Monday, September 26, 2011

Last Call

FOX News chief Roger Ailes has dropped all pretense of "fair and balanced" and instead feels the need to admit what the network was put on Earth to do:  push GOP talking points.

Ailes has a blunt rejoinder to those who say he runs a biased outfit: “Every other network has given all their shows to liberals. We are the balance.” Even MSNBC morning host Joe Scarborough, a former GOP congressman, “tacks to the center,” Ailes complains, and “doesn’t act like a conservative.”

I'm sure that's a surprise to George Will, David Gregory, Candy Crowley and all the other "both sides do it" fetishists.  I wonder what their response to Ailes will be since everyone not on FOX is apparently a Dirty Effin' Hippie liberal right now.

Most likely they'll come to the conclusion that they need to double down on their Obama bashing, if only to show professional courtesy to Ailes' crew and take some of the workload off them, no doubt.  After all, "liberal" is just about the worst insult you can direct at any member of the Washington press corps, and Ailes has made his fortunes off making it that way.

Time to go long on fainting couch manufacturers and jewelry stores with plenty of pearls to be clutched.  Hell, the piece in question up there was written my Howard Kurtz, and includes this:

Ailes raises a Fox initiative that he cooked up: “Are our producers on board on this ‘Regulation Nation’ stuff? Are they ginned up and ready to go?” Ailes, who claims to be “hands off” in developing the series, later boasts that “no other network will cover that subject … I think regulations are totally out of control,” he adds, with bureaucrats hiring Ph.D.s to “sit in the basement and draw up regulations to try to ruin your life.” It is a message his troops cannot miss.

But he's fair and balanced, Kurtz will tell you.

Privately, Fox executives say the entire network took a hard right turn after Obama’s election, but, as the Tea Party’s popularity fades, is edging back toward the mainstream.

If that's true, then it's the mainstream that's moving, not FOX News.  Isn't that great?

When All Other Possibilities Are Eliminated...Part 2

This weekend's post on Melissa Harris-Perry's piece at The Nation about the lack of real discussion about race among liberals touched a few nerves at ABLC, and I am very glad to see the fact she handily responds to her critics at the Nation today.

I logged onto Twitter on Sunday night and discovered that my recent article for The Nation was causing a bit of a stir. Some members of the white liberal political community are appalled and angry that I suggested racial bias maybe responsible for the President’s declining support among white Americans. I found some responses to my piece to be fair and important, others to be silly and nonresponsive, and still others to be offensive personal attacks. But those categories are par for the course.

I make it a practice not to defend my public writings. Because I often write about provocative topics like race, gender, sexual orientation and reproductive rights, if I defended every piece I wrote against critics I would find little time to sleep. But the responses to this recent article have been revealing in ways that I find typical of our contemporary epistemology of race. Often, those of us who attempt to talk about historical and continuing racial bias in America encounter a few common discursive strategies that are meant to discredit our perspectives. Some of them are in play here.

Do read the entire piece, it's worth it if only to arm yourself with the knowledge of the fallacies that have been thrown at people who have brought the topic up in the past.

The ending is worth it:

Further, I am grateful to live in a time when white Americans are furious about anyone suggesting that they are racist. I much prefer to live in a country and at a moment where the idea of being racist is distasteful rather than commonplace. In many ways the angry reaction about even the suggestion of racial bias is a kind of racial progress.

And I have to agree, that is progress.  But the piece also reveals just how much additional progress is needed.   Until we can have a frank and open discussion about what people consider to be offensive, what is racism, and relations between all races, we're not going to get much further down this path.

What continues to floor me is that if you ask a group of liberals about the need to discuss with an open mind the issues that life-long Democrats have with LGBT or women's issues, you'll not only get agreement but most likely a smart discussion of what those issues are and how we need to address them as Americans.

If you mention that there are life-long Democrats that have issues with race, you get furious denials, tactically deployed straw men, and ad hominem malarkey.  To the credit of our readers here and at ABLC, they are the exception.

A Cheesy Farewell

Arch West, a former Frito-Lay executive and creator of Doritos, will be buried with the chips that made him famous.

The 97-year-old died of natural causes on Sept. 20 at Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Texas, his family confirmed in a statement over the weekend.

During a graveside service scheduled for 10:30 a.m. this Saturday at the Restland Memorial Park, his family has plans to toss Doritos chips in "before they put the dirt over the urn," West's daughter Jana Hacker told The Dallas Morning News.

It's sad to see someone who influenced us so much go away. I'm sorry to hear he's gone (though at 97, what death isn't from natural causes?) but someone who contributed something so influential deserves recognition.  I buy a product he's responsible for just about every week, and just now realized I never knew who brought such a fabulous idea to our shelves.

RIP, Mr. West.  I have elevated you to celebrity status, because you deserve it.

Pawlenty Of Problems On The Wingnut Gravy Train

It seems in the wake of Glenn Beck's departure, the Wingnut Welfare office for failed GOP presidential candidates is closed.

Three weeks after dropping out of the race, Tim Pawlenty showed up to ask for a gig at Fox. But there was a complication: Pawlenty was on the verge of endorsing Romney. “I’m not sure I want to sign you as a paid spokesman for Romney,” Ailes said.

Ouch. Sorry T-Paw. No cushy FOX gig for you, it seems. Maybe Ailes is realizing the being the paid propaganda arm of the GOP means you have to deal with...supporting the GOP.

Or maybe Ailes is just seeing the Tea Party he created turn into a completely uncontrollable mess. Clearly, Republicans are bad for business even at FOX.

Hugh Gotta Know When To Say When

Enough, Hugh.  In the last ten years, Playboy as a brand has gone downhill and a Twitter war with a bimbo was the death blow.  I learned a lot about interviewing from reading the magazine (though I despise her, the interview with CSI's Jorja Fox was in-freaking-credible).  In fact, I actually have a tremendous amount of respect for the writing and their editorial standards, but everything else associated with Playboy is going to hell in a handbasket.

They jumped the shark when they went on TV.  Part of the allure (besides the honestly great articles!) was the mystery of the parties and the celebrity scene.  We saw way too much of Hefner and the ladies.  Other stars stayed away for the most part.  Any mystery was long gone, and it left on the same boat as our respect and their collective dignity.  Then there were the spin-offs which were utterly unnecessary.  In fact, they took unnecessary to exciting new levels.  I had hoped to find that there was some intelligence behind the salon hair and fake boobs.  Needless to say, I was sorely disappointed.

The worst of all was the highly publicized failed wedding of Hugh Hefner and Crystal Harris.  The couple aired their dirty laundry on radio, television and Twitter.  The punchline is that nobody really gives a damn.  Hef's rants on sex and frequency reeks of protesting too much, and Crystal is just trying to form complex sentences without a prompter.  We get it, Hugh.  You get more ass than a park bench.  You get more Tang than NASA.  You get laid more than AstroTurf.  We don't need your yammering at the media to know what happens at the mansion, and we sure as hell don't need a second helping all these months later.

Let.  It.  Go.

Lock Of Hair Unlocks History

A lock of hair has helped scientists to piece together the genome of Australian Aborigines and rewrite the history of human dispersal around the world.

DNA from the hair demonstrates that indigenous Aboriginal Australians were the first to separate from other modern humans, around 70,000 years ago.

This challenges current theories of a single phase of dispersal from Africa.

This graphic shows the new paths taken.  Referred to as "Jurassic Park science" by some, this gives us insight into how humans traveled and developed cultures along the way.  A tiny percentage of difference helps map their progress over thousands of years, and may eventually help explain why some cultures and peoples became extinct.  What was once unexplained or written off as poor luck may be explained now with medical and historic data.  It's also interesting to note how they split off.  Australia has always been a continent with a lot of history, this may also have a positive influence on more research in that area.

Gold Rush, Part 22

Gold is rushing alright:  straight down the tubes.

Gold was set for its biggest three-day loss in 28 years on Monday, as investors fled commodity markets in a scramble to secure cash in the face of mounting fear over the impact of a potential Greek debt default on the rest of the euro zone.

European policymakers began working on new ways to stop fallout from Greece's near-bankruptcy from inflicting more damage on the world economy after stinging criticism for failing to stem the debt crisis.

European equities fell, while industrial commodities such as crude oil and base metals bore the brunt of investor desire for cash in the face of mounting uncertainty.

In the last three days alone, gold has fallen by nearly 10 percent in its largest three-day slide since February 1983 and implied volatility has risen to a 2-1/2 year high.

Spot gold was last down 3.0 percent on the day at $1,621.49 an ounce by 0903 GMT, having fallen earlier by as much as 7.4 percent, putting the difference between the intraday high and low at $128.40, the largest daily price swing on record.

Gosh, you mean gold is the next bubble to pop the way oil did in 2008?  But the hyperinflationist crew told us that gold would skyrocket!

In a sense, gold really is up big from just a few years ago and still is.  The problem is gold is up the same way housing was up during 2001-2008, and when it blew it took out all the floors.  Housing prices are still dropping three years later and there's just no bottom in sight.  Gold pushing $1,900 then now $1,600 means there's just as much market instability and volatility there are there is in stocks right now.

Meanwhile in a world where the dollar is "increasingly worthless" and "America is broke" and "hyperinflation is imminent" interest rates on US bonds 5 years and shorter continue to be well below 1%.

Still waiting for the Weimar Republic of the US, I guess.

Shutdown Countdown: Here We Go Again, Part 4

And the threatened GOP shutdown of the government over the 2012 budget this week continues to be an issue as FEMA could run out of money for disaster relief operations as early as tonight.  Brian Beutler spells it out this morning:

It's not just that Democrats are tired of being kicked around, although that's part of it. Democrats reject in principle the notion of tying disaster assistance to a partisan budget process -- particularly when Republicans won't even consider raising a penny of new revenue and demand that everything be offset with semi-arbitrary cuts. They specifically reject the offsets House Republicans settled on, particularly one that would nix a successful loan program to encourage production of hybrid vehicles. And they believe that the GOP's demand represents a violation of the agreement the parties reached during the debt limit fight.

That agreement set discretionary spending levels for the coming fiscal year at $1.043 trillion. Republicans are thus far respecting that part of the deal. But it also left Congress with some breathing room in the event of a disaster -- $11 billion in spending over the cap in the event of emergencies.

Well, there are plenty of those, and Republicans are well aware of it. Nearly a dozen of them joined Senate Democrats in passing stand-alone legislation to top off FEMA's account without any offsets almost two weeks ago. Now they're lining up in support of the proposition that FEMA can only be refueled if Democrats swallow unpalatable budget cuts.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has scheduled a vote for 5:30 p.m. tonight on legislation that mirrors the House spending bill, minus the disaster aid offset. If it fails as Republicans have signaled it will, then FEMA will have to freeze its operations, and we'll be well on our way to a government shutdown.

Imagine that, Republicans reneging on their deal with Dems in order to try to cause damage to the President's reelection chances.  Nobody could have predicted the top priority of the GOP was to make sure President Obama was a one-term leader by any means necessary, etc.

And now it gets serious.  Americans will be denied disaster relief operations and there are ongoing efforts in the northeast after Hurricane Irene as well as in Texas after wildfires and drought that will have to be mothballed.  If there are any other disasters this week, well sorry America, FEMA can't help you because the Republicans are too busy being assholes.

This gets real as of tonight, folks.

Moving Forward At Your Own Perry-il, Part 8

It's one thing for me to light up Governor Goodhair for his ridiculous "reboot of George W. Bush" act (as Bob Cesca says brilliantly) but another thing entirely for the FOX News folks to pick up the flamethrower and set it on "haterade".

“Perry really did throw up on himself in the debate at a time when he needed to raise his game,” Fox News’ Brit Hume told Chris Wallace. “Perry is about one half a step away from almost total collapse as a candidate.”

“This is a much more closed straw poll than the one in Ames, and these are discerning voters, very loyal Republican, they’ve been paying attention to this process all along,” The Hill’s A.B. Stoddard noted. “It was a real slap towards Perry and Mitt Romney. And you really got a sense when I spoke to Republicans on Friday — as many as I could after the debate — the sense was not only that Perry had given a dismal performance and, of course, Romney had won, but that they don’t like their choices at all.”

The truth is of course that President Obama, despite having what nutcase Bachmann says is "the lowest approval ratings in modern history" or something, handily continues to defeat all Republican challengers in head to head matchups.  Only Mitt Romney is even moderately close on a consistent basis.

Little wonder then that the FOX crew wants Perry out of the race.  Make no mistake, FOX wants millionaire Romney as President.  They want to win, and ROmney has the best chance at doing so.

They won't bother to sell Romney to FOX viewers however, they'll just trash everyone else.


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