After an amazingly encouraging week or two, we head into the July 4th weekend with a whole bunch of stuff we've been trying to clear off our desk. Plus: Lots of breaking news and an encouraging ending for the weekend...
Wow, does the dishonesty never end at Fox "News"? Well, we all know the answer to that one, but as Ben Dimiero at Media Matters noted in email, "this is ridiculous, even by Fox News standards".
In a package with Martha MacCallum on Fox's Live Desk today, suggesting that Administration officials who once criticized John McCain's assertion that "the fundamentals of the economy are strong" have now changed their tune, they played some clips purported to be from "recent interviews this weekend." Included in those clips, is Joe Biden declaring "the fundamentals of the economy are strong." (Video at bottom of this article.)
Trouble is a) Biden's statement was six months ago, when he was on the campaign trail and b) it was taken completely out of context, as Biden was quoting McCain's statement which he was in the process of criticizing!
Biden's actual in-context statement to a campaign rally in September 2008 was...
This was the most remarkable, and enlightening conversation I've seen on television in lord knows how long. Probably since Stewart's last landmark take-down of corporate broadcast media failure in 2004. The conversation here with CNBC's Jim Cramer --- unprecedented over three segments of last night's The Daily Show --- was simply remarkable.
Please take the time to watch this in full, and wonder again why it is that it's a "comic" on a satirical news show who has become America's most out-spoken, most articulate leader on these crucial issues of survival for our nation...
My take-way, though it was never spoken to directly, is that business news and business journalism --- right now more than ever --- must be about real reporting, and real accountability on behalf of the people, as opposed to simply cheerleading on behalf of the business community, as it has been for so long now
Stewart is also owed a great thanks here, in that I believe this may be (or should be) a landmark moment in discussion of this issue. Just as his remarkable October 2004 take-down of Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala on CNN's Crossfire (taken out of our misery shortly thereafter), essentially for the same reason --- using valuable broadcast time to perpetuate blood-sport and/or cheerleading, instead of actual news reporting in the public's interest --- I hope his no-holds-barred conversation with Cramer will lead to a similar re-thinking of the role of broadcast business journalism.
* * *
Stewart's similarly stunning October 15th, 2004 appearance on CNN's Crossfire is re-posted below for your convenience, the video, and highlights from the text transcript were originally posted here...
According to Media Matters, 'liberal', 'Obama-loving' MSNBC has now shown the following misleading graphic at least twice to support stories suggesting that Barack Obama is somehow responsible for the alarming drop in the Dow-Jones industrial average...
And here is the graphic they are not showing, making it quite clear that the plummet has little to do with Obama's Presidency...
The "Liberal Media" strikes again!
(For the record, Media Matters also notes that it's not just "liberal" MSNBC, of course. The wingnut propagandists at Bloomberg and WSJ, along with Fox "News'" Chris Wallace, are also banging the same misinformative drum. So, naturally, MSNBC finds it necessary to not miss a beat.)
Al Sharpton has described Sean Delonas' outrageous editorial cartoon, published in Rupert Murdoch's New York Post, as "stunning". We'd have to agree.
UPDATE 2/19/09: Protests grow outside of Murdoch's NY Post building in NYC. Details...
LATE UPDATE 2/19/09:NYPost issues unusual apology (they usually do no such thing), and it's also an unusual non-apology apology. And a fairly obnoxious one at that. We post it here in full so you don't need to give your clickage to that particular rag:
Posted: 8:00 pm
February 19, 2009
Wednesday's Page Six cartoon - caricaturing Monday's police shooting of a chimpanzee in Connecticut - has created considerable controversy.
It shows two police officers standing over the chimp's body: "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill," one officer says.
It was meant to mock an ineptly written federal stimulus bill.
But it has been taken as something else - as a depiction of President Obama, as a thinly veiled expression of racism.
This most certainly was not its intent; to those who were offended by the image, we apologize.
However, there are some in the media and in public life who have had differences with The Post in the past - and they see the incident as an opportunity for payback.
To them, no apology is due.
Sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon - even as the opportunists seek to make it something else.
UPDATE 2/24/09: And now Rupert Murdoch himself, issues his own personal apology. RAW has it...
At Monday night's prime-time press conference (transcript) at the White House, President Obama was asked by NPR's Mara Liasson what he'd learned from his "experience with the stimulus" package, in regard to "future challenges" he will face, legislatively.
The key part of his answer: "I suppose what I could have done is started off with no tax cuts, knowing that I was going to want some, and then let them take credit for all of them. And maybe that's the lesson I learned."
Uh, ya think? Yeah, giving away the store, by negotiating with oneself --- by handing billions of dollars in tax cuts to Republicans, before they'd even asked for it --- is something we long ago learned in Negotiations 101. Apparently Obama skipped class that day.
While we do hope he's learned from it, we coulda seen the disaster coming for miles. In fact, we did --- way back in the early part of 2007 when he did something similar, causing us to post serious reservations about his negotiation and decision making skills at the time.
We were even quoted on it, at the time, by Brit Hume on Fox "News"...
Via Media Matters...During Fox "News'" Happening Now show this morning, host Jon Scott claimed "the Senate is expected to pass the $838 billion stimulus plan --- its version of it, anyway. We thought we'd take a look back at the bill, how it was born, and how it grew, and grew, and grew..."
Trouble is, the "we" Scott mentions wasn't Fox. It was the Senate Republican Communications Center (SRCC), and the resultant "news" analysis, was virtually an exact repetition of a news release the SRCC issued earlier today.
In addition to turning the exact quotes from the press releases into graphics, Fox even replicated a typo from one of them, on the final graphic, as referring to a Wall Street Journal report from "12/9/09." (That's almost a year from now, for those not paying too close attention.)
Video of the Fox "News" "report" is at right, and you may compare it to the SRCC's press release --- including the typo --- here. (We've taken the liberty of archiving the original version here, just in case they decide to change it.)
Other than that, the outfit is completely legitimate, like totally fair and balanced, and not associated with the Republican Party in any way.
UPDATE 2/11/09: After a day of getting pounded by the media for the above, Fox News issues an apology...for the typo.
President-elect Barack Obama said today that there is "no pride of authorship" on his economic stimulus package. For good or bad, in regard to that particular initiative, this seems to me what a President should sound like. Let's hope he means it, and that this m.o. extends to all aspects of his Presidency. (appx 3 mins)...
As I've recently been consulted by Obama's team overseeing transition review of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), and have offered what I believe to be some good ideas about serious reform for the so-far dreadfully-failed commission, I'll hope he means what he says in the above about accepting such ideas and putting them into practice. We shall see, but the words said above sound very good to my ears.
I suspect GM's stock price would shoot back up upon such an announcement, and there would be unprecedented anticipation for how Apple's co-founder, the visionary Steve Jobs, might bring the same type of innovation to the American automobile industry that he brought to the computer and communications and music industry.
Would it be enough and in time to save them? That I couldn't tell ya, but it'd be just about the best chance they'd have, I'd venture.
While I'm focused on this point, allow me to link back to my recent article asking why Congress hasn't asked GM about their popular, fully-electric car, the EV1, before trying to give them billions of dollars.
The company introduced the EV1 in California in 1996, before killing it inexplicably three years later and, literally, shredding every last one of the much-sought-after vehicles. Several excellent comments left by readers on that article, also look into the related mystery of Texaco having purchased the patent for the second generation battery for the car. The purchase occurred at nearly the same time as the EV1 was taken off the market. The new battery technology is said to have had a superbly long life on a single charge. The purchase effectively took the battery off the market --- has it been heard from since?
Texaco itself was purchased by Chevron just days after they'd bought the rights to the battery in 2000. At the time of the purchase, as coincidence would have it, Condoleeza Rice was on Chevron's board, and Andy Card was GM's VP of Government Relations, according to Wikipedia, where he served until he was selected as George W. Bush's Chief of Staff. Prior to that, from '93 to '98, Card had been President and CEO of the American Automobile Manufacturers Assoc. (AAMA), representing GM, Ford and Chrysler. All just coincidences, of course.
But back to the main point of this item...If Steve Jobs is disinclined to leave Apple, the company he co-founded, in order to take the reins as CEO of the floundering GM, then I suppose I could revise the headline of this piece to read instead:
How to Save the American Automobile Industry in Three Words:
'The Apple iCar'
UPDATE 12/11/08: Looks like a few others were having the same idea just about the time that I was, and in a bit more detail...
I haven't been able to watch all of the Capitol Hill hearings with the Big 3 automaker CEOs, but caught a fair portion. I've yet to hear anybody ask GM CEO Rick Wagoner why the hell his company killed their perfectly good, and rather popular, fully electric car which was introduced in CA in 1996.
The EV1 was much beloved by its owners (leasers, actually, since they were not allowed to buy them). There were waiting lists to be able to get one, before finally, three years later, with little or no explanation, GM announced they would not be renewing any of the leases on those cars and those who used them would have no recourse but to give them back.
Customers were outraged, heartbroken even. Many had tried to buy them outright --- and even sign contracts that they'd not hold GM accountable for any future problems or repairs --- but they were all turned down. When the devoted customers learned the planned fate of the cars --- and discovered, by helicopter, that they were all being rounded up in the desert --- they took up a round-the-clock, 24/7 vigil in an effort to block what GM had planned for them.
Incredibly, not only had GM taken back the cars, they were actually sending them, in perfectly good working order, to be shredded --- yes, literally shredded. As EV1 supporters tried to physically block the movement of cars to the shredder, they were threatened with arrest if they didn't get out of the way to allow the perfectly usable, and almost brand new cars to be taken out by trucks to be completely destroyed.
Why? That was never really made clear, at least not in the excellent 2006 documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? which detailed the entire heartbreaking tale of the cars which ran quickly and quietly, and without a drop of gasoline. Here's a short teaser for the film...
So, as promises of the Chevy Volt for 2010 have been well advertised, has Wagoner been publicly asked about the shameful EV1 chapter, and why his company can't just start making them again --- like tomorrow? Surely they didn't shred the blueprints for the cars as well, did they? If anyone has asked him, even about why the hell they destroyed them in the first place, I've not seen it. But with everything that's going on right now, and with GM's hat-in-hand, threatening "bankruptcy within the month" if they don't get billions of dollars pronto, it sure seems like someone oughta bring up the still unanswered questions of the EV1.
After Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) discusses the bailout as if it's something "they" are doing (as opposed to her, a member of the U.S. Congress) Ashton Kutcher called her on it on Friday's HBO's Real Time w/ Bill Maher, before going on to make a very significant point about the insane way this economic "bailout" is being carried out.
"With all due respect, you're in a position to do something very significant about it. We're all in a position to do something very significant about it," he tells the Congresswoman, before the actor/producer of Punk'd goes on to declare, deadly seriously, in reply to Maher: "They're punking us right now!" (appx. 2 mins)...
I'll tell ya, I was really impressed with Kutcher every time he opened his mouth on the show last Friday. I hope he keeps talking. Clearly, he's been paying very close attention to what's really going on out here. And, to that end, we'll have another clip of him from the same show later today, which offers some pretty good evidence that he must be a BRAD BLOG reader. Stay tuned...
The emerging meme last week from the conservative corner is that the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) is to blame for the economic meltdown on Wall Street. The CRA was intended to confront decades of institutionalized discriminatory lending practices by banks in refusing loans to women and minorities. The twisted logic behind this newest meme is that the CRA forced formerly prudent lenders to abandon their previously cautious ways, and forced them to throw sound lending practices out the window because that's what the law demanded, and gosh, it's not their fault that they made bad loans in the bargain.
You may not be surprised to learn that's not the case. Read below, in full, for some facts that counter the insidious prejudice --- with racism at its heart --- inherent in the latest lie drummed up in the conservative blame game. You'd think they couldn't cry "Political Correctness made me do it!" with a straight face, but alas, they do...
Guest Editorial by Jon Ponder, Pensito Review.
The bailout of Wall Street is the rancid pickle on an economic crap sandwich that is a result of 30 years of conservative deregulation/trickle-down ideology. The fact that the Bush appointees who devised the original bailout plan are from the same gene pool as the neo-cons, cronies and heckuva-jobbers who turned America into a torture state, spied on Americans, drowned New Orleans, stole two national elections, corrupted the Department of Justice and took the country to war on the false pretext of bringing democracy to Iraq but then screwed up their true intent --- to steal its oil --- should have been reason enough to kill the plan on sight.
But that's not going to happen. As inept and ineffectual as they are at everything else, the Bush team is highly practiced at forcing Congress to act in haste. Six years ago this month, Karl Rove and the White House political shop "created a reality," as one of them has described it, that there was an urgent need to push the Iraq war resolution through Congress just days before the midterm elections. Now we know that the only urgency was Rove's need to get Senate Democrats who were potential Bush rivals in the 2004 presidential election on the record about the war before the election. Iraq post-invasion has been a disaster, but the vote on the resolution was stunningly successful in hobbling the campaigns of both John Kerry and Hillary Clinton.
Now, in what is either a horrendous coincidence or the most elaborate (and apparently botched) October Surprise in presidential campaign history, as Bush prepares to slouch off to Crawford for good, he is pushing one last crisis down our throats. As with his invasion of Iraq, it will probably be years before we know if this latest crisis is "real," or if it was fumbled attempt by the White House to change the game in John McCain's favor.
It certainly feels like we're being played again...
Americans - most notably right-leaning Americans - used to issue dire warnings about sliding down "the slippery slope" on any number of hot-button political issues. From the slippery slope of same-sex marriage to the slippery slope of gun control to the slippery slope of abortion rights to the slippery slope of immigration and on and on, various political interest groups in America guarded that slope, with no small amount of zeal, lest any of us find our God-given rights or once-vaunted rule of law lost for good before we even noticed.
Bad news. We've lost our God-given rights, at least our constitutional ones, and certainly the rule of law. The US is now in full-plummet down the slippery slope, due, in no small part, to a lack of courage, willingness, interest and imagination of those who might have kept it from happening long ago.
Under the proposed bailout legislation (according to Henry Paulson, Secretary of the Treasury), the US Treasury or agents thereof could acquire Microsoft for one US dollar, with no legal recourse for Microsoft or even its shareholders.
Here is the text of proposed legislation and here is what the Treasury Department claims the legislation will allow it to do, and here is how Paulson (or his successor) could own Microsoft...for a buck...
Telegraphing panic over the economic crisis to his fear-addicted followers, John McCain has announced he is suspending his campaign and that he wants to delay the debate Friday night, according to Washington Post...
Republican presidential nominee John McCain this afternoon said he would suspend his presidential campaign tomorrow to return to Washington and help reach agreement on a plan to solve the financial crisis on Wall Street, and called for a delay of Friday night's presidential debate.
"It has become clear that no consensus has developed to support the Administration's proposal,'' McCain said in a brief statement to reporters. "I do not believe that the plan on the table will pass as it currently stands, and we are running out of time.''
It's not as if John McCain has announced any sort of definitive measure to resolve the crisis that he needs to be in Washington to push --- or that he has a record of providing leadership on the economy in the past. (Quite the opposite, in fact. He was an advocate of the deregulation that underlies the failures.)
More importantly, if John McCain can't juggle a debate with Barack Obama while simultaneously working on the economic collapse, how can he possibly handle the multiple world crises that inevitably come with the presidency?
It's likely that what's really going on here is that the campaign has seen some dire polling numbers --- today even the new Fox "News" poll shows Obama support widening nationally, with a full 6-point lead, 45% to 39%, beyond the poll's margin of error --- and they want to push the debate forward, with the hope that the issues that are dragging him down have turned around.
(Please note, however, in re: the Fox "News" poll released today, FNC's "Fox News Polls Home" on their website currently ledes with a headline screaming that "McCain Leads Obama 45% to 42%". Click on that top headline, and one finds that it's headlined Sept. 10. Guess they're in no rush to update their polls page for some reason.)