Right-Wing Harpie Bites Publishing Dust

Katherine ‘Hair-Helmet’ Harris apparently is not particularly interesting, not even to her own demographic. The chronicle of her martyrdom — with the self-congratulatory title ‘Center of the Storm’ — is officially on the virtual remainder table, even on the right wing World Net Daily web site. Published at $22.99. Now selling for five measly clams.

Kind of a nice reflection of that old ‘supply-and-demand’ Republican value.

Keepin’ It Surreal

I’ve heard people say that Las Vegas is the most surreal place on earth. But I just spent the weekend in Palm Springs, and I beg to differ.

Las Vegas has no sham about what it is — a place to indulge in all those things that you’re not supposed to do, like drinking, gambling, going to titty bars, eating bad food, smoking indoors.

Palm Springs, on the other hand, is much more multi-tiered.

There’s the ‘Famous People Live(d) Here’ tier. That tier is unmistakable, especially when you’re waiting at the stoplight at the corner of Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra.

Then there’s the ‘I’ve Earned the Right to Retire Here’ tier. Hectare upon hectare of gated communities, all of which look just as recently installed as the palm trees that surround them. I often wonder, in such surroundings, just who the gates are meant to keep out. I can’t recall the last time I saw so much automotive bling-bling (gold trim on half-block wide Cadillacs, landau roofs, custom hood ornaments), except perhaps on one of those BET music videos.

Then there’s the ‘I’ve Earned the Right to be Gay Here’ tier. And the nudist tier (which overlaps sometimes with the gay tier). And the Indian Gaming tier (which, interestingly, seems to have been appropriated in part by Donald Trump — funny, I didn’t even know he was Native American). And the mega-Christian tier, which inspires people to decorate their cars with tributes to the big J.

One of the scariest tiers is the media tier, which consists of only happy news (in spite of a world in total turmoil). I’m sure the focus groups must have revealed long ago that the population in Palm Springs didn’t want to know anything disturbing or complex, because everything is reduced to the most banal, palatable or cute.

I guess the break with reality is why people make this a weekend escape. What worries me is that some just never come back.

GM Head Discredits Romney

Last week, Mitt Romney tried to structure his sentences in such a way that he could give himself credit for the success of the automotive industry bailout.

Not surprisingly, liberals and progressives jumped all over that complete revisionist history.

What is surprising, however, is that the head of General Motors, CEO Dan Akerson, agrees with the liberals and progressives.  He confirmed on CBS This Morning that it was indeed the bailout saved the auto industry and, in particular, it saved GM.  As a result, GM is now the #1 auto manufacturer not only in the U.S. but also in the world.

Of particular note is the discrediting of Romney’s statements, which is particularly satisfying given that Akerson paraphrases Ronald Reagan.  When Charlie Rose asks about Romney’s position on the bailout, Akerson responds:

“… [T]here was a wise man named Ronald Reagan, who once said ‘There’s no limit to what a man can accomplish if he’s willing to share the credit.'”

(Reagan’s original quote is: “There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.”)

A One Way Ticket to Nowhere

Shepard Smith of Fox News has recently made some statements on the air that are in direct contradiction to the “values” that are otherwise expressed on-air by those at Fox.  He blasted Newt Gingrich immediately after Newt’s rambling, self-aggrandizing concession speech.  And, more recently, he called out the Republicans for their position on marriage equality, stating essentially that the GOP is choosing to be on the wrong side of history.

Smith has hardly been the consummate truth-teller during his time with Fox.  But one wonders if his current contrary positions put him in career jeopardy.  Others at Fox seem much more willing to toe the line.

And if one thinks that Smith is possibly putting is job at risk, one also must wonder where else someone like Smith would find employment.

The journey to Fox News for any journalist seems to be a one-way dead-end street.  Journalists and personalities have come from other more legitimate media outlets to Fox News:  Brit Hume, Chris Wallace, Greta Van Sustern.  But I can’t think of anyone who has left Fox News who has continued their career path elsewhere.

When you go to work for Fox News, it would appear that the deal that you  make with the devil is this:  We’ll keep you employed at a competitive salary, but you give up any journalistic credibility you may have and therefore are essentially unemployable anywhere else.

It’s sort of a self-regulating agreement, too; you know that you can’t stray too far from the Fox talking points because there’s nowhere else for you to go.  Once you leave legitimate broadcast journalism, you’ll turn into the proverbial pillar of salt if you look back.

I fear for Shepard Smith.

Charles in Charge … of the Weather

As of yesterday, the British monarchy is officially superfluous, as this video attests.

Adding to the weirdness of this story is the fact that Charles, Prince of Wales, appeared on the BBC, and ITN – the Beeb’s corporate competitor – has posted the clip in its entirety.

By the way, Charles failed to mention that “the mist of May is in the gloaming, and all the clouds are holdin’ still.”

Back to you, Camilla.

Biden Endorses Marriage Equality

The Vice President, in an appearance on today’s Meet the Press, became the highest ranking U.S. official ever to have endorsed marriage quality. He described himself as “absolutely comfortable” with gay marriage.

The right wing is undoubtedly going to twist Biden’s words around and have a field day with this, but Biden describes the issue in the most understandable way possible.

Glare Ice from the Dick

If you’ve ever wondered how a transcript can fail to take nuance into account, consider the following exchange yesterday between Dick Cheney and Wolf Blitzer:

BLITZER: You know, we’re out of time, but a couple of issues I want to raise with you: your daughter, Mary. She’s pregnant. All of us are happy she’s going to have a baby. You’re going to have another grandchild. Some of the — some critics are suggesting — for example, a statement from someone representing Focus on the Family, “Mary Cheney’s pregnancy raises the question of what’s best for children. Just because it’s possible to conceive a child outside of the relationship of a married mother and father doesn’t mean that it’s best for the child.” Do you want to respond to that?


BLITZER: She’s, obviously, a good daughter —

CHENEY: I’m delighted I’m about to have a sixth grandchild, Wolf. And obviously I think the world of both my daughters and all of my grandchildren. And I think, frankly, you’re out of line with that question.

BLITZER: I think all of us appreciate —

CHENEY: I think you’re out of line.

BLITZER: We like your daughters. Believe me, I’m very sympathetic to Liz and to Mary. I like them both. That was a question that’s come up, and it’s a responsible, fair question.

CHENEY: I just fundamentally disagree with you.

BLITZER: I want to congratulate you on having another grandchild.

Absent from the written transcript are the icy glares of the VP, along with Blitzer’s bad-little-boy look when Cheney challenged him. Blitzer’s physical reaction to Cheney made a deer in the headlights seem like a Tibetan monk deep in meditation. (CNN has also conveniently edited out all of the uncomfortable pauses from the video that they now have posted on their website.)

Here’s the unedited version:

Mary Cheney herself is a public figure. For whatever reason, she decided to go public about her homosexuality and her surrogacy. (She conveniently managed to avoid talking about any of that until there was a book deal in the works and until her father’s tenuous 2004 election campaign was already over with.) How absurd that Daddy Dick considers all of this a private matter.

The fact that Dick can’t own up to this is newsworthy, particularly because the administration that Dick so staunchly defends (perhaps “barricades” would be a better word) is making policy decisions about gay marriage, gays in the military, etc. Why shouldn’t he have to explain his position and the disparity between his personal life (the oh-so-sacred family) and his public positions? Cheney, as a man with apparently no conscience, simply cannot reconcile the fact his job was made possible in part by organizations like Focus on the Family, who condemn his own daughter without compunction. So his only option is to lash out. What a scumbag.

It was not, however, Blitzer’s only option to weenie out and back away. Apparently, he’s been following Larry King’s lead when it comes to follow-up questions. I got news for you, Wolf. The tension that you almost created but then backed away from is what makes both good journalism and compelling television.

An Unidentified Source Has Said …

“Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”

–A.J. Liebling

People who write content for the web have been known to revel in the sentiment behind Liebling’s oft-quoted aphorism. The web has been perceived to be the great equalizer of the disenfranchised.

Republicans are out to change all that. And, to me, this is perhaps the most terrifying aspect of the Republican strategy — the concerted effort to control the press.

  • They try to incarcerate Judith Miller for not revealing her sources about who leaked the identity of the now-legendary CIA operative Valerie Plame to Robert Novak, rather than going after Robert Novak for reporting it. (Those of a more cynical frame of mind might say that Robert Novak is being rewarded for doing the dirty work of the Administration.) Result: They discredit the nation’s newspaper of record and put the few remaining actual investigative reporters on notice that they can be thrown in jail if they report truth.
  • They shame CBS News for airing a memo whose substance was true but whose source was questionable. Result: Dan Rather bites the dust and other networks are put on notice. (O.K., so I like Dan Rather’s similes about as much as a Texas longhorn likes a disease ridden horsefly biting its ass, but I would defend to the death his right to inflict them upon us.)
  • They take Newsweek to task for an article about the desecration of the Koran that is essentially true but whose details may be slightly askew. Then, in a move that has Karl Rove’s name tattooed all over its ass, they blame Newsweek for the unrest in the world (instead of acknowledging that Administration policies and a greed-based war might have something to do with it). Result: Newsweek capitulates and retracts the story, and other media outlets are consequently put on notice. Never mind that the Pentagon itself releases information only a few days later confirming almost exactly what the original Newsweek article had said regarding the desecration of the Koran, minus only the toilet. Apparently, in the hierarchy of desecration, there’s a major distinction between putting a Koran in the toilet and merely urinating on it.
  • They work to cut funding to Public Radio and Public TV, because those outlets attempt to report all aspects of the news, not just the lockstep party line and, especially, because they can’t get Bill Moyers to buckle the way other so-called journalists have buckled. Result: Have you listened to Public Radio lately? They now have all the political edge of Kathie Lee Gifford on thorazine. Puh-leeze, NPR! How many homespun Baxter Black-wannabes can we be expected to tolerate?
  • They invite the likes of “Jeff Gannon” into the White House. Need I say more?

This list only scratches the surface. But the net result of these offenses and the others like them is that the noise from the dominant press machine (controlled in large part by media conglomerates with a financial interest in remaining in good standing with the Administration) is loud enough to all but drown out the alternative voices.

What’s the next target? “My Weekly Reader”?

The Real State of the Union

Since Dubya’s State of the Union promises to be just another extension of his campaign speech, I thought I’d take this opportunity to differ with him on a few items:

  • Bush and his administration have gotten the United States embroiled in a conflict that has nothing to do with us. Bush and his cronies sent American troops to war on false pretenses. Now, the only people bothering to mention that fact are the late-night comedians (which, perhaps, is o.k., since so many Americans use the nightly monologue as a their primary news source). Thousands of lives have been lost. And, yes, I count Iraqi civilian lives, in spite of our media’s tendency only to bother counting the lives of American soldiers and not mentioning any others. (Death counts are now reported like some ESPN ticker crawl: “Americans 1400, Iraqi Civilians 100,000. Yay! We must be winning!”)
  • While we’re on the subject of the media, don’t count on any independence from the media conglomerates, since they’re now pretty much in the pockets of the giant parent corporations, all of whom benefit greatly from the Bush administration’s policies.
  • The administration no longer seems to make any distinction between diplomacy and the military. It started with appointing a general as Secretary of State during his first term, and it continues with the appointment of Condi Rice as Secretary for his second term. (Ohhhh, gee, did you know she’s also a concert pianist? Notice how the administration managed to work that bit of hyperbole into every press release, fluff piece, and news conference in some foolish attempt to humanize this shameless lackey.)
  • Bush has taken his father’s “assassination insurance” to new depths. Bush 41 had Dan Quayle as V.P., which had the chilling effect of making the world realize how much worse it would be if the Prez were assassinated. Bush 43 has managed to populate the entire line of succession with people even more frightening or odious than he is. (And how far did he have to look the find persons more odious than he is? In most cases, no farther than his father’s administration.)
  • Bush has managed to tell a whole series of lies about the hottest hot-button issue — gay marriage. On the one hand, he claims that it’s a so-called “state’s rights” issue. But he has actively and vigorously campaigned in favor of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Could there be anything more blatantly hypocritical? And, I might as well say this again: Why do these friggin’ bible-thumpers take this particular issue so seriously and ignore others? If the institution of marriage is so sacred, why aren’t they campaigning in favor a consitutional amendment against divorce? (This is one of my big problems in life — I try to apply logic where none exists. I guess it proves only one thing: reason and religion don’t mix.)

More to come …