Friday, November 30, 2007

Help Me Figure This Out

On November 20th, the New York Times (and other MSM) went all gushy about how wonderful Baghdad is these days, what with refugees returning and children being shown pictures of Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis holding hands and being kissy-face. But this morning an NYT article by Michael Gordon and Stephen Farrell (“Iraq Lacks Plan on the Return of Refugees, Military Says”) reports: “All these guys coming back are probably going to find somebody else living in their house,” said Col. William Rapp, a senior aide to Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, speaking at a two-day military briefing on measuring military trends for a small group of American reporters in Baghdad. “We have been asking, pleading with the government of Iraq, to come up with a policy so that it is not put upon our battalion commanders and the I.S.F. battalion commanders to figure it out on the ground,” he added, referring to the American and Iraqi security force commanders. Explain this to me, please. President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and a bunch of war-mongering, war profiteering Bush administration neocons lied the US into attacking Iraq. They then installed a puppet government in Iraq that had no power and was ruled by the Bush administration. Then, since the Bush administration had no military to speak of, it used mercenary guns-for-hire thugs to ostensibly fight in Iraq but which thugs killed Iraqis out of malice and for fun and sport. Here’s what I can’t understand: General David Petraeus tried to bribe the Iraqi people and handed out money from the backs of trucks which ended up in the hands of US enemies; this same General David Petraeus lost track of thousands and thousands of US weapons in Iraq which ended up in the hands of US enemies. Now General David Petraeus is whining and moaning. He says he has been “pleading” with the Bush administration’s powerless puppet government in Iraq to “come up with a policy” for dealing with returning refugees whose homes have been usurped by Iraqis because their own homes were destroyed by the Bush administration’s illegal, senseless and failed war in Iraq. Why is it up to the Iraqis to come up with a policy? Why is that not part of George W. Bush’s great plan for the rehabilitation of Iraq and the Iraqis? The Bush administration has bankrupted the United States with its failed, silly, irresponsible war In Iraq. The Iraqi people were minding their own business in whatever way they could when the Bush administration attacked them. Why shouldn’t the Bush administration at least come up with a policy for dealing with returning refugees? The Bush administration broke Iraq. Iraq now belongs to the Bush administration. Why is General David Petraeus sniveling like a little girl about the situation in Iraq which he, George W. Bush, the Bush administration and the Republican neocons caused? I will tell you this, however: If you can explain this to me in words that make sense to you, I will NEVER, not on my sunniest, most accepting and loving day, EVER understand your convoluted logic.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Let’s See, What’s Happened Since My Last RB?

NOTHING! And my last RB was November 25, It’s not that there isn’t newsworthy stuff going on. It’s that no one in a leadership position is doing or saying anything newsworthy. CNN keeps trying to create controversy where none exists, like between Democrat candidates for president. Did Obama dis Clinton? Did former President Clinton put his foot in Hillary’s mouth? Does it matter? NO! However, I will say that Wolf Blitzer’s interview with President Bush yesterday was very nice. It showed the Prez being the consummate asshole that only George W. Bush can be. I had meant to write something about Trent Lott (R-MS) on November 27th but came down with a cold and just gave in to it for three days. But Lott gave me the best laugh I’ve had since the Castro clone warned the US that Cuba would retaliate with pre-World War II bombers if the US doesn’t sweeten its tone re Cuba. Lott announced he was retiring from the Senate before year’s end. When asked why he was retiring so soon after his 2006 election with five years left on his term, he said he had wanted o leave the Senate after his previous term ended, but “Katrina intervened and I ran again because the people I loved so much were still struggling”. Hahahahahahahahahaha! As the LA Times noted: Is Lott cashing in his chips or cashing in his chits? Trent Lott considering anyone or anything but Trent Lott is the funniest thing I’ve heard in days. I chose to watch a Project Runway rerun and then a Project Runway new episode last night rather than the CNN/YouTube-sponsored Republican Debate last night. This morning the postmortems on the debate featured words like “fireworks”, and “withering cross-fire”. Oh please! New York Times columnist Gail Collins said it was “wacky”. I'm sure that's closer to the mark. Collins said the only candidate who sounded at all sane was McCain, but that was just before he too went nutty and started refighting the war in Vietnam. Collins tag line was, “Maybe they’ll (the Repub candidates) vacillate until the bitter end, leaving it all up to the final primary in South Dakota in June. And that would be great. Finally, instead of allowing a few thousand corn farmers to decide the fate of the nation, we could place the power where it rightfully belongs, with a few thousand wheat farmers.”

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I Haven’t Done a Ratbang in 4 Days

And yet, nothing earthshaking has been going on. George W. Bush is still an idiot. Anyone defending George W. Bush, or suggesting we vote for anyone defending George W. Bush is still an idiot. It’s a half-hour before the Sunday morning talk shows, and I will guarantee that nothing new will be said. A rerun of the last four Sunday morning talk shows may just as well ramble across our screens because today’s boring baloney will be the same old same old. However, I would like to ask one question. What with the writers’ strike having paralyzed most TV shows including Letterman, Leno and The Daily Show, how come the Dem and Repub campaigns and debates are allowed on television? Nothing could possibly be more scripted than those productions. They couldn’t even pass muster as reality TV. Oh...but I have to say, the funniest thing I’ve seen on television in months that hadn’t been put under the Jon Stewart microscope was on CNN Thursday night. Thanksgiving being a slow news night, we were treated to a replay of a few salient moments during a speech given by Fidel Castro’s latest impersonator on Monday when he threatened the United States that if it didn’t stop its anti-Cuba policies Cuba would retaliate in no uncertain terms. "You would not win that war,” Castroman said. “You will not find glory in military action against Cuba, your march on Cuba would not be easy," the man wearing the Castro olive-green garb said, standing in front of a huge poster of Bush wearing a uniform and sporting a Hitler moustache. The photo caption read: "Bush, Fascist: There Is No Aggression Cuba Cannot Resist." If the US mounted a war on Cuba, Castroman warned in his 35-minute speech that, “it would be something that would be very sad...An incursion into Cuba, my physical absence or other reasons would not cause any damage to our capacity to fight and resist...They (the US) will not have one day, one hour, one minute, even one second to prevent the military and political leadership of the country from being immediately taken by my successors.” Cuba has “more than 200,000 well-trained soldiers who know how to use weapons and a large number of combatants who know very well the strong and weak points of those who threaten us...The orders of what is to be done have already been given. I will be the first in line to die for my country,” Castroman said, shaking an admonishing finger. And then we were shown pictures of Cuba’s air force: World War II vintage (and older) planes and their bombing capabilities that seemed like weapons strapped to the underbellies with duct tape. During his speech, Castro also announced that Cuba would offer free health care to 3,000 Americans, the same number of Americans who died in the 9/11 attacks. However, we were not shown Cuba’s healthcare facilities. Being deprived of new Jon Stewart shows, the latest reality TV from Cuba was very welcome.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

NYT’s Latest Iraq Propaganda Message

“Baghdad Starts to Exhale as Security Improves”, a headline in the New York Times boasted this morning. “Iraqis are clearly surprised and relieved to see commerce and movement finally increase, five months after an extra 30,000 American troops arrived in the country,” reporters Damien Cave and Alissa J. Rubin enthuse from Baghdad. But even the NYT had to admit, “The depth and sustainability of the changes remain open to question.” The reporters interviewed people who have returned to Baghdad. A few were quoted in the article. Mrs. Aasan has gone back to work in a library with two other women. Their children accompany them to work. It is “an oasis of calm,” the NYT article says. “A small library in eastern Baghdad, where on several recent afternoons, about a dozen children bounced through the rooms, reading, laughing, learning English and playing music on a Yamaha keyboard...Brightly colored artwork hangs on the walls: images of gardens, green and lush; Iraqi soldiers smiling; and Arabs holding hands with Kurds.” Of course, as the NYT reporters acknowledge, “It is all deliberately idyllic. Mrs. Aasan and the other two women at the library have banned violent images, guiding the children toward portraits of hope. The children are also not allowed to discuss the violence they have witnessed.” One of Mrs. Aasan’s children witnessed two dead bodies with their eyes gouged out, which has affected the boy enough to scar him permanently. However, if the children don’t talk about the violence and if no one else in Iraq talks about the violence and if no one in the United States talks about the violence, perhaps we can all forget about it and just go to the seashore. The NYT article says: “The security improvements in most neighborhoods are real. Days now pass without a car bomb, after a high of 44 in the city in February. The number of bodies appearing on Baghdad’s streets has plummeted to about 5 a day, from as many as 35 eight months ago, and suicide bombings across Iraq fell to 16 in October, half the number of last summer and down sharply from a recent peak of 59 in March, the American military says.” Oh great! And the NYT goes on to gush, “As a result, for the first time in nearly two years, people are moving with freedom around much of this city. In more than 50 interviews across Baghdad, it became clear that while there were still no-go zones, more Iraqis now drive between Sunni and Shiite areas for work, shopping or school, a few even after dark. In the most stable neighborhoods of Baghdad, some secular women are also dressing as they wish. Wedding bands are playing in public again, and at a handful of once shuttered liquor stores customers now line up outside in a collective rebuke to religious vigilantes from the Shiite Mahdi Army.” Oh wunderbar! Oh BULLSHIT!!!!! And one (this in, ME) wonders: How much money did the Pentagon pay out to get a few people to move back to Baghdad? Surely not as much as General David Petraeus doled out from the backs of trucks when he loaded up plastic bags with untold wads of US dollars and gave them to whomever put their hands out—as in, members of armed militias, members of Al Qaeda, Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds...whoever the fuck wanted it and there was no accounting of it whatsoever. No, surely not as much as Petraeus stupidly tried to use as bribes and in the end enriched the enemy with. But it would be fun to know how much the Pentagon spent this time around. Oh, but let’s keep our mouths shut like those unfortunate children in Baghdad who are not allowed to talk about what they’ve seen. Let’s just shut our mouths and pass whatever bills George W. Bush wants passed to fund his idiotic Iraq war. And let’s read the NYT’s sunny reports of renewed life in Baghdad caused by the most recent influx of Bush administration troops, who, apparently are not getting killed anymore, but are beloved by the happy, laughing Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds who are dancing hand in hand together. Seashore, anyone?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Republican Logic

I can’t even remember who said it, or on which Sunday morning talk-show it was said yesterday. And it doesn’t matter, because it’s the general Republican stance on funding the war in Iraq. And that is: We have to keep funding the Bush administration’s illegal and unethical war in Iraq because not to keep funding the illegal and unethical war would be unpatriotic and treasonous and would endanger our troops who are being forced to fight an illegal and unethical war. In other words (as our monumentally ignorant president is fond of saying when he defines the obvious), according to Republicans: When one is held hostage by thugs, it would be a civil wrong and an outrage to try to stop the thugs from committing a crime. The responsibility of endangering our troops in Iraq does NOT EVER devolve to those who are trying to stop the war. Endangering our troops is ALWAYS AND FOREVER the burden of those who lied us into the war. If the Democrats succeeded in getting the votes to stop the war and pull our troops out tomorrow, any deaths and chaos resulting after we pulled out would still only be due to those who lied us into the war. The other bit of nonsensical Republican logic is that those who believed the Bush administration’s lies are equally responsible for the war in Iraq. NO! NO! AND NO! Those who lied us into the war are solely responsible for the carnage, deaths, and chaos of the war in Iraq. So what does that mean as regards a pullout strategy? It means that the war needs to be ended and troops sent home in the most expeditious and morally mindful way possible. But without guilt of any sort by anyone except those who started and abetted the war. And yes, ending this war will be painful and deaths will occur. But we must never forget who started this mess, and who is finally responsible for this mess: THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION. The cleanup crew has an unenviable job but is never responsible for the ugliness caused by reckless, stupid, drunk, sociopathic morons.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

New York Times Gets it Wrong...Again

This morning, in an article (“Bush Failed to See Musharraf’s Faults, Critics Contend” by Sheryl Gay Stolberg) about President Bush’s defense of Pakistan’s President, the NYT says “It has been an unlikely partnership: a president intent on promoting democracy and a military commander who seized power in a bloodless coup.” To advance that lie, is bad journalism at best and Republican propaganda at worst. President George W. Bush has never in his entire sorry life been intent on promoting democracy. If it can be said Bush has any intention other than promoting himself and the policies of GOP warmongering neocons, his intention has been to destroy democracy in the United States and to install Bush administration fascism in the countries the US invades. The NYT went on to claim that Bush’s critics say “Mr. Bush looked at General Musharraf and saw a democratic reformer when he should have seen a dictator instead.” Nonsense. The president of the United States looked at the President of Pakistan and saw a dictator whom he admired and craved to emulate. According to the New York Times “Mr. Bush is backing away from the leader he once called a man of ‘courage and vision,’ and critics are asking whether the president misread his Pakistani counterpart.” George W. Bush seems to be backing away from Musharraf because he’s been told the outcry against Musharraf has become deafening to everyone but George W. Bush and that Republicans have to answer for it. However, Bush's reading of Pervez Musharraf was perfect and right on the money. Bush still thinks of Musharraf as a friend and still sees his modus operandi as inspired. The ideal of democratic rule is not in either man’s playbook. While the New York Times keeps on whitewashing George W. Bush’s dismal record of backing the wrong horse and tearing down democracy at home and around the world, the NYT at least keeps on publishing Frank Rich’s columns. Which I am convinced are read by more people than read Sheryl Stolberg’s articles. And today’s is a beaut! This morning, Frank Rich reminds New Yorkers of some of the smarmier facts about ex-New York Mayor and now-presidential contender Rudy Giuliani. These unwelcome flashbacks for New Yorkers will be first-time disclosures to many people across the US. And since it’s my belief that if, God forbid, Giuliani is elected President, he will simply be a smarter and nastier George W. Bush, I am hopeful millions of people read Frank Rich (“What ‘That Regan Woman” Knows”) this morning. The Regan Woman is Judith Regan who has mounted a $100 million lawsuit against her former employer, HarperCollins. Regan is the one who was behind the O.J. Simpson book-publishing fiasco, “If I Did It”. But that’s not Regan's major achievement. It’s what she could reveal about Rudy Giuliani and his protégé Bernard Kerik, not to mention the Rupert Murdoch Empire that is enticing. The entire voting public needs to know the Rudy Giuliani that New Yorkers came to know and despise. Read Frank Rich today.

Friday, November 16, 2007

No, I Didn’t Watch the Dem Debate Last Night

And I didn’t watch for the same reason that lately I can hardly bear to watch any national news coverage for more than ten minutes. Whether it’s news shows or debates, it’s not about covering news stories, it’s about ratings. And how does a TV news program (or a debate) keep the attention of a public that has the attention span of a gnat? The TV program sinks to the level of the lowest common denominator. Which means it panders to that group’s partiality for public humiliation, train wrecks, natural disasters and sticky buns that look like Jesus. There were two quotes in the The New York Times account of the debate that were absolutely true. 1) Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) said he was worried about there being "shrillness to the debate.” Since everyone was attacking Hillary Clinton (D-NY), and the word shrill is usually used about women, he probably meant her shrillness. And shrillness has come into the debate. But it’s the men who are beginning to sound shrill, nasty and catty. 2) And Clinton said that the other candidates were not attacking her because she’s a woman. She said they are attacking her because she’s ahead. And that’s certainly true. But oh my GOD! I am so sick of the childish, boring, shrill, predictable, harangues on the news. I am so sick of the candidates going after each other rather than giving us cogent explications of their plans and ideas. I am so sick of wall-to-wall twenty-four-seven coverage of the same people yammering about the same things day after day. And BTW. Has CNN’s Lou Dobbs lost his mind? Talk about shrill and yammering. Is that why they bumped him off his 6:00 slot and put him on at 7:00? Not that it makes much difference. Wolf Blitzer simply yammers at a lower decibel and in a more pleasing key.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Aw Jeeze! It's True...I Should Have Said...

"Since Eliot Spitzer is a Republican at heart"...I apologize.
Two Heartening News Stories Republican bullies are having to rethink their positions because of public outcry. 1) New York Governor Eliot Spitzer assumed that since he’s a Republican, he could announce he planned to issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants and it was a fait accompli. Not so fast, Guv. Last night the New York Times issued a breaking news aviso: “Gov. Eliot Spitzer is abandoning his plan to issue driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, saying that opposition is just too overwhelming to move forward with such a policy.” 2) And this morning, the New York Times reported, “Federal agents investigating the Sept. 16 episode in which Blackwater security personnel shot and killed 17 Iraqi civilians have found that at least 14 of the shootings were unjustified and violated deadly-force rules in effect for security contractors in Iraq, according to civilian and military officials briefed on the case.” The Bush administration decided to use as many guns-for-hire thugs as bonafide soldiers in Iraq in order to pretend the US has a military, but that’s not working out. Blackwater mercenaries are unprincipled shoot-and-ask-questions-later trigger-happy snotnose hoodlums who have been trained by religious fanatic Erik Prince and his mob in North Carolina. Once again, a bunch of Republican bullies made decisions the way fascist governments make decisions—unilaterally and secretly. The NYT says, “Some officials have expressed pessimism that adequate criminal laws exist to enable them to charge any Blackwater employee with criminal wrongdoing. Spokesmen for the Justice Department and the F.B.I. declined to discuss the matter.” New Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey is sitting on a powder keg on this one. As the NYT says, “The case could be one of the first thorny issues to be decided by Michael B. Mukasey, who was sworn in as attorney general last week. He may be faced with a decision to turn down a prosecution on legal grounds at a time when a furor has erupted in Congress about the administration’s failure to hold security contractors accountable for their misdeeds.” North Carolina Democrat David Price has put forth legislation to extend American criminal law to contractors serving overseas. Price says the Justice Department has to hold someone accountable for the shootings. “Just because there are deficiencies in the law, and there certainly are, that can’t serve as an excuse for criminal actions like this to be unpunished. I hope the new attorney general makes this case a top priority. He needs to announce to the American people and the world that we uphold the rule of law and we intend to pursue this,” Price said. As much fun as it must have been to run the United States as though it were the Third Reich, Repubs are now like Wile E. Coyote realizing he’s not riding a magic carpet but sitting on an anvil hurtling to earth. YIKES!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Musharraf and Bush, Twins at Heart

President Bush has no more idea about what’s involved in the so-called democratic process than does Pakistan’s president General Pervez Musharraf. Bush says the democratic process must continue in Pakistan. But for the past seven years Bush has done his best to halt the democratic process in the United States. In fact, if President Bush could get away with it, he would run the US the way Musharraf is running Pakistan—by fear, by military force and by totalitarian rule So, let’s get something straight: President Bush is not only pro-Musharraf, he’s envious of the man’s way of doing things. Musharraf and Bush totally understand each other. And the main thing they are on the same wavelength about is duplicity. Although duplicity may not be the preferred modus operandi in the lives of most Americans, it is the preferred MO with the Bush administration and with most people in Pakistan. Americans may find it hard to understand that Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister who seems to be leading a movement against Musharraf, are actually working together. Eventually Musharraf and Bhutto will have co-rule in Pakistan. This has been understood since Bhutto started making noises about returning to Pakistan. Were this not true, she would not have dared to come back. George W. Bush may not know anything about the Middle East’s culture or history. And he may care to know nothing, but he learned duplicity at his mother and father’s knee. Double-talk, double-speak and duplicity are so ingrained in President Bush’s core that he is incapable of saying “freedom” without meaning “oppression”. The only Republican presidential candidate who comes even close to being as duplicitous as President Bush is Rudy Giuliani. Should Giuliani become our next president, it will be as though George W. Bush had a third term.

Friday, November 09, 2007

The World’s Theater of the Absurd

If you’re looking for theatricals during the writers’ strike, take a gander at the goings-on in Pakistan and the fulminations of the Bush administration about the goings-on in Pakistan. Early this morning, we heard via a special advisory from the New York Times that General Musharraf had placed Pakistan Opposition Leader Benazir Bhutto under house arrest. The special news story was complete with pictures of Ms. Bhutto being manhandled. George W. Bush was quoted in the story saying that Pakistan had to return to its path toward democracy. And Bush’s demand that Musharraf not sit in Bush’s presence wearing his uniform because it indicated Musharraf was both head of state and head of the military was quoted. By the way, that statement is a perfect metaphor for George W. Bush who himself claims to be head of the United States and Commander in Chief of the US military at the same time but typical of Bush’s duplicity, he won’t be upfront about it and wear a uniform. And it also is perfect for Bush to insist that Pakistan espouse the principles of democracy, while Bush himself espouses the principles of totalitarianism and tries to run the US as a dictatorship. But hardly had the presses cooled from cranking out the news about Bhutto’s arrest than a news story came out that, in fact, the hoopla had been choreographed in advance and agreed to by both sides. The New York Times just reported: “Outwardly, the stand-off today appeared to deepen the confrontation between the two, making Ms. Bhutto an opponent of General Musharraf rather than a partner with him in the transition to democracy that she and her American sponsors who helped negotiate her return to Pakistan envisaged...Behind the scenes, however, the strategies for both sides for the day were probably worked out in advance, analysts said, in order to give each side a face-saving way to avoid a potentially bloody clash on the streets.” And furthermore, the NYT said, “In another sign of what seemed like behind-the-scenes co-ordination between Ms. Bhutto and the authorities, Ms. Bhutto’s voice came over official Pakistani television at 4 p.m. this afternoon as she made a long speech setting out her demands. A still picture of her appeared on the screen while she spoke...But Ms. Bhutto and General Musharraf are described by Western diplomats as continuing to negotiate a power-sharing deal that was envisaged when she returned to Pakistan from self-imposed exile abroad last month.” In other words, the whole house-arrest bullshit was bullshit. Just as George W. Bush’s bullshit about democracy is bullshit. What continues to amaze is that any of these morons think we believe any of their bullshit. But the worst of it is that while the writers’ strike is going on, the Theater of the Absurd being produced by the world’s governments is so badly done, badly written, badly produced and badly executed.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Prez is Stark Naked...Does He Know It?

No. President Bush thinks he still wears the impermeable, impregnable, cover-up-cover-all new clothes fashioned for him by Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, Karen Hughes, Donald Rumsfeld, Mary Matalan, Dan Bartlett and Dick Cheney. But all those masters in the art of flim-flam have flown the coop. Only Dick Cheney, the most ham-handed of the sorcerers remains. This morning, when Bush got out of bed and slipped on his all-purpose cloak of arrogance, confidence, intimidation and narcissism, nothing stood between him and his awful nakedness. Or, as the New York Times put it: “President Bush suffered the first veto override of his seven-year-old presidency Thursday as the Senate enacted a $23 billion water resources bill despite his protest that it was too expensive. It was the first in a decade that Congress has passed a bill over a presidential veto.” The NYT went on to crow, er...say: “The vote was 79-14 to pass the bill. Enactment was a foregone conclusion, but it still marked a milestone for a president who spent his first six years with a much friendlier Congress controlled by his Republican Party. Now he confronts a more hostile, Democratic-controlled legislature, and Thursday's vote showed that even many Republicans will defy him on spending matters dear to their political careers...The House voted 361-54 to override the veto Tuesday. Both votes easily exceeded the two-thirds majority needed in each chamber to negate a presidential veto.” Will Bush eventually recognize that he’s naked as a jaybird, unmanned, powerless, limp-dicked, and gormless? No. That’s the way it is with the gormless.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Congress Can Do It! Bush Must Be Shocked!

House Republicans joined Democrats yesterday and overrode the Prez’s pork-barrel water projects program. As the New York Times says this morning, "The vote on the water measure was 361 to 54, far more than needed to reject the veto. If the Senate follows suit, it will be the first time Mr. Bush has had a veto overturned." The important moment will be when the Senate overrides President Bush’s veto the first time. In the Senate, there has been an aura of invincibility surrounding our insane leaders. As though it were unthinkable, unheard of, and impossible for Republicans to cross the aisle to rebuke or contradict the fascist regime now controlling the White House. But when the Senate overrides a veto and sees that the sky did not fall in, the dissidents were not murdered in their beds and the world did not end, it will be a monumental day. And from that moment on, overriding vetoes will be, if not a daily occurrence and popular in the US Senate, at least it will be a possible and very probable course of action. When the House quashed Bush’s veto on the water projects measure, it approved a $215 billion bill to pay for health, education, labor and veterans programs despite a veto threat. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), who helps map out the Democrat’s spending strategy, was quoted in the NYT saying: “The president is appealing to a very small conservative base of people, his last few friends in the country, to say, ‘I am conservative’...but the problem is, he is playing with American lives while he sends his message to his friends.” And those few friends have less clout and less political power as each day passes. Bush said he “would not withdraw from Iraq, even if Laura and Barney are the only ones supporting me.” As it turns out, yesterday’s vote shows that the Prez, Laura and Barney are not enough. He is not a dictator and/or king after all.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Writers’ Strike Hits Daily Show & Colbert Hard

Comedy Channel’s “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” both rely on topical, up-to-the-minute writing. The strike by the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture &Television Producers, which placed their members on picket lines this morning, puts TDS and Colbert into rerun. That’s okay for a week, but after that, those shows are stale and unwatchable. Viacom, the daddy of MTV Networks cable channels and the Paramount movie studios, says it's not worried. It’s got tons of movies to play in all their timeslots and they are geared up to replace their shows with movies FOREVER. Which effectively says: “We’re okay. But screw you and your writers, TDS and Colbert.” Sitcom writers for scheduled TV shows will actually be ahead of the game in a strike. One of the big issues is residual payments. And the writers will be getting residuals for reruns during a strike. Reality shows are not affected by the strike and will no doubt clog all channels even more than they do now. Will the outcome of this strike give viewers better television? No. It will give writers more money. And the writers hope it will even-out the amounts paid to big-time writers and less-successful writers who get paid for writing a show here and there. But the myth that the owners of channels and their producers give viewers what they want will continue. Television viewers do not get what we want. We get what companies like Viacom want to give us. That is to say, we get hundreds and hundreds of channels from which to choose hundreds and hundreds of bad television shows. And in order to watch one hour of these badly written, badly conceived, boring and gratuitously violent shows, we have to sit through, or fast-forward through, eighteen minutes of commercials. Not to mention, we are shown, willy-nilly, the cleavage of all women on all shows, no matter whether it’s appropriate and no matter if that cleavage would never be tolerated in actual business situations. Yes, I will miss The Daily Show. (Nevermind Colbert...he wore thin after one week.) But since I am offered increasingly crappy dramas on TV, I won’t watch reruns of first-runs because I never watched most of the hideously awful first-runs. I’ll watch more Spanish Telenovelas to work on my Spanish, and I’ll watch the reality shows I can tolerate. I’ll watch movies, reruns of old Law & Order and Monk shows. I’ll download whatever podcasts are available and listen to more music. And maybe I’ll knit more. But will I sorely miss anything on the Fall TV schedule? Only TDS. I wish this strike would improve the quality of the shows on TV. I wish this strike would lessen the number of commercials we have to suffer though. But it won’t do either.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Election Hokum Gets Choreographed

Watching the Democrat candidates on talk shows, in debates and ratcheting up the hoopla is like watching one of the so-called reality shows. And the reality shows have as much in common with reality as a zircon is like a diamond. When a newspaper mentor of mine wanted an article to have more pizzazz, he’d say: Conflict is the soul of good writing. As soon as it appeared Hillary Clinton was a shoo-in for the Democratic candidacy, all handlers, PR people, editors and TV producers responded by doing a close-order Rockettes routine. One step back, slide to the right, hand on hip, waggle right finger, sing “Woman Trouble”. Suddenly, all candidates and talking heads, who the day before had agreed with Hillary, got snarky and then pounced. The end result, of course, is that conflict has not been introduced. Only party-line cant has been introduced. And the confrontational tone is as boring as the shoo-in stories had been except that now everyone sounds programmed and phony. The only real question is: Who is Hillary going to choose as her running mate?