America’s Two Party System: The Marketing Party and The Product Party

Co-written with James Boyce, first published at Huffington Post.
We do have a two-party system in America: The Product Party and The Marketing Party. We have one party that spends its energy and its resources creating a product that will improve the lives of its supporters, and then we have a second party, one that invests its energy and its resources managing perception.
One party offers substance but without the sizzle, and one is so incredibly adept at selling that it can charm you into supporting an agenda that helps only those who don’t need it, and actually hurts you and your family.
By mastering the management of perception and with an utter disregard for facts and reality, the Marketing Party’s agenda and vision gets implemented – despite its horrendous consequences for the country, and the world. It has never been worse than it is now. The chasm between their vision, its consequences and the lifestyle and security of the average American is mind-boggling.
Do not underestimate the power of marketing. With enough money, a good campaign and some time, you really can make people think and do almost anything. Exactly why do you think Coke and Pepsi outsell all the other brands – because their sugar water is vastly superior to others? Exactly why do you think one brand of shampoo is “premium” and another is $5 a gallon – is it because they have different ingredients? No, it is because marketing works, especially on a public increasingly trained to respond.

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Clowns

I know it’s election night, but look what these clowns did. The White House doctored the Mission Accomplished speech video so it doesn’t show the Mission Accomplished sign anymore!
Clowns.
PS Here’s the White House page. Click “View.”

Do More Than Vote

I want to tell you about an organization Do More Than Vote, show you their great video and ask you to help spread the word.
Watch the video, spread the word.

There is a KOS Diary about them at Daily Kos: A Tool to Help Rally the Troops, and here’s what they sent me:

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Why Bush Policies Are The Way They Are

If you are wondering why Bush sounds SO far, far right lately – things like his new war against Islam (“Islamofascists“) theme – it’s because of who he is spending time with.
Yes, it is that bad.
Update – OK, yes, I was being too insider there, and need to explain for those not familiar with Power Line. Power Line is a far, far right-wing weblog. This is the Democrats-are-terrorists-who -must-be-executed-for-treason and immediately-nuke-Iran crowd. Power Line has a big picture of Ann Coulter – in an ad from Scaife’s NewsMax – on its front page right now.
On Monday Power Line quoted a recent column calling Democrats “covert enemies … in our midst” and went on to write that Democrats and liberals are,

a segment of our society that wields great power and wishes its own country great ill. I would only add that these liberals want us to lose, not just in some small corner, but with their whole hearts; in fact, our defeat is the only thing they whole-heartedly work for.

That was Monday. On Tuesday the person who wrote that was getting a personal tour of the Oval Office from President Bush.
The news that Bush is spending time with (i.e. endorsing and validating) the far-right webloggers is very, very distressing to say the least.

Bush’s Buddies Chant “Death To America”

Iraqis March, Chanting ‘Death To Israel, America’,

Tens of thousands of Shiites thronged a Baghdad slum Friday to show support for Hezbollah as Arab anger toward Israel mounted on the Muslim holy day. Such protests have even reached Saudi Arabia, where public discontent is rare.
…Demonstrators wearing white shrouds symbolizing willingness to die for Hezbollah waved the guerrillas’ banner and chanted slogans in support of their leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah.
“Allah, Allah, give victory to Hassan Nasrallah,” the crowd chanted before burning Israeli and American flags.

Will the Republicans pass a law against going to war to put into power people who burn American flags?
For those of you who, like President Bush, don’t know about Shiites and Sunnis, Iran is Shiite. Iraq has a Shiite majority that was controlled by Baathist Party Sunnis until we invaded. Now the Shite majority in Iraq has come to support Hizbullah against Israel. Iran is a major backer of Hizbullah, and is gaining influence with the Shiite Iraqis. Iraq’s Shiite Grand Ayatollah Sistani, even though he is independent from Iran and does not want Iraq run by Iran, has sided with Hizbullah over Israel and previously had publicly forbidden America from attacking Iran AND has said that he would consider an Israeli attack to be an attack by America. And of course the more militant pro-Iran Muqtada al Sadr’s position is even more hostile to us.

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Signals Sent

Newspaper Clients, and Syndicate, Stick With Coulter,

Ann Coulter hasn’t lost any of her 100-plus newspaper clients, or the support of her syndicate, Universal Press Syndicate, despite her nasty remarks in her new book about 9/11 widows and her comment in an online interview implying that, perhaps, U.S. Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) should be “fragged.”
A Universal spokesman said there were no discussions going on there about dropping the columnist.
[. . .] Editors, she pointed out, have chosen not to run certain “Doonesbury” or “Boondocks” cartoons, which come from the liberal side of the spectrum. Asked if any paper had ever decided not to run a conservative column or cartoon, she said, “If it’s happened, we don’t know about it.”
[. . .] The Universal columnist has also “joked” about killing other people, including Arabs, Muslims, and U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, and suggested that blowing up The New York Times building might be a good idea, especially if the reporters and editors were still inside.

Even though parts of her recent book were plagiarized. And she continues to appear on network television. The very media people she talks about killing put her in front of a national audeince!
A while back, in the post Juan Cole denied position at Yale for criticizing Bush, Ashleigh Banfield fired from MSNBC for criticizing one-sided media coverage, I wrote,

Suppose you want a career in media, want to rise up, want to buy (or keep) a house and car, have health insurance etc., how does your brain digest this news?

Not just media, but people understand that MANY careers at this point depend on not letting on that you oppose the Republican machine. The signals are sent.
Watch your backs.
Update – I neglected to point out that NBC, the network that fired Ashleigh Banfield for criticizing media one-sidedness, refuses to say they will keep Coulter off the air, even after she called for killing a US Congressman, and members of the media.

Just In Time For The Fall Elections

Raw Story reports that President Bush and British Prime Minister Blair are set to make a joint announcement of a ‘phased withdrawal’ from Iraq.

The process has already been carefully choreographed in an attempt to bolster the popularity of both Bush and Blair who have suffered domestically for their handling of the war.
The scope of the phased withdrawal, which will see the 133,000 US force levels cut to around 100,000 by the end of the year and British numbers almost halved, has already been agreed, one senior defence source said.
… It will be described as a “transition” to Iraqi security forces taking control of the country rather than a withdrawal to avoid it looking as though the allies are being forced out by rising levels of attacks on their forces.
The Americans have already lost more than 120 servicemen in the past six weeks, making it one of the worst periods for casualties since last autumn.

Just in time to make it appear that Iraq should not be an election issue.

“Ties To Terrorists” — Invade or Do Business Deal?

I want to make a comment on the “UAE port deal” controversy. We invaded Iraq based on less evidence of al Queda and other terrorist ties than there is of UAE ties. Yet, the Bush crowd insists that we have nothing to worry about from handing control of our ports over to the UAE.
Let me make this clear: I am NOT saying that UAE is a terrorist state, or even a terrorist-supporting state, I am pointing out the fear-mongering nonsense that Bush and the right spew for the lying, fear-mongering manipulative propaganda nonsense it is. The Bush crowd has spent four years whipping Americans into a state of absolute fear and paranoia over anything to do with Islam, Arabs, etc. Now they reap what they have sown.
According to the Bush/right-wing narrative, the invasion of Iraq was justified because Iraqi “had ties” to al Queda hijackers many years before 9/11. For example,

President Bush yesterday defended his assertions that there was a relationship between Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda, putting him at odds with this week’s finding of the bipartisan Sept. 11 commission.
“The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda: because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda,” Bush said after a Cabinet meeting. As evidence, he cited Iraqi intelligence officers’ meeting with bin Laden in Sudan. “There’s numerous contacts between the two,” Bush said.

See also here, here, here, here
Meanwhile,

President George W. Bush calls the nation behind the port-security controversy a trusted ally, but the Sept. 11 commission offers another take – saying the CIA believed top United Arab Emirates officials had cozy relations with Osama bin Laden before 9/11.
The United States even believed it had a lead on bin Laden two years before the attacks but passed up on an air strike to kill him.
The reason: fears of taking out UAE princes or other senior officials believed to be hosting bin Laden at a remote hunting camp in Afghanistan, the commission’s report said.

Which is it going to be, George? Do “ties to terrorists” mean we invade, or don’t they matter? Or, maybe that wasn’t it at all — maybe there were other reasons we invaded Iraq — reasons that you haven’t shared with us? Was “ties to terrorism” just a cover-story? Your reasoning sure doesn’t mean much when you want to do a business deal with UAE.

Now Bush Calls Republicans Traitors


The outcry from Republicans over Bush’s allowing the transfer of control of our ports to a company controlled by the government of the UAE has provoked the traditional Bush response — he sent out people to call them traitors:

“If the furor over the port deal should go on, Mr. England said, it would give enemies of the United States aid and comfort: ‘They want us to become distrustful, they want us to become paranoid and isolationist.

Matt Stoller at MyDD, Dissenting Redstaters: Bush Thinks You’re Traitors,

I really hope that principled conservatives start to realize that there is a very unconservative set of threats coming from this administration, and that staying silent about this very unAmerican intimidation by the government is not conservative in the least.

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Clipper Chip

The right is trying a variation of “Clinton did it” to divert from the NSA illegal wiretapping scandal. In a coordinated effort, they are trying to use the Clinton administration Clipper Chip proposal to justify Bush’s illegal, warrantless NSA spying on Americans, so it’s a good time to catch up on what the Clipper Chip was.
The Clipper Chip was an attempt by the Clinton Administration to bring encryption into wide use. Encryption is eletronically scrambling e-mail messages and phone calls so no one can eavesdrop. The communications are scrambled on one end and descrambled on the other, so in between anyone who taps in only sees or hears scrambled gibberish. The Clipper Chip would be installed in phones and computers.
It is important to understand that right now anyone can listen in on any call or e-mail that is not encrypted. Currently you have to be quite knowledgable and go to some trouble if you want your calls and e-mails encrypted. If you don’t know what I am talking about, you can be sure that your calls and e-mails are not encrypted and anyone can listen in.
So, keeping in mind that Bush has ordered the NSA to listen in on calls and e-mails, and that Clipper was an effort to get calls and e-mails scrambled so no one could listen in, here is what the right-wingers are saying about it now:

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Covert Domestic Propaganda

I’m watching the NSA spying hearings. Senator Feinstein just asked Attorney General Gonzales if the President has authorized the use of covert domestic propaganda intended to influence domestic politics. Gonzales refused to answer. Said he is not comfortable answering that. Then he went on to say that the President has inherent constitutional authority…

“Can the President suspend in secret or otherwise the application of section 503 of the national security act which states that no covert action may be conducted with is intended to influence United State political processes, public opinion, policies or media. In other words can he engage in otherwise illegal propaganda.”

Iran

I don’t know if Iran is developing nuclear weapons. I don’t know how far they are from doing so if they ARE developing nukes. And I can’t trust the current government of the country to tell the truth on such matters – especialy with an election coming in November. Four years ago they used war fear to blatantly manipulate the election.
In my opinion, if Iran IS developing nuclear weapons, and is close to capability, it is a very serious threat to millions of lives directly and to overall world peace indirectly. But this was also the case if Iraq was developing nukes — and it turned out that they weren’t, that it was all just a lie.
If Iran Really Is A Threat … there is an way for Bush to do something about it that everyone will accept and respect. Go read what that is.