Thursday, November 29, 2007

Candidate Review! I Like Mike!

You don't know him. You don't love him. Yet.

It's Mike Gravel, rapping for your political pleasure. Directed by Timothy Leary.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Candidate Review! First Up: Willard!

Fig.1 The free-wheelin' Romneys; I KNEW it wasn't a Rambler, but where's Seamus' prison? They had to run the babe through the carwarsh three times to get rid of the puppy plop.

Well, friends, the unpleasant reality of the moment has reared its ghastly head to me, as if in a nightmare. And the reality is - uh, ahem (throat clear here) the reality IS: it's time to WEIGH IN ON THE CANDIDATES for the high office of PRESIDENT OF THESE HERE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

OK, that's Step#1 - recognition of the problem.

For it is a BIG problem. What the hell do you do when, in seeking out a leader, you have months, if not mucking YEARS, of being bombarded with promotional publicity from persons who really, really want the job of most powerful person in the world? They really, really want it, and part of this Democracy thing is to Be Involved, so's that we can, you know, do the We The People thing, which, incidentally, I'm all for.

I could certainly yak on and on about what a tedious, disappointing and massively overblown mess the whole election process has become, but that would generate more tedious, disappointing and overblown yakking than the excess that already exists, so, let's get right to the razorback gravy of the thing.

In accordance with ancient Chinese courtesy, in any competition of values, your enemy goes first. The GOP is not the oldest party to be considered here, but it is the most curious 'n controversial. I've run into an extremely refreshing array of satirical and playful explanations as to what the GOP acronym stands for, but now is not the time to have too much fun in the mockery zone about that little tidbit. We're only using 'GOP' as a label because it's easier than writing out 'Republican'. So, on with the show.

NOTE: Candidates are listed by (known) party, but beyond that, in no specific order. Random yakking does not require too much structure, so readers should not interpret order of appearance as indications of favoritism or preference. So, now, on with the show.


Back in the 70s, the term 'plastic' was heavily used as a label to slap on persons who displayed an artificial or shallow personality. I like the term, but it's sort of a California-dreamin', stoner, Jerry Garcia sort of thang. Anyway, Willard's pretty plastic, in the completest sense of the word. Plus, anyone who's going with 'Mitt' as his make-or-break moniker has made a fatal error right at the get-go. No President of the United States will EVER, EVER be named 'Mitt'. As Howard Cosell used to say, 'i t's ovah!!' Yes, it is, Willard. Now, if he'd gone with 'Will Romney', he might've been a serious contender. American's like 'Will' as a name of promise. Nobody today remembers the great Will Rogers, but I do, and everybody loved Will Rogers.

I remember when Willard's dad George ran for Pres. He was a Mormon too, but he had another crippling problem that sealed his fate. He was at one time president of American Motors. They made the Rambler, remember? Foregone conclusion: anyone who presided over prolonging the life of Ramblers, a make (with its' blue stream of oil smoke) that really got Global Warming going in the first place, does not have the marks of a good administrator. Willard, alas, has that legacy as well. He is a Rambler-like candidate: cheap (not affordable, just cheap), with poor quality substance, hidden by ersatz GM styling, with faulty mechanics inside. He strives to be a conservative that can pick up the busted pieces from Bush's 'compassion' BS and glue the mismatched pieces into something to worship.

He's also pushing the 'nice guy' package to its limits. It's all for show. I saw a YouTube clip of this 'nice guy' ignoring the questions offered up by a cripple. A really skilled politician would have just slopped on some mock kindness and pretended to be interested. Willard, crazy scared that he'd actually have to face some flawed person in a wheelchair, defended himself by saying he'd already answered his questions, and moved on, plastering the plastic smile and 'how're ya doing?' on others in a desperate move to GET AWAY from the ugly and sick-making disadvantaged masses within the nation he hopes to run. Even Dubya would've probably knelt down to BS with a wheelchair cripple for a few minutes, to show off if nothing else. Willard is too dainty and too easily spooked. Plus, he's Mormon.

I can't get into a critique of Mormonia here, but one of the reasons why people think it's a cult is that that particular organization is so secretive. As in, what are they up to? As in, we have plans, plans for the universe, and we're in on the ground floor, and you aren't. Now WHO says the promises made to Muslim suicide bombers, of numerous virgins in paradise etc., is wacky? Why, the Mormons claim that - Egads, I caught myself. I said this wouldn't be the place to critique Mormonism. But you see, with a critter like Willard, it's going to come up, time and again. Do we want that albatross? I don't care if George Washington WAS a Mason.

In closing the Romney file (and I'd rather talk about Romney Marsh in England instead of this political kluck), I have to mention that other, darker side of Willard that came out recently. His dog abuse. You know the story, about how he had the family Irish Setter ride in that gulag box on the roof of the family station wagon (I'll bet it WASN'T an American Motors product! - see colour plate above - Chevy Caprice wagon, I should think), and the poor pooch plopped a drizzly stream of liquid poop that spoiled their all-American vacation that was nowhere near finished. Can you imagine the scene at the nearest gas station, as dad's hosing off the fecal matter, and blaming it all on doggie dear - who he never wanted, but the kids did, and now that the kids are older, nobody cares for the dog except dad, and dad's gotta clean up the shit - with the shitty end of the stick no less, and by the way, why, oh why did we have so many kids to begin with, and . . . Man, was dad mad! Stupid, stupid dog. The shit was scared right out of the petrified pup. Oh, but supposedly Seamus (pretty good name choice) loved riding up there, and he'd always just hop right up without question. Now, I ask you, what sincere hound WOULDN'T do what his master told him to, even if terror treatment from oh-so-casual Willard resulted? In telling the story about the dog on Fox News (as well as talking in general), Willard had that constant smiling-with-his-eyes look. It's the equivalent to what Wallace Shawn calls 'chuckling', as in, they chuckle when they're talking about death and destruction. It's not like the Wizard of Oz, who 'chuckled at catastrophe', meaning, he would fight any danger that came his way. On the other hand, these Neocons, and I group Romney with them, chuckle at catastrophe because they don't have to mess with it. They can order it up, then let others sweat through it. That was Willard's main outcome from his puppy plop experience. The chucklers are detached, and thus, joyful at that fact. Neocons do not carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. They merely profit from it.

But getting back to the dog story, even Chris Wallace of Fox News was offended at Willard's casual attitude about the family pet. They talk about character in presidential candidates. Willard is devoid of character. He didn't even treat his own dog fairly. He wants more Gitmo-ization to satisfy a primitive need for sadistic acts, all in the name of the "War on Terror". His is not a civilizing force. It is a stepping backwards. Plus, he has the afterlife all figured out. Why should he care that much about a solid future for America? Along with Dubya, there is an undercurrent of apocalyptic pleasure in his amateurish grasp of foreign policy. He is a twit, and should be drummed out of the campaign, pronto.

Stay tuned for more candidate reviews! Aren't you relieved that we got Willard out of the way first?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Surely The Experts Know More Than We Do

You know those segments on NPR News, where they haul in some 'expert' from think tanks (almost always conservative ones; to them the Brookings Institution is patently liberal!), and then they chatter on about some geo-political issue, always in the genial surround of an inviting and accommodating host, and some not very well-rounded opinions go out over the airwaves, to be taken as fact? Well, BEWARE, listeners!

I think this kind of segment on NPR bothers me the most. When both host and 'expert' blatantly select what they want history or facts to be, and then come across as edifying the public, the result is, as we all know, nothing short of propaganda. We can joke about it, complain about it, write NPR and unload about it (and get back the same form message that says 'how difficult' it is to tell the news - never mind the simplicity of truth), but the acute problem is, NPR continues to indulge in propagandistic practices, and with increasing frequency and depth.

As Bush/Cheney should be impeached for gross abuse of power, NPR News should also undergo a similar treatment for similar offences. First, it should be spun off into the private sector, where it could go to the highest bidder, probably Murdoch. Unlike the WSJ, he would probably gut it and discard 90% of it as it now exists. I know I would. Failing that, a Democratic administration should scrap the existing structure, de-network-ize it, and return the service to individual stations. Taxpayers would approve. Any of these and other plans would give NPR their deserved comeuppance, and we wouldn’t have to be exposed to their toxic propaganda ANY MORE.

Why Can't They Understand Gustav Mahler and Keith Olbermann?

NPR's Morning Edition (Mourning Addiction - ha ha) is starting to bog me down again. After the relentless bossiness of being told to hog out at the T'giving table (and then maybe take a walk or something afterwards), and the stentorian commands to SHOP on this, the day after (we have a local announcer that's cuter than Missy Block), I can only respond to two stories.

One I found insulting in the extreme. Smirks 'n giggles accompanied a clever segue from bloated chow-downers at holiday tables to 'bloated' classical music works. Some clown chose Mahler's 8th symphony as something to laugh at. Fortunately, the greatness of Mahler's music doesn't have to be proven to people at NPR who can't even begin to understand it. Hostess Renee Montagne feels more comfortable with 'circus music'. Probably because she's ringmaster in one. Some twit, who's an actual musician, helps Renee through early 20th century composers with a definite 'Classical Music Can Be Fun! - Well, Some Of It Anyway' tone, and it's all just a shameful waste of soundwaves. Now I ask you, what the hell was the actual PURPOSE of this pathetic mess of a segment? I have my own private CD of Mahler's 8th, and I will interpret it without any help from 'It's Morning Edition', thank you very much. Proudly then, do I feel myself culturally superior to these waste-of-time broadcasting peasants!

And briefly, if there's one single reason to abandon and abolish NPR News, it was the appalling 'profile' of Keith Olbermann that was another attempt to poke fun, NPR-style at someone of value. I won't waste any more time in trying to describe something really awful. Yes, it made me spittin' mad, mainly because of the stupid attempt to 'outsmart' Keith's Countdown format. In short, it didn't work. NPR obviously hates Keith. Renee gave a little 'let them eat cake'-style exit remark, that was meant to show her disapproval of the increasingly popular Olbermann.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Thanksgiving Tradition

Rue de Ghouliani: A Street To Be Avoided At All Cost



At least that's what it sounded like on that there 'All Things Considered' today. There was the usual chucklesome review of those darn Democrats, and then a CrunchTime (TM) segment on Ghouliani. It was nothing short of reverent. Their soundbyte that demonstrated the epic heroism of the Mayor had something to do with 'people south of Canal St. should walk out to the south' - or something. Moses he ain't. Oh, sure, there was a sentence or two of lite criticism in the piece, but the upshot was that most criticism 'wasn't sticking'.

To me, Rudy is a mere retread. He's today's version of Bush2: a figure with minimal background but all the right connections.

This is not are era of great leaders. Great minds exist, but they are not in power. When I saw TV coverage of Bush and Rudy on the scene during the 9/11 saga, I was waiting for some sort of extraordinariness to emanate from them, whether it was manufactured or not. Even their handlers and scriptwriters couldn't come up with remarkable material. So these two figures came off, at least to me, as rather ordinary inspectors who were just doing their obligatory jobs. No poetry was necessary, but what we got was about as inspiring as a leftover eggroll. It was left to the media to build up the 'bullhorn' and 'podium' moments. On repeated viewings, Bush looks like he's merely inspecting a construction site, but no one would dare make fun of his 'nukular-isms' now. And Rudy, in his golden moments of screen time, sounds like he's dealing with a transportation strike or something. No one would dare make fun of his lisp now. In the meantime, the people down in the trenches were doing all the work while these pinwheels took all the credit. I just don't know why people were so impressed with Rudy's performance, even now. Letterman's emotionalism was to be expected, but it looks pretty feeble today.

I have to admit, contemporary real-life heroism has been spoiled by the movies. The power of the cinema has more 'stuff' than real life persons, but leaders are at least supposed to fake something impressive. Bush could have learned a lot about crowd control if he'd caught the last hour of DeMille's 'The Ten Commandments' in the chopper on the way to Ground Zero. He could have taken his pointers from Chuck Heston instead of God. A portable DVD player was all he needed. And Rudy, why hadn't it been required viewing for every big city mayor to watch Irwin Allen's 'The Towering Inferno' at least once? Steve McQueen was the guy to pay attention to. If you had, Rudy, not so many firemen would have needlessly perished, you contemptible fool. And now, you're supposed to be the one to lead this immense nation to a state of 'safety'?

As Lord Byron said, 'I want a hero: an uncommon want, when every year and month sends forth a new one . ..' Well, in media-managed America, and in such an emergency as 9/11, heroes had to be created, and fast. Who better than Hizzoner, who, despite his flaws and botches, his balding skullface, his history of transvestism, and yes, his lisp, was nevertheless readily available for hero-dom. Keeping cool is part of an actor's skill, and apparently, Rudy wowed 'em on his stage. He failed to wow this child though, and I don't trust him further than I could spit in a hurricane. It is a sad fact that most of the heroes of 9/11 . . . are dead.

Plus, I still think 9/11 was preventable, but we'd better not get into that here. Freedom of speech still ostensibly provides for us to theorize, but not necessarily as part of a conspiracy. 'Conspiracy theories' isn't the only term for variant possibilities in town.

As far as Rudy's world view is concerned, he fits in nicely with wacko/toxic opinionist Tom Friedman's feeling that, in order to fight terrorism, you have to have leaders who are crazier than the terrorists. It's a hollow comfort zone, a veritable hallucination for a public that wants to be swayed. To keep us safe. Hell, I feel more vulnerable walking to work, dodging SUV-driving, backwards baseballcap-wearing, cellphone-dialing goofballs than the prospect of the looming Islam-o-fascists, who are waiting to pounce. But - how petty of me.

As the 'thinking' - (ha-hah; ha-ha-ha-hah!) part of the mainstream media, NPR is happy to go along with all of this. They have prospered under Bush, and it is certain that Rudy's machine would keep them a going concern. With a more 'liberal' administration overseeing public broadcasting, things might revert to the bad old days of low ratings and indeterminate audiences out there in the wilderness somewhere.

Monday, November 19, 2007

PakPanic - PakPanic - PakPanic, or, A Yak About Pak

Recently I heard Andy Rooney on '60 Minutes' make a funny and accurate statement about Pakistan stories dominating the western media these days. He doubted that any of them even really knew anything about Pakistan. Not only do I think it's a true statement, but it is a woeful indicator of what happens when the media spotlight is turned on a 'hot zone' and every newsie in Christendom descends, looking for glory.

In the old days, an editor would say, 'get out there, kid, on the double, and bring back a story!' The kid would bust ass to get there, but if they were worth anything, the route to the story would be taken up with cramming any info that was available in order to achieve some kind of background status in order to deliver a credible story. Today it seems that reporters just show up and expect the story to present itself for convenient packaging.

Such is the status of Pakistan in the western media's impatient eye. I've hardly heard any reports from or about Pakistan that really deliver much depth of understanding or even displaying much interest. (Philip Reeves, who supplies stories for NPR, is a rare exception.) The wretched branding of Pakistan being the 'world's most dangerous place' is now the rallying cry. East Timor or Rwanda in all their awful turmoil presented no perceived threat to the world at large, regardless of the fact that they were, for their inhabitants, right up there with hell as being on the most dangerous list. But you see, they aren't nuclear nations, so who cares?

Pakistan: nuke nation. Run by a dictator. Overrun with jabbering fanatics. Dealing nukes on the sly. Surrounded by either hot conflict (permanently-ruined Afghanistan) or simmering potential conflict (kooky Iran, lurking India, further-but-still-lurking China). A returning challenger immediately deported (Nawaz Sharif). A returning challenger almost bumped off (Benazir Bhutto). Trouble. Trouble. Trouble. Trouble. Everywhere you look. Trouble in River City. That's what the western media thinks about Pakistan.

Well, I guess some of that stuff can't be denied. Far be it from me to be an apologist for Pakistan's current situations. I am, however, irked, annoyed, and consummately pissed off by much of the western media's choices in covering this misunderstood entity in the world. 'Misunderstood' is too easy a label to slap on it, but in an era of sloppy-seconds coverage of the world's affairs, a sloppy term might be appropriate.

Without turning this into a bloody thesis, let's get right to the essentials:

- Pakistan is not the Middle East. It is not Central Asia. It is Indic. For only 60 of its multiple thousands of years amassed as a cultural hearth, the territory now delineated as Pakistan has been Pakistan. Before that it was as diverse a part of India (and I'm not at all referring to greater India, but India as a cultural unit) as anywhere in the subcontinent, with the subcontinent's myriad of variations appearing under the Indic super-category, as it were. In addition to these regional basics, the long era of British domination (which for Pakistan really only extends back to the mid-19th century) brought with it English language medium in education, British-created modern infrastructure, and, very importantly, a British-model military. Since the military crisis of 1857, the Indian Army was intentionally crafted to be one of the most disciplined in the world, and this tradition survived Partition in 1947 intact. It is precisely this tradition of discipline that has enabled it - the military - to run Pakistan for many of its 60 years.

- Pakistan is 99% Muslim. The enveloping culture though, is Indic, not Arabic, nor Persian. Taxila and Harappa are sites that are among the world's most ancient civilizations. There are extensive and highly-honored ancient Buddhist remains throughout the land. Alexandrine associations abound. Hindu and Sikh influences are built into daily life. Urdu is the language of the majority, but it is basically Hindi with Persian script. Other languages (to mention only a few) are Punjabi, Sindhi, Baloch, Pushtun, Kashmiri and Afghani. Like India, diversity is what Pakistan is all about. But the Indic culture, combined with British and post-British modern systems, with widespread English-speakers, all combine to form a considerably durable entity. Despite its current duress, Pakistan is in no way a failed state.

- Women in Pakistan encounter adversities which are worthy of criticism and ripe for reform. Yet, Pakistan is one of the more liberal Muslim societies regarding women. Indic culture has had strong matriarchal traditions since time immemorial. Pakistan has elected a woman as prime minister twice. So has India. So has Bangladesh. So has Sri Lanka. This is the Indian subcontinent. It is different.

- Most of the conventions that westerners apply to terms like 'dictator' do not necessarily apply to Pakistan. Pervez Musharraf is no Saddam, or Hitler, or Stalin, or Bob Mugabe or even Marcos. When Mrs. Gandhi declared a state of emergency in India in 1975, she was immediately branded as a dictator. But after the crisis passed, she was still Mrs Gandhi first, and the dictator label faded, but not completely. Musharraf has without a doubt performed dictatorial gestures, but with variations that are simply not compatible with western journalistic interpretations. On the other hand, just because Musharraf appeared on 'The Daily Show' and seems not to be a snarly bastard doesn't mean he's a dictator that we can feel wholly comfortable with. Dubya's cuddled up to him because of his dumbass but precious War on Amorphous Terror, but for wholly opportunistic reasons.

- Much of Pakistan's very being has to do with the most important factor in its daily existence. More important that Afghanistan, Kashmir, Iran, the USA and terror put together. That factor is: India. Three wars, losing East Pakistan and seeing it become Bangladesh, and yes, because of the nuclear issue, India has everything to do with how governing Pakistan is handled. And it's not all bad. India and Pakistan are part of the same super-family. A high percentage of people in both countries have or have had relatives in the other. The Indian subcontinent was a house divided, but the house has essentially stood, with annexes, so to speak. Back in the days when the US didn't give a shit about the subcontinent except how it affected the Cold War, letting things drift didn't matter so much. Now that India is more 'OK' with the US, and Pakistan is more important to the Bush Machine's immediate needs, the western media has landed. And they are generally dumbos who treat the place as if it's Iraq or something.

- Pakistan's army, efficient instrument that it is, is oriented to India, whether in the defensive or offensive mode (it has usually been offensive). Kashmir is officially unsettled, but it is a stalemate that has gone on so long it will probably add up to a settlement to new generations who have known nothing else. The Pak army is not geared to fighting a bogus 'war on terror.' The Tribal Areas on the Northwest Frontier were never conquered by anybody. The British were still dusting up with them right up to 1947. The Pakistani government has had agreements with them that have been relatively functional, until recently.

These factoids, among many others, are extremely important, because they add up to a considerably complex and sophisticated array of challenges that must be dealt with carefully at any one moment, and most of them cannot be reduced any further into sound bytes. Indeed, there is so much to keep in mind in this part of the world that the average journalist is not up to the task. Yet the dabblers are at it, packaging the Pak puzzle for public consumption, and perpetuating misunderstandings right and left with the greatest of ease. Lost in the frenzy are, surprise, surprise, the Pakistani people, who have been reduced in western sensibilities to non-entities, largely in stock shots of autistic-appearing kids in madrassas and other generic cliches. 160 million can be reduced to a convenient barcode, so to speak, I suppose. It's nothing short of disgusting.

When I heard NPR's Jackie Northam, a proudly seasoned reporter supposedly used to Asiatic climes, refer to a particular area in northwestern Pakistan as 'something called the Swat Valley', then blithely called it a 'tourist zone', I thought, stupid, stupid people. They make my eyeteeth curl. A minor detail, perhaps, but it speaks volumes of the dismissive tone of some of these worthless hacks. Philip Reeves never would have engaged in such a blatant lack of meticulousness, in a region where meticulousness is absolutely required. This 'thing' called the Swat Valley is, or was, a profoundly beautiful region with a hospitable populace, whose splendid isolation has been ruined by Bush's mobile 'war on terror'. Oh, and a busy Jackie also says 'the Islamists' are coming, and that they're heading to all the cities in Pakistan. Never mind the 160 million other Pakistanis, engaged in their daily lives, hardly affected at all by Musharraf's state of emergency, who might have something to say about that.

My point being: more depth of understanding is required from the western media if they are going to take on the subcontinent. It seems that in the western media's view, the essentials that I have only started to outline above, are not really attended to, or even acknowledged. If the media are not up for the job, they had best stay home and cover the region via Google Earth and just make cell phone calls.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Randoms: Boy, Am I BUGGED By NPR, Or What??

NOTE: Particularly prurient readers may want to jump directly to Random #5, just below. – (signed) Your Editor, representing The Melmoth

1.) Daniel Zwerdling, occasional reporter for NPR, has guts. He's doing important work in following stories dealing with shameful treatment of US veterans and their situations. But I get the feeling that Zwerdling might be somewhat of an embarrassment to the more cheerleading members of NPR. He has obviously been sidelined, though I'm sure the managing editors keep him in semi-circulation to appear 'fair and balanced' to those 'thinking' masses that make up their aging audiences. Zwerdling might even have to fight to get his stories aired. In any case, he doesn't seem to be in on the palsey-walsey comraderie that, say, Sunday morning's Liane Hansen seems to enjoy with that David Welna character (you know, the guy with the extremely distracting nasaly voice). Though Zwerdling seems relegated to token status, as NPR's reporter of stories few others wish to take on, he maintains his integrity with a real sense of responsibility. I think he probably feels he's reaching a wider audience than if he was on some website or Air America, but his findings are generally surrounded by swill. Meanwhile, most of his colleagues at NPR are luxuriating in their cushy candy store gigs.

2.) I find the bland and nonchalant approach that these weekend morning hosts apply to their interviews with important people in current events extremely curious. Scott Simon cops an interview with Al Gore, but botches it entirely by treating him like he's some tiresome insurance salesman or something. Liane scores a phone interview with Benazir Bhutto, yet puts about as much journalistic energy into it as a dry slug who's run out of slime. It's as if they're too cool to show that they're either impressed by the magnitude of their guests, or a refusal to employ reasonable (not to mention interesting) journalistic practices of merit. Yet, they get all wiggly and giggly and drooly interviewing some boring novelist or dogcatcher with a funny story that they can tut-tut about between smirky laughs.

It's just crappy radio, that's all.

(I feel like Kevin Phillips, who once stated on PBS’ ‘Now’ that he was their Resident Curmudgeon.)

3.) You know it's a flop of a morning show when the most sickening element is Liane's goopy interaction with the Puzzlemaster's guest of the week, and she tries in vain to vary the horribly predictable scripting of the whole Puzzle segment . . .

3a.) PLUS: I hate the story-telling nature of the scripted bridges between stories, those tiresome background summaries for dummies, the same sort of schlock that's taken over Time and Newsweek, yet they'd like you to think they have the sophistication of The Economist or reasonable equivalent. (Maybe the National Review would be a better example - though these days I kind of like Bill Buckley, who's spending his Golden Years quite alienated from the Gang of Frankensteins he created.)

4.) We have a new local weekend host who's pretty amateurish, I'm afraid. I kind of feel sorry for him, yet he's not easy to endure. He hasn't even learned how to properly engineer yet (if he ever will), and says stuff like: the 'Voices in the News' bit is his favorite part of the show, as it gives him 'chills' to listen to! Funny, I always thought it was annoying, because it's just a jumble of sound bytes spliced together with an impatient music track behind, and it always leaves you in the lurch, as if, 'so there!' I guess it's supposed to stimulate your early Sunday morning by bringing up conversation points for you and your Starbucks-gulping Dockers-wearing, FloMax-popping SUV-driving mates to chew over, like pieces of foodie gristle.

5.) And finally, perhaps most importantly, has anybody noticed how NPR refuses to descend to the level of reporting on most of the Republican SEX SCANDALS that keep popping up with breathtaking regularity? I suppose that after Scott Simon’s elegant and Lincoln-like defense of Larry Craig, the bar has remained at its high and noble level – intact. They don’t ‘do’ SEX SCANDALS apparently, unless you’re Mara ‘Zombie-Eyes’ Liasson and Bob ‘Pursed-Lips’ Siegel, in hot pursuit of Bill ‘Blow-Job’ Clinton.

[You see, listeners to NPR do not know who the gentleman in the before-and-after photos above is, or what he did, although they might assume that he is a Republican.]

Well, I'd better leave off before I really start hating myself for dissecting this interminable blah-blah-blah radio matter to such an extent . . . !

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Cheerful Imperialistic Condescension Advantage

One of the reasons why NPR is so worthy of contempt is because so many opportunities to examine truths in the world are squandered, if not downright rejected.

I promise I'll be brief. But when I heard Gwen Thompkins' little feature on the 'new' Libya, and how it's opening up, I was dumped upon with fetid garbage that reminded me how much I can't stand the 'new' NPR. What could have been a trenchant and valid exploration of a nation that succeeded in normalizing relations with the US in spite of the current occupants of the White House, Gwen prefers to stroll though her Libyan experience by being coy, imperialistic, and worst of all, cute. I can say no more, because my heart is broken at the abject failure of Americans to take up the responsible role of inspiring through integrity, given opportunities that no one else may care about. Instead, many have chosen to reduce the world to Wal-Martish packaging, where nothing matters but the consumers' damp dream of self-fulfillment.

In Thompkins' report from this formerly-closed nation, trivializing, condescension, mockery, and smug ridicule color her thoughts of this country, long alienated, but now, according to Thompkins, ready to open itself up to sleazy sub-capitalists, the kind of Africans she feels most comfortable with. And, she implies, we should feel comfortable with them, too, despite their whimsical and Saturday Night Live-ish quirks.

I can never forgive Thompkins for displaying African perspectives in such a disgusting manner. I consider it a misfortune that I chanced upon her insipid report.

Problem: Thompkins is having sex with her own voice, which fits into the narcissistic verbiage of NPR perfectly. You can imagine her concluding her report of the day with a little self-pat on the back and the thought: ‘Am I hot, or what?’

Gwen's next stop: Missy Dana Perino's post, or 'Entertainment Tonight'!

The Begats

This morning, I heard one of the stupidest science reports I've ever run into on NPR. It was part of their grudging recognition (a la Frank Luntz) that global warming actually exists, and now, with reports like this one, NPR can't be accused of only using the term 'climate change'.

I'll try not to run on. Christopher Joyce reports about burning the rainforest in the Amazon region. OK, most of us (especially first graders on up) know about the risks to the rainforest. Well, Joyce's report sounds like it was done in 1987 instead of 2007. Apparently, he and the team of amateur-hour 'scientists' he interviews are just discovering that yes, the Amazon forests are at risk, and that may have something to do with climate change - er, I mean, global warming - a term they actually use.

Of course this is all a big deal; the degradation of the Amazon is one of the world's great crises, and it's gotten a lot of publicity, but the way Joyce’s whole report is couched, this is a new discovery! And in my opinion, the whole activity that these alleged scientists are up to is contemptible, and downright unnecessary: they burn tracts of the Amazon forests to see if it contributes to global warming! If fact, their leader has been doing it 'for years'.

The high purpose of this ersatz mission is to see if foresty-type stuff, uh . . . burns. Especially during the dry season. Scientific method will hopefully prove that 'fire begats fire'. A Biblical concept if there ever was one.

Sure enough, after these firebugs have sprayed their fuel and struck a match and devastated who knows how many hectares of vulnerable forest, yup, sure enough, it's official: 'Fire begats fire.'

Sounds like all they're doing is burning up grant money (from religious right organizations, maybe?) and not just valuable forest, while posing as frontline researchers who will save the world.

And of course, in great NPR white-bread tradition, Reporter Joyce tags along, reveling in his gullibility, snazzing the story up by mentioning snake bite kits (but neglects to say if anyone's ever been bitten), and offers no insight, irony or critique of anything at all. He DOES use the term 'promethian' though, which makes things a bit more sophisticated.

The whole enterprise of this so-called research sounds about as stupid as that awful museum of creationism, or whatever it's called, and just as damaging. In the process of re-learning what they already know, who can say how much wildlife they destroy, how much torched vegetation, and how much these 'tests' themselves contribute to, uh, global warming? And this NPR 'report' comes so recently after the devastating S. California fires (no reference/connection made there, either). These idiots should be arrested for arson. Christopher Joyce, catching them red-handed, could have at least made citizen's arrests!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Mr. President, We Can Damn Well Catch 'Em With Their Pants Down!

Like most bloggists, sometimes I wonder why I devote irreplaceable time to such matters as NPR. But the thing is, it's important to ventilate if something really bugs you. So I wobble onward.

No need to get too detailed, but there was a segment this morning that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt (as if those who have been paying attention are still doubters), that NPR aids and abets those with a neocon agenda. It was hosted by Great Scott (Simon - everybody's favorite NPR 'humanist', who's actually pretty steeped in the fuddy-duddyness of neo-conservatism, though he may not even know it yet).

Well, this particular segment was a little showcase for two neocons - I don't even need to name them, as they are standard-issue types without one iota of profundity between them, though they 'differ' on a couple of dilettante-ish issues from the stale smorgasbord of failed neocon junk food that's so casually marketed to the masses.

Anyway, one of them said that Iran had nuclear weapons already, and the other boldly and patriotically said that they didn't but implied that they would soon, so we better catch 'em, to paraphrase George C. (truly Great) Scott in 'Dr. Strangelove', 'with their pants down!' This dude advocated bombing Iran as if there would be no consequences, as if doing so was akin to picking up some consumer item at a big box store or something equally self-centered. As if, 'I want what I want and I want it now.' Classic American Enterprise Institute-speak, where scholars and consultants labor day and night for the world's benefit. Because, as that first-class bastard and bulldozer Robert Moses, who single-handedly rendered New York City car-dependent and car-dominated, was wont to say, 'You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs.'

As for humanitarian Simon, he dealt with the two bozos with ever so much grace and gentleness, posing only the most daintily-worded 'challenges' that were about as imposing as a 5th grade introduction to putting together a class newsletter. Predictably, there was absolutely NO contrasting or opposing debate to the two guests' inane offerings, nor was any such thing promised. No matter, NPR was simply fulfilling its mandate of acting as publicist for neocon concerns, part of its diligent and years-long program of infiltrating the educated middle and upper classes of the nation, and doing in those old Commie-pinko-fag professors once and for all. Or something like that . . .

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I Can Get It For You, Cheap!

The Blackwater horror of September 16 in the year 2007 has sinister repercussions that spread past its contemporary impact. Among other examples, both infamous and obscure, it is particularly reminiscent of the Amritsar, India, massacre of 1919, when the British open-fired on a peaceful crowd and over 1000 civilians were killed. There were investigations, of course, as many good Brits were outraged. However, after much deliberation, the commanding officer, Gen. Dyer, was actually acquitted. In a British court. Amritsar became a seminal rallying point for the Independence movement, with Mahatma Gandhi's Congress party gaining a major foothold, though 1947 was a long way off yet. Michael O'Dwyer, the Governor of the Punjab, who approved of the action that led to the massacre, was later assassinated. It's not as if the people who are affected by things like massacres just move on and forget about them. If anything, the seeds of revenge are planted, and very deeply.

It will be interesting to see how the Iraqis themselves will respond to any outcome of the Blackwater case, and just how tolerant they will be to any acquittals that might result.

Imperialism inevitably involves conflict between the conquering force, which parades itself as 'good guys' and the anonymous, faceless victims of the conquered, who often happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and in numbers that render them, en masse, as virtually 'expendable'. Life becomes especially cheap when it is anonymous. So, the less the US knows about these victims as persons, the better for the neocons and their ilk. Imperialism has very little to do with humanity.

America's nouveau dabbling in Empire is not only a complete failure, it puts much of the world at toxic risk. If the US embraced a benevolence (or at the very least, respect) instead of bellicoseness, other nations would not be so compelled to seek out so-called weapons of mass destruction. The US is driving various nations into this posture, but that's what the neocons want, so as to justify their insane agenda.

We can identify this process, but what is to be done?
Chimpeach! Time is running out.