Losing the Best Reasons to Watch TV
by Deacon Blues
My television viewing habits are already quite limited to begin with. I hate reality TV shows and avoid them, and I only watch certain news programs on broadcast and cable TV, staying away from the propganda seen on Fox "News". And my type of television dramas aren't the flashy or trendy ones, but the ones that do stories and characters well, even if they are considered boring by others. And I greatly appreciate comedy along the lines of John Oliver, John Stewart, and especially David Letterman.
So you can imagine the disappointment I feel over the last week with "Mad Men" and "The Late Show with David Letterman" ending their runs, and with the clock ticking on Stewart's "The Daily Show". Watching the broadcast networks put forward the same steady stream of formulaic dramas and sitcoms, with the usual dose of mind-numbing "reality TV" shows only reinforces the feeling that television has made a conscious decision to leave behind a certain but large demographic: people with brains and taste.
I admit to being a TV snob, and I know I'm not the demo that the major networks target. I'm just a 50-somthing guy with some intelligence, some taste, and disposable income looking for entertainment that doesn't treat me like the lowest common denominator. I look for flawed, cynical, but smart people in my comedy and not mindless clowns, and I look for real, flawed humans in my drama and not the sensational and overdone characters. And at a time when our news is corporate and right wing, I lean towards comedy that does a better job at revealing truth than the "news" shows themselves.
So it is a bitter pill to swallow that Letterman leaves the air tonight, and Stewart later this summer, leaving us with an "aim to please" two Jimmy's and an unknown Colbert and Noah, especially on the verge of a presidential campaign that cries out for cynical but well-informed comedy. Perhaps the current generation will uphold the standards set by Letterman and Stewart, but I fear it is just as likely they won't. In any case, I think we are all the worse for these departures from our television screens, and I only hope I am very wrong about that.
Thanks Dave for not being warm and fuzzy all these years.
Is Jeb Up To It?
by Deacon Blues
Jeb Bush backtracked today from his statement earlier this week, wherein he said that knowing what he knows now, if president himself he still would have invaded Iraq, just as his brother did in 2003.
Republican Jeb Bush reversed field on Thursday after a week of criticism and said that based on information known now, he would not have launched the Iraq war carried out by his brother, former President George W. Bush.
Jeb's flip-flop baffled Rick Santorum, after Bush's original statement raised eyebrows amongst other GOP contenders. Clearly, Jeb isn't ready for prime time. But if the GOP thought John Kerry's alleged "I was for the war before I was against it" stance disqualified him for the presidency in 2004, then how is Jeb qualified in 2016?
Obama Loses Senate Democrats on TPP
by Deacon Blues
This is what happens when a 7th-year president spends too much time pleasing the opposition and Wall Street in getting a trade bill rammed through the Senate without full disclosure of what the hell is in it, and then commits the cardinal sin of slamming an expert and conscience of his own party for opposing him. Senate Democrats stopped the TPP from proceeding today, forcing Mitch McConnell to cut some deals to get it out of the Senate and on to a House that already wasn't sold on it.
Obama should have known better, and his shots at Warren were sexist and dismissive of someone who knows this stuff better than he does. And for those observers who took shots at Hillary for not stepping into the middle of this, get real. The woman isn't stupid, and there's no reason for her to bail him out of his mess after he mouthed off against Warren.
Don't kid yourself, there are plenty of economic populists right now in both parties, and Hillary gains nothing from backing up Obama and the Wall Street wing of the GOP right now. It's far easier and more beneficial for her to simply say "we have to start doing things for Main Street instead of Wall Street", than it is for her to stand with Obama and Wall Street against Warren, Joe Stiglitz, and a growing part of the 2016 electorate.
The Shrinking Jeb
by Deacon Blues
The only reason for independents and crossover Democrats to vote for Jeb Bush was his (alleged) appeal as the “smarter Bush”, the adult who wouldn’t do his brother’s stupid stuff. Well after yesterday, that reason is now gone, no matter how much Jeb tries to walk it back today.
When Laura Ingraham can see right through your flaws and thinks you’re stupid, she’s usually attacking Democrats. Not now with Jeb, who made the asinine statement that he like his brother would still invade Iraq today even with what we know now about WMD’s and what the toppling of Saddam has done to world security.
All in all, despite assertions from GOP strategists that this year’s crowd of Republican contenders is high quality, I disagree. Where is the rock star among them who actually has solutions and can effectively reach out to Democrats and independents? It certainly isn’t Chris Christie, who this morning spelled out his appeal to the middle class: cutting taxes (what else?). Did Christie actually have a solution to raise incomes amongst the middle class? Nope.
Hillary for her part is signaling through others that she may embrace a far more aggressive approach to income inequality and middle class income stagnation than any Republican will offer, or any progressive critic expected. And if that means distancing herself from her husband’s actions that harmed the middle class, no one should be surprised if she does this.
We Need A Twelfth Fleet
by Deacon Blues
I’ve said this before, and I will continue saying it, in the hope that Hillary Clinton or a GOP president act upon it: we need to re-commission the Navy’s Twelfth Fleet in the Eastern Mediterranean. I suggested such a thing months ago in the immediate aftermath of Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea and backdoor attempt to turn Ukraine into a client state, and it’s even more necessary now that Russia and China are engaging in joint naval maneuvers in the region.
Of course, neither country has any coastline in the Mediterranean.
Not only would a Twelfth Fleet in the Eastern Mediterranean send the right message to allies and foes in the region, but it would also reassure major Sunni states and allies that America intends to maintain the security umbrella in the aftermath of any new thawing with Iran, even if that means a missile defense system and naval response capability.
Regardless of whether or not the Iranian nuclear deal outline becomes a formal agreement, the next American president will need to emphasize that our foreign policy is built on support for Israel and moderate Arab/Islamic states, and preventing aggression from any disruptive movement or state, whether it be Russia, Iran, or any bad actor. Israel and those moderate states would all welcome a stabilizing American military presence in the region as long as such a presence doesn't insert itself into their affairs and as long as responsible states commit to existing with each other. That should be a simple policy that Hillary could delineate easily, and a renewed Twelfth Fleet is a cornerstone of such a policy.
Jerry Brown Should "Shut Up" On Water
by Deacon Blues
At a meeting of California water agency officials in Sacramento Wednesday, Governor Jerry Brown said that critics of his multi-billion dollar water tunnels plan should “shut up” until they fully understand the project.
Gov. Jerry Brown said Wednesday that critics of his twin tunnels water diversion plan should "shut up" until they spend more time studying it, defending the project and strict water conservation rules as California grapples with a fourth year of drought.
Brown’s remarks prompted laughter at a meeting of water agency officials in Sacramento, and his office said he made them in jest.
But they came amid heightened tension over Brown’s controversial tunnels plan and new statewide conservation requirements.
My simple response to the governor is that he should shut up until he proposes something that actually deals with the real problem, which is that California has a long-term water supply problem that cannot be fixed through conservation and more water transfers to Southern California.
Brown has had five years now to see how the changing climate in California has significantly affected snowfall and snowpack supplies in the Sierra Nevada. It should have been clear to any college graduate during that time that the State is no longer consistently getting enough of a snowpack to create the necessary supplies needed to fill reservoirs and the downstream water delivery system. Yet all we have seen from this governor for big infrastructure projects are the delta tunnels and the bullet train. And the only action at the state level to date took place only recently, when the State Water Resources Control Board waited until this year to finally issue desalination plant guidelines for local districts to follow.
Yet for the last five years, local districts have been left to themselves to develop their own solutions and deal with the financing and litigation challenges that come from a state government that is AWOL on the issue.
The only way for California to deal with the water shortage long-term is to deal with supply (creating more drinkable water) as well as demand (conservation). And the only way to do that is for the State to be working closely with local water agencies on a statewide plan to create more water through water desalination and reclamation plants partially financed through the State’s bond financing capabilities.
In the last five years, it is simply a dereliction of duty on the Governor’s part that there isn’t already a 20-year plan to create more water, much in the same way his father Pat Brown helped push through the California State Water Project decades ago. But then again, it's also a dereliction of duty for this governor to allow fracking to go ahead unimpeded without any regard for the enviroment or water aquifers.
I'm sure the governor was speaking partly or mostly in jest on Wednesday. But it only points out that five years into his second run through the statehouse, he lacks the vision and capacity that his father had.
Hillary Kneecaps GOP On Immigration
by Deacon Blues
Why was Hillary’s call for immigration reform and a path to citizenship yesterday in Nevada so smart? Let us count the ways:
1. She begs her GOP rivals to attack her position and lose Latino electoral support in the process.
2. She consolidates Latino support for herself and energizes millions of new supporters.
3. She blocks the GOP from gaining swing states like Nevada, Colorado, and Florida.
4. She shows signs of running against a do-nothing GOP Congress.
Oh, and I did I mention that the public supports her position by more than 2-1?
I Need Liberal Policy, Not Apology from Clinton
I eagerly read Mathew Pulver’s work at Salon this morning on how Secretary Clinton can ameliorate the political damage inflicted by “neoliberal” free trade agreements of her husband and President Obama, for I’ve been in a bad quandary on how to approach the candidacy of Secretary Clinton.
Anchored to realism, cold calculation reveals that of course she will be the Democratic Party nominee. Naturally she will be our first female Presidential candidate, which means political web voices I trust and admire the most are heavily invested in her success, rightly so. It’s absolutely vital on multiple levels Secretary Clinton become President for the country and I am never, ever hurting my political people on the web, so I have been restlessly quiet, very eager as always to fight for the little people but stuck, worried that it would hurt Clinton, my people and even my core principles if I spoke out.Continue reading "I Need Liberal Policy, Not Apology from Clinton"
The Double Standard Starts Already
by Deacon Blues
I’ve already said my piece about the anti-Hillary bias amongst the various MSNBC prime time hosts, reflecting their collective desire for Saint Elizabeth Warren to enter the race and save the party from another four years of Clintonism (thereby ensuring a GOP president in 2017). But even good reporters and news outlets like the Guardian are not immune from questionable statements about Hillary’s alleged taint. This is from Ed Pilkington’s piece in today’s Guardian:
But with Bill refusing doggedly to give up his speaker engagements – "I gotta pay our bills" – and foreign corporations and super-rich individuals still able to donate to the family charity, it looks like this controversy may run and run. Politically, too, Hillary Clinton is confronted with a potential credibility gap between her appeal to ordinary Americans on the presidential campaign trail and the millions that continue to flow to the foundation.
"Is she going to be in touch with the needs and dreams of poor America when her spouse and daughter is working with the world’s global elite?" said Dave Levinthal of the anti-corruption investigative organization, the Center for Public Integrity. "That’s a question she will have to answer, every step of the way."
I realize that many in the media and political classes have no sympathy for the Clintons, nor do I expect them to. I also stipulate that many of the decisions that Bill makes about securing speaking fees and donations for the Clinton Foundation, and Hillary’s obliviousness towards creating an ethical firewall from those decisions while at Foggy Bottom are simply unexplainable. But in the rush to leap from Peter Schweiker’s right wing attack manifesto in "Clinton Cash" towards a broader attack on the Clintons, members of the media are simply sophomoric in their analyses.
First, my question to Mr. Levinthal of the Center for Public Integrity is this: “Have you asked the same question of any of the GOP candidates who are already and clearly in the back pockets of the right wing oligarchs like the Koch brothers? Will Scott Walker and any of the other GOP candidates be in touch with the needs and dreams of poor America when they are dependent upon right wing billionaires for their political viability?”
Second, for Mr. Pilkington, what "credibility gap" exists for Hillary in appealing to ordinary Americans while she and Bill shake down billionaires for foundation contributions? Does he really think that having the Saudis and the wealthy elite giving to a separate non-campaign fund like the Clinton Global Initiative renders Hillary incapable of placing American voters ahead of the foreigners who wrote checks to the CGI? It’s different with the Koch’s and the right wing oligarchs, because they are in-country and already own our domestic political system and the GOP. But do these media critics really think Hillary will toss aside a second term and millions of Americans just to please the Saudis and other foreign donors? Really?
When I see the media and the "good government" types like Mr. Levinthal of the Center for Public Integrity hold the GOP candidates to the same critical standard demanded of Hillary, then maybe I'll give a damn about what they think.
Ignoring What Matters
by Deacon Blues
Another poll, and another night of missing the point at MSNBC. The anti-Hillary gang at MSNBC, amongst them Matthews and his guest Ron Fournier on “Hardball”, and Lawrence O’Donnell on “The Last Word” pointed to the results of the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, and specifically Hillary’s declining poll numbers on trustworthiness. And yet, did any of these shows and pundits point out that the same poll shows Hillary still beating all potential GOP challengers, despite these declining trustworthiness numbers?
Of course not. It's just another example of the Beltway media doing whatever it can to reinforce their own narrative that Hillary is a dishonest bitch, and please pay no attention to the fact that the electorate may not care about that by November 2016.