Martin Bashir Fired, MSNBC Sucks

Martin BashirJust in case you didn’t know it, liberals are a bunch of spineless fucks who have no loyalty at all. MSNBC has fired Martin Bashir for his comment about Sarah Palin. I’m sure the network will claim that he is resigning or whatever, but we all know the truth. As you all know, after the incident, I wrote, Martin Bashir Was Wrong to Apologize. And I noted in that article that Bashir offered the best public apology I had ever heard. That should have been the end of the story.

But MSNBC has always been a terrible network. They have some good people, but the network does not support them. They are also not very smart. It was a bad idea to move Chris Hayes from Up, where he was the perfect host. Steve Kornacki, who now hosts the show, is ill-suited to it. He is much better on a weeknight hour-long show like All In. Then, of course, there was MSNBC‘s unconscionable treatment of Ed Schultz. The firing of Alec Baldwin after five episodes was just pathetic. Meanwhile, they hold onto Lawrence O’Donnell, one of the most self-important and annoying people on cable news. They allow Rachel Maddow to focus on gay and reproductive rights almost to the exclusion of anything else. Not to mention her schoolgirl naivete about sex scandals. Apparently, they are tutoring Chris Hayes to be more combative to bring up his disappointing ratings. And don’t get me started about The Cycle.

I’ve been having problems with MSNBC for some time, but this is the last straw. I simply will not watch the network anymore—ever. And I encourage everyone else to do the same. Al Jazeera America is now widely available on cable. Go to their site and see if it is available for you. It does a much better job than any of the big three American cable news channels. Also, check out Sam Seder’s Majority Report and The Young Turks. These are both excellent resources.

There is another problem with MSNBC. I never learn anything. They just cover stories that I’ve read about earlier in the day. They were fine background noise for the time that I was cooking. But they certainly didn’t present stories that provided new insight. And when there was breaking news, they turned into a slightly more boring version of CNN. Oh! And have you noticed how much they hock all the pathetic books they publish? Most recently it’s been, Tip and the Gipper—a book with the intelligence and gravitas of Sarah Palin’s Good Tidings and Great Joy. Hard hitting journalism that!

MSNBC is dead to me. Maybe Martin Bashir can move to Al Jazeera America.

Afterword

It is also true that since MSNBC changed its website, everything is fucked up. All In can go days before posting shows. No one on MSNBC has any right to complain about HealthCare.gov.

Update (4 December 2013 6:30 pm)

I just found an excellent article by Justin Baragona that said much the same thing I did when Bashir apologized, Did Martin Bashir Really Need to Apologize to Sarah Palin? It makes it all the more ridiculous given that even after a very real apology—the kind we never get from the right—Bashir is fired:

Bashir contritely and professionally offered a full apology to Sarah Palin. He seemed legitimately sorry for his choice of words and stated that he would make sure to carry himself in a more mannered, adult way in the future. The sad thing here is that Palin’s idiotic statements get swept under the rug, as she now continues with her well-worn brand of victimology. It is always about poor little Sarah getting picked on by the big, bad liberals. It doesn’t matter that she is a polarizing idiot that says dumb, offensive things and helps push the Tea Party’s barely-masked racist agenda against this president.

No, the main thing here is to make sure that Palin is treated with respect, even when she never shows any herself. It is perfectly fine for Palin to constantly insult and denigrate POTUS, liberals, Democrats and anyone that just doesn’t agree with her. Why? Because they deserve it, that’s why! However, let anyone truly dig into her and take her to task for the ignorant, hateful a-hole she really is, then out comes the victim mentality. Her and her supporters immediately cry ‘sexism’ and immediately blame the ‘lamestream’ media for allowing this to happen. And then she gets her apologies. It has all grown so tiresome.

Maybe Bashir was right on Friday. Perhaps he shouldn’t have apologized yesterday. Maybe someone does need to take a big sh*t in Sarah Palin’s mouth. At the very least, it would keep her quiet for a bit.

Update (7 December 2013 7:14 pm)

Here is a discussion on Democracy Now! about the firing of Phil Donahue that I discussed in the comments:

The Myth of Modern Christian Persecution

The Myth of PersecutionI haven’t read Sarah Palin’s new book, Good Tidings and Great Joy. But I’ve skimmed it. It’s hard to take. Yet another book from a Christer claiming to be oppressed because the clerk at Target says, “Happy holidays!” Oh, if Saint Sebastian were alive today, how could he endure? Arrows are one thing, but this is war. If nativity scenes aren’t allowed in state courthouses, the baby Jesus pees blood. It’s a God damned shame!

Palin’s book is a good companion to a book I actually did read, Candida Moss’ The Myth of Persecution. Moss is a Christian herself and she thinks all of this nonsense of Christian martyrdom is bad for the religion. A professor of New Testament and Early Christianity, she knows what she’s talking about. It turns out that all that business of Christians being fed to the lions is a myth. Well, it’s a myth in the sense that they weren’t fed to these beasts because they were Christians. Lots of people were so abused. When Christians were killed, it was generally because they broke the law. The early Christians were a radical group, many of them would today be called terrorists.

So I love Bruce Cockburn’s excellent song “Wondering Where the Lions Are,” but it’s a crock:

Consider our old friend Saint Sebastian. His story is so filled with clear folklore, that it is hard to take any of it seriously. He made the mute talk and the blind see. Merely hearing about his acts of healing caused people to be healed. But here’s the thing. He was a captain in the Praetorian Guard, serving under Emperor Diocletian. Now the Christians will have you believe that Diocletian got mad at Sebastian because he was converting people to Christianity. But that doesn’t appear to be what was going on at all. For example, he converted Chromatius who then set all of his prisoners free from jail and resigned. That’s the sort of thing that would get a soldier court-martialed today.

So Diocletian basically sentenced Sebastian to death (or perhaps just torture) by having him tied to a tree and having his men shoot arrows at Sebastian. Left for dead, he survived and was nursed back to health. So Sebastian presented himself to Diocletian to rub his nose in the fact that he was still alive. So the emperor had his men beat Sebastian to death and throw his body in the sewer. God did not heal him from this. Of course, we don’t know that any of this is even true. Sebastian was never even discussed until a century after this all supposedly happened. The point is that the story is supposed to show Christians being persecuted for their faith when, if anything, they were persecuted for being dicks and rabble rousers.

This mythology of the early Christians being persecuted did lead to actual martyrdom later on, because myths matter. If people are told that the best thing they can do is martyr themselves for the cause, there’s no surprise when people do just that. We see the same things today with Muslim martyrs. But when it comes to all of these religious people, any religious persecution was at best isolated and idiosyncratic.

And that brings us back to Sarah Palin. Because of this myth of Christian persecution, she and so many others like her, practice their faiths by pretending that they are some oppressed religious minority. They do this at the same time that they want to claim that America is a Christian Nation. They also love to point out that roughly 80% of the country self-identifies as Christian. I wrote about this last year, Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas. As I said then:

The substitution of “happy holidays” implicitly relegates Christmas to the level of all other seasonal holidays. Christians want to be told that Christmas is more than just their holiday—an expression of their religious belief. They want to be told that Christmas is true—an expression of what God really is and not just their opinion.

A moment’s thought on this issue will show that this is true. But notice how the deconstruction lays bare the absurdity of the request. It is not enough to include Christmas in a greeting, the greeting must single out Christmas because, you know, unlike those other religions, it’s true! Now, I’m as deluded as the next man, but I don’t require that others pander to my delusions.

So that’s what Sarah Palin’s new book is all about. Christmas is not everyone’s holiday. It is the holiday that belongs only to those chosen people who happen to believe in the right God. And the rest of us who are not Christians and who really don’t care are waging a war on Christianity through our indifference. So the myth of the persecution of Christians lives on, but now it has been so debased that cable “news” networks spend whole segments whining about the fact that non-Christians don’t celebrate the winter solstice the “right” way. Proving one’s love to God comes pretty cheap to the modern Christian.

The One Ronnie

Ronnie CorbettOn this day in 1795, the great historian Thomas Carlyle was born. His The French Revolution: A History was the basis for Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. He was a fascinating man. He is probably best known today for coining the term “the dismal science” for economics. And the way most conservatives approach it, it is dismal. The general idea is, “We can do nothing to limit suffering because markets must be ‘free.'” By “free” they mean skewed as to enrich the rich and impoverish the poor.

Paul O’Neill is 78 today. He was Treasury Secretary under Bush Jr. He’s important because he was fired by the Bush administration. No level of incompetence or corruption could get you fired from that administration. But O’Neill did the one thing you just couldn’t do: he told the truth. I don’t actually agree with him. He’s a budget hawk. But he countered the Republicans’ totally unjustified claim that tax cuts pay for themselves. So he had to go. Logic and reason are not allowed when one is down the rabbit hole.

Actor Jeff Bridges is 64. I like him well enough as an actor. However, it’s an outrage that he received the Academy Award for Crazy Heart. In that film, he played a tired cliche (the sympathetic drunk) in an entirely standard way. Steve Buscemi did a far better and more complex job in Trees Lounge. But whatever; the Academy is made up of a bunch of fools anyway. What really bugs me about Jeff Bridges is his voice acting work for television commercials. Bridges is worth something on the order of $30 million. Does he really need to take work away from all the really talented voice actors who are struggling just to get by? I think it is unconscionable. He should be a social pariah for that behavior.

Actor Marisa Tomei is 49. I have liked her in just about everything I’ve seen. I thought her performance in Slums of Beverly Hills was really subtle and wonderful. But I’ll always love her for My Cousin Vinny. In particular, this scene:

Other birthdays: film director Lloyd Bacon (1889); jazz guitarist Jim Hall (83); actor Max Baer Jr (76); and musician Jay-Z (44).

The day, however, belongs to Scottish comedian Ronnie Corbett, who is 83 today. On the show The Two Ronnies, he did these armchair monologues. The idea was that he would tell a joke, but usually the jokes were old and often not funny. What was funny was his monologue leading up to the joke. For Americans, they can be a bit hard to understand because he uses a lot of British jargon. Still, the humor comes through loud and clear. I never really liked the show, but I watched it just to hear these monologues. Here is “The Parrot Joke.”[1]

Happy birthday Ronnie Corbett!


[1] The other parrot joke he is referring to is as follows. It is taken from the website Planned Parrothood, but I’ve edited it to improve it. (I fancy that I tell the joke rather well.)

There was once a magician on a cruise ship who performed mainly sleight of hand tricks. He was part of the ship’s cabaret entertainment. He was actually quite a good magician, but his routines were regularly ruined by the parrot who was part of another performer’s animal act. The parrot would squawk at him from the side of the stage, revealing how his tricks were done.

“Awk, it’s up his sleeve! He put it up his sleeve!” the parrot would squawk.

Or it would burst out, “Awk, there’s a duplicate card! A duplicate card!”

Or, “Awk, he switched the lemon! Switched it for a prepared lemon!”

The magician was getting pretty sick of this and started fantasizing about killing the bird. The next evening right at the climax of his act, just as he was about to do his best trick—the slow motion card vanish, the ship hit an iceberg and sank in seconds.

Amazingly, the magician was the only survivor. As he was lying on a piece of driftwood in a daze, the parrot flew in from out of the blue and landed next to him. The parrot just stared at the magician. This went on for hours. It was like a staring contest: neither the bird nor the magician looked away.

After several hours of this, the parrot finally spoke, “Awk! I give up. What did you do with the ship?”

Here is the slow motion card vanish:

A Better World Without Hitchens

Christopher HitchensThis is amazing. It is an hour long debate between Eric Alterman and Christopher Hitchens. It is mostly a discussion of Hitchens’ support of the Iraq War. The debate takes place right before the 2008 presidential election. It is really worth watching. Alterman is great as usual, and quite reasonable. I don’t completely agree with him; he’s quite a bit more conservative than I am. But Hitchens is just amazing. In this one video, he shows how he had lost all credibility toward the end of his career.

The last decade he was alive, he spent it using his considerable intellect and erudition to avoid admitting that he had been wrong to cheerlead for that war. I won’t take the time, but there must be at least thirty times when he simply lies. (His comment about the Bush administration having to be forced into going to war is contradicted by just about everyone who was around at that time. See, for example, Richard Clarke.) And when he’s not lying, he’s brushing aside important questions with snarky comments. This is a great example of why his death had absolutely no effect on the level of public intellectual discourse. He had long ago gotten out of that business.

It’s interesting that he was an outspoken atheist. First, it was the only thing that kept him relevant in the public. The atheist community found him too amusing to throw away, even though his thinking on religious topics was pathetic. Second, his previous writing in favor of the Iraq War became his own personal Bible. He effectively became an apologist for that corpus. Remember, this is a man who to the end would savage the Ronald Reagan presidency. But he couldn’t say anything bad about Bush. Bush could have been decapitating babies and it would have been okay because he killed that very dangerous man Saddam Hussein. (Funny how the CIA couldn’t be trusted because they over-estimated the strength of the USSR, but Bush is great despite the fact that he over-estimated Hussein hundreds of times worse.)

I’m glad Hitchens is gone (he wouldn’t have to be dead). As a public figure, he was a disaster. He made the world a worse place. Plenty of people do that, of course. But few of them have the brilliance to do good. Christopher Hitchens used his gifts to push for an unnecessary and evil war. And then he spent the rest of his life trying to justify it. He should have either admitted his error or just shut up. We are so much better off without him.