The Failure Of Republican Policy On Iraq

Iraq is now playing out as opponents of the war warned from the start. Predictably, the right wing blames Obama for Republican mistakes, when Obama understood from the start that going into Iraq was a mistake. I don’t understand why the media keeps playing clips of John McCain attacking Obama over the events in Iraq. First of all, shouldn’t the man who was wrong every step of the way keep quiet now that his policies have been shown to be a disaster? Secondly, even if McCain does keep talking, why should any news organization consider this newsworthy?

Paul Waldman explained why we should pay no attention to McCain and the others who were wrong from the start:

We have now reached the rather ironic situation in Iraq where we find ourselves allied with Iran in an effort to save the corrupt and thuggish government of Nouri al-Maliki, while the army we spent eight years training falls apart. I’m not going to pretend to have unique insight into Iraqi politics (I’d suggest reading Marc Lynch, for starters, as a way of getting up to speed on what has led to this point).

But there are few people who understand Iraq less than the Republican politicians and pundits who are being sought out for their comments on the current situation.

As you watch the debate on this issue, you should remind yourself that the most prominent voices being heard are the very ones who brought us the Iraq War in the first place, who promised that everything was simple and the only question was whether we’d be “strong” and “decisive” enough — the same thing they’re saying today. They’re the ones who swore that Saddam was in cahoots with Al Qaeda, that he had a terrifying arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, that the war would be quick, easy and cheap, that since Iraq was a largely secular country we wouldn’t have to worry about sectarian conflict, and that democracy would spread throughout the region in short order, bringing peace and prosperity along with it.

We can start with the man on every TV producer and print reporter’s speed dial, John McCain. McCain does provide something important to journalists: whatever the issue of the moment is, he can be counted on to offer angry, bitter criticism of the Obama administration, giving the “balance” every story needs. The fact that he has never demonstrated the slightest bit of understanding of Iraq is no bar at all to being the most quoted person on the topic.

For context, here’s a nice roundup of some of the things McCain said when he was pushing to invade Iraq in the first place. When asked if Iraqis were going to greet us as liberators, he answered, “Absolutely.” He said, “Post-Saddam Hussein Iraq is going to be paid for by the Iraqis” with their oil wealth (the war ended up costing the American taxpayer upwards of $2 trillion). And my favorite: “There is not a history of clashes that are violent between Sunnis and Shias, so I think they can probably get along.”

The conflict between Sunnis and Shiites is the central dynamic of the Iraq conflict, of course. Yet today, the media once again seek out John McCain’s wisdom and insight on Iraq, which is kind of like saying, “Jeez, it looks like we might be lost — we really need to ask Mr. Magoo for directions.”

…We’re facing yet another awful and complex situation in the Middle East where we have a limited set of options, and none of them are good. But whenever you hear anyone say that the answer is simple and that being “strong” is the key — as one conservative after another will no doubt be saying in the coming days — don’t forget what happened the last time the country listened to them.

Keith Olbermann blasted McCain’s views on Iraq in a Special Comment back in 2008.

While the Republicans deserve the blame for the disastrous foreign policy moves which brought us to this position, there were unfortunately also  Democrats who supported their actions. Now that events in Iraq have completely disintegrated, why is anyone still taking Hillary Clinton seriously as a presidential candidate? Shouldn’t Democrats nominate someone who got the big issues right? Clinton rationalizes her mistake by saying she was deceived by the Republicans, but there was ample evidence at the time that they were lying. There was never any connection between Saddam and the 9/11 attack. The weapons inspectors found no evidence of weapons of mass destruction which posed a threat. It was obvious that it might not be difficult to overthrow Saddam, but creating a stable alternative would be far harder getting us into a real quagmire. A president has to make the right decision from the start.

Please Share

Keith Olbermann Returning To Television

After losing jobs at MSNBC and Current, Keith Olbermann has a new television job. He will return in October as a studio host for Turner during their coverage of post season baseball. Before developing fame as a political commentator, Olbermann had  been one of the original hosts of ESPN’s Sportscenter and is considered to be knowledgeable about baseball.

Olbermann has had difficulty difficulty getting along with management, regardless of where he is. Fortunately for him, show business is an area where people will continue to take a risk on celebrities like him if they think he can draw in viewers.

Please Share

Eliot Spitzer To Replace Keith Olbermann at Current TV

It hardly comes as a surprise that Current TV has fired Keith Olbermann. Olbermann has a long history of difficulty with employers, and there had been reports of conflicts this winter with regards to anchoring primary coverage. Current has hired Eliot Spitzer to start tomorrow, denying Olbermann a chance to say sign off on air. Spitzer’s show on CNN only lasted nine months.

Current has issued the following statement:

To the Viewers of Current:

We created Current to give voice to those Americans who refuse to rely on corporate-controlled media and are seeking an authentic progressive outlet.  We are more committed to those goals today than ever before.

Current was also founded on the values of respect, openness, collegiality, and loyalty to our viewers. Unfortunately these values are no longer reflected in our relationship with Keith Olbermann and we have ended it.

We are moving ahead by honoring Current’s values. Current has a fundamental obligation to deliver news programming with a progressive perspective that our viewers can count on being available daily — especially now, during the presidential election campaign. Current exists because our audience desires the kind of perspective, insight and commentary that is not easily found elsewhere in this time of big media consolidation.

As we move toward this summer’s political conventions and the general election in the fall, Current is making significant new additions to our broadcasts. We have just debuted six hours of new programming each weekday with Bill Press (“Full Court Press” at 6 am ET/3 am PT) and Stephanie Miller (“Talking Liberally” at 9 am ET/6 pm PT).

We’re very excited to announce that beginning tonight, former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer will host “Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer,” at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT. Eliot is a veteran public servant and an astute observer of the issues of the day. He has important opinions and insights and he relishes the kind of constructive discourse that our viewers will appreciate this election year. We are confident that our viewers will be able to count on Gov. Spitzer to deliver critical information on a daily basis.

All of these additions to Current’s lineup are aimed at achieving one simple goal — the goal that has always been central to Current’s mission: To tell stories no one else will tell, to speak truth to power, and to influence the conversation of democracy on behalf of those whose voices are too seldom heard. We, and everyone at Current, want to thank our viewers for their continued steadfast support.

Sincerely,

Al Gore & Joel Hyatt
Current’s Founders

Olbermann has been responding on Twitter, including the longer version via TwitLonger:

I’d like to apologize to my viewers and my staff for the failure of Current TV.
Editorially, Countdown had never been better. But for more than a year I have been imploring Al Gore and Joel Hyatt to resolve our issues internally, while I’ve been not publicizing my complaints, and keeping the show alive for the sake of its loyal viewers and even more loyal staff. Nevertheless, Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt, instead of abiding by their promises and obligations and investing in a quality news program, finally thought it was more economical to try to get out of my contract.
It goes almost without saying that the claims against me implied in Current’s statement are untrue and will be proved so in the legal actions I will be filing against them presently. To understand Mr. Hyatt’s “values of respect, openness, collegiality and loyalty,” I encourage you to read of a previous occasion Mr. Hyatt found himself in court for having unjustly fired an employee. That employee’s name was Clarence B. Cain. http://nyti.ms/HueZsa
In due course, the truth of the ethics of Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt will come out. For now, it is important only to again acknowledge that joining them was a sincere and well-intentioned gesture on my part, but in retrospect a foolish one. That lack of judgment is mine and mine alone, and I apologize again for it.

Media Decoder pointed out the difference between Olbermann’s audience at Current as compared to MSNBC:

In his forty weeks on Current TV, Mr. Olbermann had an average of 177,000 viewers at 8 p.m., down from the roughly one million that he had each night on MSNBC. Just 57,000 of those viewers on any given night were between the ages of 25 and 54, the coveted advertising demographic for cable news. Still, Mr. Olbermann ranked as the highest-rated program on Current, as Mr. Hyatt acknowledged earlier this month.

 

Please Share

MSNBC Renews Contract With Rachel Maddow

MSNBC didn’t want to keep Keith Olbermann around, but they have a far better opinion of Rachel Maddow. MSNBC has extended her contract in a multi-year deal.

Keith Olbermann was responsible for Maddow getting her show at MSNBC. His talk of desiring to hire her to join him at Current might have led to her getting a better deal to remain at MSNBC.

Please Share

Keith Olbermann: Top Ten Reasons to Watch the New “Countdown with Keith Olbermann”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6IFcPkIetw

Keith Olbermann: Top Ten Reasons to Watch the New “Countdown with Keith Olbermann

(From Keith Olbermann’s appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman)

10. You’ll want to treat yourself to a larger television to accommodate my giant head.
9. Now that Oprah’s gone, I want to be your new best girlfriend.
8. It’s the only show on television that’s not a damn singing contest.
7. Tomorrow Hugo Chavez stops by to make his famous Jalapeno Wowzers.
6. We are neither fair, nor balanced.
5. Special news commentary from my hand puppet, Topo Gigio.
4. What else are you going to do with your time, read?
3. I just hired Paul Shaffer as my musical director — I’m sorry, Dave.
2. Better watch now because things could go wrong in a hurry.
1. Some lucky viewer gets tweets of my penis.

Please Share

Keith Olbermann Returning In June

Keith Olbermann’s show on Current TV will begin on June 20. The show will be called Countdown with Keith Olbermann since (as he posted on his blog Fok News Channel) “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The official announcement from Current TV is under the fold.

At present not very many people watch Current TV, even considering the relatively low numbers who watch cable news. The same was said of MSNBC when Olbermann started there, and it is possible that a high profile show such as Countdown can make Current TV more competitive with other cable networks.

At present my cable system doesn’t even carry Current TV. At least I’ll catch the top moments on You Tube (unless Current TV also posts them). In reality, that is the primary way in which I caught Olbermann when he was at MSNBC.

(more…)

Please Share
Posted in News Media. Tags: . 5 Comments »

Glenn Beck To End Daily Television Show

Glenn Beck has announced plans to transition off his show on Fox. The parting does appear, at least on the surface,  to be more amicable than the separation of Keith Olbermann from MSNBC. There is no word as to whether Beck plans to voluntarily seek in-patient psychiatric care after leaving Fox. More seriously, there is no acknowledgment of his declining ratings or the number of advertisers who have dropped his show due to not wanting to be associated with the views he promotes.There has been speculation he wants to start his own network but it is questionable how successful this will be. Beck’s brand of craziness will attract a certain number of viewers, but how many reputable companies will want to be associated with him?

Following is the the press release. Details in the release, like everything else coming from either Fox or Beck, needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

FOX NEWS AND MERCURY RADIO ARTS ANNOUNCE NEW AGREEMENT
(New York, NY)  Fox News and Mercury Radio Arts, Glenn Beck’s production company, are proud to announce that they will work together to develop and produce a variety of television projects for air on the Fox News Channel as well as content for other platforms including Fox News’ digital properties. Glenn intends to transition off of his daily program, the third highest rated in all of cable news, later this year.

Roger Ailes, Chairman and CEO of Fox News said, “Glenn Beck is a powerful communicator, a creative entrepreneur and a true success by anybody’s standards.  I look forward to continuing to work with him. ”

Glenn Beck said: “I truly believe that America owes a lot to Roger Ailes and Fox News. I cannot repay Roger for the lessons I’ve learned and will continue to learn from him and I look forward to starting this new phase of our partnership.”

Joel Cheatwood, SVP/Development at Fox News, will be joining Mercury Radio Arts effective April 24, 2011. Part of his role as EVP will be to manage the partnership and serve as a liaison with the Fox News Channel.

Roger Ailes said:  “Joel is a good friend and one of the most talented and creative executives in the business. Over the past four years I have consistently valued his input and advice and that will not stop as we work with him in his new role.”

“Glenn Beck” is consistently the third highest rated program on cable news.

For the 27 months that “Glenn Beck” has aired on Fox News, the program has averaged more than 2.2 million total viewers and 563,000 viewers 25-54 years old, numbers normally associated with shows airing in primetime, not at 5pm. “Glenn Beck” has dominated all of its cable news competitors since launch.

Please Share

Keith Olbermann Announces Move To Current TV

Yesterday’s report that Keith Olbermann is going to Current TV has been verified:

Keith Olbermann announced on Tuesday that he will host a one-hour, nightly primetime show on Current TV starting in late spring. He will also become the “chief news officer” for Current. Olbermann had been without a television home since he abruptly left MSNBC, where he had hosted “Countdown” for eight years, in January.

For Olbermann, his move to Current gives him a chance to wield large influence over a a relatively tiny network. Current averages about 23,000 viewers in primetime every night–a far cry from the million or so viewers who watched “Countdown.”

In a conference call with reporters on Tuesday morning, Olbermann said that “nothing is more vital to a free America than a free media, and nothing is more vital to my concept of a free media than news that is produced independently of corporate interference.” He called Current “the model truth seeking entity” in television, and said that his new show was “the most exciting event in my career.”

Olbermann said the show “will be for all intents and purposes an improved and we hope amplified and stronger version of the show that I just did at my previous network.” He could not, however, provide details of the name and time of the show, saying only, “stay tuned.”

Al Gore, the chairman of Current TV, also spoke on the conference call. He said he was “extremely honored and delighted” that Olbermann was coming to Current. He said Olbermann was a “great fit with Current in every way.”

It will be interesting to see if Olbermann’s presence can improve the ratings at Current TV. The network already has a web site up announcing the show along with information on coverage. Their web sites lists Direct TV, Dish Network, Comcast Digital, Time Warner Digital, and AT&T U-Verse among satellite and cable companies which carry Current TV. A big name like Olbermann might also lead to increased demand and more companies carrying the network.

http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/07/olbermann-said-to-be-going-to-current-tv/
Please Share

Keith Olbermann To Announce Plans Tomorrow

Keith Olbermann is going to announce his plans in a conference call tomorrow at 11:00 am according to TVNewser:

Former MSNBC “Countdown” host Keith Olbermann has been the subject of much speculation across the interwebs, much of it asking where he will be heading next.

Look for the speculation to end tomorrow, as Olbermann is planning to announce his next career move in a conference call slated for 11 AM ET.

According to the email invite: “he and his new partners will make an exciting announcement regarding the next chapter in his remarkable career.”

It certainly doesn’t sound like a traditional TV gig, but who knows.

There’s also a report that “we shouldn’t assume that it won’t involve TV.” If the announcement is of another television show, Olbermann will reportedly have to wait for six months after leaving MSNBC. A similar delay didn’t prevent Conan from coming back with a new show after leaving NBC.

While there has been speculation that Olbermann’s plans might involve the internet, we can safely assume that the plan is not to purchase Huffington Post.

Update: Media Decoder reports Olbermann will be going to Current TV

Neither Mr. Olbermann, his representatives, or executives from Current TV would comment on the move, but they did not deny that the channel, which counts former Vice President Al Gore as one of its founders, will become at least one partner in Mr. Olbermann’s future media plans.

One of the people with knowledge of the plans said Mr. Olbermann would have an equity stake in Current TV. The people insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized by their employers to comment in advance of the official announcement.

On Monday a public relations agency hired by Mr. Olbermann scheduled a Tuesday morning conference call for an announcement about his next job. “He and his new partners will make an exciting announcement regarding the next chapter in his remarkable career,” the agency wrote in an e-mail.

Update II: Olbermann verifies that he is going to Current TV

Please Share

Recap Of Live Blogging Of The State Of The Union Address

Last night, rather than posting on the blog, I utilized Facebook and Twitter to live blog the State of the Union Address.  (I wound up primarily using Facebook due to not having to cut back as much in  a status update as in a tweet, and the discussion was easier to follow). Before the speech I posted this comment to those on the left who were already critical of Obama:

I don’t care about the whining from those on the left who insist on ideological pure thought and speech. Improving competitiveness is a GOOD THING when used to push for spending more on education and to improve our infrastructure.

I started out primarily quoting from Obama (cutting back to Facebook’s allowed length) and later got more into commentary. The full text of the SOTU is available here. I am also proud to say that, contrary to the trend on Twitter, I didn’t resort to a single salmon joke.

“Our free enterprise system is what drives innovation. But because it’s not always profitable for companies to invest in basic research, throughout history our government has provided cutting-edge scientists and inventors with the support that they need.”

“We need to get behind this innovation. And to help pay for it, I’m asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but they’re doing just fine on their own. So instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s.”

“Maintaining our leadership in research and technology is crucial to America’s success. But if we want to win the future if we want innovation to produce jobs in America and not overseas then we also have to win the race to educate our kids.”

“Of course, the education race doesn’t end with a high school diploma. To compete, higher education must be within reach of every American. That’s why we’ve ended the unwarranted taxpayer subsidies that went to banks, and used the savings to make college affordable for millions of students.” -

Does John Boehner realize this is being televised and everyone can see him?

A couple of the responses to this comment:

He can’t be still….he needs his smokes and a Rob Roy….16 hours ago ·

If smug were a source of energy, we could plug Boehner in and power DC for the next year.

Getting back to my own commentary, followed by more quotes: Will Fox attack Obama for playing the race card tonight (Race to the Top)?

“If we take these steps — if we raise expectations for every child, and give them the best possible chance at an education, from the day they’re born until the last job they take — we will reach the goal I set two years ago: by the end of the decade, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.”

“Our infrastructure used to be the best — but our lead has slipped. South Korean homes now have greater internet access than we do. Countries in Europe and Russia invest more in their roads and railways than we do. China is building faster trains and newer airports. Meanwhile, when our own engineers graded our nation’s infrastructure, they gave us a D.”

“We will put more Americans to work repairing crumbling roads and bridges. We will make sure this is fully paid for, attract private investment, and pick projects based on what’s best for the economy, not politicians.”

“Over the last two years, we have begun rebuilding for the 21st century, a project that has meant thousands of good jobs for the hard-hit construction industry. Tonight, I’m proposing that we redouble these efforts.”

“Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80% of Americans access to high-speed rail, which could allow you go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying — without the pat-down.”

“All these investments — in innovation, education, and infrastructure will make America a better place to do business and create jobs”

“When we find rules that put an unnecessary burden on businesses, we will fix them. But I will not hesitate to create or enforce commonsense safeguards to protect the American people. That’s what we’ve done in this country for more than a century. It’s why our food is safe to eat, our water is safe to drink, and our air is safe to breathe.”

“What I’m not willing to do is go back to the days when insurance companies could deny someone coverage because of a pre-existing condition.”

“I’m willing to look at other ideas to bring down costs, including one that Republicans suggested last year: medical malpractice reform to rein in frivolous lawsuits.”

While Republicans greatly exaggerate the amounts, malpractice reform is one way to cut health care costs without limiting anyone’s care.

I’d love it if Obama ends by pointing to the Fox “News” cameras and shouts “You Lie.”

“And if we truly care about our deficit, we simply cannot afford a permanent extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. Before we take money away from our schools, or scholarships away from our students, we should ask millionaires to give up their tax break.”

“And because the American people deserve to know that special interests aren’t larding up legislation with pet projects, both parties in Congress should know this: if a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it.” -

“And as extremists try to inspire acts of violence within our borders, we are responding with the strength of our communities, with respect for the rule of law, and with the conviction that American Muslims are a part of our American family.”

“American Muslims are a part of our American family.” Wait until Glenn Beck splices this to claim that Obama admitted to being part of a Muslim family (from Kenya where he was born).

“We may have differences in policy, but we all believe in the rights enshrined in our Constitution.” –Barack Obama. Unfortunately he is wrong here. For example, large numbers of Republicans deny separation of church and state and claim we were founded as a “Christian nation.”

“We believe, as our founders did, that the pursuit of happiness depends upon individual liberty, and individual liberty requires limited government.” –Paul Ryan in GOP response. If you guys mean this, stop trying to legislate morality and infringe upon reproductive rights.

Next we got into the two Republican responses, preceded by this advice via Twitter:

“To tweet about the President’s speech, use #SOTU. To tweet about Michele Bachmann’s response, use #STFU.” –Andy Borowitz

“We believe, as our founders did, that the pursuit of happiness depends upon individual liberty, and individual liberty requires limited government.” –Paul Ryan in GOP response. If you guys mean this, stop trying to legislate morality and infringe upon reproductive rights.

“,,,patient-centered reforms that actually reduce costs and expand coverage” –Paul Ryan. No, his party’s reforms just increase insurance company profits and screw patients.

Why does Paul Ryan comb his hair just like Eddie Munster?

NBC got rid of Olbermann, and now they are having Joe Scarborough give commentary on the main network.

Why did I waste time with the GOP response when Big Ten Network/Classic College Football is airing Michigan’s victory over Michigan State from 2004?

The Conservative News Network (CNN) is now preparing to air the Tea Party response. I can’t believe people see CNN as a counter to Fox, as opposed to a less extreme and generally more fair and balanced conservative alternative.

When someone disagreed with the characterization of CNN as conservative, I added:  Keep an eye on who CNN hires. They’ve hired far more Republicans in recent years than Democrats. They are conservative but still far to the left of Fox, and they make an attempt at real journalism, so conservatives reject them.

Check out CNN just to see Michele Bachmann’s eyes. She looks possessed (and it is not by the spirit of the Founding Fathers who would tell this idiot to shut the fuck up if they ever encountered her).

Bachmann is wrapping up. Next CNN will have Joe the Plumber on.

CNN  turned to what they describe as the best political team on television. I commented: If you guys are really the “best political team” you will all say that Michele Bachmann is a fracking idiot.

If SNL aired Michele Bachmann exactly as CNN aired her we’d be laughing hysterically, thinking they were mocking Republicans.

When someone commented that “Michelle Bachmann is clearly out of touch with the Mother Ship” I responded: Maybe her Mother Ship was off to the right and is what she was looking at the whole time she was talking.

Those who are saying Obama is moving towards the center are missing the fact that Obama is redefining the center.

And this concludes tonight’s live blogging/tweeting of the State of the Union Address delivered by President Barack Obama and the televised responses of two morons.

Please Share