Thursday, July 29, 2004
My lack of confidence in the democratic ticket and my own overly programmed personal life have prevented me from watching much of the Democratic National Convention. What have I missed?
Salon.com tells us a terrifying story that justifies my belief that America is turning fascist. If reporters don't stand up when the flag is presented the Secret Service believes it has a right to harass them. Salon reporter Eric Boehlert also gives us a description of the bias and hollowness of the television punditry's so-called analysis.
The cable news coverage of the Democratic convention this week has at times been so silly and dimwitted as to be painful to watch. That's been especially true when TV reporters and pundits have become so fascinated with process and the media's own role in the event that they can barely see the broad outlines of the journalism they're supposed to be practicing.
A perfect example was Wednesday night's primetime address by the Rev. Al Sharpton. During his often ad-libbed, revival-style 20-minute speech, Sharpton spoke passionately about immigration, voting rights, the burdensome cost of the war in Iraq, and America's being misled into that war. In other words, love him or hate him, Sharpton laid out a buffet table of issues to be discussed. So what angle did CNN's pundits immediately seize upon? The fact that Sharpton's address ran 14 minutes over his allotted time. How would that affect the night's planning, they fretted. Would vice presidential nominee's Sen. John Edwards' scheduled 10:20 acceptance speech be bumped off primetime on the East Coast as a consequence? they wondered.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer: "Al Sharpton was supposed to speak for six minutes."
CNN's Jeff Greenfield: "The more serious problem for the Democrats is ... somebody's going to have to do some very fancy footwork to make sure that Elizabeth and John Edwards get their primetime shot."
CNN's Judy Woodruff: "Al Sharpton just hijacked this convention, at least this part of it."
CNN wasn't alone. Over at MSNBC, soon-to-be "NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams snagged Sharpton by the podium for an interview and pressed him on the exact same point; why was his speech longer than expected and was he concerned he had messed up the timing of Edwards' speech?
What, exactly, does that have to do with journalism, with analyzing information, with educating voters? It's embarrassing to watch.
Of course the irony is these are the same pundit types who bemoan the fact the modern-day conventions are so tightly choreographed and planned down to the minute, that they leave little room for actual debate or back-and-forth. So after a meaty speech by Sharpton, what do the pundits do? They obsess about the timing and fret that Democrats have been thrown off by a dozen minutes or so. (Not surprisingly, convention planners, who factored in that some speakers might run long, simply made the necessary adjustments to the schedule by shortening some of the musical interludes; Edwards walked to the podium at precisely 10:20.)
The only other substance-free aspect of Sharpton's speech that piqued the interest of pundits, busy playing the role of etiquette police, was that he had been too mean. It's a talking point the Republicans have been trying to hammer all week in Boston; Democrats are so angry.
Woodruff: "I'm not sure this is the message that the Kerry campaign wanted to go on this long."
Blitzer: "I'm not sure that this was necessarily the kind of speech the Kerry campaign wanted to see."
One other note about CNN's at-times head-scratching coverage last night. Following Edwards' acceptance speech, Blitzer, in what may have been a convention first, immediately turned to partisan representatives from the opposing party for a reaction; Bush campaign advisor Ralph Reed and former Bush Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke. We'll be watching closely during the Republican gathering in New York City to see if following Vice President Dick Cheney's speech, CNN immediately seeks out Kerry advisor Mark Mellman and former Clinton spokesman Joe Lockhart for their analysis.
I'm not holding my breath that CNN will allow Dems to trash Republicans. As for police state tactics, we can thank Bush, the Patriotic Act, and the occupation of Iraq. All have combined to give that Secret Service agent tacit permission to act out his storm trooper fantasies.
President Bush is an untreated alcoholic with paranoid and megalomaniac tendencies.”
Dr. Justin Frank, author of Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President
I am not referring to his days of being "young and irresponsible." The President is on meds to control his depression and erratic behavior. Read it here.
Monday, July 26, 2004
"They seem to have forgotten the old Madison Avenue rule that making the identical claims as your competitor only strengthens his message, makes him seem like the real thing and you a cheap wannabe. A particularly disheartening example was John Kerry's recent claim to be a bearer of "conservative values," a tacit concession that liberals -- the rank and file of John Kerry's party, by the way -- really don't have good values. It was a tactical blunder that should have infuriated good liberals everywhere. "
This liberal is in a slow burn because of the grave mistakes being made by the Democrats. As I said in yesterday's post, it is a terrible error for Kerry to respond to charges of pessimism by constantly declaring that he is optimistic. This morning's papers quote Democrats saying that they won't attack Bush at the convention. Bush and the Republicans attack Kerry and the Dems all the time. Whatever happened to counter attacking? I guess it only works for the other side.
Comedian/activist Margaret Cho said it best in a Buzzflash interview.
"The Democrats have a long-term inferiority complex, where we feel we do not have the right to protest those who stand in the ivory tower of privilege. This is why no one calls out conservatives when they are offensive, which is often. The conservatives know that the only way to get anywhere is to stand together. They have the luxury of not having to worry about a backlash, because they can look up at any protest and brush it off, acting as if the other side can't take a joke."
I guess we need comedians to run the campaign. They can't do any worse than the people who are doing it now.
Sunday, July 25, 2004
Steve Bates, the Yellow Doggerel Democrat, was concerned, and I under state, about a recent post regarding the electoral map. Steve referred me to this map from Current Electoral Vote Predictor that shows Kerry with the advantage.
He points out that the New York Times is to say the least not pro-Kerry and the AP story was too deferential to GOP talking points. Steve is correct.
Unfortunately, I think that the bigger problem is Kerry's deference to GOP talking points. Recently the Republicans and their media allies prattled on endlessly that Kerry was too pessimistic. What have I seen lately on the news? Kerry and Edwards going on and on about how optimistic they are. In effect they give credence to Republican attacks and worse, they aren't talking enough about issues that speak to very basic differences between the two parties.
I don't think it is too hard to tell retirees who have prescription drug coverage that the new medicare drug plan may cause them to lose it. That is a far more effective point with swing voters than smiling a lot and telling them you are optimistic.
Regular readers know my issues with Kerry. I want him to win, but I am not convinced that he knows how to do it. Polls vary, but most show a close race. I think that Kerry should be way ahead of Bush at this point. We have a ballooning budget deficit, anemic job growth, seniors losing drug coverage, and a disastrous war based on lies. That ought to be enough to beat an incumbent. Let's hope.
Saturday, July 24, 2004
There is bad news for John Kerry. The electoral map favors Bush. In part it is because of population shifts. The red states in the south and west continue to gain population at the expense of the blue states. Only one blue state, California, has gained electoral votes since 2000. The other reason is that our candidate is not the best. He still can't give swing voters a coherent reason to vote for him. The details are here, the map is here.
It isn't good to want attention too badly. You end up in the wrong company, with a grin no less. Jesse, Jesse, Jesse. It wasn't bad enough that you managed to make yourself the center of attention when 20 people were trampled to death in a night club. It isn't bad enough that you gave a forum to the odious Bill Cosby. Now you want to be in the limelight so badly that you will hang out with George W. Bush.
I guess any spotlight will do.
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Monday, July 19, 2004
How many bodies lay in mass graves found in Iraq. Trusted groups like Human Rights Watch said the number ranged between 200,000 and 400,000.
Of course, like every other justification given for occupying Iraq the numbers have been exaggerated. A British newspaper says the number is closer to 5,000.
How many Iraqis have been killed by U.S. and coalition forces? According to Iraq Body Count, between 11,000 and 13,000. It is important to point out that one million Iraqis and Iranians were killed when Saddam Hussein invaded Iran in the early 1980s. Of course, it is also important to point out that Hussein was America's ally at the time. Just in case anyone forgot, here is the picture of Saddam with our own Donald Rumsfeld.
Thursday, July 15, 2004
"There is no greater mistake and no graver danger than not to see that in our own society [the US] we are faced with the same phenomenon that is fertile soil for the rise of fascism anywhere." - Erich Fromm, 1931
As I said recently in Black Commentator, America is on a slippery slope that is leading to fascism. Truth Out has an excellent article that says it much better than I did. The end result of manifest destiny, racism and unrestrained capitalism has led to a public that yearns to be fooled. Too many Americans are glad to give up their freedom.
The rest of the world isn't fooled, especially when they hear that Iraqi boys were sodomized at Abu Ghraib prison. They see us as we really are while we prattle on about being hated because of our freedoms. No one hates us because of our freedom. They hate us because our government occupied a nation to turn it into a cash cow for corporate interests. Of course you can't have an occupation without sexual assault and if you are truly depraved you have to video tape it all. That is why they hate us.
Sunday, July 11, 2004
Buzzflash has done a tremendous service yet again. The great web site tells us that Newsweek reports a Tom Ridge plan to cancel or postpone November's presidential election.
Nothing about the Bush administration surprises me. The question is this, will Kerry say anything about this power grab? Will the establishment media say anything about it? If the democrats lay down on this one it is time to head for the nearest Canadian consulate and apply for asylum.
Thursday, July 08, 2004
Anonymous Pakistani General
The murmurs of crazy conspiracy theorists may not be so crazy after all. An article in The New Republic claims that Pakistan is being pressured to produce Bin Laden and other HVTs (High Value Targets) before the November election but not at any time before the election. A capture would be ever so much better if it took place during the Democratic convention.
a White House aide told ul-Haq last spring that "it would be best if the arrest or killing of [any] HVT were announced on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July"--the first three days of the Democratic National Convention in Boston.
It seems that a week of Democrats in the news is too much for a scared White House. Of course, two days of Democrats in the news brings another terror threat from Tom Ridge.
It is clear that Bush has messed up enough that Kerry might win. I don't mind that. I just wish that Kerry were able to seize the day and win on his own. Depending on Bush to lose is a dangerous strategy.
Remember when Saddam's statue came tumbling down? Of course it was all staged, one more nail in the coffin of American democracy. David Neiwert tells us why we should be very, very afraid.
"The role of the media in this manipulation cannot be understated. The abdication of the media's role as an independent watchdog and its whole subsumation as a propaganda organ bodes ill for any democracy, because a well-informed public is vital to its functioning.
But the fact that the military establishment, in the context of the "war on terror," clearly views the American public as the subject of a psychological combat operation should give us all pause regarding the ability of democracy to withstand this kind of assault."
David Neiwert, Orcinus, July 6, 2004
Tuesday, July 06, 2004
John Edwards is Kerry's running mate. Yawn. I think he is a safe choice, he is known to the press so there won't be any surprises a la Eagleton and McGovern in 1972. Otherwise I think that the value of running mates is over sold. Edwards will be OK.
I am more concerned about the Democratic party decision to be Republican light. Democracy Now reports that the platform committee is too chicken to call for support of the Kyoto Treaty on global warming.
I know that Kerry is better than Bush, but isn't that too low a standard? How hard is it to be better than Bush? I prefer Kerry judicial appointees to Bush judicial appointees, assuming Orin Hatch allows any appointments. I have decided to go with the convictionless Democrat who doesn't know how to give anyone a reason to vote for him.
I do expect Kerry to walk the walk should Bush mess up enough to help him get elected. In 2000 Bush pretended to be a moderate and promptly came out of the closet as the most right wing president in American history. If Kerry lives up to his current lame approach progressives must not take it lying down. I think we will have to fight in January no matter who wins.
The biggest fight on our hands is going to be over the Middle East. If Kerry believes that "Israel's fight is America's" then Israeli oppression of Palestine will only worsen and Arab and Muslim world opinion of the U.S. will also sink even further. Kerry's plan for Iraq is Bush's plan for Iraq. Edwards also voted in favor of the occupation.
A Kerry administration will be better domestically but if we don't speak up about the Israeli elephant in the living room then the deaths of Afghans, Iraqis and American troops will have been for naught. Our country will be as susceptible to terror as it was on 9/11 and millions of people around the world will hate us even more than they do now.
By the way, Democracy Now also has good information on the phony Saddam statue toppling and the erosion of our right to speak with an attorney confidentially.