Sunday, October 26, 2008

WFTV Biden interview: Slanted questions and biased followups, and Fox News' slanted coverage of a slanted interview

On Thursday 23 October, VP candidate Joe Biden was interviewed via satellite by Barbara West of WFTV in Orlando, FL. Surprisingly, as much of this election crap as I hear about, this little kerfuffle hasn't come up while I was paying attention until today. Flipping past Fox News for the neocon view of things, I saw a story about this and had to look into it more deeply.

Here's the synopsis... West had prepared a hatchet piece, asking Biden to (among other things) tell her if it's Marxist for Obama to want to make the federal income tax rates more progressive. to "spread the wealth around" (to quote the GOP talking point and 4 unfortunate words lifted from a several-minute conversation Obama had with "plumber" Joe Wurzelbacher in Ohio.) She also harped on Biden's poorly-worded version of the same thing Joe Lieberman has said, that the new president will likely face challenges on the international stage soon after his inauguration. She started her questioning off asking if Biden was "embarrassed" about their association with ACORN, and when he didn't grovel before her question she brought out the GOP talking points about Obama being an "organizer and attorney" for ACORN.

I thought Biden handled the actual responses to her questions pretty well. He gave direct answers to her question, even though some of them were obvious hackery and even though he meandered a bit about the questions themselves. I feel that her tone and her follow-ups looked somewhat biased, but nothing that would make Hannity the Manatee proud, and if I had seen the piece before I saw Fox News blathering about it I wouldn't have thought much of it. Biden asked her if the question was a joke when she essentially asked if Obama is a Marxist, and commented "I don't know who is writing your questions" when she asked, regarding his comments on the test of a new president, if he was "forewarning Americans that nothing will be done, and that America's days as a world power are over." This was her worst, most slanted, question that had no sane basis in reality, and Biden answered it as if it really merited an answer and answered it well. (I personally think it merited a bitch-slap, but we can just add that to the whole host of reasons why I shouldn't run for public office.)

Fox had their knickers in a twist because after this interview, the Obama campaign cancelled a scheduled interview of Jill Biden with the same reporter and suggested that it would not grant further interviews with this station until after the election. I understand perfectly the reason for cancelling Jill Biden's interview, she's not a candidate and there's no reason to subject her to the likely unfair, slanted treatment she'd receive from Barbara West. I'm less sympathetic about cutting the station off altogether, but it's nothing in comparison to the McCain campaign's treatment of members of the press who aren't seen as friendly to the campaign, barring them from the campaign planes and carping incessantly about bias. From their piece on this, and watching the chyron, Fox has manufactured unfounded concerns that an Obama presidency would "regulate the media" and that we should be concerned about an administration that won't answer "tough questions" from the press.

I think that in the direct sense of Fox's statement, we SHOULD be concerned about such an administration. Biden, however, ANSWERED all of her questions, even as he questioned their validity. We should be worried about an administration that has a hidden VP who only appears before friendly crowds and only talks to friendly media. We should worry about an administration that thinks favorable historic facts (military service, POW prison) should be reported, but unfavorable historic facts (poor performance in the academy and the cockpit, cheating on his first wife then dumping her for a tall, blonde beer fortune, supporting Charles Keating, visiting Pinochet with "no preconditions", supporting progressive tax rates as income increases, supporting ACORN) happened a long time ago and should be ignored. We should be concerned about what kind of closed-doors, opaque operation a McCain-Palin administration would run.

UPDATE: For those who just read topics and not comments, my friend Howard pointed me to this blog, where Barbara West is called out as the wife of a GOP political and media consultant. I wonder who might have pointed her to those McCain-Palin talking points?

You can view the video here:

Sunday, October 19, 2008

How much energy can we save with just our brains?

My neighbor is wasteful.

Don't get me wrong, he's a nice guy and all, I'm sure he never even thinks about it. I'm not attacking my neighbor specifically, but this post was brought to mind indirectly by his action (or inaction.) Sunday 19 October 2008 was a gorgeous fall day in North Texas. The low was around 50 degrees, and it didn't get into the upper 70s until the middle of the afternoon. I'd had my AC turned off for over a week at that point.

I open the windows in the evening and let the house cool... closing the windows when the outside temperature begins to exceed the indoor temperature. It hasn't gotten much about 75 degrees inside my house for a week and I haven't spent a dime on heat or AC. By now, you may be starting to wonder what my neighbor has to do with any of this.

Late on Sunday morning it was about 73 degrees. My windows were open and I was pouring a cup of coffee in the kitchen, and I heard my neighbor's AC unit kick on. I started thinking about how much energy and money could be saved if people just stopped for a moment and thought about how they use things. There's certainly an opportunity in many cases to spend lots of money and save energy, but how much energy is wasted just by people who just don't pay attention to how much energy they use? Running hot water longer than you need it, leaving the windows closed and the AC on even when it's cooler outside than in, leaving the TV on when you're not paying attention to it, etc.

Next thing you know I'll be subscribing to Mother Earth News.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Michele Bachmann: The Second Coming of Joseph McCarthy

On "Hardball" on 17 October, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R, MN) as much as stated that she'd like to usher in a new McCarthy era. She'll probably want to call it Bachmannism, of course, because her version will be different in that it will go after every Democratic member of Congress. Don't feel left out, I'm sure she'll happily proceed to investigate every other American citizen who's not a card-carrying Republican willing to pray to Ronald Reagan and follow Karl Rove to the gates of Hell, it'll just take her a while to get around to it. She has to get her secret investigators, hit squads and anonymous-call-takers ready, so she's starting small by simply accusing Democrats in the House and Senate of being anti-American and calling for an investigation of them.

Write your Representative and tell them it's not acceptable for a member of Congress to accuse every member representing the opposing party as of being "unamerican." Tell them we want government, not theater. It's easy, you can do it via a web form or email, and here's where to find yours. I've written mine, and my Senators for good measure. We absolutely cannot afford the venal, dishonest, theatrical distraction of a modern-day "Red Scare" while there are real problems to be solved in this country. If there's any justice, Ms. Bachmann will find herself unemployed after 4 November anyway, but this kind of vile, virulent statement cannot be ignored.

While I think it's more effective to contact your representative directly, you can also join in the chorus of those calling for censure of Bachmann here.

You can view the interview here:

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Joe the Plumber is a Republican

John McCain's favorite topic in the final presidential debate on 15 October was Joe the Plumber (Joe Wurzelbacher of Holland, OH.) He mentioned Joe the Plumber several times during the debate, often when Senator Obama was speaking. Perhaps it was suggested to Senator McCain as something that might help him keep from grimacing or blinking?

McCain said again and again that poor old Joe wasn't going to be able to buy the business he's been working for (for 10-12 hours/day, mind you!) because evil Obama was going to take away all Joe's money by taxing him if he buys this business. Joe himself was interviewed on the phone by Katie Couric and didn't say that Obama threatened to prevent him from buying a business... in fact he said that Obama's tax proposals wouldn't raise his taxes "right now" but he's concerned that it's a "slippery slope" and feels that Obama is sure to decide later on that "$100,000 is too much" and raise taxes at that level.

My first reaction to McCain's harping about Joe the Plumber last night, and "small businesses" in general that are sure to be ruined by increasing the marginal tax rate on income over $250,000 is that TAXES ARE NOT ON GROSS INCOME. That's a dirty little secret that McCain is never going to admit to you, and he's CERTAINLY never going to say a word about the fact that the increased taxes will only be on the marginal amount of income that exceeds $250,000. Perhaps he thinks that people who aren't smart enough to see through Palin's perky folksy facade and recognize that she's just another politician also aren't smart enough to understand big words like "marginal" and understand how taxes work?

So, if Joe the Plumber is able to buy a business that has an adjusted gross (after expenses for materials, mileage, employee wages, etc.) of over $250,000, he can probably afford to pay a higher percentage of the amount over $250k. McCain thinks that this will force Joe to fire all his employees... never mind the fact that those employees' wages reduce the income of the business, and CERTAINLY don't talk about the fact that Obama's plan offers tax credits for job creation and for small businesses that provide healthcare to their employees.

Couric's interview of Joe the Plumber really left me thinking that Joe's a Republican and always was. It's okay that he's skeptical about a tax increase that doesn't affect him and may never affect him, but it's disingenuous for McCain to portray this as something that made up Joe's mind... never mind that it's probably McCain's version of Bush 41's "Read my lips" because if he somehow managed to get elected, McCain would either end up raising taxes or doing even more harm to our economy along the same lines as W with his "cut taxes, borrow more" policies.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Slippery Sarah Perky Palin only talks to friendly media

So, it's been quite a while now since the McCain campaign gave up on the idea of "Straight Talk" winning them the election and have devolved into innuendo and outright lies to try to divert attention from the disastrous financial conditions in our country and our world today. They know that the Republican administration with a Republican rubber-stamp congress at an absolute minimum failed to avert this crisis, even if there's a grain of truth to the right-wing bleating that Clinton "started it all." (I, for one, think Phil Gramm started it all while he was busy securing his lucrative post-senatorial position with UBS by ruining any hope of banking regulation in the US.)

In between her refrain of "Deny, Deny, Deny" about any possible ethical questions (and her persistently ignoring any other questions except those asked by Fox Noise and other far-right media outlets,) while speaking to arch-conservative radio host Laura Ingraham Sarah Palin has the gall to suggest that Barack Obama would diminish the prestige of the Presidency. Does this woman think that W has left any prestige in the presidency at all, with Cheney pulling the strings in the dark behind him and his befuddled response to events in the big ol' world outside our borders (that world he never bothered to see before he took office?) Does she think that an educated, intelligent president who seeks to rebuild our relationships with our allies and fix through diplomacy what W has broken through belligerence could possibly do more damage to the "prestige" of the Presidency than electing another narrow-minded neocon hick to the Executive Branch who's never given a thought to the wider world would?

Let her take her "Mean Girls" act back on the road... preferably the Alaska Highway. We don't need more shallow, ignorant neocon nitwits in DC.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Sean Hannity emasculated by a funny old Brit

Keith Olbermann read a poem written by one of the funniest men to live in our time... perhaps in any time. One of the reasons John Cleese is hilariously funny is that he's very intelligent, which supports his unique sense of humor brilliantly. Apparently Mr. Cleese's opinion of Sean Hannity is quite similar to mine.

An Ode to Sean Hannity
By John Cleese
Aping urbanity, oozing with vanity
Plump as a manatee, faking humanity
Journalistic calamity, intellectual inanity
Fox Noise insanity, you’re a profanity

Friday, October 03, 2008

Lies, damned lies, and Fox news

So, if anyone had any lingering doubts that Fox news is a neocon-loving organization, here's something for you to think about. They are stretching to help the Republicans out by abandoning suggestion and proceeding to outright lies, attempting to paint Obama as somehow "deeply connected" to ACORN. ACORN has been charged with voter-registration irregularities in several instances, so of course the Fox team wants to slyly suggest that has something to do with Obama, perhaps writing their stories in advance to broadcast after an Obama win, hoping to stir up Florida II.

What's the connection they pretend is so "deep" they they feel justifies accusing Obama of being allied with "voter fraud?" Obama represented a coalition of groups that sued Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar in order to get him to implement the federal "Motor-Voter" voting access law. As it happens, ACORN also supported the lawsuit and joined this coalition, along with the US Department of Justice. Of course at the time, it was the Clinton administration's DoJ, so Fox would probably be happy enough to accuse the DoJ of supporting ACORN as welll. Why not, it would have as much basis in fact.

NOTE: I realize my gearhead/geeky blog has turned sharply political of late. It's not that my opinions are newly formed, it's just that there's no shortage of political blogs and normally I haven't found it worth fuming about, but 'tis the season.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Palin says "Nuclear weapons would be the be-all, end-all for too many people..."

I know it's not what she meant (at least I HOPE it's not what she meant!) but Sarah Palin said that "Nuclear weapons would be the be-all, end-all for too many people..." when asked if there was a time when it might be appropriate to use nuclear weapons.

I hope she meant that the use of nuclear weapons would be disastrous and would end the lives of too many people, but it's definitely not what she said.

One must wonder how many other things she says that she really doesn't mean.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Ann Coulter is a filthy NeoCon whore

There. I said it. Nearly everyone WANTS to say it, but people for whom journalism and/or blogging is a career may be afraid to do so, because it's the sort of thing people get mad about. Of course, no honest THINKING person would get too upset about it, because they heard the wench lie, or read her lies, or felt nauseous while watching her lie on television.

Occasionally what she says is only slightly untrue, but couched in the most suggestive of phrasing to blame anyone who's not an Aryan neocon whore for all the ills in the world. At other times, such as her ridiculous assertions that the current financial crisis... the one happening at the end of 2008, after 7.5 years of the Bush administration and more than a decade of Republican control of Congress prior to 2006, the current financial crisis is of course 100% the fault of the Democrats.

The reason that I call her a filthy whore in the title and repeatedly in the text (besides the fact that it's a general truism) is that she suggests in the title of her "article" that good Aryan neocons were denied mortgages because banks were required to give them to minority borrowers. Where has this dumb bitch BEEN for the past decade? Anyone with a pulse could get a loan, it was bad business. Lots of dumb Republican crackers and crack-whores got zero-down loans on houses that probably weren't worth 75% of the loan amount. It was a cash-drunk feeding frenzy and it was lauded and supported by Republicans in the administration as well as Democrats in the house, and most of all by corrupt mortgage brokers everywhere. (I'm sure her next "article" will offer "proof" that every mortgage broker who sold a LiarLoan was a Democrat... she keeps all their party affiliations in their dossiers, you know.)

I am tired of her free pass. Are people afraid to mention her and give her more notice? Reading her trash makes me feel ill sometimes... there's only so much ignorant childish fiction passed off as news one can take, and Fox has exceeded my quota for the next decade... Coulter gets no free pass from me.

Sarah Palin has never seen Russia

Gary Tuchman of CNN has done something old-fashioned. He went to Little Diomede, the island in Alaska from which you can see Russia.

When he went there, he found a community of about 150 people who see Russian territory every day (the island of Big Diomede 2 miles away, itself 25 miles from the Siberian mainland.) While they see Russia on a daily basis, they've never seen a governor of Alaska on their island. Never.

I'm sure Palin's statements about "seeing Russia" across the "narrow maritime border" will be characterized as a figure of speech by the McCain spin doctors, but it smells like another lie to me.