A Mandate for Obama?

October 17, 2008

CNN reports that the only states that are still uncommitted (according to the polls) are six states that were for Bush in 2004.  They are now a toss up but if they all go to McCain he will still lose.  Nonetheless they are essential to a successful campaign and so McCain and Palin are forced to devote increasing precious time campaigning in these states, states which are historically linked to Republican candidates.

Again, as was the case with Hillary Clinton, Obama’s campaign seems better organized in the late stages of the campaign.  Clinton ran out of money and McCain is running out of time.  Assuming that he had several states in his pocket, McCain finds himself having to make last minute appearances in states where there has been heavy traffic by the other ticket.

McCain finds himself scrambling for the support of states which are necessary but not sufficient for success in November.  Meanwhile Obama is pressing the fight in these states, apparently fighting for a landslide victory.

CNN’s David Gergen says that the Obama’s purpose is to have a decisive victory so that he can claim a mandate which in turn will presumably enhance his ability to govern.

We haven’t heard about mandates in a while.  I don’t recall Bill Clinton talking about it but he certainly never acted like he had one. George W. Bush acted like he had a mandate (more than any president I can think of) but he certainly never had one.  Each election boiled down to disputed election results in one state.

Reagan claimed a mandate to get stuff through a largely Democratic Congress.  How would a mandate serve Obama?  Particularly with what is expected to be a larger majority of Democrats in Congress.

In Washington State we have a super-majority of Democrats in the legislature and have experienced a withering of  the party’s agenda.  Few voting Democrats express anything but disappointment with the Democrat-controlled Congress after 2006.

It would be very exciting if Obama were looking to claim a mandate of leadership within his party.  The party desperately needs direction.  It has been a long time since the party stood for something that you could identify and point to legislation for examples.  That may be a little broad, but I’ll bet it is true of at least 80% of people who are registered Democrats.

For twenty years or so the Republicans and the Democrats have been “pigs at the same trough” to quote William Greider.  Obama has proved himself as a campaigner; wouldn’t it be great to find that he is as good a leader?

The Campaigns Begin to Dramatically Diverge

October 5, 2008

With a month to go the two campaigns are launched on different trajectories.

Obama is calling attention to our financial crisis and the need for the financial regulation opposed by McCain over his entire career.  His is also calling attention to McCain’s recent erratic behavior, something that has deeply troubled conservatives lately.  He is focusing on the present and on facts that we ought to be grappling with.

McCain increasingly looks like a battle weary veteran spouting obsolete policy, howling like Lear in the wind.  His voting record is the story of the deregulation that brought us this financial crisis. His health care plan is widely discussed as a boon to business and a gift of deregulation to the insurance industry, leaving consumers with health issues like stockholders in the market. Despite the fundamental problems with our economy, McCain has refused to back off his commitment to dramatically increase defense spending and to wither governmental revenue by deepening tax cuts.  Even before the current crisis experts were decrying this proposal as burying us further in national debt.

McCain is compelled to dissemble his voting record and obfuscate policy.  Like our current president McCain will stay the course on his policies but he cannot — without disastrous consequence — clearly articulate those policies.

The only course left to him is the road most traveled by his predecessors.  His camp must forage in the past for bromides used by Reagan to rally support and engage in the sleazy practice of demagoguery, fear and hate mongering.  The self described “mavericks” have leaped into perhaps the oldest political cesspool.

Sarah Palin this weekend has been shrieking that Obama associates with terrorists and is not a real American.  CNN looked into these “charges” and found them utterly without merit. It seems a bit odd to dignify such things with inquiry but I applaud CNN’s acceptance of the role of responsible medium and refusal to be a propaganda organ.

I trust that, as the McCain camp embraces its end justifying the means abandonment of integrity, that other media will follow CNN’s lead and not give demagoguery the appearance of legitimacy by merely reporting its as news.

Hold on Sarah You Were not Going to Do This

September 2, 2008

Remember the interview a few months ago in which Sarah Palin said that it was unfortunate that Hillary Clinton was complaining about her treatment in the media because she was perceived as a “whiner?”  If not not whining, what are we supposed to call this,?  Stronger words come to mind.

Two Media, Two Worlds

September 2, 2008

Today Amy Goodman was arrested.  There are videos of the arrest but right now it is not clear exactly what charges have been made.  (Here’s her narrative of events leading up to the arrest.) This was a thunderbolt through the independent media community and, because of her many awards, should at least have been noteworthy to big media.  It, however, has not merited mention in the releases of the corporate-controlled media, who are reporting an entirely different world.

Compare this report of the heroic supression of anarchists with this report of police attacks and actual interviews with the “anarchists.”  Here is a report and interesting video interview involving a gunpoint raid of a house containing independent journalists.  Here’s another uncontrolled report.  This side of things is ignored in the mainstream media’s widely reported battle between the forces of good and evil anarchists.  (Here are some pictures of the “anarchists.”)   The Washington Post to its credit presented an even-handed report of the people in the streets.

There is more local controversy about police action against independent media than the major media reports.

To report Amy’s arrest would give credence to a media that is not consonant with the major outlets.  I wonder whether any major outlet at all will make mention of this.  I seriously doubt it but I would love to be surprised.

On my way to work one day I was listening to the car radio and flipping between Democracy Now! on 91.3 FM and NPR.  I was listening to reports of the flight of Jean-Bertrand Aristide from Haiti.  NPR was reporting that Aristide had suddenly quit and was abandoning his country for places unknown.  It was interviewing Condoleezza Rice and other government officials who expressed puzzlement at what was happening.  Amy Goodman was interviewing Aristide’s driver who was present when about two dozen gunmen burst in and forced him out of his office and into a plane.  She spoke with others on the scene, all of whom said that the kidnappers were American.

Amy herself now seems to find herself in one of these parallel universes.

Environmentalism and the Nazis

June 22, 2008

In the 1950’s communists were said to be infiltrating the government and the entertainment industry, as well as operating under several fronts. The McCarthy era ended when the demagoguery was challenged and the true charlatans were identified. While it lasted, though, it was a ticket to political prominence.

In the last few years some people have taken to identifying environmentalists as Nazis. This is actually done on national television and similar venues; we have almost grown to expect it in political campaigns. Such fear and hate mongering seems to be efficacious. You would think that it would backfire, but there must be more people swayed by it than repulsed.

On national media in 2006 Al Gore was compared to Nazi propagandist Goebbels and to Hitler for his success in publicising global warming. (It is a bit ironic that the people who diminish the Holocaust in this way tend to be Israel’s most zealous supporters.) On CNN Senator Inhofe actually described Gore’s testimony to the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Utilities in that manner with the concurrence of Glenn Beck, the host.

In 2007 Fox News Radio continued the Gore/Hitler diatribe. CNN continued to transmit unbelievable comparisons to Hitler and Nazis. Glenn Beck recently said that Gore’s global warming campaign is like Hitler’s use of eugenics to justify exterminating 6 million European Jews.

With the new report on global warming just out, a report subscribed to about a dozen scientific groups associated with our government, doesn’t this treatment of science remind you of earlier, more primitive, periods of history?  Imagine: A world wide scientific conspiracy.  Really?

The hate and fear mongering diatribes are uniformly nothing more than name calling. There is no real rebuttal. Scientists picked “An Inconvenient Truth” apart pretty thoroughly finding some questionable facts and theatrics that suggested an unsupported conclusion. A UK judge found nine factual errors in the film.

But scientists and the British judiciary (one member anyway) agree that the film is rooted in good science and its overall message is supported by sound scientific theory and belief. This was known in 2007 and then Gore got a Nobel Peace Prize along with a U.N. panel of scientists investigating global warming. This, if anything, seemed to fan the flames of hate mongers.

This very odd discourse about environmentalism is probably the progeny of a pseudo-intellectual eddy in revisionist history. People are actually positing that environmentalism is a Nazi program, sort of like “Boys from Brazil.” This theory has been debunked by legitimate historians and even the people who are credited with originating this view disclaim any association with it.

A couple of years ago Jonah Goldberg’s book “Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning” appeared. This book seemed to revitalize the “environmentalism is fascism” diatribe, although Goldberg claimed to have written nothing that was intended to suggest such a thing. The book sold well to mixed reviews. It was celebrated by conservative reviewers and panned by others.

The book’s thesis, behind all the pseudo-intellectual blather, is essentially Libertarian: Fascism means governmental regulation and liberalism means governmental regulation; therefore liberalism is fascist. Environmentalists want governmental regulation therefore they are fascists too. For proof just look at Nazi Germany where environmentalism was born. Nazis called themselves the national socialist party therefore socialists are fascists. Socialists are liberals. Very simple-minded stuff hiding in a lot of jargon.

This silly word parsing though unhinges people like those at the Building Industry Association of Washington who have made a habit of labeling anyone opposing their views as Nazis. In March their newsletter, in addition to more conventional name calling, called the Washington State Department of Ecology Nazis and lumped all environmentalists under that moniker.

This set off a local firestorm culminating in and Anti Defamation League demand for a retraction or apology. The B.I.A.W. of course refuses claiming the article (written by its storm drain columnist) is academically grounded. The B.I.A.W. is widely regarded as the Washington State Republican Party’s attack dog and neither the party nor any of its candidates has attempted to separate from this absurd propaganda machine.