Friday, October 15, 2004

Fair and Unbalanced

If you can’t stand Bush, and you can’t stand Bill O’Reilly, it was a great night. By now, we know that viewers scored the debate overwhelmingly as a win for Kerry -- he has cleaned Bush’s clock in three out of three rounds. At the close, it was fun watching the mediocracy pedaling desperately to avoid calling it -- with even some of the right-wingers covering their backsides -- and the center-liberals picking out faults by Kerry as well as Bush to show how fair and balanced they are.

Fair and balanced. Which brings us to Bill O’Reilly, who ranted that he was being blackmailed by a former colleague. She’s suing him for making her talk dirty to him on the phone while he masturbated. He didn’t deny that it was true -- she taped some of the calls -- he just denied it was illegal, and objected to the amount of damages she was demanding.

This recalls Rush Limbaugh -- who faces prosecution for stocking up on speed with fake prescriptions and allegedly resold some of it. And there’s Bill Bennett -- the moral watchdog with the gambling habit. And there’s Dubya Bush, with the lying habit of lying. Yet all of them still function -- still command a considerable number of followers -- like the Bushie in the focus group who said on camera that Kerry’s being better in debate was one more reason to vote for Dubya.

So the same polls that gave the debate to Kerry, big time, called the election outlook a dead heat. But the climate has definitely changed. That was worth staying up for.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Rupert and Chuck

The New York Post today endorsed Chuck Schumer for re-election as Senator. It acknowledged that this was weird: one of the most extreme rightwing rags in the country, backing a Democrat. But the publisher Rupert Murdoch is not putting aside his prejudices. Schumer is a pet of Wall Street, a full-fledged war hawk and a sponsor of the USA Patriot Act -- which has been called the most sweeping attack on civil rights in more than a hundred years.

Basically, these issues have been taken off the table in the contest for president and vice president, since all four major-party candidates agree on them. They differ on the tax cuts -- but they all voted for them when they went down. They differ on exporting jobs but favor it, too. Weird is the word. So their debates can be depressing. Let us instead consider a few cheering notes.

There’s the satirical weekly Onion, picking up on Dick Cheney’s warning that the election of Kerry would incite new attacks like 9-11, says Cheney has pledged to attack the U.S. -- pre-emptively, I presume -- if Kerry is elected. Daily Howler dot com carries more about the buddy-buddy ties between Bush and tonight’s moderator, Bob Schieffer of CBS. In passing the Howler proves that Wolf Blitzer of CNN is a jerk -- but you knew that.

Maybe the most encouraging item is an AP dispatch from Durham North Carolina. A summer class of high school seniors on assignment managed to get 17 letters published by the New York Times in a single month. Mailed from their home towns, or friends’ towns, on various issues. Hats off! Since way back I’ve been urging listeners to write short punchy letters to smaller papers, to out-of-town papers, from out-of town addresses if they have them, but warning them that trying to get into the Times was probably a waste of time.
Seventeen kids -- high school seniors -- did it. There is hope.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

An Unnoticed Veto

The United States vetoed a Security Council resolution last week that criticized Israel. It was a big story in Europe and a very big story indeed in Islam, but it has not yet appeared in print in the newspaper of record. The veto came just as Bush and Kerry both were promising Americans that they would get Moslem countries to train Iraqi forces. Arab governments that were meeting just then had to take the proposal off the agenda for fear of worsening their troubles at home.

It’s not new for our embedded media to miss a significant story under their noses. Twenty years ago, Ronald Reagan tossed off a line at a news conference about laying a carpet of little nukes across Europe, which the American reporters ignored until headlines in Europe brought it to their attention. A while back the whole capital press corps was embarrassed to have to pick up from the alternate media a booboo they had all heard over the canapes at a reception but never thought to share with their public.

This happens every day of the week. Thank goodness for the Internet. DailyHowler dot com alerts us to the fact that the moderator for the final debate, Bob Schieffer of CBS, is a bosom buddy of Dubya Bush who frankly despises the Eastern liberal elite epitomized by John Kerry. The new issue of Extra!, published by Fair, has some terrific material, and Counterpunch is always indispensable. Then there’s Jim Hightower’s Lowdown and our own WBAI and a lot of links, including JohnLHess dot blogspot dot com.
Courage, friends. We are not alone.