Saturday, February 09, 2008

Grab bag

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are now largely running on their "electability," not ideology. The Wall Street Journal noted that issues have now "eroded" as central to either campaign, and that the horse race and popularity contest is in command. They seem happy about that. Wall Street Hedge Funders and financiers are helping to bankroll both campaigns. (Edward’s big donors have now embraced Obama.) Wall Street is not a target of either, except for funding.
Slogans, buzz words, stump speeches and message points substitute for any effort to educate the American people about what it will really take to make change, Obama says change will be "tough" but doesn't go into why or discuss all the institutional forces and power centers with a stake in the status quo.
If he loses, I fear, many of his new young voters will get disillusioned and drop out of politics in part because they may be naïve or unaware of what the real obstacles to change are. They are mesmerized by charismatic speechifying and political vote counts, not a knowledge of underlying economic realities that any President will confront. Who is in office is not necessarily who is in power!
Ultimately, if Clinton and Obama really want to make change, they need to spell out more what they are for, not just what they are against. They need to organize, not just proselytize. They are not just running against the Republicans, but are up against what best-selling author John Perkins a former "economic hit man," calls the "corporatocracy," the economic power nexus that calls the shots.

The above is from Danny Schechter's "What Is the 'Change We Can Believe In'?" (Common Dreams) and it was in the snapshot yesterday, as dictated but there was a problem with the link for either it or his own site and that's why the last section is smaller (one of the two links was not closed and it ran into the immediate next section, knocking out it and the next section and making the part right after in smaller type). That's why he's a tag at the end but not in the snapshot itself.

This wasn't the section that was excerpted in the snapshot (and he will be noted in Monday's snapshot) but it's four in the morning and I'm tired and I'm grabbing what I want. I disagree with the fear cited by Danny strongly. The column's not nonsense or trash or we wouldn't link and in the snapshot, we just quoted another section. That "fear" has been listed by many -- more often, used as a club. It's crap. And we're going to discuss why here because it's one of those topics that Jim asks to be held for The Third Estate Sunday Review but, during the long writing session, we never get around to it. So that's going to be the bulk of this entry while I try to wake up. (Thank you to Mike who will post both morning entries. When this one goes up, Wally and Cedric will be finishing their joint-post. The second entry will go up after they have posted their joint-entry.)

On Coming Around Again, Carly Simon sings a song (a rare one she didn't write) entitled "You Have to Hurt."

“I’m in love with him”, she said
With all the innocence of tender years
But somewhere down the road ahead
I could see the same eyes
Filled with bitter tearsI had the inclination
To tell her not to drop her guard
To tell her that life can be hard
But I didn’t have the heart
You have to hurt -- to understand
You have to get by the best you can
Until you hurt -- until you cry
You won't know about love
And the reason you’re alive
You have to hurt

It's a mature song, it's a mature approach.

The Cult of Bambi really hasn't demonstrated that it can vote in the first place. I am biting my tongue there (another feature Jim's got on hold for Third) but Ava and I have seen it on campuses we've visited and you saw some reality on ABC Tuesday night (which is what Ava and I plan to cover for Third tomorrow). The Cult of Bambi is blown up by the MSM (and Laura Flanders among others) but in the degree that it does exist, it exists to vote. He is, after all, running for elected offices. And they're not voting. What you've really got is a popularity trend on campus that allows many to say "Oh, I support Bambi." The same way they'd all claim to listen to a musical act (that was considered cool) or watch a TV show or whatever else. If you're not on campuses today, think back to when you were in college or high school and you'll know what I'm talking about. Think about a show (maybe a sports game aired on TV) and how the day after, everyone pretended they watched but, if you paid attention to the remarks, no, everyon didn't watch but everyone was trying to fit in.

Obama's a candidate not a t-shirt. If the craze isn't translating to votes, it's not a political craze because he exists to get votes.

It's never been a "movement" though a lot of out of touch people try to pimp that notion. Your first clue could have been Goodman interviewed students on two episodes of Democracy Now! and the students (one each) were supporting Ron Paul, John McCain, Hillary Clinton and a third (it may have been John Edwards) could explain why they were supporting their candidate. Then came the young woman for Bambi. She couldn't answer what positions, policies or proposals of Obama's she was supporting. Ron Paul's actually got a youth movement. It's not a myth, it's not a craze, he actually a youth movement on campus. Go around the country and you'll grasp that very quickly. And his group is turning out to vote. There's a difference between a movement and a craze.

Equally true for the alleged anti-war candidate (pimped hard by the likes of 'anti-war' 'leader' Tom Hayden), his group isn't made up of students who've worked to end the illegal war. If his craze is active, they're the ones who ignored Iraq to focus on Darfur.

But, go back to Carly's song quoted above, and you have what is so frightening about the lie (and it's a lie) about the "fear." I hope Danny will write about that one section at more length and I'm not trying to tear him apart over it, but, exploring the topic, he should grasp how that "fear" has been used before.

It's used all the time. He's encountered it before this election cycle many times. Most in the press have. You find a story that's breaking and relevant to our lives and the resistance you get is the fear of how it might depress, how it might lead to disillusionment. It's what gets stories killed all the time in the mainstream press -- that 'fear' of the impact.

Post-Watergate, it became the club to hit investigative journalism over the head with, that 'fear.' If ___ is reported, it might mean Americans feel even less engaged with the system. If ___ is reported, it might mean the skepticism of government would increase. It existed before Watergate as well and it existed during Watergate but there was also the fact that Watergate coverage made stars and made money. Which is why you get the cautionary note from a newspaper publisher about how maybe so many things don't need to be told.

For months, the likes of Laura Flanders have been working the 'fear' talking point. It's disgusting. People in college are not toddlers, they don't safety caps placed on their lives expereiences. They are adults living in the world and they, like everyone else, will have to face some realities. That's what we all do every damn day. The notion that we need to be worried what might happen to the (mythical) young supporters if their candidate doesn't win, is bulls--t.
That's all it is. It's not reality.

Reality is that "You Have to Hurt" (to understand, to get by the best you can). Life is full of disappointments and this nonsense ("fear") shouldn't be coming from journalists ever because this how-will-people-feel-about-the-government-then has been used too many damn times to cover up the truth. It goes against everything a working free press is supposed to stand for and it goes against how a democracy is supposed to work.

It is the lamest of excuses offered for Bambi's campaign and it is the most offensive. Let's say everyone hopped the Flanders train (which requires lesbian Flanders to shut up about the homophobia that Bambi's campaign has used -- we'll get back to that) and Bambi got the nomination out of 'fear' of what his young 'supporters' might live through if he didn't. What next?

It's very doubtful the GOP is going to enlist in that "Save The Youth!" campaign but say they did and Bambi got into the White House. Four years from now or eight years from now do we owe it to the same 'youth' not to tell truths, not to ask difficult questions? Or are they now "old" and we turn to the next youth group?

The 'fear' argument isn't that different from the one Katharein Graham made in a speech to the CIA in 1979, "There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows." In that absurd statement, you have a 'responsibility' to protect the people being floated. You have it in the 'fear' over what will happen to Bambi groupies should he not get the nomination as well.

I wasn't for Eugene McCarthy -- I didn't trust him anymore than I trust Bambi (and I think, if he doesn't get the election, will see not just the nods to the right-wing we see currently, but the embrace of the right from Bambi that McCarthy offered when he failed to get the 1968 nomination). But you had a real movement behind Gene, a very strong youth movement. (Aided by the fact that RFK was no longer in the election due to being assassinated.) (Gene's press makes him anti-war. He wasn't. Go back to his original speeches, including his opening speech announcing why he was running -- it was sop and not about really ending the illegal war or noting that it was illegal.) He didn't get the nomination and life as we know it didn't cease to exist.

(He did, of course, come out of the closet about what a right-winger he truly was. His shame didn't begin with endorsing Ronald Regan for president in 1980. Ironic that Bambi would praise Reagan until you grasp that he's not at all different from Gene.)

"Clean for Gene" -- remember that crowd? Quick to cut their hair and dress 'straight' to go out into the larger (non-campus) world and campaign for him. Whether you think they were sell-outs or not, they were putting it on the line for their candidate. If you lived through that period ask yourself where the Bambi groupies are -- and grasp that McCarthy was dead after the DNC convention -- all that activity for Gene took place prior to the convention, took place during the primaries. And don't bring up the ridiculous notion that Facebook is somehow the equivalent to what Gene supporters (not just the Clean For Gene) crowd was doing.

They're not even engaged in the process now and, out of 'fear,' some feel we have to hop on the board the Bambi train (that's not what Danny's doing in the article, he's not making that argument, he's noting the fear and I'm saying that 'fear' is offensive to democracy and to a free press and I have always felt that way). That's not a spit-on-students.

I wouldn't do that and I haven't done that. We've focused on the realities of student activism when MSM outlets and The Nation couldn't find any because they didn't want to, they preferred to issue their tired "The Youth Today, Oy Vey, They Just Don't Care" pices that exist in every decade and usually have little reality basis.

Students are voting. They are turning out. Some are voting for Ron Paul (a lot are voting for Ron Paul), some are voting for Clinton or Obama or McCain or Huckabee or Gravel or any candidate in the race. But the myth is that Bambi owns the youth and he doesn't. Not if 'ownership' translates into votes.

But if you accept that myth as fact (in which case, you obvioulsy haven't been to campuses across the country), that still doesn't justify the 'fear.' Were the myth true, it wouldn't change that life is full of disappointments (and joys) and we learn (at all ages) from them.

A lot of crap has been pushed through Congress under the guise of 'protecting the youth.' Now some are arguing (Danny's not arguing that in his column) that we need to protect them because if they don't get Bambi they might become disillusioned.

That's nonsense. Disappointment is a part of life. The idea that people need to be protected from it leads to some of the worst press censorship (whether it's a government scandal or how someone truly died -- heart attack, yes, but while they were having sex outside of marriage and with a prostitute). All college students today are not Bambi supporters, that is a big lie. All student voters especially are not Bambi supporters. (Bambi can't seem to turn out his alleged support on campuses, but we're not supposed to notice that. Again, reality broke in on ABC's primetime coverage of Super Duper Tuesday. It also appeared, suprisingly, in the New York Times this week.) But for those who buy into the myth and try to argue that we must protect (they like to use the term 'encourage') this, the question should be: For how long?

When they're in their late 20s or early thirties, are we still supposed to worry about what might happen to them if life doesn't work out quite the way they wanted?

Young adults are adults. They don't need to be coddled or patronized. (They don't want to be.) The democratic process is not about "Don't let people be disappointed!" In an open society, people are going to be disappointed all the time. That's reality.

I grew up in a press family and I heard all about this 'fear' as an excuse for killing a story. I've heard about it from friends in the press my entire life. (To give an example of it at the most ludicrous, a 2004 conversation with a music journalist over what she couldn't print, what had been killed, stands out among the most shocking because her piece was not going to have huge impact -- she was at one of the bottom five of the ten major daily papers, not Rolling Stone or a publication known for music journalism and it wasn't that big of detail to begin with but as she explained how furious she was -- rightly -- over her piece being killed out of 'fear' of its impact . . . Or we can drop back to an organized effort to kill a movie that wasn't 'dangerous' but killing it wasn't about the movie, it was about an actor in the film.) This 'fear' destroys democracy and it never protects anyone. It does damage free speech because it not only creates overt censorship being imposed from the top, it also creates self-censorship.

Laura Flanders has shamed herself. She's an out lesbian (how out she is to the MSM is in question) and she's pushed Bambi for some time now. She's refused to call out his use of homophobia in his campaign. She's stayed silent on that. She's far from the only one on the left or 'left' and if you've missed what that signals, it signals open season on the LGBT community because they're going to look awfully hypocritcal -- 'independent' media -- if and when a GOP candidate (or, in fact, the nominee) embraces homophobia as a campaign tactic and they call it out then. The reality is that they've sent -- through their silence -- the message that homophobia is allowed. I guess it was more important to not 'disappoint' the 'youth,' than to stand up for social justice and equality?

The 'fear' argument is offensive and should not go unchallenged. It's the same argument that leads to censorship. Instead of being challenged, people are running with it. For instance, The Impossible May Take A Little While But The Stupid Are With Us Always, wanted to make an argument for Bambi building on that and offered nothing on democracy or change but some form of "This is how we trap the rats in the maze for the rest of their life!" (Idiots should refrain from making claims about party i.d. because there has been a huge change in the last thirty years on this issue. He offered an argument built upon the 'science' and 'data' of the post-WWII period through the 1964 and, even sadder, didn't seem to grasp that's where his 'impressions' -- he had no data -- were coming from.)

This arrived late last night. NOW on PBS may have already aired in your area. If it has, video is online at the program's website:

This week's NOW on PBS:
A seasoned campaign manager looks at the political battles ahead, especially after Romney's pull-out. What are the candidates' next moves? Watch the show RIGHT NOW at:
Description:Super Tuesday -- and many top contenders' campaigns -- has come and gone, but what does it mean for the road ahead? NOW's David Brancaccio talks with Dan Schnur, John McCain's Director of Communications in 2000, to see how the McCain campaign plans to unite the Republican Party, and new imperatives for both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. What strategies will succeed, and what pitfalls await those with their eyes on the White House? Next on NOW.
ALSO NEW, exclusively on NOW Online:
Warning Bells for Election 2008 In an interview with NOW, election reform expert Wendy Weiser reveals why she's worried about the integrity of the voting process in 2008. She warns that if the Supreme Court upholds Indiana's restrictive voter ID law, "thousands" of prospective voters could be prevented from voting. Besides maintaining voter ID laws, says Weiser, the Court's ruling could clear the way for politicians and officials to "manipulate election rules and suppress votes." Finally, she reports on the voting snafus that have surfaced already in the 2008 primary season, disenfranchising voters in several states.
Read more at "Voter ID Debate":
Finally, visit our newly-launched Adventures in Democracy minisite. There you'll find answers to "burning questions" about American elections, a toolkit for going under the hood of American politics, and political cartoons visitors can personalize with their own captions:

From Margaret Kimberley's "John Conyers Must Decide" (Black Agenda Report):

Congressman John Conyers has served 21 terms in office and is now Chairman of the House Judiciary committee. He once promised to hold impeachment hearings against President Bush or Vice President Cheney, but now those words mean nothing. If he cared about the future of the country he would either fight for the Constitution as he once did, or make plans to retire. If he makes neither choice, he needs a hard fought primary race to convince him that his political time has passed.
Bush is using every moment of his lame duck year to destroy civil liberties at home and expand the American empire abroad. As usual Democrats act like needy supplicants, hoping they can run out the clock without confronting a president with a 31% approval rating.

John Conyers was a founding member of the Congress Black Caucus. He was a member of the Judiciary committee that held impeachment hearings against Richard Nixon in 1974. Those hearings were a great success, forcing Nixon to resign. The twin effect of impeachment and Ford's pardon of Nixon sent the Republican party into a tailspin. The Democrats won resoundingly that November and Jimmy Carter won the presidential election two years later.
That history is well worth remembering. If the Democrats were to act on impeachment in 2008, Bush would be stopped in his tracks. Any effort to find a pretext for war with Iran would be stopped. Signing statements giving Bush authority to break the law would come to an end. The Democratic presidential nominee would have a better chance to win and to govern with Democratic control over both houses of Congress.

Also, as Rebecca notes in "a revolution right about now," Reuters fixed their 'blindness' to the fact that Hillary Clinton was also a US senator.

Remember IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC event:

In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.
Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan

March 13th through 16th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation. Dee Knight (Workers World) notes, "IVAW wants as many people as possible to attend the event. It is planning to provide live broadcasting of the sessions for those who cannot hear the testimony firsthand. 'We have been inspired by the tremendous support the movement has shown us,' IVAW says. 'We believe the success of Winter Soldier will ultimately depend on the support of our allies and the hard work of our members'." As part of their fundraising efforts for the event, they are holding houseparties and a recent one in Boston featured both IVAW's Liam Madden and the incomprable Howard Zinn as speakers.

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