Archive for the ‘Damned Lies’ Category

…in my home. I have more important things to do tonight. But really, even if I had absolutely nothing to do, I still wouldn’t watch Obama’s talk. John Cole sums up why.

The right, of course, will ignore everything he said and scream about the program costing too much, and trumpet deregulation, offshore drilling, claim Obama is over his head while making teleprompter jokes, and then go back to wailing for tax cuts and screaming Obama is doing nothing about jobs.

The media will spend the night focusing on how many Republicans refused to clap, or comparing Obama to Perry, insinuating that Perry is manly and Obama is a pussy, Maureen Down will write another column calling him a wimp, and we’ll have a rogues gallery of rightwing dickheads from Ed Rollins to Mark Halperin to whomever the Politico shits up spewing bullshit on every channel. Each network will be sure to include one milquetoast corporatist Democrat like Evan Bayh for balance, because all the left’s effective communicators are busy sending dick pics to random women on twitter or lunching at AIPAC.

Seriously, read the whole thing. It sums up nicely why I find it so difficult to closely follow politics these days.

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Yes, I am disgusted by the apparently imminent “deal” on the Bush tax cuts. Like Stendhal says, clearly this story underscores the need for Senate procedural reform. But I can’t just stop there. I have to blame Obama and the Democrats, too.

I can hear someone saying, “Now, Linus, let’s be fair. The reason the tax cuts will remain in place isn’t because Obama wanted that to happen, but because the Republicans are obstinate and irresponsible, and Senate rules are Senate rules. Obama isn’t emperor, and he can’t just snap his fingers and make it happen.”

That, of course, is all true. But where my unsurprised disappointment in the GOP ends and my fury with Obama and the Dems begins is in their inability to ever make their opponents pay a price. If the Dems sank a defense spending bill because of one amendment they didn’t like (like DADT), everyone in the GOP would make a unified statement about how this puts our national security at risk and beat the Dems into submission. But when the roles are flipped – as they are in this example – nothing happens to the GOP. They pay no price, they bear no burden.

In the case of tax cuts, we have decades of evidence that income taxes are historically low, that the Clinton tax levels in the 90’s were conducive to a thriving economy, and that the Bush tax cuts did not help save the economy and played a large part in opening up historically high levels of income inequality. Obama wants the taxes reverted for the $250,000 folks, so does a majority in both houses of Congress, and so do large majorities of the public. And yet despite all this, the Republicans not only win, but they suffer nothing for it. Furthermore, the Democrats have effectively ceded the argument over taxes for another decade or longer. If not now, then income taxes truly will not go up for anyone for years and years. The mind truly does reel.

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And it’s becoming increasingly clear with each passing day. Today the NYT reports on how there are already two mosques close to Ground Zero. One of them is 4 blocks away and the other is 12 blocks away. They have been there for decades, and both routinely turn people away for lack of space. Gee, wouldn’t it be nice if there were another nearby mosque to accommodate them?

Furthermore, all these mosques, whether they are 2, 4 or 12 blocks from Ground Zero, aren’t actually at Ground Zero. Distance does matter. Which is why it’s mostly rightwing nuts calling it the “Ground Zero Mosque” or, worse, “the mosque at Ground Zero” as though it were right there.

But wait, what if Muslims were actually practicing Islam directly on site at the “hallowed space” of the 9/11 attacks? Oh shit, they already do. Muslims have practiced their faith inside the Pentagon since 9/11. As has been noted elsewhere, this has gone on for years and has made appearances in media, but doesn’t become a “controversy” until the rightwing hate machine decides to make it their issue. And so it was initially with the Cordoba initiative. Once again, like Stendhal says, we are victim to a debate being hijacked by Braindead Megaphones. And the mainstream media goes along for the ride.

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A black woman’s father is murdered by a white man. He doesn’t go to jail.

The KKK burned a cross into her yard.

The black woman gets a job helping farmers. She discusses her original difficulty in helping a white farmer, but ultimately triumphs and helps save his farm.

The white farmer and his wife say to this day that this woman helped save their farm.

The black woman, decades after the incident she described, gets fired for being racist against white people.

The media spins this bullshit story, beats it to death, and knocks out of place any other news.

Like John Cole says, the reason the right wing hate machine does this shit is because this shit works. I’m sure NYT public editor Clark Hoyt will reaffirm that he is very sorry that the media aren’t paying enough attention to right-wing news and are overlooking these important stories. To compensate, they’ll all go along for the ride the next time Andrew Breitbart or whomever does this.

And while I apologize for not updating the blog much recently, it’s mostly because I’ve traditionally written mostly on politics, and stuff like this disgusts me to the point that I tune it out and have nothing to say. I’ll pick some new, better topics.

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The more I read about the oil spill, the more I rage and despair. Here are just a few of the questions I have. If anyone can answer any of these, that would be great:

Why was the “top kill” not tried a month ago? Was it only because top killing seals the well, and they were hoping to keep it productive in the future?

Why did all the headlines say yesterday that the top kill seemed to work, while they admitted two nights ago that they had suspended the procedure and that oil was still seeping out?

Will drilling additional wells nearby be the only way to alleviate the pressure and stop the spill? How long would that take? Months, right?

Will we ever have an accurate estimate of how much oil spilled? By dumping tons of dispersant chemicals into the ocean, has BP made it more difficult or impossible to get an idea about that?

Are those dispersant chemicals safe?

Why is there a liability cap on how much BP will have to pay? Why do Republicans oppose changing the law? Free marketers would presumably oppose corporate handouts.

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It’s what all the cool kids are talking about tonight. I won’t pretend to know what’s in Obama’s heart regarding his decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan with the intention of starting to withdraw in 2011. All I can judge him by is what he actually does, and I think what he actually has chosen sucks. By the time the troops are supposedly withdrawn, we will have been in Afghanistan for over 10 years. That’s not a “war.” It’s an occupation. And it’s one that has no clear benefit to nor necessity for the US.

While I admit I don’t know what’s in Obama’s heart, I can guess. This decision reeks of trying to please both sides. He thinks that by sending 30,000 troops, he will placate the neocon war cheerleaders on the right, but by setting an intended withdraw date not that far from now, he will likewise soothe critics from the left. He will instead fail at both. The right will continue to hate him on principle; it’s just about the only principle they have left. Meanwhile, the left will see Obama as just another War President too cowardly to take a stand athwart or make an honest argument against perpetual war.

And that’s really what this is about. I think Obama (and his aides) have bought into the mythic lies about “honor” and “strength” and “valor” and “guts” and not flinching and all that bullshit, and that doing anything other than doubling down and sending more troops is “weak” or “cowardly” or “appeasement” or wishing defeat on America and such. But by buying into these lies, they miss the real point: that it requires even more courage of a president to defy the military-industrial complex and admit what seems obvious to many: that destroying thousands of lives and sinking billions of dollars in an underdeveloped country in central Asia is not worth it to America.

Since he became President, Obama has more than doubled the US presence in Afghanistan. It’s his war now. And his decision is like a worse version of the Iraq surge: bigger (30,000 vs. 20,000) and more pointless. The point of the surge in Iraq was both to quell sectarian violence (it did) and to enable the “left behind” Iraqi forces to maintain that peace. Given that we are still in Iraq with no real end in sight, I consider that second point, and thus the surge, a failure. I don’t see how anyone could consider “success” in Afghanistan – the so-called “Graveyard of Empires” – any more likely.

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Rarely does one paragraph so perfectly crystallize so much of what is wrong with the media. But David von Drehle, you achieve just that when you write in Time magazine in your cover story about Glenn Beck and the 9/12 rally in D.C.:

“If you get your information from liberal sources, the crowd numbered about 70,000, many of them greedy racists. If you get your information from conservative sources, the crowd was hundreds of thousands strong, perhaps as many as a million, and the tenor was peaceful and patriotic. Either way, you may not be inclined to believe what we say about numbers, according to a recent poll that found record-low levels of public trust of the mainstream media.”

Ok, let’s see what’s wrong here…

-Factual errors? Check. The conservative sources didn’t say hundreds of thousands, perhaps as many as a million. Here is Michelle Malkin saying that ABC news was reporting 2 million. She later admitted that ABC news never said that. Glenn Beck – you know, that guy the article is about – said there were 1.7 million people present.

-Straw-man argument? Sure, why not. The “racism” charge is obviously out there, but I don’t know where the “greedy” part comes from. Who is calling them greedy? I don’t know, and Drehle won’t say. But straw man arguments are fun, so let’s just slip it in there.

-He-said-she-said bullshit? Obviously. Rarely does a writer make it so explicit.

-Refusal to discuss which statement is true? Of course, and this is the most important part. Pointing out the crowd size would be biased, because it would show that one side was wrong. And the point of our stenographer media isn’t to point out the truth, because that would be unfair to one of the two parties. Like Stephen Colbert once said, reality has a well-known liberal bias.  So instead they just say what one side said, and then another. Of course, the 9/12 rally actually did happen. Some number of people actually did show up. According to the LA Times, “a Boston University research professor and expert on crowd estimation said his informal research from press coverage indicated 75,000 as the peak number. Pete Piringer, a spokesman for the District of Columbia Fire Department, said he made an unofficial estimate of 60,000 to 70,000 at the beginning of the event.” There are your “liberal” sources: experts on crowd estimates and Fire Department officials.

So the DC Fire Department says one number, which is the “liberal” one, and the conservative sources say another number (which Drehle underestimates), and Drehle just leaves it up in the air. But the cherry on top is the final sentence. We might not believe where Drehle weighs in on the matter, he says, because trust in the mainstream media is at record-low levels. Hmm, I wonder why.

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