Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Representing Liberalism

Keith Olbermann used to be a bastion of liberal journalism, but watching him today is like watching a nightmarish version of The Daily Show. He is almost totally devoted to presenting the “News and Commentary” as a mechanism for illustrating how intelligent and witty he is, something that he presumably developed from his protegee Rachel Maddow, and which would be more successful if he were as intelligent and witty as he thinks he is.

Last night he was ranting about how “BP‘s prime interest remains to protect its bottom line,” as if any for-profit corporation should have any other prime interest without risking having its management ousted by stockholders.

He also had Rick Steiner on, a supposed environmentalist, who claimed that the 40-knot wind threshold established for discontinuing drilling of the relief wells was too low and that they should not stop unless winds reached at least 60 knots. I love it; after criticizing BP for weeks about inadequate safety practice, he is now criticizing them for too much safety practice, and Olbermann is nodding and providing sage approval.

Olbermann also suggested that Former President Clinton had said that we might want to kill the Macando well by blowing it up. I saw a clip of him making the statement on a real news show, and what he actually said was, "Unless we need to blow up this well ... the Navy won't need to participate." [Emphasis mine, J] So yes, Keith, Clinton does know what he's talking about; it's actually you who does not.

As to Rachel Maddow, I liked her a lot during the presidential campaign, but survived only a few of her shows before her blatant bias, demagoguery and the endless giggling and snark caused me to decide I had better ways to spend my television watching time.

Once in while one of her clips makes the rounds of the blogs I read, touted as “ooh isn’t this wonderful,” and I break down and watch the clip. It’s usually… Well, she’s certainly, um, liberal. Being prepared and armed with facts is not her long suit, though.

In this piece about Obama’s presidency, in which the only accomplishment she failed to tout was that he walks on water, she actually starts by saying, “With the passage of financial regulation in Washington today…” She might want to check with Congress about what they actually did, perhaps. The financial reform measure is facing a final vote next week, and is actually in serious danger of failing to pass.

She declaims grandly that, “He passed health reform, which, for the first time, establishes government responsibility for the health care of American citizens,” a claim which goes beyond the usual Democratic hyperbole about this bill as being “historic.”

I’m not sure where she gets the part about “government responsibility” for anything. Insurance companies remain, for the most part, responsible for the health care of American citizens or, since they pay for that insurance, American citizens remain responsible for their own health care.

Of the stimulus bill, not only does she fail to mention that Obama allowed the Republicans to trim it by a third, she blats that, “It also pumped about $100 billion into the crumbling embarrassment of our national infrastructure and transportation system.”

That would have been a lot more impressive if that $100 billion had not lost much of its simulative punch by being spread out over several years, and for the fact that our infrastructure is in need of $7 trillion, so that amount was about 1.5% of the need.

She went on to say that the stimulus bill, “also included an unheralded but giant investment in science and tech,” which actually just proves what a confused and incoherent piece of legislation that bill actually was. Stimulus and investment are two entirely different things and do not belong in the same bill. Investment dilutes and detracts from the impact of stimulus.

She finishes with, “..the list of things he has yet to do – ‘Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell,’ closing Guantanamo - in each of these things, there is room for liberal disappointment. I sing a bittersweet lullaby to the lost public option when I go to sleep at night.”

Um, “he has yet to do?” How about, “things he has failed to do,” and in the case of closing Guantanamo, “things he almost certainly not going to do.” Not to mention the "public option" which she even mentions and which is far from a "yet to do" item.

So that’s what we have as representatives of liberalism in our television “News and Commentary” these days; buffoons.

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