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30 November 2003

Medicare Malpractice

If Tom Daschle were a surgeon, he would be the sort to forget to count the sponges, lest he leave one in the patient. That is the impression one gets from the outcomes of the energy and prescription drug bills in the Senate this month.

Daschle supported the energy bill, in spite of its many faults, even to the point of voting against the filibuster that killed off the bill. But a coalition of liberal Democrats and northeastern Republicans kept the bill from getting throuhg the chamber. The Republicans were primarily upset by provisions in the bill that would protect from liability manufacturers of MTBE, a gasoline additive with the nasty tendency to pollute drinking water.

Did Daschle learn from this episode? Did he realize that with a few brave Republican souls, the bulk of the Democrats in the Senate could in fact stop a really bad bil from becoming law? Not a chance.

In June, Ted Kennedy had guided a prescription drug benefit through the Senate. He did so in the face of criticism that he might hand the Republicans some good press; by sharing credit with Republicans, he hoped to accomplish something that had been a goal of his for years.

But then the Republican shenanigans began. First, the conference committee, supposedly charged with resolving differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill, came up with a monstrosity of a bill of its own, totalling over 1000 pages. When the Republicans had tried this trick with the energy bill, many Democrats—but not Daschle—had realized that it gave them some power. Because conference committee reports cannot be amended, Senate Republicans could not counter objections by adopting friendly amendments to the bill.

When the House voted on the measure, they did so under extraordinary circumstances. Not only was Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson lobbying members on the floor of the House (a classless move for the House leadership, and not in the Marxist sense), but the vote itself was odder than odd.

House Democrats had enough votes to kill the measure Nov. 8, until the 3 a.m. vote was held open hours longer than the typical 15 minutes. National Journal's Congress Daily charted the cajolery on the House floor minute by minute, as votes changed one or two at a time.

By 4 a.m., the vote to kill the bill stood at 218 opposed and 216 supporting. Just before 6 a.m., two Republicans—Butch Otter of Idaho and Trent Franks of Arizona—changed their minds to support the historic measure and set off a flurry of last-minute flips that settled at 220-215 in favor.

The reason that the House Republican leadership was willing to do almost anything to pass the bill was that it contained the Medicare privatization programs that the true believers wanted so much. Did those provisions lead Daschle to try to stop the bill? Did the initial majority against the bill in the House allow him to rally his troops? Did the previous success against the energy bill energize him? No, no, and no.

Daschle came out against a filibuster, but Kennedy went ahead with one anyway. When that lost, Kennedy's best chance to stop the bill was to use the Senate rules to required a three-fifths majority to keep the bill on the floor, because it violated the terms of the balanced-budget rules of the Senate. And that vote, despite Daschle's continued passivity, rated to be close.

But even that vote went against Kennedy. He did have some help from the willing myopia of one of his colleagues, Lincoln Chafee, a maverick Republican.

Noting that a vote to stop a filibuster against the bill—which he opposed—lost handily, Chafee said when the vote to send the bill back to committee came up, "I thought, this bill’s going to pass, I’d better get for Rhode Island what I can." That turned out to be removing Rhode Island from consideration as a demonstration project.

A total of 61 senators, one more than the minimumm, voted not to refer the bill back to committee. By the time of the final vote, the bill had all of 54 supporters, with 44 voting against. Chafee was among 7 senators who disliked the bill enough to vote against it, but not enough to keep it from a final vote in the first place. That's a great move for someone who wants to keep a boot on each side of the fence. But it's damning for Senator Daschle, because it wouldn't have taken much (like an accurate guage of Senate opinion!) to keep that 61 figure down to 57 or 58.

Tom Daschle surely has his reasons for refusing to do much to block the prescription drug bill. Some Democrats were cowed by the giant AARP lobby that spent $7 million on advertising for this bill, which even AARP leaders claimed was deeply flawed. Some Democrats, knowing that the drug benefits will not appear until 2005, believe that Bush and congressional Republicans will catch grief once seniors realize how bad the bill is. Still others supported the bill because they hoped to improve it later. The first group of Democrats are unduly afraid of a lobbying group. The second group may be right, but they're being too cynical for my tastes. And the third ought to have paid attention to Ted Kennedy, who went to great lengths to stop a bill that he had started. The patient would have been better off if Doctor Daschle were not the surgeon in charge.

Posted by Tim W at 11/30/2003 06:44:00 PM

No, Romney is a Falstaff

Forgive me for taking so long to write about Mitt Romney's defiant take on the decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to extend the benefits of marriage to same-sex couples. One of Shakespeare's greatest characters, Sir John Falstaff, was vital to the comic relief in Henry IV and The Merry Wives of Windsor. Mitt Romney may lack Falstaff's legendary girth, but he has lines that only a comedian could script.

One day after the decision in the gay marriage case, Romney appeared on the morning ersatz news shows, Today and Good Morning America. He explained, according to the Boston Globe that history was on the side of the opponents of the decision.

"I agree with 3,000 years of recorded human history, which frankly is a contradiction of what the majority of the Supreme Judicial Court said," Romney said on "Today." "Of course, at the same time, we should [be] providing the necessary civil rights and certain appropriate benefits" to
same-sex couples.

A few hours later, Romney seemed to modify his position, telling reporters that he believes the court would allow some version of civil unions to be approved instead of outright gay marriage. He has not provided a full list of what rights and benefits he believes the civil unions should carry with them, but has said health coverage and hospital visitation rights should be included.

Ultimately, Romney is arguing that religion and tradition dictate that marriage be a heterosexual institution. Indeed, not one word of the Goodridge decision forces any religion to sanctify any sort of homosexual union. It merely forces the state not to offer special rights to heterosexual couples that it denies to all homosexual couples.

But Romney's supposition is laughable, even on its own terms. He is a lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. And until 1890, when the United States started cracking down on territories such as Utah that tolerated polygamy, that church believed that polygamy was the highest and best form of matrimony. Those 3000 years of recorded history can be awfully inconvenient.

Posted by Tim W at 11/30/2003 05:24:00 PM

The Sad Truth about Campaign Spending

Now that Howard Dean and John Kerry have decided to opt out of public financing of their campaign during the Democratic primary season, many Democrats are justly worried about the implications. Both Kerry and Dean decided that the spending limits that accompany public matching funds are inadequate. And this makes many sympathetic observers at least a bit melancholy. As the New York Times editorial board writes:

The state spending limits have frequently been fiddled and broken in the past in the face of toothless federal policing. But the hallmark of the 2004 presidential race already is clear as candidates shed public limits and fully embrace private money once more.

Yes, in an ideal world both Dean and Kerry could accept the spending limits and still run their campaigns as they wished. But there is a clearer hallmark of this campaign. Dean and Kerry may each spend upwards of $100 million before the Democratic convention, but at least they have a bevy of real competitors—Lieberman, Edwards, Clark, Gephardt, Sharpton, Moseley-Braun, and Kucinich—. George Bush, on the other hand, is planning to raise $200 million for his primary campaign. (Under federal law, primary funds can't be spent on the general election.) However, unless one of the Republicans on this list is a relative or neighbor, you doubtless know of any of them. Dean and Kerry have opponents who hope to win. Bush has "opponents" who hope to get a vote or two. The true hallmark of this campaign is that Bush will break spending records without a single viable Republican opponent.

Posted by Tim W at 11/30/2003 11:18:00 AM

23 November 2003

The Slippery Slope Smokescreen

Some conservatives are, in fact, glad that in Massachusetts, gay and lesbian couples may soon have the right to get married, because marriage confers upon its members rights and obligations to each other and to their children. But many other conservatives just can't stand the thought of gay and lesbian couples getting married. Last week's ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court won't affect too many conservatives personally. It is not mandatory; same-sex marriage will be an option, not a requirement. It is not binding on churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, or any other place of worship; it only affects the cities and towns of the Commonwealth. Ultimately, many conservatives will oppose gay marriage because they think that gay sex is icky. But they won't want to admit that.

Instead, they will argue that the ruling opens up a Pandora's box of problems. On Thursday, Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe took this approach. He wrote that the ruling will forever harm marriage by creating an inexorable path toward polygamy and sanctioned incest: [eventually the Globe starts charging for articles; in that case, see this site that compiles Jacoby's columns]

Supporters of same-sex marriage dismiss concerns about polygamy and incest as slippery-slope nonsense. But as Justice Robert Cordy points out in his forceful dissent, the same was said of those who warned 25 years ago that if an equal rights amendment were added to the state Constitution, it would eventually be used to mandate homosexual marriage.

Cordy writes that in the Boston newspapers, "claims that the ERA might be the basis for validating marriages between same-sex couples were labeled 'exaggerated' and 'unfounded.' " On Nov. 1, 1976, The Boston Globe editorialized in favor of the amendment. "Those urging a no vote," it declared, "argue that the amendment would . . . legitimize marriage between people of the same sex. . . . In reality, the proposed amendment would require none of these things."

The Globe offered similar assurances during the legislative battle over a gay rights law. "The bill does not legalize "gay marriage" or confer any right on homosexual, lesbian, or unmarried heterosexual couples to 'domestic benefits,' " insisted a Globe editorial in 1989. "Nor does it put Massachusetts on a 'slippery slope' toward such rights."

But the critics were right. The court's opinion in Goodridge relies in part on that very gay-rights law, while Justice John Greaney's concurring opinion—which provided the fourth and decisive vote—begins by citing the Massachusetts ERA and argues that a ban on same-sex marriage is "self-evident" sex discrimination.

Justice Greaney makes very clear in his concurring opinion that the Equal Rights Amendment was not the crux of his argument. Instead, it is Article 1 of the state Constitution. In the third paragraph of his opinion, he writes:

This provision, even prior to its amendment, guaranteed to all people in the Commonwealth—equally—the enjoyment of rights that are deemed important or fundamental.

The "amendment" here was the Equal Rights Amendment that Jacoby disparages.

Jacoby notes, correctly, that the main opinion cites state laws that prohibit discrimination against gays in employment, housing, credit, services; that establish certain acts as hate crimes; that prohibit discrimination against gays and lesbians in public accomodations or in public education. But those laws were hardly as important as the basic rights for all members of the Commonwealth inherit in its constitution since 1780. (As early as 1783, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts was interpreting the state Constitution to take freedom seriously, even for putative slaves.)

Jacoby's basic argument is bunkum. The majority of the court ruled that civil marriage imparts real and substantial benefits to the persons who enter it. The majority has no quarrel with any of the restrictions on civil marriage enumerated in the state Constitution, only with the animus toward gay marriage perpetuated in common law. The slippery slope argument is a smokescreen for keeping gays and lesbians as second-class citizens.

There is a court case, however, that does represent a true slippery slope. It serves as a real precedent for the opinion in the Massachusetts marriage case, as well as the recent Supreme Court cases that overturned a Texas law that made gay sex a criminal act. It is Loving v. Virginia, in which the United States Supreme Court unanimously held that Virginia could not prohibit a man and a woman of different races from marrying. In 1967, Virginia and 14 other states still enforced miscegenation laws; two decades earlier, the vast majority of American states had similar laws on the books. Despite the longstanding tradition of miscegenation laws, the Supreme Court ruled that these laws were unconstitutional.

I know how Jeff Jacoby feels about the Goodridge decision. How does he feel about the case that really represents the slippery slope here?

Posted by Tim W at 11/23/2003 03:43:00 PM

That Hack from Newsweek

Every two weeks, the editors of Newsweek do their best to make conservative thinking seem inherently oxymoronic by publishing a column by George Will. Few columns best exemplify their efforts than this one from earlier this month. Will argues that the installation of Gene Robinson, an openly gay man, as bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire, illustrates an endemic problem with Protestant doctrine:

Conservative Episcopalians say the church must be governed by Scripture as illuminated by tradition and reason. They say consecration of a noncelibate gay bishop contravenes Scripture and 2,000 years of church teaching.

Liberals defending Robinson’s elevation say society and churches have come to modern conclusions about such things as usury, slavery and the subordination of women which are incongruent with what is said in Scripture. And liberals say, as Robinson did two Sundays ago on ABC’s “This Week”: “God did not stop revealing God’s self when Scripture was closed. God continues to reveal himself to us.”

....Roman Catholics must be saying: “We told you so.” For almost five centuries they have been warning that Protestantism has an incurable problem of doctrinal instability. They say Protestantism lacks an authoritative, final voice on arguments about faith and morals. In 1927 Ronald Knox, son of an Anglican divine but an influential convert to Catholicism, dryly wrote that “if Christianity is still in process of formulation after twenty centuries, it must be an uncommonly elusive affair.” And he asked: “Why should a divine structure send in continual bills for alterations and repairs?”

Of course the Episcopal Church has changed over time. But so has Will's beloved Roman Catholic Church. It did take 359 years to rehabilitate Galileo Galilei, but Rome finally decided that its doctrine that the sun revolved around the Earth was, in fact, wrong. And the Roman Catholic Church has drastically altered its views about the culpability of Jews in the death of Jesus.

Both of these changes are welcome changes, but they belie Will's blinkered beliefs that Roman Catholic doctrine has forever been immutable. But what would one expect from a Catholic who prescribes conservative solutions to the world's woes, but a divorce for his own marital woes?

Posted by Tim W at 11/23/2003 03:05:00 PM

20 November 2003

Romney is a Faubus

While watching television in a hotel in Arkansas, I learned that the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled that laws preventing members of the same sex from marrying violated the constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I was overcome with a sense of pride. My home state had chosen enlightenment over ignorance. Then reality hit. Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was on the screen promising to push a constitutional amendment that would overturn the ruling. In an instant, feelings of pride turned to despair. I thought of Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus. Faubus reacted to the United States Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas by ordering troops from the National Guard to surround Central High School in Little Rock to prevent nine African American students from enrolling. Alas, the handsome, privileged, and educated governor of Massachusetts is no less bigoted than Faubus.

Posted by PAUL at 11/20/2003 11:18:00 PM

Subverting Commodity Fetishism

Should capitalists have all of the fun of capitalism? Our comrades at the not-as-scary-as-you-think Communist Party of the United States (check out their take on the 2004 election if you still think they're scary) put paid to that idea. At their shopping page, you can get your very own Communist teddy bear, your very own People's Daily World bike messenger bag, or—our favorite—your very own Karl Marx lunchbox. Admit it: you need one.

Posted by Tim W at 11/20/2003 07:00:00 AM

15 November 2003

Rhetoric and Reality

Citing a "soft economy,: the Boston Herald reports that it plans to cut its work force by about 2 percent, or 19 jobs. Speaking to newsroom staffers yesterday, Patrick J. Purcell, publisher of theHerald, called it a "sad and disappointing'' day while referring to the employees losing their jobs as "terrific, dedicated employees.''

Will the Herald's editorial and op-ed pages continue to hype the Bush recovery while blaming layoffs on a bad economy?

Posted by PAUL at 11/15/2003 12:59:00 PM

11 November 2003


Yesterday’s Financial Times noted that the CEO of McDonalds wrote a missive to Merriam-Webster, the dictionary publisher, to complain about the inclusion of the word "McJob" in its new edition. Jim Cantalupo took offense to said definition including the phrase "low-paying, dead-end work." In defense of Mr. Cantalupo, we can hardly expect the senior management of the company to increase wages and benefits in order to overcome a public perception that work at McDonalds is dead-end. If we have learned anything from the recent scandals impacting America's largest corporations, CEO's may ignore their duties to shareholders when they enrich themselves, but they would never think of doing it to raise the living standard of the rank-and-file workers.

Posted by PAUL at 11/11/2003 02:18:00 AM

09 November 2003

Voting By Objective

Howard Dean has my vote. My objective as an Independent voter in the upcoming primary is to empower and nominate a candidate that can beat Bush in the 2004 general election. Dean has proved to me that he is the best candidate to beat Bush. There are other candidates that are more suited to my politics but Dean has earned my vote. Like Clinton, Dean can take a punch from the opposition. Like Clinton, Dean will appeal to a broad spectrum of Americans in a general election. Like Clinton, Dean’s empathy for and understanding of the needs of working Americans will juxtapose with a sitting president that cares little for those needs. Like Clinton, Dean will defeat a Bush seeking a second term.

Every time the other candidates in the Democratic race target Dean for scorn my respect and admiration for the former Governor of Vermont increases. Dean’s use of the Confederate flag, as a symbol, may not be the mistake his competitors for the nomination made it out to be. Dean has apologized for any hurt his comments may have caused but he has not backtracked from the substance behind those comments: the Democrats cannot beat George Bush unless their nominee appeals to a broad cross-section of Democrats, including Southern white men. Leaders serve voters in the South not by fleeing the Democratic Party and its ideals (like Zell Miller) but by speaking frankly about why Southern white men should vote Democrat. That is a message that needs to be heard. In reality, it took Dean’s use of the confederate flag, combined with the rhetoric of Al Sharpton, to get the substance of Dean's message out to voters. The truth is that Democrats need to expose the rhetoric of the Republican’s “Southern Strategy” that has been a cornerstone to their presidential campaigns from the time Nixon won in 1968. Dean has been talking about race for months while his competitors for the Democratic nomination have abrogated all such discussion to Al Sharpton, a losing strategy if there ever was one.

It is not surprising that the other Democratic candidates (has there ever been a more phony moralistic bore than Joe Lieberman) cravenly chose to focus on the symbol and not the substance of Dean’s message . They were not the only ones. In my hometown, an upper-middle class community and bastion of progressive politics, a number of friends and associates bashed Dean as well. My gut tells me that while Northern white progressives are pleased to wear their indignation of Dean’s comments on their sleeve, African-American men and women understood Dean’s message and appreciate the substance of that message. Like Clinton, Dean talks about race not in order to stake out some moral high ground but in order to bring Americans together and improve the quality of our lives.

Dean deserves our applause, not our scorn. He also deserves our vote.

Posted by PAUL at 11/09/2003 11:33:00 AM

04 November 2003

Populus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur

Louise Day Hicks, a force for regress and insularity in Boston in the 1960s and 1970s, died two weeks ago. Her political career, which included several terms on the Boston City Council, two unsuccessful runs for mayor, and even a term in the United States House of Representatives, reolved around one issue: keeping African-American children out of historically white schools. To a few Boston politicians, her legacy is not toxic. But more curious is the begrudging praise that she garnered in death, praise that cut against what she said while she was alive.

The Boston Globe, reporting on her demise, noted that she had both admirers and detractors:

"One of her virtues was courage," said former University of Massachusetts president William M. Bulger, who as a state senator from South Boston during the 1970s was a leading opponent of court-ordered desegregation. "I can only speak in highest praise of Mrs. Hicks.... She stood up for her point of view."

"She was a tragic figure," said Paul Parks, a former Boston School Committee chairman and vice president of the Boston NAACP. "She became an object of hate—and she asked for it."

Bulger surely knows the voters who supported Hicks through thick and thin, and she did, too:

"A large part of my vote probably does come from bigoted people," Mrs. Hicks once told an interviewer. "But, after all, I can hardly go around telling them, 'Don't vote for me if you're bigoted.' The important thing is that I'm not bigoted. To me, that word means all the dreadful Southern segregationist, Jim Crow business that's always shocked and revolted me."

Hicks showed willful naïveté: anyone who has lived in a Northern city knows that segregation doesn't need Bull Connor, a Stars and Bars flag, or a raft of Jim Crow laws to be rampant, insidious, or wrong. But more telling was her claim not to be bigoted, even if much of her constituency was. To William Bulger, Hicks stood up for her beliefs; to Hicks herself, her beliefs did not match her public persona.

Hicks was not just a reactionary; she voted for some traditionally progressive cases, like the Equal Rights Amendment, during her stay on Capitol Hill. But busing was what made her a politician, never mind nationally famous. (It's easy to forget that even in the early 1980s, one of the pet causes of the New Right in the House and Senate was a federal Constitutional amendment to prohibit forced busing as a means of school desegregation.)

Time was unkind to Hicks. The antibusing movement, lurching even further to the right, left her behind. Her health failed her. And a new generation of South Boston politicians split into two: progressives who courted voters who could accept integrated schools and public housing, and conservatives who gave up on busing as an issue but still kept the insular attitude that made South Boston infamous. At her funeral, her neighborhood church was only half-full of family, friends, and a few politicians. William Bulger, of course, gave the eulogy, claiming that Hicks "opposed what she should have opposed." Those are strange words from a man who was recently head of the University of Massachusetts. Was it really right for Hicks to oppose having any black faces at South Boston High School? Or were those thoughts intended for the faithful at Saint Brigid Church but not his erstwhile offices at One Beacon Street? State Senator Jack Hart echoed Bulger's myth-telling from earlier in the week. He told that Globe that "today, public officials are criticized for not standing up for what they believe in." The difference, Senator, is that Hicks used to get away with it.

One of South Boston's more progressive politicians, Congressman Stephen Lynch, had one of the few truly honest observations made at the funeral.

"She held that [antibusing] position strongly in the face of all criticism, and that undoubtedly would be a part of her legacy," he said. "It is what it is. It's part of this country, and part of this city's history."

It's not a honorable legacy, or an honorable history. And it's not even an honest legacy. Judging from the unpacked house last week, her former constituents know that, even if William Bulger and his ilk do not.

Posted by Tim W at 11/04/2003 01:19:00 AM

Playing Detective

Robert Waldmann of Robert's Random Thoughts wondered how difficult it would be to prove that the notorious Iraqi-Nigerien uranium documents were forgeries. The answers? A modem and Google comprised the technical requirements, and a few hours of time to kill completed the other requirements.

Our nation is run by either fools or liars—or, perhaps, both.

Posted by Tim W at 11/04/2003 12:49:00 AM

03 November 2003

Nostra Maxima Culpa

Our comrades at England's Prospect Magazine landed the interview of more than one lifetime, and we failed to link to it! Donald Sassoon interviews the Old Man himself:

In reality my work has never been as important as it is now. Over the last 40 years or so it has conquered the academy in the most advanced countries in the world. Historians, economists, social scientists, and even, to my surprise, some literary critics have all turned to the materialist conception. The most exciting history currently produced in the US and Europe is the most "Marxistic" ever. Just go to the annual convention of the American Social Science History Association, which I attend regularly as a ghost. There they earnestly examine the interconnection between institutional and political structures and the world of production. They all talk about classes, structures, economic determination, power relations, oppressed and oppressors. And they all pretend to have read me—a sure sign of success.

Take a gander: the Old Man talks about philosophers old and young, about Communism versus communism, about feminism, and even about Google.

Who says that the Left cannot laugh at itself?

Posted by Tim W at 11/03/2003 01:39:00 AM

To Zell and Back

Now that Georgia's Democratic senator, Zell Miller, has endorsed George Bush before a single voter has voted for a candidate for the Democratic presidential nominee, can his party finally kick him out of the caucus? Words fail me. But David Worley has some choice ones for Senator Miller:

Looks as if you're on you're way back home, Zell, back to the hateful rhetoric of the Lester Maddox days, with frequent well-paid stops along the way in corporate boardrooms. Too bad that's the final legacy you're leaving.

Just boot him from the caucus now, Democratic senators. If he walks like a Republican, talks like a Republican, and only kisses Republican backsides, then let him damn well be a Republican.

Posted by Tim W at 11/03/2003 01:26:00 AM

Donald Rumsfeld and I Completely Agree

I did not expect that the day would arrive in which Donald Rumsfeld and I were in such complete accord. His comments today on the deaths of 16 soldiers are exactly what I think:

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Sunday that the deadly downing of a
U.S. military helicopter in Iraq was a national tragedy and that those responsible would be defeated.

"It's clearly a tragic day for America ... In a long, hard war, we're going to have tragic days," Rumsfeld said.

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the primary definition of tragedy is "[a] drama or literary work in which the main character is brought to ruin or suffers extreme sorrow, especially as a consequence of a tragic flaw, moral weakness, or inability to cope with unfavorable circumstances."

Those brought to ruin yesterday were not the main characters in the great tragedy Bush Rex; more likely, they are those killed in Act II or III, but their deaths nonetheless show off the hubris of the protagonists, among them a certain George Bush, a certain Donald Rumsfeld, and a certain Richard Cheney. Unfortunately, that fellow Euripides can't help with the dialogue, because he's permanently indisposed.

Posted by Tim W at 11/03/2003 01:07:00 AM

02 November 2003

The Real Political Correctness

Is there any question that major media outlets are terrified of the Republican Party? For decades, the right-wing of the Republican Party has targeted New York and Hollywood for promoting “political correctness.” The term has such popular use that it is defined in Webster’s: “marked by or adhering to a typically progressive orthodoxy on issues involving race, gender, sexual affinity, or ecology.” “Progressive orthodoxy” is an oxymoron. The charge that social movements that grew out of a rebellion against the strict social structure of America culture in the 1950s and the counter-culture of the 1960s constitute orthodoxy is absurd. Alas, in order to appease a Republican Party that now not only controls all of the three branches of the federal government but also has undue influence over the boards of America’s largest corporations, the major media outlets have abrogated editorial control to the Republican Party. The RNC is now openly demanding the right to enforce their standards to ensure that even entertainment shows have “truly balanced pictures.”

To steal a moniker from Charlie Pierce, our corporate-controlled media refuses to admit that on virtually every major issue impacting our nation and the World Emperor C-Plus Augustus has no clothes. Bush has been exposed in Europe, Asia and Australia but not here in the good, old USA. As if this sanitization was not enough, a miniseries script on the life of Ronald Reagan, a script that was vetted by two teams of corporate lawyers and deemed “brilliant” by corporate executives at CBS, is being “edited with a machete” so as to not offend Republican sensibilities. Wow! Have we ever been closer to State-run media in this country?

This theater of the absurd is even more amazing when one considers what these same Republicans did to Bill Clinton, his wife, and their daughter. As for the cowardice being exhibited at CBS, remember that it was CBS that sold-out whistle-blowing research-scientist Dr. Jeffrey Wigand and the inside story of American tobacco companies. To his credit, producer Lowell Bergman quit his “60 Minutes” gig in protest. Will there be any other brave souls at CBS this time around?

Posted by PAUL at 11/02/2003 01:14:00 AM

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