Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fight The Power

Today Matt Yglesias unfortunately wrote:
I’ve generally liked Chuck Todd’s emergence as a TV talking head,
Chuck Todd is and was a snivelling little hack who they coached and dressed up a little better so that he would give a more serious impression. Check out some of his greatest hits. Chuck Todd’s profession is being a propagandist.

Russert was the same thing. Everyone knew his presentation was garbage, but then after he died, the Machine closed ranks to make sure he was eulogized non-stop for a week or two. Now Media Matters has oddly taken his name off their list of big-offender media personalities, even though he was one of the worst ones, and since he was a conscienceless soldier for the Machine, it’s entirely appropriate to keep his name up there so people can easily check out the examples of his disgusting corruption and better understand the reach and quality of conservative media corruption.

Commenting on the media running McCain's ads for him for free on major networks and times that would require big bucks to advertise during, Steve Benen meekly writes:
But why would major news outlets repeatedly fall for the same trick, even when they realize the ads are created for the sole purpose of free media attention? There are competing explanations, but my hunch is a lot of outlets are just lazy, and video press releases make their jobs easier.
Considering all the other biased stuff that comes out of the mainstream media, it's well-passed the point of being certain by now that they're in cahoots.

This is a real problem, so we've got to think of a way to solve it.

All the times you see stuff from the mainstream media that looks liberal, it's just a red herring. The conservative reach is far in the mainstream media, and they can influence any story or headline in any mainstream media news report they want, even if they haven't actually bought off or intimidated every single mainstream media employee yet. The point of this is so the public won't realize they have a controlled mainstream media yet, since the public isn't so uniformly conservative to support that yet.

I doubt the public ever will be that conservative, but we still suffer from the results of having all these lies infiltrate our mainstream media news. So we've got to deal with the problem frankly and seriously.

Matt Yglesias, Steve Benen, and Kevin Drum have all taken a sharp turn for the worse in their writing over the past year or so. I have no doubt that they are all real liberals (and their past writing was very sane), but I do very much doubt that they have gone untouched by conservative coercion, and in my opinion, they are all now basically Republican propagandists.

When Steve Benen, Kevin Drum, or Matt Yglesias write something critical of the mainstream media, what they are doing is no different from the mainstream media's not acting overtly and uniformly like a conservative loud-speaker. It helps cover up when they write other things that are very wrong or inappropriate or otherwise propaganda. The blogs allow people who notice the mainstream media is corrupt to have a "pressure release valve" that keeps them from getting too fed up with the system, because they show that at least someone else notices the problems (but isn't even taking them that seriously, even though they amount to a controlled news media system, a symptom of fascism). But the blogs do the same thing as the mainstream media, and mix reality in with conservative propaganda, even though they give a slightly higher dose of reality for the (minority) slice of the population that is not dumb enough to un-critically accept the mainstream media.

August 27

On August 27, 1963, W.E.B. Du Bois, the African American civil rights activist and co-founder of the NAACP, died in Accra, Ghana.

Another Lil Something . . .

. . . I'm going to talk about because people in the media say it's important (or they at least used to):

If for years it's been the received wisdom that politicians should always wear dark suits-- and (even better) red ties-- and that there is even something psychological behind it, why are both Barack and Biden now sporting light-colored suits every once in a while?

I thought Hillary's pink suit during her convention appearance seemed a little bit odd, too. Something about it being her first big public appearance after losing the nomination + not being picked for VP, I guess, and pink being "the girl color."

Is some fascist dictating the wardrobe selection now?

Things You Don't Hear Very Often

UPDATE: Here is another interesting thing about cowboys you don't hear very often: while most of the modern world, and probably guys like Hitler and George W. Bush, have thought of cowboys as being an almost uniformly-white class of people, that actually wasn't the case at all of the actual Old West. Being a cowboy in the Old West was a very working-class profession, and cowboys were often immigrants. Around 30% of cowboys actually weren't even white, but were African American, Native American, or Hispanic. The idea of cowboys as an all-white thing isn't something that came from the cowboys themselves-- rather it's something that came from writers of fiction novels back east, or from the sons of settlers in Western towns and cities who profited from the place that the original cowboys and settlers tamed (think of them as the west's original conservative, suburban, middle-class pansies-- the original George W. Bush's). They wanted to take the cowboy legend of the place they were living in and turn it into their own thing that pleased them the most, including an all-white cast of characters that was completely at odds with the real Old West. The real Old West-- at least as far as the cowboys-- was a lot more like The Lone Ranger and Tonto, or Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman in Unforgiven.

* * * * *

Here is an interesting parallel between our President, George Bush, and Adolf Hitler that you don't hear very often.

George Bush lives on a fake ranch (really a pig farm converted into a home) in Texas when he isn't in Washington, and he likes to talk like a cowboy and pretend that he's a cowboy even though he's really from the Northeast.

And what do you think Adolf Hitler most liked to read in his spare time? It wasn't books about political theory, books praising the culture or history of Germany, books about warfare, or even racist propaganda books. Little Adolf liked to read cheapo cowboy novels by the writer Karl May. These were the type of thing that didn't reflect the Old West accurately at all, but rather turned cowboys into super-hero type figures. A lot of men read them like boys read comic books, or like men read Tom Clancy novels today.

This, of course, doesn't mean that cowboy = Nazi, or that everyone who dresses like a cowboy or likes some aspect of country-western culture is bad or racist. And it's also not the type of thing I usually spend my time pointing out on this blog. But since the media has acquiesced over the past few years in the face of a propaganda assault making cowboys and NASCAR fans out to be something like the Nazi German idea of a German Volk (if not a racial ├╝bermensch), I just thought I'd point out a parallel that is very clear, and based on well-known facts, but that no one bothers to mention (perhaps because it's a little more direct and clear than is comfortable for the Republicans).

Barack Obama

Someone was just telling me that before anybody tells him "all the criticism of Barack" they should show evidence that people were "flipping out" about John Edwards in 2004. Exactly. If Barack is inexperienced now, why wasn't it so obvious to all the media types that John Edwards, with similar credentials in 2004, was "inexperienced"? Calling Barack Obama too inexperienced is nothing more than a euphemism to say that Barack is black and that there is something wrong with all black people.

Therefore, if you hear anybody say this euphemism, or see anybody write it, your appropriate response is to immediately retort the charge with the facts that demonstrate that Barack is experienced compared to other people who are running for or who have run for the Presidency.

Biden-- Wish He Was Hillary

This is my basic feeling, which I'll elaborate more below: I still don't understand it, and I think it's kind of a slap in the face for a guy who bills himself on change to reject bringing the first woman VP into the White House with him. At the same time, he's also sinking her chances to eventually run for Pres again. It would have sent a lot better message if Barack had kept her included: that the individual components of the liberal coalition-- for example, working class women and working class racial minorities-- are not divided, and if one part is down, the others can be counted on to reach over to help them up.

In my honest opinion, we should not see Hillary just as an individual because that is not simply what she is, and that is not the context. This is about the history of the whole nation, and what message we send. If Hillary is good enough (and by all measures, she was-- remember, she was the other power-slugger in the primary, as far as popularity and money-raising ability, besides Obama) then she should have been picked. Biden is by comparison a second-stringer. And on top of all that, arguably, the field of candidates running against her shouldn't have even demonstrated so much whole-hearted competition (including from Obama) because Hillary was "next in line" out of all of our people who wanted to be President.

Now Obama is leaving her stuck in the mud more or less apparently just because of some things she said or the media said about her. The stuff about paying her debts doesn't count as sticking up for her (it's a token move, not meaningful political support), and Hillary's trying to trade off the convention to get some money to pay her debts actually just makes her look bad (it doesn't do anything positive for her political career).

The case for Hillary being "next in line," in case it wasn't obvious enough to you, was this: she had comparable popularity to Obama, and she was older and more experienced (especially having been much closer to the White House for eight years, which the media chauvinistically ignored (abetted by the bloggers) simply because she was the First Lady-- but she was an educated, invloved, insider First Lady, not just a celebrity or a mantlepiece). Skipping her for Obama possibly ruins her chance to run and therefore leaves our long-term field of Presidential candidates with less total talent for the future.

Even I don't think that argument necessarily wins. For one thing (which is the most important thing you can say in Obama's favor), Obama has turned out to be significantly more popular than Hillary, including (and most crucially) as compared to John McCain-- at least so far. But I'm worried by what I see as signs that the Republicans wanted us to pick Obama (the corrupt mainstream media just didn't go after him hard like they went after Hillary during the primary). That support for Hillary from Rush Limbaugh? A red herring. You really think that guy is dumb enough to tell us who he actually wants us to pick? Remember, Rush Limbaugh is the guy who has been excoriating Hillary constantly-- until she became a Democratic Presidential candidate.

Magnifying all this is the fact that we should have had other Presidential and Vice President prospects (that were arguably very superior to either Barack or Hillary) available now and for future campaigns, but we lost them due to chance or to weird circumstances. Kennedy's son, who could have been a sure-shot for us to win the Presidency a couple of times (once he grew up a little more and hopefully was persuaded to turn to politics), was killed in a mysterious plane crash. And Eliot Spitzer was exposed in an affair, just when it looked like only Republicans were getting caught doing that (again and again) since after Bill Clinton. But, now we don't have these people, so the loss of Hillary hits harder. If John McCain squeaks by Obama, all we're going to be left with is regret over what our powerhouse ticket (Obama and Hillary) could have been like, and the cold consolation that a bunch of sleazy mainstream media writers or TV talking heads had speculated that the White House wasn't big enough for Hill, Bill, and Obama.

As for all the bad things people say about Hillary: the absolute limit of what you can realistically say bad about Hillary (that is, what you can attribute to her and not to her staff) is that she played a little rough while she was campaigning-- and that is hardly an unprecedented, or even an unusual, practice.

A lot of things we're doing now just seem to fly in the face of what should be basic smarts, basic considerations, and standard methods of doing things for us.

I really feel like we're the geeks in high school who are getting directed to the non-existant pool on the roof by the Republicans.

Incidentally, another thing that's funny about the life of JFK, Jr., is that there are stories out there that make it sound like something happened to his wife that made her go kind of nuts after he married her or sometime before they died. You hear a lot of things about her that make it sound real natural that he was impressed with her class and wanted to marry her. But there was some story about them in Rolling Stone (I think) after they died that claimed that she would get into screaming fights with him in which she would call him a "faggot" and that she would do things like make them late going places because she would change her mind three times about what color she wanted her toenails to be after the beautician had already put the nailpolish on.

The Future Of Our Country

What I’d really like to see from this business about McCain’s homes is more people talking about how it fits into all of our ideas, instead of just using it as an insult against McCain personally.

Specifically,

Why does a person need anything like 7 or 12 homes when other people are poor and live in crowded, miserable places?

Why is it that a person can own 7 or even 12 homes (McCain owns several house-shaped, house-sized structures on one of his seven properties– structures that families could be living in– therefore he or his wife actually own something like 12 homes) in this country? How does the system let them get and keep so much wealth they don’t need– even enough to leave fortunes to their kids?

Why do we allow people to own as many as 7 or 12 homes in this country?

We can even start looking forward to the future: since it’s so obvious that no one actually needs as many as 7 homes, and in the future of dwindling resources it’s going to become harder and harder for everyone to get by, we can start talking about changing the laws to do things like prevent people from owning as much extraneous property for their own use (for instance, making a law that specifically prohibits owning 7 or more homes, any of which you don't rent out or don't actually live in for more than one month out of each year).

It’s time for the common people to start talking about things like this and to start fighting for things like this. We can’t expect the rich people to do it. No rich person, when push comes to shove, really cares about any of you or their country. Why else would we have a rich class? When they have all that money and property and the security that comes from it, the security and comfort it provides to them is too attractive, and you can expect that no rich person over the age of 18 who knowingly owns 7 houses really cares what happens to any of us so long as they have their property and security. We just have to conclude from that that it has to be us who fights for the interest of the country and its people, and these people who have to have their excess taken from them.

Rich people may say that they care about other people, and may even donate to Obama and try to change things, but in the final analysis, it is all superficial because when the chips are down and the decisions really count, they wil side against you and side in favor of their money and security. That is why things don’t change in this country–- because the common people don’t realize this, and rich people aren’t motivated to change things for us. So it has to be the common people who pick up this work.

We have big corporations in this country that more or less monopolize huge industries, and they pay no taxes back into the system. Instead, the rich get more and more taxes removed from them: the individuals who work for these corporations at the highest levels of authority, and the people who stand to gain the most from the financial success of these corporations.

People like John McCain, Geoge Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and Donald Rumsfeld all come from this class.

Meanwhile we have poor people in this country who can't get enough to eat, don't get a decent education, or live in squalid, miserable conditions. When people who could grow up into happy, law-abiding citizens are so weakened by this evironment that they become criminals, we send them to abusive prisons where even today prisoner-on-prisoner or guard-on-prisoner rape is an epidemic, and we tell ourselves that it's all okay because we give them television, or because the government and the media lie to us and tell us all that the conditions of our country and the people who get locked up are much different than they actually are.

What we should be talking about is allowing the government to confiscate, or confiscate huge portions of, the largest industries. The government can oversee the management of these indutries, and we will still have a capitalist system, but instead of all the profit from the biggest businesses going into the piggy banks of a few people who were born into the upper-class, it would be used and distributed more equitably to make our world and our country better for us all to live in.

These are the people who have been ruining our environment so that people get skin cancer and all other kinds of cancers, and selling us cigarettes even though they knew they are poison. We have been letting them get away with it. We should not let these people do us the insult of waving their 12 houses in all of our faces and not start talking in a really serious way about fixing things.

Another thing I think the public's finding out McCain owns 10 or 11 or 12 houses is a good occasion for is noting that our society is living off the backs of de facto slave labor.

If you go and take a look on any consumer product in your home, you're almost bound to find the words "Made in China" or "Made in Malaysia" or "Made in [some other Third World country]" printed on it somewhere. These people get paid virtually subsistence wages-- and a total rip-off for a First World worker-- to work under absolutely horrible conditions, live in a hovel in East Asia, and die of treatable diseases. Their bosses treat them like rats and dominate their personal lives. Basic protections in America, like pregnancy leave, are forbidden in those places. Any time you read about an ancient civilization like the Romans and how they profited from their slaves, you might as well walk up to a mirror and take a good look in it, because you are the exact same thing. These industries keep the rich rich, and we regular people get all our stuff perhaps at a slightly cheaper price-- or maybe not (maybe the rich just tell us that's how it works out so that we won't complain so readily about the oppression of the factory workers). We take our bribe and we keep our mouths shut. If we ever complain or ask about it, we're told some absurd answer like that the Third World people deserve it or that it has to be this way. Or we're absurdly told that the workers in those factories are lucky because they have jobs and other people in those countries don't! Imagine that idea-- being lucky to work like a slave!

The people who most insist on these lies to us, or most insist on believing them, are a bunch of middle-aged Republican white guys who wear suits and work in air-conditioned offices for tens of thousands of dollars a year, and convince themselves that they're tough, working-class people while they check up on their stocks in The Wall Street Journal and on their Fantasy Baseball teams each day. Well the facts are, maybe if some more money could come into the countries (like through higher wages) where real working-class people are working to produce your T-shirts, appliances and furniture, it would spur more development, and all the people there who are unemployed now would be able to work at jobs like selling retail stuff to their countrymen.

It's time for real American working people to speak, think, vote and act in solidarity with working people all across the globe instead of continuing to let McCain's people divide and conquer us like we're a bunch of stupid rats.

Of course, right now Americans don't have realistic options besides buying things that are made in sweatshops-- and we don't even want to relocate all these industries to America, either (what would be better is if we just made it a condition of selling consumer products in the U.S. or of having any offices or investments in the U.S. for these kinds of corporations to pay their foreign workers some kind of a U.S.-mandated minimum wage). But we definitely can stop talking and acting as if we like and accept this McCain-like plutocracy, and we can start looking for home-grown alternatives to giving money to the rich. We can do things like start backyard vegetable gardens (or buying plots of land specifically for crops) instead of paying so much for corporate food, and we can start DVD-sharing co-ops with our social networks (Think how many friends you and your friends have, including on MySpace or on Friendster! Of you have a few hundred or even a thousand people in your extended social network, you can get them all in on it. Just put a limit on how many DVDs each person can borrow a month (not returning a DVD on time gets you kicked out), get a geek to set up a privacy-protected website to manage it, and you can save money from at least down-grading your NetFlix membership to a cheaper version of the membership.). The answers are out there, and we just have to reach for them-- and if we don't, we're culpable. But if we do, then triumph is inevitable.