Sunday, February 24, 2008

During Discussion of "Sicko" and Health Care, Ben Stein Smacks Downs FOX's Neil Cavuto

Wow! Will wonders never cease? On the February 23, 2008 edition of "Cavuto on Business" that aired on the FOX Business Network, Ben Stein let 'er rip!

During a discussion of the possibility that Michael Moore's "Sicko" might win an Oscar, Stein argued that the rich should be willing to pay more taxes in order to facilitate better health coverage for those Americans who cannot afford it. He was vehemently - and angrily - rebutted by FOX Business regulars Neil Cavuto, Charles Payne and Tracy Burns. Guest Mark Lamont Hill agreed with Stein while another FOX expert, Adam Lashinsky, tried to take a middle road.

When Rupert Murdoch started the FOX Business Network, he said his objective was to reach out to "Main Street" Americans with happy, upbeat news about the greatness of American business.

I find it ironic that none of the FOX hosts seems to have a shred of respect for or knowledge about what it takes to make it - day to day - on the real Main Streets of America!

At one point Charles Payne says that the green movement has been a "godsend" for American business because, "all you have to do is take a shampoo, put 'green' on it and sell it for ten cents more."

Need I say more?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

FOX Business Network Continues Its Assault on the Middle Class and the Poor

FOX Business Network's head rah-rah boy, Neil Cavuto, and his quartet of johnny-one-note business "experts" continue their loud-mouthed, rude campaign to convince their heartland viewers that rich people are good guys who don't deserve to pay more taxes and don't have a "moral imperative" to help those who have less.

I continue to wonder why everyday Americans still support this elitist group of uber-rich hypocrites who consistently sound like Ebeneezer Scrooge before he's been visited by the three ghosts!

The rest of my commentary is embedded in the video below.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Pentagon Takes Cue from Barack Obama, Bombs Pakistan Unilaterally

In August 2007 Hillary Clinton accused rival Barack Obama of being "naive" because he indicated that he would meet with the leaders of unfriendly nations. She claimed he was unprepared to make the tough decisions necessary to defend the United States. Sen. Obama responded that in the absence of any other options, he would bomb a country like Pakistan unilaterally if it meant eliminating a known terrorist threat. (Source: Reuters)

At the time he was hauled over the coals by Republican talking heads.

During an episode of Hannity & Colmes on August 4, 2007, Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute Fellow Kate Griffin claimed that Sen. Obama had studied at the "Jimmy Carter school of foreign policy." "That's exactly what Jimmy Carter did with the Shah of Iran," she said. "We had an ally and then they turned into our most ferocious enemy in the world. ... I'd feel sorry for Obama if this weren't so incredibly important and negligent on his part, to talk about going into a sovereign nation, invading it, basically handing the government and their nuclear arms supplies over to the ... extremist terrorists." (Video available at Brightcove.)

On August 14, 2007 the uber-conservative Hannity repeated Griffin's false talking points. According to Media Matters, Hannity "claimed that Obama has stated his 'willingness to invade an ally against their will,' referring to Pakistan. However, as Media Matters for America repeatedly noted, Obama never said he would 'invade Pakistan.' Rather, Obama stated in an August 1 speech: "If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets [in Pakistan] and President [Pervez] Musharraf won't act, we will." (Two-part video of entire interview available at Newshoundsblog: Part 1 and Part 2.)

I guess the Pentagon liked the idea.

On January 29th, the United States military implemented Barack Obama's strategy. Using good intelligence and on-the-ground cooperation by local informants, we launched a drone into Pakistan and killed a highly-place al-Qaeda leader. The U. S. did this without the cooperation of Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf. (Source: Washington Post)

Bingo! Barack Obama got it right!

Now, here's the capper!

On February 10th, eleven days AFTER authorizing a unilateral incursion into a sovereign nation without the approval of its leadership, President George W. Bush denigrated Barack Obama on national TV. He said this to Chris Wallace on FOX News Sunday: ""I certainly don't know what he [Barack Obama] believes in. The only foreign policy thing I remember he said was he's going to attack Pakistan and embrace Ahmadinejad."

Welcome to the madhouse that masquerades as American political discourse!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

FOX Business Bashes Barack Obama. "Experts" Say He'd Destroy Capitalism.

Oh, my. Oh, my. I haven't paid much attention to FOX News since leaving News Hounds about two months ago. Therefore, I thought I could once again watch a few shows without having a coronary or grabbing for the bottle of Pepto Bismol.

I was wrong.

This past weekend, I made the mistake of subjecting myself to what passes for financial news on FOX - the two-hour Cost of Freedom block on Saturday, February 16th and FOX Business Network on February 18th. FOX's head business honcho, Neil Cavuto, has clearly decided that it's his job to bolster the moth-bitten, creaky campaign of John McCain by unleashing his pack of rabid, greedy "FOX business experts" on Democratic front-runner Barack Obama.

The first salvo was fired on Bulls & Bears, hosted by brassy, red-headed dominatrix Brenda Buttner. Her harem of experts - Gary B. Smith, Scott Bleier, Pat Dorsey and Tobin B. Smith - dutifully dumped on a possible Obama presidency, universally agreeing that Barack Obama's economic plan would result in the demise of capitalism.

Check out this laughable exchange:

Later, Neil Cavuto and his band of merry hatchet men (and one woman) continued the Obama-bash during his own Cavuto on Business show.

Then, perpetually peppy preppy David Asman joined the Forbes on FOX gang - including two-time losing Presidential candidate and failed Giuliani campaign manager, Steve Forbes. They slammed Obama's comments on CEO compensation, claiming that he should be equally hard on his Hollywood "buddies" as well. This was just another trumped-up excuse to make disparaging comments about Obama by implying that he's anti-business. Thank goodness Quentin Hardy was once again on board to snap the discussion back to reality!

British ex-patriate and former CNBC anchor Stuart Varney continued the hate fest on the FOX Business Network show FOX Business that aired yesterday, President's Day, February 18th. Varney made no bones about his disdain for Obama's economic plan. As usual on FOX media outlets, the person selected to represent the opposing POV was ineffective. This time it was Leigh Gallagher of Fortune Magazine. She tried her best but Varney and his sidekick du jour, Ed Ponsi hammered home their pro-greed, anti-middle class message. (Note: The sync between the picture and the sound on this video is slightly off.)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Geometrically Increasing Bill for the Iraq War

Here's a new video from Robert Greenwald's Brave New Films. After watching it, you can do something - donate money to an antiwar candidate, start working for your local political organization to bring your message to them, volunteer to be a poll worker, start or sign a petititon against the war, write to your Senators and Congressperson, let all your friends know how you feel, etc.

But don't just sit there, in front of your computer, and do nothing!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Hasta la vista, U.S.A! American Multi-nationals Kiss Off the United States, Head for Far Away Places

In February 2004 I joined eight other women to monitor various FOX News shows for the documentary OUTFOXED: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism. After the film was released, we started a media watch blog called News Hounds. Until January 1st of this year I spent three to five hours a day, seven days a week, viewing and reporting on various FOX News shows, including The O'Reilly Factor, Big Story with John Gibson, Hannity's America, FOX & Friends, America's Newsroom, Your World with Neil Cavuto, the Cost of Freedom financial shows, FOX News Sunday and Special Report with Brit Hume.

I finally could not take it anymore. FOX is a miserable excuse for a news channel and it has been heavenly waking up each morning and NOT feeling pressured to subject myself to GOP propaganda masquerading as news.

Instead, I have been watching CNBC on a daily basis. I find their total devotion to greed to be refreshingly honest. The hosts and guests make very little attempt to mask the fact that it's the bottom line that matters, high net worth that's god and the devil can take the hindmost. (The hindmost tend to be the workers whose labor actually creates the wealth for the stockholders.)

However, within that mindset, CNBC presents a decent sampling of bullish and bearish guests and, wonder of wonders, the hosts actually allow them to finish their sentences!! No more toothsome David Asman slobbering over those who agree with the FOX News viewpoint while rudely interrupting guests who try to tell him something he doesn't want to hear!

Last week the The Financial Times published the stunning announcement that General Electric (ticker symbol GE) is moving the headquarters of its consumer finance division to London. Last year Halliburton (HAL) announced a similar move to Dubai. (Aside: Isn't it quite an interesting coincidence that HAL, the ticker symbol for Halliburton, is the same as the villainous HAL computer in Stanley Kubrick's sci-fi masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey?)

I find this relocation trend to be disturbing. These major companies have used American government, American law, American labor and American consumers to grow into what they are today. Now, it would seem, they are giving us the bird. In a related development, stock experts - even on the flag-draped FOX Business Network - have been urging investors not to put their money into this country but to invest in foreign ETFs, foreign companies and foreign currencies.

Sadly, this doesn't surprise me in the least. However, there are millions of Americans out there who are only now waking up to the realization that they have been had. It is not a coincidence that Barack Obama's support comes from small contributors, including lapsed Republicans like my brother the newly registered Independent, who are plunking down hard-earned nickels and dimes in the idealistic hope that maybe, just once, there's a candidate who will owe his allegiance, not to some company that moves overseas, but to people like you and me.

Several years ago I was reading Original Story By, the autobiography of director, playwright, screenwriter Arthur Laurents. On page 335 he relates the story of his purchase of a lot on the island of Quogue in New York in the year 1954.

"The widow and I stood on her dune, looking out at the ocean. She was a breezy woman, yet sad about the property: she had wanted to build, but her husband had died. She wanted to be sure I was going to build, then warned the lot had cost her $22,000 in the Twenties, a price that was never coming back; beach property had had it. Of course, her ocean frontage, which determined price, wasn't as wide as most, but her dune was thick and strong and the lot ran from the high water mark on the beach, across Dune Road, across the wetlands on the other side to Shinnecock Bay. Five acres in all. A farewell sigh: she would let me have it for $5,000."

Let's do a financial analysis of this seemingly innoccous biographical episode.

In 1929, a five-acre oceanfront lot on Quogue Island cost $22,000.

Twenty-five years later the same lot was sold for $5,000, a loss of $17,000 (77%) to the owner.

In 1974, the widow's property would have sold for close to its original price of $22,000.

By 1984, the widow's heirs would have realized a profit.

In other words, the crash of 1929 was a fifty-year correction.

Here's my completely intuitive take on what happened then and what may be happening now.

In the period after the American Civil War through the early 1920s, manufacturing began its inexorable move from Europe to the United States. This put a strain on the European currencies, which were finally dealt a death blow with the massive disruptions of World War I. By 1929 it became imperative for the markets to tag future trades to the dollar rather than the pound, franc and mark. I believe that 1929 was the beginning of a massive, long-term restructuring of the financial markets as they gradually acknowledged the dominance of the American dollar.

In the past thirty years, from Ronald Reagan through Bill Clinton, the government, acting in collusion with powerful economic interests, has effectively moved 90% of American manufacturing to China and other points west, east and south.

I believe that we are about to experience another multi-year economic upheaval - a depression if you will - as the international markets once again make a long-term shift, this time tagging themselves to the Chinese yuan.

This morning on CNBC a real estate expert made the standardized claim that property eventually returns to its highest value. This statement should be taken with a truckload of salt.

If, as I believe, we are about to experience another huge currency upheaval, anyone who owns property in the United States had better be prepared to leave it to the grandchildren, since it may not reach its current value again until 2058!

One wonders why the mind of man cannot devise a better economic system.

This boom-bust approach is a massive loser all the way around.