Sunday, May 06, 2012

TV: Chewing their own cud

ABC, CBS and NBC all kid that they bring you the 'newsmakers' each Sunday morning and, even more outlandish, that the conversations are of value or, hold your sides on this one, sophisticated.  90% of the time, they bring you public access on basic cable with better lighting and possibly worse guests.


If this morning provided a landscape of surreal, the Dadaist moment on top surely had to have been the segment on Face The Nation (CBS) with former Vermont Governor Howard Dean and US Senator Chuck Schumer.  Presumably, there are many things that both men can speak of with personal knowledge and expertise.  For example, Schumer's currently championing the need for funding training programs for veterans, something we think most people would applaud.

But there are things they can never be experts on.  In other words, try as he may, Howard Dean is no Meryl Streep.

His big talking point was that women and Latinos were "terrified" of Republican plans.  Last time we checked, Dean's roots were wealthy Anglo White and he was neither born with a vagina or had surgery to be provided with a facsimile.

There was a time when this was the norm.  When the whole world supposedly was enthralled to listen to White, hetero men 'explain' gay people, 'explain' other races, 'explain' women.  But among the accomplishments of the 60s Gay Liberation Movement, Civil Rights Movement, the Native American Movement,  the Women's Liberation Movement and many more was that we can all speak for ourselves.  We don't need some White, hetero male telling us what our own lives and experiences are.

Not only is that insulting today, it telegraphs just how shallow the Democratic Party is at the top that they have no women or Latinos to put forward when it's time to talk of their issues.

It also shouldn't be forgotten that Howard Dean was DNC chair during the last presidential election and never said a damn word during the primaries about the rampant sexism.  Asked of it on ABC's This Week in June 2008 -- after the primaries -- Dean responded, "There has been an enormous amount of sexism in this campaign on the part of the media, including the mainstream media."  And that would be it until The New York Times raised the issue nearly two weeks later.  At which point Dean said he was calling for "a national discussion" on sexism.

 As November 2008 drew to a close, Dean appeared on the Smithsonian Associates' Presidential Election Analysis forum and noted the sexism   On an all male panel.  That they tried to publicly justify by saying "with scheduling" it was just too hard to get a woman on the panel -- all women in the United States were apparently still ovulating and apparently all on the same cycle and, as a result, on intense bed rest.  At least in the minds of the male panel and the Smithsonian Associates.

Howard Dean's never done a damn thing for women.  He needs to sit his tired ass down.  Women do not ever need to hear from Dr. Dean about what their lives are like.  He doesn't know and when he could have made life better for women, he refused to.  He refused to call out sexism during the primaries of 2008, when it surfaced in the general election, he refused to call it out.  When reporters pressed him on the subject, he would toss out a sentence or two but it was all fakery as evidenced by the fact that if you are the DNC chair and you call for a national dialogue on sexism, one takes place.  If only a DNC sponsored event with DNC staffers, it takes place.

Howard Dean provided cover for the 2008 attacks on women.  He can't now pretend to be the voice of women.  Again, he needs to sit his tired ass down.  No woman needs to hear from Howard Dean about what her life is like.

One of us (Ava) would further add that being the former governor of a state that currently has less than 2% Hispanic population and, when you were governor, that figure was less than 1%, shut your damn mouth about Latinos because you're no expert, you don't know our issues and nobody voted you 'honorary Latino.'

Dean wanted viewers to know that "women are terrified of what the Republicans are talking about.  They're talking about basically stripping away their ability to have insurance pay for their birth control."

 Oh, how stupid the man is.

Women are not all using birth control pills.  Some women are too old, some women are trying to get pregnant, etc., etc.  In addition, most statistics show birth control pills and having your tubes tied to be pretty much equal with both over 25% (but both under 30%).  After that, you've got condoms at less than 20% and IUDs and male vasectomies.

So when he reduces it to "birth control pills," he's talking about less than 30% of less than 70% of women.  And his slice of the pie gets even smaller because so few women have insurance and many depend upon clinics for their birth control.

There's another factor Dean forgot and we wanted to be sure to spotlight it all on its own.  Howard Dean is a joke and has always been a joke.  For the Iraq War before he was against it before he was back for it before he was against it . . . He also received applause for what?  Civil unions.  Same-sex civil unions became legal in Vermont in 2000, while Dean was governor.  Vermont was the first state in the US to do this.

Dean wasn't a leader on this.  The state supreme court was -- they made it possible (if not required) in December 2009 with a verdict.  The state house and the state senate then passed the bill.  Dean didn't initiate it.  All he did was sign it.

But this 'gay champion' Howard Dean wanted to declare this morning that birth control pills were the issue that had women terrified  of the GOP.  How many lesbians does Howard Dean believe are on birth control pills?  And could the good doctor explain to us why any lesbian would be on birth control pills?

On the topic of marriage equality, Vice President Joe Biden declared his support for it on NBC's Meet The Press while speaking with David Gregory.

Vice President Joe Biden: Look, I just think that, uh, the good news is that as more and more Americans become to understand what this is all about, it is a simple proposition.  Who do you love? Who do you love?  And will you be loyal to the person that you love?   And that's what people are finding out is what-what all marriages at their root are about -- whether they're marriages of lesbians or gay men or heterosexuals.

David Gregory:  Is that what you believe now?

Vice President Joe Biden:  That's what I believe.

David Gregory:  And you're comfortable with same-sex marriage now?

Vice President Joe Biden:  I, look, I am Vice President of the United States of America.  The President sets the policy. I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, heterosexual men and women marrying each other are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties and, quite frankly, I don't see much of a distinction beyond that.

It was a rare and intelligent discussion on the Sunday Chat and Chews.  [Disclosure, we both know and like Joe Biden.  One of us -- C.I. -- has known Joe for decades.] It made us wonder what would happen if more people broke away from their talking points? Or if more people showed up willing to discuss more than what the party sent them out for?

It also reminded us of the closed minded.  The opponents to marriage equality.

When we say that, being Democrats, we're sure some readers assume we're about to launch into an attack on Republicans.  Not to worry, we don't have to.  What it reminds us of the two big opponents to marriage equality in the 2008 Democratic primaries were Barack Obama and John Edwards.  As we noted in January 2008 of a debate:

John Edwards also embarrassed himself in that debate noting he was against "gay marriage" and "I do not" support it leading us to shout back at the screen, "Gee, John, we weren't aware you were being inundated with proposals!"

So there you have it, marriage is a sacred institution that you enter into to cheat on your terminally ill wife, to have a mistress, to have a mistress and a child, to ensure that your wife's final years on this earth are sheer agony and public embarrassment.  Thanks for sharing, John Edwards and we're really enjoying your trial.

Over on ABC's This Week, Jake Tapper filled in as host.  David Axelrod was the first guest, apparently on to remind the American people that if Barack loses the 2012 election, they'll never have to see David Axelrod on their TVs again.  (Possibly the GOP should use that message to drive up donations?) After the segment was over, Jake Tapper would offer, "Well you heard David Axelrod talk about how Mitt Romney was blunderbusting around.  It's true that even conservative pundit Bill Kristol said that it was foolish for Mitt Romney to make these comments in the middle of this international kerfuffle."

Yes, limited minds do think alike so we're not at all surprised that Axelrod and Kristol would think alike.  However, the issue of Chen Guangcheng is not one that requires silence.  Quite the contrary, silence is what allowed it to really blow up.

More importantly, silence is how China imposes 'discipline' and 'order' and abuse.  (If that's news to you, check out this report by Calum MacLeod for USA Today.)  So how dare Axelrod and Kristol suggest that any American should ever ape that policy, should ever be silent when human rights are threatened.  Every American is guaranteed the right to speak up and speak out.  If Axelrod doesn't like that fact, he and Kristol can honeymoon in Bejing.  We'll gladly kick in our contribution, guys, just let us know where you're registered.

A stronger segment was Tapper's interview with Senator John McCain.  A number of topics were touched on.  We'll zoom in on Iraq:

Senator John McCain:  And Iraq.  He keeps bragging about Iraq.  Iraq is unraveling.  We all know that there should have been a residual force there.  And now the whole situation is unraveling.  In the words of General Keene, the architect of the surge, "We won the war and are losing the peace."  Thanks to the President's commitment to get completely out.

There's nothing wrong with McCain's opinion's voiced above.  What's wrong is that we never get a dialogue.  Jake Tapper was too quickly noting, "We're running out of time" and the segment was over.  The dialogue isn't among Obama-opponents and Obama-supporters.  Iraq is the issue.

We are for and have always favored immediate withdrawal. But we'll agree with McCain that a residual force is needed.

Why is it needed?

It's needed because the US government won't butt the hell out of Iraq's business.  It's needed because the Iraqi people voted for someone OTHER than Nouri al-Maliki in the 2010 elections but the White House and the Iranian government foisted Nouri off on them.  Iraq's been in trouble ever since. Political players in Iraq have attempted to legally take on the issues including replacing Nouri and what they find is the White House repeatedly undercutting them, repeatedly making deals with one bloc to support Nouri, doing everything outside the democratic process and behind closed doors.

If Iraq is the 51st state of the United States, by all means keep the US military forces there in a large number than they are currently.  (Over 700 US military personnel remain as 'trainers,' at least 200 Marines remain to protect the embassy, Special-Ops remain in Iraq doing 'counter-terrorism' work, the CIA and the FBI remain in Iraq and thousands and thousand of contractors working for the US State Dept. remain in Iraq as well.)

But if the White House can take it's big nose out of Iraq, if it can let the Iraqi people decide what's best for them?  Then no military force is needed.

Why does backing Nouri mean US forces need to be on the ground?  Because as Joe Biden noted in 2008, we're now taking sides in a civil war.  The only thing that prevented Nouri from going hog wil on his enemies was a large US military presence.  As soon as the bulk of the US military left in December, he began targeting his political enemies -- insisting Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi be arrested on terrorism, that Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq be stripped of his post (for the 'crime' of telling CNN that Nouri was turning into a dictator) and that's not even counting the provincial officials he's had charged or all the academics he's run off campuses.

Nouri is out of control and the Iraqi people are attempting to bring their country back to order.  That's very hard to do when the White House is offering bribes to political players if they'll support Nouri, when the White House is working overtime to marginalize Iraqiya (the political slate that came in first in the 2010 elections).

We're not upset by John McCain's statements though they are in conflict with our own opinions.  Those are sincerely held beliefs by McCain.  We're glad they were aired.  We're just bothered that, all this time later, no other opinions can be aired and that, just as pre-2009, Iraq was discussed on the Sunday chat & chews as whether or not Bush had done the right thing, today it's discussed as whether or not Barack has done the right thing.

It's never acknowledged by the hosts or the bookers that Iraq is its own country, with its own people and its own right to self-determination.  Whenever you might think that view was coming up, there's always a Jake Tapper to announce, "We're running out of time."

"We're running out of time," more than anything else, explains why these programs are so bad.  They're nothing but filler.  And when a real issue gets touched on and could be explored, watch them immediately rush to their respective corners instead and begin issuing talking points passed off as a conversation.

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