During a recent appearance on Pacifica radio’s Democracy Now!, former Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold openly criticized President Barack Obama’s decision to accept campaign contributions from Super PACs. Feingold succinctly characterized the president’s reversal on taking Super PAC money: “It’s not just bad policy. It’s also dumb strategy."
Feingold’s point is well taken. Obama’s acceptance of Super PAC contributions flies in the face of his stated opposition to the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision – a ruling that opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate campaign contributions. This reversal may come back to haunt the president, especially as he and the Democrats attempt to capitalize on the popular discontent articulated by the Occupy movement.
This time of year, entertainment awards dominate the news cycle. From last month’s Golden Globes, Screen Actors and Directors Guild Awards to Sunday evening’s telecast of the 54th Grammy Awards, it’s all celebrities all the time. Then there’s Oscar’s big night on February 26th. Between all of the excitement and anticipation of award season, is it any wonder that US news workers have neglected a few important stories?
For readers weary of snarky comments from the Red Carpet fashion police, or otherwise bored to tears by George Clooney’s PR blitz for that elusive Best Actor Award, the Bloomington Alternative presents the Award Season edition of the annals of censorship.
Truth be told, I was only half listening to President Obama’s State of the Union (SOTU) address the other night. The once soaring rhetoric rings hollow these days. Not that I wasn’t skeptical of Mr. Hope-y Change-y from the get-go.
Even fervent Obama supporters are disappointed with the president’s inability – make that his unwillingness – to take on the moneyed interests that have colonized our politics and wrecked the economy. And Obama’s paean to militarism that bookended the SOTU makes it clear that the 2009 Noble Peace Prize winner has cast his lot with American Empire.
The news media is full of it these days. The Republican presidential primaries, that is. But thanks to the short attention span of most news organizations, by the time you read this, the New Hampshire primary will be a distant memory, the Iowa caucuses ancient history. So it’s on to South Carolina, for yet another show business extravaganza masquerading as democratic politics.
A bottomless schedule of television debates interrupted only by an endless stream of spin and speculation ought to satisfy even the most avid political junkie. It’s news workers themselves who can’t get enough of this stuff. At times, it seems the entire U.S. press corps is suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder.
"The Protester" is Time magazine's person of the year. Featuring a fierce-looking, veiled figure peering back at the reader, Time's front-cover image succinctly captures the uprisings and social upheavals that made history in 2011. As the saying goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words."
Nonetheless, we shouldn't forget the slogans, catchphrases and epithets that made headlines this year. After all, whatever comes of the Occupy movement, the mantra of the politically and economically disenfranchised - "We are the 99%" - has dramatically altered American political discourse as we plunge headlong into the 2012 presidential race.
Scandal, gridlock, high crimes and misdemeanors. In this season of journalistic outrage, political stalemate and record-shattering heat waves, it’s tough to keep your cool. Tougher still if you are in the hot seat – unless of course you’re fortunate enough to occupy a position of power and authority. In which case, you might just as well settle in for a bit of kabuki theater and go about your business.
Seems the more precarious vital social, political and economic institutions become, the less accountable they are to the general public. Or maybe it’s the other way around. In any event, if you’re scoring at home, here’s the latest accountability index.
I don’t Tweet. And I don’t plan to open a Twitter account anytime soon. The phrase “when hell freezes over” comes to mind.
Nevertheless, when President Barack Obama hosted a Twitter Town Hall this past week, I’ll admit I was a little curious. The phrase “curiosity killed the cat” comes to mind.
There’s plenty of news these days -- gas prices are down, the Republican presidential field is shaping up, and U.S. troops will soon be leaving Afghanistan. But despite all the political and media spin to the contrary, there’s not much good news in any of this.
While we can all breathe a little easier now that Anthony Weiner has lost his texting privileges, every silver lining has a dark cloud. Here are a few stories behind the news stories making headlines this summer.
Some years ago, at a tequila-infused gathering in Boston, an acquaintance recommended I read Don DeLillo's 1985 satire, White Noise. In the intervening years, a number of friends and colleagues have made the same suggestion. Given the novel's setting -- a bucolic but altogether dysfunctional liberal arts college in the American Midwest -- and its jaundiced view of media and technology, I was assured the book would have personal and professional resonance for me. It sure does.
Reading White Noise this summer has been nothing short of revelatory. DeLillo's critique of the dehumanizing effects of mass culture and post-industrial society is chilling, as it is prescient. It's also laugh-out-loud funny. Writing in those halcyon days before e-mail, personalized ringtones and salacious Twitter posts, DeLillo describes the unraveling of the nuclear family, if not the whole of American civilization, on the altar of conspicuous consumption.
Change is in the air. Some of this is welcome change: the grassroots democracy movement across the Middle East and North Africa comes to mind. As does the worker uprising in Madison, Wis., and cities and towns across these United States.
More often than not, however, this change has been catastrophic. Weather-related disasters of historic proportions are wreaking havoc on the people and the land across the American South. Overseas, the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant continues to threaten public health and safety in northeast Japan and beyond.