Tuesday, March 20, 2012

(No.191) CNN: 'the Communist News Network'?

"CNN: 'the Communist News Network'? "

by Alastair Rickard

In my previous column on RickardsRead.com, "Cruising with Fox News" (posted March 11, 2012), I wrote about the widening political gap in the U.S., one promoted by major elements of the media, most prominently by the cable news networks Fox News and MSNBC.

I received a number of interesting responses to the column from readers in the U.S. and Canada. I will quote from several of them and then conclude with a few additional comments of my own.

A Canadian businessman who is often in the U.S. wrote that "your observations are all too accurate. What a sad state of affairs. My 'insight' on this fractured view of American political reality was having a middle-aged American woman advise me that CNN [i.e., Cable News Network] was the communist news network. The American political divide is not just a chasm, it is a very deep and broad canyon."

Another Canadian, a journalist, said of the column: "This is bang-on! As it is I cringe slightly whenever I cross the border" while another Canadian currently vacationing in the U.S. wrote to say that he thought the column was a "great read. I am still in Florida and bombarded by media nonsense. The election is Obama's to lose in my opinion. The GOP seem to have simply gone crazy."

An American university professor emailed that "you've hit the nail on the head. We are seeing pure propaganda masquerading as news in the U.S. and it is rapidly undermining the society. Unfortunately there seems to be a large section of the population that laps it up, judging from the stupid and untrue accusations against President Obama contained in emails I receive daily from 'educated' friends. All they would have to do to learn that the accusations are false is visit one or more of the 'fact check' sites found on the web (e.g., Snopes). However, like school children who can't wait to pass on gossip, they blindly, gleefully, and automatically forward the message, thus undermining their claim to a modicum of intelligence or education."

This correspondent concluded that "my students parrot the swill they hear from their parents (thus contradicting the view that kids don't learn anything at home), and my only hope is that I can help them to think critically. If we can't expose this crap for what it is, we could see a very nasty turn. ... Keep on writing it as it is!"

A New Yorker wrote to say that "I enjoyed your last posting re Fox and MSNBC. As usual right on the mark. .... The problem with economic experiments is that unlike scientific experiments, they cannot be replicated. So, for example, bailing out GM and Chrysler was an experiment (that) seems to have produced a positive result. But it cannot be replicated. ... At dinner last night a good friend defined a debate between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich as the Mormons vs the Polygamists."

Another Canadian related in his email that "I've been in Orange County, California for over a month now and I can tell you our American friends do not like paying taxes. If, and it is a huge if, a national sales tax of only 1% was implemented, the U.S. would be deficit free in only 36 months. ...

"There is no state that proves your thesis more than California. There is an initiative in the state legislature currently that appears to be like the Gordian knot. The citizens, by way of their famous propositions, voted to have increased educational services, which they can ill afford. The problem: they will not support the tax increases to pay for what they voted for on the proposition. Governor Brown was quoted in the L.A. Times this a.m.: 'the citizens of California are at war with the citizens of California, a war which neither side can win' ."

In response to these correspondents as well as others who wrote in response to RickardsRead.com column No.190, I offer a few more thoughts of my own on the subject.

The tax cuts that originated with President Bush and the Republicans, the ones the congressional GOP dearly wish to preserve, were unwise and are unsustainable and are entirely incompatible with the services which the great majority of of American voters wish their government to provide. Somehow, some time a majority of American voters must, if economic disaster is to be avoided, face up to the prospect of actually paying the taxes required to sustain the government services a majority of voters wish to continue to receive.

Unlike the Tea Partiers and political simpletons and cynics who currently seem to dominate so much of political discussion in the U.S., such as it is, reality will sooner or later confront American voters: reduction in government spending as the solution to the critical government deficit problem is nonsense unless coupled with a substantial increase in tax revenue. That reality is not altered by the fact that this 'expense reduction only' solecism appears to have been embraced by an alarming number of Americans, egged on nightly by Fox News and other boils on the American body politic.

A significant proportion of the American electorate seem to reside in a political fantasy land, one nourished by the misrepresentations and distortions of too much of the media and too many of the politicians. Should one be somewhat optimistic about more members of this group starting to vote their own best interests, something many of them failed so conspicuously to do in the two elections won by George W. Bush as well as in the 2010 congressional elections?

Dare one hope that enough Americans can be persuaded not to be indifferent to their own best interests, something from which they have been routinely distracted at election time by a smokescreen of politically divisive 'social issues' ?

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email: Alastair.Rickard@sympatico.com

blog: www.RickardsRead.com

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