Tag Archives: BBC

From Beeb to Boob

It’s sad. I remember when the BBC was a light in the wilderness, how all my friends — local and visitors — in South Asia hung on its every word. Yes, there was Voice of America — but it was slower, clumsier, not really a news organization, one felt.

But listening to the “world news hour” rebroadcast through our NPR station the other morning, I heard how the might have fallen. The broadcast was dominated by an interview with someone — never did catch the name, but an old environmentalist reporter or a professor in some of the arts — who blathered on about climate change. He harangued the audience, and the interviewer who kept asking the same questions, for much too long. It gave new meaning to circular reasoning: the gentleman said that it didn’t really matter whether there was a human factor in climate change, although he thought there certainly was, climate was changing and we should do everything we could to work against it because of what human beings were doing to produce climate change. Hello!

Then there was a discussion of the current economic situation in the U.S. and in Euroland. The person again being interviewed [I believe he was a guru from Reuter’s]– hard to know as they hardly ever do the necessary thing of reidentifying him or her throughout the interview — was so partisan that he took a rather Pollyannish view of the just published dismal U.S. statistics and really seemed unaware that Europe was going from one crisis to conference to another crisis.

That inquiry into the partisanship — leftwing dingbat nonsense — which was undertaken some months ago came through with more integrity than one would have expected. But it is obvious, I am afraid, that it will have no effect.

Yes, from Beeb to Boob. But it has taken several decades and I suppose that is a natural pocess of integrations.

The Beeb has turned BPC

That trusty old BBC Newshour which one nurtured us in Asia and elsewhere has gone bonkers. I had learned to live with its prejudices — including its vicious anti-Israeli news which even its own internal investigation exposed. But now in a new flight of PC, it has taken to farming out the program to overseas producers in France, South Africas, etc.  Aside from anchors with peculiar and often undeciphertable accents  — and that’ something given to the BBC’s cultivation now of regional UK speech — the programs are, to say the least, skewed. The South Africa one this morning [Sept.27, 2011] turned into a screaming session by the local lady in charge who was fighting the anti-apartheid struggle all over again.

Paralyzed? no, numbed a bit!

from a dear friend:

It is not the US President, Senate of Congress, but the full application of “check and balance”:
in the past “balance” was not applied to the full because Republicans and Congress shared the same basic values; now Congress as well as Senate are fundamentally divided, and Congress, Senate, Legislative and Executive all blocking each other. The US Government is paralysed, no matter who is President, and how good the President is…

I don’t see it this way at all.
First of all, the financial crisis [the 20107-08] was initially brought on by government interference resulting from the housing debacle which was the product, not of the markets, but of government legislation and regulation intended to manage the housing scene for supposed beneficial and narrower partisan ends.
The nature of the crisis was also exaggerated in the heat of the debate: there was no threat of immediate default given the government’s revenues, etc. Obama & Co. were trying to use  concern with default to force their philosophy of government intervention in the economy on the majority which still opposes it, at least in theory although the electorate has to some extent been “bought off” with populist arguments and “spoils”. It is a basic argument over whether more of the resources of the economy are to be used to fund government and its intervention in the markets and the society or to permit the markets with all their imperfections to dictate the direction and progress of the economy and the society generally by  maintaining maximum personal freedoms and choices.
The debate was useful and necessary as nasty as it looked. Great ideological battles are always ugly in a democratic society with representative government. After all, what is the use of having a debt ceiling if it is a matter of “routine” as the Administration argued, to keep voting it larger and larger, without this fundamental examination.
The partial resolution of the crisis has, for the moment, been effective. While it was a compromise of the goals of one party — the fiscal conservatives — it did accomplish its purpose by making increasing debt and additional taxation the main subject of the debate, which it had not been and which the opposition — the Obama Administration and its supporters — had refused to accept until now.
I think a watershed in thinking has been achieved and will have its long-term effect.
All this fashionable commentary — such as this BBC piece, which I see as typical of the “bien pesant”, and I must say, more trypical than not, of the BBC and The Economist — about the paralysis of government, etc., etc., is superficial and ahistorical. The U.S. has always gone through these kinds of crises when big issues are being debated. They are inevtiable, a part of the life of a relatively effective system of representative government but one based on a division of powers. [Please note that the European style of the monopoly of a legislative body — where it hasn’t broken down — rather than an intended balance of forces among legislative, executive and judicial certainly doesn’t work better. The evidence, if further historical references were not enough, is the crisis of the Euro and the EU which is as deep if not deeper than the present situation in the U.S. with less possibility of resolution, I would argue.]