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  • Hillary Clinton "Dr. Phil's It Up" in Pakistan

    Its 2009. Osama bin Laden is still at large. And, apparently, the United States' relationship with Pakistan is not paying the kind of dividends we'd like to see.

    That's why Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is on a three day trip to Pakistan. And based on her rhetoric, she's taken a page from Dr. Phil for these talks

    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday she did not come to Pakistan for "happy talk."

    Her three-day trip is aimed at getting frank, open discussions going about the fight against terrorism, and that includes presenting U.S. concerns about how much success Pakistan is having, she said.

    In an interview with CNN, Clinton said it's time to "clear the air" with a key U.S. ally. She added, "I don't think the way you deal with negative feelings is to pretend they're not there."

    There ya go. Pervez Musharraf won't be able to counter that. Especially not if she follows it up with a "So, you first gained power via a military coup… How's that working out for you?" Then when he's all, "You're not the same country, I did photo ops with eight years ago," she can be all "I can't help you, Pakistan. Only you can help you."

    Faced with that kind of diplomacy, Musharraf's only option would be to Springer it up with a "It's my country, I do what I want!"

    And that, my friends, is how we win this war on terror.

    Tags: Hillary Clinton, International Affairs, Pakistan, Terrorism
  • Top Seven Political Secret Girlfriends


    So Indecision asked me to write a list of women who have had infamous sexual relationships with political figures.
    “Oh, like political mistresses?" I asked.
    “No. More like Secret Girlfriends,” they replied.
    “Secret Girlfriends? What? Why would you call them that?”
    “Oh, no reason.”

    #7 – William Rufus King
    Senator from Alabama, Vice President under Franklin Pierce, and according to some, President James Buchanan’s lover. “Where’s my proof,” you ask? To which I reply, “Proof? Really? This is the internet.” In any event, Buchanan was our nation’s only bachelor President and he did live with King for quite some time. Need more? Well, apparently Andrew Jackson used to refer to King as “Miss Nancy.” So there’s that. Although I must confess that even in the 1800’s “Miss Nancy” seems like a pretty weak slam on a guy you’re trying to paint as gay. Is that really the best Old Hickory could do? More like “Old Dickory,” amirite? See what I mean?

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    Tags: Eliot Spitzer, James Buchanan, John Edwards, John Kennedy, Mark Sanford, Monica Lewinsky, Rielle Hunter
  • Looking Back John Stewart's Interview with Jim Cramer

    Well, at this point everyone's seen or at least heard from those who saw Jim Cramer on The Daily Show last week. The interview capped off a week-long feud between Cramer and host Jon Stewart. Overall, Stewart took the Mad Money host, and the show's network, CNBC, to task for its failure to warn investors of the inevitable financial crisis. Cramer countered some of Stewart's rhetorical indictments and damning video footage with his own debate tactic: repeated apologies and seeming contrition.

    But while you may have formed your own opinions about the show's content, how do you really know what you saw until you find out what everyone else is saying? I mean, if Jon Stewart and The Daily Show have taught us anything, it's the importance of buying into public perceptions of reported discourse, right?

    With that in mind, I was asked to plough through the oodles of Indecision comments as well as the media at large to find out what really happened. My findings were intensely varied, but one thing became clear: many Daily Show viewers, inexplicably, do not understand how to spell Jon Stewart. (I counted over 100 spellings of "John.")

    The comments pretty much broke down like this…

    The overwhelming majority lauded Jon for his efforts, calling him everything from "smart" to a "patriot" to a "real journalist." Most felt Stewart had the courage, intelligence, and eloquence to say what should have been said by journalists and regulators years ago, and although this article provides a sampling of voices, that overall take should not be lost. Rather than fill this article with all the praise Stewart received, I thought I'd boil them all down to one fictitious comment…


    That pretty much sums up the praise in one perfect sex-based sentence.

    Of course, I should probably mention that fancypants Andrew Sullivan who encapsulated Stewart's value in one fairly literate sentence even if he doesn't have my gift for fictitious procreation-based metaphor…

    There is a cloying familiarity among many cable show hosts and television personalities. We all have to get along, even though some of us may believe that others of us are very much part of the problem, rather than the solution. And what Stewart has done is rip off that little band-aid of faux solidarity for a modicum of ethical and moral accountability.

    On the other side, a minority view bashed Stewart, ascribing his attack on Jim Cramer to purely to political bias…

    "Jon Stewart… is a political hitman for the Democratic Party. Anybody says anything negative about his party, they get slammed on the air."

    Comment by Patrick — March 13, 2009 @ 8:35 am

    Joe Scarborough also felt the need to break the interview down by political analysis on his Twitter account

    Joe Scarborough on Twitter: "Cramer just sat there and took his medicine. He's clearly shaken that his fellow Democrats have turned on him."

    (I don't follow Joe on Twitter. Are all his comments like this? "11:20 p.m. Eating a Twinkie more loaded with fats and sweets than Obama's stimulus bill.")

    * * *

    Perhaps, because Stewart's destruction of Cramer was so thorough and expertly achieved, few commenters felt the need to bash Cramer further, although several did give him credit for taking his beating with class.

    [Cramer] listened maturely and patiently to the brutal and painfully accurate criticisms levied by Jon with an ear open genuinely to learn how to make himself better.

    This seemed like such an ass-kicking because Cramer was open to criticism, and that should be respected and treated with dignity.

    Comment by Tim Richardson — March 13, 2009 @ 4:25 am

    So while most believed that Cramer gave the most unsettling performance since Ned Beatty in Deliverance, many (including me frankly) believed he made the most he possibly could of out the situation by expressing contrition and avoiding Tucker Carlson's 2004 indignation on Crossfire. That sentiment was also echoed by Gawker who reported that

    [W]ith Cramer seemingly apologizing for everything CNBC has ever aired, Stewart couldn't uppercut CNBC the way he did CNN and its Crossfire co-host Tucker Carlson a few years ago.
    He was left to deliver (still very good!) packaged lines and videos and counter whatever coherent arguments he could distill from Cramer's sputtering.

    (On an unrelated note, they also have insight into Lindsay Lohan's "Crazy Tweets!")

    * * *

    Of course, the most interesting criticisms were not based on politics or personality, but on the roles of The Daily Show and Mad Money. Much in the way Stewart schooled Begala and Carlson in 2004 for failing to do their job as reporters, Stewart attacked Cramer and CNBC for merely perpetuating notions of market strength and corporate solvency offered by self-interested CEOs and hedge fund managers. But is that a perfect analogy? Some commenters claimed they never really viewed CNBC as journalists in the first place:

    CNBC's prerogative is not to pursue investigative reporting. This is where Stewart is confused. All those shows that air during market hours are intended to cover what is currently moving the market… Should CNBC actually try to be a news channel that covers news like CNN, with a focus on financials? Maybe. But I would prefer to watch CNN's financial reporters to do this job.

    Comment by David — March 13, 2009 @ 11:03 am

    These viewers see Cramer's Mad Money as sort of a fake financial show in the same way that the The Daily Show is a fake news show. And as such, feel Stewart himself could be brought down by the same kind of interview tactic.

    This would be the same as Television and Print Journalist inviting John Stewart into an pseudo interview where they essentially point out all hypocritical things that he does on his show as well as his support for politicians who in hindsight did not deserve the recognition and accolade's he accords them.

    Comment by Robert — March 13, 2009 @ 3:36 am

    While that assertion might be somewhat attenuated, it indicates a discomfort a small percentage of viewers feel in The Daily Show's mixture of comedy and hard reporting (even if it is self-professed "fake reporting").

    I enjoy that Jon Stewart goes after people, I do. However, I get tired of him torching people and then acting like he's just some show with 'fart sounds.' So he can say whatever he wants about anyone and if they dare question him or take issue with what he's saying, he can just say, "This is a comedy show, come on! Now, let's get back to me telling you how awful you are."

    Comment by China Brown — March 13, 2009 @ 3:26 am

    Or maybe ReneeS has it right? Perhaps, Jon Stewart has accepted that he fills a void left by a deficient media and labels his show fake news only out of a sense of humility and manners?

    You can't hide behind the "Just a Comedian" label anymore, Jon. This interview was the best piece of journalism we've seen this year…."The Daily Show" is what remains of our fourth estate. THANK YOU!!!

    Comment by ReneeS — March 13, 2009 @ 11:07 am

    Tags: CNBC, Economy, Jim Cramer, Jon Stewart, Rick Santelli, The Daily Show
  • The 6 Drinkiest Politicians in U.S. History

    I don't know about you but I have March 17th and 18th fully planned out. On March 17th I'm doing my St. Patrick's Day ritual of getting into fights and puking up green beer. And on the 18th, I plan to spend the whole day in a deep depression regretting everything I've done the day before.

    Overindulging in alcohol can lead to all sorts of trouble. And yet, there are some who have battled their demons with the bottle while rising to some of the highest levels of public service. So, I might actually still get a chance to be somebody before my liver falls out. After all, look at all that's been accomplished by these guys.


    President Ulysses S. Grant

    Some say that reports of President Grant's public drunkenness were vicious rumors started by his political enemies, but then again those people were probably never tasked with writing a piece about drunk U.S. Politicians. So shut up and let me do my job. And besides, no one can deny that there are some people who don't say that stories of Grant's public drunkeness were vicious rumors started by political enemies.

    Indeed, some claim Grant left the army in 1854 rather then face court martial after his commanding officer, Robert C. Buchanan, found him drunk on duty as a pay officer. Another story claims that the term "lobbying" actually originated from the practice of political wheelers and dealers who frequented The Williard Hotel's lobby where Grant would often enjoy cigars and brandy.

    And perhaps, the most damning evidence of Grant's drunkeness… his beard.


    joemccarthySen. Joseph McCarthy

    The Senator from Wisconsin who led the fight on Communism (thereby cultivating a culture of panic and needlessly destroying many innocent lives while desecrating the freedoms that make America great) was many things. But he was not a quitter.

    He did not cease in his unsubstantiated accusations of Communist infiltration of the State department. He never tired in his vilifying of opponents as pinkos and Commies. And he would not quit drinking.

    A full-blown alcoholic, he died from cirrhosis of the liver in 1957.


    President Richard Nixon

    They called Richard Nixon "Tricky Dick," but maybe they should have called him Drinky McDrinksalot. (Well, sure it doesn't have the same ring to it. And it doesn't really convey his penchant for dirty politics which was the point of the nickname. Also, his heavy drinking wasn't common knowledge so probably only those closest to him would have really been in a position to call him that and, frankly, I just can't picture Henry Kissinger saying that. But still, it seems Nixon did like to get his drink on, so, y'know, as far as nicknames go, I guess you could do worse.)

    Previously released phone transcripts indicate that five days into the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, Nixon was too drunk to discuss the crisis with the British prime minister. Of course, in Nixon's defense, Dark Side of the Moon had just come out so there is every reason to believe that what his advisors mistook for drunkeness was really just our Commander in Chief being baked out of his mind.


    Sen. John Tower

    In the history of our Nation, only nine cabinet appointees have failed to be sworn in, but Senator John Tower — George H.W. Bush's choice for Secretary of Defense was one of them.

    Why? Well, during his nomination hearings, conservative activist Paul Weyrick testified that Tower was "morally unfit" to serve as Pentagon Chief because of excessive drinking and womanizing. Weyrick even claimed to have witnessed this behavior on several occasions. As an aside, I'd like you to just think of times when you've been drunk and womanizing. Can you picture anyone ever observing you soberly and silent in a corner, taking notes for a future day? Boy those conservative activists are fun.

    In any event, Tower publicly pledged to abstain from alcohol if he were confirmed as defense secretary. And yet, he was not. That's pretty damn drinky.


    Sen. Bob Packwood

    Sometimes people gladly confess to alcoholic indulgences rather than taking full responsibility for behavior society finds more offensive. For example, when Oregon Senator Bob Packwood was confronted with multiple claims of sexual harassment by several women, he claimed the indiscretions were the result of his drinking problem.

    He subsequently underwent counseling while being reviewed by the Senate Ethics Committee. After a prolonged investigation in which more women came forward, Packwood eventually resigned in 1995.

    So does he belong on this list? I mean, maybe he was just a sex addict. I don't know. Perhaps, history will never know, but if a man who inappropriately makes sexual advantages on multiple women wants to be called an alcoholic and I'm writing a column on political alcoholics then I'm not going to let things like details and the truth stand in the way.


    Sen. Ted Kennedy

    Oh, it's easy to make fun of Ted Kennedy.

    Well, not really that easy considering how close to death he is, but still easy in the sense that most people believe his drunk driving led to the death of a woman.

    Wait I guess that's not funny either. And in 1991 he was partying down in Palm Beach, Florida — festivities that led to the rape trial of his nephew, William Kennedy Smith.

    Damn, that's not at all humorous. Maybe alcohol abuse and the things that come from it aren't actually that appropriate for a comedy web site?

    Could that be?


    Honorable Mention

    You might be wondering why this article fails to mention Dick Cheney who had two DUIs or George Bush who had one. Well, maybe it's because that after eight years it's nice not to have to cover them. Congrats, boys. You didn't make the list. Enjoy your St. Patrick's Day. Drink up.

    Tags: Edward Kennedy, Joseph McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Senate, Ulysses S. Grant
  • The 7 Greatest White Men of Women's History

    Well, it's March – the month that pays tribute to women. No, not by coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb, but by being Women's History Month. So we thought it would be a good time to pay tribute to all those responsible for creating the special historical moments that we're sure to see recounted over the next few weeks.


    Bernt Balchen (Amelia Earhart's flight across the Atlantic)

    Flying solo across the Atlantic Ocean is no small feat. Especially in 1932. That's why Amelia Earhart was lucky to hire Bernt Balchen as her technical advisor. This famed Norwegian American aviator didn't let the social stigma of working for a woman keep him from plotting the course for one of the most famous flights in history.


    President Jimmy Carter (The Susan B. Anthony Dollar)

    You can't think of the woman's suffrage movement without being impressed by the courage and foresight of President Jimmy Carter who signed the Susan B. Anthony Dollar Coin Act into law in 1978. For three full years, America were forced to sit up and take notice of these coins because even though they looked like quarters, they did not work in Space Invaders arcade games.


    William Gibson (That play about Helen Keller)

    People don't want to see those with disabilities. Especially those afflicted with multiple challenges. It's easy to say, "let's ignore the afflicted." But William Gibson, using just his determination (and Helen Keller's autobiography) created the celebrated stage play The Miracle Worker. Now millions worldwide have heard the story of a handicapped woman and her dedicated teacher thanks to the talent and persistence of this one man.


    Walter Mondale (Geraldine Ferraro's vice-presidential bid)

    Although this country may never see fit to elect a woman as President, when it came to picking a Vice President, one visionary Democrat had the courage to look traditional biases in the face and ask, "Eh, why not?" Walter Mondale, the losiest Presidential contender in history was a winner when it came to selecting a running mate who would ensure he was remembered for being something other than the losiest Presidential contender in history.


    John Locke (The Seneca Falls convention)

    Perhaps, the greatest of all English philosophers, and certainly the leading Enlightenment thinker, Locke set forth principles of natural rights and freedoms that sent reverberations far and wide. One of the consequences? Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott now could fill up their Seneca Falls Declaration setting forth the argument for equal rights for women with ideas beyond those they had learned around the spinning wheel.


    Phil Donahue/Dr. Phil (Oprah Winfrey's career)

    Although historians debate if these two men have ever actually met, women everywhere continue to be grateful for the contributions they have made. Phil Donahue, with little more than some moxie and hard work, created a television template that Oprah Winfrey would mimic to become one of the richest women on the planet. But in her darkest hour — the infamous "beef slander" trial of 1998 — Oprah hired the valiant Dr. Phil who stood up to bigotry and intolerance by helping her win at trial while charging her lots of money for his counseling.


    President Barack Obama (Hillary Clinton's secretarial position)

    Although Barack Obama is not technically a White man, we here at Indecision were struggling to find a seventh great moment in women's history, and we didn't want bigotry to get in the way of our tribute. Accordingly, even though he was able to defeat Hillary Clinton for the Presidential nomination, President Obama, stood down detractors and naysayers when he chose Clinton as his Secretary of State. Finally, the leader of the free world looked at a woman and said — for all to hear — "Yeah, okay."

    Tags: Barack Obama, Geraldine Ferraro, Hillary Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Men and Women, Oprah Winfrey