Thursday, January 31, 2013

American Pundits Strike Another Blow in Support of Teh Stupid

Every once in a while I venture into the world of the US media to see how they compare to my normal viewing habits (BBC and, the best, al Jazeera).  I am never disappointed with the flimsy knowledge (as opposed to low intellect) and poor caliber of analysis, the latter being based on the flimsy knowledge of, like, you know, actual facts.  It is very likely that the poor awareness by most Americans who actually care to know what is going on in the real world (as opposed to the pure fantasy world of Republicans) is the proximate result of being forced (there is little choice) to listen to the crap doled out by Very Smart People.

Case in point. NBC Meet the Press and its lineup of shallow thinkers like Ted Koppel,  Bob Woodward (who has exactly zero foreign policy depth and is an overrated writer to boot), Andrea Mitchell and Jim Demint (this has to be a bizarre joke).
According to Teddy, “we’re entering one of the most dangerous periods this country has ever known” Koppel, the nefarious groups around the world are ganging up on the US now and for the foreseeable future.  What color is the sky on his planet, I wonder?  He certainly remembers the Soviet Union.  How about Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan?  Now those were real threats.  Just exactly does he think weighs in at that level?  Somalia? Yemen? Chavez’s Venezuela?  Hey Teddy, no one on this planet offers a credible threat.
Does he really think that small, regional and mostly intra-state conflicts have anything on the real inter-state wars that raged during the 20th century and that these small conflicts threaten US in a substantial way? Furthermore, the fact that the world has more democracies, even though some are struggling, and a very intertwined economic structure making state violence extremely unlikely makes his assertion all the more, well, stupid.
He also seems to think that Afghanistan is a future threat although the US is getting out.  What does he think the US should do?  No answer to that from the Very Important Pundit.  Then, of course, he talks about al Qaeda.  Listen to the whole thing…because according to him, the decimated, dismantled and generally ineffective terrorist group is about to take over Pakistan.  Nobody – nobody with any knowledge believes that.
His next stop is, amazingly, Syria.  Aside from the horror that is genuinely unfolding in this sectarian civil war – about which he seems oblivious, the conflict started damn near two years ago and there is not a scintilla of evidence that the US is even inclined to get involved (fortunately). Is it a problem for Turkey?  Damn right. Does Turkey have an army, navy and air force to protect itself. Check.  Is a disintegrating Syria a threat to the US? No.  
He goes on to talk about Iran.  What a surprise.  He’s wrong there as well but you’ve really got to listen to him spew out un-educated garbage based on Bush talking points.  Would Iran react to a unilateral strike from Israel?  I expect so. So what and with what? Koppel appears to forget he is a news reader, not a serious analyst of anything.
Then comes Woodward, who suddenly  is a foreign policy expert. Really? He’s writing a new book on it, seemingly, called “Meltdown”.  This is utter bullshit.  There is no meltdown going on, rather the reverse.
All the statements on this show were patently false - yet the same people keep popping up to offer their highly paid misinformation.  Unfortunately, the "facts" are fed to a public with the attention span of a gnat and who take the statements by a parade of uninformed Very Important Pundits at face value.  I didn’t hear any faux comparison of Mali to Afghanistan, but then I was opening a beer and probably missed it. 
Shame on the American media for falling to the level it has and promoting stupidity for revenue generation.  They did it for Iraq 2003 too.
I’ll wait another year before indulging in this type of self-inflicted pain again.  

Monday, January 14, 2013

Depardieux...or is that Asterix...Confusion

This is actually blog post Number 500 and the first for 2013.  So - I thought it should be decidedly unserious and focus on the enormously amusing antics of Cyrano and Asterix - also known as that slightly rotund alcoholic and sometime actor, Gerard Depardieux.

Gerard, upset by the new socialist president of France and, not to put too fine a point on it, his plan to tax those with incomes in excess of $1 million at a rate of 75% (which is a little outlandish) has obtained a Russian passport to exhibit how put-out he feels. 

However, he has now taken the plunge into Russian politics with a loud yelp in support of Vladimir Putin and his not so subtle move toward an oppresive state. 

In a supposedly secret telephone interview he also heavily criticised the anti-Putin stunt that the Pussy Riot all-female punk band performed last year in Russia's main cathedral. With talking points that could have been written by the Kremlin, Depardieu said that the band members would have received worse treatment had they gone to an Arab country and performed in a mosque.

"Imagine if these ladies walked into a mosque -- they would not come out alive..." 

Yes, well. Nothing like lowering the bar.  Sort of like saying that the Russian government is slightly less barbaric and crushes any decent with less vigour than chopping off heads in a public square in Saudi Arabia.

Two band members are currently serving two-year sentences in Russia's notorious manual labour camps.

He then said, "But when I say such things in France, I am considered an idiot."  No, Gerard, not just in France.

But, then he dives straight in the muddy water of Russian politics

Gratuitous remarks involved dishing out severe criticism of the opposition, who are not enamoured of Putin's 13-year rule were the norm. 

"The Russian opposition has no programme -- it has nothing," he told Rossiya state television's weekly program.

Then the remark designed to win over his new fellow citizens:

"Unfortunately, the masses are stupid. Only the individual is beautiful." 
Russia's first post-Soviet protests exploded last year in response to a fraud-riddled parliamentary election in which Putin's party barely got past the post.

But it get's dumber:

Depardieu said the opposition had "very smart people" such as former chess champion Garry Kasparov in its ranks. "But that is good for chess and not much else."

So - he leaves a free and open society in France because he doesn't like the idea of high taxes, to go to Russia - demonstrably un-free and un-open and with a flat 13% tax rate which played no part in his decision.

Gerard - fat, dumb and being an alcoholic are rarely a good life style choices.