Friday, April 28, 2006

"Real Time" Notes

I don’t have a lot to say about last week’s show. One reason I’ve mentioned is that I don’t have as much time to write detailed posts as I’ve had before. I’ll explain the second reason later.

The show opened with a funny (but true, unfortunately) swipe at CNN, which has turned into the “All Blondes Network, All The Time” (“blondes reporting on blondes, with commentary by blondes”). And as long as I’m mentioning the network, I should also salute (with one finger) CNN’s web site for having such “hard hitting” features yesterday as a slide show of Dubya pretending to rebuild a house in New Orleans with Habitat for Humanity (along with Ray Nagin and Kathleen Blanco in a couple of photos, posing in equally opportunistic fashion), and also an in-depth analysis of whether of not Hillary Clinton should use her maiden name when running for president.

Some good lines from the monologue:

“The Minutemen in Arizona were telling Bush, ‘Hey, you build a fence along our border, or we’ll do it instead!’ Let’s see how far they get trying to build a 2,000-mile-long fence along their border without the help of some Mexicans.”

“In Washington this week, Bush met with the leader of China, and the two were referred to by some as President Hu and President Huh? It was difficult a bit because even though one of the leaders was facing human rights issues in his country, Hu agreed to meet with Bush anyway.”

“Katie Holmes gave birth this week, as we know. She was reported to be resting comfortably on The Mother Ship. It was also reported that she received an epidural, though it was during the conception.”

The first guest to appear remotely was Rahm Emanuel, who of course was hawking a book called “The Plan” to “bring our country back” (noble sentiments, I’ll give him that). Emanuel said that the country was “tired of the weightless recovery and endless occupation.” Maher said that the Democrats never seemed to stand out enough as being different from the Republicans, and asked if the Democrats shouldn’t embrace the very un-sexy but important topic of lobbying reform (a la the Jimmy Smits character on “The West Wing” who is now the president), since nothing else can really be fixed without the lobbyists preventing it on behalf of their corporate clients. Emanuel kind of dodged that a bit and mentioned five major goals that a Democratic congress and president should address – I don’t recall verbatim what they were, but they sounded good except for one. Emanuel stated that “if you work in this country, you should have health care coverage.” I don’t know how anyone could possibly say that that’s a bad thing, but I would wonder how that’s going to be paid for. If it is mandated for the employer to provide it, I’m afraid that will give employers an excuse to outsource/offshore more jobs. If it is mandated for the government, then the Democrats will have to “stick to their guns” and not wuss out on it. We’ll see what happens, of course.

Emanuel also spoke eloquently I thought as he absolutely deflated any comparison between Dubya and FDR made by the Repugs in their sickening arrogance. However, the one thing I’ll remember about Emanuel, unfortunately, is that he was once ambushed on “Meet The Press” by Tim Russert about Iraq; Russert asked Emanuel if we still should have invaded if Saddam Hussein didn’t have WMD, and Emanuel said yes. I know that that pales to the fact that the Repugs actually carried out the invasion, but unfortunately, Emanuel’s misstatement gave them more than a bit of cover.

The panel discussion began with Mort Zuckerman, publisher of U.S. News and World Report, Heather Higgins of something called the International Women’s Forum, and General Anthony Zinni.

The first topic, of course, was the retired generals (such as Zinni) speaking out against Rumsfeld, with Maher saying that generals speaking out against the politicians sounds “too South American” for him. Zinni said, “I’ve spent 40 years defending the Constitution, and now I want to practice the First Amendment” (well said). Maher then asked, “Why does the military love Bush?” and mentioned how the Bush administration has cut military benefits and dropped the ball on armor for our troops, and Zuckerman said, “He succeeded a president who was unpopular with the military because he addressed ‘gays in the military’ first” (I shook my head and realized that Zuckerman was right).

(By the way, I should point out that Mort Zuckerman is a conservative who I will actually listen to because he’s primarily a businessman. Way back in another time when I would watch “Dr. McLaughlin’s Gong Show,” Zuckerman would display more tact and patience than I could ever muster bringing the show’s host back to reality after he lapsed into a psychotic episode while the cameras were rolling. I would put Zuckerman in the same category with David Gergen. I may disagree with these people more often than not, but they plainly aren’t stupid).

Maher asked, “Why are we building an embassy in Iraq, which is on schedule for completion, the size of 80 football fields?” and Heather Higgins said, I believe, that it was intended to replace “State Department trailers” (that sounded fishy, and that was the beginning of my problem with her). Higgins also said that Iraq supposedly had more water and electricity now than before the invasion, a claim which is highly specious and would require proof as far as I’m concerned.

Zinni added that, among Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and the other architects of the Iraq debacle, “the ‘O’ word for occupation was dismissed as ‘a dirty word’ and ‘too negative’.” Zuckerman said that the Bush Administration made “the wrong calculation after the war…no planning for after the war was a critical error.” Maher then moved to Iran, noting that everyone is “worried that Bush will drop a nuke on Iran…wouldn’t it be funny if we dropped a dud on them, and that’s the one they used (to attack other countries),” a remark that made me a bit squeamish, I have to admit. Zinni said that, “Iran doesn’t want to be isolated,” mentioning Russia and China and the hope that other countries would stand up to Iran also. Higgins said that Iran was “primarily a political issue and not a military one” (I hope she’s right).

Higgins, however, then “dug her grave” when she returned to Iraq, comparing mistakes made in Iraq to “mistakes” made in World War II, and saying “deciding to lose” is the worst thing we can do (typical freeper propaganda). Among the “mistakes” made during World War II, according to Higgins, were our unpreparedness for the hedgerows at Normandy during the D-Day invasion and the fact that we were caught by surprise by the Nazis at The Battle Of The Bulge.

At that point, I became so enraged that I turned off the TV.

Please understand that I’m not blaming Bill Maher for this. He went right back at her, saying “I’d take FDR and Eisenhower over Bush and Rumsfeld any day.” However, Higgins was doing her best to monopolize the panel discussion and talk over Zinni and Zuckerman, a bit of a “kinder, gentler” version of the performance by that utter misery Ileana Ros-Lehtinen a few weeks ago.

Let me just say this…I don’t recall if the Allied Command had received intelligence on the fortifications around Normandy at the time of the D-Day invasion, but since France was under German occupation, it would have been difficult for the Allies to know that. It would have been an utter slaughter regardless (partly because we didn’t have the atomic bomb yet either). I’m not a World War II historian, so I’m not entirely positive of this (and Higgins has a very minor point in saying that we didn’t know the Germans were rallying for The Battle Of The Bulge, which turned out to be their last stand) and I’ll welcome any additional input from reputable sources on this topic.

However, I want to state now and for all times that I’m SICK AND TIRED of refuting freeper nonsense comparing the Iraq War to World War II. There is no basis for comparison. Period. The fact that this is still in public discourse anywhere in the universe is beyond pathetic. And life is too short for your humble narrator or any other life form to have to endure that garbage.

I would have liked to hear more from Zinni and Zuckerman, as well as Stephen A. Smith of the Inquirer and ESPN who appeared later (and talked about Barry Bonds getting ready to break Hank Aaron’s home run record and the problem that that poses for MLB, I’m sure), but maybe I will in another discussion at some point later with an ENTIRE PANEL of reasonably intelligent adults.

Update: This link to Dick Polman’s post on Rahm Emanuel’s appearance on “Real Time” contains the five points that Emanuel mentioned in his interview. Also, though I pointed out how Emanuel stumbled on Iraq, not anticipating the “gotcha” moment from Russert, Polman also chides Emanuel for not articulating a position on the war endorsed by the Democrats.

I have two points to add. First, I don’t know if Polman saw Joe Biden’s appearance on “Real Time” a couple of weeks ago, but Biden spoke superbly about how the war should be managed, what Bush and Rumsfeld SHOULD be doing (Rummy, actually, should have been out of the picture long ago), and how we should determine the right time to get out and under what conditions. Biden also pointed out that the argument about pulling our troops is irrelevant since Bush is doing that already anyway. So it is possible for a Democrat to speak with authority on how to manage the mess created by Bushco.

Second (speaking of the cabal that rules our government), I would like to see Polman hold them to SOMETHING THAT APPROXIMATES THE STANDARD to which he holds the Democrats. I’m actually amused to a point by Polman’s dwelling on what he perceives as Democratic negativity when I can recall that we had a pretty nice run in this country not that long ago under a Democratic president having to manage a Republican congress (for six years of his eight-year term).

Yep, things have just gone so well under Bush in Iraq, haven’t they? And the oil is just flowing out of that country with the perpetual force of the mighty Mississippi too...right.

(And speaking of oil, here is a "golden oldie" from our dear freinds at Faux News - I don't know about you, but I just LOVE the exclamation point for emphasis!)

But Bush “scored a PR victory” yesterday in hiring Tony Snow to replace Scott McClellan, and to Polman, that is apparently all that matters.

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