Saturday, September 13, 2008

Obama in Manchester, NH

I went out to Manchester, NH for a rally held by Obama. It was an amazing turnout with approximately 7,000 attendees.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Media and Politics

I recently saw online a YouTube video of Robert Kuttner, an author explaining about the role of economics in political decision making on the Hannity & Colmes show.

I can say emphatically that H&C makes a complete mockery of any resemblance to journalism. What was unsurprising is how Hannity immediately jumped into the interview disparaging the author's comments as "garbage", his loud-mouthed blustering was offensive and unprofessional. Clearly this was not an unbiased news program in any sense. Yet conversely, we see attacks on the "liberal" media being made by Conservatives, and we saw the chants against "NBC" and negative reaction to the elite liberal media at the Republican Convention.

How do we reconcile these two opposite points of view, where we have such a cultural divide pervading the world of journalism and media?

Tonight I happened to catch an episode of Bill Moyer's Journal on PBS. How refreshing it was to have a calm discussion to frankly discuss issues and topics. Specifically it was about the role of media in the political decision process and the quality of discussions that take place.

The novelist Russell Banks, in his first book of non-fiction, just published, explains the Sarah Palin phenomenon even before it happened. In "Dreaming Up America," he writes that we choose our presidents not on the basis of their experience or even their political views, but on how well they tap into our basic beliefs, our deepest communal desires, including our religious or spiritual beliefs. Our presidents, he writes, represent in some very personal way the imagination and the mythology of the people who elect them.

This helps us understand why the facts about Sarah Palin meant nothing when she suddenly materialized on the public stage, like Cinderella at the ball. You could see the convention delegates awed by the magical moment when the small-town girl, church-going hockey mom, mentored by her pastor to think upon the story of the biblical Queen Esther, became an overnight star. Leaping past "go" to the pinnacle of politics and the ultimate goal the cover of "People" magazine.

No wonder reality-based journalists are having a hard time with this story. Mythology is not their beat. But in the imagination of her tribe, Sarah Palin achieved an almost immaculate conception. Her lack of experience matters not to them. Nor do they care that her past is filled with contradictions, and nothing the press reports, no matter how grounded in fact, can shake their faith.

It certainly supports the reactions to Charles Gibson's interview with Sarah Palin. What's interesting is that opinions have NOT changed. Liberal voters were more convinced of how poor her qualifications were, and that Gibson conducted a fair interview. Conversely, Conservatives felt vindicated that Palin had performed well, although slightly mistreated by Gibson.

This an example of the division in cultural thinking in America today.

What is interesting is that the discussion in Bill Moyer's show is that the voters need to exercise some responsibility in determining whether the information is true or makes sense. However, it becomes difficult in today's world with the role of shock-jocks, the 24 hour news cable channel, and the internet sending a barrage of information to the voters. Moreover, the type of information or news offering is not always necessarily driven by what's truly important, but rather what drives ratings - as evidenced by the incessant coverage of the "lipstick-gate".

Furthermore, viewers will not actively go in search of information to correct mis-information, but rather to validate their assumptions. In my mind, conservative viewers will opt to view the Fox news shows, such as H&C or Bill O'Reilly, that supports their preconceived notions. At the same time, more liberal viewers will favor shows such as Countdown or Hardball.

I definitely found Bill Moyers discussion with the role of media and journalism and it's impact on civil discourse in the political arena very refreshing. Of all news programs, it's clear that the information on Public TV (PBS) and Radio (NPR) is of a much higher caliber than anything on traditional broadcast or cable news channels. I felt so strongly about it's quality, that I felt compelled to go immediately to donate money to support their stations!
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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

John McCain - the Would Be War President

McCain seems to always be on the war path. He loves to go about on the campaign stump talking about winning the war in Iraq. he sings songs about bombing Iraq. His automatic belligerent and tough talk against Russia during the Georgia situation has provided us a glimpse of what kind of President he would be.

I saw during the Republican Convention, the crowd when talking about fighting terrorists and during the tough talk speeches given by the key note speakers such as Guiliani, Thompson, and of course McCain, and it frightened me, that we have simple thinking voters where they see War as a movie like "Top Gun", or a TV Show like "24", where war is glorified with clear cut heroes.

The reality is that war is not all glory and honor. War is destruction, death, and sorrow not only to the soldiers who are sent to fight them, but to the innocent civilians caught in the middle. This is why it must be taken as a last resort, and undertaken as coalition with the international community for a common good and just cause. But where we can, we must always try for diplomacy first.

See this video to really understand the impact of war


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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Still think you are better off ?

This past weekend, we all saw the single largest bailout by the US Tax payers for the Mortgage companies Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

Contrary to Sarah Pahlin's mistaken understanding, neither of these are public institutions. They simply have the guarantee of the backing of the US Government. So while the executive leadership made disastrous decisions, and corporate lobbyists brainwashed the Republican Congress to avoid necessary regulation, the mortgage industry imploded.

This is essentially one of the largest and most expensive corporate welfare programs that have taken place under a Republican administration. This of course does not help our budget deficit.

Today the CBO has come out with a very bleak projection for the US Economic outlook.

"The budget deficit will jump by $246 billion to $407 billion this year, the Congressional Budget Office estimates in a report released Tuesday."

"Over the long run, growing budget deficits and the resulting increases in federal debt would lead to slower economic growth," the agency said.

The budget deficit shot up 153% from last year's shortfall of $161 billion. The government's fiscal year ends Sept. 30. The agency attributes the jump to "a substantial increase in spending and a halt in the growth of tax revenues."

Now more than ever, the country needs to wake up and choose Obama to lead us out of this mess. We can not afford another Bush administration or worse - which is what McCain would offer!

It's clear based on economic history, Democratic Presidents are much better at managing the economy than Republican Presidents.

This is NOT a difficult election.

Either we change the policy and leadership or we stick with MORE of the same.

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