a few notes on how crazy my country of origin has become

My classes don't start until September 13, but next week my mother is here, so my time is suddenly very limited. As my last days of relative freedom tick away, I'm combing through some very old email in my inbox, to see what I can read, post and/or dispose of. I found a neat juxtaposition between two links sent by two of my main link-senders.

First, Kevin Drum, writing in Mother Jones, makes a dead-on assessment of the Obama administration. Thanks to James.
Here's the good news: this record of progressive accomplishment officially makes Obama the most successful domestic Democratic president of the last 40 years. And here's the bad news: this shoddy collection of centrist, watered down, corporatist sellout legislation was all it took to make Obama the most successful domestic Democratic president of the last 40 years. Take your pick.

Widening the lens, Glenn Greenwald dissects the greatest hoax perpetrated in my lifetime: "The Liberal Media". This one is longer, but like all of Greenwald's columns, very much worth your time. Sent by my Greenwald correspondent, redsock.
First, consider which viewpoints cause someone to be fired from The Liberal Media. Last month, Helen Thomas' 60-year career as a journalist ended when she expressed the exact view about Jews which numerous public figures have expressed (with no consequence or even controversy) about Palestinians. Just weeks ago, The Washington Post accepted the "resignation" of Dave Weigel because of scorn he heaped on right-wing figures such as Matt Drudge and Rush Limbaugh. CNN's Chief News Executive, Eason Jordan, was previously forced to resign after he provoked a right-wing fit of fury over comments he made about the numerous -- and obviously disturbing -- incidents where the U.S. military had injured or killed journalists in war zones. NBC fired Peter Arnett for criticizing the U.S. war plan on Iraqi television, which prompted accusations of Treason from the Right. MSNBC demoted and then fired its rising star Ashleigh Banfield after she criticized American media war coverage for adhering to the Fox model of glorifying U.S. wars; the same network fired its top-rated host, Phil Donahue, due to its fear of being perceived as anti-war; and its former reporter, Jessica Yellin, confessed that journalists were "under enormous pressure from corporate executives" to present the news in a pro-war and pro-Bush manner.

What each of these firing offenses have in common is that they angered and offended the neocon Right. Isn't that a strange dynamic for the supposedly Liberal Media: the only viewpoint-based firings of journalists are ones where the journalist breaches neoconservative orthodoxy? Have there ever been any viewpoint-based firings of establishment journalists by The Liberal Media because of comments which offended liberals? None that I can recall. I foolishly thought that when George Bush's own Press Secretary mocked the American media for being "too deferential" to the Bush administration, that would at least put a dent in that most fictitious American myth: The Liberal Media. But it didn't; nothing does, not even the endless spate of journalist firings for deviating from right-wing dogma.

. . . .

Then there's the Nasr case itself. Look at how our discourse is completely distorted and dumbed-down by the same stunted, cartoonish neocon orthodoxies that have also destroyed our foreign policy. In our standard political discussions, the simplistic and false notion -- obviously accepted by CNN -- drives the discussion: Fadlallah is an Evil Hezbollah Terrorist!!, and Nasr probably is as well given the "respect" she expressed for him during his death. Thus: CNN got caught employing an Israel-hating Terrorist-lover, and once she revealed herself, she had to be fired immediately!!!! That really is the primitive level of agitprop churned out by neocon polemicists and then dutifully ingested and embraced by CNN.

The reality, though, is completely different. [More here, with copious links.]

I tune out a good deal of US news and distraction, but inevitably, someone solicits my opinion. When people ask me what I think about the "mosque at ground zero" controversy, and I can't even begin to stutter an answer. You mean, the Muslim cultural centre in lower Manhattan? Why are we allowing bigots and jingoists to define our speech? It's not ground zero, some mythical mirage of the worst thing that's ever happened in the history of ever. It's a real place with a real name: lower Manhattan. It's not a mosque, and if it were? Why should Muslim prayer be prohibited there? Imagine if churches couldn't be built near the former sites of any US-led or -funded terrorism exploits. Christians would have to colonize the Moon.

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