Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The April fool is you

democrats good, big oil bad. now run along...

ok, in a nod towards thoroughness, the above links are here:

"Clinton n' Obama shake their fingers at oil guys"
Senators Clinton and Obama care(a lot), and they're angry, and they're not afraid who knows it. When HRC voted for the Iraq war resolution in 2002, undoubtedly it had nothing to do with oil, any more than her subsequent unwillingness to defund the war or commit to ending the war in the next four years. Of course Obama has also demonstrated an unwillingness to defund the war or commit to getting out by 2012, but that's different-- he had the guts to oppose the war as a state legislator. Then, when he was running for the US Senate in 2004 and was invited to speak to the democratic convention that summer, he had a chance to reiterate his stance on the war before a national audience-- but he recognized that might embarrass the headliner, old for-it-before-he-was agin' it John Kerry, and decided not to. (I guess that's different too.)

But with the "off the books" financing of the Iraq debacle-- and the utter unwillingness of Obama and Hillary Clinton to publicly draw the connection between the war,the weakening dollar, and the ever-upward spiraling of dollar-denominated oil prices, I question whether the democrats represent a substantially more sober answer.(yeah, you care-- but who cares?)

I'm sure John McCain cares a lot too, but his nomination is nicely sewn up, so it's not so pressing for him to be so demonstrative this early.

I don't know when I first watched a tv report about congress calling executives in front of them to scold them and beat their chests in righteously populist fashion for the cameras. When I was 11? 12? I used to love watching the news when I was a kid, and although I don't remember for certain, I imagine I took these sorts of dog-and-pony shows at face value when I was a kid and I watched the CBS morning news with Hughes Rudd before going to school.

That was such a long time ago, and although I remember the news in the late 70s being less mediocre, journalistically speaking, than today's focus-grouped soft-edge presentations, I also wonder if that's just the natural consequence of a middle-aged man romanticizing something from his youth at the expense of the present. I DO remember that news about celebrities wasn't a big deal in those days, as well as Rudd's wizened, subtly sarcastic manner. CNN's Jack Cafferty is the closest thing on TV news to a similar sensibility, and he seems like something of an artifact, what with CNN having gone (fairly precipitously) downhill in the past eight to ten years, especially after Lynn Russell left(I often think that maybe she saw the writing on the wall and decided she didn't want to be part of the crappy new order.).

Was the news coverage better? In spite of today's 24 hour news channels, I'm inclined to think so. Does that mean that better news coverage makes for more sensible, skeptical citizens-- in other words, were people smarter back then? Well, they did foist Ronald Reagan on us in November of 1980, the start of our modern age of the unraveling social compact, but the Ayatollah had our hostages, and there was that botched rescue mission, etc. Besides, how were they to know Reaganism would have such far-reaching effects?

When I watch the news, especially when the reporter cherry picks one or two presumptively representative man in the street interviews, I wonder about whether or not people are dumber as a consequence of post-deregulation Potemkin village news. And of course, there's also the pressure of Reagan-style federal tax cuts, shifting spending to the states, which consequently spent less on education. I don't know how you'd objectively factor in the effect of the more extreme religious fundamentalists, who insist that science may not offend when kids come home with tales of degenerate relativism, etc.

(The fact that, in spite of how outrageously the domestic media has sucked up to Junior and protected him from our knowing more about the conduct of the war, the war and the president are still as unpopular as they are, suggests holding out some modest hope that our collective intellect still has some functioning grey matter.)

What I do know is, selective man in the street interviews and stories asking "what would you ask Big Oil" notwithstanding, certain questions wont get asked, on tv, or even in print(and in print online) . How about a story asking

"are the congressmen just covering for their own failures in trotting out the oil executives?" or
"When congress scolds big business on tv, does anything get done as a consequence?"

(The silence is part of the disinformation-- so when you have such thoughts, if you do, you are more likely to dismiss them, maybe out fear that you might be a crank, or seem like one to others.)

Or, "should we spend more on public transportation?"

Or, "do you think we should bring back the 55 mph speed limit to reduce oil consumption?"

Of course, the lawmakers could just do that without putting on a show. I'd favor a 100 kph(@61 mph) national speed limit, and maybe by getting people to learn the conversion they'd start using their noggins too.

Now, I don't believe the lawmakers mean to do any of those things-- they're boring and don't involve an immediate or certain political reward. So I'm inclined to think today's event on capitol hill may have been scheduled for April first by persons with a sense of humor, albeit humor that involves laughing at you and me.

see also, Christian Science Monitor: "With gas costly, drivers finally cut back:
A decline in miles driven is the first since 1980"


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