Our target for vitriol this morning is not the Republican ticket, nor the Bush administration, nor the craven mortgage lenders that engineered the current liquidity crisis that is bringing our country to its economic knees.
It is the clueless mainstream media.
Have you noticed there is no âreportingâ going on as we run down the final crucial weeks to this election? By âreporting,â I mean gathering the facts of a newsworthy situation and delivering them to the audience. Itâs fine to subsequently use the resulting story as a platform for commentary. But itâs not fine to contrive a jerry-built level playing field and then throw a bunch of campaign surrogates onto the air, let them trade meaningless talking points, and then pat yourself on the back for offering an even-handed debate.
McCain actually told a crowd on Tuesday that part of the problem was the âarcaneâ financial instruments that no one understands, including âmortgage backed securities,â which in fact are the lynchpin of our housing market and âderivatives,â which include all futures markets and other hedging tactics that make it possible for any company that depends on commodities prices to exist.
Itâs the misuse of the financial markets and the lack of regulation and enforcement that has led us here, not the markets themselves. What if McCain had decried the practice of âselling shares in corporationsâ to the public, or âtrading parts of the American dream on an exchange for profit?â Would the media have noticed? I suppose so. Yet what he did say was not that far removed from an uncomprehending attack on âthe stock market,â rather than an attack on the Ponzi scheme that has allowed worthless investments to be packaged, repackaged, and insured - gaining empty value on paper with each new transaction - until the entire house of cards comes falling down.
It wasnât the concept of reselling mortgages that caused this destruction. It was the worthless mortgages themselves, handed out with no down payment and no credit check to anyone who can dial an 800 number, and then passed around at a profit by a greedy bunch of criminals while the federal government sat on the sidelines like FEMA during Katrina.
So, to finish my rant, how can the media let McCain expose his utter lack of knowledge on the campaign trail and say nothing about it? This is the same man who told us that the economy wasnât his âstrong suit,â and the same man who is still advised by the champion of deregulation himself, Phil Graham, who recently told us we are a nation of whiners.
But instead of exposing McCainâs incompetence, which wouldnât be even-handed, I suppose, the media informs us that âboth campaigns are targeting the economy,â and then brings in Obama spokesperson Jane Smith and McCain surrogate John Doe and lets both of them ramble on for two heavily scripted minutes each.
As if that werenât bad enough, why has the party that calls for âless governmentâ and âless taxesâ been called on the carpet for a collapse, caused by âless governmentâ and resulting in a massive financial loss for the American public?
Why has the party that called for privatizing social security been dressed down for a proposal that would have devastated the retirement plans of the middle class had it been enacted?
Why are we pretending that thereâs no substantive difference between Democrats and Republicans, and treating this debate like a political game? Why has no one pointed out that cutting down on âearmarks,â to paraphrase Gail Collins, is akin to solving global warming by banning bathroom nightlights? Not only are earmarks less than one percent of the federal budget, but many of them are perfectly legitimate. Why are the Republicans being allowed to talk about âearmarksâ with no factual context? Why is the complacent media sleepwalking through this campaign?
Racist âSatireâ A Hit With Values Voters
Hereâs another thing I havenât seen on the cable political shows. Did you hear that the organizers of last weekendâs far right Value Voters Summit allowed an exhibitor to sell boxes of Obama Waffle Mix at the convention hall, featuring a Sambo-like image of the Democratic nominee in a turban? On the side of the box, the copy went like this:
âBarryâs Bling Bling Waffle Ring âYo, B-rock here droppinâ waffle knowledge. Spellinâ it out, âcause a graduated college. Some say I waffle so fast, Barryâs causinâ whiplash. Just doinâ my part, made wafflinâ a fine art. For a waffle wit style, like Chicagoâs Magnificent Mile. Spray whipped crem around the edge Shake it first like Sister Sledge
â They say wit me, I can be as waffly as I wanna be! (That goes out to my Ludacris posse).â
According to an article on alternet.com, the waffle warriors were still in business on Saturday afternoon as the conventioneers were packing up on the final day of the event, even though the executive director of the Family Research Council told the press they had been asked to leave. According to the article, the FRC was unaware of the âpolitical satireâ for two and a half days while these two sickos, Mark Whitlock and Bob DeMoss, happily sold their wares at $10 a pop to amused customers.
Slouching Towards Wasilla
And finally, do you remember the weeks long news cyclone whipped up by the media over Reverend Wright, and the question of Obamaâs religious views? Why then have we seen minimal coverage of Sarah Palinâs apocalyptic former church, where parishioners reportedly labor under the delusion that Alaska will be a refuge for true believers during the Second Coming, which by the way, is around the corner.
Also, the woman is on record as a creationist, the type that literally believes the Earth is six thousand years old and created by God in six days.
And listen to what Howard Bess, a minister from the town down the road from Wasilla told Salon.
Bess, who knows Palin, told Salon that her rise to the national stage was âtruly frightening.â
âLike all religious fundamentalists - Christian, Jewish, Muslim - she is a dualist. They view life as an ongoing struggle to the finish between good and evil. Their mind-set is that you do not do business with evil - you destroy it. Talking with the enemy is not part of their plan. That puts someone like Obama on the side of evil.
âForget all this chatter about whether or not she knows what the Bush doctrine is. Thatâs trivial. The real disturbing thing about Sarah is her mind-set. Itâs her underlying belief system that will influence how she responds in an international crisis, if sheâs ever in that position, and has the full might of the U.S. military in her hands. She gave some indication of that thinking in her ABC interview, when she suggested how willing she would be to go to war with Russia.
âAlaskans liked that certitude when she was dealing with corrupt politicians and the oil industry - and there is something admirable about it. But when youâre dealing with a complex and dangerous world as commander in chief, thatâs a different story.â
Can we have some coverage, please? And while weâre on the subject of Russia, can someone point out that we canât bully Russia when we depend on them to help us bully Iran? And we canât bully China when theyâre the only ones holding large amounts of the cash we need to relieve our capital drought?
Forgive me, but the GLBT news remains overshadowed by the campaign, which indeed holds our communityâs future in its outcome. Oh, and did I mention the future of our country and the world? You know what? If those much-discussed younger voters in the 18 to 30 year age range decide once again that they donât feel like going to the polls this November, I will be, um, most irritated. Kids! Are you registered? Do you know where your polling place is located? Do you know the date of the election? November 4. A Tuesday. Get. It. Together. Particularly in California. And stay sober on Monday for Godâs sake. Itâs NO on Prop 8. Not YES. NO. No no no no no no.
In gay news this week, if you must know, there was a nasty scene at a McDonaldâs in Louisville, Kentucky, where some clerks called a couple of guys âfaggots,â âcocksuckerâ and âbitch.â After the men tried to get a refund, and complained all the way to the corporate offices, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint with the city, which bans sexual orientation discrimination in public accommodations.
I have a few things to say about this story. First, go get âem. No one should be subjected to that kind of abuse in a retail setting. Second, McDonaldâs has become a steadfast supporter of the GLBT community, weathering one of those Christian conservative boycotts by sending a high level executive to serve on the board of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. Third, how do two guys run up a $28 tab at McDonaldâs? Thatâs like, what? Six quarter pounders with all the sides plus half a dozen shakes? ACLU: are you sure these guys were gay?
In a Kentucky case with more serious implications, a three-judge state appellate court panel has ruled that the Fried Chicken Stateâs anti-gay constitutional amendment should be interpreted to ban second parent adoptions in same-sex families. The adoption under review was already contracted by a lower court and cannot be reversed at this point, thankfully for the second mother and the child involved. But in the future, the court said, no such adoptions can be authorized by sympathetic lower courts, thanks to the constitutional ban on recognizing same-sex relationships. Itâs an alarming reminder that our progress still proceeds two steps forward, one step back. Thatâs fine in the long run, but not so great if your family hits the system when itâs stepping back.
Death Train Conductor Was Gay
Now hereâs a new story. According to the LA Times, the Metrolink engineer who smashed into a Union Pacific train, possibly while text messaging, was a gay man. Robert Sanchez, who died along with a couple dozen passengers, was described as a ânomadicâ loner, who lost his lover in a suicide back in February 2003. (The man hanged himself on the 14th, leaving a note that said: âRob, Happy Valentineâs Day. I love you,â and urged Sanchez to take care of the coupleâs dog. )
Great. Wouldnât it be nice if all the neâer do wells we encounter in the news were straight conservative Republicans? I guess we have to be satisfied with 80 percent.
And speaking of that 80 percent, our favorite âstraightâ conservative Republican neâre do well was back in court this week, trying to convince a three-judge Minnesota appellate court panel that he didnât mean to plead guilty to the innocent toilet toe tapping that cost him his Senate career.
Larry Craig skipped the hearing, but his lawyers told judge Natalie Hudson, et al, that the complaint filed back in June of last year lacked detail and could not hold up in court.
Judge Hudson, however, observed that the complaint was quite specific, describing the Senatorâs fidgety behavior and how he peeked through the crack in the bathroom stall so closely that the undercover cop lurking therein could see his âblue eyes.â
Craigâs attorney William Martin disagreed.
âWe donât know how long the crack is, how big the crack is. We donât know [if Senator Craig glanced at the crack twice] or if it was continuous staring,â Martin insisted. Martijn also proposed that provocative gestures in the menâs room constituted protected speech under the First Amendment.
Good luck with that, fella. A lower court has already ruled against Craig, who pled guilty by mail fully two months after the solicitation, and who is now trying to take it all back and pretend that nothing ever happened.
Is it my imagination or does the Craig bathroom bombshell seem like a million years ago? Iâm glad Iâm not the only one.