Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Reality and Fantasy in the Albany (Ga.) Herald

It is so hard to know where to start: recently, the Albany Herald published a guest editorial which extolled the virtues of the Confederacy without once mentioning the words “slave” or “slavery” or that the result of the Confederacy’s defeat was the enactments of Constitutional Amendments guaranteeing the end of slavery (the 13th), equal protection under the law and due process of law for all (the 14th), and the unfettered right to vote (15th). Coincidentally, the writer praised a black man who fought for the Confederacy- I say “coincidentally,” because the Herald ran its own editorial in defense of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, whose scheduled address at the University of Georgia’s commencement has spawned protests. Now there is a man whose character makes it clear that he assuredly would have fought on the side which intended to keep his brethren in shackles forever.

In other words, the Herald honors with its editorial space a self styled American patriot who praises a group which fired upon the flag of the United States (apparently, killing American soldiers carrying the Stars and Stripes is OK so long as it happened 147 years ago) and a self hating black man whose every position in life was provided by his white sponsors, regardless of his lack of ability (does anyone really believe he was qualified to head the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission when he had never spent one moment representing victims of discrimination- or that he was the most qualified person in the country to be appointed to the Supreme Court when he had never appeared in a courtroom as a lawyer or represented an actual human being in his life?)

One has to wonder: at one point does fantasy end and reality begin?

Saturday, April 05, 2008

We have met the enemy...

Glenn Greenwald writes:

"The U.S. establishment media in a nutshell

(updated below)

In the past two weeks, the following events transpired. A Department of Justice memo, authored by John Yoo, was released which authorized torture and presidential lawbreaking. It was revealed that the Bush administration declared the Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights to be inapplicable to "domestic military operations" within the U.S. The U.S. Attorney General appears to have fabricated a key event leading to the 9/11 attacks and made patently false statements about surveillance laws and related lawsuits. Barack Obama went bowling in Pennsylvania and had a low score.

Here are the number of times, according to NEXIS, that various topics have been mentioned in the media over the past thirty days:

"Yoo and torture" - 102

"Mukasey and 9/11" -- 73

"Yoo and Fourth Amendment" -- 16

"Obama and bowling" -- 1,043

"Obama and Wright" -- More than 3,000 (too many to be counted)

"Obama and patriotism" - 1,607

"Clinton and Lewinsky" -- 1,079

And as Eric Boehlert documents, even Iraq -- that little five-year U.S. occupation with no end in sight -- has been virtually written out of the media narrative in favor of mindless, stupid, vapid chatter of the type referenced above. "The Clintons are Rich!!!!" will undoubtedly soon be at the top of this heap within a matter of a day or two.

"Media critic" Howie Kurtz in the Washington Post today devoted pages of his column to Obama's bowling and eating habits and how that shows he's not a regular guy but an Arrogant Elitist, compiling an endless string of similar chatter about this from Karl Rove, Maureen Dowd, Walter Shapiro and Ann Althouse. Bloomberg's Margaret Carlson devoted her whole column this week to arguing that, along with Wright, Obama's bowling was his biggest mistake, a "real doozy."

Obama's bowling has provided almost a full week of programming on MSNBC. Gail Collins, in The New York Times, today observed that Obama went bowling "with disastrous consequences." And, as always, they take their personality-based fixations from the Right, who have been promoting the Obama is an Arrogant, Exotic, Elitist Freak narrative for some time. In a typically cliched and slimy article, Time's Joe Klein this week explored what the headline called Obama's "Patriotism Problem," where we learn that "this is a chronic disease among Democrats, who tend to talk more about what's wrong with America than what's right." He trotted it all out -- the bowling, the lapel pin, Obama's angry, America-hating wife, "his Islamic-sounding name."



The decades old Pogo comic strip says it better than anybody: We have met he enemy and he is.... us!"

I blame the American people- not the 51 percent who voted for Al Gore in 2000 or the 49 percent who voted for Kerry in 2004- but those who willfully shut their eyes and covered their ears to any facts which differed from their dogmatic worldview. Democrats are unpatriotic. Republicans support the military. Democrats want to tax you and spend the money supporting layabouts. Republicans are fiscally prudent and will balance the budget. Democrats are the party of Hollywood. Republicans are for family values. Democrats want to give your job to an undeserving minority. Republicans want to protect you from crime. Democrats want to open the borders and let criminals pour in. Liberal judges coddle criminals and cause crime. Republicans are the party of Jesus. And so on, and so on.

The ultimate answer is education. As in teaching children from the earliest years the history of our country- warts and all- and how to think, how to analyze, and the importance of being objective and open minded regardless of the subject. The Republican Party thrives on ignorance, close mindedness, bigotry, and, most of all, unreasoning fear. We have to use facts coupled with humor to combat those problems- the Daily Show writ large, as it were. Puncture their pomposity with piercing wit (and have fun with alliteration while doing so).

That's my two cents.