Thursday, August 30, 2007

Cheney and Iran

Juan Cole, a Middle East authority, has a new post on his blog, Informed Comment, entitled

Cheney & Iran; Here we go again?

He cites sources he respects as telling him that Cheney has issued instructions that a media blitz supporting attacking Iran is to be rolled out in early September. The propaganda channels of choice include The Wall Street Journal, Fox, The American Enterprise Institute and The Weekly Standard. No surprises there.

His post cites other news pieces which indicate Cheney/Bush are beating the drums for war, just as they did before invading Iraq.

Is there no way to stop this madness? Impeach Cheney and Bush on charges of violating their oaths to uphold the Constitution.

Lighthouse Keeper

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Fred Thompson and the Image Game

The more I happen to come across appearances of Fred Thompson on TV, the more my view of him compares more realistically with a former President than a current candidate for the 2008 nomination.

This afternoon I watched a clip of Mr. Thompson on TV, in which he talked about having two young children, and how energized that makes him feel.

For weeks now his handlers have been successful in getting the main stream media to feature his wife as a strong influence on him; smart, savvy and strong minded to be sure, but the underlying, if not intentionally subconscious message put out there is that he is a stud, by virtue of his late-in-life fathering of children, and the youth and good looks of his wife, the mother of his children. He seems to enjoy telling the papparozzial behaviors of the so-called Main Stream Media that she is both his wife and his campaign manager.

One wonders what psychologically conscious and unconscious responses his handlers have indentified and targeted as easily subject to being swayed by their propaganda.

I spot here all the earmarks of an advertising, propaganda and spin campaign which his handlers believe is necessary to create an image of candidate who embodies the best of the wise old man and the virulent stud.

They also try to make him out to be today's Ronald Reagan. The only similarity I see is that both men made a good living as an actor, but at different times in their lives.

Lighthouse Keeper


Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Blogosphere and the Fifth Estate

The generally accepted definition of the Fourth Estate is that it is comprised of a community of journalists; a rather broad definition which takes in all levels of the media, from the so-called Main Stream Media to the writings of individuals. This definition says nothing about quality, ownership, editorial views, agendas, sources of revenues and impact or influence.

The phrase "Main Stream Media" has become common in today's parlance and seems to connote institutions with aspects and qualities of power, continuity, influence, availability, acceptance and impact.

For purposes of this essay, I include as elements of the Main Stream Media, in addition to the major print media institutions, the major TV networks and the major Cable news companies. All qualify by virtue of their reputation for power and influence, ratings and as readily available to a mass audience.

What brought about the need to differentiate between the so-called Main Stream Media(MSM) and other media institutions, and why is it important to discuss it?

One example can be found on Alternet,org; Norman Solomon's piece about the news director of CNN, and his complicity with the Pentagon to sell the war in Iraq in return for their imprimatur for employing retired generals. The obvious purpose was to promote and enhance CNN's appearance of credibility. It was a hidden agenda in that there was no public disclosure to the viewers of CNN of any deal with the Pentagon.

It's unlikely that one would find accounts of such complicity in the MSM, at least not on the front page, let alone above the fold, nor in the pre-break hooks of the TV media, Network or Cable. The story of huge sums of taxpayer money spent by the Bush administration on contracts with PR firms to provide pre-packaged, administration -friendly propaganda to that same MSM is more likely to be found on Internet Sites like,,, and in the writings of those who are publishing their own independent views on the Internet.

Fortunately, Nature abhors a vacuum, and in this case the vacuum is comprised of an absence in the MSM of honesty. Hidden agendas and quid/pro deals sacrifice credibility, to which consumers of news are awakening.

Nature is filling that vacuum by what we might call the re-emergence of the Fifth Estate, the expressions and writings of those who understand and appeal to the market of honest and outraged citizens who have had it, will no longer buy the spin and who are looking for authors of knowledge, honesty and credibility. They want to read and hear commentators who are willing to hold to account those who cloak a suspect agenda in the guise of familiarity and previous reputations of respectability; but no longer deserved.

I refer to those authors who wish to use the Internet to make respectable, high road contributions, regardless of their point of view, on politics, culture, religion, science and such. By contrast, there are those who use the Internet to make ugly, sleazy, low life contributions of pornography, hate, racism, xenophobic and homophobic rants and the like. I understand that such labels are subjective, but as it is said about pornography, you know it when you see it.

Many of us who are interested enough to be involved and have opinions will wait to express them by voting in November, 2008. That's the provision provided to objectors by the writers of the Constitution. Unlike Parlimentarian governments, which can be ousted by votes of no confidence most anytime, our Constitution provides for ousting a government, or supporting it, by a public vote on a scheduled basis.

Unfortunately and sadly, many of us will not be able to vote in 2008 due to difficult and understandable circumstances; overwhelming problems of daily survival due to health, physical, mental and emotional problems.

Then there are those of us who just don't bother, don't respond to any kind of overture or appeal, and are seemingly unreachable. They will always be with us.

Even with such discounting, the number of citizens who can vote but don't is about half of those who could. One wonders how the world might look today if that half of voters who didn't bother, did.

I believe that some don't bother to vote in part because they have lost respect for politicians as a whole, and also because they have come to distrust the MSM to publish facts, be independent of political pressure and not engage in quid/pro deals to enhance their appearance of credibility by agreeing to support the agendas of those with whom they make the deals.

Some of us have decided to write about what we believe, not influenced by pressures to be profitable, nor by a need to maintain good relations with politicians in order to insure access to them.

We post essays to our blogs on the Internet blogosphere, what, to me, is the modern manifestation of the Fifth Estate, the voice of the people. Some respected journalists have likened it to the pamphleteers of our Founding Fathers era; Ben Franklin's "Poor Richards' Almanac" and the writings of James Madison, for example.

Contributions such as Norman Solomon's mentioned above, and those of other authors, are published on professionally designed and managed Internet sites like Truthdig, Truthout and Alternet. In my view they are also examples of the Fifth Estate. Though more institutionalized than individual bloggers, they don't seem to pull their punches when it comes to the need to be critical publicly of politicians. The ones I've cited lean toward left of center, but are critical, especially lately, of the feckless Democratic majority.

Total objectivity is an abstract concept. The very fact that a human being expresses a view, that view is, by definition, subjective; it represents the subject's view. In this essay I have tried to make the case that the Fifth Estate, as represented by independent bloggers and authors published on Internet sites, are less likely to be influenced by pressure of profitability and access than the Main Stream Media. Being for or against the Iraq war for example is not what I'm talking about. Making quid/pro deals with anyone, for or against anything, is what I am warning against.


Lighthouse Keeper

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Deja Vu All Over Again?

Is it politics or policy that is behind today's reports that Bush is about to label the Iran Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist body? Is it both?

Is the Cheney/Bush group trying to go to the well one more time to set up a scenario that puts us in a new war, and so wants to be able to say, as they did in 2004, that you shouldn't change horses in the middle of the stream?

Why haven't we heard from the Main Stream Media much about Sec. Rice lately? Has Cheney succeeded in marginalizing her as he did with Sec Powell? Why are we reading the name Petraous more frequently than Gates?

Is the Main Stream Media still cooperating with the administration in what they publish, so as not to lose access to sources of power and news ? Did you read how much money the administration has spent on disseminating manufactured news?

George I got high marks for his Gulf War, but it was over too soon to save him from defeat in his bid for a second term. The economy sunk him. George II, always looking for ways to upstage his old man, sees Wall Street in a dither, usually a six month advanced indicator of the economy, and figures he has to go back to being a war president to distract the public from the "Homeland" problems. But he needs a new war to do that, and the only way he can get that done is to attack Iran, by declaring them the source of his problems in Iraq.

By the way, are you as nervous as I about the resurrection of the term "Homeland"? That is so "Old Europe", to quote Rumsfeld, and carries with it a frightening connotation of nationalistic, emotional militarism, reminiscent of the 1930's and 1940's.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Rove v Bush and The Art of Spin

Spin, the modern euphemism for the selling of lies, formally known as propaganda, has it that Bush feels bereft by Karl Rove's resignation. For those who are tempted to believe that,

"Abandon all Hope ye who enter here."

Lighthouse Keeper

Friday, August 10, 2007

An Ironic Force for Unity in Iraq

Joshua Holland has a piece on about the so-called Oil Law which Washington and Big Oil want passed in Iraq.

I've written about this several times.

The interesting part of Holland's contribution is his view, backed up by some polls, that Iraqis of all stripes are coming together against this law.


Lighthouse Keeper

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Talking with Grampa

Richard Cohen has a wonderful piece in today's Washington Post. He makes terrific use of a great literary device.

Grampa comes back to ask boychik what's happened to the Democratic Party?

Lighthouse Keeper

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Playing the Other's Game; Dangerous

Anyone who has participated in organized sports is likely to have learned one of the toughest lessons of competition; the danger of getting sucked into playing your opponent's game. It usually happens when your opponent knows he is unlikely to beat you at your own game, and has nothing to lose by trying to take you out of it, hoping to strip you of your advantage. I learned a lot of life's lessons in the process of playing basketball up through college at the NCAA level. Thus my use of the game of basketball as a metaphor to illustrate a point.

The classic case is a short but fast team up against a tall and disciplined team. When the disciplined team starts playing the run and gun game of the short fast team they forsake their strength, begin to worry and lose confidence in themselves. Sometimes the game can actually get away from the "better" team. The wise coach spots it and often can avoid a bad outcome by getting his players' attention that they need to trust themselves, and their own game plan, and not get sucked into playing the other's game.

It's becoming distressingly evident to me that Barack Obama, who, among the current candidates running for the office. I hope will become President, is starting to play the other's game. People have been attracted to him because he seems to see the big picture, has taken the high road, is smart and articulate, and has come across as a statesman, not just another politician competing for a job.

However, his handlers, not to be confused with coaches, like Kerry's before him, seem to be pushing him to come across as the testosterone candidate, the micro tactician, the tough on terrorism image. Recently he said that he would take military action in Pakistan, even though Pakistan publicly warned us away from that course. Pakistan was warning Bush away, knowing that Bush is weak at home and vulnerable to criticism. With that comment he essentially, though hopefully inadvertently, aligned himself with Bush, the vulnerable. And Barack's the one who called Hillary Bush Lite. What was he thinking? Or, more importantly, what happened to his thinking? He's playing his opponent's' games.

Hillary, in the last debate, ironically, made the more testosterone response to the viewer's question about talking to our enemies. She began with "No". Obama's response has been characterized by the media as soft on terrorism.

He was guilty of making a classic rookie mistake, not seeing the trap until it was too late. He answered the question from his conviction that we must try to establish dialogue with those who oppose us, a major recommendation of the Iraq Study Commission. But he fell into the trap of answering a Yes or No question, used by lawyers to entrap witnesses, with his honest belief that, Yes, of course we need to talk to those who oppose us, rather than preceding his yes or no response with the sensible caveats his response needed, and which he mentioned, but too late in the game.

I hold the view that we have a social obligation to respond, but not to answer.

What disappoints me most is that after his opponent ran the floor and scored on a steal and fast break, he fell into playing the opponent's game, trying to make a quick score, in retaliation, and playing catch up. But playing catch up is rarely successful, relying on tactics more than strategy.

The sports metaphor breaks down here. Unlike that simplistic example in which the coach is the source of wisdom, Obama must rely on his own wisdom and his ability to articulate it. Roles should be reversed here. Obama is the player/coach and he must tell his advisers that he knows best, and that he sees them as being in support roles, like assistant coaches, chart keepers and trainers.

Problem is sometimes a player/coach can become confused and ineffective by trying to handle both roles. It's rare in the world of sports that it works. I suspect that it won't work well with Barack either.

So someone needs to get his attention that he is playing his opponent's game, and remind him of, and get him back to playing, his own game. I'll phrase my response in the form of a question.

Who is Mrs. Obama?

Lighthouse Keeper

The Main Stream Media Then and Now

Norman Solomon writes today about his take on the Pollock/O'Hanlon piece in the Times.

I have personal knowledge that supporters of the War, who call it laudable and winnable, are pointing to the Pollock/O'Hanlon piece with great delight, including the association of the authors with the claimed liberal Brookings Institution, and that, up to now, the two authors have been critical of the way Bush has waged this war.

Solomon points out what he sees as the apparent repeat of the Bush Administration/New York Times collaboration before the war, and the appearance on the talk shows of admin types then and now,. pointing to the Times support for the war, and being sure to include that the Times is not especially friendly to the right.

Sometimes the truth is in the middle, but I must admit that I can't find comfort there on this.

Lighthouse Keeper

Site Meter