GEEKS, AND LUNATICS. I'm not going to cite a lot of facts and
figures here. (You can find those abundantly elsewhere.) Today I'm just
making a prediction: Every
senator who votes for this bill is painting a bullseye on his chest for
the next election. There aren't words enough to convey how
stupid a politician would have to be to commit such a disastrous
Why? There is absolutely no
conceivable upside to passing this bill. It represents a tax that will
hit every consumer of energy in this country, both directly and
indirectly. Direct costs are estimated (very conservatively) at $2,000 to
3,000 per household a year. But that's only the tip of the iceberg. The
real costs are much much larger and will hurt lower and middle income
people far more than everyone else. All goods that are transported
anywhere during any phase of their production will cost more; ergo,
there's an immediate bump in the cost of living. Businesses of all
sizes will have to cut costs somewhere else to try to offset increased
energy costs, which means more job cuts and, of course, outright
business failures disproportionately affecting small businesses. The
competitiveness of American products overseas will be diminished
because China and India, for example, will not be paying artificially
inflated energy costs.
Worst of all, this is being done in the midst of a severe recession
from which the economy is trying to recover, despite the daily
escalating burden of federal government borrowing that's sucking
capital out of private investment markets. Cap-and-trade could bring on
a recession all by itself. Undertaken at this moment in time, it's
insanity. Or deliberate vandalism (but we're not talking Obama here...)
All this for a microscopic decrease in carbon output that will do
nothing to reverse or even arrest the Global Warming crisis even if you believe in it, which a
plurality of Americans don't. There's no chance whatever that any
contemplated benefits of a few artificially created and
taxpayer-subsidized "green jobs" will do anything in our lifetimes to
pay back the enormous economic costs they entail. It's an empty, token
gesture with very real and terrifyingly huge immediate costs. It's nuts.
So all I want to know is why would anyone in Congress vote for this
hammer blow to an already stricken U.S. economy? Hurting the economy is
not good for any of them. Nothing they get from a lobbyist can make up
for getting booted out of office. And yet they seem determined to crush
both American competitiveness and the ordinary taxpayers who put them
in office. Taxpayers who will know who to blame every time they pay a
utility bill and gas up their cars.
All I do know is that politicians voting yea today will all pay dearly
at the polls for passing this bill. How come they can't see that?
I don't get it. Somebody explain it to me.
Chairman of the Board at Madison Square Garden, age 60.
YouTube link here
for the browser-impaired. Aren't I nice?
PROVENANCE. For some reason there's been a lot of talk in the mass
media today about pop star icons, and all the attention has been
focused on just two of them, both the voice of their generations in
different but also similar ways. I don't want to participate in that
discussion particularly because both those stories have sad endings and
ominous implications about what superstardom means in our
celebrity-obsessed culture. And if you can't say anything nice, the
rule is, don't say anything at all.
But there is a third 20th
century pop star icon who was arguably greater and even more dominant
than the other two, and I've been thinking about him, ironically, since
last Sunday, Father's Day, when the inimitable Mark
Steyn took the opportunity to reprint (what's 'reprint' on a
website btw? A 'riposte'?")
the history of Frank Sinatra's relationship with the greatest song yet
written about the joys and fears of becoming a father: Rodgers and
Hammerstein's "Soliloquy" from the Broadway show Carousel. (Here's an audio taste if you
don't know it.) Like all such Steyn essays it illuminates the
subtleties of a very complex song, its writers, the meticulous artistry
Sinatra applied to his interpretation, and the devotion to his unique
performance of it that made it finally his song. Here's a single excerpt
that should make you want to read the whole essay:
opened on April 19th 1945. The following month, Zeke Zarchy, the lead
trumpeter on Frank Sinatra’s radio show, went over to the singer’s pad
for dinner. “There were half a dozen people,” he told Will Friedwald,
“and we all walked into his den where he had his hi-fi set up. He
played us some things from Carousel, which had just come out. We heard
the big ‘Soliloquy’ that the main character sings, and we were all
impressed with it. Frank said, ‘These are the kinds of things that I
want to do.’”
That was tougher than it sounds back then. A brisk “Soliloquy” clocks
in at eight minutes. That’s a long song, so long that (see page 139)
the published sheet music cost twice the usual 50 cents. Even broken in
two, as Columbia did with it in 1946, it’s a tight fit on both sides of
a 78. But Sinatra recognized the uniqueness of the piece, from
anticipation of all the fun the guy’s gonna have with “my boy Bill” to
the slowly dawning terror of responsibility. Halfway through, on that
line “What if he’s a …girl?”, Frank, a recent father of one of each,
sings with a kind of bewildered disgust. But the sentiment leads into
some of the most lyrical passages Rodgers ever wrote and Sinatra ever
Mary Rodgers, a fine composer in her own right and also the author of
her own exploration of parents and children, Freaky Friday, says she
only once saw her father display any emotion - when her mother suffered
a miscarriage late in life and dad sobbed on his teenage daughter’s
shoulders because it was his last chance for a son. Thus, as she
understood it, even his vulnerability was an implicit criticism of her.
It’s a strange moment, weirdly echoing the “What if he’s a girl?”
moment in “Soliloquy”. By contrast, Sinatra, for a showbiz pop, was a
terrific father, loved to this day by all three of his kids.
So today I'm thinking Frank Sinatra was more of a man than most people
thought at the time. Despite all the usual scandals and controversies
(mild by today's standards), that he was "a terrific father" for a
"showbiz pop" seems to be quite an accomplishment. And let's not
underestimate the amount of adulation he received by patronizing the
media technology of his day. He was the first singing star to
experience the phenomenon of teenage girls screaming so loudly through
his stage performances that no one could hear him sing. Likewise with
the phenomenon of fans fainting in the audience and proposing marriage
(and more) through the mails. There were also the glamour marriages
(Who could survive, even today, being married to Ava Gardner, the
ultimate goddess-whore of her generation?), the crashing end of his
career as a teen heart throb followed by a determined comeback based on
transforming talent into matchless technical craftsmanship, and the
movies, and the notorious Rat Pack, and retirement, and a second
comeback leading to a bright extended sunset that ended only with his
death at age 83 after a 60-year singing career. And, oh yeah. An Oscar
and Oscar nominations on the side.
I never cared that much for "My Way," a song penned for himself by the
much lesser talent Paul Anka. But today it seems to embody a certain
poignant wisdom about what it takes to survive a life spent in the
public eye, under the relentless lenses and mikes of the media buzzards who hunt and
pounce on the famous, the wounded, the sick, and the dying. And I'm reminded that
he was featured, typically insouciant and bright-eyed, on the cover of Life Magazine when he turned 50 in
1965, almost a decade before his final Top 40 hit:
Lessons? I don't know. Maybe none. He was a tough little guy from New
Jersey. Maybe that has as much to do with it as anything else. (Doesn't
look like Springsteen's going to quit anytime before his eighties
either...) But when I read the Steyn essays about individual songs,
arrangements, and performances, I get a picture of a mentality you don't
see that much of these days. Despite a whole world of glittering
diversions, Sinatra was ultimately betrothed, like a nun to her savior, to
his music. Everything that sounded casual and offhand about his singing
wasn't. He wasn't a celebrity with an artistic talent. He was an artist
who used and transcended celebrity to live up to his ideal of his own
art. From Steyn on "Soliloquy" again:
With most of the standard repertoire,
Sinatra eschewed corny stand-and-deliver big finishes, placing the
climactic open-voweled high-note three-quarters of the way in and
preferring to land softly, as he does in “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”
and a hundred others. But in his act he always liked to have what they
call a real collar-popper and the big final note of “Soliloquy” – “…or
DIE!!!” – stayed in his act till the very end. “I just wish more
performers would do it,” he said. “If they had the guts, they’ve got
the talent and big voices, but nobody does that.” Sinatra’s remains the
only successful version of the piece outside the show.
His way seems
to work better than some other ways. If you ask me.
Which, of course, no one did.
And, yes, I feel sorry for his successors who fell under the wheels of
the train they should have been driving. Mr.
Steyn is eloquent about this phenomenon
too. (UPDATE: I
linked this without reading it. I trusted the author. But it's nasty.
When I read it I was repelled. I thought I had deleted this sentence
within hours of posting, but I apparently hadn't. Now I urge you to
instead. I never liked the man in question, but it breaks my heart to
read all this detritus about his decline. I never walked a mile in the
man's shoes. It has never been my intention to trash him.)
Since I've learned from experience that you're not going to take the
introductory link to the antecedents of this post, I realize I need to
provide some context. Personal context. Here it is:
The very first time I fell in love was
age of six when I heard Ella Fitzgerald sing "The Man I Love," and the
very first time I knew there was a racial divide in my country was when
my Dad showed me the Ella/Gershwin album cover -- Ella was not white,
slim, or gorgeous the way women who can sing like that automatically
are to little boys who have beautiful blonde mothers. "Forget the
picture," my dad said. "Just listen to the way she sings. That's music.
Sinatra is an ugly little guy. And you like him."
I did. Me and how many countless others who learned about him from Sid
Mark. More than my parents did. In fact. my first rebellion was
realizing that Sinatra was better than Dick Haymes and every other Big
Band singer. I realized that he was singing my own parents' lives, the
parts they couldn't admit, the pain and wistfulness and sorrow they
could never acknowledge, along with the upbeat determination that kept
them going, and dancing, even when they must have wondered what the
hell was going on. It was as if the real appeal of Sinatra to adults
was a secret -- they pretended he wasn't an arterial necessity; he was
and because he was connected to every successful jazz musician,
composer, and arranger, he was safe. When he let loose with his "three
o'clock in the morning," "when I was seventeen," or "strangers in the
night" bits, the parents mixed another cocktail and fell silent.
I'm sure younger people feel much the same way about subsequent pop
icons. Actually, that's a lie. I don't think that. But that's why I'm
old and you're doomed.
Another brief but related essay published in the Providence Journal. It
originated here, of course, all the way back in January
2008. But some things aren't
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Michelle, Ma Belle
like a bronze goddess or something.
OF THIS EARTH. Earlier today, Drudge was reporting that the new
Time Magazine issue would feature the 17th Obama cover in the last
year, this time showcasing Michelle. Now it looks as if the Iranian
protest will bump her for a muslim woman who didn't go to Princeton or Harvard.
She's never even
been to Paris or Broadway.
Such a letdown. As if that muslim woman would know anything about what
it's like to grow up in a country that continually subjugates you by
forcing you to go to the best schools and take the highest paying
featherbedding jobs just because of your race. The truly inspiring news is
that the First Lady is fighting back. She's rededicated herself to
getting even more
attention than she's already been getting, if that's humanly
First Lady Who Demands Substance
Michelle Obama Wants to Be Part of
Events That Have Purpose And a Message -- and That Parallel the
For weeks, Michelle Obama had been telling her staff and closest
confidantes that she wasn't having the impact she wanted. She is a
woman of substance, with a background in law, public policy and
management, who found herself relegated to role model in chief. The
West Wing of the White House -- the fulcrum of power and policy -- had
not fully integrated her into its agenda. She wanted more.
So, earlier this month, she changed her chief of staff, and now she's
changing her role.
Her new chief of staff, Susan Sher, 61, is a close friend and former
boss who the first lady thinks will be more forceful about getting her
and her team on the West Wing's radar screen. The first thing Sher said
she told senior adviser David Axelrod, whom she has known for years:
When I call, "you need to get back to me right away."
The former chief of staff, Jackie Norris, 37, was "not on the first
lady's wavelength," said one source, echoing others, all of whom spoke
on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters. "Susan is
more of a peer," a senior White House official said. "I think that's
probably a better model."
Although Obama's job-approval ratings have soared, the first lady -- a
Harvard-educated lawyer -- wasn't satisfied with coasting. She is
hiring a full-time speechwriter and has instructed her staff to think
"strategically" so that every event has a purpose and a message. She
doesn't want to simply go to events and hug struggling military
families, she said; she wants to show progress. "Her desire is to step
out more and have deliverables," said communications chief Camille
Johnston. "It's about things that are coming up that we want to be a
part of: child nutrition reauthorization act, prevention and wellness
for health-care reform."
In the past couple of weeks, Obama has been more vocal about the
specifics of the president's health plan, and she will play a
substantive role in promoting it.
That last part is really interesting. Michelle Obama has been on the
front lines of health care in this country. If anybody knows how the
system works, she does. Here's just one example:
The White House, Democrats, and MoveOn
liberals are spreading health care sob stories to sell a government
takeover. But there’s one health care policy nightmare you won’t hear
the Obamas hyping. It’s a tale of poor, minority patient-dumping in
Chicago — with First Lady Michelle Obama’s fingerprints all over it...
While a top executive at the hospital, Mrs. Obama helped engineer the
plan to offload low-income patients with non-urgent health needs. Under
the Orwellian banner of an “Urban Health Initiative,” Mrs. Obama sold
the scheme to outsource low-income care to other facilities as a way to
“dramatically improve health care for thousands of South Side
residents.” The program guaranteed “free” shuttle rides to and from the
In truth, it was old-fashioned cost-cutting and favor-trading
repackaged as minority aid. Clearing out the poor freed up room for
insured (i.e., more lucrative) patients. If a Republican had proposed
the very same program and recruited black civic leaders to front it,
Michelle Obama and her grievance-mongering friends would be screaming
“RAAAAAAAAACISM!” at the top of their lungs.
Joe Stephens of the Washington Post wrote: “To ensure community
support, Michelle Obama and others in late 2006 recommended that the
hospital hire the firm of David Axelrod, who a few months later became
the chief strategist for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.
Axelrod’s firm recommended an aggressive promotional effort modeled on
a political campaign—appoint a campaign manager, conduct focus groups,
target messages to specific constituencies, then recruit religious
leaders and other third-party ‘validators.’ They, in turn, would write
and submit opinion pieces to Chicago publications.”
Some health care experts saw through Mrs. Obama and her public
relations man, David Axelrod—yes, the same David Axelrod who is now Mr.
Obama’s senior adviser at the White House. The University of Chicago
Medical Center hired Axelrod’s public relations firm, ASK Public
Strategies, to promote Mrs. Obama’s Urban Health Initiative. Axelrod
had the blessing of Chicago political guru Valerie Jarrett – now White
House senior adviser...
In February 2009, outrage in the Obamas’ community exploded after a
young boy covered by Medicaid was turned away from the University of
Chicago Medical Center. Dontae Adams’ mother, Angela, had sought
emergency treatment for him after a pit bull tore off his upper lip.
Mrs. Obama’s hospital gave the boy a tetanus shot, antibiotics, and
Tylenol and shoved him out the door. The mother and son took an
hour-long bus ride to another hospital for surgery...
Following the Adams incident, the American College of Emergency
Physicians (ACEP) blasted Mrs. Obama and Mr. Axelrod’s grand plan. The
group released a statement expressing “grave concerns that the
University of Chicago’s policy toward emergency patients is dangerously
close to ‘patient dumping,’ a practice made illegal by the Emergency
Medical Labor and Treatment Act (EMTALA)” – signed by President Reagan,
by the way – “and reflected an effort to ‘cherry pick’ wealthy patients
So you can see how much she knows about the evils effected by the
profit motive in healthcare matters. No wonder she's so committed to
the government role her husband thinks will fix everything. Excuse me.
No wonder her husband is so committed to the government role Michelle
thinks will fix everything. She may not wear pants very much anymore,
but chances are she's got the only ones in the Obama family -- if
Iran and North Korea are any measure.
She's also got one hell of a big pair of balls. It's no wonder she
walks with the spread-legged tick-tock motion of a man with a punishing
case of jock itch. Only a goddess could ever sell that particular type
of female locomotion as fashionable and sexy.
not going to dwell on it here, but tell me there isn't something
creepily cold about both the
Obamas. Tell me. I might even believe it. Or I'd try anyway.
Don't even start with me about going all ad-feminam on Michelle Obama.
I didn't hear Obama standing up to chastise
David Letterman a week or two ago. Or Playboy Magazine's Hate F**k
article. Or the media mauling of Carrie Prejean because she shares the
president's opinion about gay marriage. Or even Barbara Boxer's vicious
bitch tantrum at the general. Our president is equable and civil, but
he doesn't give a damn about good manners. And guess what? If the First
Lady is planning to be the new Hillary, she better get ready to endure
what she and her husband did to Hillary. Besides. Any woman who walks
like a damn longshoreman with hemorrhoids is going to be ridiculed
privately if not publicly. I'm actually doing her a favor.
An Irishman , a Mexican and a Blonde
Guy were doing construction work on scaffolding on the 20th floor
of a building. They were eating lunch and the
Irishman said, 'Corned beef and cabbage! If I get corned beef and
cabbage one more time for lunch, I'm going to jump off this
The Mexican opened his lunch box and Exclaimed,' Burritos again! If I
get burritos one more time I'm going to jump off,
The blonde opened his lunch and said, 'Bologna again! If
I get a bologna sandwich one more time, I'm jumping
The next day, the Irishman opened his lunch box, saw corned beef and
cabbage, and jumped to his
The Mexican opened his lunch, saw a burrito, and jumped,
The blonde guy opened his lunch, saw the bologna and jumped to his
At the funeral, the Irishman's wife was weeping. She said, 'If I'd
known how really tired he was of corned beef and cabbage, I never would
have given it to him
The Mexican's wife also wept and said, 'I could have given him tacos or
enchiladas! I didn't realize he hated burritos so
Everyone turned and stared at the blonde's wife. The blonde's wife
said, 'Don't look at me. He makes his own lunch!
Yup. You got it. I'm a blonde too. An old blonde, but the hair is still
more yellow than gray. Our curse. And, yes, we really can be that dumb.
Well, there may or may not have been a huge massacre in Tehran today,
but who cares? The western nations have conclusively demonstrated their priorities today by reacting
en masse to the stunning news from the music industry that Keith
Richards is still not dead.
Hopefully, things will calm down enough in the next day or so that
other kinds of news might begin to seep through the cracks in the wall
of show biz glurge.
Who am I kidding? This is THE story of the decade. What could compete
with it? A nuclear launch from North Korea? No. An Israeli attack on
Iran's WMD facilities in the midst of a populist revolution? Not a
chance. The news that some transvestite child molester died? Hardly.
This is the kind of headline that makes Shepard Smith draw breath, man.
HOT NEWS. Well, this time he's right.
Charlie Gibson looks so proud to be there. In the White House. As does
everyone else in this utterly spontaneous town hall setting. In the
Right out of the box, first question, the One is going after the
rationing argument. His grandmother needed a hip replacement shortly
before she died. He doesn't tell us if she got it or if she should
have. But he says there's a limit to what we should do. Bye bye,
Moving smoothly into facts and figures and logical Spock mode. He's
so plausible. Especially in this setting. When he talks about the
government, people see the Oval Office, not the DMV, the Post Office,
and every needlessly expensive government office staffed by the
shiftless, uncaring clockpunchers we meet when we try to get a building
permit. And Diane and Charlie are acting like emcees at a high-toned
parlor game. I hope Mom and Pop America are impressed. I'm already
Now we're sorry for all the doctors who owe money for their education.
Wow. There's one in the audience. She owes $200,000. How will she ever
pay that back? Oh. Obama wants to help her too.
Diane Sawyer is apparently walking point on the rationing argument. Too
many tests, she says, too many unnecessary procedures. I'm sure she's
opposed to unnecessary procedures. Like her last five facelifts. She's
how old now? 35 going on 65? How about letting Obama lift her breasts
and tell us if she's qualified for yet another $5,000 boob hike? No? Okay.
Commercial break. LensCrafters. Mr. President, are we still going to
be able to get prescription eyeglasses, or do we have to get our specs
at Walmart while we wait three years to see an ophthalmologist? Rude?
Now we're talking about stakeholders -- doctors, nurses, patients, etc.
Like it's all a big happy company. Here it comes. The public option. We
can absolutely keep our current healthcare insurance. But it will be
like a big marketplace. If we need to, we can go to the government for
insurance. It's just competition. Like the way baseball would be if the
Commissioner were a multibillionaire and had his own baseball team. He
could rewrite all the rules of the game, game by game, and declare any
player ineligible if, say, they were about to play his team. You know,
competition. In a marketplace.
Sob stories now. Various cancers and other catastrophes that couldn't
A lady asks if there's just going to be an age cutoff. Her mother needs an expensive pacemaker or doesn't. Who knows? Obama responds
with charm, a joke. This is beginning to seem like a pattern. He makes
a joke when the news is bad. "These are very difficult decisions. I
don't want bureaucrats to make these decisions, but these decisions are
being made already..." Shit out of luck, lady. Talking on and on...
more and more tests, maybe better to forego the tests and take the
painkiller... Thanks so much, Mr. O. Well, cool. The lady seems more
upset by the cost of her mother's illness than the chance at prolonged
life. Score one for universal healthcare.
Commercial. Yoplait. Yogurt will fix everything wrong with us. Ford!
Are they still in business? Sure. Just like our private health insurers
are. Isn't government-managed capitalism wonderful?
Gibson raises the cost issue. A questioner raises the Big Brother
issue. Obama's glad he asked the question. He explains how insurers can
make less profit and still keep Obama perfectly happy. Great. You see,
the important thing is getting the overall cost curve going down. (Big
Brother who?) Yes, we're going to talk about cost magic now. The
government knows much much better how
to spend the dollars that are available -- like on doctor education
and, you know, stuff like that. Another joke. Something about
eliminating paperwork and bureaucracy. Which the government always
does, right? BIG SAVINGS ACROSS THE SYSTEM, INCLUDING IN THE PRIVATE
SECTOR. Got it?
Commercial. A promo for the upcoming Farrah Fawcett death on reality
TV. How perfect. This townhall bears about as much relation to real
life as "the Bachelor" bears to ordinary courtship. Reality TV. Thanks for the
A woman asking about cost now. She's quoting figures, including CBO
numbers. She's bound to lose on this. Obama laughs. It's complicated.
It's not easy. The economy is bad. But the answer is that, uh,
Americans always rise to a challenge when therre's a challenge. But
we're going to need courage and cooperation. If we keep our eyes on the
prize, we're going to, uh, DO it. Somehow. See? Feel better? Take two aspirintylenol
and call Obama in the morning.
ANOTHER commercial break. An ad for the Post Office. Ha ha. They're
just screwing with us now.
But they're going to keep going for another half hour -- after the
local news. Because the government can never do anything in the time
Time to recap. Have they dealt with any
of the serious issues at a level beyond banal generalities? No. Has
Obama taken back any of his blatant misrepresentations and outright
lies about cost and what the public option will really do to private
insurance plans? No. Has he said anything to alleviate the legitimate
fear that care will be rationed and even denied to those who do not fit
prescribed demographic profiles? No.
But Charlie and Diane are tickled to death with how well it's all gone.
Nobody threw up on the White House carpet, and Obama didn't have to
deal with anything as hostile as Major Garrett's crude question at
yesterday's press conference. BIG sigh of relief there.
On the whole, "Infomercial" was absolutely the right description of
what happened here tonight. The only thing missing was the tiny print
disclaimers informing us that the testimonials are being delivered by
paid actors and the network on which the program appears is in no way
responsible for its content, accuracy, or truthfulness. And nobody
offered to give us two national healthcare plans if we send our $19.95
in today. Understandable, I suppose. The $4 trillion shipping and
handling charge might have wiped the smile off Charlie's face
and put a crease in Diane's forehead. Just kidding. She's had way too
much botox to get a crease in her forehead. It's called preventive
I'm not going to watch the extra half hour that slops over into the
Nightline slot. Why? I don't think too many people will. Even in
today's tough economy, most Americans have jobs they have to get up for
in the morning. And even if they tried to stay up to watch it, I think
they'd fail. Unless Diane does the final half hour topless, there's
just no way anyone will be able to stay awake through more of this
empty, phony bullshit.
. Another apples and oranges post, though not
really of course. Among the other world-crushing events Drudge was
headlining today came this ominous bit of data about network
All-Time Lows for Both CBS & ABC Evening Newscasts
Breaking: TVNewser has learned
the CBS Evening News has once again set an all-time low last week with 4.89 million Total Viewers and 1.42 million A25-54 viewers. But it
was also the lowest (since records began in the 1991-'92 season) for
ABC's World News with Charles Gibson. The Gibson program drew 6.42
million Total Viewers and 1.77
million A25-54 viewers.
Both CBS's Katie Couric and ABC's Charlie Gibson were off last week....
Insiders tell us at least one network is looking into the continued impact of the digital TV
transition which occurred June 12...
NBC averaged 7.75m Total Viewers Mon-Wed but on Thursday and Friday
gave their program a different Nielsen code -- "Nitely News." (The
correct spelling is "Nightly News"). This is despite the fact that the
network had regular coverage on those days. We're trying to determine
if the U.S. Open Golf Championship
had something to do with the coding change. Had Thursday and Friday
been included, the average would have been lower. On Friday "Nightly"
averaged 6.29m Total Viewers.
You might also ask whether the U.S. Open had something to do with the
ratings of all three senile sisters in the world of withered crone TV
newsreading. Golf is the ultimate old person's sport. It's good for the
blood pressure to contemplate all those serenely long fairways and
greens. (That Tiger can be a bumptious fellow with his fist pumps and
such, but you absolutely cannot fault his manners... Oh? Is the news
on now? Well, that last bit was so exciting I think maybe it would be
wise to pass up the news altogether and go to bed...)
Sorry if I sound petty, but just how much of a coincidence is it that
these ratings 'anomalies'
are occurring just when the nation's most aged and out-of-it TV viewers
are struggling -- and failing -- to accomplish the hyper-ballyhooed
transition from analog antennas to digital reception? Who didn't get sick of the endless,
pointless ads on their cable TV services about getting ready for the
end of rabbit ears when just having cable meant you had no problem? Who
shocked by the fact that it still appears to be a crisis
for Henry A. Wallace groupies?
Even supposedly technically literate greybeards are apparently at sea.
Q and A: I Am Shocked, Simply Shocked!
Judging by the number of entries in the old inbox this week, it appears
we weren't as ready for the DTV conversion as I opined two weeks ago...
Thursday I was able to receive Channels 3, 5, 8 and 19 with my antenna
and analog television. Since hooking up a converter box, I am unable to
receive digital signals for any of these stations.
The digital signal is too weak to
reach my area in central Tuscarawas County. I cannot get any of the
major networks and I'm only a few miles south of New Philadelphia, Ohio.
Why aren't people being told that
they may not be able to watch
stations they've viewed for 50 years?
A: If it was your
project, and your career on was the line, would you be telling people
it was going to turn out badly?
Sorry to sound cynical. I think that one of the factors in this whole
conversion was the assumption that if current coverage could be
replicated, things would be all right.
In other words, the analog system allowed for signal degradation for 10
percent of the time in 50 percent of the households. It was assumed
that this would still be acceptable for digital TV.
The difference, however, is that when
analog TV is "degraded," it gets a little snowy, but you can still see
a picture. You don't lose reception.
With a digital TV, pixelization occurs, audio is lost and the programming becomes unwatchable.
Isn't that enough
time to save up for a new TV? I think the real degradation in TV
network news ratings is attributable
to the the 65 to 95 demographic at which their advertisements --
Polident, miracle Alzheimers curesplacebos,
Robert Wagner's reverse mortgage scam, and $45,000 Scooter Chairs
(free with the help of our Medicaid Fraud Department) -- are aimed.
Ratings may yet revive for a while when the federal government finally
gets around to installing its free digital converter boxes (2012?) for
the old and not too anciently dead who are still registered to vote
Democratic, but the
trends are not good. Hated Fox News is hammering
CNN, CNN Headline
News, MSNBC, and CNBC every night:
P2 [Viewers older than 2] Prime
FNC – 2,716,000 viewers
MSNBC – 996,000 viewers
CNBC – 118,000 viewers
HLN – 608,000 viewers
Even MSNBC's post-modern lefty twit(ter) maniac Olbermann is getting
Fox News's curmudegeonly old coot O'Reilly in Total Viewers and the
solid gold 25-54 demographic. Get a load of these
numbers, which are actually competing from the cable news swamp with
the network biggies who can still rely on their tie-ins to Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, NCIS and CSI, etc.
The truth is that lefty viewers under the age of 80 are actually
getting their news from
Jon Stewart's Daily Show and
the Colbert Report, which
admittedly are to television journalism what the New York Times has become to
newspaper journalism, but real lefties don't actually care about
'journalism' anymore. Witness these three funny but contemptuous
takedowns by the Daily Show
of its political and ideological progenitors, the New York Times, NBC,
What was the Times thinking?
That they'd be treated as reverently as they treat the corpses who host
60 Minutes? Maybe their rabbit
ears were bringing in a signal too degraded to recognize as scornful
Yeah. I've even heard conservatives in years past -- including Limbaugh
if I'm not mistaken -- express a certain fondness for Brian Williams.
Never felt it. My sense was always that he was NBC's answer to the bone
structure of clothes horse Peter Jennings. Beautifully tanned and
supercilious pretty boys, the pair of them, and nothing more. But
people tell me I'm harsh and simplistic. Although they're never willing
to go toe to toe with me on the subtleties of my harsh, simple
judgments. Perhaps the scriver is a more difficult vocation than
they're willing to admit.
Oedipus slew his father and married his mother. In these vids, Jon
Stewart has just done the same and upped the ante by cutting his
grandfather's throat too. Pity he exhibits none of the anguish of Ernest Jones's Hamlet.
He's just button-busting proud of himself. Like all permanent fourteen
year olds. They're responsible for all the ideas he takes for granted
and doesn't need to think about. He's inherited their certainty and
boldly proclaims his youthful superiority. But there's nothing young
about him. His political postulates are thick with age and weighted
with many generations of repeated failure. His only innovation is to
dispense with facts altogether and go all in with attitude and
assumptive, unexamined 'wisdom.' Jon Stewart is Daniel Schorr juiced on
YouTube and Twitter. An old old man pimped out for a final fling like
Dirk Bogarde in Death in Venice.
Zbigniew has a zbig zbrain.
Which brings me to the "apples and oranges" part of the discussion.
Iran. Over the weekend, I saw Fareed Zakaria's CNN show called GPS. His
first guest was Zbigniew Brezinski, who's only 104 now and stuffed
with insight into the best way to deal with the Islamic Revolution he
and his president, Jimmy Carter, ushered into being in the late
1970s. He noted that there was a generational difference at the
heart of the conflict. He said.... well, here's a good summary
from someone who was able to watch him without being reminded of the
villain in "The
Zbig also interestingly brought up the
infamous neocons: "And there are
those who are supporting the regime, who in many respects are like our
neocons -- very similar to our neocons."
Zbig believes that Obama so far has been handling the crisis correctly,
and again mentioned the neocons: "he has struck absolutely the right
note... He's identifying himself morally, historically with what is
happening in Iran. But he's not engaging himself politically. He's not
interfering, because that... could be exploited by the neocons in Iran
to crush the revolution, to wipe it out."
Referring to those who are criticizing Obama for not being tougher,
"One of the paradoxes here domestically is that many of the people who
call for the most energetic involvement by Obama in the process, they
simply would prefer to have an American-Iranian showdown.
"Whereas, in fact, if there is a change of regime in Iran, there's a
greater chance of accommodation."
Looking down the road, Zbig adds, "...once we no longer have a
Manichean, black-and-white, good-and-evil type of a regime confronting
us in a hostile fashion, it will be easier to deal with the specific
problems that we confront."
You see, in Brezinski's model of the conflict, the youthful protesters
in Iran are like himself, Jimmy Carter, and the other desiccated retro lefties who are
convinced they could negotiate with Satan himself to put an end to
evil, whereas the "neocons" who long documented and militarily opposed
the evil that is now slaying innocents and aspirants for liberty in the
streets of Teheran are absolutely indistinguishable from the
Ahmadinejads of this world. The term "Manichean" is to him not only
colorless, it's also not even black and white. To identify evil as evil
is as fundamental an error as to identify good as good. Liberalism,
virtue, wisdom consist of immersing one's self forever in the grays of
constant negotiations that never seek victory and never concede the
defeat that flows inevitably from reasoning with unrepentant,
Let's back up a minute. Youth, age, right, wrong, atrocity, principle,
all these are merely pieces on the great chessboard of realpolitik that
makes Brezinski's preferred foreign policy queen the voice of "hope and
change" for the coming generation. He is prepared to negotiate with
Ahmadinejad no matter what that monster does to the Nedas of this
world. Because Brezinski is a wise liberal. Like Obama.
To put it even more simply, Brezinski depicts the "manichean" view of
neocons as "old" and his own bitterly cynical and corrupt accommodation
with obvious evil as "young." Are you listening, Jon Stewart? This
cold-hearted zombie intellectual is supporting the policy of a
president you worked your ass off to elect because you thought he cared
about the little people so much that he would defy the power structures
that treat little people as dispensable pawns. Now your messiah
president is content to sweep the pawns off the board to pursue a
negotiation strategy that has never
worked. Mercy, humanity, and peace have never been arguments accorded a
moment's notice by Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, Kim Jong Il,
Ahmadinejad, or Yassir Arafat. You can't talk psychopathic killers out
of killing. The determination to hold talks with such people,
including Castro, Chavez, and other tyrants, can't help but call into
question the mentality that yearns for it so. Why does Obama seem to
prefer such company to western leaders like Gordon Brown, Angela
Merkel, and Sarkozy, whom he consistently insults? Are despots and self-proclaimed messiahs the real blood brothers of government? Is no one even
allowed to ask such questions?
Which is the question that completes the circle. Obama seems to have a
particular hard-on about Fox News. While the rest of the media adores
him, Fox News does a so-so job of trying to ask journalistic hard
questions. To a lot of us, they seem far too much on board with hope
and change, too, but if you want to dig deeper, look at what the
"I've got one television station that
is entirely devoted to attacking my administration," Obama told John
Harwood, who had asked him how he felt about coverage of his
administration. "That's a pretty big megaphone. You'd be hard-pressed
if you watched the entire day to find a positive story about me on that
Fox News (which Obama pettishly declined to name) is indeed a big
megaphone -- big and getting bigger. And that's no accident. As I've
written before, Fox is big because it
speaks to an audience that doesn't feel its concerns represented
elsewhere on TV (and, yes, because Roger Ailes is a pro at
producing slick, loud, button-pressing programming in general). For
Obama to turn his back on that audience because he doesn't feel like he
gets a fair shake from Fox would be a mistake. He all but acknowledged
that himself during the campaign, when he finally granted an interview
to Bill O'Reilly after being hounded for months.
That's not to say Obama has no grounds
for complaint. Anyone who watches Fox for a few minutes can tell that
its default attitude towards him is skepticism.[boldface added]
is "grounds for
complaint"? By the president of the United States of America? Under
what definition of freedom of the press is "skepticism" an acceptable
basis for condemnation by the president of the United States? I thought
that was the undisputed mission of the press. To keep the powerful
honest by asking wave upon wave of relentlessly skeptical querstions.
Not any more? Since when? Rhetorical question. Since about 2 pm on
Inauguration Day, 2009.
There's a reckoning coming. Somewhat like the reckoning underway in
Iran. With just as uncertain an outcome. You want a metaphor? The
traditonal mainstream media are the elders of the Iranian Islamic
Revolution -- the Guardian Council, the Revolutionary Guard, and in the
case of Obama, the "Supreme Leader." The lefty blogosphere and the
Daily Show and the Colbert Report are the Basij, the unofficial
assassins beholden to no standard of decency as they enforce the
morality of the ruling ideology. (Shoot the infidel woman in the heart
and deny it afterwards: she's just a whore from AlaskaTehran.)
Most of it is an exercise in cultist insanity. But note how much the
pundit observers agree on one key truth that keeps eluding western
sympathizers. Even the young ones aren't rising up against the idea of
a revolutionary Islamic Republic. They just disagree about what the
correct definition of that is. In our terms, they're not "manichean
neocons," none of them. They're all true believers. It's just that what
they truly believe varies, depending on their education, sex, internet
friends, and material aspirations. Their "Supreme Leader" is their
particular vision of Obama. They don't want to be us. They don't want
to be without a Supreme Leader. They just want him to cut them a break.
And neither do American leftists. All of them have bought into the
Supreme Leader concept too. They yearn for the Obemessiah Republic. The
old ones who still hang on the yellowing words of CBS, ABC, and NBC
network news are thinking of Obama as FDR, the Supreme Leader they
remember from World War II, if not from his eight feckless years of
economic failure before that. The younger crowd have an even hazier
idea of who the "Supreme Leader" might be, an uneducated half-awareness
of a time when, if you haven't read enough books, it's possible to
believe that a man on horseback could kiss every boo-boo in your
personal life and make it better without you ever having to suck it up
and do something on your own.
It's a generational thing. As all the Iran pundits keep saying. One
difference. Even the opponents of the Islamic Republic of Iran
acknowledge that the 70 percent of Iranians who are under 30 are
literate. They have the capacity to learn. The 40 percent of Americans
who are under 30 are not
literate. Not even close. Of course, their parents and grandparents
(uh, that would be the network news anchors) don't have a clue about
that, which partially explains their blind imbecility as well as the
certainty that their entire form of news delivery will die within a
The prospects are bleak. For Iran. And for the United States. The only
hope for Iran is that the youngsters realize their religion is
fundamentally incompatible with anything that could be called freedom.
Won't happen. The only hope for America is that the youngsters will
remember that rebellion against parents is far less important than
rebellion against the infinitely greater powers of government, which eat
out your heart even as they stunt your talents. Just sitting there gets
too easy. Won't happen.
Unless. Unless the native instinct for rebellion among young people
subliminally alerts them to the fact that slavish adoration of Obama in
the condescendingly elitist mainstream media is a red flag to be
reacted against. If the ancient assholes are for it, there has to be something wrong with it.
But all the anchors and newspapers are certain to die before the kids
absorb that lesson. Which means we're all pretty much f***ed.
Monday, June 22, 2009
A Modest Experiment
still allowed to install a swivelling camera in your own yard.
. Followers of this blog will know that
we've shown photographs of the CP yard before, frequently to highlight dogs,
(Still working on photos of groundhogs, red-tailed hawks, and deer.
They're here but you've got to get lucky.) So you may know the basic
Well. We got a wild hare of an idea. It happens when you live out in
the country. And we've seen that show Monster Hunters too many times
probably, where they try to snap night vision photos of Bigfoot, the
Chupacabra, and the Loch Ness Monster. It never works, of course. After
days of trudging through the wild, they strap the camera to the tree
and wait for the proof they can't get any other way. Nada. Then they go
back home determined to persevere. It's always good for a laugh.
Which is why we thought it would be fun to set a "camera trap" for
President Obama. Yes, most of you think he's a normal human being who
just happens to be on TV every single minute of every single day,
whereas most presidents would be spending at least a few hours a week
closeted with expert people prepping them for decisions they shouldn't toss off the top of their
heads as instant revelations. But that's not how the Monster Hunters would think of it. They'd imagine him as a paranormal
being with an uncanny knack for always being where a camera was turned
on, like some kind of Marshall McLuhan version of Santa Claus, always
everywhere at the same time.
So why not test it? Like the Monster
Hunters. When the test flopped, we could over-dub it with
suspenseful music and other effects to make it seem like we'd been
close even though we never were. Cool. So we installed a night vision
camera right here in CountryPunk's familiar back yard and turned it on
one day last week, right after the TV correspondents' dinner. The night
vision was eerie and cool.
I mean, this was the middle of a moonless night. COOL. Here's how it
looked through the Night Vision viewfinder:
That's how dark it was. But then we saw this.
Which turned out to be this. You tell us
what it means. And how come the Monster
Hunters have never had this kind of luck?
think this is weird looking? You should've been there. He asked us for our
So. If you're wondering about the ice cream photo,
don't. He can't help it. Wherever there's a camera, he has to be there. It doesn't mean he
wasn't also simultaneously at the White House being photographed
playing with his kids and the dog, squiring Michelle to her semi-nude
Vogue photoshoot, reacting with authentic horror to the bloody murder
of Neda in Iran, and praying in the White House Chapel with tears
running down his cheeks for the thirteen or fourteen Jewish victims of
the holocaust. He was doing all
those things, with as much evident emotion as he evinced sucking down
that ice cream cone. Because cameras were there. Take it from us. We
have scientific proof. His empathy is peripatetic.