton III, Staff Sgt Alonzo Lunsford and Staff Sgt Joy Clark.

Friday Democracy Now! decided to do a 'report' on the shooting and, strangely, they mentioned none of the victims. Or not so strange. Increasingly, the show seems determined to reflect some extremist vision that has little in it most people on the left can relate to -- let alone the general population.

The show, as usual, kicked off with headlines and it took exactly four sentences for Amy Goodman to declare, "A relative told reporters Hasan had complained of being harassed for being a Muslim and had tried to leave the military." At no point in the headlines did she attempt to identify any of the wounded or dead but the dead and wounded were never her concern. She identified her concern in the teasers for the show, "We'll go to Fort Hood for response and speak with an advocate for Muslim soldiers who fears the shooting may spark a Muslim witch hunt in the military."

13 are dead, thirty are wounded and Amy Goodman's worried what might happen. She's got a massacre to 'cover' and what's she worried about isn't what happened, but what her radical hatred for this country tells her is just around the corner. It's getting sick and so is she.

After headlines, the next segment featured two guests, one of which was "Qaseem Uqdah of American Muslim Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Council." Uqdah was left (repeatedly) to do what Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez refused to do, honestly address what happened. Such as when he declared, "And that's something that we have to focus on here, as with removing any doubt on anyone's mind that this is something that’s dealing with Islam. It's not with Islam. This soldier committed a criminal act."

Over and over, in Goody's warped mind, the victim was the alleged shooter. She had no sympathy for the dead but she constantly fretted and worried over the shooter. The shooter is a criminal. He doesn't deserve any sympathy due to his background. No, we're not talking about the fact that he is Muslim. We're talking about the fact that he's a psychiatrist. He's trained. He wasn't a combat veteran, he was a psychiatrist and he was trained. He knew better and he knew how to get help if he needed it.

The other guest for the segment was Aaron Glantz who never tires of acting as though he was in combat. (He wasn't.) Sounding as demented as his new mentor (Jimmy Carter), Aaron Glantz first comment was, "Well, you're exactly right, Amy, that we have an Army psychiatrist who listened to many, many stories."

Yes, we all knew where he was headed with that and fortunately fate was as disgusted by it as we were (as evidenced by the fact that Aaron's phone call was then lost and we were spared of his gas baggery for a few minutes). Aaron was going to boo-hoo the stress the alleged shooter was under because he heard horror stories. Boo-f**king-hoo. Elaine has heard these stories as well, since the first wave of service members began returning home. (And, credit to Elaine, all the veterans she treats are treated pro bono.) Does it wear on Elaine? Yes, it does and there are times when she needs to just escape from it, there are times when she needs to not talk about anything, there are times when she thinks she'll never stop crying if she hears one more detail.

But she's a trained professional and the training includes not only knowing how to assist those suffering but also how to ensure her own mental well being.

It was hilarious to watch Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzalez and Aaron Glantz steer the conversation to their 'concerns' which, pay attention, had little to do with the damn war. Little to do with it because they don't give a damn. People who give a damn, they're not reaching years back for examples.

Example? Aaron Glantz tossed out a soldier who took his own life: John Fish. He noted that he had written of the soldier (such as in February of this year). He would show up all over the internet later Friday as he rushed to trot out John Fish. Trot out?

It's hard to take Aaron seriously. Andres Raya was another he offered up on the show, this time when he wanted to talk about "death by cop" -- incidents where the veteran is shot by the police and may have courted the shooting as a form of suicide. Anyone paying attention to Iraq War veterans this week should have been aware of John LaBossiere who was killed last Sunday in a confrontation with the police. If, like Aaron, you're late to the story, you can refer to Jackson Holtz (Everett's Herald) report.

We'll come back to him, let's move to Amy Goodman:

Aaron, I wanted to ask you about a shooting the New York Times had reported October 21st, 2009. An American soldier accused of killing five other service members in a base in Iraq in May had been behaving erratically for weeks, even threatening to commit suicide, but a lack of adequate guidelines on how to handle his case allowed it to get out of control. US military investigators said this in a report. And the Times went on to say the shootings took place at Camp Liberty combat stress clinic, where the soldier, Sergeant John M. Russell, was being counseled.

Let's deconstruct that because there are a lot of misleading statements.

Aaron, I wanted to ask you about a shooting the New York Times had reported October 21st, 2009. An American soldier accused of killing five other service members in a base in Iraq in May had been behaving erratically for weeks, even threatening to commit suicide, but a lack of adequate guidelines on how to handle his case allowed it to get out of control.

Really? The New York Times 'reported' that? On October 21st?

Funny because October 19th (two days before), one of us (C.I.) was noting the [PDF format warning] military's report at The Common Ills:

From some of the conclusions (I'm on page 303):

After abruptly leaving his session with (b)(3)(b)(6) and asking the MPs to take him in, (b)(3)(b)(60 tossed a knife to the ground. The 54th EN BN has no template for setting a unit watch, and neither did any of the unit leaders we interviewed in the course of this investigation. There is no standard for escorts, how many, how senior, and what type of escort should be assigned to a troubled Soldier, a suicidal Soldier or a homicidal Soldier. Additionally, at the unit level, there is no real conception of when to Command refer Soldiers for assistance. (b)(3)(b)(6) unit encouraged him to self-refer for 3 appointments within 3 days. Access to care is not an issue. On the fourth day, the Behavioral Health clinic asked the 54th, to make it a "Command referral." Granted our Commands want to reduce the stigma associated with ill health, but there is a lack of emphasis upon Command involvement and responsibility for behavioral problems. There is no message, SITREP, or verbal notification required for Soldiers with suicidal ideations. The Commander, 54th EN BN, was never notified that his subordinates had removed (b)(3)(b)(6) bolt from his weapon. Correspondingly, when his bolt was removed, (b)(3)(b)(6) was not put on buddy or unit watch. Unit Commanding Officers at the 03-05 level need more than awareness training, they require precise instruction in effective suicide and behavioral problem remediation measures to effectively support our Behavioral Health professionals.

So, Goody, two days before The New York Times 'reported' it, that detail was already known.

US military investigators said this in a report.

Yes, Goody. You got that right. At least.

And the Times went on to say the shootings took place at Camp Liberty combat stress clinic, where the soldier, Sergeant John M. Russell, was being counseled.

The paper said that on October 21st? That was 'news' on October 21st? That's interesting because the May 11th shooting was well covered in May when it was known where the shooting took place (Martha Raddatz was reporting on ABC News with exclusive footage because she'd just been in the clinic for another story) and that Russell was being ordered to seek counseling.

We said we'd come back to Aaron Glantz and here's where we do:

Well, I mean, you may remember that Sergeant Russell was on -- I don't remember exactly how many tours now, but he had been in Yugoslavia and was on not his first tour in Iraq and Afghanistan, when he walked into this combat stress clinic in Baghdad in May and shot it up and killed many people inside the combat stress clinic.

"Was on not his first tour in Iraq and Afghanistan"? The shooting took place in Iraq. Russell was not deployed to Afghanistan. He was on his third (we remember exactly how many, Aaron) deployment to Iraq. As for "Yugoslavia"? He was stationed in Bosnia and Kosovo.

If you're still not getting how little the three cared, try this: "When we come back from break, we're going to go to Killeen, Texas. We're going to go to Fort Hood and find out the reaction there."

That's what Amy said as the segment ended. But guess what?

They came back from break . . . and . . . no, they didn't go to Killeen. They dropped Fort Hood to pimp ObamaCare and then the racist 'comedic' stylings of failed TV actress Anna Deavere Smith.

Remember, folks, the Jerry Lewis racist caricatures passed off as 'Asians'? Not at all racist when done by African-American Anna Deavere Smith -- or at least that's the lie we're supposed to believe.

Despite the fact that three journalists or 'journalists' spoke about the shooting on Democracy Now! Friday, it was only the non-journalist, Qaseem Uqdah, who noted that the shooting was a crime. It was only the non-journalist who dealt in facts. The journalists or 'journalists'? They served non-stop gas baggery. And never once attempted to put a face on the people shot dead or left wounded. (They did find time to show a segment of an interview Fox News did -- the same group that's never called out the White House attacks on Fox News was more than eager to utilize them for an interview with a member of the shooter's family.)

Last week, TV started bad and it ended bad. Just reliving it for this review is enough to make us sick. Or at least give us an excuse to mix some more Three Rivers.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Poll1 { display:none; }