Friday, July 25, 2008

what is the Mainstream Media?

The Omnipotent Poobah asked, "what is mainstream media?", which is a good question. Since I use that term myself, I felt I ought to answer him, so I did. Here's what I said:
The mainstream media is that bunch that's "loving all over Obama" while at the same time telling you how much they're loving all over Obama with the implication that loving all over him is a bad thing. It's the same bunch that's "ignoring" McCain while telling you that it is ignoring him and, unspoken, his many gaffes, blunders, hypocrisies and failings, but without the implication that ignoring those many gaffes, blunders, hypocrisies and failings is a bad thing.

How's this for a definition of "Mainstream Media"? It is any frequently watched news gathering and disseminating organization that places profits before informing its audience. Working within a budget is excusable. Misleading an audience, whether through omission or through outright lies, simply to make a buck is not only unethical, but immoral, and stains the soul of the entire nation.
In America, we've apparently decided that the market is the be-all and end-all. That the practice of self-interest which we call Capitalism will lead us all on to glory. Well, I'm going to have to disagree with that idea.
Capitalism is indeed a wonderful tool. It has brought us progress, it has brought us devices and systems that have lifted us out of the dirt and muck which once was the lot of most, if not all, of us. But it has not brought us civilization. Because if the only thing that motivates us is the self-interest of capitalism, then in what manner are we different from animals?

I dont have an answer about how to make the world a better place, not one that's not obvious anyway. But I do know how to make it a worse one: Place money and power first, and fear anything else which might take even a bit of those two things away from you.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

dallas morning views

Every once in a while, I like to take a letter to the editor in the Dallas Morning News and respond to it. Usually I do this because I want to address the writer personally, and the Morning News doesnt accept those kind of letters. They also reject letters which contain bad language, which some of these people drive me to. Like this one:
Barack Obama calls the Iraq War a "war of choice." We chose not to wait for the terrorists to attack. We chose not to surrender to the Islamofascists. We chose to go on the offensive. I'm glad we chose this war. I don't want to be forced to wear a burka.

Paula Singleton, Lavon
See what I mean? Could she be any more scared and stupid? And how about that set of buzzwords? The only one she missed was a need to bomb Iran.
Where did she get the idea that she would be "forced to wear a burka"? By whom? So far, the only thing that anyone has been forced to wear here has been flag pin on their lapel.

And that's it, that's all I have to say to her. I could go on about what I think America should be rather than her fucked-up view, but part of what it aought be includes her right to have fucked-up views. Just as it's my right to wonder why these fear-mongering war-heads keep getting press exposure? When did the Klan go mainstream? Because while nobady ever talks about them, the views of Ms. Singleton would fit right in at the local chapter meeting.

And I'm tired of it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

lawyer joke or
joke lawyer,
but not really funny either way

"We are confronted not with a hostile foreign state whose fighters wear uniforms and abide by the laws of war themselves, but rather with a dispersed group of non-state terrorists who wear no uniforms and abide by neither laws nor the norms of civilization."

Michael Mukasey, the U.S. Attorney General
Okay, correct me if I'm wrong, but these "terrorists" sound to me not like an army which requires a war, but like a criminal gang which requires a police force. Instead*, we get the nation's top lawyer insisting that he needs new laws to suspend parts of the constitution that keep him from doing whatever he feels like doing to anyone he feels like labelling as a "terrorist".

Now, I'm not trying to defend the Taliban here, but in the trial of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, he has been accused of delivering weaponry to al Qaeda. But al Qaeda would have been fighting alongside (and as a part of) the Taliban, which was, at the time, the government of Afghanistan, and however big a bunch of bastards they may have been, they were still the government, and they were fighting off an invading force. You may not agree with them, but they had that right. So where's the war crime, except in the heads of the Bush Administration? And what does it say when the nation's top lawyer wants to throw away the laws which he is supposed to uphold?

* for now we'll ignore the trillion-dollar war which is destroying the country.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

quotes for the day:
hindsight is 20/20 edition

[The telegraph] binds together by a vital cord all the nations of the earth. It is impossible that old prejudices and hostilities should longer exist, while such an instrument has been created for an exchange of thought between all the nations of the earth.
*Charles Briggs and Augustus Maverick, 1858*

[It is] inconceivable that we should allow so great a possibility for service and for news and for entertainment and education [as radio] ... to be drowned in advertising chatter or used for commercial purposes.
*Herbert Hoover, 1922*

Television drama of high caliber, produced by first-rate artists, will materially raise the level of dramatic taste of the American nation.
*David Sarnoff, 1941*

Cable [television] will create great access to information; it will also greatly assist self-identity, democratic processes, educational environments, and community cohesion.
*Barry Schwartz, 1973*

Our new ways of communicating [the Internet] will entertain as well as inform. More importantly, they will educate, promote democracy, and save lives.
*Al Gore, 1994*

props to David Brin, who has more to say (and says it more fairly) in his post.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

reading assignment

If there is one meme that needs to be gotten out about the Republican Party, one meme that summarizes their economic policies to a "t", then this is it:

Privatize Profit and Socialize Loss

Everything they do, from trickle-down economics to wars-by-choice result in this, and we pay for it. Read on...

I should probably point out that the link above, along with the instruction "read on", was supposed to direct you to an article in the Nation about the bailout of the banking industry. It does direct you there, but I'm not sure that I was clear about that. The cartoon below was just something I put in the post because I liked it, though in retrospect I could have found a better image to use here and saved this one for a diatribe about healthcare later on. Oh well.

Another addendum:

Robert Riech has a good suggestion.

Hey, how's that privatization thing workin' out for ya?
props to Kel for the article.

Friday, July 11, 2008


Red is to Green as Blue is to _______.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

a couple of thoughts

As I contemplated yet another betrayal of the American people by the Democratic Congress, a thought occurred to me: If there is eventually some sort of uprising in America, it may come against the Democrats rather than the Republican, and it will be the Left arising, not the Right.

Perhaps the reason that Americans are so patient with some of the bullshit that our government does is because we actually believe in the system. After all, we did elect George Bush and his clusterfuck of cronies. Hell, we re-elected them*. But by 2006 we had realized as a nation that perhaps we'd made a mistake, and so we began the process of changing control from one party to another that seemed to be headed in a different direction.
That's Democracy! We vote! Things change! Hooray!

Except that things are not changing. It's been a year and a half since the Democrats took a majority in both houses of Congress (however shaky a majority it may be) and there doesnt seem to be any difference between now and 2005. Despite reams of evidence of corruption and mismanagement, Congress has done little to reign in the White House. While they occassionally say "no" to BushCo, it's less like a chaste statement of denial and more like a coy no-but-they-mean-yes, accompanied by a slight hiking of the skirt as if we were watching some sort of bad political porn show.

So, in 2000, a majority of Americans decided to Republicans in charge of America*. For some of us, it sucked. A lot. And those who opposed the Republicans frequently got screwed, as generally happens to those in the opposition. But we of the opposition also knew that politics is a lot like fashion, and that the crew cut that's stylish this season will give way to the long hair a couple seasons down the road, and then eventually will make its way back to short again, just as the Democrats and Republicans will cycle back and forth.
Except now, that doesnt appear to be happening, at least, not with those who we've elected. It's rather like we went to a barber, with our long hair, and asked for a a bit of a trim to neaten up the ends, and instead had our head shaved!
Would you be pissed? I know I would.
I know that I am. Because we're still getting screwed, and by our own people!

We've got an election coming up in a few months, and I think that maybe all the hoopla about Obama and hope and the end of the Bush Years is distracting people a bit from the failure of Congress to do what they were elected for in 2006. Oh sure, we're mad, but still, we've got the hope of 2008, and the light at the end of the tunnel and all that.
But what happens around December of 2009, when Obama's honeymoon is over, and the new congress, for all practical purposes, is still acting exactly like the old congress? Will we look back to the election, when Republican malfeasance left us little choice but to vote for Democrats? Will we ask to ourselves what the point of the process was? Will we decide that the right to choose is completely meaningless when you only have a choice between two identical options?

When it appears that there will be no change, even when we thought there would be, will that be the time when people get pissed off enough to start demonstrating en masse? Will we then finally look like a country made up of people who actually give a shit about the wonderful gift of democracy that we've been given, who are willing to stand up and fight for it?

And wont it be ironic if it turns out to be the Democrats who make use of all the constitutionally questionable Republican plans for holding large numbers of prisoners? Wont it be "amusing" when, as we crow about the disintigration of the Republican party, nobody notices that the Democratic party filled its shoes without even missing a step, and took advantage of all the lovely power which a Republican president had created for himself?

Bottom Line: Obama is campaigning on "change". He'd better make sure he comes through on that promise, or the American public may decide to take matters into their own hands.

* Yes, yes, it's debatable, but I'm talking conventional wisdom here, okay?

An Additional, later, thought:

Okay, politics is generally a matter of give and take. It works best when one side says, "okay, I'll vote for your thing if you agree to vote for mine". So here's a question: when the Democratic-controlled congress fails to stop the Bush Administration in either their low policy or their high crimes, are they doing so because they've made some sort of deal with the White House? And if so, what exactly are they getting in return, and will it be shared with the Public who elected them in any way (aside from the cost)?

Or are they going along with Bush Co in order to avoid something worse?