Monday, October 1, 2012

Occupy the Debates

I know you're all champing at the bit in anticipation of Debate Night this week. How many pre-approved fake spontaneous retorts will erupt from the mealy mouth of Mitt? Just how carefully is Barack Obama being trained to suppress his million-dollar grin as a charm-offensive prelude to every non-answer to every softball question?

Since the trio of presidential Q&As (they're not really debates at all) are privately planned and funded by the exclusive Commission on Presidential Debates, only the two apparatchiks of the Duopoly will be allowed to participate. There will be no Jill Stein, Rocky Anderson, Virgil Goode and Gary Johnson in attendance to rock the leaky ship of state. It's unlikely that the questions most people have on their minds will even be asked.

So to give you the illusion of a participatory democracy, Occupy the has a website that does allow you to ask those questions and generally kvetch. You can take a survey about pressing issues. Find out how you can get on Mutiny Radio to rebut the buttheads. There truly are ways to cope with the blatherfests other than drinking and doping and tuning out. It cannot be merely coincidence that our friendly DEA designated this past Saturday as "Get Rid of Your Prescription Drugs Day". As Molly Ivins so wisely said, satire is a deadly weapon when used against those in power.

The League of Women Voters, you may remember, used to run the presidential debates. But that all ended during the 1988 Bush I-Dukakis race, in which those particular duopolists reached a "gentleman's agreement" to throw democracy out the window. They demanded control over the stenographers asking the questions and the height of podiums as well as a new rule making it impossible for third party candidates to share the stage. The League refused to go along and thus was born the corporate Commissariat on Presidential Debates.(CPD)

To give you an idea of how contrived Debate Theatre is, the New York Times ran a puff piece in its Sunday Review section profiling the CPD's executive director, DC socialite Janet Brown. As the candidates over-prepare for their roles in the optical illusion, Ms. Brown is concentrating solely on the optics:

Lately it’s mostly debate set diagrams, which are more like architectural renderings than anything else. They describe the sets, where the candidates are positioned, where the moderator sits, where the eight cameras are placed. They are very detailed and specific in terms of dimensions, the lighting grid and camera placement for exact coverage and clarity of the candidates.

We also get the earthshaking scoop that Janet Brown adores Marvin Hamlisch tunes (she and hubby Michael Brewer, former Harvard VP, former Wall Street executive, venture capitalist, president of the National Symphony Orchestra, knew him personally!) and eating littleneck clams and Oreo milkshakes, but not together. The Times kindly provides us with a link to the restaurant where the elites get their eats.

And that's about all we unwashed masses apparently need to know, as far as The Times is concerned. But my further research reveals that Janet Brown's Washington socialite mother was the model for a Jeffrey Archer novel. She was not only a member of Nelson Rockefeller's inner circle, she became even more fabulously wealthy marketing a product that resulted from the experimental dipping of her brittle manicured fingers into a concoction of preserved fruit. Those maligned nails ladies made famous by a snobbish attendee at a Romney Hamptons fundraiser could very well be using product invented by the ancestress of the directress of Presidential Propaganda Theatre, Inc.!

Still hoping there will be a lively discussion on the class war and the evils of free market capitalism Wednesday night, or any night? Think again. Just keep track of all the "My Name is Beavis and I'm An Energy Voter" pro-fracking/drilling ads paying for the propaganda, and you'll soon get the drift... the drift to the Far Right. The only cliff we have to fear is the the make-believe cliff where all hope teeters and tumbles down to oblivion.

** Update: The CPD is still mum on the exact terms of the contract Rombama hammered out to ensure each side looks good and remains protected from all scrutiny. A few advertisers have even decided to boycott the event in protest of its anti-democracy format.


Charles D said...

Yes, we can kvetch - to others who agree with us since no one else will notice - but there ain't going to be any change in the debates. I kinda hate to see people waste time and energy on anything involving this Presidential election since it is total charade. Of course, it's hard to think of any productive use for our time and energy that would produce real change in the country.

spreadoption said...

I'm with Charles D. I won't be watching the deceivingly-named debates at all; the mere thought of it literally turns my stomach and ain't good for my blood pressure.

But it's Charles' last sentence that needs to grab our attention, it seems to me. "Of course, it's hard to think of any productive use for our time and energy that would produce real change in the country."

Granted, evolutionary, century-long effort can yield profound change, but in 100 years we'll all be dead. I mean that figuratively. Only the 1% inheritors will thrive.

A sense of urgency is needed, but to do what, exactly? Let's start with a Constitutional amendment, we say, but even the most devoted proponents of that idea admit it's a long, difficult process, at best. In our current and continuing political climate, all the more so. And even if achieved some distant day, it's only a starting point.

Then we need a revolution in the streets, Occupy on steroids, we say. Most of us here remember Kent State; I view that as merely the first rehearsal for the full show, opening as soon as needed.

Well, then, we just need to talk to people and keep pushing the truth and eventually they'll wake up to how our government is destroying us. Ya really think they will? But, as far as I can tell, that's all we've got.

Okay, so we'll have to leave it to the younger people to fix. Through observation and personal communication I see the good ones as mostly apolitical, heads-down in their digital realm, each working as best they can to survive, with only hope to assist them. The rest are in the Young Republicans Club.

Revolution? Hah! Evolution? Too late. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.

And to think that a dear friend used to call me "pathologically positive!"

Bonnie said...

In your Blog Roll, the site "This Can't Be Happening" has a better idea about 3rd party debates - they want RT-TV to have the 3rd party candidates speak right after Obama/Romney. They urge you to e-mail and ask them to do it.

I did (even though I don't own a TV!).

Denis Neville said...

"More people will be watching the debate Wednesday night than all those who have seen theater plays in the last forty years."


“They're upset by the seasons of our economy.”

“All will be well in the garden.” - Baritt Obamney

“One of the most refreshing and optimistic statements we've heard in a very, very long time.”

There is an alternative:

Democracy Now will air the Obama-Romney debate [sic]. However, there will be a pause after Obama’s and Romney’s answers to Jim Lehrer’s questions to include equal time responses from Jill Stein of the Green Party and Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party, both of whom were shut out of the official debate.

“But, I like to watch.”

It will be unlike the televised debate. One will be able to see much further.

The Black Swan said...

I'm with spreadadoption on this one. Any solution through our political system is impossible. The length of time necessary for reform opens it up to too much interference.

I am part of the younger generation, and well... we are mostly apathetic. We have been sold the biggest propaganda campaign in World history and for the most part have all bought in. Another big thing is fear. My generation was brought up right in the tail end of the Middle Class peak. We have seen a golden world and we want it. No one wants to accept that this will not happen. We will not have the lives our parents had and provided for us. There is a deep subconscious fear that keeps us all toeing the line or immersed in techno-pop culture.

I also don't foresee some mass awakening brought on by sending news articles to friends/family or engaging them in serious discussion. I've been trying this for years. People don't want to know that 1) the world is going to shit 2) the gov't is not on their side 3) capitalism has an endgame of extinction 4) survival requires hard work beyond anything we have seen before in human history. Who wants to admit that the end of times is near?

Human survival is going to require long term planning. It is what survives the collapse of capitalism that will decide the future of life on this planet. If we want to be a part of that we need to start planning on how to survive the inevitable collapse. Those that dissapear into the fringes of the earth to live off the land will be lost to history. Those that build strong communities, with deep ties to the biosphere will create the future.

Valerie said...

Yes! Denis is right! DO watch the debates through the Democracy Now website and hear what Rocky Anderson and Jill Stein have to say. Both parties, operating under the auspices of the plutocracy, have worked to keep Third Party candidates from getting on the ballot and out of the discussion. Why? Because Third Party candidates will bring up the real issues - the ones the American people are REALLY concerned about - the issues neither party will address because there is no difference.

Just in case you haven't seen this link from a short Democracy Now interview with Rocky Anderson here it is:

James F Traynor said...

Yep. Black Swan has pretty much said it. It's all coming down to a science fiction scenario and a not very good one.

Pearl said...

I think the only answer is to get a Republican president and a progressive
democratic Congress and let the revolution begin! But it would be more
likely in reality to get a Republican President and Republican Congress
which might also start a revolution .Regardless, I think it is time to start
manufacturing guillotines.

d12345 said...

I know we are all speculating on events so vast that there is no way to really know what x or y will bring.

But I feel compelled to express my resistance to the idea that a turn to the right will inspire some great uprising.

In my understanding of modern history....ultra right, hyper repressive regimes last for a long time and do damage which is beyond the imagination (Pinochet ....)

Neil Gillespie said...

@Pearl, re: revolution

Okay, what comes after the revolution?

That is the question for which no one seems to have an answer, including me.

Pearl said...

Neil: What comes after the revolution depends on who is fighting in this revolution and for what specific aims, how the rest of the population responds, what people recognize the purpose of the revolution is, how educated they are to the realities and facts and how much they are willing to give up for its success. There are no guarantees except that something will and must change. If the status quo is beyond repair and unacceptable to the majority of citizens, chances of a constructive and successful revolution are better.

Of course, as in the example of the Arab spring, several of the above steps have occurred but the counterattacks can and may undermine the original purpose. Whether continued pressure for constructive results will and can occur, depends on many variables. And in the long run whether it was a better choice to revolt remains to be seen while not doing anything is a definite sign of defeat.

The Russian Revolution to overturn the Tsarist regimes might have been successful if the original purposes of Communism to give voice to the people`s needs had not been corrupted by leaders infected with the Wall Street virus.

I believe the French Revolution did succeed in many areas, but the conditions of the people at that time were far worse than anything we are seeing in the U.S. Perhaps it will have to get to the bottom of the barrel for something to truly explode here in a constructive direction which is a real possibility before too long. Meanwhile we have to keep knowledgably armed to be able to make important decisions when we can.

I cannot forget how an opportunity for a simple but vital bit of legislation involving health care for everyone, involving government involvement succeeded here in Canada. A fortunate combination of aggressive fighters, good timing, and real need came together but could just as narrowly been missed.

The U.S. has some great potential leaders available, champing at the bit, according to the endless e-mails from the various progressive groups being organized. If they are given support by financial means, personal support, media exposure, great things have a chance of happening.

I hope what I believe is making sense to others who are looking for answers. There are no guarantees but history has many lessons to teach us pro and con. It a great loss that the passion and aims of the civil rights movement have been sidetracked by the Obama administration with confusing and conflicting statements that have dulled that momentum and which is one main reason I have no respect for any of the current democratic leadership.