The Sunday Not-So-Funnies


The Sunday morning news and opinion programs draw very few crowds. As with many things having to do with politics…only unimportant things like…life….and….death, the American people are more involved with people who sing, dance, tell awful jokes or appear on situation comedies where the entire universe of people laughing is relegated to the laugh track.

Still, Washington watches and the serious-minded, a smaller and smaller group in this country, tend to watch on a regular basis. This Sunday, on a program called THIS WEEK, an ever enigmatic Barbara (WA-WA) Walters presided over a panel that included, absurdly, Roger Ailes, Professor Paul Krugman, Ariana Huffington, and the tidy George Will.

Ailes is an anti-American, pro-corporation, war monger who runs the Fox News Channel. He is the former head of the Republican Party. He was hired to create a propaganda network for Rupert Murdoch, for the Neoconservative wing of the Republican Party, which now has gone so far Right that it has recently split, for international Fortune 100 Corporations, and for the Chamber of Commerce.

With all due respect, he is very fat, would probably not be considered a matinee idol, which is by way of saying that one would guess many women would find him ugly if not repulsive. He is arrogant, even though he either lies non-stop (he told several lies in the few minutes he had on this program) or he is simply not interested in facts, only in making money…which he admitted is his chief concern during the program. His appearance is only in question because one wonders if his stated single goal of making as much money as possible is his only goal in life.

Ailes, in an unmistakably pompous manner, said about health care reform that there are 300 million people who have health care and are happy with it and only 30 million who do not. So it is not a problem. That’s what he said. Even if it were true, which, again, it is not, he thinks that we can write off 30 million Americans.

Ailes then proceeded, with a straight face, to say that the American people should wake up to the fact that the big problem we have, after the December 25th attempted bombing of an international flight that failed miserably, was that we are somehow in mortal danger and we should not mind if we have to be completely disrobed to protect ourselves.

That, potential terrorist attacks, said war-monger, never-met-an-Iraq-war-I wouldn’t-propagandize Roger Ailes, is the single most important problem facing America. Not 15 million people out of work. Not a destitute economy. Not those 30 million (in reality 60 million at a minimum) people who are desperate to protect themselves from being bankrupted by health care that isn’t there or can be withdrawn at a moment’s notice.

Why is Roger Ailes, only in some people’s opinions mind you, but, in their opinion, a racist, neo-Nazi pig? Because he is more worried about losing a plane full of his jet setting friends….planes that have more protection by 100 times than do the huge shiploads of cargo containers that enter the country every single day and move into the interior to office buildings, government buildings and commercial centers. But that does not have the pizzazz that will help Roger Ailes achieve his goals, the ones he acknowledged on Sunday morning…to get Nielsen ratings as high as possible, sell advertising for higher rates in order to enrich himself and Rupert Murdoch as much as possible. He said it. His words.

George Will, the long-time advocate for less government (although more military) and fewer taxes, although we now pay about the same as we did in 1926, and more didactic following of Republican “common sense” ideas, offered his solution to the health care problem. Follow the Republican plan.

The Republican Plan is to ban financial settlements with those who are maimed, killed or made lifelong invalids by incompetent doctors. The Republican Plan is to assure that prescription drug companies are protected from various ways that drugs can be discounted, including the re-importation of drugs from other countries that have the same or better FDA-style regulations as the United States.

Sunday, it was free trade. It supposedly started, according to Will, in the “90s.” Actually, it started in the 80s, with the election of a Milton Friedman devotee named Ronald Reagan. Not surprised that Will didn’t want to go back that far. It brings up an historical context of “let’s cut taxes and that will free up more money for more investment to make more money to pay more taxes to make every thing all right.”

It made everything all wrong. If you tell people they can go as fast as they want and that there are no rules, they will inevitably have more accidents than if they are limited to 60 miles per hour. If you tell people that you are cutting their taxes and they will have much more money, but that they have to invest it rather than spending it on yachts, they will, in fact, do whatever they want with it. For example, buy yachts.

The country went from $800 billion in long-term debt to $2.14 trillion in less than 8 years. Because the flawed system stayed during the first Bush, and several years under Clinton…though he eventually leveled it off, balanced the budget….after Bush and Clinton it was $5.14 trillion. Eight years later, under a dopey President and a war-mongering plutocrat Vice-president, who actually ran things, the national debt was $12 trillion.

They left the country—some say deliberately –in a near-depression, with no chance to pay any of the debt down. It is pay down the debt and makes the American people suffer or take care of the People until we can recover jobs, and create more debt. The Neoconservative Republicans…deliberately or not…left us no choice. George Will does not want to discuss this, so he shortens the cycle to make it sound as though Bill Clinton, under whose presidency we had (these are facts not opinion) the longest sustained stretch of prosperity in the country’s history, started all our current fiscal problems.

One of George Will’s transparent rhetorical techniques, like a waist-high curve ball that started not quite inside enough and is headed for the left-field bleachers almost before you swing at it, is to take a Republican objection to a Republican plan, and then spin it to make it seem as if it was actually begun by the Democrats.

The Republicans have done this before. It is always some technicality or some situation in which the Republicans would not vote for, say, Medicaid, unless we taxed doctors or something. And the Democrats would pass it and the Republicans would say “See! See what the Democrats have done!” Forgetting, of course, that the main point was to bring health care to the poor.

And perhaps, just perhaps, a big hunk of those poor might have been people whose great-grandparents were slaves, and their grandparents were sharecroppers and their parents were janitors and their own chances of breaking out of a society in which they were called every name under to sun, not allowed to move out of certain neighborhoods and excluded from every place from which they could be excluded—were, to say the least, poor.

Dr. Paul Krugman was sitting, probably quite uncomfortably, next to Ailes. He was appropriately on Ailes left but he could only chuckle at a few of Ailes assertions. Ailes lied about five times. Krugman corrected him a couple of times, but there is no point in talking to a man like Ailes. He will never be interested in the truth. The truth will not make him any money. What will make him money is to hire a gossip columnist as a political commentator and have that gossip columnist rant about idiotic things that the average person sitting in their small kitchen will agree with. They will agree with him most of the time because they will never check the facts. Those who do will turn off the television or switch to another channel.

There is no point in mentioning Krugman. He is a distinguished professor of economics, a Nobel Laureate, who simply enjoys climbing down from his ivory tower more often than some other economists, to share with the public what economists often only share among themselves. Of course there are exceptions, like the Cato Institute economists, “pop-economists,” who are paid for their opinions from people who buy the opinions that they want to hear.

Practically speaking, a Krugman or a Joe Stiglitz or a Dean Baker cannot fully participate in a discussion on a program where half of a very important statement, say, on the statistical reality of the unemployment number is crowded out by some inane comment by a woman holding up a magazine or a pompous ass talking over their comments, in order to make some foolish propagandistic remark.

Ariana Huffington, the columnist, political gadfly and publisher of the influential was also on the program. She brought up to Roger Ailes the commentary of Glenn Beck. Glenn Beck is much closer to the fictional character in the motion picture NETWORK than he is to any other political commentator or network news person. He is clearly borderline insane. He is without question emotionally unstable.

Dismissing for a minute whether someone like Glenn Beck should be on television at all, Huffington asked Ailes in a most diplomatic way what he thought of Beck’s commentary. This is like asking Hitler what he thought of Goering’s theft of great art from private collections all over Europe. What was Ailes going to say? Beck had call the President, whom it should be noted, is Black, has a Black wife, Black mother-in-law and black children….a racist. For that, 60 sponsors…national advertisers, huge corporations who somehow feel that the propagandistic network which promotes only Right Wing causes is fine with them…decided that this was not all right with them and canceled.

Ailes doesn’t care what Beck says. Beck is part of the propaganda network. Beck keeps the crazies coming back to maybe watch the next program. They may stay to watch a gossip columnist or a pandering, pretend-Irishman give out his “populist” views of why corporations are always right and why any Congress person who tries to advocate for the person being ruined by a corporation is a socialist.

It doesn’t matter what it is. It could be poisoned food, or smog so bad it kills an asthmatic or a war that takes a young man’s life at age 19. A wasteful war, in lives and dollars, a war for Cheney’s oil buddies. It is television programming like that, always the same, righteous indignation at the bureaucrats. Only never—never—at the Republican bureaucrats who gave us $12 trillion in debt and he largest number of billionaires and the lowest average workers’ wages in comparison in our country’s history.

The idea that ABC would have a man who is as close to a Nazi as we have in this country, even more of a Nazi than those idiots who march around in pathetic costumes and armbands, the kind of toy-Nazis who are only bigots in costumes. They might as well join the Gay Pride parades as march where people laugh at them or ignore them or spit on them just for fun. Ailes is a real danger to this country. He shouldn’t be allowed on the same program as Dr. Paul Krugman, and possibly even on the same program with George Will.