Thursday, July 31, 2008

How media pundits carry the political water for McCain; this fall's Swift Boat for McCain

The media pundits are the Republicans’ October surprise.

Obama has the lead over McCain in the polls. He has a more confident understanding of the economy than McCain has.

Yet, currently many of the television news and discussion programs have recycled, over and over again, talking points from Fox News and from conservative talk radio hosts. The successive effect of a conservative, pro-McCain agenda could winnow away Obama's lead by November. (Look back to 2000, to 2004, note how strong Democratic nominees were in the summer, only to lose their lead by the fall.)

Robert Greenwald, in his 2004 video, “Outfoxed,” detailed how Republican operatives would channel a number of talking points to the Fox News network, and the network would drive its coverage and its approach to interviewing guests, based on the agenda in those talking points. In political science and media analysis, this creating of an agenda is called agenda setting, (a phrase first used by Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw). More to the point, with Fox this establishing of an agenda extends beyond a set of topics to defining what are the proper opinions to have on issues. It defines what are legitimate opinions and what are unacceptable, unpatriotic, irresponsible, illegitimate opinions.

Outrageously, this is what is happening this month. Conservative pundits grouse about some part of Barack Obama’s candidacy. What is more upsetting is that Fox News is not alone in carrying the agenda. A broader range of networks –beyond Fox-- are pursuing the conservative talking points / agenda. (Remember, the agenda are both topics and the proper opinion/response to topics or questions.) First, they doubted Obama’s understanding of foreign policy and the Middle East in particular. So, Obama took a trip to the Middle East. How did these media pundits respond? He’s paying too much attention to the Middle East. He was wildly popular in Germany. Yet, for Obama, this success would be a curse: the pundits dismissed him by labeling him as a mere entertainment celebrity. Little surprise that the McCain camp finds it convenient to compare him to Britney Spears. The media already wrote this script for the public. The McCain camp is merely building on a foundation that the media laid for it.

Taken on its face, the behavior of the McCain camp is simplistic and desperate. But it is disturbing that some reporters and pundits in the media have concerns that are trivial, a focus that verges on the puerile and the inane. Their focus diverges from the issues of governance and policy [what politicians will do once in office]. Who cares that Barack and Michelle Obama gave each other fist bumps?
News flash revision: McCain's ads comparing Obama to Spears has brought a backlash. Even his former consultant John Weaver criticized the ads as childish. About the negative ads, Obama noted that "He doesn’t seem to have anything to say very positive about himself."
Another update: The Republicans smear. And the lies or half-truths get a second generation of circulation, appearing as lead items on television news and on online news sites. After the dirt has been smeared, the sources of the smears might issue retractions or qualifications. Their retractions might not get the extended attention that they had when first introduced. The retractions are likely to have little impact, as the taint has already been imbedded in the public mind. It's nice that the McCain campaign made this concession, but will the networks and the news websites give this vague explanation the attention they first gave to the myth that Obama snubbed US troops in Europe: “It does not seem that Barack Obama snubbed the troops for reasons other than a lack of Photo-op potential . . . The initial reports were less clear.” --McCain campaign, MSNBC, July 31, 2008.

Some media are avowedly partisan. Cheers to Air America Radio's Rachel Maddow (in contrast to biased reporters, she is open and honest about her partisanship) for raising the issue of McCain and the parallels for a Swift Boat campaign against Obama. (The Swift Boat campaign was a stealth campaign by conservative Vietnam veterans to distort and discredit Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry in his 2004 candidacy. Their television ads inflicted devastating harm on Kerry’s candidacy.) Yesterday on “The Rachel Maddow Show” she brought to light Freedom's Watch. This organization is poised to discredit Obama’s campaign with the same kind of smears. Maddow pointed out that it has many of the familiar names from the recent Republican past: Karl Rove, the indicted Bush operative, as a lead political consultant, and Ari Fleischer as a press aide. It has Sheldon Adelson, a Nevada casino operator that leased a luxury jet to Rudy Giuliani last fall, as a major benefactor. Reminiscent of Swift Boat, Freedom's Watch is funneling money to pro-McCain veterans group, Vets for Freedom. (Reference links to come: David Saltonstall, "Daily News"; Laura Rozen, "Mother Jones"; Peter Stone, "National Journal" and "Roll Call" via DSCC.)
UPDATE: Here's a more recent Laura Rozen article on the benefactor that could be the "The Right's White Knight", Aug. 8, Mother Jones.

Funny that McCain grouses about Obama’s media attention. Here’s a video by his daughter Meghan McCain. (Formerly an independent, she voted for John Kerry in 2004; this year she registered as Republican -from her wikipedia biography.) In the video she shows a Sedona picnic that the McCain campaign hosted for the press. She gushes about how nice some of the reporters are, referring to them by first name.

For a broader analysis of McCain and myths, see this Nevada-focused blogspot blog.

And how the real media love affair is with McCain himself:
David Brock and Paul Waldman, “Free Ride: John McCain and the Media.”

Friday, July 25, 2008

Bush sewage plant, McCain ignores journalists, world loves Obama

Some individuals in San Francisco are promoting a November 2008 ballot initiative for renaming an award-winning sewage treatment plant the "George W. Bush Sewage Plant."  Amusingly, the idea was hatched in a bar --where else, given the hee-hee factor.   The group has named itself Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco.   Click here for the "International Herald Tribune" story on the push:

In more recent news, John McCain has ignored 5,000 journalists.  Odd, since you'd think that he'd want more attention for himself in this Barack Obama-focused week.  Alas, the group is the convention of UNITY: Journalists of Color.  Apparently, he is skippting a meeting of journalists of African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American and Native American background.

You would think that McCain would enjoy showing up Obama in his backyard of Chicago, where the convention is meeting.  And what about the Grand Old Party's claim to be a party of diversity?  (Remember the [pandering] showcasing of African-Americans in the 2000 Republican National Convention?)  President Bush appeared at the 2004 UNITY convention.  --But not McCain; hmmmm.   See Teresa Puente blog's "McCain ignores 5,000 journalists" from yesterday's "Chicago Sun-Times":

Well, well.  Barack Obama has raked in the media attention.  The media pundits and the talk radio crowd lambasted Obama for not being strong enough in foreign matters or the Middle East in particular.  Yet, once he showed up in the Middle East and started garnering (favorable) media attention then they cry foul!  Europe, or at least Berlin, loves Obama.  200,000 or 250,000 at the Brandenburg Gate!  

Here are some links to reports on his uplifting speech about avoiding walls of social division:,0,4969361.story

Reuters India on Germans' reaction to Obama:

Thursday, July 24, 2008

McCain on Fox News: "I didn't really love America until ...

Yes, watch his lips, hear his voice, yes, John McCain really says this!!
"I really didn't love America until I was deprived of her company."
Fox News censored itself: this phrase McCain gets scrubbed out in a Sean Hannity interview.
Compare the first version that aired with the later version with the offending phrase scrubbed out.

Then take a look at a video made from rapper Nas' "Sly Fox" (criticizing Fox News' bias) from his newest CD "Untitled":
The song opens, “The Sly Fox, Cyclops, We locked in the idiot box.”

For the video, go to "news corpse" and scroll down.
Get a brief introduction from the video producer Rik Cordero, at Robert Greenwald's Brave New Films website:

This blogger [I, myself] does not condone the violence or n- word in Nas' other songs. The "Sly Fox" song has two of the banned "seven words."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The video with Bush's "Wall Street got drunk" comments

Well, well, well, we have suspected that Bush is disregarding the hurt and pain that people feel in the economy.  If this is how people feel, shouldn't elected officials speak in a sensitive manner on the issue?  

Not so with George W. Bush, the Decider.  Here we have Bush speaking candidly, flippantly about Wall Street's meltdown this year.  He was speaking last weekend, on July 18, 2008, at a fundraiser for Republican challenger Pete Olson for Texas' 22nd Congressional District.  (Olson is challenging Democrat Nick Lampson.  The suburban Houstan district has a high median income of $57,932.  This had been tragic former House Majority Leader Republican Tom DeLay's seat.  The seat became an easy snatch for the Democrats because the Republicans only had a write-in candidate in the special election, as DeLay's resignation came in too late.)

Thank you to Houston's (WTRK) Miya Shay for uploading the speech along with her report.  Watch out for those cameraphones!  

It is uncertain, there’s no question about it.

Wall Street got drunk, it got drunk, (it’s one of the reasons I asked you to turn off your tv cameras.) It got drunk and now it’s got a hangover. The question is how long will it sober up, and not try to do all these fancy financial instruments. 
           And more, see the video, here:

Monday, July 21, 2008

Blue Republic of America

What this page is about: Promoting the values and the cause of the Democratic Party of the United States, and in a progressive direction. --And pursuing the question and the quest: how do we convert more voters and more states in the blue (Democratic of course) direction.

As to the word, Republic, our country is a republic, not a democracy. Let's go back to middle school or high school, or in case you learned it later . . . a democracy is a government in which the people directly rule, legislate (pass laws). A republic is a government in which the laws are made by a separate government, and in other definitions, the government is made of elected representatives, representing the will of the people.

Before I lose you, we --Democrats-- stand a risk of losing this election (2008 presidential election) again. For, as in the case of the 2000 election, the Electoral College potentially could play the breaking role in the election. Let's just review, in the 2000 election, Al Gore and Joe Lieberman decisively defeated George W. Bush and Dick Cheney by over 540,000 votes in the popular vote.

Who are the electors of the Electoral College? Article II of the U.S. Constitution established the Electoral College as the body that would elect our President. (It was amended by the 12th Amendment, 1803, to correct problems in the first two Presidential Elections, 1796 and 1800.) The electors, not the national electorate, are the people that elect our president. The electors are individuals that are presented by the political parties in each state to act as representatives of the state in the Electoral College when it meets. The electors are obliged to vote for the political party's nominee for president at the Electoral College's meeting in mid-December.

(Are you still with me? Do you think that we have a democratic republic for our government? Are we selecting our president?)

How do some Electoral College votes result in victories for the losers of the Popular vote? The number of electors is not proportional to the number of people voting or living in each state. I'm getting bored already; how does this affect the elections?

Each state gets its electors by the number of Senators (2 -since each state, no matter its population, gets two Senators) and the number of Representatives that it has. (The Representatives are assigned to each state on the basis of their population.)

SO, here's how the system can give lop-sided victories:

A small state like, Wyoming, our least populous state, with only 515,000 (per, gets two Senators. Meanwhile, California, our most populous state, with a population of 36 million, also gets two Senators.

This means that the weight of one person's vote from a small state, like Wyoming, carries greater strength in the Senate and in the Electoral College than that of a voter from a larger state like California, Texas or New York.

In the 2000 election, Bush and Cheney sewed up the less-populous-state vote with Wyoming, Montana, Alaska, the Dakotas, and so on. Basically, look at election maps, and look west of the 95 degree longitude. Notice how the states to the west (excepting the Pacific Coast states) are solidly Republican.

So, we are at risk, again, of an Electoral College loss to the Republicans.

If this becomes the situation again in 2008, we should show our disdain for this arcane impediment toward a democratic selection of our president. We should have mass protests, as in the "Orange Revolution" of the Ukraine and as in the pro-Lopez Obrador protests in the 2006 Mexican presidential election. We should agitate to reform this method of electing our president. On the other hand, we should not be naive: changing this would require amending the Constitution. And amending the Constitution will require the cooperation of small states.

In the short run then, we must agitate for ensuring the integrity of the vote, especially in marginal, or swing states, such as Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Florida.