Monday, February 16, 2009

What If I Do One Political Post Per Week

I'm working from home and it's the calm before the storm (read: The Spawn are still sleeping). I've got Morning Joe on because I'm on autopilot. It's just as ass-chapping irritating as ever. Seriously, people, I think it's time to let go of my masochistic viewing tendencies. I say that a lot, don't I?

Anyway, I'm reminded of a post I started last week, but never finished because I got busy with have-to things or distracted by something sparkly. I want to go back to it quickly and briefly:

Dear Joe Scarborough,

I tuned in to Morning Joe the other day for my masochistic fix. It's just what I do. You should be glad for the viewership, even if I am slightly off balance. On this particular day, you and Mike Barnacle were chewing over the testimony of the bank CEOs before Congress. You decided that your tactic of the day would be to hammer home the notion that our financial mess is the fault of Democrats in Congress (you cited Rep. Barney Frank, D-MA, by name).

"Let's talk about how we got here......Congress forced banks to give loans to people who couldn't afford to pay them back."

That was your mantra. You repeated it so many times I lost count. Barnacle agreed and jumped in to bang the drum with you.

I'd like to point out to you that this is exactly the reason why perhaps it is time to bring back The Fairness Doctrine. See, as you and your guests "discuss" the really important issues of our day, you oversimplify things to the point where watching you actually makes people dumber, less informed. You say we're in this mess because Freddie and Fannie forced banks to make bad loans and that is the fault of Barney Frank. Here's what you don't say:

-The banks made their profit on those predatory loans up front and weren't all that concerned about the long-term accountability of collections
-Credit default swaps, a product of gross deregulation, played a huge part in our current financial mess
-High gas prices played another big role in this mess. The more money people had to devote to the purchase of fuel, the less money they had for both discretionary and non-discretionary spending. Can't pay your bills if you can't get to work, can't get to work if you don't buy gas, etc.
-High oil prices caused a price increase in many other goods, including groceries, another essential
-Jobs were cut, both as a result of outsourcing that is rewarded by our current tax system and because Wall Street loves job cuts in every sector but its own.

I hope you see what I mean now about how you are dumbing down the conversation with your oversimplification. I know it's a convenient political tool and that you are not, after all, a journalist, but an opinionist and a former Republican Congressman. You have three hours, Monday through Friday, to hold court and pump out your propaganda. Unfortunately, because your cable station MSNBC is considered a news channel, many people assume that what you say is reportage, factual, researched. It's packaged as news, but it's really opinion.

The danger here is that there isn't anyone on your panel to counter your opinion or to expand the conversation. So maybe The Fairness Doctrine is just what we need in this time of infotainment. And, to be fair, I would say this for either side. Debate and a free press are vital to our representative government. We are not served by the ability of anyone to seize the airwaves and pump out propaganda of any kind.

I've watched you on programs when Rachel Maddow, an avowed liberal, says something that simply drives you insane. You want to muzzle her. Well, guess what. That's how I feel when I listen to you. Neither reaction is helpful or appropriate.

Now, a program where the two of you have equal billing and equal time to make your points and it's labeled as opinion? That would make more sense. At least then your viewers would know what they are watching.

Of course, each side is confident that the truth is on their side. Most Americans would tell you that it's somewhere in the middle. I think it's all over the place and often contains elements of both sides.

The reality, though, cannot be denied. It's obvious that deregulation has been a mess. It's obvious that having scads of money in our political system is a disaster. It's obvious that big business has been catered to for far too long, to the detriment of both small businesses and individuals.

Those are the messages that should be discussed, but won't be as long as we allow the imbalance of corporate interests to guide and own the political discourse in this great nation of ours.

This is where you look at your GE paycheck and try to find a graceful way to deny that.

In the meantime, I'm going to listen to some music.

Best regards,



  1. Wow, I could have written that.. but not nearly as eloquently. Well no I couldn't have written it..but I would love to It's what I have been thinking.. the only thing I would have added is that he gets other people who aren't quite as strong willed as Rachel on his show sometimes, someone who will attempt to give a little bit of an argument to him just so he can SHOUT them I think he enjoys the YELLING...and you forgot to mention the dead woman he had in his office...I always like to remind people of that when I talk about the Joke of the Morning...just so we get all the truth out all

  2. Joe is a fucking hateful moron.

    That said - as someone who once worked in the broadcast industry I would fear the result of the return of the FD.

    It would definitely be used against progressive issues by the fucktardian fuckheads. (i am having a happy monday can you tell? wheeeeeeee!)

  3. Let's see a Rhodes Scholar against a dufus tool loser...this would be amusing. Isn't Joe the former congressman because they found a dead intern in his office? I think so. We are like moths to a flame...

    No Presidents Day off for me like most of my lil co-workers. We had a choice of MLK day or today, I chose the latter. So off to work I go.

    Have a wonderful day.

  4. And to think he is going to run for Mel Martinez Senate seat...what a moron. Good job there Lisa, very well stated.

  5. I could have written that too.

    If I knew what the hell you were talkin' about...


  6. I agree with Saoirse. I would love to this idiot have a "discussion" with Rachael on his show or hers. It wouldn't be a fair fight but it would be fun to watch.

  7. I have only watched Joe Scarborough maybe once or twice as I get too aggravated listening to people like him.

    I really like your idea of having two (equally strong willed) people from opposite sides on a show. In fact, I actually enjoy hearing Rachel and Pat Robertson talking to each other about the issues.

    Here in the NY metro area WABC-AM talk radio used to have the Curtis & Kuby show in the morning. It was Curtis Sliwa, who was conservative and yet not hateful, and Ron Kuby, the liberal (even farther left than I am) attorney. Both were equally vocal and it made for an entertaining, informative and balanced show. Unfortunately they took them off in order to nab Imus when he made his comeback so I never listen anymore. Curtis ended up getting another show after Imus but Kuby was no longer with him. WABC is a conservative talk station so it's not surprising they decided to go totally where their bread is buttered. But it was a loss for civil discourse on issues and they lost one listener completely - me.

  8. As you alluded to, having a sort of Counterpoint show would be good if both sides were well prepared and didn't resort to ill-thought out, over-simplified points of view.

    I am having a hard time thinking of a Conservative whose views I respect, though certainly do not agree.

  9. I would of been much nastier and more sarcastic. But not one f-bomb I promise! ;)

  10. I would have definitely used fuck.

  11. I would have definitely used fuck.

  12. Okay, I'll be in partial agreement here with you---there is a ton of blame to go around for the financial mess we are in...the government for failing to heed the warnings about the impending disaster, and pushing banks to make these risky loans, the banks for making the loans, and then even worse finding ways to bundle them together to further increase the risk which of course was in search of profits (the higher the risk, the higher the profit poetential, and homebuyers tehmselves for either not fully understanding what they were doing or even worse, understanding and doing it anyway...I totally agree that to blame any one group misses the mark.

    That said, the fairness doctrine (an Orwellian term if I ever heard one) is not the answer. Besides, this is targeted at talk radio far more thanit is at TV...also, it would only apply (as I understand it) to public airwaves, not cable tv or satellite radio. Liberals took their shot at radio with Air America...and the market showed it just isn't viable. There is a reason MSNBC has chosen to go to a liberal line-up (Olbermann, Maddow, etc.)--they see a market not being served, so they have made the decision to go for the viewers Fox News does not attract. This is the way it should work--give people a choice. I don't think you really want the govt. determining what's "fair" and what is not. You don't like what Joe has to say? Turn him's that simple. I know the concern is that all those poor defenseless viewers out there will hear him and buy everything he says...but those same people fall for all the false advertising done on BOTH sides in campaigns. The last thing I want is government deciding what people should hear.

    It's the marketplace of ideas, and their are plenty of avenues out there for any side to get their views out. It's unfortunate that a large portion of the population doesn't take the time to think for themselves...but I still prefer having both sides free to argue as they wish, rather than some government overseer deciding what can even be said.

  13. How can Rachel Maddow be on the same network as Joe? Why can't MSNBC just be all Rachel all the time? And, why can't Rachel wear her glasses on the air? I think they are kind of cute. Sorry, I have no answers to the madness only unanswerable questions.

    I did respect William F. Buckley even though I disagreed with him. He is the only conservative I didn't mind hearing talk the crazy talk as he did it so well.

  14. I could listen to Christine Todd Whitman on the conservative side - she actually thinks.
    My mom used to watch CNN all day so she could stay mad at the GOP every half-hour on the half-hour. But she died too young. A connection perhaps?

  15. RE: Post title - if you could make them as succinct and well-reasoned as this one, I'd say do two a week.

  16. lisa, you should be on one of these shows...YOU I would watch and even listen to! I hate these shows and their talking heads...I just come here and get my put it very succinctly and that I like!

    now, have a good day! that's an order, please!! maybe you should STOP watching the show? you wouldn't be missing a thing!

  17. not sure I'm smart enough to wade in here but I will.

    I love it when people like Jonah think they get bonus points for saying "well there is enough blame to go around for everyone"

    Talk about Barney Frank, the government "forcing" the poor old helpless banks ad naseum it does not change the fact that Chimpy McFlight suit and his gang of repukes were in CHARGE OF EVERYTHING for 6 years. And did nothing.

    As for Joey teh Scar I think they think Mika is some sort of balance to him but please.

    I would pay on a PPV special to see Joey and Rachel go at it.

    Ok I'm done now!

  18. Lisa, Listen to Mnmom and what happened to her mother. The Spawn need you. Seriously, if no one turns on MSNBC when he is on, they will get the hint and cancel his show. I think I will stick to channel 7 in Chicago in the morning. That is all I am up for at that hour.

  19. pidomon,
    not trying to score points, just stating what I believe. And in reference to your view that Pres. Bush did nothing, please see this:

    Please read it. And be sure to note where the resistance came from.

  20. Watch House of Cards on CNBC .. see what they had to say about how it all happened.. then get back to me....

  21. I think "House of Cards" did a good job portraying some of the victims of this whole mess, particularly those who did not understand what they were getting into. I think it also hit on the fact that there was greed all around--homebuyers, banks, investors, govt. agencies, elected reps (although I found the lack of any discussion of Sen. Dodd's affiliations with Countrywide to be a huge omission--unless I missed it). But the show tries to put Sept. 11th as the starting point for this whole thing. This whole crisis has its roots in the Community Reinvestment Act under Pres. Carter...and through the years (under 4 different Administrations) was slowly building. I will allow that that the economic turmoil after the attacks probably led to an environment which escalated the ultimate downfall, but to say Sept. 11th is the starting point is to ignore important groundwork that was laid well prior to that day.

    Finally, and it's just my own personal bias, I just felt the program was tilted towards "innocent" victims at the hands of evil financial and governmental institutions--I felt like it was slightly biased towards the victims, although it did show how many were duped/mislead. But the government was content to allow financial institutions to push these loans, and people were more than happy to sign up for them; not everyone was an unwilling victim...Sen. Schumer was in favor of legislation in '07 to increase the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the mortgage market...and Rep. Frank lead the charge in defending these institutions from reform...but Bush and the Republicans dropped the ball in not pushing ahead anyway, and once the Dems gained power of Congress, it was too late.

    Look, it boils down to people can be greedy...and at the heart of each "wing" of the causes of this crisis, you'll find a human being exhibiting that dark side of our nature...from the buyers to the sellers to the investors to the overseers...each allowed greed and the mistaken belief that the housing boom would go on to put themselves (and the rest of the country) in this horrible condition. I'm not saying everyone who bought a house during this time or provided a mortgage or invested in mortgage backed securities was greedy...but enough of them were, under unfortunately very accomodating circumstances and NO ONE had the fortitude or the wisdom to stop it before it collapsed.

  22. Lisa,

    You mean you put down the cheetos while blogginf from your moms basement long enough to write such a thoughtful letter? Wow I am impressed. I bet that munt is really shocked. :)

  23. It seems to me there's too much oversimplification and not enough clarity in tv programming. You write about it well so I'll just have to go with that.

  24. Elegant, brilliant writing, as usual. I love the final point about the GE check - the way you put it. The coup de grace (not that grace is something that Joe Scarborough would likely notice).

    TV.... is a big disappointment. The vast majority of it does not add anything worthwhile to any debate. Most of it probably kills brain cells. Even the "real" news emphasizes the negative and the sensational. At some point I was blessed to totally lose interest in TV. What a relief.

  25. i haven't turned on the TV even ONCE since i've gotten out of the hospital. and i think if i turn it on it will give me so much agita (sp?) that it will send me back again within minutes, so i'm sticking to reading short stories in french and trying to learn spanish.

    being oblivious to a world over which one has no control can be refreshing.

  26. So it was Barney Frank and the nasty government since Carter that forced mortgage issuers to falsify mortgage applications and sell the new mortgages to those that bundled them into securities to be sold with AAA ratings. I'm glad we finally nailed that down! If you are going to blame anyone, blame St. Ronnie for making GREED not only acceptable, but desirable.

    If we had a media that would hold people accountable when they spew bullshit, we wouldn't need a Fairness Doctrine!!

  27. Wow, I thought I made it clear that I felt there was blame to go around everywhere, starting, but not ending with the CRA, all the way up to present day...again, buyers/bankers/investors/government/elected officials all played roles in this, and to varying degrees of complicity and awareness of what they were doing. I mentioned Rep. Frank only because a previous commenter stated that Bush did nothing...I simply pointed out that was not true, and that one of the people who now is leading the charge to fix this (without acknowledging his own complicity) was at the time saying, "nothing to see here, move along"

  28. I'll side with Jonah on all this, including the part about the Fairness Doctrine being bad. Seriously, the less government involvement in our lives the better.

    I believe that there were good intentions behind the CRA. Isn't owning a home a large part of the "American Dream"? Unfortunately, over the years it became a political and economic necessity. Houses ceased becoming homes and became assets to be traded. Greed spurred things on mortgage companies went insane, duping people (especially those who were too trusting or didn't do their homework) into buying too much house for what they could afford.

    Lisa mentioned that deregulation was a failure but that isn't wholly true. It's deregulation coupled with corporate welfare and safety nets that's the problem. The gov't, in essence, told the investment banks, "Oh don't worry about those leverage requirements, we'll bail you out if things turn sour." What they should've said was, "We're going to do away with those leverage limits, however, if you screw up, we're NOT going to bail you out." Faced with that proposition, the banks would've stuck with their 5:1 limits instead of going whole hog at 30:1.

    Even Jimmy Carter deregulated. :)

  29. The majority of defaults on mortgages are not as a result of the CRA. Take Countrywide, the first to fall and the biggest criminal lender, as a basic example. Over 50% of the toxic loans they wrote were for 'cash out' 2nd mortgages-Folks that wanted to put in a pool, addition or just take a nice vacation and purchase a couple of cars.

    Cash out loans are written at higher interest rates as well.

    Add to that the lender fudged information because they knew they were going to sell the loan within 60 days of closing,so they didn't give a shit if anyone ever paid off the loan.

  30. I'm late coming in on this but my understanding is that it wasn't the bad loans so much as the SWAPS that put the banks under. Paying off these unregulated, "insurance policies" against losses on the bad loans, not the fact that some people couldn't pay their mortgages was the breaking point. After all, the HUGE majority of homeowners are still paying each month and that should be enought to keep these institutions afloat.

  31. I'm late coming in on this but my understanding is that it wasn't the bad loans so much as the SWAPS that put the banks under. Paying off these unregulated, "insurance policies" against losses on the bad loans, not the fact that some people couldn't pay their mortgages was the breaking point. After all, the HUGE majority of homeowners are still paying each month and that should be enought to keep these institutions afloat.

  32. One minor correction: Barney Frank is indeed awesome, but he represents Massachusetts, not New York.

    Also, you've turned me on to Journey videos. (This post. Oh, the shame!)


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