Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

Loose Ends

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Joann is being buried today, and I find I’ve got neither the time nor the inclination to write anything comprehensive, never mind oherent.

But there are a couple of things.

First, somethinig from a blog or two back–you can say a lot about Joel  Osteen and the prosperity gospel, but you can’t say that he’s raking in cash because he gets people to send it to him when he preaches on television.

I’ve never seen  Osteen ask for money even once.  There’s no part of his televised sermons in which he gives an address for you to send contributions to.  He does publicize his latest book, but it’s published by, I think, Simon and Shuster, and he suggests you go get itat your local bookstore. 

I presume he charges admission when he speaks, but so do all the other motivational speakers, and next to the juggernaut sales machines most of them are, Osteen is refreshingly without hucksterism.

Second, Obama’s speech may or may not have been “appropriate”–have I gone into my rant about how I hate that word?–but it wasn’t something new.  Other presidents have done it, most recently George  H.W. Bush.  Reagan went around to schools personally and gave talks, including taking questions and answering them on very controversial political subjects in some cases, without even the American left having vapors.

Which brings us to the lesson plan–Obama may or may not have had a different speech in mind in the beginning, but we can’t festablish that from the lesson plan, which seems to have been based on the one they used for H.W.’s talk. 

And that lesson plan included the infamous “write a letter explaining how you can help the President” activity that has so many of the right wing energized. 

Personally, I think it’s too bad Obama didn’t talk about public policy and political ideas.  It might have helped students like my kid of last year, who wrote a paper explaining that “McCain is a Republican, which means he’s a Liberalist.”  Last week, I put Sonia Sotomayor’s name on the board and asked them to write for fifteen minutes telling me who she was.  Better than half of them identified her as the “octomom.”

Third, I don’t know if Robert is right about 35% of Democrats being “truthers”–that is, people who think the Bush administration planned and carried out 9/11 on its own–but it’s certainly true that there is a nutcase fringe on both sides.

Everything Mab says about the conventional street wisdom about the US in Russia is spouted here by our left wing nutjobs–in fact, most of it was invented here, in our own left-of-center little magazines, and only exported to Europe and Asia. 

The difference, to me, is that MSNBC is not giving any of these people their own television show, and nobody seems to be electing them to Congress. 

The public face of the Democratic Party has not become identified with these people in the way that the public face of the Republican Party has become identified with their fringe.

And it’s not because the “liberal media” is engaging in biased reporting here.

It’s because the conservative media is giving these people a platform.  Whatever possessed FoxNews to give Glenn Beck an hour in prime time–or to feature the likes of Michelle Malkin and Michelle Bachmann on virtually every single show they do? 

Mab can be reassured, total up the nutcases on both sides, and you’ve got a minority.  Which means that a party that caters to the nutjobs is going to end up driving away everybody else.

Which was my point yesterday.

Finally, as to the artists being asked to write things in favor of the health care plan–I don’t see that as any more sinister, or less clunky and stupid, than the Bush administration’s paying conservative journalists to pump for the war in Iraq, which they did.

The chief difference here seems to be that whereas at least some of the artists complained about Obama’s project, the conservative journalists either took the money and ran, or refused it an kept their mouths shut.

When that broke, a number of journalists lost their jobs and one, Maggie Gallagher, seems to have mostly lost her career. 

This is not a situation any of us, left or right, should be happy with.  And although, unlike Mab, I don’t think that the journalists involved are cynical–I think both Beck and Malkin believe every word they write–I also don’t think the Republican Party can survive for long if this is what they seem to be about. 

I think we’re headed back to the days when no respectably intelligent person will be willing to call himself a conservative. 

What William F. Buckley took fifty years to build up, Glenn Beck seems capable of taking down in one.

Written by janeh

September 9th, 2009 at 6:56 am

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses to 'Loose Ends'

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  1. Just for the record, follow this link, http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/When-Bush-spoke-to-students-Democrats-investigated-held-hearings-57694347.html
    and you can see a little on the furor–including a Congressional inquiry–from the George H W Bush speech to students. I think I can safely predict that the outrage won’t go so far as Congress demanding an accounting from the GAO this time.

    I have not run into an American journalist paid for supporting our Mideastern excursions–though of course there are always “exclusive interviews” and “special access.” The Defense Department certainly paid Iraqi journalists. Where I come from, that’s called psywar, and the word for commanders who neglect it in a guerilla war is “negligent.”

    As for the difference between left and right media–maybe not so much. We are talking CBS with ludicrously forged Bush Air National Guard papers. (I was a clerk in the Air National Guard in those years–and the alleged “Bush papers” wouldn’t have held up under 30 minutes of serious inquiry. On the most charitable interpretation, CBS was very careful not to inquire.)
    CNN came out with an alleged Army poison gas attack on a non-existent unit of American defectors in Laos. Setting everything else aside, five minutes with a reference book would have told them the gas wouldn’t act as described.
    NPR would be an article, not a paragraph. I’ve never heard or seen Glen Beck, but I don’t think you can get much further from the center than Dianne Riehm and Daniel Schorr and still speak in coherent sentences.
    Meantime, over at the New York TIMES, the readership was no doubt puzzled by the Van Jones resignation, because an Obama appointee who was running around last year denouncing “white polluters” for “sending their poison into the neighborhoods of people of color” wasn’t included among “all the news that’s fit to print.” Nor–so far–has been using your tax money to pay artists to support Obama’s energy and health care plans.

    What keeps me checking out the Washington TIMES and the New York POST is the knowledge that the “mainstream media” have the intellectual integrity of the VOLKISHER BEIOBACHTER.


    9 Sep 09 at 4:03 pm

  2. On reflection, there IS a difference worth noting. Understand, I’m dated on broadcast news. I pulled the plug after the last season of FARSCAPE and THE CHRONICLE, and went back to written sources. TV was always better at entertainment than news anyway, so when it stopped being entertaining…
    But in my personal experience, there is no conservative news counterpoint to the stories above. Certainly there have been wide differences of interpretation, and various outlets on both sides have quoted people who were lying or mistaken. But I have never had a conservative news outlet waving around obvious forgeries or retailing as “news” a story impossible on its face, and so having to retract the entire incident.

    With one exception. In the late 1960’s or early 1970’s, a conservative magazine ran a deliberate hoax–forged “Pentagon Papers” of its own. They admited the imposture, but then of course they’d been exposed in a matter of hours. I miss Bill Buckley too, but it wasn’t his, or NATIONAL REVIEW’s, finest hour.


    9 Sep 09 at 5:20 pm

  3. Well, I certainly don’t agree with Robert. Nor do I agree with Mique (if I got that right) from the previous posting. I’ll take Jane’s assurance that the “journalists” believe what they are saying, although I have trouble understanding that.

    If we are talking about dems and reps (and not just the media), it seems to me that to some extent dems criticized GWB based on facts: starting a war on false pretexts, waterboarding, “extraordinary rendition,” non-court approved access to personal correspondence, throwing out habeas corpus. Some exaggerated the fallout, and most didn’t trust GWB, but the nutcase lefties weren’t in Congress demandihng proof that GWB didn’t order 9/11.

    I don’t see a lot of facts with the republican criticism of Obama. The only place I see it is criticism of stopping waterboarding, trying to close Gitmo, and other foreign policy decisions/statements. The right claims this will endanger the US.

    But the rest of the crazy stuff is based on nothing. He’s a closet Muslim. He wants indoctrination camps. He’s a socialist. He wasn’t born in the US. He wants to end private insurance. He hates whites.

    I watched the speech in Congress and it was shocking. When did it become okay to shout “You lie!” to the president — especially when he didn’t lie!

    I agree with Jane. I know some smart conservatives. I don’t agree with a lot of what they support, but it’s not crazy. Our differences lie in what we consider more or less important, and to some extent how we think economics and people function. Anyway, they can’t associate themselves with the Republican party anymore.


    10 Sep 09 at 8:31 am

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