Saturday, August 27, 2011

Rachel, Rachel, Rachel… Deconstructing The Rachel Maddow Show (and Paul Krugman, just for fun)

I’ve found that the best way to get through an entire episode of the Rachel Maddow Show is by washing down a Dramamine with a hefty snort of Jameson about 10 minutes before it begins. Otherwise, I might just blow a brain gasket if I haven’t pre-prepared. Certainly there are no doubts that Rachel Maddow is intelligent as few would ever deny this. She’s quite personable, charming, good-looking to boot, and I do like her wit as well, which makes it understandable why so many admire her. She pleasantly engages her guests, frames the issues well and sometimes asks heady questions. What can I say; she’s brainy and has a natural gift of the gab.

For my friends on the left (and those cute, impressionable, single lesbians on the dating websites) who are so enamored with squishy love for Rachel, and in most cases simply for the fact she’s gay, I wish there were a way I could debrief and deprogram viewers after an episode of The Rachel Maddow Show. If it’s not glaringly apparent already, there’s a reason it’s called a “show”, but peel away the sleek set, the competent and snappy a/v edits and the casual “just one of the girls” atmosphere and the “news” content presented isn’t specifically news more so than a giant editorial of selective, heavily-massaged, partisan opinion peppered with a few facts here and there. Her real role is keeping The Rift of the Great Partisan Divide between the left and the right going, but I have no doubts she truly believes what she is saying. I take issue with what she’s serving her audience which is either subtly misguided, horribly askew and listing with partisanship, or flat out wrong. Frankly, I grimace in seeing her ardent followers being led astray, or worse, being lied to either by omission or topic ignorance. No offense, but smart doesn’t necessarily make you correct no matter how well-educated you or your staff happens to be.

In the same time slot as Rachel’s show, pitted on the right, is FOX’s Sean Hannity and there certainly is a reason for that as well. Now, I don’t watch Hannity because I find him particularly vile and an insult to my own intelligence, but here’s the gist of the game: Maddow and Hannity are a Max Headroom-esque tag team of good cop/bad cop, depending on which side of the fence you sit. In current mainstream American political discourse, you’re expected to choose one of two sides and most folks willingly play along. However, the error in choosing a side of the fence is that there really is no fence. The fence is an illusion and Maddow and Hannity’s real job requirement is to make you believe in that barricade. To prove my point, some night during Rachel’s show (and preferably on an evening when you don’t have to work the next day), try playing the drinking game. Every time Rachel says “Republican”, “GOP” or something to that effect, take a drink. I’ll even give you a major break and allow the exemption of the words “tea party”. Chances are you’ll still be shit faced long before the second commercial break. Having tried this one evening with the aforementioned bottle of Jameson, let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty. Beer is the better alternative for this game.

“In our media-dominated age, news personalities such as Bill O'Reilly, Chris Matthews, Sean Hannity, and Rachel Maddow, among others, dispense the news with power and certainty like preachers used to dispense religion and boast vast viewerships that hang on their every word. Yet these talking heads are little more than Wizard of Oz-like front men for the powers-that-be, the mega corporations whose sphere of influence extends from the newsroom to the nexus of political power, Washington, DC.”

Case and point (at the 1:30 mark, it’s four minutes of economic comedy): Maddow espouses this belief that the lack of economic growth is all the Republican’s fault and that ‘good government’, like Glenda the Good Witch, can’t get anything done because of resistance from the right, therefore she says the only alternative is to have the Federal Reserve print and inject money into the system to pull us out of the recession, et Voila! Mission accomplished! Excuse me, Rachel, let me help a sister out here to avoid any further embarrassment; you might want to take a look at this chart from the Fed because the policy you just described is exactly the policy the Fed has had in place since August of 2007. All that Fed money you were hoping for? Yeah, I think the technical term for what the Fed has done is known as the Fiat Leg-Up of Biblical Proportions Plan. And the result: It hasn’t worked. It has only served to weaken the dollar’s value and prop up massive failure. So as a return favor, Rachel, please try not to bore yourself or the audience with the devilish details of monetary policy since you’re more than four years behind the learning curve on this. Save that stuff for those of us who have ventured into the deep end of the pool. I mean, even a basic working knowledge gets you into the game, but I’m afraid that since you showed your hand on monetary policy, you inadvertently told us everything we needed to know about your economic policy creds. In other words, ignorance of the topic destroyed your argument. I would suggest having an Austrian economist on to roughly lay out the Cliff Notes version of events which, by the way, they correctly predicted long before the housing debacle and economic fallout happened. (Don’t act surprised. It only gives you away.) But since they can’t even get Paul Krugman to accept a challenge to debate an Austrian economist, I won’t bother checking my coat in expectation of seeing one on the program anytime soon.

It’s no wonder Maddow thinks monetary policy is such a snoozer as she proved on national television to have no clue about it. I just pray she won’t take up a career in economics or investment advice. Really, I mean how embarrassing was that? Somehow I suspect that The Creature from Jekyll Island or Wall Street, Banks and American Foreign Policy were never high up on her reading list priorities. If a topic like Fed policy which is easily verifiable and right under your nose, then having to witness someone as smart as Maddow self-admitting to being so fundamentally wrong about it, what else is she wrong about? Well, how much time do you have? I’ll pour another shot….

More than likely Rachel has bought into NYT’s columnist Paul Krugman’s song and dance with her endless droning on about “more government stimulus”. Sure sounds like they’re singing in the same choir. And oh, do note that just because Krugman is labeled an ‘economist’ doesn’t mean he is good at it. Seriously, Krugman is so out of ideas he’s now calling for space aliens to invade planet Earth to help the US out of economic slump. I’m not kidding. Anyone with two critical thinking brain cells left to rub together could replace the words “space aliens” with “terrorists” in Krugman’s argument and easily see how well that has worked out over the last decade. Stimulus, indeed. This is hardly surprising ‘logic’ coming from those firmly entrenched in the “FDR was the greatest thing since sliced bread and World War II pulled us out of the Great Depression” camp. But just try your hand explaining that anyone can magically ‘solve’ bad unemployment numbers by disappearing 10 million men off to war. Or by saying stuff like: post-war congresses cut federal spending by 40% / 38% / 14% between 1946-48… because if you do you’re certainly going to get the deer in the headlights look and a room full of crickets from that crowd. Then there is the unpleasant moral issue of Krugman’s icky nonchalance of war being good for the economy although he looks the type to wet his pants by merely placing a loaded rifle and a hot grenade in his hands. He doesn’t seem concerned about the death, destruction and havoc created by his ‘economically good wars’ just as long as people are busy digging holes and filling them back up again, usually as graves these days. War as a mere economic tool is pretty grotesque, Paul. Keep in mind this advice is coming from the same guy who said in ‘02 that the housing bubble was a good idea.

Now Rachel does love her some big government, honey. She is the dream team captain of the MSNBC BigGov cheerleading squad. If you’ve seen her commercials, one is shot (by Spike Lee, I’m told) under an expansion bridge traversing a ravine where she points and basically proclaims that "This couldn't happen without the government". Right there it becomes obvious she didn't watch, or at least absorb the first ten minutes of the film, The Corporation. You know, that sticky, historical fine print that clearly denotes that it was because of government-granted privileges to corporations that corporatism came about in the first place? Anyway, she erroneously insinuates that no one but government would want to build a bridge and that, in her opinion; we need government to make bridges happen. If you listen carefully, you begin to hear how she’s conflating government and society as being one in the same. The two are hardly synonymous and what she’s lobbying for surely isn’t something new under the sun. History is full of bad re-runs.

"Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all." --Frederic Bastiat, The Law, 1850

And Maddow, like Krugman, is certainly out of innovative ideas. So just where is all that fine American ingenuity, Rachel? Well, why bother when it’s just much, much easier to defer your problems to the government, right?

“In the U.S.A., for example, government has a monopoly of mail delivery. Ask citizens if government should do this and most of them will reply in the affirmative. Why? Simply because government has pre-empted this activity for so many decades that all enterprisers have ceased to think how mail could be delivered were it a private enterprise opportunity. Indeed, most of them have come to believe that private enterprise would be wholly incapable of effective mail service. Yet, I note that each day we deliver more pounds of milk than mail. Further, milk is more perishable than a love letter, a catalogue, or an appeal for funds. We also note that the delivery of milk is more prompt and less costly to us than is the delivery of mail.
I ask myself, then, why shouldn't private enterprise deliver mail? Private enterprise delivers freight. That's heavier. But, no; my countrymen have lost faith in man's ability, acting freely, to deliver letters. These people who get gas out of the earth in Texas and pipe it to my range hundreds of miles away; these men who bring each four pounds of oil halfway around the world for less cost than· government charges to deliver a one ounce
letter to the other side of the street in my home town; these men who build planes that will fly 150 people across the North American continent in less than four hours; these men who do such fantastic things have lost faith in themselves to do the simple chore of letter delivery.”
-Leonard E. Read, Why Not Try Freedom, 1958 [emphasis mine]

…just ask Lysander Spooner how his ingenuity worked out for him.

Privatization??? Oh, the horror! That’s a dirty word! Um, yeah. A little competition is a good thing. Why? Because a business has an incentive to perform well or else the penalty is to go bankrupt and out of business. This is how real innovation forms. And imagine this: all businesses aren’t predatory corporate villains, especially the ones who don’t receive government subsidies and privileges. The computer with which you’re reading this, your cell phone, flat screen TV, your espresso machine, lawn mower, and every other amenity you use were made mostly by an honest-to-goodness company who just wanted to make money to sustain and benefit their own sustenance and improvement while providing a good product or service in return. (That’s called being mutually beneficial.) These folks get up and go to work just like you do every day. (That’s called jobs.) And because of competition, they do their jobs in the most efficient and waste-free way possible because they know that there are 10 other companies out there in the same business, doing the same exact thing that will take a greater percentage of their customer share if they fail at being efficient and innovative. None of those consumer necessities and luxuries could be manufactured on our own and certainly the government can’t do it because government doesn’t possess the means to make x-Boxes or for that matter, bridges or roads. And poor Rachel sincerely believes that the government creates jobs.

Good grief. Governments don’t have the capacity to ‘create’ anything. The best they can do is take money from citizens by threat of coercion and become the bureaucratic middle man and then contract out the work. And sadly, in the end, government projects usually costs two to five times the initial budget expectations. So there goes Rachel, trying to get you to believe that if the government doesn’t do it, it can’t be done. How innovative and thought provoking. If you want to waste the most money possible on a project, then get the government involved. And if there is such an animal as a BigGov project that came in ‘at or below’ budget, I’d love to see it. I’m confident thinking that it’s a really short list, if existent at all. As a monopoly, in the absence of competition keeping them on their fiscal toes, government has no incentive whatsoever to be careful with other people’s money. The next time a major piece of legislation comes up, see how many pages are devoted to “waste, fraud, and abuse”. It’s quite telling.

Now if the corporations are your pet peeve, lest we not forget that Rachel Maddow’s paycheck is signed by one of the largest multi-national, mega-conglomerate corporations on the planet who just happens to be a top-tier beneficiary in the US government’s military contractor roster. Swooning queers and those still preoccupied with the fence haven't realized that Maddow is a front man for a megalithic corporation that has an agenda: General Electric, the parent company of NBC, MSNBC and CNBC. (The words “parent company” have quite the paternalistic effect, don’t they?) GE enjoys a fat contract being one of the USGov’s biggest go-to guys for war toys, not to mention that GE pumps both the Dem and GOP campaign coffers equally to ensure their bread continues to get buttered. Sure, no conflict of interest there. No big whoop that Jeffery Immelt, GE’s CEO, is on Obama’s economic recovery team. And as much as I hear folks of all stripes complaining that “the corporate media is bought and paid for”, then really people, why the hell are you still listening? Even more incredible is that Rachel’s own education as a Rhodes Scholar is the product of wealth acquired by imperialism, colonialism and human exploitation… or does no one remember who Cecil Rhodes was? Oh, the irony here of the Rhodes scholarship being such a prestigious honor.

Now back to our show….

Rachel’s segment on nullification had to be the most blatantly dishonest piece I have ever witnessed to date. Wow. Just wow. It set such a new low that FOX News was jealous. What it lacked in journalistic integrity and honest assessment, it sure made up for it in the propaganda and sensationalism departments. The selective bias of Rachel’s nullification bit is the stuff that a thinking person’s aneurysms are made of. The 10th Amendment Center was so uncharacteristically portrayed; I really don’t even know where to begin. Her attempts to shape this topic into both a partisan issue and a racism issue were so off the mark. When Monsanto was the behind-the-scenes driving force of a federal Food Safety Act that raised a lot of red flags. The 10th Amendment Center was there. Most of Rachel’s viewers would probably be horrified with the reality of GMO Frankenfoods and the fact Obama has appointed Monsanto execs and lobbyists to the FDA and Dept. of Agriculture. They might even be aghast to learn about the new food safety ‘laws’ restricting their rights to grow their own fruits and vegetables. Or about the SWAT team raids on organic food co-ops at gunpoint. Even the peaceful Amish aren’t immune to the gun-toting federal harassment. But there she was – defending the Monsanto-backed Food “Safety” bill under the guise of her distorted version of nullification. (Did the Patriot Act not teach us anything about congressional bill misnomers?) Besides reading the 10th Amendment right out of the Bill of Rights as if it were a bad thing, a few examples of nullification that Maddow conveniently left out were medical marijuana, immigrant sanctuary cities, librarians protecting your records from the Feds – you know, all those wonderful nullification issues that left liberals are so good at. It’s no wonder that historian authors like Anthony Gregory aren’t invited on her show because he would have absolutely shred any remaining delusions on this topic which would have undoubtedly destroyed the Maddow Show’s credibility on nullification as being anything other than whack. Why would The Rachel Maddow Show choose to present nullification with this hysterical racist slant a la Refer Maddness redux and smear anyone who dares mention the word as a redneck, Confederate-loving, racist. Republican? It’s all about perception, isn’t it? If you wanted to make it a currency issue, Rachel, again I’ll refer you to the above Federal Reserve monetary chart. (I know how you love some charts, girl.) Maybe for fun you could try the Fed’s “What’s a dollar worth?” Game to gain some insight on what all the fuss is about. Again, topic ignorance destroyed your own arguments.

Now this is where the Dramamine kicks in. I will give Rachel credit for calling out Bush and she did the same initially when Obama charged out of the gate, but we haven’t heard much of that poignant effect from her since the Afghan troop surge in early ‘09. (And no matter how smart you may think she is, Rach, having Susan Rice on the show to regurgitate war talking points and lie about Pakistan does not count as poignant.) It seems Rachel has much more pressing issues building that psychological fence and trying to score Brownie points for Team Blue these days. Then again, I’m an idiot for confusing real journalism with a “show”.

Rachel Maddow does not want to grasp that a 'humanitarian war' is every bit as much of a war as a war-war. Or do I need to trot out Dick Cheney to explain that support for US military intervention in Libya is indeed a pro-war stance? For Maddow to ignore and omit Congressman Denis Kucinich’s recent calls of human rights violations committed by NATO forces in Libya – only to have Rachel cart out Juan Cole, a Libyan intervention supporter, it tends to firmly cement where the Maddow Show’s loyalties lie. Nevermind that this interventionist war was illegal to begin with, but why bother with those pesky little Rule of Law details anymore? Would her viewers get upset if the truth were to come out about NATO’s civilian ‘collateral damage’ and the US’s covert involvement in Libya? Nonetheless, I do understand that pictures of blown up, bloody, burned up body parts are just so bad for ratings. Why, what if someone of delicate sensibilities happens to see it? Its better we just block it out of our minds altogether. Even though the US & NATO ‘liberation efforts’ are killing and maiming thousands of innocent people, you were just doing them a favor by being such good humanitarians, right?

For shame, Rachel. You disappoint me more than my friends on the left did when they disappeared after Obama was elected. Just like Keith Olbermann, you were never anti-war, you were only anti-Bush. Maybe you don’t realize that Dick Cheney loves Obama, so perhaps you should be asking: Does that make me a neo-con now? Is it so hard to conceive that when armies lob missiles, send drones with bombs, and generally blow shit up that there are real people dying on the receiving end of your shit? And yet you still wonder where ‘terrorists’ come from? The only way to stop ‘terrorism’ is to cease being a terrorist yourself in the first place. War is war whether you want to pathetically label it a ‘humanitarian intervention’ or otherwise. This incredulous American desensitization to the real effects of war and who we’ve sadly become during the last decade disturbs me tremendously, especially in this age of instantaneous information outside the mainstream media ranks. So save the “I care about poor people/the economy/the environment” yammer. No. You don’t. You only care about the blue team winning.

A friend wrote:
I used to like Maddow when Bush was in office. While I haven't listened to her or pretty much any of the other talking heads on a regular basis recently, I rarely agree with pretty much anything I hear from her these days. The problem is that her opposition to war, governmental abuse, and corruption, etc. is contingent upon who is in office. Mine isn’t.”

And in a nutshell, that’s the way the Team Red/Team Blue game is played and I’ll kindly remind Rachel that giving Obama the ol’ Partisan Pass is morally, philosophically, and intellectually dishonest. A few of us hold those in elected office to the same standards of accountability across the board, regardless of the R or D following their names. Here’s a hint: That’s called consistency. And just because ‘your guy’ is in office, it doesn’t make his crimes and usurpations any less criminal when he does it. This is why I despise the divisive nature of party line partisanship promoted by the mainstream mouthpieces and backed by the agendas of a corporate-owned media machine. As a vigilant lesbian, Rachel Maddow does not speak for me and she is hereby put on notice that The Duchess of Dykedom has got her number

Don’t worry, sweetie. I won’t be calling.


  1. It's sweet of you to say she is bright. I don't think getting an Oxford PhD proves that (I even have a dirty joke to go with it -- "How many Dons do you have to....")

    When she trashed me on her show for my Tea Party visitors' guide to DC she reported that I was from deepest, whitest Maine -- because she found my blog re-posted on a Maine tea party blog. I've lived in DC since 1980 and have been to a two day conference at Bates College in Maine once.

    Perhaps if she had an intern call me for a comment before she libeled me she would have gotten that fact correct. Now I just cackle at her ads on TV where she is on the floor with 3x5 cards and sharpies talking about her passion for research.

    I've run into "progressive" lesbians in DC who don't care for her either. Maybe because of her reports from Afghanistan where she claimed the Obama regime is just giving them essential city services. She loves the New Deal and the WPA so much she wants it imposed on the Afghanies.

  2. PS I re-posted this on "BigHomo" with a brief intro of my own and some Maddow fan is criticizing your piece as if he thinks I wrote it. I guess the reading comprehension/re-post from another blog problem Rachel has is endemic to her fans too.

  3. "Much better than Cats...I'll read it over and over again..."
    I'm cruelly sending your incisive article to all my Maddow admiring friends. Once again, you've hit one out of the park!

  4. Well, I didn't expect them to sit on the sidelines too long, but his comment surely was the typical forest for the trees knee-jerk response. The cognitive dissonance runs heavy.

  5. Aww, thanks Kevin. Just getting my sea legs here. ;)

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