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    FRIDAY FOLLIES: On Oprah, Elizabeth Warren, Hitler's Dogs, and Assorted Boobs

     After months of building up to this, on Wednesday Oprah Winfrey said goodbye to her still-huge audience and ended her daytime show. I watched a re-run of her final show last night.  I got through the whole thing and I have to say, it was as dreadful as I hoped it wouldn't be.  Oprah is big, I get that, but a whole hour of watching Oprah congratulating Oprah on her huge success -- well, it made it so much easier to say ho-hum.  (It's not like Oprah is leaving for good to take up knitting or to finally marry Stedman.  She has her OWN network, for God's sake.  She's Oprah.  You really think she's going to stay behind the scenes? She's Oprah.)

    Oprah giving benediction for last time

    I confess I watched Oprah religiously when her show first began.  I can't remember now what was so compelling that I would actually buy a little 5-inch counter-top TV so I could watch while I was cooking dinner, but she lost me for good one day when she announced there was no way she could sleep under sheets that weren't Egyptian cotton with at least a 400 thread count. 

    So this week I've been stewing less about losing Oprah and more about this story I read in the NYT: 

    Jobless Discrimination?  When Firms Won't Even Consider Hiring Anyone Unemployed
    When Sony Ericsson needed new workers after it relocated its U.S. headquarters to Atlanta last year, its recruiters told one particular group of applicants not to bother. "No unemployed candidates will be considered at all," one online job listing said.

    The cell-phone giant later said the listing, which produced a media uproar, had been a mistake. But other companies continue to refuse to even consider the unemployed for jobs — a harsh catch-22 at a time when long-term joblessness is at its highest level in decades.

    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2073520,00.html#ixzz1NYPCcNZj

    But I did get a good laugh out of the blowback after Rep. Patrick McHenry tried to make the country believe Elizabeth Warren is a liarElizabeth Warren, for God's sake!  OUR Elizabeth Warren -- mighty and adorable watchdog and head honcho of a consumer protection agency that might actually get around to protecting consumers someday.

      Elizabeth Warren was shocked, as someone who tries super hard not to lie would be, but she wasn't nearly as shocked as McHenry when thousands of angry Elizabethans bombarded his Facebook page to set him straight.  (Now there's a movement to get her to run for elected office.  I really hope she doesn't. She needs to stay right where she is, at least until the other side makes good their promise to kill the agency right out from under her.)

    So did you hear about Hitler's army of talking dogs?

    In his new book Amazing Dogs: A Cabinet of Canine Curiosities, Cardiff University historian Jan Bondeson mines obscure German periodicals to reveal the Nazis' failed attempt to breed an army of educated dogs that could read, write and talk. "In the 1920s, Germany had numerous 'new animal psychologists' who believed dogs were nearly as intelligent as humans, and capable of abstract thinking and communication," he writes. "When the Nazi party took over, one might have thought they would be building concentration camps to lock these fanatics up, but instead they were actually very interested in their ideas."

    Read more: http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/05/25/how-nazi-scientsts-tried-to-create-an-army-of-talking-dogs/#ixzz1NYbSmfkb

    And this has nothing to do with anything, except it's darned funny:

    A Chicago lawyer is being accused of sexism after requesting that a "large breasted woman" seated at the opposing counsel's table be moved as to not distract the jury.  (No it didn't get past me that the plaintiff is a dealership called "Exotic Motors".  Delicious!)

    Cartoon of the week:

    Copyright © 2011 Creators Syndicate


    In the pre-Oprah days, Phil Donohue actually had on guests which spoke to real issues and substantive audience discussion on topic such as feminism, racism, and should kids be taught games that were cooperative rather than competitive.  Then came Oprah and suddenly all the talk shows were about entertainment stars and people just telling their emotional stories.  In the end all the shows seem to get boiled down to a question once asked by Sally Jesse Raphel to her guest: "So...how did you feel when you walked into your home and found your entire family had been brutally murdered?" Eventually it would all lead to Springer.

    I remember one of Phil's show toward the end when he had this guest who had spent a lifetime working in international politics (can't remember who) and he was struggling to find people who had any questions to ask.  Finally he blurted out something like "What? Would you prefer that I get [insert famous movie star at the time] on the show."  The audience all roared their approval.  Phil shoulders slumped and he shook his head slowly in dismay.

    Yes, Donohue's show had some heft to it--I thought he was unusually talented in humanizing policy issues, surfacing the stakes involved to help audiences of non-policy wonks understand implications for their own lives or the lives of people they might happen to know.  IIRC, Donohue was one of the early shows Reed Irvine and right-wing critics of supposed liberal media bias chose as something of a poster child for the blowback they created.  

    And he and Marlo Thomas were sort of the Susan Sarandon/Tim Robbins for right wing in those days.

    Yes, I loved Phil Donahue's early show.  It was smart and witty and occasionally silly, but always entertaining. We started watching it when he was still in Dayton.  He moved the show to Chicago and was there for 26 years; even longer than Oprah.

    He tried to do it again during the Bush years (2002-2003) but was cancelled for reasons having nothing to do with ratings.  Not because he didn't have anything to say, but rather, I think, because he had too much to say about what was wrong with this country. He was one of the few during those years who went against the mainstream about getting into a war with Iraq, and of course we couldn't have that, so out he went. (Okay, sometimes his mannerisms were really annoying, and sometimes he couldn't shut up, no matter what, but we needed someone like him and what we got instead were the shows that took us away from reality and into the sideshows.  He's gone and they're still there.)

    The Smothers Brothers were taken off the air for being to controversial

    Great cartoon.

    As an aside, I do not think I have ever ever ever viewed an Oprah Winfrey show.

    Really, Richard?  Oprah would find that absolutely unbelievable!

    Thanks for mentioning Ms. Warren, Ramona.

    It's unbelievable. The right has been doing their utmost to smear this good woman, and frankly, I called my Rep, Rosa, and said that she'd better get busy publicly defending the good lady.

    I wish everyone else would, too.

    Oh, and like Dickon, I do not believe I have ever watched Oprah, but then, I always have had to work for a living.


    Oh, c'mon! Those talking dogs weren't like the ones on America's Funniest Videos that say "I wruff ooooh" were they? Laughing


    I was thinking about you today


    this is exactly where i thought I would see ya.

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