A Warning From France

Posted April 26, 2017 on 9:50 am | In the category Election, Europe, Germany, Politics, TRUMP, Uncategorized | by Jeff

The news from France this week was marginally positive with the caveat that a crypto-fascist did come in second and will be in the run-off for President. But for now it seems that the run of Crazy might be winding down after its success in the UK Brexit vote and the election of America’s Chief Clown. Since then the Netherlands has avoided electing neofascists and now France – in the first round of what is one of the West’s most significant electoral tests since the rise of Hitler – has apparently taken a first step towards political sanity. Recognizing that if Macron wins the presidency he will most likely not have a Parliament of his own party, which will likely return France to its tried and true politics of avoidance of real issues and solutions. So the relief may be temporary.

But perhaps the most interesting lesson of this election is that France’s traditional political parties failed to place a candidate in the runoff. And that was the preferred result with the other two major candidates representing, in one instance, the historic corruption of French politicians, and in the other, the amazing capacity for craziness of the French Left. Now it is up to Macron to maintain his lead over Le Pen in the runoff and bring some reassurance not only to France but to the entire EU by waging a serious, competent campaign.

For the U.S. the warning from France was another shot across the bow of our major political parties. It is a reiteration of the warning provided by Trump and another reminder of the failure of both parties to connect to the people with policies and programs that people could understand and respect. The fact that the Republican Party now controls the Congress AND the presidency is less a positive review of their policies than a bizarre accident of fate: long-time self-identified Democrat Donald Trump ran in the Republican primaries because he understood that the competition was composed of losers like Chris Christie, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, etc. It is instructive that the only traditional, mainstream Republican candidate was John Kasich and he never gained any traction.

The Democrats had Hillary Clinton whose campaign never articulated a serious and convincing reason for her candidacy. “It’s her turn” was simply not enough for the millions of people who have seen their quality of life dissipate, the unfairness of the American economy, and the quality of political discourse turn into people simply yelling at each other. It did not help that Clinton had enriched herself with Wall Street speeches and then run a campaign that cheated Bernie Sanders’ followers out of a fair shake. But her failure was a lack of recognition of the depth of anger and despair among a swath of non urban voters in states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. While Clinton won the popular vote she lost where it mattered among voters who are simply pissed off. And the blame is not hers so much as the Party’s, which left a large part of its membership behind and never articulated a measure of progressive hope.

The lesson from France – and from the UK and the U.S. – is that there are a lot of people who are angry, who have been left behind, who believe they don’t matter, and who have understandably lost faith in their politicians and their political parties. And then there are the 50% who don’t even bother to vote. Easy to blame them but maybe they need to believe in something for which to vote.

The warnings have been made and it is time for political parties to move beyond serving the needs of their primary funders and candidates and on to the needs of the people they claim to represent.
France’s runoff election is on May 7, and will be followed later in the year by elections in Germany. We shall see what lessons come from those events.

2 Comments

Don’t blame Trump – He’s just doing what he said he would, and he’s doing it with the class you expected

Posted February 1, 2017 on 10:11 pm | In the category Election, TRUMP, U.S. Domestic Policy, U.S. Foreign Policy | by Mackenzie Brothers

Now let’s wait a second.  All  of the decisions of Donald Trump in the last two weeks that are now being met with anger and derision by hundreds of thousands of marchers in the USA, many of whom didn’t feel like voting,  were long public  and cannot be a surprise.  These proposals  were thumped home in raucous fashion by the new President all across the country for months before the election.  There is certainly good reason to  be outraged by them, and  that is at least also partly because of the brutality and the amateurishness in which they have now been delivered.  The apparently spontaneous and unorganized travel restrictions placed on Moslems of seven countries that  the president doesn’t like, and the way it was announced and commented upon by a neanderthalean Press Secretary may be beyond any pale.  And the treatment of the President of neighbour Mexico also takes some kind of cake for arrogant boorishness and non-neighbourliness.  But the actual contents were  made clear long ago.

So didn’t anybody vote  for that programme?  Well, yes,  it turns out somewhere around 60 million Americans did vote for that, even if you don’t know any of them.  That’s a lot of Yanks who are not protesting.  That’s democracy for you and as the greatest troubadour of our times, Leonard Cohen, now safely buried on the peaceful north side of the border, wrote and sang not so long ago – “Democracy is coming  to theUSA”.  So get used to it and now get your act together and make sure it can”t happen again in four years time.

 

 

2 Comments

Matt Lauer’s Gift to America’s Press and Electorate

Posted September 11, 2016 on 11:16 am | In the category Election, Politics, Press, Uncategorized | by Jeff

Last Wednesday night NBC’s Matt Lauer hosted what was to be the first serious discussion of security issues by candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. By all counts the evening was a disaster for Lauer. With each candidate appearing – separately – for 25 minutes Lauer managed to spend almost half of Clinton’s time on repeated questions about her email server while Secretary of State. It was as if Reince Priebus had written the script. Lauer then got to some of the real issues but, having wasted half the allotted time on the email nonissue, was constantly interrupting Clinton and telling her to hurry it along while she attempted to provide rational, specific answers. It was embarrassingly unprofessional, useless to potential voters and an insult to the viewers.

Lauer followed with a series of questions to Trump that included no followup, no corrections of obvious lies, and no attempts to get him to actually address issues on which Clinton had provided detailed answers. Whether you agreed with Clinton you at least knew where she stood. Trump was even allowed to get away with the old “secret plan” trick that Nixon used to avoid saying what he intended in Vietnam (a plan that turned out to cost an additional 20,000 American lives and hundreds of thousands of Asian lives – in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia).

Lauer’s gift to America arrived the next day. It began with an editorial in the Washington Post that ridiculed Lauer’s performances and called out the Post’s rivals in the press for their weak, even cowardly, coverage of the Trump campaign as well as their mindless focus on the nonissue of Clinton’s email server. As Charles Pierce has pointed out on his Daily Politics Blog for Esquire, while the Post’s editorial did not mention names, certainly the New York Times comes to mind. The Times’ editorial stance against Trump has been solid while its reporting has harped on the same litany of non- and phony issues that has kept cable news and talk radio twisting reality to its listeners’ interests.

Others have followed. Andrew Bacevich in an op ed in the Boston Globe, late night TV hosts joking about it, social media full of viewers’ rants, NBC executives reported by CNN to have said his performance was “a disaster” and the Chairman of NBC News felt compelled to defend Lauer in an internal memo released to the LA times

The Washington Post was singled out by Trump during the primaries and its reporters were no longer allowed access to the campaign. In response, the Post did what it does best: continued to report the news as it sees it, much as it did during Watergate. The Managing Editor of the Post is Marty Baron who came to the Boston Globe and took on the Catholic Church over its record of child abuse, against the advice of some who feared reprisals by the Church. We know how that worked out

So, Lauer’s gift has been to force some part of the press to look at itself and consider its own performance. Whether it is a gift that keeps on giving remains to be seen, but the evidence will be there for all to see. Will the mainstream press give priority to major issues and stop harping on fundamentally meaningless issues like Clinton’s personal emails? Will it not be bullied by Trump’s arrogant behavior and demand actual answers to questions about meaningful policy issues? Will it push back on Trump’s comments about Vladimir Putin and report the reality of Putin’s behavior and its risk to the U.S. and its allies? And will the press stop catering to the American fringe by regurgitating right wing fantasies on Vince Foster’s death, Whitewater, Clinton’s personal emails and President Obama’s birthplace?

Hillary Clinton is by no means a perfect candidate. But the press owes us its best efforts to treat her fairly by seeking from both candidates answers to the serious questions we face. Anything short of that is a dereliction of duty,

6 Comments

IOWA:: ETHANOL, JESUS AND THE PRESS

Posted February 1, 2016 on 7:49 pm | In the category Election, PBS NEWSHOUR, Politics, Press | by Jeff

Today is the official start of the long slog toward the election of a new leader of the Free World in – of all places, Iowa. Now I like corn as much as the next guy, and while I know it is absurd to be forcing ethanol into our gas tanks II am finding it difficult to get too worked up about a political process that rewards candidates’ ability to drive elderly Evangelicals to precinct meetings where they can discuss the second coming of the Lord with fellow believers. One measure of the relevance of the process is to look back 8 years when the Iowa Republicans put forth the Reverend Huckabee, following that four years later by putting forth Rick Santorum, a guy who lost his last election by 16 percentage points – perhaps a modern record.

Americans do many things well but running a national election in an intellectually stimulating and cost effective manner is not one of them. Thanks to the Supreme Court we now have campaigns awash in money – frequently from billionaires and huge corporations with very personal axes to grind. This year is no different except for Bernie sanders who seems to be scraping by on some $20Million raised from some 3 million individuals. And of course He! Trump is for now mostly spending only his own money, but being a billionaire makes that seem a bit unsightly.

With some ten months remaining in the process it is amusing, in a cynical kind of way to watch the press exude excitement over a primary process in Iowa that is rarely definitive and based largely on how many people each candidate can get rides to 1681 distinct locations in the state. Typically Republican turnout has run around 20% of registered voters; Democrats have had a slightly larger turnout. Soon the focus will turn from Iowa to New Hampshire where the process will be a more traditional primary election. Tonight the national media will be flooding us with results from a state that represents very little of the country’s diversity. diversity. Indeed tonight Judy Woodruff on the PBS Newshour gave us several minutes of political analysis from Evangelical Ministers who all seem to agree that Jesus should be picking the winners. I leave it to others to determine whether the tax-supported Public Broadcasting System should be going out of its way to seek religious analysis of political events. But for me, Judy Woodruff is, in this instance,  a disgrace to journalism who might seemingly consider a life in a convent. It is simply irresponsible to provide a national audience to a bunch of religious charlatans and present them as serious political analysts. It is about the  level we can expect from Woodruff who, on a good day, can find her way to ask the same question in three ways in the hope she gets – finally – the answer she wants.

Soon we will be on to New Hampshire. Fewer cows and Evangelicals, and not much of a corn field. But the horse race is on, the touts will be crying their picks and then we can sit back and wait nine months for the real thing. Too long, too tedious, too absurd.

And I resisted till now the reminder that the Junior Senator from Iowa made her bones by telling Iowa’s voters that she had an excellent record in the castration of hogs. I kid you not. Why didn’t Woodruff interview her?

3 Comments

The Press, Facts and Reality

Posted September 24, 2015 on 11:01 am | In the category Election, Politics, Press, Republican Party, Uncategorized | by Jeff

In about 13 months the U.S. will have elected a new president. That is a long time away, but already it is not going well, with a Republican field of fact-resistant candidates and a Democrat field led by a candidate with a couple of self inflicted wounds. There is no useful purpose running through a list of candidates that until recently included a governor under indictment, another governor  looking at possible indictment,  a third who dropped out after his poll numbers disappeared, a couple of religious hustlers – one protestant, one catholic –  a woman campaigning on a record of running a major U.S.company into the ground, a Southern governor who has destroyed his state’s education and health programs to kiss down to the GOP base, a former Lehman Bros. operative running on – yes! – economic expertise, a brain surgeon with zero political experience, and a narcissistic TV loudmouth.

Some initially saw the GOP race as an entertainment but with all candidates given a degree of credibility strange things can happen. And the press tends to provide that credibility to practically any candidate, regardless of their tenuous grasp of reality.

It is easy to criticize the press. While no one is innocent, culpability does vary from source to source. It is silly to complain about Fox News – serious news is not what they do. They are a propaganda machine and they feed the beast and are good at it. MSNBC serves a similar function for the left, with the important exception that people like Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes (an actual journalist) maintain an attachment to facts and reality.

But what about the “serious” “objective” press, like the Washington Post, the NY Times and subscriber supported PBS Newshour? Would a serious press treat Trump seriously? Well, as it turns out – yes. His poll numbers are up therefore he gets an if not free, at least reduced fare, ride. Is there any reason to report that when Trump says we need to remove 11 million people from the U.S. he is suggesting an impossibility? Is there any reason when reporting that Carly Fiorina wants to defund Planned Parenthood because she claims to have viewed a video of alive babies being slaughtered by PP  not to mention that no such video exists? Are climate change deniers entitled to a free ride away from scientific fact? Candidates’ statements typically are reported without filters of facts partly because it contributes to the narrative of political campaigns as horseraces and allows journalists to produce words without doing the real work of journalism.

Monday is “politics night” on the PBS Newshour and last Monday their panel discussed the current GOP race and with a wink wink here, and a wink wink there, they disposed of Wisconsin Governor Walker’s removal from the race without discussing his real policy and personal deficiencies, which are considerable. It was the horserace – he could not raise enough money they said – well, there might be a reason for that and maybe that could be discussed. Stories like Walker’s claim that he is saving Wisconsin’s education system by cutting the state’s premier University’s budget and spending the money instead on a basketball arena, and Carly Fiorina’s manufactured story on Planned Parenthood are reported without comment. Overall too many journalists seem to believe that they are not to call a lie a lie when the liar is an”important” politician. And in the name of “balance” they seem too often to be able to find someone able to make up facts to denigrate Planned Parenthood or deny climate change.

PBS Newshour does a fine job when they bring in real expert analysts but they have a tendency to head toward the on-the-one-hand-this, on-the-other-hand-that face offs, sometimes providing opposing party politicians air time to exhibit what is frequently an appalling lack of substance, apparently aimed at pleasing their bases. Newspapers are improving their approach to analysis by opening opportunities for experts to write focussed oped pieces that frequently serve as correctives to developing myths. We would all  benefit from more of this and less timid acceptance of all that comes out of a politician’s mouth.

2 Comments

THE 2014 REPUBLICAN “SUCCESS”

Posted November 9, 2014 on 12:05 pm | In the category Economy, Election, Obama, Politics, Press, Supreme Court, U.S. Domestic Policy | by Jeff

The Republican “long game” of demonizing the President which began immediately after Barak Obama was elected president in 2008 has finally crossed the finish line. Vowing to do anything to destroy Obama’s presidency, the Republicans and their Tea Party sub-contractor began the process of character assassination that culminated in this week’s midterm elections. The strategy put the political future of the likes of Mitch McConnell and John Boehner ahead of the needs of the country and therefore out of necessity had to ignore anything positive that might attach itself to the Obama presidency.

It is not surprising that much of the press largely played along with the story line, broadcasting Boehner and McConnell’s daily banalities after having given credibility to political hacks like Michelle Bachman, Donald Trump, Rick Santorum and pizza maker Herman Cain in 2012.

But hapless Democratic candidates were complicit in their own downfall by running away from Obama and simply ignoring anything positive in his record.

When Obama’s presidency began the United States was a living horror show, largely produced by Republicans. The country had wasted up to $3 trillion on a war fought over weapons of mass destruction that did not exist; it had allowed investment banks to run wild while bringing the American economy to its knees; the American stock market lost 54% of its value in the 2007-08 crash; unemployment soared to over 10% and thousands of homeowners lost their homes through foreclosure – or by simply walking away from suddenly wildly overvalued property. President George Bush’s last budget – for FY 2009 had a deficit of $1,412 billion. After six years of the Obama presidency the annual budget deficit ($483 Bn) is less than a third of Bush’s last deficit, unemployment is at a rate less than half of the 2009 rate, the stock market is at record highs, the housing market has largely recovered, housing foreclosures are at historic lows and the American economy has recovered better than any other Western country’s.

So why have the Democrats suffered such a huge loss?

MONEY: When the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are people and that their money is a form of free speech an already lopsided election funding process became a game of craps played with loaded dice. It has become almost impossible to gauge the amount of money spent on elections but one estimate is that some $4B was spent on the 2014 midterms. Anyone trapped in front of a TV in October must have believed that they were faced with voting for either a swine or a hog.

SUPREME COURT: the U.S. Supreme Court has managed to play a powerful (and perhaps inappropriate) role in politics with its Citizens-United decision opening up funding of election campaigns to corporations and unions, and has decided that protection of voting rights is no longer needed despite the efforts of Republicans to make voting more difficult by requiring photo IDs at the polls despite virtually no evidence of voter fraud in the past.

THE PRESS: The American mainstream press has always been susceptible to the temptations of closeness to power, giving us what amounts to a courtier press. The Sunday talk shows wheel out the same tired lineup week after week: John McCain, Lindsay Graham, Peggy Noonan, Reince Priebus, etc. and they become insider clubs with little difference between the reporters and the politicians. Print journalists have become an endangered species and cable news stations are uniformly tedious – even stupid – , pumping up non stories like the so-called ebola threat and refusing to do the hard work of journalism.

DEMOCRATS’ INEPTITUDE: The Democrats seem to have drunk the Republicans kool aid. They ran away from Obama’s (and their own) accomplishments, refused to defend the Affordable Care Act, never developed a positive message, ignored the positive economic record of Obama’s administration, and did not force the Republicans to defend economic policies that have favored the wealthy at the expense of the poor and middle class. They allowed the Republicans to determine and control the narrative and refused to risk losing on Democratic party principles. Turns out they could hardly have done worse and could at least have looked at themselves in the mirror the day after the election had they stood strongly for something positive.

OBAMA’S PASSIVITY AND ADMINISTRATIVE INCOMPETENCE: The President’s noted rational approach to governing could only work if it was supported by energy or, better yet, passion – for what he is trying to accomplish. His inability- perhaps unwillingness – to sell the Affordable Care Act to his clients (all of us) is an example of a failure of politics. The ACA has been vilified by the Republicans largely by their lying about it. Death panels, free abortions, increased deficits, etc. ad nauseum. The administration never fought back effectively and in fact, by losing control over the development of the ACA website, created a nightmare for themselves – to say nothing of the people who tried to sign up for health insurance. The apparent unwillingness to play the hard politics that end up being a necessary part of the job contributed to giving the Republicans control of the narrative for the election.

VOTERS’ GENERALiZABLE ANGER: Americans are understandably pissed off. They saw their lives seriously disrupted by the recession of 2008-9, then saw bankers bailed out with taxpayers’ money, bank executives raking in record multimillion dollar rewards for incompetence while they were losing their jobs and homes. The rich do indeed get richer and the poor do indeed suck wind. So they looked around and – helped enormously by Republican money and ads demonizing Obama – decided to blame the President. Is that stupid? well yeah. Is it unexpected? well no. The hard work of figuring out what actually happened in the absence of a strong and honest press turns out to be beyond the capabilities of the American people. Or at least – so it seems.

So we come to the future and as our friend Leonard Cohen says, “I have seen the future brother: and it is murder”. And so it will be: possibly death to health care for all, more insane U.S.wars in places with little or no relation to our national interest; greater wealth to the oligarchs; less for the poor; no hope for immigrants; and a fundamental national commitment to all that works agains the interests of the vast majority of the American people. It is our democracy. Love it. Embrace it. Or work to change it.

3 Comments

AMERICA’S GREAT EBOLA SCARE

Posted October 22, 2014 on 11:32 am | In the category Ebola, Election, Healthcare, Politics, Press | by Jeff

Arriving in Boston from Tanzania last Friday I was welcomed into a country caught in deep fright over a disease that had killed just one person in America – a visitor from Liberia who went to the emergency room of a Dallas hospital when he developed ebola symptoms. For whatever reason, the hospital staff misdiagnosed him, sent him home and a few days later he was back with a full blown case of a disease that killed him. It is apparent that an earlier correct diagnosis would have increased his chances, but of course, mistakes do happen.

We had spent nearly three weeks in Africa and ebola had come up in conversation exactly once. People understood that Tanzania, located in East Africa, was some 4-5000 miles from the epicenter of the ebola outbreak and also understood that it was almost impossible to become infected without coming into contact with an infected patient’s bodily fluids. So Tanzanians were informed, behaving responsibly and showed no sign of panic. So just why is America in a frenzy over a disease that has been successfully treated in several American hospitals, has to date killed one person in the country and which has led medical authorities to take very aggressive quarantine steps for any person (or dog) that came into even casual contact with the patient or with the two hospital staff who unwittingly became infected while treating him.

I suppose there are many possible causes of the panic, but three factors seem especially relevant. First is basic ignorance and an unwillingness to learn about the disease by simply reading responsible press reports or listening to the many medical experts who have addressed the issue on radio and tv. Second is the predictably poor performance of much of the press in reporting on the disease, all too frequently emphasizing the dramatic nature of the many deaths in West African countries that have extremely poor medical systems. A third reason – and the one that is almost scandalous in its self-serving irresponsibility – is the use of the issue in the political campaigns for next month’s midterm elections.

Republicans and America’s courtier press have managed to blame President Obama for everything from the civil war in Syria to the failed democracy in Libya, to the corruption in Ukraine, to the failed democracy in Egypt, ad infinitum. Too much of the press carries these rants with a straight face and enough of the people buy it to give it legs. So, we now have Americans hiding under their beds to escape a disease that is largely restricted to the African continent while our Republican leaders (sic) blame Obama for not stopping a disease that basically does not exist in America. Meanwhile a teacher in Maine is put on leave because he flew on a plane that previously had carried a woman that once upon a time had come into contact with the Liberian patient. Three Oklahoma students returned from a trip to Ethiopia, where there are no reported cases of ebola, and have been refused entry into school. Syracuse University barred a Washington Post reporter from a conference because he had done some reporting from Liberia; he had been cleared of any signs of ebola. A Mississippi school had been closed because its principle had been to Zambia, an African country thousands of miles from the West Africa ebola outbreak. A Southwest Airlines flight captain in Orlando called in authorities to remove a person from the plane because he had been in West Africa in late August (the incubation rate is 21 days and he proved to be healthy).

Last night Massachusetts has-been Scott Brown, who has moved to New Hampshire to run against Senator Jeanne Shaheen, joined a Republican national chorus and devoted a large part of a debate appearance to criticizing President Obama (and by implication Senator Shaheen) for not closing our borders to anyone coming from West Africa. The fact that that is a policy that no responsible health professional supports and that it is functionally not possible to accomplish did not deter Brown from trying to scare the bejesus out of the good folk in New Hampshire. Let’s hope the “live free or die” New Hampsherites come out from under their beds and send Brown home to Massachusetts.

2 Comments

Politics And Press: The Presidential Sweepstakes

Posted October 18, 2012 on 12:02 am | In the category Election, Obama, Romney, Uncategorized | by Jeff
  • To vote for a Democrat means, now, to vote for the party’s influential members—for unions (including public unions of teachers, firemen, and policemen), for black and Latino minorities, for independent women….To vote for a Republican means, now, to vote for a plutocracy that depends for its support on anti-government forces like the tea party, Southern racists, religious fanatics, and war investors in the military-industrial complex. The independents, too ignorant or inexperienced …are the people most susceptible to lying flattery. They are called the good folk too inner-directed to follow a party line or run with the herd. They are like the idealistic imperialists “with clean hands” in Graham Greene’s The Quiet American—they should wear leper bells to warn people of their vicinity—Gary Wills, New York Review of Books

We have been subjected to a political campaign for the presidency that began nearly four years ago, moved into high gear over a year ago, presented a cast of shockingly bizarre Republican characters, and finally settled into a two man race that the American press has managed to define as a horse race to be covered as a sporting event of style over substance.

No day goes by without one or more new polls that tell us who is viewed most favorably among any number of subgroups: women voters, unmarried men, gays and lesbians, hispanics, white males, retirees, firemen, catholics, protestants, etc. etc. Candidates then try to tailor their heartfelt views to the identified interests of enough of the various subgroups to build a winning majority.. And by tailor, I mean, cut to size, redesign, change the entire look and feel – as various focus groups indicate. Mitt Romney’s constant and dramatic changes of expressed beliefs and values are an extreme example but Obama’s caution is also illustrative.

The press serves as the testing ground for policy changes by simply reporting them and then collecting data on whether the changes are liked or disliked by a largely unaware public. The press does this partially by collecting opinions from man-and/or-woman in the street interviews – a technique whose cost is only dwarfed by its innate absurdity. Of particular interest are those who after years of political jockeying have not quite been able to make up their mind. I mean, what does it take to get someone to decide? the world is not changing that fast, the candidates are only pretending to change, and yet these proud independents – unable to commit to any political belief or philosophy – wait for the magic moment – the epiphany – when they can decide between candidates representing radically different value systems and turn the election in whatever direction enters their sweet little heads.

Finally, to help them decide, the press provides analysts – almost always one from each side to discuss the issues in serious and quasi intellectual terms, but each reading from his or her internal Power Point presentation provided by their candidates. PBS’s Newshour has become especially proficient at this, cowering in its insecurities while it gives favor to each side hoping against hope that it will not be caught actually taking the side of rational thought, thereby perhaps risking its federal funding. The fact that they have become irrelevant, boring, tedious even – no longer matters. There is really no competition out there unless one turns to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, who in their own wacky way, move toward the truth. Colbert would say to independents, “flip a damned coin and get over it.”

2 Comments

All Politics Are Loco

Posted May 3, 2012 on 10:07 am | In the category Election, Politics, Press, Romney | by Jeff

The wasteland of the American political landscape is matched by the emptiness of what passes for political reporting and analysis. How’s this for a list of candidates for the presidency who have been treated seriously at one time or another by the national press – print and TV?:

  • Donald Trump who built a campaign on searching for Obama’s Kenyan birth certificate;
  • Herman Cain who babbled incessantly about “9-9-9” as the program to save the American economy;
  • Michelle Bachmann -the girl with the faraway eyes – who swept the Iowa caucuses only to sink beneath a sea of ridicule;
  • Rick Perry, he of the Texas swagger and the first grade syntax;
  • Newt Gingrich, who spent millions of others dollars, paid himself $500K, owes millions to suckers who extended credit and spent a good part of his campaign self-inflating in front of non existent crowds;
  • Ron Paul, the bizarre communicant of the Church of Ayn Rand, who would throw virtually everyone in the poverty grouping under the bus;
  • Rick Santorum who carried the Catholic Bishops’ water in their campaign to place American women in the Catholic brand of Sharia law; and, finally,
  • the putative winner of the Republican race, Willard Mitt Romney, a charmless, entitled man who regularly and frequently changes his views to gain delegate votes in Tampa.

The operating rules of the American press include following tips from political campaigns on the sins of their opponents and then usually – or sometimes – a feeble attempt to provide “balance” – guaranteed to lead to false equivalencies. For instance, time given to believers in intelligent design in response to time given to scientists discussing evolution; or bringing on someone like Senator Inhofe to ridicule climate change after scientists discuss the reality of climate change.

The banality of the press is currently on exhibit in Boston around the Scott Brown-Elizabeth Warren campaign for U.S.Senate. The Boston Herald, a low rent tabloid, has been beating the drum about Warren’s listing in a Law Directory that she has Native American blood. Obviously the tip on this earth shaking news came from the Brown campaign and the press has chosen to run with it without doing any reporting or – God help them – thinking about it – and consequently they have made it the “NEWS”. It has run wild with over a week of analyses and reports in the Boston Globe, the Herald and local TV.

The usually reasonable talk radio and TV guy Jim Braude has determined that this is an issue that deserves highlighting on his TV show for several nights. And what exactly is the issue? No one really knows- is it that she is part Native American? Maybe for some of Scott Brown’s folk that may be true, but certainly not for most  people. Or is it that she used her ethnicity to get her jobs at Harvard Law School? But no sane person really believes that to be the case. It is merely an opportunity to paint Warren as something she is not and as someone different from the guy with the pickup truck and the barn coat. And Braude and his press colleagues have gone along with what is without question a partisan pile of crap, hand delivered to them by political hacks. It is how it works and we have unfortunately gotten used to it. Which means we are unlikely to demand better, let alone know that something better is possible,

1 Comment

Rick Santorum: The Catholic Church’s Trojan Horse

Posted March 18, 2012 on 1:35 pm | In the category Election, Politics, Republican Party, U.S. Domestic Policy | by Jeff

The Republican primaries continue to amaze and entertain with Mitt finding new ways to sink lower into the mire of pandering to the lowest common denominator, the aptly named Newt Gingrich self inflating at the sight of a microphone – any microphone – and Rick Santorum ranting against the joys of sex. Of particular recent interest is the role being played by the Catholic bishops in a strange, retro fight over birth control.

As the self appointed guardians of American faith and morals the bishops are mostly known by members and former members of their faith as the enablers of countless Catholic priest pedophiles. Just to be clear, we are being asked to buy into the morality of a group that ensured that priests under their administration could continue to rape young boys by moving them to ever new pastures of altar boys at the slightest threat of disclosure. The photo in the Boston Globe of the new Cardinal Dolan from NY being hugged by Boston’s chief pedophile enabler Cardinal Law after Dolan was elevated to Cardinal by Pope Benedict tells us all we need to know.

So now in a country that used to pride itself in its ability to keep religion largely out of our political life, the likes of Cardinal Dolan and his old friend Bernard Law have inserted themselves into the presidential election on the issue of birth control. in doing so the bishops are promoting a largely ignored and even ridiculed Church’s view that birth control is against God’s law even as virtually every Catholic woman in America has moved beyond that medieval view.

The moral power of the Catholic church is contributing to the dingbat wing of various state legislatures which are imposing laws that are intended to remind American women who is in charge – white guys in suits waiting in line to order the legal rape of any woman who might wish – for whatever reason – to have a legal abortion. In states like Texas and Virginia women are faced with these bizarre laws regardless of whether a pregnancy is the result of rape or incest or whether a woman’s health is threatened.

Rick Santorum follows the bishops’ lead and and would have everyone in America have sex only when they are intent on conceiving a child. We are truly in a dark and strange area here; an area where state legislators begin to practice medicine of the ob-gyn variety..

As for the Catholic Church – I refer readers to Catholic historian Gary Wills’ history of the church’s screwing around with contraception (“Contraception’s Con Men”)
http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2012/feb/15/contraception-con-men/
and how it became “Catholic Dogma” on the NY Review blog. And let’s all pray for the lives destroyed by pedophiliac priests and their bishop enablers, and the lives lost to AIDS because the church won’t support condoms in Africa, and for the disappearance of Rick Santorum into the dustbin of history.

1 Comment
Next Page »

Powered by WordPress with Pool theme design by Borja Fernandez.
Entries and comments feeds. Valid XHTML and CSS. ^Top^