14 March 2008

See you when the stupidity storm has passed

Today the fifth-largest investment bank in the country went hat-in-hand to a competitor and the Federal Reserve Bank to keep itself afloat.

Had Bear Stearns been unable to find someone to participate in a bailout we could have seen - and in fact may still see - more banks and investment banks go belly up.

A global credit crisis looms.

The stock market is in the tank.

Oil prices are well over $100 a barrel.

Home foreclosures have people living in 21st century Hoovervilles.

We are heading into - and frankly I would say are already in - a recession.

And the dollar is getting weaker by the second.

But the big story today on the blogs and the 24-hour noise networks is Barack Obama's pastor. It's hard to imagine that there's anyone out there who doesn't know what I'm talking about, so I'm not going to explain it here.

You'll notice that my posts on this blog have been fewer in recent weeks, and that is no accident.

I refuse to get involved in the bullshit and slime that passes for news and political discourse in this country, the supposed model of Democracy.

If you check back over the past month of posts on this blog, you will not see anything about the half-baked John McCain/female lobbyist story that sullied, or shall I say further sullied, the reputation of a once-great newspaper - the New York Times.

You won't see anything about the incendiary and bigoted remarks made by the right-wing preachers that have backed McCain in the hopes of bringing the rest of the religious right into the GOP fold for the fall.

You won't see anything about Geraldine Ferraro, or Samantha Power or any references to Hillary Clinton being a monster.

You won't see anything about the 3 AM ad, or Saturday Night Live.

That's because (to quote George Carlin) it's all bullshit and bullshit is bad for you.

As the Democratic race drags on, and the Republicans try to get a head start on the November campaign, the so-called news is getting uglier and more moronic by the day.

And it is getting that way for a reason.

Americans are themselves bigoted, stupid or just plain fearful and the politicians know how to play on that prejudice, ignorance and fear.

If you disagree with me, please explain to me how the Vietnam war hero was painted as the wuss in 2004, while the guy who got a plum appointment to the National Guard (secured by his important daddy) became the tough guy hero.

Politicians know that when they get into the gutter they get votes. And the 24-hour noise networks know that when politicians get into the gutter the networks get viewers.

You can argue that all the noise is really news because it affects how people vote.

Sadly, I'd have a difficult time arguing that point.

But that also proves my point.

Taken as a whole, the American electorate is not sophisticated enough to know when they are being led around by the nose.

With a six-week lull until the next primary, the noise machine will become deafening. The blogosphere and the airwaves - just when you think it impossible - will become trashier and more ridiculous.

This campaign started in earnest about a year ago with about 9 or 10 candidates (some from each party) who could make a good case that they were qualified to do the job they aspired to.

We're now down to three candidates who lose more and more luster each day, as they beat each other over the head and have every word they have ever spoken parsed, pulled out of context and distorted for someone else's political gain.

By the time the slime machine gets done with the remaining trio we will once again come to a November when we voters will ask ourselves if the last two candidates standing are the best we can do. Another hold-your-nose-and-vote election.

But we in the electorate have no one to blame but ourselves.

The politicians and the networks serve up this shit and we gladly eat it up.

If and when this campaign gets back to something worth talking about, I'll be posting again.

For now I will spend my time trying to figure out why it is we just don't seem to be able to do this Democracy thing right.


Steve J. Rogers said...

Ahhh, but before you go into Tribe Nation for the summer, you do realize this has been going on since Thomas Jefferson decided to enlist the press to effectively give him the election against John Adams in essentially the first Presidential campaign ever?

Interesting aside, it turns out the same muckraker that Jefferson enlisted ended up running the first story of Jefferson's relationship with Sally Hemmings, what is that saying about when you play with fire?

In any event it's never going to change. Even if liberal shills like Maureen Dowd keep yapping about wanting to change the direction of the discourse, she is still being quoted as saying "People will have to choose which of America's sins are greater, and which stain will have to be removed first. Is misogyny worse than racism, or is racism worse than misogyny?" ([url=http://www.ocregister.com/opinion/hillary-guilt-black-1994695-historical-obama[OC Register's Mark Steyn[/url])

Not to mention of course that this particular issue probably is of greater importance than schoolyard spats between campaigns, non-stories about trysts that may or may not have happened. This is something that strikes to the core of Obama's character and should not be ignored. Does he believe what Wright says? Despite the fact that he is a 20 year devoted follower of the man, who went so far as to title one of his books after a line that Wright said, "Audacity of Hope." Is he covering up to be PC? Is he trying to redirect the issue because deep down inside he actually agrees with the same line of thinking?

So yes, this issue really does belong in the discourse.

Sam said...

The economic matters you mention are a huge, huge story, which the news media and the general public will largely ignore as too complicated and not as important as the singing career of the governor's whore.

As the Democrats beat each other up and the right wing machine eggs them on, our level of debate becomes closer to that of 12-year-olds in the school yard. Obama's the only one attempting to rise above it, but he has to respond in some fashion or risk getting "Swift-Boat"-ed.

Ron Vallo said...

Obama has said he doesn't agree with the comments, which is likely true (although I have my doubts that over 20 years Obama has never seen Rev. Wright make the kinds of statements seen in the much publicized film clips, as he has claimed).

What has not been made public, except for a brief mention in an article this morning in the New York Times, is that Wright has made equally scathing comments about the black community, lecturing blacks about the need to improve their education and work ethic.

The two men came of age in different times.

Wright came of age during the Black Power era of the 60s and early 70s.

Obama, as he mentioned in one of his many TV interviews last night, grew up as a beneficiary of some of the gains that came out of the black militancy of the late 60s and more so the non-violent civil rights movement of the 50s and early 60s.

So each man has a frame of reference that differs from the other.

My pastor and I have been at loggerheads many times, but she has been good to my kids and willing to help when we've asked.

There have been times when I've felt that another church might be a better idea, but my children were either baptized or confirmed at our current church and I count all of the members of the somewhat small congregation as friends.

We are at home their. And just like in our own home there are disagreements, but the fondness for the people involved remains intact.

Obama no doubt feels the same way about his church and that can explain his long-time membership there.

I'm not sure there is anyone who can say that they agree with everything their pastor says or does, yet Obama is being tied to Wright's words as if they had come out of the candidate's own mouth. Which is patently unfair.

I have no illusions that the campaign will not slide deeper into the swamp than did the 2004 campaign, or the campaign in 2000. I'm aware that dirty tricks and scurrilous attacks have been a part of politics for a long time.

My real concern is two-fold.

It seems most Americans can no longer be bothered to do anything but scan the headlines or watch a few minutes of a news broadcast once in awhile.

Couple that with the fact that news organizations no longer bother to do anything but the surface, sensational stuff and you have a nearly illiterate electorate that is being fed lies, half truths and twisted glimpses of the people they are being asked to vote for.

That's a pretty dangerous combination, as we saw in 2004 and are now paying dearly for.