Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Amazing Power of the Repugnican Talking Point

Dithering: a word that had probably never been uttered in the history of television news was suddenly on the lips of every talking head this week.

It is a testament to the awesome power of the Repugnican Smear Machine that they always seem to find the perfect new damning term to use against the Obama Administration to recharge their wild-eyed attacks at the very point where it seems they have exhausted the lexicon of slurs on any particular topic. Their rolling out of their exciting new term for their same old shit is blithely picked up and repeated so often it becomes "conventional wisdom" in the world of "reporting." Had Dick Cheney's speech writers used any regular term like "waver, hesitate, falter" or even "vacillate" there would be little news value in his latest criticism of Obama's mishandling of the Afghanistan occupation.

There is definitely much to criticize in Obama's distressing Afghanistan policy, of course, and he has been getting it hard and heavy from the left since he took office. But the strength of the left's objections and protests is generally only reported as data collected in polls designed to rate the President's popularity on a positive/negative percentage scale. The Left's opposition to Obama's Afghanistan folly is not considered "news" because it is apparently too hard a task for the simple minds who report the news - and the simpler minds who listen to them - to grasp the non-black & white, non-bipolar complexities of the real world.

What is too deep for them to fathom is the nature of that tension which exists uncomfortably between Obama and the political left - who want to support him despite his flaws. It's so much easier to "get it" when a Dick Cheney, Sara Palin or Joe Wilson exposes the high-strung, knee-jerk tension between Obama and the right - which just wants to see him fail at all costs. Because of the way the news industry has been reshaped by Fox News in recent years any criticism of this president and his administration is only considered newsworthy if it totally demonizes them. And they've found that this need not be done only by screeching "You Lie!" on the floor of Congress or making brazenly truth-less statements about death panels in the health care reform bill. Now it only takes the dropping of a single term into a speech, pricking up reporters' ears with a nebulosity of meaning to the average American. The underlying Repugnican strategy for foiling the Democrats has not changed. We're just seeing the phase where they resort to semantic vagaries after the insane things they've tried to assert outright have been thoroughly debunked as boldfaced malicious lies.

So Dick Cheney utters a familiar sounding Smear Machine-manufacture word, "dithering," with its built-in wink-wink connotations of Democratic light-weight feathery flaccidity on issues where Repugnicans have long been portrayed as stronger: warmongering. And though it's a term that has never been used before - and one that has plenty of synonyms in any cheap thesaurus, the Right Wing mouthpieces on Fox "News" and Limbaugh's Daily Spew obligingly repeat it like some nerdy kid who has just add another new word to his vocabulary and strains to use it every time he opens his mouth, often inappropriately.

As pathetic as all this is, of course, it is all the worse that the word is picked up intact, reported and repeated without question, by every news organization that still considers itself legit, even though they take their cues and news straight-up from the mouths of the Repugnican propaganda machine that is Fox.

They're all just a bunch of dithering fools.

Fortunately, we can still count on the calm, measured and reasonable voice of most trusted name in journalism to expose the hypocrisy and lies on all those Fox-ass-kissing news shows: Jon Stewart.

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Semi-Public Option?

It is beginning to look like we will soon have some kind of health care reform in this country afterall, within our lifetimes even!

The rational, wide-ranging kind of change we need, however, is only likely to come in increments, if at all. And depending on what part of the country you live in, may not come for you anytime soon.

Only lately has the idea of allowing states to opt out of the public option been floated with any seriousness. On the surface, it seems to me to be a very intriguing compromise on the most contentious issues involved in the shouting matches that have passed for debate. If this is what it takes to get the blue dog Democrats on board with passing health care reform, along with the weary Repugnicans who are only interested in their political survival, might we really be seeing a light at the end of this long, ridiculous tunnel?

If it works out that a reform bill is put forth with a public option "option-out" for those states whose Senators oppose all reason then maybe we should just go for it and let the cards fall where they may. Chances are that once government-sponsored health insurance is up and running in certain states of the country, there will soon be a clamoring of people in the out-opted states who continue to get ripped off by their insurance companies. I would not be surprised if it will be those same loudmouth crazies who spent last summer disrupting town meetings who will be crying about being left out and demanding that they too be included in the government plan as well.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Afghanistan War: A Human Tragedy

At one time, Contemporary Art seemed to have the power to wake the world up about atrocities of modern war.

Picasso's Guernica has been called the most famous work of modern art of the 20th Century. Whitechapel Art Gallery in East London, which has a long history of presenting timely, provocative, anti-war visual and performing art, presents an event today - October 7, 2009 - in recognition of the eighth anniversary of the Western Invasion and Occupation of Afghanistan.

Roger Lloyd Pack, National Theatre actor and well-known for playing Trigger in Only Fools and Horses, joins musician Brian Eno, actor Janie Dee, George Galloway MP and other prominent figures, who will be appearing at an event marking the eighth anniversary of the Afghanistan invasion, taking place beneath the tapestry of Picasso’s painting Guernica, at the Whitechapel Art Gallery on Wednesday 7 October from 11am to 12.30pm. All welcome.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sunday Morning with Michael

While getting myself together to go see the early showing of "Capitalism: A Love Story" this Sunday morning I received the note below in an email from the film's Director. I think it is worth sharing...

For Those of You on Your Way to Church This Morning ...a note from Michael Moore

Sunday, October 4th, 2009


I'd like to have a word with those of you who call yourselves Christians (Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Bill Maherists, etc. can read along, too, as much of what I have to say, I'm sure, can be applied to your own spiritual/ethical values).

In my new film I speak for the first time in one of my movies about my own spiritual beliefs. I have always believed that one's religious leanings are deeply personal and should be kept private. After all, we've heard enough yammerin' in the past three decades about how one should "behave," and I have to say I'm pretty burned out on pieties and platitudes considering we are a violent nation who invades other countries and punishes our own for having the audacity to fall on hard times.

I'm also against any proselytizing; I certainly don't want you to join anything I belong to. Also, as a Catholic, I have much to say about the Church as an institution, but I'll leave that for another day (or movie).

Amidst all the Wall Street bad guys and corrupt members of Congress exposed in "Capitalism: A Love Story," I pose a simple question in the movie: "Is capitalism a sin?" I go on to ask, "Would Jesus be a capitalist?" Would he belong to a hedge fund? Would he sell short? Would he approve of a system that has allowed the richest 1% to have more financial wealth than the 95% under them combined?

I have come to believe that there is no getting around the fact that capitalism is opposite everything that Jesus (and Moses and Mohammed and Buddha) taught. All the great religions are clear about one thing: It is evil to take the majority of the pie and leave what's left for everyone to fight over. Jesus said that the rich man would have a very hard time getting into heaven. He told us that we had to be our brother's and sister's keepers and that the riches that did exist were to be divided fairly. He said that if you failed to house the homeless and feed the hungry, you'd have a hard time finding the pin code to the pearly gates.

I guess that's bad news for us Americans. Here's how we define "Blessed Are the Poor": We now have the highest unemployment rate since 1983. There's a foreclosure filing once every 7.5 seconds. 14,000 people every day lose their health insurance.

At the same time, Wall Street bankers ("Blessed Are the Wealthy"?) are amassing more and more loot -- and they do their best to pay little or no income tax (last year Goldman Sachs' tax rate was a mere 1%!). Would Jesus approve of this? If not, why do we let such an evil system continue? It doesn't seem you can call yourself a Capitalist AND a Christian -- because you cannot love your money AND love your neighbor when you are denying your neighbor the ability to see a doctor just so you can have a better bottom line. That's called "immoral" -- and you are committing a sin when you benefit at the expense of others.

When you are in church this morning, please think about this. I am asking you to allow your "better angels" to come forward. And if you are among the millions of Americans who are struggling to make it from week to week, please know that I promise to do what I can to stop this evil -- and I hope you'll join me in not giving up until everyone has a seat at the table.

Thanks for listening. I'm off to Mass in a few hours. I'll be sure to ask the priest if he thinks J.C. deals in derivatives or credit default swaps. I mean, after all, he must've been good at math. How else did he divide up two loaves of bread and five pieces of fish equally amongst 5,000 people? Either he was the first socialist or his disciples were really bad at packing lunch. Or both.

Michael Moore