Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Why I'm Scared of Sarah Palin

While I’m not a person who scares easily, I’ll be brutally honest and say this woman scares me more than any politician I’ve known in any country. She scares me far more than the chillingly cheerful Russian leaders we were taught were our enemies when we were children. She scares me more than Franco, and I spent a fair amount of time in Spain when Franco was enjoying the last wind in his sails before his ultimate fall. She certainly scares me more than Maggie Thatcher or Ronald Reagan ever managed to do; and whilst I viewed the emergence of George Bush the Younger on the political scene in 2000 with the sort of horror reserved for observing an impossibly drunk fraternity boy opening his flies on a wintery evening to write his name in piss on the snow, I viewed Palin’s debut on the political stage with abject fright.

Just as I’d had Bush pegged as the rich frat guy you enjoyed hanging out with until he got drunk and puked on your shoes, from the minute I saw Palin, she oozed the mean girl gene. And I mean “mean.”

But what alarmed me even more, as the campaign season swung forward, was her abject ignorance. The interview with Charlie Gibson, where she had no idea what a particular foreign policy initiative was and tried to blag her way through the question (“In what respect, Charlie?” Smile sweetly, bat the eyelids.), impressed upon me the image of a woman who’d used her looks to progress as far as she had. She really was the Homecoming Queen who’d stepped up to the plate to become Queen of the Prom, and this was it. Then came the Katie Couric interview, where her answer to what newspapers she read (“some of’em, all of’em”) was a frantic clutching at straws and where her total ignorance of any Supreme Court decision was almost comical (“I’ll get back to ya on that one.”)

Then came the subtle hate speeches, where she intimated that Candidate Obama wasn’t exactly like any other candidate who’d run before, if he were, at all, like any American. After all, he “palled around” with terrorists.

In all honesty, I’m not certain whether Palin, herself, frightens me or whether what she and her followers radiate as a whole, frightens me more. It’s not just the cult of anti-elitism, it’s the ingrained idea that anyone who obtains a university degree from a quality institution, much less someone who attains a professional degree from a law school or a graduate degree is something pejorative. It’s the whole idea that they’ve almost been chosen by a cruel Christian god whom they’ve appropriated to impart their message of entitlement to take this country back to a time in which they fervently believe, but which actually never existed.

The Founding Fathers whose memories she verbally fondles in her speeches were the most elite members of society of their time. They were Deists, and some were even atheists. They were cultural products of the Age of Reason. If Thomas Jefferson or James Madison came back today, Palin would sneeringly label them “Democrats.” If Jesus Christ appeared, he’d be denounced as a Progressive and castigated. Again.

Palin’s made racism fashionable again. I guess you could say that racism is the new black this season, all because there’s an intelligent, articulate and compassionate black man in the White House. But it’s not that sort of racism. It’s the sort which leads people to make campaign adverts showing distinctly dark men hovering around a suspicious gate, intimating that Latinos are suspected of being here illegally; it’s the sort of ignorance borne of that sort of racism which leads a candidate for the United States Senate to remark condescendingly to a room of Latino students that some of them “looked Asian.” It’s a plea to “peaceful Muslims” to “refudiate” their inalienable right to worship as they please where they please. It’s pointing out in the worst possible and most tactless way that the First Lady of the United States is not “one of us,” whatever that means.

What frightens me even more is the attention this woman garners. Honestly, the late Princess of Wales didn’t garner this much hype at her peak. MSNBC gives her as much attention as Fox, and Fox employs her. Almost every morning, Joe Scarborough and his lackeys sit around their table and plot various ways by which this woman not only can secure the Republican Presidential nomination, they plot her course to the White House. Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann certainly talk about her as much as they ever did Hillary, but without the venom; and their criticisms are such that one is left with the definite impression that if they got the opportunity and she gave them the chance, they’d fuck her. On his latest Sunday program, Matthews even compared her favourably to Bill Clinton in political acumen.

The press are obsessing about her viability as a Presidential candidate. I wish they’d stop. Because the more they obsess, the more concrete the possibility becomes, and then I’m forced to remember that this is the country who deemed Richard Nixon dead in the water, after he went down in defeat to Pat Brown in the 1962 California gubernatorial race, and Nixon stormed back in 1968 to win, not one, but two terms as President. His second Administration not only left us with the legacy of Watergate, it also left us with Roger Ailes and Karl Rove, who cut their teeth either working on media strategy for the Republican party or ratfucking the Democrats in the name of Nixon.

And this is also the country which enabled the Supreme Court to annoint George W Bush as 43rd President of the United States, and then elected him to a second term out of sheer fear, they guy with whom you’d want to share a beer. This is the country who elected a black man to clean up the mess left by the trust fund frat boy, but who somehow can’t seem to accept the fact that this President speaks to us and treats us as though we’re children.

And the big fright is that there’s just about enough of us Oedipal enough to want to throw caution and reason to the wind, conjuring up age-old images of dark bogeymen, creatures from the black lagoon and things that go bump in the night, to seek solace in the bosom of a Mama Grizzly.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Queens of Denial

In the aftermath of the mid-term shellacking, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about John Edwards and wondering, frankly, if the country, Right and Left, would have gone half as crazy as it appears to have gone, had Edwards kept his nose clean, his tackle in the box, won the nomination and entered the White House.

I’m inclined to think that most of the inanity we’ve witnessed since January 21, 2009, wouldn’t have occurred. The GOP may have been obtuse and tried to object to everything that was introduced as legislation, but I don’t think we would have seen the Tea Party. We certainly wouldn’t have seen elderly and undereducated, white Americans trawling through the streets with posters of Edwards as Hitler or Edwards as the Joker. He would have tried to effect his programs, most of which had a heavy social justice flavour, and Fox and Glenn Beck would have foamed and fulminated, accordingly; but we wouldn’t have witnessed Beck informing the world that Edwards was a racist, with a deep-seeded hate for white people. No one would have asked, demanded to see Edwards’s birth certificate; no one would have deemed him a socialist or a communist or a fascist or all three. No one would have prayed for his death.

More importantly and more than likely, he would have accomplished his legislation by means of compromise. That’s normal. It’s what politics is all about and it’s what politicians do – debate and compromise. You do this for me, and I’ll see that this is done for you. Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. Life in the political bubble. If such compromise meant Edwards’s legislation was a mite watered-down, his so-called Progressive base, most likely, would have swallowed hard and cut him some slack. After all, at least there would have been a Democrat in the White House.

And if he inevitable and selfsame mid-term shellacking had occurred under an Edwards Administration just under two years in the running, the so-called Progressive Left would have been discouraged, but not defeated. The photogenic President would have smiled that winning smile, shrugged his shoulders and said he’d try to plough on with or through the Republicans. Sure, there would have been a few odd political pundits saying he was already lame duck, but they would most likely have been of the Charles Krauthammer variety – curmudgeonly, cantankerous and conservative.

The first time I voted was in 1972, for George McGovern. I was 18, fresh out of high school and newly-arrived at my elite, East Coast college. The first President I remember is John Kennedy, but I remember him from the perspective of a small child and my parents’ gloss on his Presidency. Yet, I can never remember such a moment when any President has been so viciously, vindictively and ferociously hammered by his supporters as by his opponents as Barack Obama has been.

Has some of the criticism been justified? Of course. Presidents need this criticism, but more of the same has been simply gratuitous and – put simply – mean.

Immediately before the mid-term election, Jon Stewart held a Rally to Restore Sanity in Washington DC. Stewart’s beef was with the 24/7 cable media and the way they sought to obsess, parse, ueber-examine and analyse trivialities and, thus, elevate the mundane to the critical. The media, Stewart said at the end of his speech, makes the political problems we face insoluble. It polarizes and deepens the divide between the political Left and Right.

I would go further and say that the 24/7 cable media wants political problems to remain insoluble. It gives them talking points, increases their ratings and fattens their wallets. When their voices get louder, so do ours in return. And when we shout, we forget to listen, because we’re trying to get our own talking points established, never stopping to think that the talking points we are propagating are actually the talking points memed by the corporate media for the agendae they hope to achieve.

Add a few well-established and well-known internet media moguls to the mix and you have a recipe for disaster.

Last week, on Veterans’ Day, Howard Fineman, hack, published a piece in that bastion of journalistic integrity, The Huffington Post, the headline of which claimed with authority that the White House had "caved" on the Bush tax cuts. The article led one to believe that the President’s Special Advisor, David Axelrod, had admitted that the President will now push for an extension of all the tax cuts, for the rich as well as the middle class. The whole premise of the article was based on Axelrod’s comment, "We live in the world we live in" or something to that effect, which is a pretty innocuous statement. Not once did he mention compromise; he certainly never uttered the word "capitulation."

Talking Points Memo and The Daily Beast mentioned the article, with a link, but none of the "newsprint" sites covered it, except Greg Sargent, writing his Plum Line blog in the Washington Post; and Sargent’s blog was a refutation, or "refudiation" of the article, itself, complete with denial of intent by Axelrod and a summation that the article, itself, was false and misleading journalism. Later, The Daily Beast printed the refutation and stuck with it. But Howard the Hack made the ubiquitous rounds of MSNBC’s talk shows. Amidst Ed Schultz’s mouth-foaming tirades about how awful Obama was and what an abject failure he was, Howard the Hack side-stepped Ed’s pulpit to enter the spittle-filled solarium of his BFF, Chris Matthews, moved on from there to peddle his wares to Olbermann and finished up dissing Obama with that noted political pundit, Jane Hamsher, on Lawrence O’Donnell’s show.

By Friday night, Bill Maher and Michael Moore (he, who told us in 2000, that Bush and Gore were the same, therefore we should vote for Nader – how well that worked out!) were waxing lyrical about how Obama had "caved" on the Bush tax cuts.

Ne’mind, the President was in Southeast Asia, on a trip the Rightwing would have you believe was costing the taxpayer $200 dollars a day.

Also on Friday, Chris Matthews devoted 12 minutes of his show to Mark Halperin (son of a Nixon operative) and John Heilemann, discussing a possible primary challenge from the Left for Obama in 2012. I don’t know who salivated more at the prospect, Chris or the journalistic duo, one of whom had already plotted Palin’s path to the Presidency in 2012.

As things never cease happening in threes, over the weekend, the Washington Post printed an article by recusant Democrats, Pat Caddell and Douglas Schoen (both token Fox "liberals") reckoning that it would be best for all concerned if President Obama announced immediately that he was not going to run for a second term in 2012 and spent the next two years stabilising the economy with the Republicans. Such a philanthropic feat would set a precedent for the Presidency, and Obama would be fondly remembered in a warm, fuzzy haze by a grateful nation ...

Just like Ol’Massa and Ol’Missus like to sit on the verandah of the old home place, remembering kindly, old black Uncle Rhemus, who used to tell them stories.

That’s it, Mr President, you’re time’s up. Thanks for helping us out and holding the fort for four years, but that’s your lot. You’ll be remembered as the first African American President, and that probably means the only African American President – but, hey! We haven’t had another Catholic since Kennedy, and at least you’re getting out alive, Mr President! Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

As if that article weren’t enough, again the ubiquitous Huffington Post published on Sunday a blog by that noted political correspondent (not), Deepak Chopra, calling for Obama either to eschew running for re-election or be primaried.

The sheeple who populate HuffPo’s commentary fold went wild with delight! Oh, yes, please! A primary! Elizabeth Warren! Alan Grayson! Russ Feingold! Hillary! ABO ... Anybody But Obama! He’s got cooties!

Of course, as opinions are like assholes, everyone of the sheeple had one, and all of them were ignorant of history:-

■1968: Lyndon Johnson is primaried by Eugene McCarthy. Johnson drops out and does not run for a second term. McCarthy and Robert Kennedy duke it out until Kennedy is killed. Then McCarthy and his fellow Minnesotan Hubert Humphrey endure an ugly, bad-tempered Democratic Convention, for Humphrey to get the nod. The Democrats lost. We got Richard Nixon and Watergate, which begat Roger Ailes, Pat Buchanan, a college senior from Texas named Karl Rove, and the Southern Strategy, as a result of the beginning of the Democrats’ abandonment of its original base in the Midwest and the South.
■1976: Gerald Ford is primaried by Ronald Reagan. Ford wins the nomination, but loses the election.
■1980: Jimmy Carter is primaried by Ted Kennedy all the way to the convention, where Carter wins the nomination, Kennedy gets drunk and refuses to acknowledge Carter on the podium after the nomination. Result? Carter loses the election, and we get 12 years of Republican rule, Morning in America, trickledown, unregulated credit, faux prosperity, the First Gulf War and the Reagan Democrats.
■1992: Poppy Bush is primaried by Pat Buchanan. Bush loses the election.
Anybody not notice the obvious pattern? Presidents who are primaried do not win the ensuing election. The voters perceive the Presidential party as vapid, weak, shallow and unfit to govern and abandon it like rats deserting a sinking ship.

And just when you think it’s safe to go into the water again, up sprouts HuffPo’s Howard the Hack, like a veritable hack-in-the-box, with an article today, promoting an Independent ticket comprised of Michael Bloomberg and Joe Scarborough. That’s right: Michael-40 billion-dollar-fortune-I’ve-been-a-Democrat-Republican-and-now-an-Independent-Bloomberg and Joe-dead-woman-in-the-back-office-Scarborough.

Ne’mind, Bloomberg is saying, both publically and privately (and stridently), that he has no plans to run for President, either in 2012 or anytime, as Howard the Hack points out, with a nudge and a wink, plans change.

(Pssst! Hey, we’re the meeja! We can make things happen. Plant that seed, and watch it grow. After all, we were the ones who planted the seed about the skinny black guy. I mean, who wanted a dour-looking middle-aged woman who looked like your first wife hanging around outside a probate court?)

And the dittoes duly popped up, just like the teapot dummies in the Mock the Dummy videos, piping how much they liked Bloomberg, liked Joe, would vote for that ticket rather than Obama. After all, Obama’s everything compromising and now, according to Lieutenant Choi, he’s probably a homophobe too.

(And did we mention that he’s black? You see, that’s what’s really bothering us, although we don’t want to come off sounding like those toothless, unwashed, misspelling people on the Right. It’s different, you see. Our concern, well ... it really isn’t racism, it’s just ... just ... well, he doesn’t act like we thought a REAL black President would act. Can we say that? Well, Bill Maher said pretty much the same thing, and he’s not racist. I mean, he’s dated black women.)

Give me strength.

Those are the thought processes of the puerile voting public – the ones who stayed at home and sulked or maybe the 30% of the LGBT voters who voted Republican as a protest, although how they think Republicans can help their cause is beyond my ken. Jim DeMint doesn’t even think them fit to front a classroom of children, so they’ve made great progress there.

These are the people who buy into the media’s assessment that the President, the White House and the Democrats, in general, are just not great communicators who couldn’t get the message of their achievements across.

I say poppycock, and those people need an exercise in listening at source. An administration gets its message to the people by means of the media at hand, which has a moral duty to be resonsible, honest and – dare I say it? - fair and balanced. After all, the same radio networks who carried FDR’s Fireside Chats also carried the racist invective of Father Coughlan. But that sort of honesty doesn’t exist in this day and age, and the President has been woefully undermined by the 24/7 cable media.

Fox will always prove recalcitrant. They are, after all, the broacasting PAC of the Republican Party, but the sad truth is that the other two cable giants, MSNBC and CNN, follow Fox’s leads in promoting some of the cack they’ve generated about Obama. The Palin agenda is pushed nearly every day on MSNBC, and this is a woman who recognises that any publicity is good publicity. Hosts on MSNBC’s opinion shows interview birthers, tenthers and Teabaggers. They give them credence from one side of their corporately-funded mouths, whilst parsing each word the President utters from the other side, including a lot of speculation on what he could have said, should have said and needs to say. So much criticism masked as "advice", and now various Progressives are beginning to openly refer to the President as the "Affirmative Action" President.

(But we can’t be racist. Not us. We’re from the Left, dontcha know?)

It’s a really sad reflection on what’s really at stake in America and establishes for me, the truth that the myth of the ugly American is, in fact, a reality. The great media-managed experiment in post-racial politics is going down a failure, according to those who know. The only thing the Left really has to push for is a primary, to rid the country of a President who couldn’t undo in two years, what it took thirty to accomplish.

I wait with baited breath to see the next political darling of the Left. Considering the wannabe movers and shakers in this world of poltical illusion, where nothing and no one is as it seems, I suspect various blowhards with a following on the Left will try to push Joe Sestak to primary Obama. Bill Maher and Michael Moore literally paid homage to him as the porcelain god of the Progressivism on Bill’s show last Friday night; and as Bill’s mommy, Mrs Huffington, likes to think of herself as a viable pundit, she might like to extend her empire into the realm of king-making. So be it. He’s photogenic, he talks tough and he’s got nothing to lose. It would be no skin off his ass if such a venture rendered the Democratic Party unelectable for the foreseeable future, because the Republicans would inevitably win that war.

It just seems as if intransigent idealogy has infected the Left as much as the Right, and in cutting one’s nose off to spite one’s face, one finds one unable to smell a stink brewing just off the horizon, so a more explicit warning might be due those who are so deaf that they refuse to hear.

Think about this aspect for 2012: A President Palin in the White House, with mooseburgers being barbecued on the South Lawn and various and sundry baby daddies being given lodgings in the White House. Or if that doesn’t scare you, try this out for size: Attorney General Joe Miller.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hackery Dickery Duped

People just don't know and won't believe that the President doesn't legislate.

This tax cuts brouhaha is another "death panel" debate. It's when someone takes a concept, labels it and spins it like a top. We all know the origin of the "death panel" meme and how, eventually, it resulted in a good and viable concept - end of life care - being scrapped.

Well, this year's model is the Bush tax cuts. HuffPo DELIBERATELY ran with a storyline that was nothing more than out-and-outright libel: deliberately misquoting a high-ranking White House official and writing an article surrounding that misquote that was a tissue of lies as well as a gaggle of supposition, innuendo and second-guessing. HuffPo, pointedly, stated that the White House was "CAVING" on the tax cuts.

It was a non-story spun into a panic, and the sheeple bought it. Countless numbers of petitions started, Facebook pages springing up, people CONDEMNING the President. This happened on Thursday. The previous Saturday in his weekly address, the President solidly affirmed, yet again, that the Bush tax cuts would be made permanent for families earning less than $250K and individuals earning less than $200K. He also CONFIRMED that it was impossible to allow such tax cuts for the rich to become permanent.

NOWHERE, other than Huffington Post, did this story appear. The Daily Beast and Talking Points Memo picked it up, but with a link to HP, as if they didn't want to claim it. It was the "real" newspapers who broke its credence: Greg Sargent in The Plum Line, his WaPo blog, actually followed the story up, calling up Axelrod and speaking to other White House communications people.

Axelrod totally disclaims he either said or implied anything about the WH caving on the tax cuts. Sargent printed this and his own opinion was that the White House was telling the truth, and that Huffington Post was doing the spinning. Later the NYT reiterated that.

At a press conference in Japan, the President was inundated with questions about this, including a particularly smartass one from Savannah Guthrie (and someone should tell this woman that the President of the United States needs to be addressed with RESPECT) about how he was "negotiating" these tax cuts, which prompted him to reply shortly that he negotiated in Washington and not in Japan.

Pretty obvious that everyone believes an irresponsible cub reporter and a has-been political hack trying to score points and promote his boss lady's anti-Obama agenda rather that the President, himself.

And to add insult to injury and to PROVE a point I've laboured long and hard, it's bad enough that some so-called Progressives are referring to Obama as the "affirmative action" President, but one person in particular blamed all of this on David Axelrod, whom she called the "fat, drunken Jew."

Of course, HuffPo wants Obama to be forced into making the top-tier tax cuts permanent. Are you kidding? Madam will be rolling in clover; besides, how many times does one need to be told that Huffington Post is a faux Progressive site.

Yesterday, the same authors published an "update" on the original article, quoting Obama's definitive denial of their premise, but its gist was highly suggestive, with a dismissive air that implied the President wasn't to be believed. The big red tabloid banner which graced the site yesterday proclaimed that George Bush lifted huge portions of his recently-published book from other sources. In other words, he plagiarised. That's rich for Huffington, considering she was sued in a very BIG and very PUBLIC way years ago when she was Miss Stanisopoulos, living in Britain off the coattails of the late Bernard Levin and trying desperately to be accepted as a part of the British political media intelligentsia, for plagiarism. In fact, that high-profiled case at the High Court signaled her departure from the United Kingdom for our shores, where - it appears - we are a bit more gullible and shallow when it comes to Greeks causing shifts and rifts.

Today, however, various other authors who wrote about and studied the Bush Administration, including Bob Woodward, the unofficial Presidential muckraker who wrote four books on the Bush regime, slapped Huffington Post in the chops on this "exclusive," saying that Bush would have had access to NSC documentation and memos, as would others who have written about the regime; but most professionals who have read his book deny that there is any plagiarism as such.

A lot of people opine that Huffington Post is fast becoming Drudge for Progressives. I prefer to think of its editor-in-chief as the reincarnation of P T Barnum's belief that there's a sucker born every minute, thus proving that certain elements of the Left are as gullible as the Right.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

He's Not Your Boyfriend

Keith Olbermann got an indefinite suspension without pay handed to him yesterday. Nobody died. Nobody declared war. No one detonated a suicide bomb. There was no tsunami, no earthquake, no raging forest fire, no loss of life.
A 51 year-old celebrity talking head, who earned upwards of $8 million dollars per year knowingly breached a clause in his contract and got handed his ass on a plate.
Everyday someplace in this country, various and sundry fiftysomethings get handed their asses on a plate, usually by management in a company/industry where they’ve been working for the past thirty years; but they don’t have an $8 million dollar salary to sustain them, nor will many of them ever hope to work again, unlike Keith, who – if he’s not retained – will probably grace the portals of CNN for an even bigger salary.
But the way people are responding to this in the blogosphere is nothing less than astounding, and I don’t mean that in a good way. There’s been such a cyber renting of raiments and a gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair that all this expounded grief would find a better home in a Cecille B DeMille biblical blockbuster.
All of a sudden, the election is forgotten. The fact that a dangerous Republican party with a virulently reactionary Rightwing has just taken control of the House of Representatives, the fact that these people and their cohorts in the Senate won’t articulate their so-called American promise to remedy our economic woes, the fact that the Senate Minority Leader is dictating events as though he’s won a mandate, himself, to rid the White House of the black man in the Oval Office, the fact that a nationally elected official from the GOP is spreading an obvious lie all over the country about the totally inflated cost of the President’s 10-day trip to Asia, has all gone with the wind in the face of the fact that Keith Olbermann has been put on indefinite suspension without pay.
People are demanding boycotts of MSNBC, Starbucks and ComCast. People are speculating how long it will be before Rachel Maddow is the next head to roll. People are blaming ComCast, especially the CEO they’ve put in charge of MSNBC, pointing to Bushian associations and Republican leanings. There are petitions, there are pleadings.
If the so-called Democratic base had been this galvanised on Tuesday, Nancy Pelosi would be looking forward to another stint as Speaker for the 112th Congress.
What does that say about us that we could get all up in arms about a multi-millionaire talking head, a man whose ego is so ginormous and so thin-skinned that he won’t tolerate divergent points of view on his program every night, but we couldn’t be assed to go and vote in this election?
Oh, sorry … just remembered. Keith doesn’t vote either. He just criticizes politicians and the government. Sorry, Keith, but the way I was raised, if you don’t vote, you don’t have a voice; and without that voice, you’ve no right to criticize the elected government, because your non-vote gave them tacit approval.
And you have even less right to hold a nightly bully pulpit in which to influence the opinions of others.
Many of these lost souls lament the loss of a voice. Pardon me, but I didn’t realise we on the Left suffer from collective laryngitis or that we’d somehow elected Keith Olbermann to speak for us.
I didn’t.
I may agree with a lot of things he says, but sometimes I don’t. Sometimes he gets it wrong, and I have more than a little bit of a hard time with a man who refers to a woman as a mashed up piece of meat with lipstick, I don’t care what her party affiliation is. That man, that person, doesn’t speak for me.
It also bothers me a great deal to hear people from the Left lament the fact that there are no people on “our side” who can compare to the GOP operatives who spew for Fox. We’re supposed to be better than dittoes. Let the Rightwing and their Teabagging counterparts hang on every word of Beck, Hannity and Whoever the rising star of the moment in Murdochland be. Those people are used to being told what to think and how to think from the religious pulpit to the Republican demagogues.
Yet we’re cultivating our own brand who swear by Ed Schultz’s carpet-ridden rants and worship at the altar of St Keith.
Keith Olbermann made three financial contributions to as many Democratic Congressional and Senate candidates this year, one on the day he interviewed one of the three to whom he contributed. He made the maximum disclosable amount possible, which indicates that he knew that his contribution would be published in their individual disclosures … which means he knew MSNBC would find out what he’d done.
NBC and its cable affiliate MSNBC have had, since 2007, contracts which contain a clause forbidding news and opinion journalist personnel from making political donations to candidates or political parties without first obtaining permission from their respective managements.
Keith didn’t, so he is in breach of contract and was punished, accordingly.
This is what firms/companies/industries/businesses do when employees break the rules.
But I will admit that something doesn’t ring true in all of this: Since he was told to leave the premises of MSNBC on Friday, Keith’s been silence itself. Usually, when his ego’s been dented or he feels his pride’s been dealt a blow or someone’s done committed a grievous wrong against him, Keith hits the Twittersphere. This time, there’s been nothing.
And that silence brings a few conspiracy theories of my own to the fore.
First, after listening to Rachel Maddow’s excellent and rational comment on Keith’s suspension Friday evening, I thought that maybe this was a contrived event for a particular purpose. Rachel’s lengthy remarks weighed in heavily with fact-based findings and statements about how Fox (News) not only allows its news and opinion personnel to contribute to various GOP candidates’ campaigns, they also allow themselves and the candidates licence to ask for donations. The also have on their payroll at the moment, no less than five people who, plausibly, could be in contention for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2012.
In other words, Fox is acting more like a PAC for the Republican party than the “fair and balanced” news organisation it purports to be.
MSNBC, on the other hand, has standards written into employment contracts to which its employees must adhere, regarding political contributions or endorsements. When the employee breaks that rule, he’s punished.
This is what news organisations do.
So maybe MSNBC contrived this whole occurrance by which they’ve driven home the point to the American public which the President stated over a year ago – Fox News is really the propaganda arm of the Republican Party.
Or, maybe Keith orchestrated this whole brouhaha for a different reason. Keith has form in leaving jobs with panache. He’s usually fired and asked never to return to the premises. CNN approached him in 2006, offering him all sorts, the least of which being MSNBC’s total destruction by Countdown moving to CNN. That manouevre fell through, but maybe someone’s said something at which he’s biting. A bit of suspension time, his dittoes going mad on the blogosphere, a lot of publicity drummed up a la Conan.
Or … maybe he just broke the damned rules and is being punished.
Either way, people are reacting to this as if this were a tragedy of immense proportions. When I pointed out to a self-righteous soul on Facebook that Keith was a millionaire who, if he had to do so, would walk away from MSNBC to another network with no trouble at all, whilst his counterparts in ordinary life are doomed to unemployment insurance which the Republican Party would love to deny them; when I pointed out to this Left Coast soul that Keith would be all right, but his ordinary life counterpart would suffer, she gave me the po-faced reply of a prima donna: “And so will liberty.”
People, this man is a millionaire pundit who lives a lifestyle, even in unemployment, of which you can only dream. He’s employed by a major news corporation for a seven-figure salary, and he’ll probably live to be employed by another news corporation for an even bigger seven-figure salary. He’ll have Cadillac healthcare until the day he dies and the best tickets to Yankees’ games.
He’s a celebrity talking head, he’s not your boyfriend or your husband or your brother or the guy you have a drink with or the fella in your old fraternity. And whilst he loves your tweets and your online petitions and your threats made to MSNBC, he’s just nto that into you.
What he is into is his own brand, his ego, the size and weight of his wallet and the ratings for the corporation which pays him. Lately, his protegee, Rachel Maddow, has been bettering Keith in the ratings stakes … and that might well have something to do with this too.
At the end of the day, Keith is a voice for Keith, and a voice for whatever MSNBC want him to promote. We have our own voices on the Left. We don’t need corporate hacks, however many charitable ventures they front or promote, voicing opinions we’re capable of forming, ourselves. We should channel our critical thinking gene, even if that sometimes means listening to opinions from the other side of the spectrum.
My guess is that Olbermann will be back. There will be a brief, perfunctory apology and then it will be business as usual, with maybe even a return of the Worst Person in the World. Last Saturday at the Rally to Restore Sanity, Keith reckoned Jon Stewart had jumped the shark when Stewart included Keith next to Glen Beck in a montage of blowhards from both political extremes who contribute to the polarisation and ineffectuality at problem-solving in this country.
Friday the shark Stewart jumped took a chunk out of Keith.
Good night and good luck.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Manning Up to Maypo Madness & Mourning in America

Two years ago, the American people delivered their mandate. They chose an intelligent, intellectual, well-spoken and inspirational African American man to lead their country as President of the United States. Not only did they merely elect him and his party, they did so resoundingly, and in such a way that the most hardened and experienced of political advisors reckoned that the Republican Party was dead in the water.

All it had taken to kill them off was 8 years of the most ineffectual, incompetent and corrupt President in the history of the United States: George W Bush.

But the American people have a problem, and this problem has developed over the past 30 years.

The American people are stupid.

The American people are childlike.

The American people are spoiled.

Thirty-four years ago, we elected another inspirational, intelligent and articulate man from the Deep South to lead our nation. He spoke to us as adults and told us the problems we faced as a nation and what we needed to do, together, to solve those problems. He tried to wean us off oil, and in the four years in which he held office, our daily oil consumption was halved. He installed solar panels in the White House. His name was Jimmy Carter, and his quest for re-election to a second term was sabotaged and doomed to failure when an American political legend, the last surviving son of a political dynasty, challenged the serving President to a primary and fought him for the nomination right up to the party convention.

When Carter secured the nomination at that convention, Ted Kennedy got drunk. No surprise, that – Kennedy and his estranged wife, Joan, were pretty much raving alcoholics during that time. Kennedy was still drunk when he appeared with Carter, in a staged show of unity, later in the evening on the podium. He barely acknowledged the man.

To the American people, the Democrats of 1980 appeared shallow, vapid, petty, divided and unfit to rule. And so a legion of them decamped to vote for the happy Gipper, who promised them a shining city on a hill and morning in America. He then proceeded to deregulate the finance and credit industries, allowing Americans, through their plastic, to learn that it was no shame to live in debt, because sometimes you just needed a brighter and shinier object than the one your neighbour had to make you feel better .. or richer.

He also repealed the Fairness Doctrine, which had, heretofore, established responsible guidelines pertaining to the reporting of news and opinion. With that repeal, he indirectly bestowed upon the American people the wisdom of Rush Limbaugh.

In response, after he had shuffled away from the Oval Office to live out the twilight of his life, eating jelly beans and dozing off in the opaque haze of Alzheimer’s, the grateful American people named an airport after him, and the Republican party idolized both the man and his tenure in office.

OK, we lost on Tuesday. Two years after a resounding triumph, which really should have sounded a death knell on the Republican Party, they’re pumped up and calling the shots, while we’re … well, we’re in vapid, shallow, divided and unfit to rule mode again – you know, acting like Democrats.
Well, I say we channel a great, fighting Democrat from the past, Harry Truman, and paraphrase a favourite saying of his:

The FUCK stops here.

You got that, Democrats? Stop it. Right now. Fall out from the circular firing squad, pointing fingers and blaming this one and that one, but mostly, the President. To quote a well-known sage from the Dark Side, we now have to regroup and reload.

Let’s take a leaf from the Republicans’ book. When everyone else was counting them down and out, they stuck together like glue. They determined a policy of no cooperation and stuck with it lock-step. They won the house on lies and platitudes, but no promises and no concrete plans. Ask them how they’re going to solve the jobs’ problem, and they change the subject. Ask them what their plans are for revitalising the economy, and they just say, “Wait and see.”

They got a message to the people without getting a message to the people. Most refused to debate their Democratic opponents. The ones who could have done so – and, maybe, brilliantly – ignored the prospect. Eric Cantor must have enormous self-esteem problems. He was reduced to being doggedly followed from county fair to book signings, by his Democratic opponent, Rick Waugh, asking, pleading, begging, demanding that he face him in a debate. Cantor refused to even recognise him. Perhaps Eric is practicing effeteness, waiting longingly for the day when his big, rich, Protestant Christian corporate financers invite him into the sacred portals of their exclusive country clubs for a round of golf and a four-course dinner.

Forget it, Eric. You’re nothing more than their pet Jew, their own personal little Semitic Step’n Fetchit.

And when these people did debate Democratic opponents, they showed their ignorance – like Christine O’Donnell, smugly telling Chris Coons, a constitutional lawyer, that he didn’t know the Constitution, asking pertly where exactly “separation of Church and State” was in the Constitution she professed to love so much she carried a copy with her wherever she went.
Well, Eric the Avoider is back in the Nation’s Capital and on course to be the next House Majority Leader, whilst Gidget Goes to Washington didn’t make Washington. (Never mind the fact that she’ll probably be picked up by Fox News for a seven-figure salary along with Sean Hannity in her pocket, but there you go.)

I’m not saying we Democrats should do all that – act like assholes and – well, act like ignorant assholes. But we should learn the language of lockstep for our own survival.

Look, I know we’re a big tent. You look at a Democratic convention, and you see America. You look at a Republican convention, and you see apartheid. Not only are we Democrats diverse ethnically and demographically, we’re also diverse philosophically -Blue Dogs, centrist Third Way proponents, liberals, progressives, whatever: At the end of the day, we’re still Democrats.

Listen, if you scratch a Republican, you’ll find they’re pretty diverse philosophically too. A Jim DeMint is no way like a Richard Lugar; Rand Paul is no Olympia Snowe. But they know how to close ranks when the going gets tough.

Three days ago, I stumbled upon something pretty disturbing – various writers and commenters amongst the Democratic base are now referring to our President as “the Affirmative Action President.”

That’s disgusting, but it proves a point I’ve been making for months and for which I’ve been roundly criticized by some of the so-called open minds which make up a part of that base. The Right treat the President like an uppity n-word, and some elements of the Progressive Left treat him like the lovechild of an Affirmative Action appointee and Prissy from Gone With the Wind.

Another thing I read this week, which was pretty alarming, was the fact that only 9% of young people voted this time. The New York Times published an article wherein the reporter asked various young voters why they weren’t bothering to go to the polls on Tuesday. One kid replied that he couldn’t be bothered with Obama because Obama didn’t go on The Daily Show enough.


That’s pretty stupid.

But then, we’re pretty stupid. In fact, we’re so stupid, that we expect this President to undo shoddy practices that started in earnest 30 years ago and were exacerbated during the first 8 years of this decade – in other words, right the wrongs of 30 years in 2.

People are hurting, that’s true. People have lost jobs, education’s gone downhill, and the dollar in your pocket is leaner; but we have to look in the mirror sometime and acknowledge that we were encouraged to embrace greed and pleasure as an antidote to actually paying attention to what was really happening in our country during those years.

Wasn’t it a wise, Republican sage who advised us to go shopping in the wake of 9/11? Then he set about reminding us of what mortal danger we were in, so that we remained in a state of perpetual fear. Hey, it’s always easy to control frightened children.

The Left has spent so much time bickering and backbiting during the past two years, that we’ve actually come to the point where most of us refuse to listen to the President. Why listen to him anyway, when you’ve got the pundits on television to do that for you? Anyway, the President’s lost his campaign gift of eloquence and is no longer capable of communication.

Listen to another pundit, and you’re told that the President just “isn’t into” the Middle Class problems – never mind the fact that he only awarded them their biggest tax cut in history.

The President and we the people of the Left have been ill-served by our self-appointed media outlet, MSNBC. They purport to be the polar opposite of Fox. Well, Fox always had George Bush’s back. Bush could have barbecued puppies on the South Lawn of the White House and served them up on a bed of babies’ heads, and Fox would have convinced its audience that that was the most normal thing in the world.

I’m not saying that the President shouldn’t be criticized. He should. He expects it, but MSNBC has gratuitous criticism down to an art form. The President’s party got smacked in the mid-terms. We lost the House and have a slim majority in the Senate. That’s a fact of life. Politics, at least for the next two years, are going to resemble kabuki theatre. The first thing the President did – which was the first thing Bill Clinton did in 1994 and Ronald Reagan in 1982 and LBJ in 1966 and Harry Truman in 1946 – is shoulder the blame and extend the olive branch, saying that now, more than ever, the two parties have to find some common ground and work together. I’m sorry, but that’s a fact of life.

But in the wake of this, we get the likes of Ed Schultz pussifying the President and Michael Moore adamantly stating that “the President just doesn’t get it” and advocating fist-banging and dictating.

How patronising.

And then come the rumours already of a possible primary challenge in 2012 from either Russ Feingold or Howard Dean, and sll the dittoes on the Huffington Post gleefully hope for this, refusing to believe that this would result in the truly frightening prospect of President Palin and the Party of Winkin’. Or maybe they just subscribe to the Meghan McCain school of history: “I wasn’t born then so I just don’t know (and don’t care).”
Michele Bachmann is interviewed, first by Chris Matthews and then by Anderson Cooper, and totally ignores the questions asked her – with Cooper, going on a totally unjustified and untrue rant about the President’s upcoming state visit to India costing the taxpayer $200 billion dollars – a fact she nabbed totally from Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck, who actually went on to fantasize about the President being assassinated whilst on this tour.

And MSNBC doesn’t answer this crap at all, save for Rachel, whom I’m convinced is the only journalist in that entity with any integrity. Instead Schultz gets his time in castigating the President for complying with the Republicans, while Moore adds to the already incessant Huffington meme that the President doesn’t get America, Americans or his party.
Michael, I think he does.

The man isn’t stupid. He knows, without having to hear it from Mitch McConnell or John BONER, that these guys want him vacating the premises in 2012. They would do anything, including foisting an unqualified, ignorant and vindictive person on the nation, convincing the soccer and Walmart moms that she’s just like us. They would stomp on heads and promote vicious lies. They would sell their collective souls to ensure that the only black man in the White House is serving coffee to them, instead of sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office. He knows what he can do. He knows what he can’t do.

And he needs our support now more than ever. The Democrats in the Senate and those remaining in the House have got to learn to act en bloc. No voting against the party and no posturing. And we, their constituents, have not only got to make sure that our elected officials do that – after all, our taxes pay their salaries – we have to ensure that we remain en bloc too.

Anyone wanting to primary this President needs to get out of the way. There’s another party waiting to embrace you. They’re called the GOP. Anybody believing the Huffington meme that the President doesn’t care about the middle class needs to read a bit of her pedigree too.

Treehugging Newt Gingrich on holiday in August isn’t my idea of what the self-appointed Voice of Progressives should be doing.

And Ed Schultz’s rant in response to Robert Gibbs’s Professional Left criticism in August, when Schultz demanded that Progressives stay home instead of voting, would put him in pole position to be considered Press Secretary for the new Republican Majority Leader and fellow Virginian – just imagine, Reckless Eric and Big Ed Do Washington.

The first thing we on the Left have to do is man up, as Sharron Angle, the Gladys Kravits of the Republican Party advised Harry Reid. (I guess he was more “man up” than she imagined, considering that he’s bound for Washington and another six-year term and she’s left in Nevada bleaching her sheets in anticipation of having to confront all those brown-skinned Asians creeping across the non-existent Canadian boundary fence in order to terrorise Americans). Manning up means learning to recognise that a lot of what we’re dished up by the so-called progressive media (be it 24/7 cable or internet) is a load of hoke, that they have an agenda (which is usually their ego, their wallet size, their ratings/clicks and the corporate entity that’s funding them), and that we’re perfectly capable of formulating our own opinions, thank you very much.

We the people are entitled to be responsibly informed by a responsible media. When MSNBC parses the President’s every word, second-guesses his every action, and promotes on a daily basis the possibility of Sarah Palin mounting a Presidential campaign , they’re not serving us very well at all and are no friend either to us, the Democratic Party or the President.

We’ve got a rough two years ahead of us, and we have to start acting cohesively by turning OFF irresponsible pundits and tuning into our own critical thought processes.

Otherwise, we’re in for an indefinite period of mourning in America.

If that doesn’t scare you, just remember that a drunken friend of corporate lobbyists is two heartbeats away from the Presidency now.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Chris Matthews & Arianna Huffington's Moment of Zen

I hope Jon Stewart, when he finally returned to his home in New York yesterday, in between recovering from a week in the Nation’s Capital, an interview with the President, a highly successful Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear and seeing his children off trick-or-treating on Hallowe’en night, that he had time to watch a special weekend edition of Chris Matthews’s Hardball on MSNBC yesterday evening.
I suppose, this being the last weekend before the Mid-Term elections on Tuesday, MSNBC had decided to forego its usual weekend prison fare for election coverage; and if Stewart had decided to enjoy a cup of joe (not Scarborough) with an hour of political television, he just may have found a real moment of zen for Monday’s edition of The Daily Show.

At one point in the program, Matthews decided to discuss the significance of Stewart’s rally from the previous day, in a roundtable discussion with Steve Kornacki of Salon.com and Arianna Huffington.

According to the old proverb, things happen in threes, and Huffington certainly lived up to that one yesterday with three separate appearances on three different networks, for what reason, the God in which I don’t believe only knows. First, she was popped up opposite George Will on ABC’s This Week, talking about “the rally” in between preaching her usual sermon of late about how Obama doesn’t “get it” and can’t communicate and – oh – how we musn’t overestimate the significance of the Mid-Terms – all this from a political pundit, whose total experience of politics comes from her gay ex-husband’s two-year stint as an ueber-Rightwing Congressman from California, a crush on Newt Gingrich, which led her to campaign actively online for the impeachment of Bill Clinton, and the ability not onlyto transform herself, within a 24-hour timescale, from a rabidly neocon conservative to the voice of Progressive politics, but to be taken seriously as such by a news and information media whose apparent shortage of gray matter is all to obvious.

Then she appeared on Howard Kurz’s CNN program, to discuss – yes – the rally and, once again, how Obama just “isn’t getting it” and hasn’t got a clue, as evidenced by his performance on Stewart’s Daily Show on the previous Wednesday evening.

And now, here she was, at the end of the day, cropping up on Matthew’s show, without so much as having time to change her ensemble.

Appearing on Hard Ball is a new experience for Huffington. Two-and-a-half years ago, she was banned from appearing on all things NBC, by the late Tim Russert, who was a particular enemy. Russert’s wife, the writer Maureen Orth, had inadvertantly outed Huffington’s ex-husband, whilst writing a profile of the couple for The New Yorker in 1996, when Michael Huffington was challenging Diane Feinstein for the U S Senate.

Arianna, who’s pretty adept at bearing a grudge, never forgot; and when she started The Huffington Post, made sure that every Monday she had a special column marked “Russert Watch”, where she systematically and mercilessly dissected Russert’s performance during the previous day’s Meet the Press, in a highly personal diatribe.
At the beginning of 2008, Huffington published a book entitled Right is Wrong, in which she devoted an entire chapter, basically telling people what a shit Tim Russert was. It amounted to about forty pages of sensationalised character assassination.

When the book hit the shops and Huffington, huckster of her own personal brand that she is, took to the talk shows trying (again unsuccessfully) to get the book a slot on the New York Times’s bestseller’s list, Russert unceremoniously banned her from any NBC-related news and information program for the duration of his tenure as news chief. That ban meant Keith Olbermann having to cancel Huffington’s appearance on the morning of the evening she was due to appear.

Of course, Russert died shortly afterward, and the ban was lifted, by all of the MSNBC 24/7 pundits, save one: Chris Matthews. Out of respect for Russert, Matthews never asked Huffington to guest on his show … until very recently.

A regular contributor to Hardball and a frequent guest is Howard Fineman, late of Newsweek and now of The Huffington Post. No sooner than Howard the Hack had claimed office space in HuffPo’s Soho headquarters, than there he was again on Chris’s late afternoon show, but this time, with Mommy in tow. My speculation is that Huffington threw her weight about with Howard and somehow fanagled a long-overdue invitation from Matthews (no less a hack than Howard, himself) to appear and to weigh in on current political affairs with her usual gravitas and imponderable knowledge (tongue planted firmly in cheek).

So last night, there they were, with Steve Kornacki, discussing Stewart’s rally, specifically that part which Matthews deemed to be the core message of the whole event, summed up in Stewart’s amusing, yet deadly serious, verbal editorial at the end of the affair: a polite, yet accurate invective against the one thing in America that’s aiding and abetting the polarization and gridlock stagnating the political perspective of the day: the 24/7 cable news media.

Immediately before Stewart gave his speech, his cohort, Stephen Colbert, made a rollcall of the guiltiest parties by showing the 24/7 cable networks’ biggest big mouths on the jumbotrons overhead. There, transmitted throughout the world, were open-mouthed images of Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Ed Schultz, Keith Olbermann … and Chris Matthews.

Was Matthews affected by this? To quote a well-known sage, “You betcha.” Nor was he pleased about it, and he was about to make some Americans squirm.

Matthews first allowed Huffington some self-publicity: she’d hired enough buses to transport 10,000 people from New York City to Washington for the event, for free. A friend of mine and her husband, who live on nearby Long Island, hitched a ride. There and back in a day, I gave her the benefit of a doubt for donating something at her expense that would enable cash-strapped people in difficult times to have a pleasant, if long, day out at what promised to be a fun event.

But when Huffington, in her bragging, started talking about people coming from as far away as Hawaii and California, of a man flying to New York City, just to ride down on the bus, I started wondering how hard up America really was – and this thought emanated from austerity Britain. Two hundred fifty thousand people attended that rally, from all over the United States. Hotels were fully booked as far away as Winchester and Culpeper, Virginia, to accommodate the pilgrims. Hotel rooms and transportation cost money, and I began to wonder if what my British husband always says is true: that hard-up America always equals middle class Britain.

Matthews’ opinion of the rally, which he attended for a couple of hours, was that, whilst it was a great success, it wasn’t political – not that it was ever intended to be, as Stewart repeatedly maintained. Kornacki, rightly, surmised that the rally was for a particular type of person – possibly the person who had voted for Obama in 2008 and still supported him, but who didn’t watch cable news. It was, Kornacki continued, a criticism of how the cable news industry had appropriated the whole of the responsible news media and turned it into a sick circus, intent on obsessing about the most trivial of aspects to the extent that it was no longer communicating responsibly with the people it was supposed to serve.

The news media is the means by which any Presidential Administration gets its message across to the electorate, and anyone with a modicum of common sense knows that this particular Administration has been ill-served by the 24/7 cable industry, and ill-served as much by MSNBC as by its own polar opposite, Fox News.

I thought Stewart’s speech the highlight of the entire event, and anyone watching The Daily Show regulary knows that Stewart’s bete noire is the cable news industry’s obsession with a trivial fact or word to the point that it elevates a triviality to something of such importance that it can destroy a person’s reputation forever.
In fact, Rachel Maddow did something similar in her show of October 18th, about the media adopting Republican narratives for the Mid-Terms. You can watch her brilliant assessment, via this link:-

This is very Stewartesque – showing how the Republican talking points which “define” these Mid-Terms – the growing deficit (not), the failed stimulus (not), Obamacare, anti-incumbent fervor and immigration – have been appropriated and pushed onto the public by not only Fox News, but also CNN and Maddow’s own employers, MSNBC.

Stewart’s meme was articulately expressed in his end-of-rally rant. He may have been preaching to the choir, but it behooved him to remind America that we were living in “hard times, not end times” as opposed to Glenn Beck’s frantic apocalyptic message; that we should be able to have animus – and animus con brio – without making enemies of our opponents. (That statement made me wonder, sadly, if Orrin Hatch feels a pang of loneliness for Ted Kennedy’s presence, looking across the aisle, but not daring to reach across it for fear of condemnation by the purists. It makes me wonder if Tom Corbyn remembers that his best friend, as a freshman Senator, was the lanky junior Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama.

Stewart alliteratively expressed our malaise, in somewhat Bushian terms, as being that the “27/7 politico pundit perpetual panic conflitonator isn’t the cause of our problems, but it makes the solving of them even harder.”

Matthews got this message, and it burnt him to the quick, but he was setting a subtle trap, and he was ready to spring.

This was not politics, he insisted. (Well, nobody – least of all, Stewart – said it was). But he demanded to know, exactly what positive aspect for the American political process did this rally signify? Stewart was criticizing the media, he harrumped. What was his alternative.

Well, pleb that I am, I could offer a humble alternative, by applying the law of supply and demand. We simply are bombarded with too much information and too much news. There is 24/7 cable news in the UK and on the Continent. We have BBC News 24 and Sky (which is Fox) and CNN International. No one watches these unless something monumentally catastrophic has happened or unless, simply, one misses the six o’clock news broadcast or the ten o’clock one. In short, no one watches news for entertainment, or infotainment as it’s known in the States.

A few years ago, Peter Sissons, a childhood friend of John Lennon’s and an esteemed news broadcaster with the BBC, retired. Upon his retirement, the Corporation asked him to write an exit essay to be published in the BBC’s in-house magazine. The esssay was an answer to a question of how the news industry had changed since Sissons started in the genre adn whther that change was for the better or the worse.

Sissons’s subject was the 24/7 news culture, which, he reckoned, was bad because it trivialised the news to such and extent that stories of no import on the national or international stage were elevated, wrongly, to levels of undue importance. This is what we see, and it’s certainly what Stewart sees, all the time; and nowhere does it occur more than with our President – whose every word is parced and every inch of body movement interpreted and analysed.

How many of us remember how better informed we were, and how, even the least educated of us, were able to form an opinion about an important newsworthy event, aided only by the 7pm news broadcast and the daily newspaper? Who remembers how the VietNamese war became universally unpopular?

But I digress.

Matthews wanted to know, from his panel of two, what Stewart meant and what his alternative to the malaise of 24/7 cable news was. He took umbrage, calling The Daily Show a candy moment as opposed to the cut-and-thrust argument of the 24/7 opinionators.

And this is when the fragrant Huffington wandered unwittingly into the trap big, bad Chris had set.

You can watch this for yourselves via this link- the fun begins right at the 6:22 mark:-

Huffington starts off by sweetly trilling an interpretation of what Stewart really meant. Keep in mind that Huffington has now “appropriated” Stewart, even if he hasn’t returned the appropriation, by virtue of the fact that her busing in 10,000 people to the event means somehow she now has a vested interest in The Daily Show, itself; but Jon Stewart is no Bill Maher, who’ll jump to Huffington’s call; and it’s mete to remember that Huffington is an opportunist. If Glenn Beck had agreed to blog regularly on Huffington Post when she cornered him at the Time dinner back in December 2009, and had he actually done so, you’d have found Huffington would have bused in 10,000 blue rinses, complete with tricorn hats, teabags, Zimmer frames and portable oxygen tanks for the Rally to Restor Honor on 8/28.

No, Huffington explained in her Zsa Zsa-meets-Orly voice, Stewart wanted “us, the media,” to take the magnifying glass used to emphasize the pejorative nature of every item reported and, instead, magnify the good about our society, the things we do that actually work, she finished.

Matthews cocked a cynical eye at that remark.

“Oh,” he caustically remarked. “Is that what you do at The Huffington Post then?”
Huffington was completely wrong-footed by that remark and affected not to understand its meaning.

Matthews obliged her misunderstanding by clarifying his intent. “Is that what you do all day at The Huffington Post?” he repeated. “You just report that there were no accidents on the road last night, and everybody slept nicely in their beds?”
Huffington, with that annoying botoxed smile engraved on her face, protested demurely. That isn’t what HuffPo does at all, she insisted, and she went on to tell about some cockamamie project where they recognise some ordinary person each day who does extraordinary things in these hard times. They even stick a cyber pin on a wall map to note where the extraordinary deeds are taking place.

(As a regular reader of HuffPo, I had to stop and think about this; because – I must admit – I’d never noticed it. Then I realised it must be her “Game Changers” malarkey that she touts from time to time. That said, the oh-so-ordinary plebs who make mention never get the front page treatment. They simply aren’t celebrities, dahlink.)
Furthermore, she continued, Stewart is simply saying that when people say something about other people, it should be factually true – when you call someone a “Marxist”, make sure they are a Marxist. (This, more than anything, told me this intellectual lightweight of a parvenue has a first class degree in stating the bleeding obvious; it also laid her wide open for another Matthews trap, shortly to come – because Arianna, more than anyone, doesn’t let facts get in the way of her ad hominem).
Kornacki, at this point, feeling a bit forlorn on the fringes of the conversation, tried to interject that passionate political behaviour was nothing new, that ad hominem and partisanship had been part and parcel of the sainted Founding Fathers’ political diet; but Huffington interrupted him to show off her knowledge of Thomas Jefferson quotes, before Chris Matthews interrupted Madam, herself.

He thought Stewart’s venture was a fabulous rally, he declared with finality, preparing his flytrap. Indeed, he repeated, he thought it fabulous; but what he disdained, he continued, was that someone could come onto his show, attempting to explain Stewart’s critique as something that person practiced as a matter of course and purporting to be better than anyone else.

Matthews got it. Huffington didn’t.

“Who is saying they are better than anyone else, Chrees?” she asked, innocently.
“You are,” snapped Matthews, brusquely.

Matthews might be as much a political hack as Howard Fineman. He may have spent the best part of this first decade of the 21st Century with his nose lodged up Dubya Bush’s backside. He may have racist tendencies which surface from time to time, and he might be a company man, whose loyalty is to the Corporation which pays him a seven-figure salary. He might purport to be an ordinary guy, but have a summer home in Nantucket; but he knows a media whore when he sees one.

He remembers the part Huffington played in ratcheting up and deliberately misinforming the Left’s base (as ignorant in their own way as their counterparts on the Right) – during the healtcare debate and at other times. He remembers her call for Joe Biden to resign and lead a revolt against the President. He knows who refers to President Obama as “Nowhere Man.” And as much as he was responsible for discrediting the campaign of Hillary Clinton, he knows who not only conducted a viciously personal vendetta against her candidacy by means of her online aggregate, he also knows the part Huffington played in vociferously calling for Bill Clinton to be impeached.

If Chris Matthews is dirty cable politics, then Arianna Huffington is worse. Her unfounded dirt pollutes the cyber world, when she isn’t being asked by the cable and analogue networks to expound upon her so-called political expertise. She’s nurtured Breitbart and unleashed his type of journalism on the profession. Her silence during the Shirley Sherrod fiasco was deafening, as deafening as the disruptive message she’s currently preaching to the confused and conflicted element of the extreme Left, which she’s hoping to get through to the Middle Classes – that Obama isn’t “that into them” or their plight, all the while interspersed with the doctrine of trickledown being the only way.

Her trifecta of appearances this last Sunday before the Mid-Terms may have been to remind her ditzy political dittoes of her influence in subtly dissuading them from going to the voting booths at all, it certainly was for the promotion of her own brand and to remind everyone that she played a notable part in ensuring the success, singlehandedly, of Jon Stewart’s rally, thus enabling her to ride his coattails in hopes he’ll grace her site with a blog … but in her last appearance of the day, Madam was well and truly pwned.

To think of how much she’s tried to divide and disseminate the Democratic base, to the advantage of the Republicans she secretly still supports, it was divine karma to see that part of the news media, so heavily criticized by Jon Stewart, actually turn on itself and begin the cannibalistic feed.

Don’t forget to vote Democratic on Tuesday.