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Posts Tagged ‘Republican’

Out-foxing the news fixers

June 14, 2009 Leave a comment

There’s been an interesting couple of articles over on The New York Times recently which look at the growing extremism in the US Republican Party, something I commented on last month.

Columnist Frank Rich provides a detailed takedown of what he describes as the “Obama Haters’ Silent Enablers” and the corrosive effect that they and their message are having on what passes for political discourse in the US.

Another writer, Paul Krugman takes a wider ranging view of reaction to the murder of Dr George Tiller by an anti-abortion fanatic, followed in short-order by the incident at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington in which a security guard was shot dead by a white supremacist and Holocaust denier.

Both point to what seems to be an increasingly worrying trend that incidents like this are on the increase following Barack Obama’s election as President, and that the right-wing media, including the Faux News Channel, bear some responsibility for this.

What’s worrying in the middle of all this is that having been trounced at the elections in November the Republican Party is currently leaderless, rudderless and clueless, as exemplified by the recent fiasco over whether Gingrich or Palin should speak at a fund-raising dinner – if they can’t get their guest lists sorted out you have to wonder whether they ever will re-discover the plot ahead of 2012, or whether they have already written that off and are concentrating in 2016.

Unfortunately nature abhors a vacuum, and so into that breech have stepped a whole swathe of unelected, possibly even unelectable, voices like so-called comedian Rush Limbaugh and actor Jon Voight, who told Faux News Channel and others that his devout wish was to “bring an end to this false prophet Obama“.  

This is exactly the kind of swing to extremism that the British Labour Party suffered after its humiliation at the hands of the Conservatives in 1979 – and by the time the next election came round in 1983, the Party was riven with divisions as it lurched to the left under Michael Foot.

Labour’s manifesto for the 1983 elections included abolition of the House of Lords, leaving the EEC (the fore-runner of the EU) and abandoning the UK’s nuclear deterrent, prompting one senior Labour MP to describe it as “the longest suicide note in history“.

It took the reality check of the Conservatives Party’s 1983 landslide to set Labour back on the road to electoral respectability, although it took them another 14 years to actually achieve their goal of regaining Number 10.

There’s no doubt the electoral roller coaster that is American politics plays out much quicker than the UK one, but one wonders whether the Republicans are already paying the price for allowing the extremism of the election campaign to get so out of hand, as evidenced in the Al Jazeera video I posted a few days ago

Frank Rich is already alarmed that no-one is reining in the “hard-core haters”:

The only voices that might penetrate their alternative reality — I emphasize might — belong to conservative leaders with the guts and clout to step up as McCain did last fall. Where are they? The genteel public debate in right-leaning intellectual circles about the conservative movement’s future will be buried by history if these insistent alarms are met with silence.

Hang on a minute, did he say McCain had guts – in classic sports broadcasting terms, let’s see that again…

So that’s having “the guts and clout to step up” eh Frank? We can clearly see McCain is embarrassed because he knows his campaign has been based entirely around Obama’s race and background, and now one of his base supporters has come out and said it and he’s got to agree with her without agreeing with her, knowing that if he gets the next few statements wrong, his whole campaign is doomed to be filed in a garbage bin marked “flip-flopper”.

So he fumbles, he humms, he errrs, and he comes out with something so remarkably anodyne that it can be read any which way you like; the only decisive thing he does is to get his microphone well away from the loony old trout.

McCain didn’t “step up”, he fell over, tried to stand up, managed to get his foot out of his mouth and then ran like hell, and in doing so he showed all the leadership qualities of a concussed bee.

What was needed was for McCain to walk slowly and silently back to the centre of the stage and then to deliver a quiet but stinging rebuke to anyone in his party who dared to make the rest of the campaign about race, to make it clear that the election should be about policy, and not about fearmongering – then he should have gone away and slapped down anyone on his campaign team who disagreed.

That would have been leadership, that would have been “stepping up” but he blew it, and so set in motion the course of events that lead us to where we are today, with right-wing extremism on the rise in the US effectively being encouraged by a leaderless and ineffective Republican party and egged on by loud-mouth shock jocks like Limbaugh, Beck and O’Reilly who really are the perfect examples of the inverse ratio between the size of the brain and the size of the mouth.

Someone needs to step up and provide the same kind of reality check as the Labour Party got in 1983; the problem is that if the American Right waits until after the 2012 election, how many people are going to die in the meantime?

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Out to Lunch

June 3, 2009 Leave a comment

Sometimes the bare-faced bias of some so-called journalists takes some beating, but this headline in particular took the biscuit for me:

White House declines to say what NY trip cost

WASHINGTON (AP) — White House spokesman Robert Gibbs is declining to say what it cost for President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, to eat dinner and take in a play in New York over the weekend.

Asked if he would outline the costs, Gibbs said Monday the Obamas would have preferred using a commercial airline shuttle to New York and back but that the Secret Service would not allow such unprotected travel.

Well, derrrrrrrrrrrr!!!

Just which idiot decided this was a story, or even a question worth asking at a White House press conference?

Didn’t somebody, somewhere stop and ask themselves some very simple questions before wasting everyone’s bandwidth with such obvious partisan reporting?

Such as:

  • How much more expensive would it have been for the US to have their President and his wife hop on a Ted flight and be DOA at La Guardia?
  • Why can’t a President, who has a wife and family, have a night out and get out of the house occasionally?
  • If you’re the leader of the free world, just how easy should it be to slip down to Moe’s Tavern for a couple of pints with your mates?
  • It’s a four hour drive from Washington to NY, how much more expensive would it be to have to search the length of the New Jersey Turnpike when the President’s Smart Car went missing?

Sadly this half-baked bull excretia is what passes for serious journalism in America these days, and is being driven by the dinosaurs of the Republican party who time and again show that they have completely lost their grip on reality.

Seriously, if these are the questions currently coming out of the brightest and best of the US’s newsrooms, there’s no wonder nobody was asking some serious and searching questions about the economy this time last year.

Obama’s now in the Middle East, I wonder if he remembered to turn out the lights before he left?

Craven coverage

May 24, 2009 Leave a comment

Following my posting the other day about the less than credible media debate being conducted by Fox News in America, I tuned in eagerly to Al Jazeera‘s latest edition of Listening Post which focussed this week on the issue of media coverage of the torture debate in the US.

As ever, the reporting by Richard Gizbert pulled no punches:

“Weasel words and sophistry” was the famous description used by Alistair Campbell to deplore the BBC’s initial response to his complaints about the Gilligan report which asserted, quite truthfully as it turns out, that the British Government knew their own dossier on Iraq’s WMDs was largely fiction.

The problem was that Campbell succeeded in making the story about those words, rather than the issue itself, as a result of which a senior civil servant lost his life and the BBC’s editorial independence was damaged beyond repair.

Exactly the same in now happening in the US over the issue of the word “torture” and sadly the once great bastions of American journalism, such as The New York Times have allowed the debate to be shaped by the politicians rather than by common sense.

As Listening Post demonstrates, the NYT appears to be refusing to use the “T”-word, claiming there has been no legal judgement that waterboarding is torture; the problem is that everyone else, including the broadcasters, are following their lead, or should that be, lack of a lead.

So this journalist has a simple question: If it quacks and waddles, why does the NYT and every other spineless journalist in America need a Supreme Court ruling to tell them it’s a duck?

Political Reality check

May 20, 2009 Leave a comment

OK, so I’ve really gone to town on the British political system and the current scandal over MPs expenses, but not without reason.

So as an antidote, I was pointed towards this video, a salutory reminder that whatever one may say about the UK’s political system, at least it is not one where the media debate is based on complete lies:

I really don’t want to even tag this with “bad journalism”, because that would imply that Fox News actually bears some relation to real journalism.

Air-Force One Photoshopped?

May 12, 2009 Leave a comment

Lots of huffing and puffing over on another blog about claims that a picture of Air Force One flying over the Statue of Liberty have been faked, or photoshopped by the White House.

Proof, if ever there were any, that the Obama administration is as bad as its predecessor, according to those who believe it.

The flyover is already controversial because there were no warnings about it, and in a city which collectively ducks every time it sees a low-flying plane after the tragic events of 9-11, it was a spectacular PR blunder by the new White House staff.

So of course, the conspiracy theorists, especially those with an axe to grind over Obama’s presidency, have jumped on the bandwagon; first there was whinging about the pictures not being released even though they were funded by the taxpayer. Then they were released, which shut those whingers up.

Now come claims that the pictures have been doctored, and that some allegedly slipshod use of the Photoshop cloning tool means there are two flag poles on the island beside the Statue of Liberty.

Doctor, Doctor, Gimme the news...

Doctor, Doctor, Gimme the news...

Except it hasn’t been doctored.

It took me five minutes with Photoshop to show that while there are two similar shaped objects next to each other, one of which is the American flag at the top of it’s pole, the object to the left is not a clone of the flag.

The cloning tool does exactly what it says on the tin, the individual pixels are recreated somewhere else on the canvas, so the pixels of the two objects should be identical. That’s the definition of cloning.

They are not. Having sampled the hue and opacity of all the pixels in both objects, they are very different, which means they cannot have been cloned.

What the claimant has also cleverly done is place a bright pink up-arrow (^) in the space where, if you examine the original, the bottom of the second flag post should be (but isn’t). 

Rather interesting that the original blog post was written by someone called “texasdarlin”, one wonders how close this person lives to Crawford, TX – if this is the best that the anti-Obama camp can come up with after he’s had 100 days in office then they may as well pack up and go home now, and write off the 2012 election right now.

Go back to your lives citizens, nothing to see here…

Grizzled Out-of-Touch Pathetic

May 8, 2009 Leave a comment

After yesterday’s posting about the American right being in denial, I expected a flood of approbium telling me in no uncertain terms how the Republican Party was turning the corner after their drubbing in November.

Boy how wrong was I? There is an old adage: When you are in a hole, stop digging. Sadly no-one at the GOP is familiar with this, as yesterday the details of their Keep Terrorists Out of America Bill were leaked.

The bottom line? They want to stymie Obama’s plans to close Guantanamo by forcing the details of every prisoner transfer into Congress so every Repulican can huff and puff very publicly about how suspected terrorists may be coming to your neighbourhood.

It seems the GOP really is still so far out-of-touch that it thinks the American people are going to fall for the same old politics of fear that characterised the eight-year disaster that was the Bush presidency.

Come on guys, McCain tried that already and got a right royal pasting at the ballot box for it. Maybe it’s time for some idiotic Republican wonks to Get Outta Politics?

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