Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Four FOK News Channel posts for this date.
Click to go directly to:
Special Comment: Libya, Obama and the Five-Second Rule
Snappy Answers
Photo of the Day
Worst Persons
Worst Persons For March 23
video 'podcast'
via YouTube

The bronze, to Fox News actress Jennifer Griffin, who not only lied about CNN and Reuters television crews being used as "Human Shields" in Libya, but even after being confronted with a complete and furious denial by CNN's Nic Robertson plus the information that a Fox employee accompanied the CNN and Reuters people during the event in question, she went back on Fixed News and repeated the lie.

There's a kind of 3-A award here to Mr. Robertson himself. While his response to the allegation was appropriate and necessary, he did say:

When you come to somewhere like Libya, you expect lies and deceit from a dictatorship here. You don't expect it from the other journalists.

Oh, Nic! They're not journalists...they're Fox!

Number two on the list: Franklin Graham. He is continuing his father Billy's ministry of divisiveness, condescension, fear-mongering, and cash in easy to carry packets. Per "Mother Jones," the evangelist has now insisted that on instructions from President Obama, the 'Muslim Brotherhood' has quote "infiltrated every level of our government," unquote. Graham also contends that Obama is more concerned with helping American Muslims than American Christians. He, of course, offered no proof and no further explanation.

In the great baseball book 'Ball Four,' Jim Bouton recounts how his 1969 Seattle Pilots teammate Steve Hovley sidled up to him before a game one day and announced "Billy Graham Is A Cracker." Who could have guessed, 42 years later, that Graham's son would be even dumber and more racist?

But our winner: Good Old Lonesome Rhodes Beck.

As his daily warnings about the end times suggest he's modeled himself after Boake Carter, who was America's top newscaster in 1937, fired by CBS in 1938, reduced to apocalyptic visions by 1942, off the air entirely by 1943, and dead by 1944 – Beck has now offered this pronouncement:

"The world is about to be plunged into complete and utter darkness, despair (and) famine."

Gosh, Glennie. That's old news. That happened already. On January 19th, 2009. The day the "Glenn Beck" show premiered on Fox News.

Lonesome Rhodes Beck... today's Worst Person!
Special Comment: Libya, Obama and the Five-Second Rule
Video via FOK News Channel
video 'podcast'

We all know "the five second rule." Drop food on the floor and if you pick it up before that span of time elapses, and it'll still be "good." There is also a life-and-death version of this: the five-day rule, by which we have surrendered to any U.S. President the right to kill people in our name, provided he only does it for a couple of days.

I'm not defending this policy, I am simply stating that at some point in the last 60 years it has been established. And from the Bay of Pigs, to Reagan's Trophy War in Granada, to President Clinton's bombing of Iraq, to President Clinton's bombing of Sudan, to President Clinton's bombing of Libya - "the horse of undeclared war" has pretty much left the barn.

Nevertheless. After that Imperial period of a few days, a President - this one included - is required to either call it off, or justify why it must continue, or maybe even follow the Constitution and get approval from Congress by explaining the threat to this country that rationalizes the continuing action. Especially when we now have American pilots bailing out over hostile territory.

Not only have not yet we gotten this from President Obama about Libya, but five days into our involvement in bombing, what we are getting is a series of extraordinarily mixed messages. And none could be more stark than what he said, compared to what his Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said:

From the President, Monday - quoting: "It is U-S Policy that Qaddafi needs to go."

From the Chairman, Sunday - quoting. "It's not about seeing him go," unquote. He added that the mission might be accomplished even if Qaddafi stays in power.

And from the President's War Powers letter to Congress... quoting: "United States forces are conducting a limited and well-defined mission in support of international efforts to protect civilians and prevent a humanitarian disaster. Accordingly, U.S. forces have targeted the Qadhafi regime's air defense systems, command and control structures, and other capabilities of Qadhafi's armed forces used to attack civilians and civilian populated areas."

So. This is about making sure Qaddafi goes. Except, it's not about making sure he goes. Except it's about making sure he can't attack his own civilians.

If, Mr. President, you some day want to announce "Mission Accomplished" about this, there is no easier route than to identify two mutually exclusive outcomes as the Mission.

I wish the conflict in goals ended there, but it does not.

Your War Powers Message also included the news that "we will seek a rapid, but responsible transition of operations to coalition, regional, or international organizations that are postured to continue activities as may be necessary to realize the objectives..."

Except this seems to be news to those "coalition, regional, or international organizations." The British Prime Minister, Mr. Cameron, said responsibility would be transferred to NATO. The French Foreign Minister, M'sieu Juppe, said the Arab League would not accept control of the operation being given to NATO. But Turkey opposed the use of force by NATO and was promptly excluded from a NATO meeting to plan that use of force. In case the situation is not confused enough, the Turkish Prime Minister Mr. Erdogan said Turkey did not object to NATO's participation, providing the organization could assure him the action would be brief and there would be no occupation - which simply seems to send us right back to where we were earlier with the "five-second rule" of when and for how long it's ok to kill people.

The metaphorical five seconds has expired, Mr. President. We are not clear why we are fighting, who exactly we are fighting with, who the 'rebels' are that we're fighting for, what a No-Fly Zone accomplishes with a dictator who has ground troops, how long we are to be there, to whom we are to "hand-off," and why, Sir, if we are intervening on behalf of civilians at risk, why we did not do so in Egypt, why we are not doing so in places like Bahrain, and - if the local government were to somehow screw-up the containment at the Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, if this new doctrine would somehow permit us to go in and try to take over Japan.

The longer we go, President Obama, without a clear and compelling argument for why we are doing whatever we are doing, and how soon you are going to stop doing it, the more room there will be for explanations such as those provided by Congressman Ed Markey, and by the Dictator Qaddafi himself.

The latter, Mr. President, said "We will not leave our oil to America or France or Britain or the enemy Christian states that are aligned now against us." The Brookings Institution helpfully translated this phrase tersely. It means either he intends to blow up Libya's oil infra-structure, or he intends to wait us out, and then if he prevails, to give all his nation's oil business to countries who stayed out of this, like, say... China.

The less crazy summary of this came from Congressman Markey. Seven words: Quote: "We are in Libya because of oil."

This, Mr. President, is not the impression you want to leave with the people of this country.

Mike Lupica in the New York Daily News - of all of those people - just recounted the story of how a previous President vowed to handle Qaddafi after a previous external outrage - and at just about the same time of year. He bombed Tripoli, then went off to throw out a first pitch at the opening game of the baseball season. One of the players at the game told that President that he was worried about Qaddafi and the Libyans. That President told the athlete not to be worried. He supposedly pointed to the bench in the dugout and said of Qaddafi, quote, "We ought to nail his (privates) to that log over there and push him over."

That President was Ronald Reagan, and this was after the Berlin Disco bombing, and thus the 25th anniversary of empty, vague, and unfulfilled threats against Qaddafi happens next month. Qaddafi has outlasted four presidents, going so far as to con the last of them, George W. Bush, into actually saying that Qaddafi had 'renounced terrorism' and merited immunity from the lawsuits over the Lockerbie bombing, plus a visit from Condi Rice, and the home version of the "Play the U.S. like a two-dollar banjo" Game.

Now - as ever - Libya is enticing yet a fifth U-S President to try to have his cake and eat it, too - before he drops it and the five-second rule applies. He will not commit to war, he will stand as far back from war-like actions as he can, and he believes it's about Qaddafi "going" while his Joint Chiefs Chair says it isn't.

Chairman Mullen said something else which kind of sums this quagmire up. Quoting again: "The goals are limited." This is the fifth Administration for which that's been true. Once again, it's just too bad that we don't really know... what the goals are.

Mr. President, it's time you made those goals clear... and then let us decide whether or not we agree with you.
Snappy Answers For March 23

New York Times Obituary Of Elizabeth Taylor Written By Theater Critic Who Died Six Years Ago

Answer: Proving the theory that you should never get into an argument with the guy who owns the ink factory – he'll always have the last word.

Jeff Daniels In Talks To Play Aaron Sorkin's Third Version Of Me

Answer: Josh Charles, Peter Krause, Jeff Daniels. To say nothing of Ben Affleck. How can I complain? They could've gotten Robert Prosky or Wilfrid Brimley. By the way, that's no typo about Krause. Aaron told me that the reason (he thought) Sports Night didn't really work was that while he based the character Josh Charles played on my demeanor and overall approach, both he and his partner, played by Peter Krause (who was physically patterned on Craig Kilborn and Dan Patrick), behaved like I would have in real life. Thus, as he put it, there weren't enough conflicts since he had "two Olbermanns." I tried to explain that should've provided more than enough conflict, but I let it go. This also seems the right moment to mention that he had an alternate ending to the series in which the fictionalized version of ESPN is bought out by some evil guy who hated sports, and who turned it into a shopping channel. The guy he wanted to play that role, in the last episode? Me!

One other note. During the 2000 World Series I was walking up 6th Avenue when from a distance of two blocks, who did I spy walking towards me, but none other than Josh Charles himself. Thus I had plenty of time to prepare my greeting. When we finally reached each other, I stared at him, he briefly gave me that "yes, I'm an actor, I'll sign an autograph" thing, then his eyes opened wide and I got to say my carefully rehearsed line: "Excuse me, but you don't get to ask this question very often in life. Didn't you used to play me on tv?"

Josh and I had a very nice 20-minute conversation about which was worse, working for ESPN or working for Aaron's version of ESPN.
Photo Of The Day For March 23


Actually, that's just the hand "holding" the sign on Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum in Times Square.