Thursday, August 12, 2004

how times change...

In 1991, when King George the Elder began beating the drums of war, a good many of my friends were adamant in their opposition to military action. War wasn't the answer, they chanted. No blood for oil, they insisted. In contrast to them were the Zionists who believed that Saddam Hussein needed to be removed from Kuwait and hopefully from power by any means necessary. There were a good many campus debates, some louder than others. And when it came to wider action, many of my friends went to Washington to protest the war--hundreds of thousands of people marching against a military action for which there was at least justification, even if we didn't exactly like the idea.

But what happens during the reign of King George the Junior? As the protest drums begin to beat, law enforcement officials from the federal to the local governments pull on their gauntlets and wipe the dust off their riot shields. Warnings are issued that protestors are every bit as dangerous as terrorists--and far easier to find. In an astonishing destruction of our constitutionally protected rights of free speech and assembly, the government has fomented a climate where free speech in the name of dissent is equal to treason, and even equated with the murder of three thousand unwitting people. What is also astonishing, however, is the silence of the media, lawmakers, and general public.

What's the chance this'll make Fox News?

Weapons programs in Iraq ended after the first Gulf War, who'd've thunk it? I bet this story won't get much play in the U.S. media...

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Fire and police strike?

So here's a frightening scenario: you decide to throw a four day party for thousands of people. That particular party will draw hundreds of thousands of protestors ranging from peaceful marchers to anarchists. The general climate is one of fear (of dissent as much as terrorism). In control of the city where the protest will be held is a Republican mayor determined to keep order in the face of all of those pesky people who thought they had constitutionally protected rights of free speech and assembly. Now, say this same mayor is at odds with 8,000 firefighters and 23,000 police who are threatening wildcat strikes during this not-so-little shindig. So what happens if two-thirds of the people the mayor counts on to keep the protestors under wraps suddenly don't go to work? Who does the mayor call?

Interesting question. The possibility of a strike has made the media, but I haven't seen coverage of backup plans should it happen. Anyone care to venture 1968 as an example of what might happen?

Why, oh why isn't the major media taking them to task?

Cheney lied and continues to lie about Iraq and Al Qaeda. He stonewalled and continues to stonewall about his energy advisory board. He tells Sen. Patrick Leahy to "go fuck [him]self." Bush lies about Kerry's votes, and cheerfully obfuscates about Iraq. The mouthpieces for the administration--whether McLellan, Ridge, or the entire staff of FoxNews--freely distort facts and produce lies about everything from Kerry's past to their own policies.

But not one report I've seen in a major media outlet has taken them to task the way they need to be. Where are the Woodwards and Bernsteins now. It's not enough for the NY Times to issue a mea culpa for their coverage, when so much is going so wrong.

Sure, you could argue that there are plenty of editorial writers out there. But how much impact does the op-ed page have compared to the front page.

For crissakes, Clinton was impeached because he got a blowjob from a chubby, needy intern, and he lied about it. That's criminal? Amoral, yes. But criminal? Hardly.

Now, in the name of a trumped up war and the blood of thousands, is there any question this administration has done far worse. So where are the indictments for the lies told by the Bush administration? Where are the charges for sending thousands of young men and women to death and permanent disfigurement in the name of grudges, profit, and hubris? This is wrong, dammit, and the fourth estate has turned into a meek little lapdog in the court of Mad King George III and his evil Viziers.

Makes me so angry I want to scream. But then I would be accused of being un-American. After all: we wouldn't want dissent in a democracy, would we?

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Brilliant, just brilliant...

So, here's an idea for how you SHOULDN'T fight a war on terrorism: be so impatient to announce the capture of a high value target (something the Bushies desperately wanted during the DNC so as to take the shine off Kerry's party) that you blow the cover of a mole who might actually have helped lead us to the person who really WAS responsible for September 11th. Surely the announcement of his name--not for political reasons, of course--would look good; never mind the fact that anyone who was in any way linked to him would go even further underground and any plans that he might have been involved in would likely be scuttled. Sort of raises an important question: what's the high value target here--poll numbers or killers? Of course, should anyone question the motives, there's a simple response: lie until there's another news story to cover your asses. Thanks Karl and Condi.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

How many Americas are there?

First, there was the North and the South. Then, a few years ago, it was Red America and Blue America. Now, there is John Edwards class-conscious meme of two Americas.

But the bipolar divisions can be so much richer: Democratic and Republican. Minority and majority. Black and white. Pro-choice and Anti-abortion. Vanilla and chocolate. Tortes and apple pies. Starbucks and Maxwell House. Walmart and Target. Organic versus processed. Poor versus rich. West versus East. New York City and Bentonville. LA and Portland. Flatlanders and hill people. Country and city. The New York Times and Fox News. Old and young. Minis and Hummers. Urban renovators and exurban McMansioneers. Greens and liberaterians. Federalists and socialists. Patriots and patriots. The NRA and gun victims. On and on and on.

Really though, there is only one "America" that gives the symbology life: the world of the big box store and pure consumption. Commerce is what creates our society and what drives it, from television to the names of roads built into new developments. The utopian ideal of a society where everyone has the same opportunities is simply the kitsch that our presidential candidates spin in different directions--bootstrappers versus nurturers. And in the classic truth of kitsch, this flag-waving picture simply hides the shit.

The shit is that there are more Americas than any of us know what to do with. It's not just about red and blue, or city and country, or black and white. Rather, the division is much broader, region to region, or even state to state. Cultures and even language change. Signifiers change. Political and social concerns change. All of it to such an extreme that it does not seem inaccurate to say that a Mainer and an Arkansan share nothing more in national identity than the ability to shop in the same stores, eat the same foods, and watch the same television shows. This is not to say that the shibboleth of national identity cannot evolve into a cohesive, nuanced culture, but it's not going to happen as long as our ethos relies on consumerist lemmings doing the bidding of brand managers.

In other news, so many of us are apoplectic over the lies and slander of Fox News, but what of the New York Times's kid glove approach to Bush's lies. Sure, they apologized for their coverage of the lead-up to war--but as a cursory survey of the blogosphere and the AP wire will show, they have let too many follow-up stories pass without notice. Sandy Berger anyone?