Friday, October 29, 2010

Jon Stewart vs. Obama

This column from the Washington Post pretty much sums up the commentary about Pres. Obama's appearance on the "Daily Show." It was Stewart versus Obama, and Stewart won. He made the President look like an ignorant fool, although the Republicans and unhappy Democrats will say that Obama made himself look like a fool.

But the problem is that Obama is not a fool. He is an intelligent guy trying to run an unruly country that is in trouble. Its business model for the last 50 years no longer works, and nobody is sure if there is a new model that can support the American lifestyle. The Republicans have a model: "Give us your money!" They want no taxes, no restraint on business. Unbridled greed is the Republican model. And for some reason many Americans like that.

Obama is trying to defend the middle and lower classes, but it appears to be a losing battle. By declaring war on Obama, Jon Stewart seems to have forgotten that Bill and Hillary failed to get any health care reform. The Republicans don't care about some compromise that might be good for America; they just want to win power. We don't have a pubic option in the health care bill because the Republicans kept it out, not because Obama didn't want it.

While Obama did not serve in the military, he did serve his community. The Republicans ridiculed his being a community organizer, but it meant that he cared about other people. When he graduated from the Ivy League, he could have gone the big money route, a Wall Street law firm, or corporate law, but he didn't. To some extent he remembered his roots. Republican roots are in the board room and the country club. The Republican establishment has no concept of serving the greater good, although many Republicans do, many of them moderates, or single issue voters on gay issues, or abortion or immigration, not focused on the overarching Republican agenda of making the rich richer. It's sad that Jon Stewart advanced this Republican agenda.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Juan Williams and NPR Fund Raising

NPR has no doubt gotten a deluge of negative comments about firing Juan Williams, but I'm guessing from the tone discussed in this Washington Post article that much of it was ginned up by Fox News and other conservative media outlets. Those outraged people were not likely to be donors to NPR in any case, and probably don't even listen to it. They get their marching orders from Fox, Rush and Sarah Palin.

The cutoff of Federal funding may be more problematic, but it was likely to come anyway if the Republicans win majorities in November. If they are willing to cut funding for Social Security, they are certainly willing to cut funding for NPR, Juan or no Juan.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Juan Williams Fired by NPR

As if to show that political correctness can be evenhanded, Juan Williams was fired by NPR for comments about Muslims after Rick Sanchez was fired by CNN for comments about Jews. To me, everybody is to blame. First there's too much "talk" on cable TV and talk radio. People say outrageous things to fill up time, or they say things that they haven't thought through because they have to keep talking off the top of their heads. On the other hand, people should be able to say things that are reasonable, whether or not they are absolutely true, like "Jews control the media," or "Muslims in full headgear on a plane make me nervous." On the other hand, these pundits get paid to talk on TV, and the good ones say interesting things without crossing some invisible political correctness border.

I happen to agree with both Juan Williams and Rick Sanchez; so, I'm sad to see them punished for speaking their minds. I'm sure that NPR has been looking for an excuse to fire Juan Williams for being a Fox News commentator, and I frankly think that is somewhat justified, because Fox has a definite political point of view that Juan Williams helps sell on the air, even if he sometimes differs with the more doctrinaire Fox commentators. He has been trading on his NPR affiliation to give credance to Fox's right wing commentary.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Rick Sanchez and the Jewish Media

I’m unhappy about the flap over CNN anchor Rick Sanchez. In case you missed it, he was fired for saying during a radio interview that Jews control the media, or something like that. I was particularly upset with the hatred dumped on him by Howard Kurtz, who was the media critic for the Washington Post, and who has a show, "Reliable Sources," about the media on CNN. He is Jewish, and he had some other Jewish media types join him as commentators to dump on Sanchez. It’s ironic, because Sanchez is Cuban, and I’m not crazy about Cubans either. Sanchez basically said (not really quoting; here's the real transcript): "Jews are not an oppressed minority (look at how they control the media), but I’m Cuban; I’m an oppressed minority." I’d say Cubans are not an oppressed minority either if you look at how influential they are in Florida. Many years ago, there was an article in The Economist about how Jeb Bush got his start in Florida from some corrupt Cuban businessman, a big contractor, I think. He enabled Jeb to make his first million and go into politics.

The problem for me is that I think what Sanchez said is true, but it’s politically incorrect to say it. If it’s not true, they should refute it, not lambaste him for being anti-Semitic. It’s a difficult issue. The fact that Jews control the media (to a large extent) may not be bad. They are very smart. (Is that racist to say?) Jews own the New York Times, which I love, and the Washington Post. Some of my favorite columnists are Jews – David Brooks, Tom Friedman and Andrew Ross Sorkin, who write for the Times. My main complaint is that most Jews cannot be unbiased about Israel, although I think Friedman is as unbiased as anybody (Jew or gentile) can be. I think the 9/11 attacks were at least in part a response (by crazy fanatics) to US support for Israel. You can argue that the fanatical Muslim reaction should not stop us from supporting Israel, but that issue never gets discussed rationally, because it’s politically incorrect. If you bring it up, you’re anti-Semitic. Is the price of oil double what it would be if we didn’t treat Israel like a 51st state? We’ll never know.

Looking for info on the Sanchez saga, I found this NPR blog, which I think defends Sanchez and criticizes Stewart better than I can. Plus the writer says she is Jewish; so, I guess that's why she's smarter than I am. I really like Jon Stewart, and I'm saddened that his episode has taken some of the gloss off of my admiration for him.

I can't find the Economist article I remember about Jeb Bush; I don't think the on-line archives go back far enough. This article from the St. Petersburg Times, however, is right on point. There are allusions to some questionable business dealings with Cubans in Wikipedia. Here and here are copies of a 1992 article from Mother Jones about Jeb's questionable dealings with the Cuban community.

I guess the lesson of this is that every ethnic group builds shady, mafia-like networks -- WASPs (the Bush family), Jews (finance and the media), Cubans (Florida real estate and CIA shenanigans), and of course the original mafia, the Italians.