Sunday, January 31, 2010

TV: Jaw-dropping viewing

Last week was one long "Did you see that?" after another. Whether it was watching a well known male star sporting one of the worst toupees of all time, a two-bit con artist passing herself off as a serious journalist 'reporting' on Sundance or any of the many lies Barry O told, to watch TV last week was to watch in open mouthed wonder.


As always, the most craven rushed forward after Wednesday night's State of the Union address, elbows out, in a frantic attempt to prove that they could whore biggest and bestest. The clear winner, no surprise, was Sojourners rushing out their embarrassing "Mr. President, we're ready" less than a half hour after Barack finished delivering the State of the Union.

Ready for what?

Oh cookie, when a Whore sniffs money, "what" doesn't matter, just "how much."

Which is how Sojourners could declare "Mr. President, we're ready" in an e-mail on, get this, 'immigration reform.' They were going to 'stand with' Barry . . . and do . . . what? Neither Sojourners nor Barry seemed clear.

As The San Diego Union-Tribune's Ruben Navarrette Jr. (at CNN) explained, "Thirty-seven words. In this week's State of the Union address -- which was more than 7,000 words long and lasted longer than an hour -- all President Obama devoted to the issue of immigration reform was 37 measly words." Matt O'Brien (Contra Costa Times) also noted the obvious of the speech, "President Barack Obama made little mention of immigration during his State of the Union address on Wednesday, leading some analysts to believe he might back off on his pursuit of a 'pathway to citizenship' for illegal immigrants who pay a fine and learn English. " But what others heard as disgraceful silence, Sojourner's saw as a dropped call and attempted to sketch in what they knew Barry meant to say.

Yes, folks, this far into the Obama presidency, there are still a large number of people who refuse to hear what he says and instead serve up fan fiction of what they wished he'd said.

But there was so little j.o. material in the speech that the fanatics were forced to create their own Dear Penthouse letters.

Those dealing in realities found little to work themselves into a sexual frenzy over. For some needed realities on the economics of the White House, let's note this from Doug Henwood's commentary at the opening of last week's Behind The News:

The politics of it all are rather confused and confusing. On the one hand, the White House has been assuring us -- and the pundits have been amplifying the message -- that after the Republican victory in the Massachusetts senate election, Obama is making a hard pivot towards jobs. Sounds not so bad. But how does he go about this? With a dose of austerity to start with. Early in the week we learned that Obama will propose a three year freeze in domestic, civilian, discretionary spending. The Pentagon will of course be allowed to flourish. For the moment, entitlement programs -- which are mandatory according to current law the opposite in budget speak of discretionary, which has to be appropriated every year by Congress; these programs like Medicare and Social Security will be spared. But much of the good stuff that the government does -- nutrition, environment, education -- will be squeezed. Though it's impossible to find any details on the White House website, administration officials bragged to the press that this will bring down this category of spending to its lowest share of GDP in fifty years.

But for every Doug Henwood offering reality, there were fifty Melissa Harris-Lacewells, struggling to sound educated by utilizing a term they'd just discovered (in Missy's case "Rorschach Test") and misusing it badly. [Missy, a Rorschach Test is deliberately vague to call for interpretation and, no, that's not the argument you were making about Barack's speech. You were not arguing that Barack provided an abstract symbol that people then interpreted due to their own meanings and beliefs, you were arguing that he offered concrete proposals and people only heard what they liked or disliked -- it is not the same thing.] It allowed them to pretend that they and the president were deep and meaningful but it only exposed themselves and the president as shallow.

Thursday morning, many were coming down hard as they listened to NPR provide the fact check that the media refused to do the night of the speech. For example, explain to us, please, what Bob Schieffer and Jeffrey Goldberg provided on CBS after the State of the Union address because we watched as the two offered 'analysis' that struggled to rise even to the level of trite. Those looking for genuine commentary and analysis found none on Wednesday night -- whether they were watching CBS, NBC, ABC or MSNBC. We don't watch Fox and we didn't have time to go over all of CNN's post-SotU coverage Wednesday night, so they're exempted from our discussion. We did, however, catch the crap offered by Pacifica Radio (carried on -- at least -- KPFK and KPFK).

Crap? You knew it was crap the minute you saw the line up of 'experts': Mitch Jeserich, Aileen Alfandary and Davey D. That's a groupie, an AP reader (who forgets to attribute) and a middle-aged man still attempting to pass for twenty who never knows the facts.

Case in point, Davey D, Barack spoke to "both parts of the House when he was trying to pass health care"? What the hell were you talking about? Did you mean the Congress? Did you mean the upper and lower houses of Congress? Why don't you try getting an education before speaking again? It will certainly allow you to avoid matching "don't" with "everybody" which, for the record, has no subject and verb agreement. These are the standards of 'expertise' when it comes to Pacifica Radio? And it still wants to hold onto that broadcasting license under the laughable guise of 'educational radio'? Really?

It's worth noting that KPFA 'forgot' to include the Republican response after broadcasting the State of the Union address. Somwhere, Lew Hill rolls over in his grave.

As we were saying, NPR provided you with realities Thursday morning. Steve Inskeep (Morning Edition, link has transcript and audio) spoke with David Welna, Julie Rovner, John Ydstie, Christopher Joyce, Jackie Northam and Mary Louise Kelly about specific claims presented by Barack in his fact-free speech. For example, Barack claimed his BigBusinessGiveAway passed off as "health care" "reform" would save a trillion dollars. Reality?

Julie Rovner: Well, now, the 12 of you who actually out there know how the CBO does its work will say, Wait a minute, CBO doesn't estimate things over two decades. They only estimate things over 10 years. Actually, in looking at these health care bills the CBO has been asked to look out over a second ten years, although they have warned - and I am reading from the CBO document - the range of uncertainty surrounding these assessments -meaning that second 10 years - is quite wide. On the other hand, the other thing the CBO said about those second 10 years -and were only talking about the Senate bill here, not the House bill - is that the way - the reason that there would be savings over that second 10 years is because of these provisions that would cut Medicare much more dramatically than it would be cut over the first year. There would be a commission. And the CBO and others have suggested that Congress might not actually have the stomach for some of the cuts that might be called for by this commission. So there's some doubt as to whether those cuts would happen and whether that money would actually be saved.

INSKEEP: I want to make sure I understand this. The -- what the Congressional Budget Office actually says is that in the first 10 years after this bill is passed it might save a little money. In the second ten years it might save a bunch or it might not save very much at all.

ROVNER: That's right. Or it might save a lot, but it might do it in ways that Congress and the public really night not like, so Congress might end up reversing.

While NPR worked, Amy Goodman jerked off. Last week, Goody took Pravda on the Hudson to the Sundance Film Festival which allowed her to yet again avoid the Iraq Inquiry in London. Friday, Tony Blair was the witness as the Inquiry completed three months of public hearings and yet Goody and her so-called "war and peace report" have never gone to London to cover the hearings or even devoted a single segment to the hearings via phone-in guests. For three months. Yet she could give the hour to Robert Redford on Monday.


One of us knows Redford (C.I.) and we'd normally let it pass but we have to state the obvious, there was nothing of value in that interview and, Ruth is mistaken, Redford does not dye his hair. That was a toupee. At 73, as Ruth pointed out, your hair is not naturally blond. Equally true, it's not that thick. It was a wig and the fact that Redford refuses to comb it doesn't make it any less of a vanity trip. Between the wig and the lighting so low you could barely make out Redford, it was as if he was attempting a disguise, as thought he actor who once played Bob Woodward was now attempting to pass for Deep Throat.

That was Monday, what about Thursday? How did Goody handle Barack's State of the Union?

Before we get to that, for reference, let's recall how she handled some of Bully Boy Bush's State of the Union speeches. January 29, 2008 she covered Bush's speech the night before in headlines, yes, and then devoted the entire remainder of the show ("For the hour!") to the speech with one segment after another refuting Bush's claims. January 24, 2007, she did the same with Bush's speech the night before. And we could continue, but that is the pattern. Put the speech under a microscope and reveal all the lies, tell all the ugly truths.

So that's what Goody did on Thursday and . . . Wait. No, that's not what she did on Thursday. On Thursday, she briefly noted the speech in headlines and then did one segment allegedly on the speech. Allegedly? The segment was thirteen minutes long and three minutes were about or quoting Howard Zinn.

Howard Zinn on Obama's speech?

No, Coward Zinn was quoted -- at length -- from May 2009.

So less than ten minutes of the program was devoted to Barack's speech. And the only ugly truths that emerged? Naomi Klein continues to pack on the pounds and someone needs to tell her to stop drawing on eye brows. It looks grotesque -- only more so as she continues to thicken.

The State of the Union speech -- a pack of lies -- is usually deconstructed by Goody and all things Pacifica at length. But not this go round. This go round, the State of the Union got basically ten superficial minutes from Goody (and Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein) while Zinn's death got around forty minutes (add up the three minutes he takes away from the State of the Union segment and his time in headlines). Coward Zinn died and ate up all the attention. Doubt us?

Focusing just on KPFA, listeners got 80 minutes on Zinn and his death as a result of the fact that Democracy Now! is aired twice each day. But that wasn't all the Zinn coverage they got on Thursday. In addition to that one hour and twenty minutes coverage from Goody, they got 30 minutes of the two hour The Morning Show devoted to Zinn, they got at least 20 minutes of Zinn from an old interview on Letters To Washington, the full hour of Living Room, two minutes and thirty-four seconds on the half hour Free Speech Radio News, Flashpoints Radio gave Zinn over 13 minutes on Thursday -- despite having spent 20 minutes on his passing the evening before. At some point the question needs to be asked: Did listeners really need all of that?

Of course, it wasn't about the listeners -- as Free Speech Radio News made clear Thursday at their website: "You can remember Howard Zinn's legacy with a donation to FSRN. For your contribution of $50 or more, we'll send you a DVD of Howard Zinn and friends reading from Voices of a People's History of the United States, recorded in 2005."

While they forgot the listeners, everyone forgot the people.

On Pacifica's 'special' broadcast, Leigh Ann Caldwell explained before Barack's speech what 'everyone' would be looking for and she may have alienated many listeners as she referred to "Republicans" and "Democrats" (certainly, in the Bay Area, those two categories fail to describe the entire population) but it was even more alienating to grasp that she wasn't speaking of the people, she was speaking of members of Congress.

Somewhere along the line, everyone seems to have forgotten what the State of the Union is. Barack clearly forgot it (if he ever knew -- we're talking about a man who thinks there are 57 states in the United States) and attempted to turn it into a stand up performance.

Barack declared he is willing to listen -- and Americans may have perked up for a minute before he continued -- to any Democrat or Republican. At which point, independents and Greens and Communists and Libertarians and Socialists and swing-voters and others should have felt left out. But Barack managed to dis-empower all. Those Democrats and Republicans he was willing to listen to? They're in Congress.

People of the United States, Barack has no interest in what you are saying or doing. He doesn't care. He doesn't want to hear from you on health care but if a Republican or a Democrat in Congress has a health care idea, he'll listen. (Bernie Sanders, the Socialist Senator from Vermont, apparently is invisible to Barack.) He appeared a little ticked off -- as evidenced by his repeated yelling (and he was yelling into a microphone) -- with the American people and declared that it was his problem his 'reform' has failed because he just didn't explain it right. In other words, "I went over and over it but you are too stupid to get what I'm saying."

Never did Barack acknowledge the fact that maybe, just maybe, the people did grasp what he was trying to do for Big Business and against them (by forcing all Americans to buy health insurance) and didn't want it. For all the talk of his allegedly taking accountability, the clear message from Barack was: There's a problem and it's your inability to grasp what I'm saying.

Does no one get how disrespectful that was? How disrespectful the entire speech was?

None of the gas bags bothered to comment though many were delighted to point to Barack's 'jokes.' The State of the Union is a Constitutionally mandated speech. Whomever is president has to give that speech. The speech is not for Congress. It is not for the Supreme Court. It is for the people -- or supposed to be. It is supposed to be the president of the United States explaining the current health of the country to the people.

How that somehow became Barack stands up in front of the country, during the worst economic crisis the bulk of the population has ever experienced, and tells jokes is beyond us. It was disrespectful of the people, it was disrespectful of the office.

Yet again, Barack demonstrated he has neither the experience nor the character to hold the office. It's all about him, always. He goes overseas and criticizes past policies of the US while exempting himself from the criticism (by insisting he either wasn't born or was a young boy at the time and by insisting that his becoming president is a historic moment), he stays home and still makes it all about himself.

Repeatedly, in one form or another, he would hurl a cheap shot at some political opponent and then insist (immediately after) that "I'm not interested in re-litigating the past." It's as though he just called your mother "ugly" and then follows with, "But let's not get into all of that." His cheap and smarmy sucker punches degrade the office and disrespect the people.

And the people were the one thing left out in the bulk of the gas baggery. Over and over, gas bags talked pro and con about the Pentagon or Supreme Court decisions and, always, the conversations removed the people from the focus. In commentary after commentary, the dollars were zoomed in on, the people were abstracted. Rather amazing when you consider that they offered this gas baggery as so many also pretended to salute Howard Zinn whose chief claim to fame is A People's History of the United States. It was a jaw dropping week.
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