Monday, March 31, 2008

Stop the US Election Coverage and Let Me Off

A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.
-Mark Twain

I don't blog about the daily goings on in the US election race here although I do follow the coverage almost religiously - taking time out when my head feels like it's going to explode or when the spinning gets to the point that I envision Linda Blair's head in The Exorcist. Yes, it is that bad.

Ironically, the great promise of the mainstream "progressive" blogs was to act as a counter to the half-truths and outright lies perpetrated by the MSM. However, this year, with the Democratic race narrowed down to a fierce contest between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, those blogs (like Daily Kos and others) have shown that their so-called factual standards are no better than the mainstream journalists they've railed against for years. They have become exactly what they claimed to abhor.

It's tiring enough to have to chase down the veracity of MSM stories through trusted venues like, SourceWatch, Judicial Watch, and CorpWatch. I think we're on the verge of needing a BlogWatch site for some sort of objective analysis of what's being peddled on those sites as truth when what we're really getting is Colbertesque "truthiness" instead.

Additionally, when it comes to judging what the traditional, corporatist American media is trying to sell us, there are handy sites like FAIR, Editor & Publisher, and the Columbia Journalism Review along with several other sites. But when it comes to sorting through what's being peddled about the election on the blogs, once again we're stuck with sorting out the often hyperventilated hyberole for ourselves.

Throw in the cable news opinion shows, and yes - that even applies to the darling of the progressives, Keith Olbermann, who now regularly posts his Obama-biased rants at Daily Kos because he knows where his bread is buttered (there's also a "watch" site dedicated to him and he does need to be watched considering that his "reporting" has become sloppy lately) and those of us who are a) interested in facts and b) have had more than our fill of the spin appear to live in some sort of No Man's land vacated by people whom we thought (at least I did at one time) sought to fight for rationality and common sense. That's been tossed overboard by people who are so incredibly emotionally-invested in their candidate of choice (even though both Dem candidates' platforms are nearly identical) that the "progressive" zone - full of racism, sexism and intolerance in general - has become nothing more than the equivalent of some of the worst right-wing blogs.

We know that the Democratic party will survive this election. The question is, with all of the inter and intra-blog fighting going on, will the so-called "progressive" community make it through this election to go on to focus on who the real enemy is: the right-wingers who may be poised to again run the US government? There are wounds out there in "netroots" land that I don't think will ever be healed.

When I step back from observing all of this though, I have to say that it's useful that these battles have exposed some extremely nasty things about some people who deem to call themselves "progressive". There's a horribly abusive underbelly in the Democratic party, witnessed through reading some of the posts and comments on the various blogs, that reveals just how hypocritical some Democrats who claim the moral high-ground really are. While some people claim to support their candidate's message of unity and all things noble about what the Democratic party supposedly stands for, they clearly show that their personal take is so incredibly far removed from ideals like equality, justice and human/civil rights for all that I don't even know if they are Democrats.

The bigger question in this reality is, however, whether the party itself even stands for those principles it proudly displays on its mantle. In many ways I don't think it does, which is why I'm under no illusions that a Democratic president will truly come through for the millions who are placing their hopes in a party that's promising major societal changes that will make a big difference in America's current cultural climate. This is, after all, a party that won't even attempt to prosecute Bush for his war crimes. For me, that says it all.

Instead, what we have now are daily pathetic displays of who said what where and when and what did they really mean? As if that ought to pass for an acceptable substitute for what really ails America. It's SpinTainment and there's no doubt that it's a huge industry, just as US elections, with donations to candidates in the hundreds of millions of dollars, are their own industry as well. While Democratic candidates talk about how much money has been stolen from US taxpayers in the name of the illegal occupation in Iraq - money they say could have gone towards education, infrastructure and so many other American needs - they're raking in huge amounts of money for what, exactly? To buy the presidency. A pursuit that goes on, not just for months, but for years. You cannot honestly rail against obscenity if you play a part in purveying it.

This race has shown just how undemocratic and vicious Democrats can be and it has also shown just how little truth is valued on the so-called "left" which, in many too instances is just centrism dressed up in liberal clothing anyway. I'm all for a long Democratic battle. Let the knives continue to come out. Maybe then, after all of the blood has been drawn and the negativity has exhausted Dem party supporters, there will be a long, hard look at exactly what the party has become. In the end, if they're truly willing to admit it, I think they'll find that their ideals have taken a back seat to exactly the kind of divisiveness they accuse the right-wingers of spreading. And they'll also find that their methods - excusing blatant spin as being prized above reality - are just as useless and damaging as those of their political opponents. That's if they're even willing to take that desperately needed long, hard look.

In the meantime, I'll stick to looking for my facts in places that have no axes to grind, no candidate to support and no piper to pay. One head-spinning Linda Blair was enough.

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