I tried to watch parts of the Democratic National Convention -- I say "tried" because media coverage of the convention is a national disgrace. Of all the networks and cable channels, only PBS has given viewers a mostly unfiltered look at the convention. Of the cable news channels, only CNN has done a somewhat decent job. Both MSNBC and FOX have done a lousy job, preferring to show their various over-paid "talking heads" giving their opinions, rather than showing many of the speeches. In fact, one channel chose to send an analyst down to interview people in the delegations, rather than cover the Keynote Address!
I suppose MSNBC thinks that I want to listen to Chris Tucker opine on what he thinks is happening, rather than show the speeches. Frankly, I'm pushing 50 years old and I think I can listen to a speech without the benefit of Chris's commentary. Some day, maybe after he's gone through puberty, I might be interested in Chris Tucker's views. Until then, I can listen to speeches and make up my own mind.
Even worse is the way the networks have almost totally neglected this convention. ABC, NBC and CBS used to give gavel-to-gavel coverage of conventions. Now they seem to think we're more interested in reruns of "The 70s show" or "Big Brother 5" than in whom the next President will be. The news media constantly denigrate this convention, calling it an "infomercial." I've heard this ridiculous claim over and over again. Was the Philadelphia Convention of 1776 just an infomercial for a bunch of hotheads and revolutionaries?
The news media keep saying, over and over again, that "the voters don't know who John Kerry is." Yet there have been several speeches by people who knew John Kerry back when he was a soldier in Vietnam. But none of these speeches have been shown on a major network. Maybe the networks don't want people to find out what kind of man John Kerry is. Or maybe they think that, if they show Kerry's friends, the men who fought with Kerry in Vietnam, they will also have to show Bush's drinking buddies from when he was in the Texas National Guard.
Honestly, I'd rather hear the minister speak -- a man who knew Kerry in Vietnam -- than be forced to watch Dan Rather's further slide into egomania. The fact is, the three major networks, ABC, NBC and CBS use the public airways, free of charge, 365 days a year. You would think they would have the sense of duty and honor to show a national convention once every four years. This is a moral obligation that they owe to this country.
Bush disgraced Olympics
The bylaws of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) worldwide and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) strictly prohibit the use of the word Olympic and related symbols for political ends. Additionally, an act of the U.S. Congress stipulates that the USOC "shall be non-political and may not promote the candidacy of any individual seeking public office."
As the Bush-whacker neo-cons did earlier by using and abusing 9/11 tragedy images for political advertising purposes, Republican strategists have lowered the Hell-bent campaign to new depths in an advertisement called "Victory", a desperate attempt to retrieve slipping poll numbers and to bolster security and anti-terrorism credentials.
Shameless asserting and taking credit for "two more free nations" and "two fewer terrorist regimes", the misconceived ad lauds the pretzel logic assumption that Iraq and Afghanistan are now sun-drenched lands enjoying liberty and freedom overflowing with prosperity and joy.
Iraq's Olympic Team consists of twenty-four soccer players who did most of their training outside their own country because of security concerns and war-torn violence. Some of their comments:
"Iraq as a team does not want Mr. Bush to use us for the presidential campaign. I want the war to go away from my city of Najaf. We don't wish for the presence of Americans in our country. We want them to go away." -- Salih Sadir (midfielder)
"How will he meet his god having slaughtered so many men and women? He has committed so many crimes. I want to defend my home. If a stranger invades America and the people resist, does that mean they are terrorists?" -- Ahmed Manajid (midfielder)
The Bush advertisement declares: "Freedom is spreading throughout the world like a sunrise. With strength, resolve and courage, democracy will triumph over terror and hope will defeat hatred." This from the only major world leader to renege on a UN-made promise by belligerently refusing "ekecheiria," a truce from fighting during the Olympics, even though Tony Blair and more than 200 other world leaders joined in the Olympian spirit.
Dr. Charles Frederickson (Bangkok)
War is ugly. That's why the decision to go to war should be made deliberately and carefully, after all other options have been exhausted, with a somber consideration of all the ramifications and the costs. As John Kerry put it, the U.S. shouldn't go to war because it wants to; it should go to war because it has to.
But, the George Bush and his administration came into office wanting to go to war with Iraq. After 9/11, wild horses could not have held them back.
It's no wonder the Bush/Cheney crowd was so ready to go to war. The war they were scripting was a fine little war. George Bush would celebrate victory in a flak suit standing on the deck of a destroyer amid cheering soldiers in front of a banner saying "Mission Accomplished." Cheering Iraqis were to throw garlands of flowers on U.S. tanks rolling into Baghdad to "liberate" Iraq. Friends and colleagues were to reap billions and billions rebuilding the country. What was not to like?
One year later, however, the rosy little war the administration planned, has become very real. Violence against U.S. forces is escalating at an alarming rate. More than 700 American soldiers (and who knows how many contract workers) are dead. Dozens of hostages have been taken. The coalition is falling apart. Jubilant Iraqis are dagging bodies of U.S. civilians around the streets in a public display.
Now that the script has gone terribly wrong, George Bush looks and acts like a deer in the headlights. Let's just look at recent events.
U.S. soldiers are sent in to forcibly close down an Iraqi newspaper because it has written things that offend military officials. Soldiers are then sent to arrest the top aide of a dangerously popular insurgent leader. The result is a major flare-up of violence against U.S. troops. In addition, the strategy manages to unite against us ethnic groups that have been enemies for centuries.
Then, four contract workers are killed and their bodies dragged through the streets accompanied by cheering Iraqis. Marines are directed to surrounded Falluja and run to ground those guilty of the atrocity. AFTER surrounding the city and sitting there for days it occurred to somebody that attacking Falluja would hand insurgents a major victory. Withdrawing from Falluja would bring about the same result. As a solution, the administration announces that a former military official from Saddam Hussein's regime will be put in charge of Falluja. Not only is this guy going to be put in charge, he is going to be allowed to wear the uniform he wore while in the service of Saddam Hussein.
When the rest of the world reacted with stunned disbelief to this preposterous suggestion, the administration decides that their Hussein guy hasn't been properly vetted. They decide to use someone else -- a different Hussein guy. The public is told soldiers around Falluja are withdrawing. The next day it is announced that there will be no withdrawal from Falluja.
The Administration, seemingly incapable of doing anything else, is still trying to keep the real war out of sight by suppressing images of bodies and coffins. But, the real war keeps slipping out. The disgusting photographs of U.S. soldiers gleefully posing with humiliated and tortured Iraqi prisoners are just another part of that real war. Bush was quick to condemn the participants, but their actions should have been expected.
Studies of wartime propaganda demonstrate that states get people to kill by dehumanizing the enemy. Bush himself refers to Iraqis as "thugs" and "criminals."
If you start a war, convince a bunch of 20-year-olds they are fighting a just and noble struggle against murderous barbarian thugs and criminals, then put them in a situation like a prison, where they are in almost total control of those thugs and criminals you will wind up with soldiers gleefully celebrating mistreatment and humiliation. War creates this type of mentality. War, in fact, virtually requires this type of mentality. And, George Bush was the one who wanted to go to war.
Colin Powell told George Bush that if he invaded Iraq, he would own it. I wish it were that simple. Bush invaded Iraq, but unfortunately we are the ones who own the country and the war in all its ugliness. We'd better get somebody to run it that knows what he's doing.
Dr. Christina J. Johns
I'm sorry, but I used up most all my tears on Viet Nam. Iraq is simply a matter of our refusing to learn from history -- or worse yet, deliberately repeating the same errors for the profits that a few can glean from the blood sacrifice of both Americans and Iraqi citizens.
Iraq was not a war -- it was an EVICTION for crying out loud! However, once Saddam was evicted, the Iraqi people should have taken over and we should have left.
If those people are not inspired and gladdened by being unshackled from Saddam, if this in itself is not enough of an inspiration for them to pull together to make a decent country and society, then trying to weld them together with American military might is only going to cost Americans more blood and more money.
It may sound harsh but if the Iraqi people have not had enough abuse yet and will allow some equally Saddamistic horror show to replace Saddam & Co.
The longer Americans are present to 'babysit' and chaperone Iraqi citizens, the more resistance they will face, especially since Americans have been emulating and duplicating the same horrors as Saddam applied in his prisons to Iraqi detained in the same facilities.
The Iraq "detainee/prisoner" abuse scandal and abuse scandals at other United States detainee facilities, have yet to be totally determined.
These "detainee/prisoner" abuse situations would not have mushroomed as they have, were it not for the the dark-and-secret environment they are cast into.
In contrast, consider our criminal system where "suspects/ prisoners" are: given a Miranda warning; allowed a phone call; gets legal representation; and can have visitors. Here our Rule of Law system works, because a humane-system of transparency/ openess, discourages the dark/secret environments.
The United States can regain our moral high ground by: prosecuting all the aiders and abettors of detainee-abuse; adapt our Rule of Law systems for "all" detainees; re-affiliate with the International Criminal Court treaty; and more truly interact with other nations.
Knock Off The Attacks On Nader
Democrats and liberal defenders of John Kerry, are throwing tantrums over Ralph Nader's new found affinity for conservatives who are aiding his ballot efforts in swing states. According to a Detroit News report, Greg McNeilly the Executive Director of the Michigan Republican Party said, "We are absolutely interested in having Ralph Nader on the ballot." Indeed these Republicans hope Nader will siphon votes away from Kerry, and tally the state's 17 electoral points on George Bush's score card come election day.
Right-wing organizations are also putting their efforts behind Nader out West. Citizens for a Sound Economy, an anti-tax, anti-government group run by Republican powerhouse Dick Armey, wants Nader on the Oregon ballot. A rigid Christian anti-gay group, known as Oregon Family Council, also believes voters should have a chance to pull the lever for Ralph in the fall. As you can imagine, Democrats aren't the least bit pleased with these recent developments. And they are the first to happily point out Nader's new bedfellows.
Out of their own rage over Nader's challenge to politics as usual, Democratic loyalists are fighting harder than they did during the Florida recount to keep Nader off state registers. In Oregon, while attempting to gather signatures at a local high school petition drive, Kerry troops infiltrated the event, boosting the numbers so organizers believed they had reached capacity. Countless Naderites were left out, unable to attend the rally or sign the petition, which needed to take place during a single assembly. Democrats, loathing the thought of voters having a chance to vote for Nader, did not sign the petition -- ultimately sabotaging the event efforts.
Then of course there is Arizona, where Democrats successfully blocked Nader from attaining ballot access. Their lawsuit, which argued that a number of the signatures were gathered by former felons, was deemed illegal. The tactics used by the Democrats is reminiscent of the Republican shenanigans in Florida four years ago (where's Greg Palast when you need him?), and what the Democrats surely won't tell you is that they used a Republican law firm to nail Nader.
Well, if Nader is so bad, what about the Kerry/Edwards ticket? Where is the Democrat support coming from?
As usual, convicted corporate criminals have been pouring tons of cash into both major parties this election season. But since the Democrats seem to be the only party up in arms over Nader's bid, it is only fair to focus on their blatant follies.
Chevron Inc, who was convicted in 1992 of egregious environmental offenses, has given the Democrats over $46,000 this election cycle. Pfizer, the monstrous pharmaceutical company and maker of Zoloft and erection fortifying Viagra, has given close to $160,000 to the Democrats this go-round. Their crime? Price fixing food additives, to which they pled guilty in 1999.
Time/Warner, who will most likely be charged with a $400 million accounting violation later this year by the SEC, has given John Kerry approximately $250,000 since 1990. That's not including the over $3.6 million they have given the Democrats since Al Gore's run for president.
And Democrats are all amped up over a few thousand dollars conservatives, as individuals not corporations mind you, have given to Ralph Nader this year?
Bush's homeboy, convicted right-winger "Kenny Boy" Lay, the Enron sage, used to sit on the board of directors for the Heinz Foundation, which is John Kerry's wife's ketcup rich environmental trust. His company has given well over one million dollars to the Democrats since 2000. And we all know Enron's crimes.
Archer Daniels Midland, the huge multinational processor and exporter of cereal grains and oilseeds, pled guilty in 1996 to one of the largest anti-trust lawsuits in the history of the United States. They've anteed up over $1.7 million to the Democratic Party since 2000. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
How about the most recent on the list of corporate robber barons? Although they have yet to be convicted of any wrong-doing in Iraq (the Pentagon claims they have overcharged tax payers millions of dollars), Dick Cheney's war profiteering Halliburton has donated over $129,000 to the Dems this year. And Democrats still want us to believe Nader's the only one who is sleeping with the enemy?
Clearly conservative money and support, which is minimal at best, is aiding Nader's efforts to get his name on certain state ballots. But Democrats are also guilty of having their hand in a tainted cookie jar. The difference being, Nader is unlikely to be persuaded by such support. Unfortunately the same can't be said for his opposition.
Instead of writing vitriolic missives about Ralph Nader's candidacy, imploring him to give up the ghost, telling him that his candidacy may well mean another four years of the delusional George W. Bush and his band of imperialists, progressives should be asking why the polls show that 7 percent of the voters interviewed prefer him over John Kerry.
Surely, one couldn't make the case that those polled really want another four years of a Bush theocracy. Surely, one couldn't, in one's wildest dreams, think that those polled support Bush's push toward world hegemony.
So, if John Kerry is a progressive and worthy of the votes of 7 percent of those who surely consider themselves progressives and would never "spoil" the chance of putting a true progressive in The White House, then why are they taking the chance of doing just that?
Seven percent of those polled are the messengers and Kerry and his supporters are ignoring the message. And, yes, they are using their keyboards and airways to shoot the messengers.
Military service under the microscope
I'm closing in on 45 years and my service was with the U.S. Coast Guard during times of peace. I was honorably discharged, and yet I wonder what my record would reveal under intense public scrutiny?
These uncomfortable thoughts are sparked by the way the media is lambasting Kerry and questioning his loyalty and devotion to his cause, our country, and all Americans.
The current commander-in-chief cannot even explain why he has pay records, but no records of service for five months (working a congressional campaign? skipping a unit drug screening? just out with other fraternity brothers?) ... please keep our eye on the ball.
You've already given rise to the need for Howard Deans and Bob Woodward/Carl Bernstein voices ... please take your responsibilities as our "Fourth Estate" seriously.
Left on our own, the American citizen will make up their mind in a vacuum ... and that can't be good for a democracy.
Philip R. Smothermon, Jr.
The Bush Prescription Drug Plan is a plan to annihilate the elderly in America. George Bush doesn't allow American seniors to get drugs from Canada that are up to 80 percent cheaper. America's future is going to be very lonely, expensive, cold and insecure for the seniors if Bush wins this election. In the end, with no imports or domestic research, Bush is raining down friendly fire aimed at America's seniors. John Kerry has the right weapon and knows how to use it correctly.
Kerry will take the responsibility and carry the heavy burden for America's elderly, protect them from distraction, and appeal to the best in every elderly citizen in the United States of America. He will be visible to the American troops and will fight the war to cut the costs of prescription drugs that have been rising 17 percent a year. Kerry will carry on fighting for those who need it most, because he is a brave American little soldier that is bold and strong and must carry on.
Markus Fors (Canada)
I am stunned that the world's number one Girlie Man should have applied such a term to anyone at all, much less to office-holders who happen to have ideas that conflict with his own. California's Governor Girlie Man is partially responsible indeed for the broken lives, i.e., illness, disability, or death, of those unfortunate enough to have followed his stellar example of chemical "body building." I must ask anyone who voted him into office, "What were you thinking of?"
Even though I had read in reviews that "Fahrenheit 9/11 is a powerful film," I was still not prepared for the emotions it evoked, including intense sadness.
Michael's Moore's controversial documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11," looks like a therapeutic intervention intended to jolt us out of "Groupthink."
The textbook definition of groupthink is, "The tendency of highly cohesive groups to assume that their decisions can't be wrong: that all members must support the group's decision and ignore information contrary to it: feeling that the group is infallible and morally superior, that there should be no more discussion of the issues at hand, and the only task now is to support it as strongly as possible."
Sadly, that definition also describes the dynamics in the Bush administration. President Bush admits to not having independent sources of news, and information, relying solely on closest advisors. Those in the administration who voice different opinions and concerns are sanctioned with negative feedback, marginalization (e.g., Secretary of State Colin Powell), and dismissal. "Mind guarding" is the norm.
The problem is that groupthink reduces critical thinking, potentially resulting in poor decisions, with disastrous consequences.
Future psychology students will study the decision-making process our current leaders used regarding Iraq, and conducting the "War on Terror."
Trauma from September 11th left Americans fearful, angry, and vulnerable to persuasion. Americans saw President Bush as a parent figure, the adult designated with the responsibility and authority to protect them.
President Bush's arguments were very emotional, and fear-based. He told us that war, and illegal and unconstitutional conduct were absolutely necessary and justified, and asked for blind trust.
Americans are less interested in foreign affairs, relative to our European counterparts. When people don't have much information on a subject, or pre-existing opinions, they are most easily persuaded by one-sided arguments. Contradictory information and counter-arguments are not even considered.
American media felt obliged to support Bush's leadership, and were afraid to critically question his policies. The media in other countries, who did not feel the same pressure to be "patriotically correct," were able to be objective.
As a consequence, the world Americans saw on their television and in their newspapers was literally a different world than the world that people in other countries knew. Most of the people in the world opposed Bush's unlawful and violently destabilizing responses to 9/11, realizing that the way we were "fighting terror," actually would increase it.
Our national symbols of authority and credibility were used almost exclusively to manipulate Americans into an unwise war: a State of The Union Speech, with members of Congress silently and respectfully listening; the White House; and numerous speeches on stages using U.S. servicemen and flags as props. The opposing political party failed to present alternative viewpoints effectively.
A way to reduce groupthink is to encourage openness, dissent, and even designating someone to "play the devils advocate," and actively question the logic of the group.
The U.S. media wasn't "the devils advocate" our nation needed. They didn't question the abandonment of the rule of law, and policies that would cause such alienation in our relationships with the rest of the world. Mind-guarding, they didn't fairly include and validate opposing views, and passively participated in ridicule and derision of France, and Germany.
The 9/11 Commission tells us that some of the basic assumptions we had had are not true, and a majority of Americans now believe that the invasion of Iraq "was not worth it." The torture of innocent Iraqis is shocking the conscience and consciousness of our nation. Our civil liberties are being compromised and jeopardized in unnecessary ways. We are primed to hear Moore's message.
"Fahrenheit 9/11" will therapeutically play the devil's advocate on our "War On Terror."
If even half of what Moore portrays is accurate, then our nation needs to face painful realities we avoided during a period of groupthink. Awareness of feelings arising from those realizations is important: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and eventual acceptance.
Admitting neglect, abandonment, and betrayal is the beginning of healing, and re-empowerment.
Robert E. Griffin
I think the time has come when Americans should consider impeaching George W. Bush.
He let 9/11 happen. He started a war with Iraq justifying it using faulty intelligence. More americans in Iraq have been killed since the war "ended" than were killed in the war itself, and democracy in Iraq seems further away, not nearer. He has made enemies of former allies. He has authorized torture of suspects around the world in violation of international and american law. He is not just incompetent, he is evil.
Only with an independent investigation can these charges be proven, and impeachment is the right way for such an independent investigation to take place.
Tom Trotter (Ottawa)
Your hateful anti-Reagan diatribes are appalling. I fail to see how bashing a former public servant who is unable to defend himself can be construed as constructive. Perhaps your publication is more interested in creating schisms in this great country rather than uniting us as a people. Disgraceful!
I'm just now reading this editorial by Paul D. Newman and, in answer to his questions at the end, I think it's a matter of profiteering by a small number of Americans and the cunning deception perpetrated on a larger number of Americans who have somehow been convinced that they're part of a smaller club of elitists benefiting from clearly exclusionary policies.
How else to explain my father-in-law, an orthopedic surgeon who, though successful, is by no means a member of the true Power Elite. However, that doesn't stop him from noting his membership, as a "Deke", to the same fraternity as George H.W. Bush, nor the amazing level of loyalty that he feels.
It's almost like some of these people are the equivalent of the lame "If I help you get what you want, you're going to take me with you, right?" enabler of our childhoods, the kid who never seemed to figure out that the bullies always took their lunch money and made them the butt of the jokes but never gave them anything more than the most shallow of attention.
I'm really worried about our country; Even those who have been consistently anti- "Big Government" and anti- "Deficit Spending" seem to value maintaining a Republican power base, at any cost, regardless of how at-odds the current power-brokers seem to be to principles held so dear just a few years ago.
Put another way, is this really a country in which the Vice President can demand and get a signed declaration of allegiance to the Republican Party before issuing admission to an attendee of a public speech? Is this really, rather, the "U.S. of R.P?"
This is depressing. And, believe me, as a freshly laid-off white color professional, I have more pressing things to "worry" about, but this country's future is what I have to be able to believe in. I'd rather not suspend my idealism or intellect for a deeply-rooted cynicism, bordering on skepticism.
I read the article about the Reagan show that was taken off CBS shortly after it started airing and I would like to know where you found the information about the administration. Is there a book with transcripts? you see, I have these parents who think that Reagan is a true blue cowboy in white and I would greatly appreciate your help.
Albion Monitor Issue 125 (http://www.monitor.net/monitor) All Rights Reserved. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for permission to use in any format.
All Rights Reserved.
Contact email@example.com for permission to use in any format.