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Re: [Gnu-arch-users] [OT] facism gaining ground in US

From: Pierce T . Wetter III
Subject: Re: [Gnu-arch-users] [OT] facism gaining ground in US
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 2004 14:14:26 -0700

[*] I did, even though I despise GWB and his cronies, and think they are causing more harm to the U.S./world than any president I can remember
    (yes, more than Reagan).

It's really been discouraging me lately the level of hatred I see in US politics lately. It started building in the Reagan era, wasn't too bad in the elder Bush era, built up again in the Clinton era, and has peaked (so far) in the Bush era.

I don't blame people for being upset with any of those presidents. Most people get their information from the media, and if you watch the media, you'll find lots of reasons to hate any of those people if you care strongly about almost any issue. Its important to realize that the media doesn't distinguish between rhetoric and fact, and that their goal is not to inform the public, but to gather viewers.

Presidents in general tend to be more centrist then left or right wing. Reagan was effectively pro-choice, Clinton was pro business, and so on. But if you listen to the media, they'll quote people who said Reagan was a Nazi, and other people who say Clinton was a Communist.

Neither is a true, Clinton and Reagan probably had more in common then they were different. But if you're speaking to a rally of Democratic or Republican supporters, you'd never say "ah, that opposition really isn't that bad, they're ok guys." No, you demonize them. Which is ok at a Democratic or Republican rally. But then the media starts reporting that rhetoric as if its true.

This spiral of hatred bums me out. So now Tom posts a link to this article.
Which is so typical of the media hysteria machine. Let's fisk it.

For those who don't read a lot of web logs, fisking is taking an article and going through it to extract the biases/truths/untruths. Its named after the journalist Robert Fisk, who typically, reported that US troops were nowhere near the airport, while we were all watching live feeds on CNN. I think its a symptom of how bad things have gotten that we had to invent a new word for "extracting truth from a newspaper article".

Ok, so let's start with the first fact:

"U.S. officials have discussed the idea of postponing Election Day in the event of a terrorist attack on or about that day, a Homeland Security Department spokesman said Sunday."

Well, that's pretty boring, really. Some officials talked about something. No doubt they talk about the Sopranos/sex/where to go to lunch too... Let's sex it up.

It's about an election. Any way to get the 2000 election mentioned? Sure!

"The commission was set up after the disputed 2000 presidential vote to help states deal with logistical problems in their elections."

Ok, so that will get people going. Let's see if we can scare the left some more:

"Soaries, who was appointed by President Bush, is a former New Jersey secretary of state and senior pastor of the 7,000-member First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset."

Great! Now everyone who was a little disturbed by the Florida results can freak out even more. A religious nut appointed by Bush wants to control your elections!

Now lets get some quotes. We'll remind people that Ridge said recently that we had intelligence (we really have to stop calling it that) that there may be an attack during the election process. We'll give people some other dates to worry about: "The four-day Democratic convention kicks off July 26 in Boston, Massachusetts, and the Republican National Convention begins August 30 in New York City."

Now we need a negative quote. Who have we interviewed lately? Here we go:

"Democratic Rep. Jane Harman of California, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said Sunday that she believes planning for the possibility of postponing Election Day is "excessive, based on what we know.""

I don't know how "planning" for a "possibility" can be "excessive", but ok.

 Anyone else? Feinstein is always good for a quote:

"I don't think there's an argument that can be made, for the first time in our history, to delay an election," said Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, a member of the Intelligence Committee.

Uh, elections have been delayed before. Learn some history Dianne.

Ok, now we have to be "fair", so lets look for another quote.

"Noting that New York election officials were able to postpone their September 11, 2001, primary election after terrorists slammed hijacked planes into the World Trade Center, Cox said "there isn't any body that has that authority to do that for federal elections.""

Great! He brought up 9/11. That will push everyone's buttons. Now time to feed the hysteria.

"What has Homeland Security officials worried is that terrorists could attempt to disrupt the election in the same way that train bombings in Madrid created unrest three days before the Spanish general election, the Homeland Security spokesman said.

Although there is no evidence that the bombings influenced the March 11 vote, socialist Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero unseated Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, whose center-right government supported the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

The country's new government then pulled Spanish troops from Iraq."

Great, now we have Iraq involved too. Now everyone who doesn't support our presence in Iraq will think that Bush is going to postpone elections forever.

So this article seems pretty typical media claptrap. You've got some minor bit of news: Tom Ridge talked to a lawyer. This is then built up to imply this giant conspiracy, yet without actually stating that. So we're left with the impression that Bush is seizing control of the electoral process, when actually Congress would have to pass legislation or something for that to happen.

  Now lets go check out this electoral assistance commission...googling

  Ok, so it was part of a law passed in the wake of 2000.

  Here's their mission statement:

"The United States Election Assistance Commission (EAC), an independent bipartisan agency, is authorized by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) to serve as "...a national clearinghouse and resource for the comparison of information" on various matters involving the administration of Federal elections."

  Basically, there are 4 people on the commission:

  Soaries: Served as Secretary of State in New Jersey
  Hillman: Worked for Dukakis, Clinton, worked to promote women's rights
  DeGregorio: Head of a NGO promoting elections worldwide
Martinez: Lead voter registration drives, worked in the White House for Clinton

So this _bi-partisan_ commission, lead by Soaries, who as a black man, is probably extra sensitive to issues of dis-enfranchisement asked the department of homeland security to look into what they would have to do if they needed to delay an election? Why am I worried about this? So someone talked to a lawyer, BFD.

The thing is, this is so typical of the media, that they feel they have to spin controversy out of everything. This is so not-news. Fascism is not gaining ground in the US. Tone down the hysteria. Tone down the hatred. Bush isn't perfect, Clinton wasn't perfect, Kerry isn't perfect, Reagan wasn't perfect, you aren't perfect, I'm not perfect, none of the next 1,000,000 presidents will be perfect. The only "evil" person in that list is me. :-)

When the media implies someone is evil, they're probably lying. If they really were evil, they would come out and just say it. When they don't come out and say things, they're just trying to mess with you.



Well, you read this far, so I'm going to talk some more about my disillusionment with the media. About 2 years ago, it was really obvious to me that we were going to have to do something about Iraq. (Yes, I knew that early. It's called being well informed.)

So I subscribed to two things. One was the state department mailing list of press briefings. The other was Foreign Affairs.

They were really an eye-opener for me, especially the state department briefings. While I don't think that what the state department says is true, I do think its a true statement of what they said. That is, if the spokesman for the State Department gets up and says something, that's what the State Department said.

That seems like I'm saying A=A. I am. The startling thing for me was that CNN/Washington Post/NYT were saying A=Q. That is, what they _reported_ the State Department saying was not the same thing as what the State Department said. They were generally wildly different.

So I did some digging. They were wrong on Israel, on Palestine, on Iraq, on everything. Anytime anyone said anything, anywhere, it was twisted until it was controversial. One need not believe in a vast right/left wing conspiracy. One need only believe that these organizations are trying to make money, that more viewers is more money, and that more exciting news is more viewers.

So now I rarely get my information from the media: too much of what they say is suspect.

As far as Foreign Affairs goes, its a non-partisan magazine put out by the Council on Foreign Relations, and its basically your ticket to the inner workings of US Foreign Policy. Just knowing what issues the CFR thinks are significant will tell you what will happen in the world a year from now. For instance, two years ago, the discussion was not over whether Saddam should be gotten rid of, but how.

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