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by Norman Solomon Wednesday, Jun. 14, 2000 at 1:01 AM


Every four years, when summer begins, the national media curtain rises on an overheated stage of presidential politics. Like drama critics clutching their programs, thousands of journalists are keenly alert to the feverish

orchestration for the Republican and Democratic conventions later in the season. The political show must go on -- no matter how phony it may be.

This time around, reporters and commentators seem to be straining extra hard to fan the flames of interest in the race for the White House. After all, George W. Bush and Al Gore are among the most boring political leaders in the country. And that's saying something.

George Orwell seems to have anticipated the genre of politics that prevails in the United States today, a half-century after his death: "When one watches some tired hack on the platform, mechanically repeating the familiar phrases...one often has a curious feeling that one is not watching a live human being but some kind of dummy."

Nearly halfway into 2000, few Americans are excited about Bush or Gore -- and not coincidentally, most understand that both major parties are beholden to economic elites. "Voters know instinctively now that presidents

and politicians may come and go, but the men who collect the checks and rack up the favors amass the real power," Time magazine reports in its June 5 issue. "And so far, none of the proposed reforms from either party would

change that."

Yet the vast bulk of day-to-day campaign reportage takes for granted, and leaves unexplored, the mega-dollar context of 21st century politics. Mixed messages abound in print and on the air: It's a shame that certain candidates rely on millions from wealthy donors. But according to the

sheep-like news judgment of media professionals, those are the only candidates who merit extensive coverage. Of course, such assessments are self-fulfilling.

The Center for Public Integrity observes that "the American people have come to expect and accept the worst from their politicians." The center adds: "Public interest and news media interest in politics generally have declined; so has the inclination of citizens to get involved in political causes. Increasingly, the disengagement is making government the exclusive province of vested economic interests and the politicians they support. Politicians do not take responsibility for this reality, nor are they asked to."

News outlets should be in the forefront of asking -- demanding -- that politicians "take responsibility for this reality." But the platitudes and hand-wringing in corporate media rarely get very far. Even the occasional

fine piece of journalism, detailing exactly who gives large checks to presidential hopefuls and what the signers get in return, scarcely makes a dent in the moolah-fueled engines of political commerce and media discourse.

The vague ritual of decrying big money in politics has become fashionable. In its book "The Buying of the President 2000," the Center for Public Integrity goes farther by documenting key sources of funds that have flowed

into the coffers of presidential aspirants anointed by mainstream media as serious contenders. Aptly describing the "mock sincerity and epidemic equivocation by our elected officials," the nonpartisan group notes that

huge amounts of money are "sloshing through the system, sometimes secretly, sometimes illegally, sometimes directly influencing life-and-death public policy decisions."

At times, pundits scold the public for being too cynical or apathetic about the campaigns underway. Editorial writers and columnists encourage us to pay closer attention, engage in the political process and -- by all

means -- vote. But well before Election Day, the finely meshed screens of big money and media coverage have eliminated almost all the candidates as realistic possibilities to win the White House. Financial power dominates.

"History shows that a nation interested primarily in material things invariably is on a downward path," Eleanor Roosevelt said in 1927. Forty years later, as the war on poverty gave way to the war on Vietnam, Martin

Luther King Jr. pointed out: "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."

These days, journalists routinely evaluate presidential campaigns as grand performances that must meet high aesthetic standards. The mass-media calculus gives great weight to the production values of the partisan road

shows. But in the real world, other values are the ones that count.

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exactly right!

by Django

oh, the sorry hackney of late-summer presidential politics, it bores us so. Great article, man, for pointing out the hypocricy of late-stage Romanesque U.S. aesthetic comparision, as a new world hegemony arena is fortified, and most of the U.S. public is too busy with their 'bread and circuses'...now, can we get enough of our medias in people's experience, and can we be participatory, and resilient enought to absorb the inevitable weight of public opinion? Do we, the independent media, have enough staying power to overcome the sickening ability of the corporate media's alien like ability to imitate and co-opt, particularly in the city of Propoganda Films (makers of some of the worst schlock in commercial-dom) and myriad other semi-disaffected videographés, half-cynical writers, and creative talent that calls this "entertainment capital of the universe" home??? Can we offer inoculants against the mind-numbing cheer-them-on network media viruses to people in this soporific country (which, despite its somnambulance, shows distinct signs of waking from the American Nightmare)....Can we, in short, be faster mammals as the dinosaurs wink out?

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By all means pay attention & vote

by Geoffrey

I agree with the thrust of Solomon's critique of the media's complicity with Big Money domination of the political process. But people DO have to wake up and get interested in the process, or we are doomed to remained enthralled by the worldview of anchormen, pundits and corrupt politicians. Cynicism is a contagion we must restis and get over. Financial power DOES dominate the electoral process now, but in large part because people don't wake up and vote for people like Ralph Nader and demand reform which will allow third-parties greater access and exposure. That we the people are manipulated by corporate media is obvious; less obvious is the answer to the question: why are we so manipulable?

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when the crunch comes, then what?

by michael Scott

Soloman's article states eloquently, if with a certain tired resignation, the subservience of the media to corporate financial power, the journalists' and editors paymasters. It also implies an inability of the people of this country to influence the media in such a way as to promote public integrity and accountability, along the lines advocated by the center for public integrity and others - such as Ralph Nader and Soloman himself.

The key element in the current state of democratic and spiritual-political decay appears to be money and material wealth. What will happen when the economic crunch hits the US economy, until now cushioned from the blowback of speculative excess by continuous and increasingly unobstructed plunder of wealth from the entire globe? Will the people then be able to hold the media accountable, will journalists then return to standards of integrity in their profession? Perhaps this moment is one to anticipate, as crunchy there will be, and no amount of spin doctoring will change what it does to the income disparities in this country, and all the other symptoms we are observing today.

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Values That Count

by Chad Chadwick Monday, Aug. 14, 2000 at 4:34 PM

"The mass-media calculus gives great weight to the production values of the partisan road shows. But in the real world, other values are the ones that count."

There is an alternative, one that actually illumes what the mainstream political offerings willfully obscure. A certain Mr. Nader is striving to encourage us to conduct ourselves as citizens who

understand what it means to participate in democracy. Voting is not like going to buy something in a store, where all mayonnaise is created equal. A vote is not a commodity to be traded for trinkets; rather it is the embodiment of civic principle. If it should be given it should be given with dear regard to its value. And what is the value of a vote? You decide. You decide the value of your vote when you make the effort to decide the future of your country. To vote mindlessly and robotically is to reduce the value of your vote to a commodity. To vote willfully and consciously is to resonate with the spirit of true Liberty. But to not vote at all is to waste something rare and precious that you can never hope to redeem.

In the end the only values that count are those we can count on. If you can't count on the major Parties to represent you, and you can't count on the major Media to inform you, then the only one you can count on to give meaning to democracy is you. Get out of the media box, gather the information you need to make an informed choice, and vote.

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There's An Alternative - Green Party & Nader

by Charles Douglas Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2000 at 5:24 PM
charlesd@greens.org (707) 441-7160 P.O. Box 4957 Arcata CA 95518

This author is right on about the corruption of our 'democracy' and the subservience of the 'two parties' to corporate interest.

Thankfully, there is a viable alternative! The Green Party (found at www.greens.org), already having gained permament ballot status in 16 states, is running Ralph Nader & Winona LaDuke for President & VP (found at www.votenader.org).

The Green Party platform (found at www.gp.org) and the candidates are committed to ending the abuse of power by corporate interests in America. They don't take any corporate $$$ and are committed to publically financed public elections, removing the influence of private $$$ entirely.

Beyond this, we need to fundamentally question why corporations have such powers and rights under law, when in fact they are legal fictions, subservient to the people before a fateful court decision in the late 1800's gave them the rights of 'natural persons.' Ending this atrocity and reestablishing the primacy of citizens (read: actual human beings, with one person, one vote as the guiding principle instead of one dollar, one vote) is the only way we can take back our country.

Charles Douglas

Arcata, CA

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Go We Go!

by Jerrybear Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2000 at 7:57 PM

Thank you, Charles, for mentioning the Green alternative, including the Nader/LaDuke presidential ticket.

I am a Michigan Green, and we just completed a successful ballot access petition drive. At this point, it looks like at least half of the states will have the Greens on the ballot in November!

This is a very significant step in the process of transforming the U.S. political scene, and the country in general.

Anyone who is truly interested in peace, freedom, democracy, human rights, the environment, economic and social justice, and any other progressive causes needs to support the Greens and vote Green. No more "lesser of two evils." It is time to vote our hopes and not our fears. If enough people believe that the Greens can get elected and vote accordingly, we WILL have Greens in the White House, the Congress, and state and local governments.

The heading on this message, for those not as familiar with the Greens, comes from Ralph Nader's 1996 Presidential run. At a campaign speech, someone in the audience yelled "Go Ralph Go," to which Nader replied "No, Go We Go." By this, he meant that the movement for a better society must involve everyone's active participation and input. It is not just about well known activists like Nader and LaDuke, it is about all of us working together to bring a bright new day into being.

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That was the electoral Greens, not GPUSA

by Paul Prior Thursday, Aug. 17, 2000 at 7:06 PM
webmaster@globalcircle.net 630-578-0688 P.O. Box 358 Santa Fe, NM 87504

The Greens/Green Party USA http://www.greenparty.org/ is the original activist party since 1991. The website referred to previously at www.greens.org is not The Green Party at all as claimed, but the Association of State Green Parties which is only a political faction that split off after the '96 election. Both support Nader/Laduke. Extensive sources, links, and research about both are available at http://globalcircle.net/greens.htm

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Media (CNN) is historically-illiterate

by Edward Trout Thursday, Aug. 17, 2000 at 9:55 PM
guppyt@bboard.com 2157889299 Bristol, Pa.

Aside from the 'suck-or-make-it-up' Mainstream Media's lack of what's happening outside and inside the DNC, CNN in particular is illiterate in their knowledge of recent Civil Rights History as it applies to Senator Liberman. "He was with the "Freedom-Riders registering Black voters",..."He was registering Black voters in Mississippi". Both are factually impossible. Freedom Riders did not register potential black voters in 1962-3, they were forcing the Justice Dept. to enforce the law (14th amend-interstate commerce clause) concerning intergrated facilities doing business that crossed state line. They (CNN and Clinton in his speech) FAIL the History of their own lives. What Liberman was involved-in was the C.O.F.O "Freedom Summer" voter registration of 1964. Remember Chaney,Goodwin and Scheiwner? murdered by the Klan on June 21st 1964? _Mississippi Burning_: a terrible whitewash of those murders and the mythic 2 FBI agents who never existed.

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