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Archive for June 2011

Keith Olbermann is back, but needs to set limits to make his show more entertaining

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John Kricfalusi is probably not a name you would normally see in this blog, but I can’t help but think of him as I watched the return of “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” on its new home on Current TV.

Kricfalusi created “Ren & Stimpy” and ran into a number of creative tug-of-war problems with Nickelodeon in the early 1990s. Kricfalusi felt he was hemmed in by Nickelodeon, and wanted more creative freedom. Unfortunately for the viewer, when Kricfalusi had the opportunity to create episodes in the way he wanted, they weren’t nearly as good as the shows were under Nickelodeon.

There was that same fear when Olbermann got more creative freedom at Current TV.

The first show was met with a few technical flaws. Tragically, the show is in SD;  just as I was about to get MSNBC in HD, the channel dumped Keith. There was a quote on the screen that was blocked by a graphic. The volume seemed really low, and the first segment was dreadfully long.  The straw poll graphic misspelled Jon Huntsman’s name, adding an extra “h” in the first name. Oh, and the show ran long, on purpose.

Once Keith speaks, we know why we sit through bad production values in SD.

Olbermann does have a point when he criticizes MSNBC for talking to Fox about the Olbermann-O’Reilly rivalry, and how big media companies unofficially don’t cover each other or their related companies. And he has a great point that corporate influence is a growing problem in news.

In interviews, Olbermann has made it clear that has had creative control. Good for him. But he needs to remember that responsibility makes for an effective show. Limits are a good thing as far as an entertaining newscast goes, but as long as those limits don’t involve corporate influence.

Olbermann told Terry Gross on “Fresh Air” why he gave those political contributions. His rationalizations sounded good, especially in that voice, but at the end, they can’t be justified.

Keith said he gave them based on threats to the candidates — laudable to those who aren’t covering the campaign, but not to those who do. Olbermann also said that he gave money after interviews and actually toward the end of the campaign. But campaigns keep going and you’re still covering the politicians. And the fact that Gabrielle Giffords was one of those politicians who got a contribution shows that limits are there for a reason.

The other limits that Olbermann struggled with at MSNBC and will likely do so on Current is this bubble or shell of liberalism. Don’t be afraid to confront those who might differ in opinion. Rachel Maddow, whom he helped get a show on MSNBC, does this quite well. And since Olbermann has made it clear, even in the 30 Rock building with Jimmy Fallon, that he wants Maddow on Current TV when she is available.

In the last 5 months, there has been a missing voice from the political media insanity. Olbermann proved this on Jimmy Fallon when he suggested that Anthony Weiner resign, then offer to run in the special election to see if the voters want him as their representative. Imagine using democracy as a solution. And Olbermann made it clear why David Vitter remained in Congress and Weiner didn’t.

“Because he’s a Republican and Republicans would never turn on one of their own. Very simple. They will stand up in this situation and the Democrats go, ‘Oh, no, we might have a controversy. We can’t possibly back this guy. The Republicans will hang it around our necks.’ They’re gonna hang it around their necks anyway. Stand up.”

And Olbermann and Michael Moore went after President Obama for extending the war effort in Libya, being actual newsmen. In fact, the most responsible journalist who has gone after Barack Obama has been Keith Olbermann.

Though it’s the first week, the technical glitches are glaring. One thing to start anew on a channel that nobody knows. But I have seen more graphics mistakes in one week than years on the previous outlet. And the show feels a little too loose; after all, if there is a show that will follow Keith in a similar fashion, won’t that host want to start on time at any point?

Freedom to do the newscast you want is a great gift, Mr. Olbermann. We know you will use that power for many sources of good to expose the truth, but do understand that you are doing a TV news show in 2011, and that show needs to look professional. We realize that this may take time on a new channel. For that, we wish you good night and good luck.


Who will the GOP pick for 2012? Leave it a mystery for now

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Americans normally love a good mystery, unless it takes too long to figure out. “Just tell me who wins,” we cry in our “microwave is taking too much time” voices.

So who are the Republicans going to pick as their presidential nominee for 2012? We haven’t even hit July 4 of 2011. Can’t this wait?

What is even more impatient isn’t so much who will win, but caring about people in the race who won’t even get to New Hampshire or even Iowa. Were you this excited about Chris Dodd in 2007?

What if Donald Trump wins? He never ran, and wasn’t going to run.

The GOP will nominate Someone to run against President Barack Obama in 2012, and that Someone, no matter how well things are going, will win at least 35% of the vote.

Then again, Someone left the cake out in the rain.

If we limit the pack to 9, we could reinvent the Hollywood Squares. We could dramatically introduce the participants, working our way around to Paul Lynde, er, Mitt Romney.

And why is Romney in the center square? He’s the frontrunner.

If the GOP race were a long ago game show, the standard bearer would be in the center square because that is who gets picked. Bob Dole was in the center square in 1995, John McCain was there in 2007 when he wasn’t in one of his 10 homes.

So the race is over. Romney will win. Let’s start thinking about the VP pick.

If you think that is audacious, Pawlenty’s backpedaling on “Obamaneycare” wasn’t as much about not attacking a fellow Republican, but an early admission that VP will do just fine.

Michele Bachmann thinks she is in the race because she announced during the debate that she was running for president. Talk about multitasking. And you can’t blame her for thinking that she has a decent chance to win the nomination. No one on the GOP side has as much passion on the issues, truth be damned, as she does.

Of course, if Pawlenty is really trying for the VP role, he has to root against Bachmann, since the Constitution wouldn’t let the two of them run on the same ticket. Then again, Bachmann might convince us (or at least the MSM) that the Founding Fathers intended two people to run from the same state.

When the candidates were bragging about their ability to reproduce, something Democratic politicians do with the same level of glee, you have to tip your hat to Bachmann. She has 5 kids of her own, and has been a foster parent to 23 others. Whatever you might think about her teabagger level of historical knowledge, Bachmann deserves praise for helping kids in need.

Romney is running on helping the economy grow, but his numbers are governor of Massachusetts were horrible. Pawlenty wants to do the same thing, and his numbers aren’t good either. Herman Cain might have better numbers, but we need more dough than even a national pizza chain can deliver.

Democrats went through a transition four years ago. Not 2008, but 2007. The conventional wisdom was that John Edwards was the frontrunner. He was white, male, Southern, and the standard bearer, having run with John Kerry in 2004. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton ran a race that threw away conventional wisdom. Could the GOP have a similar race in 2012?

The conventional thought is that the GOP isn’t that creative, but Sarah Palin came out of the woodwork to prove everyone wrong. The Palin move was as close to mavericky as McCain got in the campaign. Well, his brief break from the race and blowing off David Letterman was mavericky, but few would hold that up as something to be repeated.

In fact, the eventual GOP nominee may not even be in the picture and certainly not on stage this week. This isn’t to foreshadow the one possible nominee who is riding in a large bus, though Sarah Palin doesn’t need to distract herself by even being on stage at this point. Too long a period for the gotcha questions from the lamestream media like, “What did you see in Boston?” They’ve learned their lesson not to ask about the magazines and newspapers anymore.

In other words, there is a long way to go before we have a clue as to who the top nominees will be, much less which one stands up in a sweltering room in late summer 2012 to accept the GOP nomination. If you aren’t a GOP supporter, enjoy watching the candidates make foolish remarks. If you are a GOP supporter, there is plenty of time to pick a candidate, or draft one to come in off the bench.

Written by democracysoup

June 17, 2011 at 7:16 am

Can GOP ever be to blame for bad economy?

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Let’s run through this once again …

The economy, which wasn’t that great under George W. Bush and the GOP Congress, got worse around the 2008 presidential election. Things were really, really bad and so Barack Obama was elected president.

The economy was really bad, so the Democratic Party — in charge of the White House and Congress — tried to fix the economy, and the Republican Party stood tooth and nail to stop them or halt them at every turn.

The economy was still bad, and the Dems were blamed, hence losing a significant number of seats in the House and Senate. And so the Republicans, especially in the House, were brought in to help the economy.

Since the GOP took over the House, the emphasis has shifted away from the economy and job growth. But the economy is still bad.

And so the news came out this week of only 54,000 new jobs in May, a horrendous number by any standard. The (official) unemployment rate went up to 9.1%, factory levels fell to the lowest level in 2 years, and home prices at their lowest level since 2002.

So who got the blame? President Obama. Why? Because you blame the president when economic numbers are bad. Though George W. Bush never had to worry about that when he played the role.

The Dems were blamed in 2010, right or wrong, for the economy, and they tried to help. The GOP — in almost 5 months in power — hasn’t done a thing yet to jumpstart the economy.

When the Dems were in charge of Congress, even though the GOP hurt the recovery, the Dems were to blame. When the GOP is in charge of the House, the Dems are to blame because nothing is being done.

The MSM has consistently come out this week saying the bad economic numbers spell bad news for President Obama. But let’s be honest: what is President Obama supposed to do?

One thing he could do is say that we are still in significant trouble and we need help. And Obama hasn’t done that.

Obama could suggest programs, ideas, concepts and put political pressure on the GOP to do something. And Obama hasn’t done that.

One could easily argue that even if Obama did those things, the GOP would stubbornly dig in and say “no,” as they did for the first 2 years of Obama’s presidency.

Judging what the American people want from a political standpoint has never been easy, but these days, even a psychic would be clueless.

President Obama has accountability but very little way to act. The GOP-led House has no accountability but can do anything it wants. Only from accountability can you produce action, provided you can act.

Unless the GOP is given accountability, there will be no action. And the GOP is finding that no action punishes their political opponent (Obama). So the GOP has no reason to do anything different unless an outside force holds them accountable.

The unemployed have no power. The MSM has power, but they have been drinking the GOP Kool-Aid even before the current Congress got sworn in.

The American people have a choice: do they want a better economy? The sooner the GOP gets held accountable, the sooner the recovery can get back on track.

Written by democracysoup

June 10, 2011 at 8:04 am

Weiner-gate is ‘funny’ but Andrew Breitbart gets undeserved credibility for shoddy allegation

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If there is an accusation, are we supposed to consider the source? Or is the thought of an accusation just enough if the accusation is funny?

We have an established congressman, good track record, serious on topics but doesn’t take himself too seriously. And he is accused of something unorthodox — tasteless, yes, but not illegal.

And then we have the accuser — a proven liar and deceitful person with an agenda, especially against people whose views are similar to the congressman. The accuser has been flat-out caught — everybody can objectively see the accuser has a negative track record.

Yet … we have a story where the allegation is getting tons of attention, even if there is no proof that the congressman did what he was accused of doing, and the accuser gets credibility he doesn’t deserve.

And for the record, yes, we are talking Anthony Weiner (D-NY) and Andrew Breitbart.

Breitbart’s story is pretty weak, protecting another conservative blogger over a photo that the alleged recipient says she never received. One could imagine that this thought process would work on an elementary school playground, but we are supposed to be smarter than 10-year-olds.

The folks at CNN proved that 6-year-olds might give them a run for their money after the cable news channel gave Breitbart carte blanche to air unprovable allegations, as Breitbart amazingly went beyond the allegation and was not directly refuted on-air. Kudos to Jeffrey Toobin for chastising CNN for giving Breitbart such unfettered on-air time.

Did the Congressman do what he allegedly did? This doesn’t seem to be the most important question, and that is a shame.

Breitbart has gotten off relatively scot-free that it is embarrassing that Jon Stewart, a personal friend of Weiner’s long before either became famous, hasn’t mentioned Breitbart or his reputation once in the week-long coverage of the allegation.

Stewart has been torn over covering the incident, yet has spent a lot of time talking about the subject. But never mentions the dark tornado type clouds hanging over the accuser.

Breitbart might be right this time and Weiner may have done this. But there should be cynicism against Breitbart, and the MSM won’t open the cabinet door to get out a dose.

Yes, Rep. Weiner hasn’t been helping his case by giving vague answers as to the contents of the photo. But there is a sufficient explanation: the photo may have been hacked as well as the Twitter account. Why should an innocent person subject themselves to that disclosure of humiliation.

The better question is why the MSM is so freaked out over this story (other than the humorous Weiner references) and won’t ask Sen. Vitter (R-LA) about his prostitution visits or Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) about his torrid affair/financial allegations.

What Ensign and Vitter has been accused of and/or admitted is far worse on the grand scale than any accusation against Weiner.

The MSM gives instant credibility to right-wing sources with proven mendacity track records: Matt Drudge, Andrew Breitbart, the guy who dressed up like a pimp (James O’Keefe). And when outlets such as CNN, which claims it is right down the middle, give them credibility, their arguments ring hollow.

And all they need to do is do what 10-year-olds on the playground do and what journalists used to do: consider the source.

Written by democracysoup

June 3, 2011 at 7:43 am