Archive for the ‘Main Stream Media’ Category

Thoughts on US Third Parties.

This comes from watching the French election, which is a similar legislative-executive system to the US.  I will also admit to voting Green from a disgust with the US duopoly (i.e., the Democrats and Republicans) and its stranglehold on the system.

In a way Dan Savage is correct, the third parties should be running candidates lower down the ticket, in particular for the legislature. That is because a third party would be more effective in pushing its agenda there, or at least in blocking other parties from pushing theirs. It is more effective to be a spoiler/fixer in the legislature than in an election.  Third parties will become a force to be reckoned with once they demonstrate they have power, but they need to be the force to do what the obstructionists in congress have been doing. Or to thwart the obstruction.

One of the Clintonista/Democrat talking points was that the party is a coalition of various political views, but the duopoly parties are failed coalitions.  In some ways, they have become titular left-right parties, although I would argue any difference is more in appearance and relation to hot button issues (e.g. abortion and gun control [1]).  The past election showed how detrimental relying upon hot button issues is to real issues (e.g., the environment).

Third parties are good for keeping politics real. Case in point are the presidential debates which are no longer run by the League of Women Voters.  The president of the LWV, Nancy M. Neuman, denounced this action when the LWV ceased having any real control over the debates:

“It has become clear to us that the candidates’ organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and honest answers to tough questions,” Neuman said. “The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public.”

Neuman said that the campaigns presented the League with their debate agreement on
September 28, two weeks before the scheduled debate. The campaigns’ agreement was negotiated “behind closed doors” and vas presented to the League as “a done deal,” she said, its 16 pages of conditions not subject to negotiation.

Most objectionable to the League, Neuman said, were conditions in the agreement that gave the campaigns unprecedented control over the proceedings. Neuman called “outrageous” the campaigns’ demands that they control the selection of questioners, the composition of the audience, hall access for the press and other issues.

“The campaigns’ agreement is a closed-door masterpiece,” Neuman said. “Never in the history of the League of Women Voters have two candidates’ organizations come to us with such stringent, unyielding and self-serving demands.”

Neuman said she and the League regretted that the American people have had no real opportunities to judge the presidential nominees outside of campaign-controlled environments.
I would that change is drastically needed in US politics, particularly its system of elections, but that will not come as long as the duopoly holds power.

I have pointed out that the Electoral College needs to be abolished, yet the fact that Clinton’s “loss” was due to her failing to secure enough votes in the Electoral College is again overlooked and substituted for blame on everything except the existence of that body (as was the case in 1990).  Both times the “losers” won the popular vote.

Of course, abolition of the Electoral College is only one thing in what is probably a long wish list of electoral reforms needed in the US:

open debates run by an impartial body like the League of Women Voters, shorter election cycles, open primaries, ranked choice voting, return of the fairness doctrine and equal time rule (Trump used the lack of it to get shitloads of free publicity), campaign finance reform–if not publicly funded campaigns, easier access to the ballot for parties, reform or abolish the electoral college, end gerrymandering, handcounted paper ballots or receipts, and I am sure that is only the beginning.

While one can dream that there will be internal change, it doesn’t seem likely since the parties still seem entrenched in the same behaviours which have led to the US political system being the disaster it is.

OK, we also need to add in media consolidation here since it is one way the “state” can get away with  form of censorship, but only allowing one message to get out.  Also controlling any opposing voices.

Any real change has to come through the system since violence will backfire and result in the wrong type of change.  Thus any dissenting parties best chance has to be to try and thwart the duopoly and use the duopoly’s power against it.

Change has to come, but it must come by using the system to gain power and then force change.

[1] This is not to say gun control is not important (or abortion), but these issues have been used to get people to vote against their interests.  Neither is one of left and right, but of public welfare and safety.


It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.

William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, from Act 5, Scene 5:

I have been wanting to mention my US political insider neighbour for a while, but haven’t until now. The reason for this is that I asked him about the coming mid-term elections. His response was this quote from Macbeth:

it is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.

His main point was that people such as Sarah Palin and Christine O’Donnell are great for the one-liners, but don’t really stand up to scrutiny. But since the political insider is another media watcher, he pointed out that the elections are manipulated by sound bites. In other words, people hear what they want and don’t investigate any further.

A historical example is:

No taxation without representation

Which I think a lot of people have misinterpreted throughout the ages to be:

No taxation

But the real issue here isn’t taxes, it is the representation in the legislature that is the issue. Likewise, somebody such as a Sarah Palin or Christine O’Donnell can be edited enough so that they sound lucid and educated. On the other hand, they can’t stand scrutiny if there is a strong media magnifying glass placed upon them. The question is whether they will be presented “warts and all” or edited so that they are palatable to the voters.

Despite what some of the reactionary right would like to believe, the US electorate is pretty much in the centre of the political spectrum. Unfortunately, the parties have worked to thwart people’s interests as I keep pointing out. In particularly, the conservatives have done a wonderful job with single issues (abortion, gun control, taxes, etcetera) in getting people to vote against their real economic interest. In fact, it’s amusing how some people are still true believers in the policies which have brought about the current economic collapse. Fortunately, some reason has prevailed in allowing for the Troubled Assets Relief Programme (TARP) and the bailout of the US motor industry. Had those two programmes not gone through, the economy would truly be in the shitter; whereas, now it can present itself as being somewhat viable.

The ultimate upshot of this conversation was that political insider mentioned Jon Stewart’s rally on 30 Oct 10. It will be interesting to see how many people attend that rally.

Feeling “left” out?

Despite all the demonising talk of liberals, socialists, progressives, and other left wing types, there is a surprisingly little attention paid to their activities in the US Main Stream Media. In fact, the astroturf tea party movement receives an out of proportion amount of attention. Of course, that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.

For example, the fact that the Tea Party Convention this February received more coverage than the U.S. Social Forum convention held last June, five days of strategizing, organizing and activism inspired by the 2001 World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The Social Forum, in Detroit, drew an estimated 15,000–20,000 progressive activists from around the country, while the Tea Party Convention in Nashville hosted a meager 600 attendees. Compare the two “activist” gatherings striving for political and social change, one at least 25 times larger than the other—but the smaller one received the larger share of the media coverage. Across 10 major national outlets in the two weeks surrounding each event, the Tea Party got 177 mentions to the Social Forum’s three. Per participant, the Tea Party got 1,500 times as many mentions!

The U.S. Social Forum was subject to a virtual news blackout in the USMSM! Aside from local coverage, the only corporate media mentions found in the Nexis database came from Glenn Beck (Fox News, 6/29/10, 6/30/10)—warning viewers about “socialists and communists coming out of the woodwork to co-opt the youth and spread a dangerous disease”—and Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman, a guest on John King’s CNN show (6/30/10).

The U.S. Social Forum’s archive of news coverage can be found here.

I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise to me that the left receives virtually no coverage in the USMSM: especially in the current economy. In fact, the choices which are presented to the US public are incredibly distasteful: republican, democrat, or “tea party”. The libertarian ideology is one which receives far more press than it deserves, but no surprise since Rupert Murdoch’s newscorp is a contributor to the Cato Foundation.

On the other hand, it is encouraging that the U.S. Social Forum could raise the level of participation it did despite the MSM News Blackout. An estimated attendance of 15,000–20,000 isn’t bad given that few people heard about this. Not to mention that Detroit is a dead city. I wonder what the level of participation would have been had the U.S. Social Forum had better coverage?

It is encouraging to see movements such as the U.S. Social Forum appearing. I wish that they received far more attention and that they will receive the amount of attention they deserve. Although, as I keep mentioning, the policies needed to address inequality (even if it means more jobs) “will always be controversial since they mean neutralising the advantages of wealth. A prospect that those with money and influence will fight hard against.”

See also: