Tuesday, January 31, 2012

When To Support The Two Party System

Every major election year there's the same big debate amongst progressives and radicals -- is it better to vote for the Democrats as the lesser of two evils, or are both of the two big parties so corrupt and out-of-touch you can hardly ever justify voting for them?

As is most likely obvious from everything I've ever posted here, I lean much more toward the second of those two options. But really, I don't care that much, because I'm actually more aligned with the school of thought that says elections are basically pointless and good or bad policies will result from social movements pressuring politicians into doing their work, regardless of party affiliation. I'm not quite of the hardcore school of thought that sees elections as actually harmful (because they give the illusion of free choice and an open political process, pushing people to limit their political action to meaningless elections at the expense of more important social activism), but I sympathize with the viewpoint.

But regardless of where you come down on this issue, I think it's especially revealing to look at who the big money donors support. Because Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Citigroup, and all of their friends don't give a shit about abortion or gay rights or the environment. They care about one thing -- increasing their profit margins by any means necessary. And as such, they will give money to whomever they feel will best do that, pretty much regardless of that candidate's view on any other issue. Thus, the funding streams of these big money donors can tell us a great deal about who the candidate is working for the hardest.

For example, here's a list (from the incomparable opensecrets.org) showing you Mitt Romney's top donors and the top donors of two major presidential candidates from two previous election cycles. The highlighted organizations on the previous candidates represent groups who are currently major Romney donors.

In case you can't guess who they are, the 2008 candidate is Obama and the 2004 candidate is Bush Jr.

Sure, there's context and nuance and all that and it's more complicated than this, but it's a good example of how it doesn't really matter who it is; as long as they're a nominee of one of the two major parties, they will be reliant on the same donors for the bulk of their funding. And I don't mean to sound too cynical about the state of American politics, but I'm guessing these major corporations giving millions of dollars to political candidates expect some sort of return on their investment...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Oh, and So Close To MLK Day

Because he can tell the difference between Ice's T and Cube, Bill O' Reilly (remember that guy? Before Glenn Beck, he was the one you always got upset about) proclaims himself to "be a brother, man."

Ice T disagrees with O'Reilly's assessment of himself.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Why I Hate The News

The problem with mainstream news sources in America is not just that they're shitty, but that they're aggressively shitty. American newspapers and news television shows don't just ignore important stories or let important claims go unchecked, they intentionally ignore important stories to not anger their sources or harm their advertising, and rarely if ever question a politician or unnamed "official sources." Hell, just last week the public editor at the New York Times, the most prestigious and respected newspaper in our entire nation, wondered aloud if reporters should occasionally check if all of the random assertions important people are making are, you know, actually true or not.

Two good recent examples show this problem quite clearly. As Dan Savage pointed out his column last week, why is it that both Rick Santorum and his daughter are both allowed to continually claim they're not homophobic because they have gay friends? And that these mysterious unnamed gay friends support Santorum despite his repeatedly comparing them to pedophiles and dog rapists? As Savage points out, isn't an obvious follow-up question who exactly these gay friends are? Wouldn't that make for an interesting story about how these people don't exist, or if they do, how they pull off such torturous logic?

Or take another good/horrible example from the Joe Paterno case. In his first interview since the child sex scandal broke, Paterno claims he didn't know anything, but even if he did, he wouldn't have been able to understand it because he'd never heard of male rape. As Drew Magary points out in the piece linked to there, this is about as obvious and blatant a lie as someone can make. And yet the "journalist" interviewing him didn't think it was worth a follow up question of "are you fucking shitting me?!? You're trying to pretend you don't even know what rape is?!?" Hell, she clearly didn't think it was even worth a polite follow-up pointing out that the biological sex of the people involved doesn't really change what rape is, and surely a grown human being knows what rape is.

But even beyond the basic os journalism 101, these are a prime example of how the powerful are protected. Paterno never has to pay for his crimes because he can claim ignorance of something any adult human being clearly knows. Similarly, Santorum can hide his hate behind fictional gay friends he invented to make himself look like less of a biggot. And they know that the subservient "journalists" sent to interview them will never challenge these claims, no matter how obviously false they are to anyone with even the most basic ability to understand logic...

Friday, January 06, 2012

Life Imitates Art

With a name like that, in Baltimore, it simply had to happen sooner or later.

Talk about pressure in living up to your name...