Saturday, March 28, 2009

Maria Bamford on being Rich and Successful

I'm going to continue running a few more clips from my new found favorite comedian, Maria Bamford. I love her understanding of going home and meeting an old nemesis.

I know that one of my 19 readers lives in Minneapolis and one lives in Austin, so if they are interested in seeing her live here is her schedule.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Hubris and Masters of the Universe: Right Wing Radio Edition

Rolling Stones has a great article about the financial crisis that several people have recommended that I'll check out. But since I follow the media and especially talk radio I'm going to do a little comparing and contrasting.

Regular people understand a lot more about how this game works than the elites want to give them credit for. Scrape away the complex "financial products" talk and you can see right through to the greed, the love of money above all things.

When the system started falling apart there were a couple of ways to handle this. Some of them choose the Republican, right-wing crisis mode (which actually works to some degree at first--the eventually it fails catastrophically).

It is a mode that appeals to powerful Conservative men because it doesn't involve admitting guilt and mistakes. I've seen powerful men reject any mode but this one, because they figure, "My way of thinking got me this far, I'm riding this out MY way, to heck with the consequences! Screw those lawyers, operations people, PR people and crisis experts who tell me otherwise!"

What are they really saying? "I've got the biggest phallus in the room! Screw all of you!"

I'll let you in on a secret that they won't admit to themselves. They would really rather be taken all the way down than admit a mistake or take advice from someone else. That is the ONLY way that they can save face. It seems strange, but like a man who can't admit that he is lost and ask directions, they will not listen to advice on how to handle getting busted. Especially if they see this advice coming from people they don't respect, and that is pretty much everyone. Some times if there is a boss or outside board director that they respect they might listen. A few have the insight to see that when their actions are hurting others, but many don't. Their attitude?
"Hey, I did it my way. Sure I lost millions, people were fired but that's not MY fault! The important thing is that I never compromised my 'values'."
Therefore we are doing them a FAVOR when we bring them all the way down with criminal charges and clawback their ill-gotten gains. I'm going to remember that if I get any calls from "the little people" who lost their jobs. "Hey, they WANTED this to happen, your bosses boss had plenty of chances to stop this."

One thing that some of these people don't get is that the, "I don't apologize to anyone!" game only works for a few people. Those people need to be the absolute top and those people don't care about anyone except themselves. So you can see how some men would LOVE this strategy. The can pretend they are the top dog (even when they are not) and they can ignore the impact that their attitude can have on others.

Look at how the people in the financial industry dealt with the problem:
  • Deny the Problem, "It's just a liquidity problem."
  • Attack others who were a small part of the problem to deflect blame to a pre-hated group, "It's those loans to poor people who didn't pay it back!"
  • Hire lawyers for the legal argument, "They can't take the money way, they have a sacred contract!"
  • Hire PR people for the sympathy vote, "The janitors at AIG are going to lose their bonuses too!"
  • Buy influence with political people
  • Threaten critics
  • Attack people on their side who "don't get it" especially if they act "weak", "They are apologizing like big babies!"
  • Claim victim status
I've seen these types of attitudes from the right-wing hosts at KSFO. Now that they are two years away from the financial hit that was dealt them by us low status bloggers, "Crackpots with keyboards I believe was what they called us" they seem to think that how they handled their crisis was the right way to handle it.

I guess because they didn't lose ALL their advertisers (just 27) and they didn't lose their license or get fined (because we didn't go the FCC route) they think their response was the right one.

I suppose that getting rid of Melanie Morgan was the smartest choice since her work had the greatest potential for costing the station it's FCC license or lead to a serious lawsuit. One of her "counter protests" was going to get someone killed and then ABC/Citadel would be stuck holding the bag.

Morgan also had the highest TV profile at the national level so she was the most noticed by "The Powers that Be." ( Chris Matthews would never have Rodgers on his TV show because he isn't a blond woman. His angry white man shitck would just embarrass the station.)

Lee Rodgers' Dreams
Lee Rodgers had a dream of being broadsided by a semi-trailer truck during his vacation in 2007. He said that the truck was coming from the left. He ignored the dream.

He didn't see all the ways that he was propped up by Disney and the media that he hates so much. He ignored the Disney lawyer's advice. He was backed by management because they want to keep the angry conservative white man audience in the KGO/KSFO family. KGO can subsidize a money losing station for a long time with the justification that they don't have to give up the angry right-wing audience. [UPDATE] Massive media companies can arrange the financial data so that nobody outside the organization EVEN STOCKHOLDERS can see how a money losing group is being subsidized because the corp owners like its ideology. Conseratives love to talk about the bottom line and the free market, but they are willing to lose millions to push an agenda that they feel benefits the organization in the long run. [close Update].

Eventually someone had to pay the price for losing money, but it wasn't him, it was Melanie Morgan. That's fine with Rodgers, he pretty much looks out for number one. You would think that after he "coded" on the table four times recently he might have decided to mellow out. Nah. He wants to rumble! Like a boxer with one too many blows to the head he stands screaming in the ring, "Come on! You want a piece of me! I could whip you all!"

And the management is going to let him. Because it's entertaining to some people. He's not really a noble figure like Howard Beale, he's a weak sad man at the end of his life still spoiling for a fight.
I expect him to get more and more outrageous in the coming weeks. He's got nothing to lose. He thinks all publicity is good publicity. The shouting, anger and hate will probably lead to a relapse. Then we will get more Brian Sussman in the morning [shutter].

And then the long time radio people will have to say what a "principled conservative man he was" because they can't say that he was an angry SOB who pretty much hated everyone and every thing except a few Japanese, his current wife and his dog.

Rodgers wants to go out swinging. Lessons were not learned. That is not surprising, the right wing is all about repetition and doing the same thing over and over. Which reminds me of a joke:

Man walks into a doctor with a frog on his head. The doctor says, "What seems to be the problem?"

The frog says, "I don't know Doc, but I need a tax cut."

Back in 2005-2006 I kept telling the management at ABC Radio and Disney what was happening at KSFO and what was going to happen. Just like for years people were telling the world what was happening and what was going to happen with this CDS financial bubble. No one listened until the crash.

Anyone who could talk to Rodgers to tell him to tone down his violent rhetoric and racial epithets in violation of company policy is too busy with other things or has no respect in Rodger's eyes. He already said what he thinks of corporate PR people, "Well corporate PR people in general are a bunch of ass kissers." Remember what he said about the management of another ABC Radio station that made a host apologize?

Listen to what Rogers thought of the response of Chris Berry, president and general manager of WMAL, to Michael Graham's anti-Muslim statements at WMAL-AM in Washington. (Graham was asked to apologize and when he didn't he was fired.).
"Yeah, because that station in Washington DC was run by a gutless nothing." (link. 3o seconds)
--Lee Rodgers on WMAL station manager Chris Berry
I think that more people need to hear what Rodgers really stands for and says. The things that he never apologized for, the things that he seriously believes and the things he sickly jokes about. I'm really not a "I told you so" kind of guy, but I've been telling management what is going on for a while, I keep hoping that someone would tell him to knock it off, but that's not going to happen. It's sad really, he has told the world what he is going to say and do and they are going to watch him do it, even if it costs them more money and advertisers.

I suppose he'll get some sort of broadcaster's award if he has an attack on the air and collapses in mid name calling rant. I'm sure Ben Fong Torres will do a nice piece on him in Radio Waves based on his "body of work" and the ratings.

You see ratings for some of these radio guys is the same as money for the Wall Street MOtUs. They don't care how they get them, they just want them. If they think they have to call for the deaths of a few thousand Muslims or the torture of a few common criminals with electrodes attached to their testicles so be it, if they have to violate corporate HR guidelines on racial epithets or sexual harrassment, too bad. HR rules are for "the little people" not for the "talent".

As for me? I'm just a brain in a box that likes to help people's dreams come true.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Readiness for Violent Acts and Suspension of Basic Empathy

I'm reading Thirte3n by Richard K. Morgan. I loved Morgan's first book, Altered Carbon. I've felt his other books weren't up to the same level of quality, but his current book, Thirteen, puts him back in top form. If you were disappointed with Market Forces (as I was) and were reluctant to pick him up again, check out Thirteen. By the way, both Altered Carbon and Market Forces are soon to be Major Motion Pictures. I actually think that they will both do well if they get the right director and screenplay author for the type of books they are.

Market Forces read like the video game/graphic novel/movie script that it started out as, so I wasn't surprised that it got picked up by the studios. It has everything the 14-34 year old demo wants, Car races! Money! Wars! Hot women! Guns! Financial Ruin! Macho posturing! Did I say Car crashes? Car Crashes! VO: "In a world were wars are run for profit and executives advance by race car assassination, one man stands up to the system, and wins the ultimate race for survival."

I'll bet it was pitched as "Road Warrior meets Wall Street via Saving Private Ryan. " If Jason Statham can be attached they are golden.

Altered Carbon, on the other hand, has the potential to be great if the actor chosen for the lead can pull off the emotional heft of someone who has seen tragic combat. We need to see someone giving up on the human race. I hope they pick an older man who has seen combat or has had many real life tragedies and can act. This is the kind of role given to Harrison Ford seven years
ago. We will need to see a sadness in his eyes like Bogart in Casablanca.

William Holden would have been great. ( link on William Holden). Of course someone with a Chinese background might be great too. Altered Carbon could be the best film noir of the decade if they get the right actor and they spend money on the WRITING and not on the flying car special effects. If they don't, and miss the emotional center of the character it could go like Jumper and become one of the worst adaptions in recent years.

In Thirteen, a group of genetic scientists breed a couple of variants. One is basically a sex toy/love slave for men, the "perfect" woman--at least from the point of view of some men. The other is bred for war, the "perfect" soldier--again, at least from the point of view of some men. Of course things go horribly wrong, now the world needs to deal with the mess. Doesn't this sound like what neocons would do with genetics?

I think great science fiction talks about how we handle new ethical situations and puts those situations in front of us and says, "Now what?". Like Battlestar Galactica, it sets up a world that is really ours and throws in questions to us like, "What does it mean to be human? How do you treat people who are different from you? Who are your leaders? What does it say about you as a group, a race, or a species when you choose one leader over another? What is the difference between military, political and spiritual? Which kind of leader is most powerful? What is the definition of "most powerful"?

When I was growing up on Vulcan I realized that there were different kinds of leaders with different qualities. Intellectual leaders were highly prized as were ethical leaders. Charismatic leaders were somewhat suspect. There was also a respect for leaders who were either famous because of some talent and leaders who were rich. It did make some difference HOW they got rich, but not as much as you would think.

Thirte3n deals with "alpha males" and how people respond to them. It also deals with family dynamics between two brothers. I really enjoy writers that deal with family dynamics in science fiction. The passages in the book between brothers are some of Morgan's best. In the future we will almost surely still have families. Their nature might change, but siblings, parents and relatives have a huge influence on us that can transcend what some people believe is nature. (Personally I find most stories about what our genes "require" us to do kind of silly. My friend Echidne of the Snakes has refuted and shown how silly most of these studies are).

We are more than just smart animals, which makes us capably of acts both horrific and great.

I've often said that one thing that can distinguish a Modern Conservative is their lack of empathy for others who they do not see as part of their immediate family. Another is the sense that violence is the solution to the problem first and foremost.

When Obama made a stupid joke on Jay Leno we got the standard conservative hissy fit response. I could go into a response here about it, but I want to ask a question first.

"Do you think that Obama lacks empathy?" Was his joke a slip into something that showed just how he really feels about people with mental difficulties? Is that something that he has been holding back?

Personally I don't think so. You could look at his actions and see is he the kind of guy who has empathy for others. Now compare that with another President. Bill Clinton. Remember, "I feel your pain."? He was empathetic and was mocked for it by the right.

George H. W. Bush tried hard to avoid the label of wimp and overcompensated, the good news is he was man enough to know when he was in over his head in Gulf War I. For that awareness he became a better President than his son.

George W. Bush showed his lack of empathy again and again as well as his readiness for violent acts. Remember his fly over in New Orleans after the poorly engineered and constructed levees burst, causing flooding that killed hundreds? Remember his bluster "we'll get him dead or alive" about Osama bin Laden? Seven YEARS and he couldn't catch one man. A simple goal and he failed to met it. No wonder the people on the right in Movement conservatism would rather look to their success in killing Saddam and not their failure in getting Osama.

Yet, unlike the idealized fictional character Jack Bauer, Bush never actually participates in the violence himself, if he did it might make him include soldiers in his immediate family and that might have given him some empathy for the people he was sending off to the war he started with Iraq.

Rush Limbaugh might want to be Jack Bauer, he likes the ideas of those traits, but as Morgan talks about in Thirteen, Rush and Bush represent the kleptocrats. Someone who hires others to carry out their violent acts and has suspended empathy for people not like them or their immediate family.

You can't fight kleptocrats with violence. I mean you could, but it doesn't really destroy their power. They need to be defanged in multiple ways. Legal, financial, in the media. One of the best ways is to get them to forfeit their ill gotten gains. To defeat them in the real marketplace, not the rigged marketplace they control. It is also useful to get their own base to start to find them disgusting. What is interesting is that the things that their own base would find disgusting we might find as a sign of their humanity.

We've seen how the powerful use government to change the law so that they can get away with torture. They have worked to change the words, so that torture is "harsh interrogation". We have seen how the rich, when they see that the money is disappearing have changed the rules so that they still get their money.

The rich modern conservatives will first act like they are above it all, but once they start realizing that they aren't in their bubble anymore they will move to elicit empathy. The PR firms, composed of lots of empathic people who are not ready for violent acts, will be unleashed by the kleptocrats. They will work to buy sympathy. Burson-Marsteller is one of the firms engaged by AIG in this process. I expect to see stories about their acts of charity and how they are just regular people. More stories about the lucky "regular" people not the high flying kleptocrats who gamed the system they created.

Kleptocrats (and a handful of real believers) will start throwing themselves on the mercy of the public. What is interesting is that Modern Conservatives will HATE THEM FOR IT. They would much rather that they own up to their money stealing and laugh in the face of the people with empathy. They will see any admission of guilt as weak.

Of COURSE the modern conservatives on talk radio will support the execs who made a lot of money. Until they start apologizing. That will betray "The Code" the "I've got mine, screw you" code. At THAT point they will get on the bandwagon for attacking them.

The reason that personal information on AIG execs will not be given out is that the modern conservatives know what THEY would expect people to do to them if they ripped people off. They would go out and kill them, or direct others to do it. They would follow the Mafia code. "You rip off Vito, he'll put you in the ground." They admire that world.
For a long time I've talked about the violent rhetoric of talk radio. It has been not taken seriously. "They are just joking!" It has been ignored because talking about killing liberals and Muslims is considered unserious threats.

If I hear from the talk radio hosts suggestions of violence toward the rich I will make it clear that I am just as upset at that as I was with violence toward, Muslims, journalists, democrats and liberals. I'm not upset because the rich are paying me. (Help me George Soros! I haven't got my monthly check!) I'm doing it because I DO have empathy for others and I'm not ready for violent acts.

Maybe the rich will thank me and pay me like they pay their police and security guard. I'll happily take their money, and I'll use it defend others who don't have the same defenders.

I take suggestions of violence toward the rich as seriously as I took suggestions of violence toward others. I think that I've proved over the years that my offense at violent rhetoric is wide and deep.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Parenting Advice from Lee Rodgers: Knock your Kids into Next Week

Lee Rodgers is back at KSFO and he is as bad as ever.

It's pretty clear that nobody at the parent company listens to him. The only time they seem to hear what is going on at the show is when I point it out to the advertisers. I'm sure they would be shocked and appalled and maybe understand why decent advertisers don't want to be associated with the show. But since Mitch Dolan, President of Citadel’s Major Market Station Group, left in February, Farid Suleman is taking on his duties. I don't expect Farid to have time to monitor KSFO.

But I've got time, so I'll help 'em out! Spocko's listening!

Let's look into just the first 25 minutes of today's show. That's about all I could handle after last night's green Irish beer and green Romulan ale. Rodgers is bemoaning the Republican party having any impulse other than being obstructionist. And he makes an analogy to parents, maybe he sees the Republican Party as the Daddy party. In Rodger's world daddies threaten to beat their kids if they disobey.

Should parents, for example, never say no to stupid ideas of their kids like a 'Hey folks I'm planning on a weekend of binge drinking and uh and uh sorting cocaine and oh and by the way I'm going to use the family car.'?

Parents shouldn't say no?

'No punk that's stupid. You're not going to do it-and you try it I'll knock you into the middle of next week.' An approach that should be used more often in America families. (audio link)
--Lee Rodgers, KSFO, ABC Radio/Citadel Broadcasting,
3-18-2009 at 5:25 am
This really isn't surprising for a man who is unrepentantly in favor of killing political opponents, torturing and executing people for being arrested too much, burning people alive and stomping protesters to death.

Good thing Dr. Dobson's Focus on the Family was replaced by the Huckabee report. I wonder if Gov. Huckabee is in favor of threatening to beat kids so they don't drink and drive? Maybe I should ask him.
Gov. Huckabee, Lee Rodgers, a radio host on KSFO in San Francisco, thinks that parents should threaten to "knock their kids into next week" if they hear they are planning to drink and do drugs. Do you agree with this approach? Rodgers says it "should be used more often in America families'.

Is beating children an effective method of getting them to stop drinking and doing drugs? Why not? Lee Rodgers is a proud conservative. Is this view point shared by other conservatives?

Before you answer Gov. we all know that talk radio hosts are very powerful in today's media world. If you disagree with Rodgers you might have to apologize later.
Burger King is a major sponsor of Lee Rodger's at KSFO. That's right, family-friendly Burger King is sponsoring a radio show where the host suggests parents should threaten to beat their children.

Now I doubt that Burger King has any idea what the folks at KSFO are saying. I can't imagine they would keep advertising if they did. Their media buyers aren't going to tell them, they won't want to walk away from any revenue. They probably just were shown a spreadsheet and thought "Heck, KSFO is in San Francisco, how bad could they be? It's not like they suggest that parents threaten to beat their kids!"

(Pssst. Burger King, they are pretty bad, listen to a show. You'll find KSFO hosts violating a number of your very own Code of Business Ethics of Conduct for Vendors.)

Remember KSFO is a vendor that provides Burger King with a service. They are a very public vendor. The radio hosts read your commercials live on the air and therefore they are the voice of your company to people in the Bay Area. When Michael Vick got involved in dog fighting, Nike pulled their sponsorship. Rodgers has suggested that millions of innocent Muslims be killed, and criminals be tortured and executed and most recently on, 3/18/2009 that children be beaten. Is this the guy you want representing your product?)

Of course it is just a matter of time before they don't just say something bad before or after your commercial, sometimes they integrate your commercial into something nasty. Listen to what "Officer Vic" did with McDonalds
(Audio link)

Hey maybe I should let Cindy Syracuse, senior director, cultural marketing, Burger King Corp know about Rodgers massive anti-Muslim bias. She might care.)
Burger King Corporation CSR mission statement:
Burger King Corporation is a global citizen. We live and work alongside our constituents, and value their interests as our own. Fundamental respect for all people, and our planet, guides our corporate conscience. We are committed to diversity and inclusion, dignity for all workers along our entire supply chain, food safety and animal welfare, sensitivity towards the environment, and a spectrum of civic and charitable priorities that promote our shared future in the communities we serve.

I'm thinking that the reason KSFO keeps Rodgers in Arizona is so that he isn't roaming the halls looking for a fight. Did he get an ethics waiver from Citadel's Code of Business Rules and Ethics?(I haven't found it in Form 8-K with the SEC under item 10, I'll look more later.) Why would he be allowed to get away with his comments if he doesn't' have an ethics waiver?

I sometimes amuse myself by talking to friends who don't listen to talk radio by repeating word for word the comments in the same tone and fashion as the hosts. After the initial stunned reaction people ask me, "Do you really think they believe what they are saying?"

I respond, "I can't read their minds, I don't know what is in their hearts or what they do at home in their personal lives. In a way it doesn't matter if they are true believers or not. All I can know is what they say. They are sick if they believe it and frankly just as sick if they say it and DON'T believe it, because that means they are aware their comment is sick and say it any way. That shows a level of calculation that suggests they know exactly what they are saying is wrong and do it anyway."

My friend Rich (who probably hasn't read this far since he hates my long posts) was the first one to point this out to me and I realized later why many people ask me that question. They want to give the benefit of the doubt to others. They believe that people are good and that saying things like this are just for ratings and money.

Many people on the right don't believe that people are good and don't give people the benefit of the doubt. One reason that "Hot Talk" radio survives is because liberal people don't want to believe that these hosts could really believe what they say. It HAS to be entertainment, if it isn't entertainment then these comments are real and that is creepy and scary.

I can't really do a mind meld with the hosts and see if they mean the opposite of what they say day in and day out for months and years at a time. It's swell if they love their own dog or don't beat their own kids but as a listener all I can judge them on are their exact words, with all their intonations, rhythm and stresses-- that is why I include audio clips. Listen in context, listen to the words, come to your own conclusion.

I've come to the conclusion that they aren't joking and they really mean this stuff.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Cheney is Still Connecting 9/11 with Saddam

Sunday, March 15, 2009

How You Say it Matters

This blog is primarily a written medium. But I often write about the spoken word in talk radio. People who pretend that it is only about WHAT you say and that HOW you say it doesn't matter are being disingenuous at best. (See how I capitalize those two words? Did you hear a little more emphasis in your head when you read those two words? Sure you did. It's a crude form of what I could do with my voice and I'm counting on you, the reader, to add the tone. Not all of you will do it the same way, but you will do it because that is one of the conventions of writing.)

I watched a lot of Maria Bamford comedy this weekend and as you will hear (and see) HOW she says things impacts the meanings of her words. In her case it makes them funnier. That contrast between her usually little girl voice and her phony high status voice is very funny to me.

Tone can convey all sorts of things that people respond to. You can, with your tone, convey the exact opposite of what you say. You can, with your tone, show people a level of contempt that reasonable person could not miss.

When Rush Limbaugh does his lisping voice is very clearly sending a message that goes beyond just what he says. And his audience and his non-audience all GET IT. We as children have grown up to understand tone. The lisping voice Rush uses is the audio "wink" to this listeners saying, "Democrats are homosexuals! Homosexuals are weak. I can't come out and say that so I'll just do a lisping voice and everyone will get the message. And if they challenge the lisping voice then they are being overly sensitive and 'politically correct'."

For people in the medium to pretend that how you say something doesn't add meaning is just ridiculous.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Maria Bamford on Cults

I love Maria's use of her voice. What it shows is that sometimes HOW you say something is as important as WHAT you say.

Friday, March 13, 2009

I See What You Do There

by Interrobang

Let's talk about Ari Fleischer on Chris Matthews' show the other day. Lots of people have been commending (inasmuch as Chris Matthews deserves any kind of cookie) Matthews for taking Fleischer to task. You can watch the video here, courtesy of MSNBC, which seems to have, for once, picked out the salient point from the copious distractor material.

Most of the people in the blogosphere I've read so far are (still) focusing on the oft-debunked claim that Saddam Hussein was involved with the attacks of 11 September 2001. That's an old lie. They've been lying about that one since 2001. Not that I'm willing to just let it go or anything, but I think the focus on this particular revenant lie is distracting from the larger point.

Did nobody else but me notice how Fleischer said, "How dare you say 9/11 happened on our watch?"

That right there is possibly the biggest rewriting of history we've seen yet from the people who sincerely believe they can just create "their own reality," regardless of what the actual facts, documentation, and videotape say.

I can't quite tell what Fleischer was meaning in saying that. It seems to me that either he's been swallowing the Clinton-did-it Koolaid for so long that he really does somehow believe that 11 September 2001 (the 6 August PDB notwithstanding) happened on Clinton's watch, or he really is trying to unhappen Bush from that day's events.

Side note: He seems to be making the rounds on the talking-head shows, lying all the way, so I suspect this is a prong in a systematised campaign of disinformation. More later.

I can understand why most of the left blogosphere is still hung up on the Saddam Hussein-9/11 thing; the Bush people have been banging that drum so hard for eight years they've long since ruptured the head and broken the sticks, and for a while (search down for "Hussein") a majority of people believed it. Frankly, I can see why. If you're an ignorant racist scuttlefish who knows nothing about Islam or Middle Eastern politics, and who's been primed for years to hate Muslims (and to hate Saddam Hussein in particular, since I can remember talking about how the North American media was demonising him as the Hitler Nouveau du Jour back in the 1990s when I was in high school, ferchrissakes), it's pretty easy to believe that a Middle Eastern dictator might have something to do with Islamic terrorism.

On the other hand, the Bush people have spent the last eight years trying to convince everyone how preznitial Bush looked giving speeches on the rubble in NYC, how the response was appropriate and justified (and for the first little while until the idea of going after Osama bin Laden got boring or impractical, working), and how Bush's policies kept everyone safe because there'd been no terrorist attacks on US soil since then*, and how everything they did and were doing was justified because 9/11 shut up, and so on. And here's Bush's former press secretary insisting on national television that the former president wasn't the president on 11 September 2001, despite all evidence to the contrary, and My Pet Goat footage notwithstanding.

That is, frankly, an enormous, mind-blowing lie, to the point where everything Matthews said was utterly inadequate, and to the point where only a Joseph Welch-style rhetorical pile-driver would have been necessary and sufficient. That isn't just conveniently omitting some salient facts to attempt to shore up a lie of convenience by omission, that is blatantly 1984-style historical Memory (ass)Holism.

Frankly, I suspect they're going to continue to lie and lie and lie until they've tinfoiled the radar enough that sufficient numbers of people don't know what to believe anymore. They do this all the time, basically daring people, "Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?" Authoritarian followers can be duped into believing the authority figures over their own eyes, and I suspect that's Phase II of this operation. First confuse, then consolidate...their planned step three, of course, is a return to power, buoyed by a glib line of patter that convinces the confused rubes that there really is such a thing as (Received) Truth, and they are It.

* Excepting the anthrax attacks and all those various copycat crimes (like Chad Castagena and friends) and the garden variety abortion clinic bombings and shootings and assorted Minute (pronounced "my newt") Man milita-nut-nitwit things perpetrated almost solely by white goodoleboys, of course...
Spocko note:

The above is from my dear friend Interrobang on her personal blog. The odds are that most who stop by here also stop by some of the same blogs I do and we are all talking about either Ari on Matthews or Cramer on Stewart. I wanted to make sure more people notice Interrobang's point of the bigger lie that Ari Fleischer made, "It didn't happen on our watch!"

In the Cramer on Stewart story I noticed something that I've only see one commenter at Crooks and Liar's mention. Cramer said something like I wish I could ask these CEOs these questions under oath.

That is something that I think a lot of people don't get, that people can and DO lie all the time to journalists, fake journalists, bloggers, friends, relatives and pundits. I understand that, sometimes it isn't a big deal, it's subtle shift of focus to another area and is harmless. Other times it IS a big deal. Some people use phrases that aren't technically lies. A good journalist or interviewer might be able to pin them down, but not always and one reason is that their aren't a lot of consequences for lying to journalists or the public. So my question to all the media is:

What are the consequences for Ari lying?
Will Fleischer be:
  • Branded a liar?
  • Shunned by everyone on national TV, radio, print and internet for lying?
  • Sent to jail?
  • Forced to pay a fine?
  • Impacted in his career?

No. No. No. No. And No.

He will be allowed to "explain", be invited back and keep on lying.

Is there a greater purpose for Ari's lie about 9/11 not happening on Bush's watch? Is there any purpose greater than trying to make Bush look less incompetent? Not really. This is not a "national security" lie (which are often bogus as well). This is a personal aggrandizement lie.

My mother is one of the most honest people I know.She tries not to lie. She knows the difference between a small lie that is designed to spare someone's feeling and a lie that is used for a higher purpose. She knows when someone is lying and often why they are lying.

As we dig into the history of the last 8 years hopefully we can find not only the truth, but the lies, the reasons for the lies and recognize that there need to be some consequences for lies that lead us into detrimental places.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Janeane Garofalo comments on Rush Limbaugh

Janeane Garofalo does some spot on analysis of Rush Limbaugh.

The above clip is Janeane Garofalo prior to the war in Iraq. Remember, she was proved right about the WMDs and what a disaster this war would be. She even corrected in real time some of the Fox News inaccurate talking points. Do they have her on and apologize now to her because she was correct? No.

I love the ending of this clip regarding Fox and why she was booked. Janeane is a very brave, very smart woman. She knew the history, she knew her facts and sources. Brian Kilmeade used almost all of the RW radio arguing methods of Hannity and his ilk.

Will Brian Kilmeade, in 2009, look at this and think, "Wow. I was wrong! She was right. I will treat her with respect for that." Will he think, "Maybe I should listen to what Janeane says next time I see her on TV."? No. He won't because he is very much like Rush, only without the glimmer of self awareness that Janeane attributes to Rush.

I've listened to Janeane for years, she probably won't agree with me when I praise her, but she really is one of the most insightful commentators on the media and politics in America (excluding my friends in the blogosphere).

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

What do you do when it's Hammer Time?

And you have no Hammer?

From Boing Boing

Jess Hemerly showed me this photo of a delightful alteration of an emergency hammer box. I asked her where she got the image and she just said, "the Internet."

Insert other Hammer puns below in comments.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Fox News Vs. A Man of the People

Lansing, Mich., Mayor Bernero, standing up for the working man.
(h/t Progressive Junction)
(h/t) Blast Off Sinfonian.

I put this up for my friends Will and Rich. Will so he can see how someone takes on Fox and becomes a hero and Rich because he hates my long "think pieces"

24. Still Fiction. Live Strawmen! There. Is. No. Time!

Anyone watch 24 last night? I'll remind people that it is fiction. Like other pop fiction it solves a puzzle with a ticking clock, like the DaVinci Code or Angels and Demons. By its very nature it is pacey (As Ms. Featherstone would say). It is designed to get the heart rate up. You are there! What would you do?

The Writers and Producers are GODS

If you are the writer you are GOD. You can control the universe of your story. You can have characters you don't like die. You can have ideas you hate spouted by characters who are jerks. You can have your ideas WIN! It's a great thing. It can be very entertaining and VERY POWERFUL. The more that is RIPPED from the headlines the more real it seems. And if you aren't familiar with this world, you might think, "That must be the way it really works!"

A writer creates a problem and solves the problem. Sometimes a good writer will make the solution imperfect to make it seem that the solution might not work. But it does. And like a Dan Brown novel it moves you to yet another problem. Powerful men moving behind the scenes who want more power.

Mary Lynn Rajskub; Geek God on 24 as Chloe O'Brien"Stay at Home Mom"

"Live Strawmen"

Right now the show 24 is doing what some talk radio hosts do and creating strawmen to give what they say are the views of the liberal. And they put these words in the mouths of lead characters. This season the head of the FBI, the President and a Congressman are the Strawmen mouthing the anti-torture platitudes. They will be shown the error of their ways, the writers will ensure it.

I'll never forget this story from Democracy Now:

This past fall, the Dean of West Point, Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan, along with experienced military and FBI interrogators and representatives of Human Rights First, met with the creative team behind the hit Fox Television show “24” to tell them to stop using torture because American soldiers were copying the show’s tactics. We speak with two of the delegation’s members—former Army interrogator Tony Lagouranis, who served one year in Iraq and David Danzig, director of the Prime Time Torture Project for Human Rights First.


This season sets up more and better reasons to torture than you'll get in any John Yoo memo. Besides show the Live Strawmen just how important it is to torture. They use emotion and the "THERE IS NO TIME!" argument very effectively.

They have set up the President as being against torture. But she soon sees for herself JUST HOW IMPORTANT it is to TORTURE PEOPLE. Why? Because it works! Why does it work? Because the writers make it so! It really is quite a neat package.

How would you design a program to support your view point? As I've learned from countless weak rightwing folks, you give the "good guys" your argument and then show them spouting it as they fail miserably. Real live Strawmen!

Some people will say we shouldn't listen to Jack Bauer. Well look what happens when they don't! More dead! Is that what you want?! And of course the guy who was questioning Jack just doesn't GET IT. He doesn't see that Torture is their only hope! If only Jack would have been allowed to torture!
-What I think is the writer's theme behind this season of 24.

Jack called out that the lawmaker as WEAK. The ultimate manly slur. You are WEAK ON TERROR! Seeing Jack say it I envisioned men across the nation pumping their arms and going "YES! IN YOUR FACE Congressman Weakling."

There was only one tiny glimmer of hope last night in the case against torture. Bill Buchanan said that he wouldn't torture someone. His excuse was more practical, "I'm not trained in the techniques." Of course if only Buchanan had followed Jack's advice we wouldn't have been in this mess! But they always give us only two choices. And the choice to torture always wins, because the writers want it that way.

When the DEAN of West Point goes to the producers of 24 to tell them to knock it off you wonder whose values ARE they pushing? Who is the moral authority for the world view of 24? They have been told that it isn't helping the military, it is hurting it. They have been told it doesn't work. Lots of groups and religions have told them that it is just WRONG.

In a world of entertainment and puzzles you will do what you think will make for an entertaining story. That is usually your main criteria. Is it exciting? Funny? Moving? That is the goal. In the process you might get across other views. But as Joss Wheaton said in response to a question about his new show Dollhouse, if you are trying to push a feminist tract instead of making an entertaining show, then it becomes a polemic. And in most cases an entertaining show has more power than a polemic.

Should we DO anything about 24?

Well if the Dean of West Point can't get his message though, why bother?

Remind people that it is fiction. A fiction that contains a message rejected by our own military.

Just like the right loves to rail against the evils of liberal Hollywood, remember that this show is using Hollywood techniques to promote their message. And they DO have a message that is beyond entertainment although they use the entertainment effectively to deliver their message.

In the past the left have been more effective in entertainment in TV and movies and so their world view has been the one that leaked through. The producers have adopting the mantle of the thriller and tied it to a neocon message while IGNORING THE ADVICE OF THE MILITARY. If they wanted to be more realistic (and maybe just as entertaining) they could do the same story where torture didn't work.

Someone gives Jack the wrong info via torture , he acts on it and people die. By ignoring the wishes of the military they have shown that they are ideologically driven but the world view is not the military world view. It is the fantasy Conservative world view, the same world view that gave us George W. Bush and all his failed policies. It is the world view of Rush Limbaugh and Karl Rove.

I want to end with the funniest part of the show. Kiefer Sutherland at the end of the show is talking about how the production of 24 is GREEN! HA! His character is the poster child for the conservative view of torture and Kiefer pokes the conservatives in the nose to say that the show is green! That must make their blood boil, they hate anything environmentally friendly. Stop Polluting! There IS NO TIME! Do you think that Fox would sponsor a show where Jack Bauer went around torturing polluters? "You are killing the planet!" Somehow I doubt it.

Monday, March 02, 2009

What happened to Citadel Stock to get it delisted?

Don't ask me, I'm just a brain in a box.

The standard procedure is to ask some financial person. They will give you a nice financial reason which may or may not be the real --or entire -- reason. But we turn to them to explain money stuff and then they opine on other aspects of the business even if they don't really understand.

Financial people are often very, very smart. They have to understand stuff like Credit Default Swaps and leverage. They often have advanced degrees. MBAs! From Harvard! Plus, they are paid a lot of money and as everyone knows money is the only real measure of everything. "If you are so smart why aren't you rich?" The great American taunt. (As my dear friend Tim used to say, "If you are so rich why aren't you nice?")

But I've observed that running a successful business involves someone who has a grasp of all the aspects of a business to keep it growing and prospering. And sometimes even when you are doing all the right things someone or something comes from outside and knocks you down.

I know so many insanely bright Silicon Valley tech folks who thought that if only they worked smarter or harder they would win. What always annoyed me was when they looked down on the people with different skill sets. "Without us the sales people would have nothing to sell!" and a sales person would say, "Engineers, they don't understand what we need to sell to the customers." Or a marketer would pull out the old, "They would sell Sushi as cold dead fish!".

Different groups need to understand the value of the others and think, "How can I help them do THEIR job?"

And then someone comes along, buys them up because they have The Money (which means they MUST know what they are talking about, often they have Harvard MBAs!) and that person says, "Okay, now let me tell you how you should run the business."

One time I was telling someone about the purchase of a company that was primarily based on the skills of people, not intellectual property or hard physical assets. And the person I was talking to say, "Yeah it's different running a company where the assets go down the elevator every night." I didn't understanding that they were talking about the people as assets. I was still in the mind set that assets meant things. I envisioned computers, printers, red staplers and desks going down the elevator every night and how strange that was.

Later I started understanding people as "assets" and that also meant that they could be liabilities. What do you do when someone starts COSTING you money? What if this person represents a potential huge cost? This is where you start figuring out how to protect the company. This is where doing things by the book helps. This is why you follow your own internal guidelines. Guidelines set up by your smart HR people to help protect you.

If HR people were money people maybe people would listen to them more. Maybe if they used the lingo of the money people then the money people would listen, "This person will be a liability if he keeps doing X." If you are not listening to all the people in the company you can be blinded just by assets, not potential liabilities.

The problem with seeing people as future liabilities is that you don't want to believe that it will happen, especially if in the past they were assets. And predicting the future based on the success of the past is hard, even the money people know this, that's why they put in the boilerplate the words to that effect, (but I think they just put that there to cover their ass from potential lawsuits).

I've told ABC Radio/Citadel/Disney management again and again that someone is trouble and will continue to be trouble in the future and they don't want to listen because they only see the asset part. I can even demonstrate that I'm absolutely correct and can point to proof that I know what I'm talking about, but they still want to engage in magical thinking because they don't want to make the hard decisions on something they see as a current asset. And then when things fall apart we hear, "Nobody could have predicted!"

I can't help a management who won't listen when I tell them that their "assets" are liabilities. Even when I provide them proof. It's all about credentials. I don't have a Harvard MBA. I could tell them how I helped companies make a lot of money or warned them what to do so that they won't lose a lot of money, but if they only listen to "The Money" they are missing out.

Good management listens to all parts of the company. I know that I learn a lot when I listen Instead of writing 750 word think pieces). The answers aren't always in the obvious group.

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