I agree with you, but in the end we have to come to grips with the fact that it is the corporate mass media which fosters the effectiveness of the GOP attacks. I am not sure that they would also be a neutral carrier (and amplifier) for the Democratic side, should the Democrats find a spine.
the corporate mass media carried forward every perspective, every invective the GOP RWNM put out
the corporate mass media did not cover the real issues, how are people coping in this economy and with the Iraq war
the corporate mass media did not cover the widespread public dissatisfaction with Bush, it never has, dissent is not covered, if covered it is significantly downplayed
Stood for nothing, took all ten sides of an issue, attempted to blur the meaningful distinctions on foreign policy between himself and Bush, attempted to run both to the right and the left of Bush on Iraq: "I will run a more effective war", "I will negotiate with our allies and get them involved rather than act purely independently"
The successful primary season Kerry was a temporary Dean-imitation-clone, and the failed national candidate Kerry attempted to obscure real differences on policy with Bush, in particular on national defense issues
I think your analysis is very valuable, but the GOP strategy (raise the D's negatives, make them the issue) would never have worked in a nation where the mass media was doing its job, secondly, Strategically Kerry made many mistakes, as you partially allude to.
We have a number of factions contending at once to influence the outcome.
I agree the DLC bad mouths the grass roots candidates, worse yet, the Washington DC contingent echos the same sort of views as do in many cases, the state leadership if they do not have a commitment to another candidate and also it seems if they have some active dependency on the Washington leadership.
The media covers the issues if there is some interesting dirt to throw around about it, and they also do cover the issues to the extent that they attempt to weight the issues on the individual campaigns.
I believe you can track Dean's decline from the date of his appearance on a Chris Mathews show where he said that he would support breaking up the major media corporations.
So, all of these factions have a right to play their hand, but not to control the outcome, we have to balance their influence somehow.
I think the biggest negative influence is the mass media, which is anything but neutral on the candidates and their policies. So I don't see how changing the primary season lineup will change this particular fundimental factor - although I do not think non-representative states like Iowa and NH should go first alone without some other small state participating in that initial round.
We need an initial round of retail politics in small states, and the first round probably needs to be as regionally diverse as it can be made to be.
How about letting Alabama go first, that would get us a leading candidate with a sourthern drawl, likely a conservative, likely someone acceptable to the DLC, and someone who will play ball with the Washington DC "leadership" and who will cultrually be unlikely to buck the mass media, goes to church regularly, opposes "gay marriage", feels its ok to kill thousands, hundreds of thousands of sand monkeys in the name of US national security, approves of job - industry exports, doesn't think the right to vote is an urgent issue, etc.
I've got a new stratagy, since these DINOs vote for the Bush GOP agenda anway.
I'm not going to support any democrat with this sort of voting record. PERIOD.
I will vote Green even if the gop candidate is certain to win.
I am finished with this any democrat is better than the gop candidate, when they get into office they vote for the Bush GOP agenda anyway.
I'll vote for someone who represents my interests and the gop if they win will eventually hang themselves with the people on their own. Having DINOs support their aganda blurrs the difference into total obscurity between the parties. I am not going to go on like this anymore.
I think a lot of feel burned by the front loaded Iowa and NH primaries and tending to lock things in, so there may a back-lash to that, and many people may discount the results in a front-loaded primary season.
we should really discuss what is wrong with front loading in terms of it being a means of the party forcing the most mainstream compromise from the field and recent political mechanics showing that is probably a guaranteed losing strategy, but it will alway ultimatly come down to specific personalities.
If front loading and conservative leaning states are the preferred way to go, we should hold the first primary in Alabama, where we will also be guaranteed of getting a candidate acceptable to the south (another piece of BS CW).
I would never vote for or support Hillary Clinton as the presidental nominee and I will not support run of the mill "centrist" Bush-Enablers for any important post in the party.
This post is off topic but I'll respond briefly to yours.
This issue has been considered quite a bit in sociological tracts and in science fiction.
The problem is that as a society we know very well how to make things but we don't have a rational way to distribute them.
Our economic system tends to concentrate wealth and that is antithetical in operation to a mass manufacturing society where as you point out fewer and fewer people are needed over time to produce that wealth.
We already have more auto manufacturing capability around the world than can be distributed, and this is persistent because despite the facts those corporations have maintained their competitive investments, ultimately there will have to be consolidation, but then with more people un-employed sales will continue to fall.
Its also true that there is a business cycle that Karl Marx pointed out which causes endless booms and busts in manufacturing of commodities, the price of goods and labor follow the cycle but is never totally elastic (unlike GOP theory to the contrary).
We have relied on new technologies to pull us out each time from the previous depression, but the ability to do so depends on lots of things like the availability of investment capital and trained labor for the new technology.
Anyway, not a new problem, but not one to be dismissed from everyone's future concerns either.
Right now labor in North America and Europe is being played off labor in Asia and South America, by major corporations. The only people benefiting from this competition race to the bottom of the labor rate level are those at the top of the economic ladder.
But of course Bushco and Clinton told the people "free trade" will help them and will boost employment in the US, just a total fucking lie.
China and India can absorb every exportable North American and European job and still have surplus millions unemployed.
The trade deficit is out of control and so is the US budget deficit and with Bush's military adventures on behalf of major oil companies our current path is unsustainable.
The other common lie is that there is nothing that we can do about internaltional trade and development. We can do alot about it but it will never happen for the benefit of the average citizen when our political system is locked up by corporate bought and paid for political whores in both parties.
I will not vote for Feinstein on the basis of her votes these past several years.
She voted to authorize giving Bush the final sole determination over whether to attack Iraq, then she, like Kerry claimed that the policies and actions pursued by Bush under that authorization were troubling to her. As if she, unlike the rest of us, didn't have any real insight into the kind of policies and actions that Bush would undertake with that authorization.
She voted for the Bush tax cut, knowing what it would do to the average citizen in California.
She advocated for Condoleezza Rice, whom I believe is a serial liar, someone who repeatedly lied to congress and the American people.
On so many issues she votes for the Bush agenda then complains about it later.
In my view, she is one of the major enablers of the Bush agenda. If she didn't outright directly make it possible with her vote, in any event she made the Bush agenda seem acceptable in the minds of millions of Americans by her support of it.
I'll vote against her even if it means that we will end up with a GOP senator as a result.
I have had it with voting for DINOs. I vote for these so called democrats, they vote for the Bush agenda.
I am no longer willing to go along with that arrangement and I am finished with the "any body but some gop candidate strategy".
We end up with the GOP candidates in power anyway because these DINOs let them STEAL elections with impunity.
Because simply the GOP have better framed their entire agenda (even if every one is a Trojan horse for their real constituency - corporate America) and its so easy for them to say our agenda is nothing but tired old ideas, etc.
We are in the position of defending something - the infrastructure of the new deal. So we are the conservatives in that sense.
And we occupy the conservative mind - space on issues like the budget deficit and environmental conservation. They would say their environmental approach is "progressive" in the sense that it advances the economic interests of the American people, but in fact it only advances the interests of energy corporations.
So in very simple terms they are the party advocating change of some type while we are advocating adhering to existing relationships and structures.
We have however made widespread progress on terms like "corporatism" and we have been successful tagging them with being more concerned about the interests of corporations than the interests of average people.
The reason why this is not working for us at the ballot is that we no longer have a true mass media reaching average people which enlightens them about the damage the BushCo agenda is doing to the interests average American.
The existing mass media favors Bush and the GOP and they do not cover the downside and costs of the BushCo corporate agenda on the average person.
When the downside to any issue is mentioned, its always no one is too blame, it is as it must be.
Another reason we don't have more traction is that as a party our credibility on every issue is threatened by the DINO whores who go off the reservation on policy and messaging with impunity.
This is why we have to get rid of the DLC and punish DINOs who adhere to that ideology (fuck the working class / suck up to the corporate class).
The Clinton era is long gone, no one on the political scene who can make the "third way" work. And in fact many of Clinton's policies like favoring NAFTA (favoring job/industry exporting) have lost us the constituency we need to be a viable contendor in national races, that is Clinton's real legacy.
The GOP have the American corporate mass media and they can cover their lying and stealing while we can't get traction even when we can and do construct a frame for the issues which puts forward our more popular views.
I wanted to add that there would be two versions of the BUSH ENABLER INDEX; one for the actual vote record in congress and another rating these bastards on messaging, are they supporting and synchronizing their messages with Bush/GOP? If so then > BEI.
Demeaning the Poor and Disabled
Million Dollar Bigotry
By SCOTT RICHARD LYONS
Let February 27, 2005 be remembered as a key moment in the culture wars. It was on that glittery night that "liberal" Hollywood bestowed its most hallowed Oscar to "Million Dollar Baby," one of the most reactionary films since Ned Beatty squealed like a pig in "Deliverance."
The film is about a plucky female boxer named Maggie (Hillary Swank) who through hard work and sheer spunkiness leaps from trailer-park rags to Las Vegas boxing ring riches. Her meteoric rise to success is due in large part to the strict fatherly guidance of her tough-as-nails (but softie-on-the-inside) trainer, Frankie (Clint Eastwood). Relationships ensue. The final third of the film takes a tragic turn and here's the part where I give away the ending, so avert your eyes if you hate that--as Maggie suffers a paralyzing spinal cord injury and asks Frankie to kill her, which he does.
Directed by Eastwood, the film has been a critics' darling since its release. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won four of them, including Best Picture. Before that the film received scads of other critical awards, including top honors from the National Society of Film Critics. Robert Ebert called it a "masterpiece," and the New York Times' A.O. Scott flat out proclaimed it "the best movie released by a major Hollywood studio" last year.
Not bad for a flick that apparently took its title from an old Alice Cooper song.
But like most things in America these days, "Million Dollar Baby" wasn't immune to conservative criticism, and it quickly became controversial. Family values guru Michael Medved immediately assailed the film for what he called its "sympathetic treatment of assisted suicide," and Rush Limbaugh dittoed the point on his radio program. Debbie Schlussel accurately predicted an Oscar night win for the film, not because she thought it was good, but "because it's Hollywood's best political propaganda of the year." That is, "it supports killing the handicapped."
Ironically, conservatives found some rare support in the otherwise liberal disability rights community. In a public statement, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) condemned the film for the way it advanced "the offensive and dangerous message that death is preferable to life with a disability," a message echoed by the National Spinal Cord Injury Association and other groups.
Conservatives and disability rights people weren't united for long, however. Both were criticizing Hollywood but toward different ends. For the disabilities rights folks, critiques of the film led to considerations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (which Eastwood actively lobbed against before Congress in 2000). For the conservatives, the movie bled a trail straight to Roe v. Wade. In every other way, the film accords perfectly with conservative political agendas, so conservatives backed off.
I think the disability rights folks are right to talk about stereotypes. "Death before disability" is a strange message for Hollywood to send the same year Christopher Reeve passed away.
"And if you show your fat, lazy hillbilly ass around here, that's just what I'll do."
Further, the stereotypes were built on pure fiction. The film is riddled with medical inaccuracies. Why was Maggie in a nursing home instead of a medical rehab center? Why were those ulcers allowed to form on her limbs, leading to amputation--were the physical therapists on strike? How was Frankie able to walk right in to her room at night, do the deed, then walk away unscathed? Don't institutions have supervisors anymore, not to mention machine malfunction alarms?
The film also distorts legal reality. Under existing law it would have been perfectly legal for Maggie to request a withdrawal of her ventilator, which when combined with proper drug administration would have been a humane way to die. Medically speaking, what Frankie did to Maggie in the movie would be excruciatingly painful. And legally speaking it would have been murder. But at film's end Frankie just rides off into the sunset to eat his lemon pie. Where's the police investigation?
Reality is unnecessary because stereotype is the film's point. For DREDF, "death before disability" is nothing less than "the most central stereotype fueling disability prejudice." No other social group has to endure stereotypes to quite the same extent as people with disabilities. The public has cultivated certain sensitivities toward negative images of race, gender, and sexual orientation. But give moviegoers a suicidal quadriplegic, and they'll respond with a tearful standing ovation. And an Oscar. But probably not more wheelchair ramps.
That's not the only harmful stereotype in the film, however. There's another group kicked around in "Million Dollar Baby" that I haven't seen anyone rush to defend: namely, the stereotype of the white trash welfare queen and her Jerry Springer brood.
Maggie's southern family consists of an overweight and overbearing mama, a "loose" looking younger sister in tight pants with a dirty baby on her hip, and a greasy-haired redneck covered with frightening tattoos. Guess what? They sure do love their welfare.
When Maggie buys a house for her mother, Mama's initial response is to nag that her welfare might be cut. Later, when the family comes to visit Maggie at the nursing home, they don't care that she might never walk again, because they're too busy trying to hoodwink her out of her boxing earnings. Get it? Just like welfare fraud.
These two scenes the only in the movie featuring Maggie's family--bolster cruel images of poor southern whites, society's last remaining ethnic group who can be belittled with impunity. The message here is two-fold. First, white southern trailer-trash types are worthless human beings. And second, given the chance they will rob you blind. Probably best to cut their welfare.
To drive that point home, in a moment of cinematic rapture Maggie finally stands up to Mama: "You never signed those papers like you were supposed to because you were worried about losing your welfare. I can still sell that house right out from under you. And if you show your fat, lazy hillbilly ass around here, that's just what I'll do."
Fat, lazy hillbillies: what a convenient argument against welfare during an age of insurgent conservativism.
If "Million Dollar Baby" is "Hollywood's best political propaganda of the year," it's certainly not the liberal sort we always hear so much about. Far from it, with its flagrant stereotypes of the poor and the disabled and its euthanizing "solutions" for both it reflects a worldview that is darker and more dehumanizing than anything we've seen for some time. Naturally, in today's political climate it gets Best Picture.
Scott Richard Lyons is Assistant Professor of Writing and Rhetoric at Syracuse University, where he also teaches Native American Studies. He can be reached at: email@example.com
"If I had been the director, I wouldn't have ended it the way Clint did. But that's what you get from a guy who lobbied against the Americans with Disabilities Act."