Bill O’Reilly Wants ALL Of Iraq’s Oil

As if Bill O’Reilly hasn’t given us enough evidence of his stupidity, he is now advocating a plan of his own design that, in effect, calls for Iraq to turn over 100% percent of its oil production to the United States.

“So far, the American taxpayer has forked over more than $500 billion – $500 billion – to give the Iraqi people a chance at freedom. That country’s now pumping 2.5 million barrels of oil a day. So why isn’t Iraq giving the USA an oil price break?”

OK, pay attention Bill. The U.S. consumes about 20 million barrels of oil a day. So if Iraq sent ALL of its oil to the U.S. for FREE, it would only meet about 10% of our needs. So how will a mere price break on just some of their oil impact prices? Obviously it would be insignificant. And that says nothing about the need for Iraq to use the revenue from their own natural resources to rebuild the nation that we destroyed. Without that revenue, who do you think will pay for that reconstruction? American taxpayers, of course, who have already footed the half trillion dollar bill that O’Reilly is so outraged by.

The media, as usual, is failing to provide context to this story. They continue to confuse rebuttal with balance. Juxtaposing facts with lies does not advance the practice of balanced journalism. So when it is factually reported that all of the untapped domestic offshore oil reserves would produce only 18 billion barrels of oil, and that that amount would last for just two and a half years, and wouldn’t even come to market for twenty years, it is irresponsible to counter those facts with the partisan statement of an ignorant president who asserts, without foundation, that new offshore drilling will result in immediate relief from our current gas price dilemma.

Plainly the media has no problem being irresponsible. And O’Reilly is the poster child of The Misinformation Generation.

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John McCain’s Global Warming Plan Makes The Globe Warmer

In what is billed as a major policy speech on energy and the environment, John McCain has introduced a plan that just makes things worse. His proposals only benefit the big oil companies that are amongst his biggest supporters and who are well represented on the staff of his campaign. In the advance text of his speech he says:

“In the face of climate change and other serious challenges, energy conservation is no longer just a moral luxury or a personal virtue,”

I wonder when energy conservation stopped being just a moral luxury or a personal virtue. Last week? Last year? Whenever it was that McCain decided to take up the issue? And is there anyone who has ever referred to in that way other than Vice-President Dick Cheney?

McCain claims that his plan will reduce harmful emissions 50% by 2050. Contrast that with Barack Obama’s plan to cut emissions by 80%. However, a key part of the McCain plan is to increase oil exploration and permit offshore drilling in environmentally sensitive coastal areas. How does increasing oil production lead to emissions reductions? McCain doesn’t say. That doesn’t stop the National Review’s Noel Sheppard from promoting offshore drilling as a campaign issue that he says will help McCain. Sheppard cites a Rasmussen poll that finds that 67% of voters believe that drilling should be allowed off the coasts of California, Florida and other states. There are couple of problems with this poll. First, the actual question asked began with a leading preface:

“In order to reduce the price of gas, should drilling be allowed in offshore oil wells off the coasts of California, Florida, and other states?”

The question intentionally leads the respondent into a supposition that such drilling would reduce gas prices. There is no evidence to that effect offered by the pollster – or by economists. The survey results would have been very different had they prefaced the question by saying, “Despite having no impact on reducing the price of gas…”

Secondly, this is a national poll. It would have been more enlightening to include survey results of just the residents of California and Florida, who will bear the brunt of the policies under discussion. Before assuming that this is a winning issue for McCain, Sheppard might want to take into account that the voters of a swing state like Florida are overwhelmingly opposed to offshore drilling. And nationally voters give Obama a 20 point lead on the question of who will better deal with high oil prices.

McCain’s other big energy initiative is his proposal for a gas tax holiday. The absurdity of this as an approach to lowering either prices or pollution is glaringly evident. Oil companies will quickly fill the gap made by any temporary tax break. In fact, the price of gas has already increased by a larger amount than the federal tax in just the days that have transpired since McCain first proposed his holiday. What’s more, Saudi oil producers have come out in favor of tax cuts for petroleum products. Surprise! They know that lower prices will stimulate sales that fatten their wallets. And more sales produces more use which produces more pollution. It also exacerbates dependency on fossil fuels.

It ought not to be surprising that McCain is articulating the philosophy of his advisers, at least fifteen of whom have lobbied for Big Oil. McCain is firmly on the side of the Bush administration and the Saudi oil barons on matters of conservation, climate change, and petronomics. If Republicans want to make this a campaign issue, I say bring it on.


Lanny Davis Lands At Fox News

Hyperactive Hillary Clinton surrogate, Lanny Davis, is the newest Fox News contributor. He joins recent hires Like Karl Rove, Laura Ingraham, and Mike Huckabee. I guess that’s what he considers good company.

Davis will follow comfortably in the footsteps of other Foxocrats (Democrats who happily bash fellow Democrats for the edification of Fox viewers): Alan Colmes, Kirsten Powers, Geraldine Ferraro, etc.

This election season will see the Foxocrats joined by the McRats. This hilarious concatenation of McCain and Democrats results in the inadvertent, yet appropriate, branding of these turncoats as rats. The McRats are led by King Rat, Joe Lieberman, and their ranks range from such influential figures as a former Highlands County, FL, sheriff, to a former member of the Palmyra, ME, Budget Committee.

Between the McRats and the Foxocrats, Barack Obama must be shaking in his Birkenstocks.


Facebook Catches Up With MySpace

In a market share race that is mirroring the cable news ratings battle, Facebook has caught up with its once much bigger rival MySpace:

“Facebook hit the mark in April 2008 by posting 115 million unique monthly visitors. Myspace has maintained similar traffic numbers for the past year, but Facebook has grown from less than 40,000 unique monthly visitors in April 2007 to the 115 million that it is today.”

This is exactly what has happened to News Corporation’s other former media powerhouse, Fox News, which has remained stagnant over time while MSNBC has more than doubled its audience.

Rupert Murdoch’s empire is crumbling beneath his feet.


Fox News Wants War With Iran

If you wondered where Fox News personalities get license to peddle idiotic notions like “terrorist fist jabs” and jokes about assassinating Democratic presidential candidates, you need look no further than their boss, Fox News Executive VP John Moody. In an article written for his Fox Forum blog, titled “How to Defeat Iran… Without Firing a Shot,” Moody makes an unambiguous declaration of war from the comfort of his Fox office suite. The crux of his plan is to exploit Iran’s dependence on foreign oil refineries to deprive them of consumable petroleum products:

“An effective embargo on the delivery of refined petroleum would shut off the lights across Iran within weeks and turn its population – already chafing under Islamic rule, a creaky economy and unpopular gasoline rationing – murderously rebellious.”

Looking a little deeper at the plot that Moody savors for being both “murderous” and “deliciously satisfying,” it should be noted that such an embargo would not only shut off the lights, but the heat, the air conditioning, the water, the food processors and distributors, the hospitals, and pretty much every other service and facility required for humanitarian sustenance.

Moody acknowledges that the plan would be difficult to implement because Iran’s foreign suppliers of refined petroleum are its allies China, Russia, and Venezuela, who have little incentive to participate. So Moody’s answer is to deploy a naval blockade. This, of course, amounts to an act of war that could easily escalate beyond the region if tankers from Iran’s suppliers are attacked.

How does declaring war on Iran and threatening it’s trading partners bring defeat without firing a shot? Mr. Moody does not elucidate. He just squawks his vulturous stupidity from high on his ivory perch, salivating at the thought of the corpses he’ll soon be able to gnaw on.

It should be noted that this is not the ravings of yet another rightist, war-mongering, Fox News pundit. Moody is an executive near the top of the Fox management structure. Therefore, this is not merely an editorial opinion, but an advisory of corporate policy. Moody has just announced that it is the official policy of News Corporation to declare war on Iran. I wasn’t aware that that was an appropriate role for a media company.

Lest this come as a surprise to anyone, this is the same John Moody who issued a consolation memo to his troops after the Democratic Congressional victories of November 2006. The memo contained advice to the dejected Foxies to help them cope with their loss. For example:

“…let’s be on the lookout for any statements from the Iraqi insurgents, who must be thrilled at the prospect of a Dem-controlled congress.”

~~~

“In the House, the newly empowered Dems will shed some fraternal blood before settling in.”

Moody is always looking on the bright side, whether it is recovering from bitter electoral defeats, or advocating for elective World Wars.


McCain Lies To Fox News About Town Hall Audience

John McCain held a town hall meeting in New York City this evening. It was part of a series of gatherings he has proposed for himself and Barack Obama.

This program, which Obama did not attend, was to be broadcast on Fox News under an unusual agreement that would have Fox provide the cameras, while the McCain campaign would produce the event. On the surface that is a peculiar arrangement because it puts Fox in the position of airing a candidate production. But beneath the surface it got even more peculiar.

At the outset it was announced that the audience would be a politically diverse group that McCain sought to portray as ordinary, undecided voters. But at the conclusion, Fox anchor, Shepard Smith, went on air to reveal that McCain had mislead the network in a rather significant way.

Smith: “I reported at the top of this hour that the campaign had told us at Fox News that the audience would be made up of Republicans, Democrats, and independents. We have now received a clarification from the campaign and I feel I should pass it along to you. The McCain campaign distributed tickets to supporters, Mayor Bloomberg, who of course is a registered Republican, and other independent groups.”

Stop for a moment and take in the magnitude of this deception. John McCain felt it was necessary to lie to Fox News, the propaganda arm of the Republican Party, in order to pull off this charade. Imagine the lengths to which he would go to deceive a network that he did not regard as friendly.

The dishonesty of McCain’s actions put Fox News in the awkward position of having misinformed their audience, something they do with relative frequency anyway, so maybe that’s not too big a deal. Then they had to swallow hard and set the record straight by disclosing the McCain deceit. But by this time considerable damage had been done to McCain’s credibility. He is still trying to persuade Obama to join these forums. Early on in the meeting, McCain made another plea for just that:

“I think this town hall meeting tonight would have been a little bit more interesting tonight if Senator Obama had accepted my request,”

Indeed it would have been more interesting, and not just because McCain by himself is a total snooze-fest. It would have been an ambush where Obama would have encountered an audience that was secretly stacked against him. Certainly Obama would have been able to hold his own in a room full of McCainiacs. But after an evening of questioners who were snuggling up to McCain while putting Obama on the defensive, it could have left the impression that this assembly of supposedly neutral citizens found Obama unappealing.

This revelation of McCain’s brazen untrustworthiness should be weighed by the Obama camp in any consideration of future candidate encounters. Under no circumstances should the McCain crowd be permitted to manage, unsupervised, any portion of the event. And the media should also apply a stricter level of scrutiny when negotiating press availabilities with McCain and his Double Talk Express.

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Yo CNN: Glenn Beck Is Cable’s WORST News Program

That’s right! Glenn Beck is the worst program on cable news. And while the quality of the program, or lack thereof, has certainly earned Beck the award for garbage-caster of the year, that isn’t what I’m talking about today. It’s Beck’s ratings for the month of May 2008, that confirm his place at rock bottom of the prime time cable news pile. One would have to wonder why CNN sticks with Beck who presides over the lowest rated program at any time, on any network, during prime time.

This is nothing new for Beck, whose program has been a perennial loser. The results of the May survey affirm the continuing lackluster performance evident in previous periods. They are so similar to those from last November, that I could just cut and paste the analysis and commentary I posted at that time and it would describe the more recent results perfectly. In fact, I think I will…

When CNN announced the hiring of radio talk jock Glenn Beck almost two years ago, they used words like “cordial,” “conversational” and “not confrontational” to describe him. What they delivered was the polar opposite of that, as has been well documented by Media Matters. Despite CNN’s laughable depiction of Beck as “Miss Congeniality,” they knew exactly the sort of piffle they were peddling. Their programming strategy stated at the time was to…

“…build Beck into the type of TV personality that could siphon viewers from Bill O’Reilly, Joe Scarborough and other conservative hosts.”

They failed.

Beck’s ratings for May 2008 (25-54 demo) reveal a program on life support. At this point the humane thing to do would be to pull the plug and put Beck (and innocent TV viewers) out of their misery. As shown above, Beck loses to all of his competitors in cable news. Both his live show and his repeat come in 4th out of four programs. But that’s not the end of his problems. While Beck is unable to challenge his competition, he is also the weakest link on his own network. The two lowest rated hours on Headline News belong to Beck. He is a TV anchor who is performing like a ship’s anchor and weighing down the network’s line-up.

So what is CNN waiting for? Are they masochistic gluttons for punishment who get pleasure from losing? Are they married to the repulsive and repudiated ideology spewed by Beck? Are they frightened, ineffectual, corporate bootlickers who couldn’t make a proper programming decision without a sackful of surveys and permission from their supervisor? It is just this simple: There is no business case for keeping Beck on the air. His program is a money pit and it’s fiscally harmful to the programs adjacent to it and, therefore, the network as a whole.

The only reason to give Beck a stay of execution would be fealty to the brand of caveman conservatism that he espouses. If CNN doesn’t cancel this stinker they will have settled, once and for all, the speculation as to whether they are a compromised media lapdog with an agenda aimed at placating the powerful and debasing journalism.

It’s time to pull the plug. Let CNN/Headline News know that Glenn Beck has to go. Let them know that you’re on to them and that keeping a loser like Beck reveals their biases. Let them know that you’re more interested in news and honest commentary than shallow contrarianism. Let them know that, although CNN has an obligation to provide diverse viewpoints, they have never had a program hosted by a progressive. And let them know that you have alternatives now (i.e. MSNBC, radio, the Internet, etc.) and you will not continue to watch CNN as long as it fails to provide programming that is honest, ethical and relevant to you, your community and your country.

Returning to the present…A lot has happened in the past few months in Cable Newsland. Most notably the rise of MSNBC, which has more than doubled its viewers year over year, while the other nets struggled to remain even or showed small gains. Programming changes at MSNBC included the cancellation of Tucker Carlson, who was replaced by David Gregory’s Race to the White House. Gregory has significantly improved the time period he took over. The same is true for Keith Olbermann’s Countdown, which added a replay in place of one of the Doc Block hours.

Fox News has also changed their line-up. They canceled John Gibson’s not-so Big Story, and, more recently, they bumped E.D. “Terrorist Fist Jab” Hill. They also added Karl Rove, scheduled a new show for O’Reilly fill-in, Laura Ingraham, and just today announced that failed Republican presidential candidate, Gov. Mike Huckabee, would be their newest political contributor.

While these networks are altering their fare, the only things CNN has done is move Lou Dobbs an hour later and swap Paula Zahn for Campbell Brown (Republican operative Dan Senor’s wife). Perhaps this would be a good time to reevaluate their strategy. Perhaps it might benefit the network, and its viewers, if they dumped the dead weight and showed some real diversity. Maybe they could recognize where the growth is in this market and consider giving someone like Ed Schultz, Randi Rhodes, Thom Hartmann, Rachel Maddow, Stephanie Miller, Sam Seder, Jim Hightower, Laura Flanders, Harry Shearer, or any other of the many distinguished progressive commentators, a chance to show what they can do in Beck’s time slot. They could even draft their own Jack Cafferty who has developed a cult following on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. Anyone but Beck!

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John McCain: The Opacity Of NOPE!

In this historic election year, the people have a choice of unprecedented clarity. The presidential candidates for 2008 offer a uniquely stark contrast of policy and vision. One has embraced a theme of hope that is inspiring millions and setting a new course for national renewal and unity. He has ignited a grassroots revolution of citizen activists committed to bringing change to an arrogant, unaccountable, dishonest, and incompetent government.

The other is John McCain.

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In contrast to Barack Obama’s campaign of optimism and hope, McCain offers a vision that is squarely focused on obstacles. Its opaque negativity fairly precludes it from even being described as a vision at all. It might be more accurately expressed as The Opacity NOPE!

Peace? Nope. Health care? Nope. Fair trade? Nope. Tax equity? Nope. Choice? Nope. Environment? Nope. Get the idea?

McCain’s concentration on what CAN’T be done poses a challenge for his candidacy. A recent poll by the Pew Research Center shows that McCain trails Obama on most of the issues that voters rank as their top priorities. That may explain why the poll also shows that 75% those who have an unfavorable opinion of McCain, do so because of his political views. Only 54% cite that reason for Obama. McCain has saddled himself with a campaign that touts his alleged foreign policy experience in an election year where majorities of Democrats (65%), Independents (61%), and even Republicans (57%), want the next president to focus on domestic issues, a category that favors Obama. Even on the war in Iraq, voters are swinging toward Obama, who has gained eight points in just one month, moving into a statistical tie with McCain.

The negativity of McCain’s record of public service stands as affirmation of the tenor of his present pursuit of the presidency. Documented examples of an acutely abusive temperment include encounters such as the following:

  • “Fuck you…This is chickenshit stuff.” Directed at Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) in an immigration debate.”
  • “Only an asshole would put together a budget like this…I wouldn’t call you an asshole unless you really were an asshole.” Directed at Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) while marking up legislation.
  • Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) to McCain during a debate on MIA’s: “Are you calling me stupid?” McCain: “No. I’m calling you a fucking jerk!”

That’s how McCain treats fellow Republicans. However, if you are the teenage daughter of a Democratic president, expect to be treated with something McCain regards as humor:

“Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno.”

In one masterful stroke, McCain insulted an innocent and impressionable young girl, the Attorney General, the First Lady, and the President. This should not surprise anyone, because McCain frequently describes himself as “the worst nightmare” of Democrats, as well as many others:

The problem for America, should John McCain become president, is that his self-identification will become a self-fulfilling prophesy; that McCain will manifest the nightmare he is so fond of invoking. And with his comments in the public record indicating that he is “fine with” keeping troops in Iraq for a hundred years, and that he thinks it would be fun to “bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb Iran,” it isn’t much of a leap to presume that his commitment to a national bad dream is genuine.

Therefore, it is incumbent upon the American people to take up the call that John McCain so generously volunteers. We must rally around the anthem that defines the course of true progress. When McCain comes calling for our votes we must reflect back on him the only answer that will deliver us from the dreadful future he promises. We must summon our courage, steady our resolve, and stare into the face of pessimism and futility, and in a certain, unyielding voice – Just Say NOPE!



Media Is Changing. Get used To It!

The National Conference on Media Reform is presently underway in Minneapolis, MN. If you are fortunate enough to attend you will encounter an inspiring array of media professionals, critics, activists, and others who recognize both the threat and the potential of the modern media infrastructure. If you cannot attend, stay informed by visiting the Conference website.

The mission of the Conference, and its sponsor FreePress, is to build a movement to recreate media as an institution that serves the interests of the people, not the powerful. Such a movement will generate some blowback, as evidenced by Howard Rosenberg’s column in today’s Los Angeles Times. Rosenberg’s article inadvertantly exposes the tender underbelly of his generation’s dismay toward the transforming media landscape. Tucked into a piece that is, on the surface, a critique of Keith Olbermann’s Countdown, it is really an unveiling of the fears of a passing era of journalism.

Rosenberg starts by characterizing the Olbermann model, which he calls a “snide act,” as consisting primarily of smug histrionics, relentless needling, and shameless self-puffery. He also lays into Bill O’Reilly, but contends that the difference between them, in terms of the threat they pose to journalism, is that there will only ever be one Bill O’Reilly, while another Olbermann can be reproduced by anyone with a fairish sense of humor. [Note to Rosenberg: If you think O’Reilly is unique, you might want to do some further study on the subject paying particular attention to Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, Michael Savage, Ann Coulter, Hugh Hewitt, etc.] But the real message in Rosenberg’s column is summed up in a single paragraph that is dripping with the lament of one who senses that his time is past.

“Is this to be the standard during this period of media transition? What do we have, a few years at best, maybe 10 before news goes all Internet all the time and moves to fingernail-sized screens that we read with a magnifying glass? Technology-driven change is transforming news media, and news consumers, at warp speed. How many years before newspapers like this one are available in present form only as antiquities, like the illuminated manuscripts on display under glass at the Getty Center?”

Yes, Rosenberg is afraid that the Internet will soon make obsolete the media environment in which he has grown so comfortable. He is suspicious of a transformation that is moving too fast for his liking. He fears that he and his kind will be relegated to the musty corridors of museums. And he even shudders at the notion of a news platform that strains his aging and failing eyesight.

Get used to it, Mr. Rosenberg. Media is changing. Those with influence in the past will find their power waning. New generations of news makers and consumers will define the next phase of journalism. There will be bumps in the road but, if we’re smart and strong, it will result in more honest, more diverse, and more democratic reporting. It will expand perspective and access. And it will diminish the role of giant, nation-less, corporate enterprises, more beholden to profit and their benefactors in government, than they are to their readers, listeners, viewers, and the public good.

Media reform is essential to the progress of every other social movement. No matter what issue ranks highest for you personally, you will need an ability to educate and inform the world as to your goals. Consequently, if you hope to be successful, you must devote at least part of your time to shaping the media into a useful, unbiased, and accessible tool for change.


Tax Cheats: Bill O’Reilly And Roger Ailes

The anti-Keith Olbermann blog OlbermannWatch has been pounding the pavement with a bogus story of tax evasion on the part of MSNBC’s star host. Now the Associated Press has picked up the item citing OW as its source. The network responded to the allegation prior to the AP’s report:

“MSNBC spokesman Jeremy Gaines called it a bookkeeping disagreement between Olbermann’s accountants and the state and said it was resolved months ago.”

That didn’t stop the AP from going forward with the dubiously sourced story. And it certainly hasn’t put an end to OW’s squawking. But I have to wonder whether either will follow up their accounts with the news that Fox News chairman Roger Ailes also has a warrant that was issued three years ago for his Ailes Communications, and is still unsatisfied. Not only that, but Ailes’ star bloviator, Bill O’Reilly, had a warrant issued in July of 2002 that was not resolved until April of 2004. For the record, Olbermann’s tax dispute was concluded in less than one year. And then there’s O’Reilly’s favorite guest, Fox News commentator Dick Morris, who owes a whopping $280,000, and is on the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services’ top 10 list of tax delinquents.

The truth is that, with the exception of Morris, all of these are non-stories. These sort of disputes arise routinely in business as accountants wrangle over tax law interpretation and taxpayers seek to minimize their burden. But if the media is going to report on any of it, they should get the whole story and not rely on obviously biased sources with an agenda to peddle.