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Archive for January, 2008

Today John Edwards officially dropped out of the Democratic presidential race, giving his concession speech in a New Orleans neighborhood destroyed by Katrina. Behind him they were fixing houses, or constructing new ones from scratch. For awhile, New Orleans had been the perfect backdrop for Edwards’ hopeful message–that we are now or will soon be recovering from what was lost on Bush’s watch. But like most poetic political landscapes, it’s spirit eventually was betrayed by the words spoken in the foreground.

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The Bush administration told at least 935 lies.

The Center for Public Integrity actually counted them up in a recent study. If this number seems peculiarly low, that’s because it pertains only to those lies in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks, the ones which duped us into the war with Iraq.

Powell_Anthrax

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Traditional liberals, who see only bits and pieces of the big political picture, must be ecstatic when they look at our current landscape. Our next President will likely be a Democrat; and if so, it will be either the first woman President or the first black one.

But before we get too excited about this apparent victory for the oppressed, let’s be realistic about whether or not their proxies truly represent them. (more…)

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I know jack shit

There’s no excuse anymore for those of you who aren’t sufficiently pissed off. Rupert Murdock apparently considers the quasi-awake public expendable, an insignificant contingency. Too engaged as citizens and too critical as consumers, we the perceptive minority have little to offer Fox these days. When we do tune in, it’s only for the cheap adrenalin buzz it gives us to bitch about Bill O’Reilly or Sean Hannity. So alas Fox News bids adieu to the last of their informed viewers.

Now, absent the threat of any real accountability, Fox canpander more freely to its base–an eclectic blend of corporate sellouts and couch potato patriots–odd partners uniting to uproot democracy.  America’s spreading ignorance and acceptance of propaganda for power and profit. Thus it is now official that Fox is unconcerned about viewers whose IQs exceed their ages, banking on the majority of American viewers being too dumb to notice or too bored to care.

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First-term Illinois Senator Barack Obama is rather benign as a politician, and entirely unproven.

Mike Huckabee is Governor of Arkansas, a state I often forget exists. He believes in biblical inerrancy—every word in the Holy Bible is God’s word, including those parts from the Old Testament that sanction wife-beating and slave-owning and stoning rape victims for losing their virginity too soon or having sex out of wedlock.

In a country where the most vital political slots tend to get swallowed up by the least competent individuals, cluelessness may give a candidate just the boost he needs. Obama and Huckabee may be untested and breathtakingly insane (respectively); hell, they just may be the two least qualified candidates in the field. But each won his party’s opening caucus going away. That’s because Iowans, like most American voters, tend not to bore themselves with the details.

Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee are two of the most “positive” candidates in the race. I’ve added scare quotes to distinguish between the ability to give off “positive” vibes and the ability to move our country forward in a positive direction. Caucus champs Obama and Huckabee have enough of the former that they won’t need much of the latter. Their fuzzy sound bite success in Iowa confirms voters would rather go with their guts than take a stab at educating themselves about the actual issues.

In our botched democracy, being “presidential” no longer requires being qualified to do the job. Success on the campaign trail entails minimal political competence. More important are money, charisma, eloquence, aesthetics, and favorable media coverage. That excludes taxi drivers like Mike Gravel, ordinary Americans with civic integrity but no brand name readiness to lease American’s future to China.

Winning candidates plug themselves into a simple yet foolproof formula. They have to be charismatic. They should look like politicians, too. That means they cannot be hideous or chubby or wimpy-looking. Of course, they must play nice with the mainstream media; a sixty-second timeslot on the national news plugs into more American ears than a full year of driving around shaking hands manually. Lastly, politicians above all must take extra care to avoid pissing off corporate sponsors. Anyone who obeys that paradigm will be “frontrunners” soon enough.

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