Posts tagged ‘Fox News’

Three Liberal Landmines

In the spirit of introspection, alluded to in my previous post, here are three thoughts on liberal landmines ranging from the trivial to the dead serious.

The Better Scandal

MSNBC spent the better part of the first two months of this year focused on one story: Bridgegate. Each prime-time show lead with some update on the New Jersey traffic snafu engineered by Chris Christie admin officials and appointees.  At first they tried to make hay of the possibility that an elderly woman died because her ambulance got stuck in the traffic jam caused by a bogus “traffic study”. Unfortunately, almost immediately a relative of the deceased woman said she didn’t blame Christie for the death, so MSNBC had to drop that bit of melodrama. In the backdrop was the fact that Christie was the only potential 2016 Republican candidate who was giving Hillary Clinton a run for her money. The obvious attempt of the network to discredit Hillary’s only real opposition was transparent — and disappointing to me, a long time fan of the network for their left-leaning but fair reporting.

Contrast this with Fox which for the better part of the past 18 months focused on Benghazi. Say what you will of the merits of the Benghazi “scandal”, four dead Americans including an ambassador trumps an amateur hour traffic jam any day of the week. If liberal news networks are going to go after Republicans they better come up with juicier stuff than Bridgegate.

A Drag on the Family

When conservatives compare our country to “the family” it usually sounds like grade school oversimplification.  The typical example is “why would you want your country in debt? You don’t want your family in debt do you?” I am pretty sure that many economists agree that a little debt is actually GOOD for a country while it may not be good for a family.

But I was thinking the other day about another country/family analogy and this one resonated a bit. Picture the family who is pretty normal except for that one loser who has never applied himself, never looked for a job and is always mooching off the other family members. The family either applies “tough love” and cuts him off or they go down the drain with him, constantly bailing him out.

I do not subscribe to the notion that all welfare recipients are lazy loafers, or in Paul-Ryan-speak, “takers”. But I am beginning to question whether the current welfare state discourages work. When I got laid off seven years ago, I did not apply for unemployment insurance because I wanted to start my own business and I assumed doing so would make me ineligible for assistance. When my wife applied for unemployment insurance after her layoff last year, one of my concerns was how this would affect her ability to earn money. From what I understand, she can make a small amount and still receive government assistance but a job that would pay only slightly more than the assistance we receive would make us ineligible. So living day-to-day, paycheck to paycheck, there is a disincentive to find at least a low paying job. In a sense you find yourself saying “I can’t afford to get a job”, as crazy as that may sound. And in this case we are talking about responsible people, my wife and I. If a hard-working person can’t afford to find a job imagine how a true loafer feels.

Welfare and unemployment insurance don’t allow you to live like a king (or the proverbial queen) so many conservative complaints about welfare recipients do  not resonate with me. Welfare recipients don’t live in swank penthouse apartments. But it is worth considering how government aid creates an unintentional disincentive to work.

Two approaches that come immediately to mind are workfare (not new) and mandatory health care assistance. How about the government paying your salary at a company instead of handing you a check while you’re not working? Basically you “volunteer” at a company — they pay nothing — and the gov pays you to work there. Time limits could be applied while you find a company who will pay you to work. In the area of mandatory health care assistance, how about legislation that forces any company with a health benefit plan, to continue to provide that benefit to any employee fired without cause (e.g. layoff)  for a period of two years while they search for employment.

The bottom line is liberals need to think outside the box, stop focusing on victimization of the poor, creating greater dependency, and find new creative ways to lift folks out of poverty. Creating a dependent class hurts those relegated to that class as well as the country that goes down the drain supporting them.

The New Jim Crow

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander is a book that I shall never read. I had the distinct misfortune of seeing the author discuss her premise and one phrase she used, yes — one phrase, left me so irritated that I will not give her book a chance. In discussing the plight of young minority men going to prison for longer terms than their white counterparts (the crack vs powdered cocaine dichotomy, to name one) she said (very close paraphrase), “these young men go to jail and are labeled criminals”.

NO NO NO. They are not labeled criminals. They ARE criminals. When you break the law you are a criminal. While it is perfectly correct to make the punishment fit the crime, isn’t our time better spent getting folks to STOP committing the crime in the first place? Words have meaning. When you say someone is “labeled a criminal” the implication is that forces beyond his control have created his condition. There are folks in the ghetto who would sooner die than break the law. This notion that ghetto life ipso facto creates criminals is the most counter-productive condescension imaginable.

It reminds me of a battle I fought in the comments section of another blog where a woman said she “found herself pregnant”. Mind you, she was not raped. She was not the victim of incest. She got pregnant through unprotected consensual sexual intercourse. She willingly actively engaged in behavior that, on occasion, results in a pregnancy. Yet she “found herself pregnant” as though no action on her part was involved. A total surprise — the sperm genie visited her while she was sleeping. Puhleeeze.

The same goes for this “labeled a criminal”. Brotha didn’t do a damn thing and our terrible racist society “labeled” him a criminal. Bull crap. Liberals use language to abdicate responsibility for behavior. It is always someone else’s fault. Frankly I’m sick of it. There is this thing in business called “root cause analysis”. When you “find yourself pregnant” or get “labeled a criminal” by some evil third-party, you are not getting at the root cause. Stop unprotected screwing! Stop buying, selling and using illegal drugs! Those are the root causes of the problem.

The question that remains is, are liberals well-meaning in this obfuscation or actually more odious than the “cold-hearted conservatives” whom they regularly attack? The jury is out for me on that one. But I can tell you this much– libs need to change their language and their perspective on the “down-trodden”. Some folks get screwed over because they screwed themselves over. That is not a problem we can fix by demonizing rich white men.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

March 30, 2014 at 6:17 am 836 comments

Various and Sundry

The CBO Findings-A Window into Party Perception

Let me start by saying I haven’t read the CBO report which states the ACA’s impact on future employment. All I’ve heard is the spin from both sides and it’s the spin that fascinates me.

Liberals say the CBO finding is good news. It means people will no longer be shackled to jobs they hate for fear of losing their health insurance. Conservatives say the ACA will provide yet another nanny state disincentive to work, proven by the CBO projections. I ask what is the more realistic and optimistic view?

Let’s talk reality. To afford even a heavily subsidized insurance premium people will have to work. This notion of folks just sitting back and not working doesn’t jibe with the realities of day to day life. But let’s also consider the optimistic vs pessimistic view of the American people. For all their patriotic screams of his-boom-ba, conservatives seem to view the American people as shiftless lazy loafers who will use any excuse not to work. What else could explain their reaction to the CBO report?

We WANT an economy in which number of jobs exceeds number of job seekers. It leads to lower unemployment and greater incentive for companies to make jobs more attractive to an employment pool that can now afford to be choosy. What could possibly be bad about a population that works for the joy of it and not because their health insurance is not portable?

I have to ask my conservative friends when we talk about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, what about that last one do you not understand?

The Limits of Executive Power

Conservative leaders recently said they were reticent about going forward on immigration reform because they couldn’t trust the President to execute the law as passed. Normally I’d dismiss this as Republican excuse making but this time it made me stop and think. Obama has been explicit in his intent to do as much without Congress as possible. This makes any constitutionalist rightfully quake in their boots.

Here’s the catch. I believe our founders envisioned a Congress where matters were debated and progress coupled with compromise was achieved. I don’t believe they imagined the Boehner House, the least productive in recent history or the McConnell minority in the Senate making unprecedented use of the filibuster to stall legislation. What would they say is the obligation of the executive faced with the abject failure of the legislative?

I don’t share the sky is falling view of my more conservative friends. If Obama’s acts truly violate the constitution to a criminal extent then by all means he should be impeached. I believe in the long haul justice prevails. In fact a trial of Obama would be intersecting from this perspective.

From what I understand charges against Andrew Johnson were largely trumped up. Nixon faced impeachment for covering up a burglary. Clinton was tried for covering up a blow job. A trial of Obama would put to the test the true limits of executive power not involving petty crime and sexual scandal.

I’m not sure if Obama is overstepping his bounds. I am sure that Congress by neglect of their own duties has opened the door to greater executive authority. If they want to stop Obama they need to positively legislate, not simply oppose.

Why I’m (Almost) Through With MSNBC

Ahh I miss the old thrill I would get from a self righteous Keith Olbermannn speech. He could cover so much ground and scorch all the conservative patches of it. His only true obsession besides sports was his nemesis Bill O’Reilly. To watch primetime MSNBC the past few weeks you’d think the most vital issue in America today was New Jersey Bridgegate.

My conservative friends laugh at me and mock me because I considered MSNBC a fair source of commentary especially when compared to Fox News. Now they have every right to jeer. This Christie coverage is a transparent attempt to discredit the only credible rival to a Hillary Clinton 2016 candidacy. I’m not saying Christie’s record should not be scrutinized but the MSNBC coverage is way over the top.

Sadly, the network no longer stirs the fires in my political loins. I watch it now more for pure entertainment and by habit. There are nights when I’d just as soon watch the Food Network.

Enough About Hate Crimes

Let’s start with a simple thought experiment.

A black man is deliberately killed by a white man who hates black people.

A black man is deliberately killed by a white member of the NAACP.

Which black man is more dead?

This past week I heard yet another conjecture about whether the recent murder of a black man was a “hate crime”. I don’t remember the details and it doesn’t matter. The whole concept is absurd. It is based on the nutty liberal concept that you can legislate people into loving and accepting each other.

The surest way to turn a bigot into a bigger bigot is to self righteously lecture him about his beliefs. Hearts and minds don’t change via punishment. The hate crime distinction is actually counter productive in changing hearts and minds.

Intentional murder is intentional murder. Punish the crime. For the hate, you just have to wait for the bigots to die off and the younger generation to come along. We see examples of that progress every day.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

February 15, 2014 at 7:45 pm 808 comments

The Bill Moyers Suicide Pill

I have a running joke with myself (and those few who share my sense of humor) about the perfect selections for hold music on a suicide hotline. Just the notion of being put on hold on a suicide hotline makes me chuckle. In any case, I settled on such gems as “Dust in the Wind”, “Alone Again, Naturally” and “Don’t Fear the Reaper”. In recent months, however, I have discovered another resource not part of my sick imagination but very real that the clinically depressed should steer clear of. It is the PBS series “Moyers and Company“.

Bill Moyers, a participant in and observer of Washington since the days of LBJ is every liberal’s dream documentary host. He wears his heart on his sleeve as he shines a light on various flavors of American injustice. I enjoy him. I find him intelligent and genuinely curious about the world around him. When you watch him interview a guest, you get the feeling he is learning something new right along with you. The problem with “Moyers and Company” is it is long on problems and rather short on solutions. At the conclusion of each installment I find myself shaking my head in despair. Just a sample of episode titles is enough to send you to a shrink: “America’s Political Breakdown”, “How Dollarocracy is Destroying America”, “Zombie Politics and Casino Capitalism” and the recent rebroadcast of “America’s Gilded Capital”.

In “America’s Gilded Capital”, Moyers interviews Mark Leibovich, the author of the Washington expose This Town. In the book (which I haven’t read) and the interview (which I did watch) Leibovich describes a Washington D.C. dedicated to job security. On every Congressman and Senator’s mind is first and foremost how to turn their time in government into some type of permanent gig, whether it be in government via reelection or outside of government in the private sector. The favorite private sector pastime of our elected officials is lobbying. Obama swore he would stop the “revolving door” of folks moving back and forth between government and lobbying firms, but his frequent exceptions have made the promise null and void. Leibovich describes a conversation he had with then Democratic  Senator Chris Dodd who insisted he would never join a lobbying firm but ended up heading up the MPAA which has a strong lobbying entity. Then there is the story of Evan Bayh who left the Senate fed up with Washington dysfunction only to whore himself out to the Chamber of Commerce. And if you thought bipartisanship in D.C. was dead, think again. It breathes deep where there is money to be made, case in point liberal pundit Steve McMahon of MSNBC and conservative mouthpiece Alex Castellanos of CNN who together worked for a company called Purple Strategies and made lots of money helping BP repair its reputation after the infamous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

This installment ended the way most episodes of “Moyers” end. This is just the way it is but we’ve done you a service by telling you about it.  Word to the wise, watch this show with a stiff drink in one hand and a bottle of Prozac in the other.

POSTSCRIPT

A few random thoughts: Some of my more loyal readers who disagree with everything I write had some fun with an old post of mine recently. The post was from 2008 and was entitled “America Says Enough”. It was written in the immediate afterglow of  Barack Obama’s election. The RL Blog “regulars” have had some fun mocking the piece in light of the 20/20 hindsight that shows Obama to be a bit in over his head, as demonstrated by his inability to shake off scandals, real and imagined, that have plagued him. Clearly the most recent example of gross incompetence is the botched technical roll-out of the ACA. Add to that the used car salesman rhetoric of “keeping your insurance and your doctor if you want to” and you have a beleaguered presidency that penetrates even the most rose-colored glasses.

With that said, I don’t take back a single word of what I wrote back in 2008. Back then Obama was a blank canvas upon which the right and left painted their worst nightmares and highest hopes respectively. But one thing I wrote in particular will never be sullied by Obama’s lackluster performance:

I can now look at my beautiful black daughter and tell her that she can be anything she wants to be, without exception, without caveat.

It cannot be underestimated just how many blacks like me never thought a dark-skinned man would be elected President in our lifetime. As much as I loved my country, I felt there were barriers that would not be breached for years, if not decades, to come. For anyone not to understand the emotion attached to seeing this barrier broken is to not understand the human condition.  As moved as I was back then, I still felt that if Barack Obama had been Barry Johnson, great-grandson of slaves, he would not have been nominated much less elected. The very exotic nature of Obama (which has ironically fueled the birther movement) made him acceptable to those who might otherwise have dismissed him. Nevertheless the cosmetics of this half-white, half-first-generation-American of immediate African descent, evoked a visceral reaction in many, including me, and I don’t apologize for it.

Cosmetics do not a great President make. With a four-year record to look back on, I wrote a very different piece in November of 2012. In my piece “Three Open Letters”, I offer the President advice rooted in the reality of his reelection and the imperfections of his administration. The piece in 2008 and the piece in 2012 were informed by the facts on the ground at that time and the accompanying emotions. I stand by both pieces.

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What I know about the problems in the Ukraine could fill not much more than this sentence but just on the surface, it is interesting to see a country whose leadership looks to “the dark side” (Russia) while its citizens want to align with the West. I’m just throwing darts here but could it be that social media and the democratization of information access makes it harder for a government to sell its agenda to its people?

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On Thursday’s installment of “The Daily Show”, Jon Stewart once again proves why he deserves every cent he earns. His take-down of Fox News’ war on Christmas coverage is classic in its humor and its truth. The Fox News coverage is so absurd that it is all Stewart can do to fit all the insanity into one segment. The ten minute segment can be found here and here and is worth a view.

Two unsettling things that Fox’s Megyn Kelly should remember: Santa Claus as we currently celebrate him, is neither white nor black — he doesn’t exist. Second, as Jon says, Jesus wasn’t born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Jesus looked more like Mohamed Atta than a latter-day version of the Door’s Jim Morrison.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

December 14, 2013 at 6:32 am 582 comments

The Soft Racism of MSNBC

MSNBC_logoBack in 2007, Fox News icon Bill O’Reilly made headlines when he dined at famous soul food restaurant Sylvia’s in New York City. Bill infamously remarked:

I couldn’t get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia’s restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it’s run by blacks, primarily black patronship. … There wasn’t one person in Sylvia’s who was screaming, ‘M-Fer, I want more iced tea.’ You know, I mean, everybody was — it was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb in the sense of people were sitting there, and they were ordering and having fun. And there wasn’t any kind of craziness at all.  – O’Reilly surprised “there was no difference” between Harlem restaurant and other New York restaurants

If you think this diminished expectation of black behavior is limited to O’Reilly and his friends at Fox, you are mistaken. During the Inaugural parade last Monday, a camera was focused on the First Family as they watched the proceedings from their box seats. In the background we got to hear Chris Matthews and Joy Reid, two MSNBC talkers, wax on about what a fine decent family the Obama’s were.

Joy compared Michelle Obama to Diahann Carroll as the kind of black female role model her mother admired. When I first heard this my heart warmed. It brought back memories of “Julia”, the groundbreaking sitcom in which Carroll played a dignified professional black woman as opposed to the wise cracking maid that was the typical TV image of black women in older times. But my warm heart quickly froze over when I realized that was 40 years ago. Is Joy Reid really suggesting that we’ve made so little progress in 40 years that we need Michelle Obama to provide a good role model to young black girls? I can think of many others, including of different political stripes. Condoleezza Rice comes to mind. There is no shortage of fine female black role models.

Then, Chris Matthews, who suffers from the worst case of white guilt I have ever witnessed, talked about how decent and ordinary the family was. They do so much for race relations just by being there for all of us to see. What is this? Some Ripley’s Believe it or Not freak show? Come and see the black family that knows how to behave! What exactly were Chris and his panel expecting? Did they expect Michelle to be stinking up the White House with chitlins while Malia and Sasha blast “Fuck tha Police” out their bedroom windows?

I know the MSNBC gang have their heart in the right place. That doesn’t change the fact they suffer from the soft racism of low expectations. It’s been a good 30 years since “The Cosby Show” portrayed a black family that was not trapped in the ghetto, dodging bullets from gang-bangers. If after all this time we need the Obama’s to remind us that there are black families “just like the rest of us” then we are worse off as a nation than I had ever imagined.

Post script: I am glad to say that the Oxygen network has cancelled “All My Babies’ Mamas” before it ever got on the air. The reality show about a rapper and the ten mothers of his eleven children raised eyebrows and outraged enough folks to shame Oxygen into doing the right thing. That is one less show promoting the diminished expectations of black folks.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

Image by NBC [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

January 23, 2013 at 8:08 pm 371 comments

Election 2012: Three Open Letters

On the occasion of Barack Obama’s reelection to the presidency of the United States, I would like to write an open letter to three different folks.

Dear Disappointed Romney Supporter,

If you are the average Romney supporter who honestly thought he was the better candidate, voted for him, and is disappointed that he lost, this letter is not directed at you. If you are the unusual Romney supporter who thinks his loss signals the coming of the Apocalypse, the end of civilization as we know it, and a head-first dive into an abyss of socialism, then I’m talking to you. Unfortunately you have fed yourself a steady diet of Fox News, The Blaze, Daily Caller and for dessert, a good helping of World Net Daily. These fringe outposts on the information highway have led you to distrust mainstream media. And that my friends is the major difference between the ultra-liberal MSNBC and the heretofore mentioned outlets. MSNBC doesn’t stray too far off the trail set by the main stream media (ABC, CBS, NBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post). There is a reason why mainstream media is mainstream. They cover real news, with real sources. They have standards such that they don’t show exposé videos designed to bring down organizations (e.g. ACORN). They’re patient. They are willing to wait until a story fleshes out sufficiently with vetted sources before covering it (e.g. Benghazi). Is the mainstream media perfect? Of course not. Are they immune to bias? Without doubt, they are not. But if you need evidence that your fringe news sources are warped and are warping your mind, look at the behavior at Fox News on election night.

Putting The Faux in Fox News

When the vote counters  at Fox News called Ohio for Obama, one of Fox’s analysts went batcrap crazy. Karl Rove begged his network, live and on the air, to reconsider their call. Never in the history of television has an on-air correspondent disagreed with his own network’s election night call. Why would Rove be so adamant? He had skin in the game, that’s why. Lots of skin … skin of the green variety. Via Crossroads GPS, his super-pac, Karl had dropped a ton of money into putting an end to Barack Obama’s political career. Yet the so-called fair and balanced network turns to him for analysis. Flashback four years ago when MSNBC discovered that on-air talent Keith Olbermann had contributed to a political campaign. All hell broke loose. Not on Fox though. No problem on Fox. And so, on election night we got to see Karl basically say “Hey! I’ve got big money riding on this! You can’t give Obama Ohio and the election!” All this while the celebration in Chicago is broadcast on split screen. It was a pathetic display. But Karl represents you. the disappointed Romney voter who lives in an alternate reality.

You are despondent and I understand why. Thanks to Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, you live in a world where up is down and right is always right and left is always wrong. You’ve been brainwashed and Tuesday night you got water-boarded by reality. It was torture. But you’re alive my friends. You got through it. Now just accept that you’ve been lied to, and move on.

Dear Republican Party,

The most important “teaching moment” for you should be not that your candidate Mitt Romney lost but that you failed to take over the Senate, a goal that was completely realistic. We can look at three seats that were within reach and see easily why you lost them. Your candidates in Indiana and Missouri said really stupid stuff about rape. Your candidate in Massachusetts attacked his opponent’s self-professed heritage thinking that heritage could be disproven just by “looking at her”. These examples of pure foolishness were  a trap door that the left could easily exploit. The rape comments were not simply dumb, they showed a disrespect for women not seen on the campaign trail in 25 years. They focused like a laser beam on your new meme that rape is not rape, this notion that lots of women fake it. Hell, when it comes to abortion your Vice Presidential candidate suggested that the health of the mother exception was wide enough to drive a truck through. Then you expect women to vote for you. The silliness over Warren’s ethnic background shined a light on your resentment of equal opportunity programs and the idea that traditionally oppressed minorities should be proactively recruited. Sure you griped that you felt Warren took advantage of these programs but let’s be honest. You don’t like the programs in the first place and that’s what a lot of minorities heard behind your Fauxahontas outrage.

Here is some free advice to my Republican friends. First, accept Roe v. Wade as probably the best compromise solution we will ever have on the issue of abortion. Accept it and move on. Second, accept the fact that some folks want a life-long partnership (including sex) with folks of their own gender. Gay folks aren’t going away. Republicans. you LIKE marriage. You think it is stabilizing. So let your gay brothers and sisters get the same benefits from the institution that you enjoy. You’re not gong to win this anti-gay battle. Two states, not by judicial decree, but by popular vote, legalized gay marriage. The tide is not only turning … it has turned. Accept it and move on.  Third and finally, did you notice the first two bits of advice used the word “accept”? Yeah … be more accepting. Widen your tent. If you learned anything from this election it should be that you can’t win on the white male vote anymore. Hispanics supported Obama to the tune of 71%. Could that have anything to do with all the talk of self-deportation? There are just too many “other” types of people out there and if you go out of your way to insult and alienate them, you will stop winning elections.

Dear Mr. President,

Our elections are a funny thing. From the electoral college perspective, most folks would say you won by a landslide with more than 300 electoral votes. But let’s be honest here. Only about 2 million votes separated you from Mitt Romney, about 2% or so of the electorate. You won just over half the States. This was no Ronald Reagan 49 state smack-down. There are a bus load of people for all sorts of reasons who did not want you to have a second term. Your response should not be “to hell with them”. So, please, tackle jobs and the deficit and be hands on about it. This business of throwing semi-formed ideas at a polarized Congress and expecting progress is not going to work. You have invited the legislative leaders to the White House next week. That’s a good start. Don’t stop there. Stay in the game. I know you don’t have the leverage of an LBJ who had years of relationships to draw on but that’s no excuse. You’ve got to forge relationships. I see that some pundits have already voiced my idea (yes I thought of it first!) that you appoint Mitt Romney to your new Secretary of Business position. Damn man, talk about team of rivals! We all know what you meant by Secretary of Business. It wasn’t some new bureaucracy as Mitt suggested on the campaign trail. It’s meant to consolidate several organizations like HUD and SBA under one accountable leader. Put Mitt in charge of it and let him be the businessman he’s proven he can be. A much better use of his talents than POTUS.

You don’t have another term at stake here, Mr. President. You have your legacy. It’s a much bigger game this time.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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November 9, 2012 at 9:53 pm 225 comments

I Think Therefore I am Not

I’ve noticed an odd trend in conservative circles revolving around self-identification. Some folks at the conservative end of the spectrum seem to have a clear idea of what they are NOT. Unfortunately, this self perception is delusional. Two cases in point:

I spent the better part of last week confined to a hospital suffering from flu-induced pneumonia. To the hospital’s credit, they had a cable line up that could rival that of the finest hotel. Unfortunately, my liberal leanings were short circuited by the absence of MSNBC. I knew if I watched too much CNN I would only extend my hospital stay. So I did what any other political junkie in my position would have done …. I watched Fox News Channel. Whether I watched “The Five” or Neil Cavuto or Hannity, one consistent meme I heard repeated was their derogatory references to “the main stream media”. The more I heard this, the funnier it seemed. Fox News Channel consistently beats CNN and MSNBC in ratings. While I hate to admit it, they are the kings of 24 hour news coverage. More folks watch them than their competitors. So could someone please tell me how FNC is not the mainstream media? These are the outsiders? These are the underdogs? Give me a break. Of course, claiming not to be mainstream pumps up their aggrieved victim status and clearly if conservative politics has become anything of late it has become the politics of aggrievement. Still I found this self-delusion of being outside the mainstream pretty amusing.

The other example involves the GOP Presidential contenders themselves. If you left your brain in your bottom desk drawer, you would believe that these are four brave Washington outsiders. These are men who rail at big government. They are the ones who will change everything. Yet even a cursory examination reveals that three of the four are Washington institutions. Newt Gingrich, the infamous Speaker of the House from the 1990′s has since his ouster profited from Washington connections for the past 20 years. Ron Paul has been a House Representative since 1976 with about a 12 year hiatus in the late 80′s/early 90′s. For all his rhetoric and a good 30 years of Washington experience, he hasn’t moved the needle one inch toward a less intrusive Washington.

And then there is former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. Santorum has been a Washington fixture since 1991 and qualifies as an outsider now only because he lost his Senate seat in 2006. Unlike veteran Ron Paul, Santorum doesn’t even try to hide his “Washington disease”. He speaks in legislative mumbo jumbo. He talks about the bills he has championed. He talks about having to vote against conscience “to take one for the team.” He sounds like anything but a Washington outsider.

Yet each of these men would have you believe they oppose the very government that has employed them for decades. Are they fooling themselves or just trying to pull something over on the rest of us?

When you dig under the outsider rhetoric of Fox News Channel and the GOP contenders, you come to a disheartening conclusion. They’re all playing for the same team as those currently in power and real meaningful change is highly unlikely in the near future.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

Image: smokedsalmon / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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February 27, 2012 at 8:30 pm 482 comments

Foreclosure of the Fourth Estate

Earlier this week I was watching an interview of GOP presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”. Ms. Bachmann told the hosts and other assembled guests that she thought everyone should pay some sort of tax, even ten dollars, as she put it, so everyone has a stake in America. I fully expected Joe, or Mika or even Willie to ask the congresswoman from Minnesota how she could say this when she told an audience at a debate not too long ago that the ideal tax rate for everyone should be 0%. As I often do while watching TV, I asked the question aloud to Ms. Bachmann and waited for my trusted journalists to echo my words.

Crickets.

Anyone paying the barest of attention to the GOP presidential nomination race would have spotted this inconsistency yet the hosts of “Morning Joe” just let it slip right on by. Before anyone accuses me of being a partisan attack dog, look at the following three stories and tell me how much the main stream media has covered them:

  • Solyndra — when we are supposedly fed up with crony capitalism this story of an ill-advised loan to a poorly run energy company with evidence pointing to undue pressure from the White House, has received relatively little attention.
  • Fast and Furious — guns end up in the hands of Mexican criminals with the involvement of the US Justice department. Attorney General Eric Holder and other Justice staff give incorrect information to Congress. Depending on your politics, the deception was either deliberate or not.
  • $7.2 trillion in tax payer money doled out by the Fed without congressional knowledge much less approval.

Now it’s not that you can’t find these stories if you search for them but they are hardly leading news broadcasts.

When I was a kid, television news came from the big three networks, ABC, CBS and NBC. News anchors were assumed to be objective. This is why when, for example, Walter Cronkite came out against the Vietnam War it was a major shock to the system. Now there are cable networks entirely devoted to news and two of them have an obvious bias, MSNBC on the left and Fox on the right. It is now possible to sit down to a night of “news” coverage devoted to portraying an opposing political viewpoint as either dumb, dangerous or at worst treasonous. This kind of reporting leaves out facts that interfere with the politics of the reporters.

The most important purpose of a free press is to accurately inform the average citizen. It is supposed to even the playing field and enable us to better participate in our democracy. It seems what we have now are sloppy journalists who don’t do their homework before interviews and let politicians get away with inconsistencies and contradictions or news professionals who flaunt their political bias.

One thing we didn’t have when I was a kid was the Internet. Now with Google and a little patience, we can weigh the differing sides of a story and come to our own conclusions. Each of us must become our own news aggregator. Either we do that or we wait until comedian Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show” covers a news item better than the so-called professionals will.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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December 9, 2011 at 9:51 pm 632 comments

The Danger of Partisan Media

No, this is not another attack on Fox News. This time I have to take a minute calling out my beloved MSNBC which I’ve always claimed, despite its liberal bias has always taken the higher road compared to Fox.

Late this week Chris Matthews on “Hardball” devoted an entire segment to Texas Governor Rick Perry’s pay-to-play method of governing. Apparently there is a pretty conspicuous pattern of campaign donations being followed by legislative favors. Michele Bachmann got the conversation started during last Monday’s GOP debate when she accused Perry of letting campaign donations influence his decision to mandate administration of the HPV inoculation to young female Texans (with an opt-out available to their parents). Perry’s response, which has inspired chuckles ever since, was did Michele really think he could be bought for a lousy $5,000.00?

Unfortunately, as I watched Chris go on and on about Perry’s ethics, I could not get out of my mind a story that my readers called to my attention, namely the brewing Solyndra scandal. Up until my cadre of conservative opponents threw it in my face, I figured Solyndra was some sort of sugar substitute. Little did I know it was a solar panel manufacturer with a lousy business model which was loaned half a billion dollars of our money by an administration who had been warned things would go bad, but who also had been prodded by Solyndra investor George Kaiser to approve the deal. George by sheer coincidence was an Obama fund-raiser. Sure enough, as predicted by some, Solyndra went belly up this month firing all of its workers.

Now you might fault me for not knowing about this story but clearly Chris Matthews and his producers knew about it. So how could they possibly go on a rant about Perry’s crony capitalism when the White House has a discernible stench of it right now? To make matters worse, guess where I had to turn to get the full Solyndra story? Comedy Central. That’s right, once again a man who should be a pure comedian, Jon Stewart, was delivering news that the MSNBC prime time pundits didn’t want to touch.

I’ve always considered MSNBC’s advantage over Fox that they had bias without hypocrisy. Now I need to reconsider that assessment.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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September 17, 2011 at 2:42 pm 625 comments

The Effect of Fox News: A Case Study

Today I was scheduled to take my car in for its regular maintenance visit. Today is also the day that President Barack Obama was scheduled to make a much-anticipated address at the State Department on the tumult in the Middle East and Northern Africa. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was scheduled to introduce him.  The intersection of these two events resulted in an interesting albeit simple and completely unscientific  field study on the effect of Fox News on the human brain.

You see, as I sat down in the car dealership waiting room, the TV was tuned to Fox News. One of the broadcasters said, “coming up later, we’ll look at who is likely to replace Hillary Clinton”. At this point, a woman waiting for her car to be fixed turned to her husband and said, “John, is Hillary Clinton resigning?”

And there it was before me in a simple five-minute incident all the evidence I needed to understand why Fox viewers are for the most part misinformed at best and deranged at worst. The Fox broadcaster made no effort to put this “Clinton replacement” in any sort of context. Folks familiar with Clinton know she has said she will not be Secretary of State for another Obama term. Our friends at Fox didn’t bother to provide that context. On the contrary they floated a “coming attraction” so ambiguous that the unsuspecting viewer might think Hillary was going to announce her resignation right there at the State Department gathering for Obama.

This is typical Fox sleight of hand. “News” by innuendo, thinly veiled editorials. My heart went out to my fellow waiting room occupant. Then my compassion turned to horror as I multiplied her by one million. Think about it. One million Americans getting their “news” from a shameless, fact twisting, media wing of the Republican party. Is it any wonder why so many Republicans wondered if Obama was really born in the United States?

My little field study today convinced me of something I had conjectured for some time now. The only way to keep Fox News “fair and balanced” is to have MSNBC playing on another channel. Incidentally, when my fellow automobile drivers left the waiting room, I did change the channel and left the room tuned to MSNBC. Consider it a small victory for integrity in journalism.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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May 20, 2011 at 12:11 am 42 comments

NPR President Vivian Schiller Should be Fired

Wow, sometimes proving political correctness gone awry doesn’t get any easier than this. Apparently on Fox, Juan Williams told Bill O’Reilly that although he gets nervous when he sees Muslims boarding his flight, he thinks we need to control our prejudices. The first half of that comment got Williams summarily fired from his gig at NPR.

Now apparently, the defense for the firing according to NPR President Vivian Schiller was that Williams violated NPR terms of employment. This from the Huffington Post:

Schiller appeared at the Atlanta Press Club, where she defended the decision, saying that Williams had violated NPR’s guidelines barring its analysts from making personal or controversial statements.

via Juan Williams On NPR Firing: No One Spoke To Me Before Firing Me

Well for starters, does NPR really want to be that much of a yawner network? No personal or controversial statements? Does NPR stand for Not Particularly Relevant? It also defies logic since Williams made the statement (taken out of context) on Fox, not NPR.

But here’s the kicker. Schiller went on to say:

… he should keep his feelings about Muslims between himself and “his psychiatrist or his publicist.”

Now is it just me or does that comment sound the least bit personal or controversial? Seems to me old Viv ought to be fired if we’re gonna stick by NPR guidelines. Fortunately for Viv, she’s the President so she could give herself a day to make a public apology for the comment. Apparently Williams got no opportunity at all to defend himself.

Look, I’m not a huge fan of Juan Williams. I don’t think he’s the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree. But political correctness has gone too far when someone warns against prejudice by using himself as an example and then gets fired for his self-effacing candor.

When Barack Obama said that his white grandmother would sometimes make him cringe with racially insensitive comments, conservatives shouted that he threw his grandma under the bus (and some went as far as to say it proved he hates white people). We liberals came to his defense, reminding everyone of the full context of the comment, which included how much he loved the grandmother who partly raised him. If we’re going to be intellectually honest and consistent, we must now come to the defense of semi-conservative Juan Williams who made an honest and ultimately instructive comment about his views toward Muslims, when taken in full context.

Comedian Jackie Mason used to tell a joke about how he never got nervous if a bunch of Hasidim gathered behind him at an ATM machine (vs if a bunch of blacks did). The joke illustrates that we have a reason for our prejudices. It is incumbent upon us to reach deep into our better selves and overcome those prejudices. That was all Juan Williams was saying.

It’s an honest shame that Schiller and her cronies are so afraid of a fatwa being declared against them that they would not only trample on the First Amendment but do so to the detriment of a valuable discussion that we need to have in this country right now.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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October 22, 2010 at 12:17 am 279 comments

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