June 27th, 2011

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#389 – Dick Bernard: Killing the President, and all of us.

Monday, June 27th, 2011

On frequent occasions, something in a news source catches my eye, as did this one, on Saturday. Most of us won’t all get to see these attack ads. They’re carefully targeted to certain places in the country where they are likely to do the most good (translated “bad”) against Democrats and the President of the United States.

And most of the funding will not come from small donors: it will come from people with a lot of money to invest in their special interest – keeping and increasing their personal wealth and power.

Early this morning came this always well done compilation on another side of the supposedly evil and inept government story. (The commentary is fairly long but an appropriate headline might well be: “attacking government is attacking ourselves, particularly in these troubled economic times”.) It’s worth your time.

The business of attack ads has become “as American as Apple Pie”.

The worst thing that could happen for the Republican party would be for the Democrats, especially the President, to be perceived as succeeding, so their goal remains to enhance failure. It is a cynical and effective strategy.

The only differences between now and, say, 40 years ago, is that political lying is now more accepted, and the sophistication of delivering the lies is immeasurably greater. These are dangerous times for any semblance of “the truth”.

It is killing us all, and we’re the only antidote, by refusing to buy the garbage called political advertising that is passed off as informing us.

There are endless examples…I see them most every day.

A few weeks ago I had an interesting exchange with a good and valued friend of mine in a neighboring state.

It began with one of those ubiquitous internet “Fwd’s” trashing someone I’d never heard of with text and a selected group of 13 photographs of protest signs seen at a demonstration in the recent past.

The “Fwd” had come from a younger relative of hers, who figures he knows me as a “liberal”, and he said: “Why don’t you send this to Dick Bernard and have him apply his liberal spin on it to tell us how this is all made up and these are all good righteous peaceful people.”

I took the bait.

The photos in the “Fwd” were of signs carried by (apparent) union members at a large demonstration in Los Angeles.

I’ve been in lots of demonstrations in my life and, while I rarely carry signs, it is inevitable that you’ll see signs – and people – which seem sort of out on the edge. Usually, their intention is to attract attention, and these 13 signmakers had succeeded.

The text accompanying the photos blasted a particular Union, specifically the former President of that Union, and was intended to portray the President of the United States as this union leaders lackey, and this union – of low-paid service workers – to be dragging the President around by the nose by spending an outrageous sum to get him elected.

I did the best I could to dig through to the “facts” (which is almost impossible with these kinds of things), and shared this with my correspondent. At minimum the “Fwd” was unfair and dishonest, but that was its intent. Further, it was intended to spread virally across the country, and get people outraged at the President and Unions.

Ironically, the total amount apparently contributed by over 2 million members of this union to helping elect president Obama was about the same ($28 M, about $13 per union member) as what Karl Rove will spend in the first round of attack ads against the President in the next few months ($20 M, mostly from a tiny group of very wealthy donors – see lead article) and that is just the down payment – the election is, in political terms, light years away.

My friend and I closed our conversation: “I JUST DON’T LIKE ALL THESE PROTESTS, PERIOD“, my correspondent said, and that was our last contact about it.

I made a final comment:

I have been in lots of protests, though rarely with signs. They are part of freedom of speech, like units in parades in general are (watch your 4th of July parade this year, if you have one).

Going back to what started this particular conversation – the 13 signs at the [union] protests – I got to thinking of it in this way: Surely in [your town of about 2000] there must be one person you know (or know of) that the townspeople wish would just leave (hopefully it’s not you!) Most towns I’ve lived in I can think of such a ‘character’…

The way I think of those signs and the people who made and carried them is sort of similar to the above example: what if the symbol of [your town] became the town character.

Or, as importantly, what if that town character actually had a valid story that needed to be told – even if the townspeople didn’t like the story?

That’s how the ‘networking’ of these demonstrations goes. It is what demonstrations are covered, and what parts of the demonstrations are emphasized by the person(s) covering them.

We – all of us – are the “Government” we like, or despise.

There are facts in there somewhere. You aren’t going to get them from political attack ads this coming year.

It is work to get informed. But worth the effort.