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Hillary Scores, Obama Fumbles and Kucinich Blitzes Rush

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Big political points for Hillary as she does the press circuit this week, fresh from her Iraq trip. Ironically her conclusion was that more troops are needed in Afghanistan.

A perfect three point ploy, first to lure away rightie voters who are unsure about what to do in Iraq but want war somewhere so they can maintain they are tough on (the ever-intangible) "terror" and continue to support the troops the only way they know how, by sending them into harm's way.

Hillary is also sounding many times more rational then Bush who has been touting his startlingly "dumb" troop surge, though she only sounds rational relative to Bush, she has found a way to insert herself into this, his debate.

This is a brilliant tact her handlers have devised, providing dimwits everywhere the two ingredients needed to come to the conclusion "on their own" that we should move troops from Iraq to Afghanistan! Of course the focus-group tested word "redeployed" will be avoided, using instead something like "strategic reassignment".

Lastly, she looks good because she has found a semi-hawkish way to tip-toe out of the corner she painted herself into by refusing to admit her vote in favor of the war in Iraq was misguided. She has staunchly stuck to her "guns", fearing the accusation of a Kerry-like flip-flop, she's been the last of the big Dems to condemn the invasion, instead focusing on strategy and the over-ripe, low-hanging Rumsfeld. But this has left her dragging well behind Congress, the American people and everybody else on the planet except Laura Bush and Barney the dog.

Though Hillary's chessboard cunning is on full display, she still reeks of old-style politics as usual, saying next to nothing, straddling every fence and quietly scooping up millions in campaign funds from strangely inconspicuous but extremely well-funded sources. Despite her glaring inaction however, especially relative to NY State matters, she still manufactures one position each quarter to keep her name in national headlines. I'd imagine many New Yorkers would vote for her for president just so we can once again get a second senator.

As you may already know, reports of Afghani resistance fighters regaining strength have been plentiful, though no front running pol had yet thought to grandstand using the notion of a troop increase in Poppy Central. This is Hillary Theater at its best, repackaging the obvious deftly. This may be more effective then you think. Just because you may see through her double-speaking, carpetbagging, pro-corporate, do-nothing style, her resounding victory in NY as well as Joe Lieberman's reelection in CT signals that playing to the under-informed middle, still driven by fear of "TERROR!" may yield more votes then the intellectual left, underscoring how valuable it is to be everything all at once, a difficult act.

Barack Obama has finally announced his exploratory committee, though it comes on the heels of a large mistake, endorsing a coal-to-fuel policy that reveals he is receiving bad scientific advice. Though his home state is rich in coal and coal-to-fuel technologies are cleaner then existing coal burning methods, his suggested program is a stop-gap concept that sends the opposite message needed to government and industry and ignores the imperative need to ally ourselves with the world community as soon as possible. Our entry into the carbon credit trading market will help quickly establish a value for carbon credits so we can eliminate guesswork in assessing our options and investing in solutions.

I was compelled to write Mr. Obama about this, as I had otherwise admired his perspectives on energy. I mentioned that it did not go unnoticed that the timing of his coal-to-fuel endorsement seemed to coincide with his gaining momentum for a presidential run which we all know costs a lot of money. If this means he'll be accepting money from coal interests, it means this is where I get off the train.

As for Dennis Kucinich, my personal recommendation in this early going, he has been taking more positive, progressive action this week.

First he "received" (publicized) the anti-Iraq war petition signed by over 1,000 active duty military. This is a bold, brave statement by these identified soldiers by way of a military "appeal for redress" and has no precedent since 1,200 anti-Vietnam war active soldiers published their names in the NY Times.

Unfortunately, this comes just as we learn Lt. Ehren Watada's was told his court martial defense may not include evidence that the Iraq war is illegal and that his refusal to deploy was observant of our international treaties and the Nuremburg charter. He will somehow have to defend his stance without being able to present his reasoning!

Kucinich was also elected this week to chair the Government Reform Committee's Domestic Policy Subcommittee. Which is great news for fans of "oversight". He will be shining the light of day on the FCC, FTC, SEC, the National Labor Relations Board, the Anti-Trust division of the DOJ, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and many others. The anticipated grilling of the FDA should be particularly interesting if you've read "The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It" written by Marcia Angell, 21-year editor of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Kucinich promises: "My subcommittee will endeavor to reestablish oversight over regulatory agencies which were created to protect the public interest. I will be asking questions about the operations of every federal department and expect to be able to bring to public light information that has been hidden for the last six years."

But especially germaine to the fight against media manipulation, Kucinich has been advocating restoration of the Fairness Doctrine, killed by Reagan in 1987, which paved the way for the rise of "extreme" talk radio.

Rush Limbaugh immediately decried this on his show, egotistically calling this the "Hush Rush" bill, and bleating "The truth does not need balance, and the truth is what we do on this program".

In essence the doctrine mandated through the FCC that controversial points of view could not be asserted without a responsible attempt at presenting opposing views. For example, personal attacks had to try to give air time for the target to respond. Many broadcasters "played it safe" in fear of breaking poorly defined rules, but after Reagan scuttled it (via judges Robert Bork and Antonin Scalia), we saw a resounding surge in radio hackery and the meteoritic rise of right wing talk.

Limbaugh claims the free market automatically takes care of any needed balance, and that his show succeeds where left wing radio fails because the listeners embrace him and reject the left.

This would be fine but for a few disconcerting facts about the radio industry, where intense consolidation has resulted in huge megaconglomerates owning multiple stations in the multiple markets and led to the decimation of the ma and pa radio owners who couldn't compete with the highly aggregated buying power of a Clearchannel, Sinclair or Infinity.

This all-encompassing control of radio, spurred on by deregulation and years of neo-con friendly steering of agencies like the FCC (including the appointment of Colin Powell's wholly unqualified son as chairman) paved the landscape for Rush's entry into any and all radio markets in sweetheart deals, making him by far the richest syndicated host in radio.

The fact that his show shills for the Republicans all day, every day, spinning the news in ways that glorify large corporations and capitalist ideals might be cause for alarm when paired with the news that these same corporations aided the growth of his show, buying, dismantling or robotizing stations of various formats so there was little other original programming aimed at Rush's target demographic in many markets.

The fact that they don't allow well articulated views of dissent to be aired is allowed in the absence of the Fairness Doctrine, but many listeners may not realize just how calls are screened, and in some cases radio shows have been found staging falsified calls, or encouraging loyal audience members to call in and ask about specific topics.

Rabid right wing hosts of San Francisco's KSFO, a Disney-owned styation, were recently caught sending an email blast to conservative listeners, asking them to weigh in on a supposedly "no-holds barred, anything goes" call-in special, claiming to be fair and equitable. The station had drawn national scrutiny following left wing blogger "Spocko" posting KSFOs hate-mongering clips on the website, including one host's call to "kill millions of Muslims".

By nature, left wing, populist, progressive radio shows are less likely to thrive in a format driven by commercial spots, paid for by large corporations whose exploits may be criticized on the air.

Hence the importance of public or listener supported radio, much more closely resembling responsible journalism a la Fairness Doctrine days. NPR routinely invites the Richard Perles and Paul Wolfowitzes of the right to engage the left in the most direct, stirring discussions specifically designed to minimize distortion and manipulation to get to the heart of issues.

But Rush and Sean Hannity are happy to hawk for corporations and causes in the absence of the Fairness Doctrine, happy to serve as barkers for particular candidates, and happy to execute hateful hatchet jobs on liberal targets without any apparent editorial oversight.

How is it that Sean Hannity has such an inordinate amount of 25-30 year combat veterans and military families calling in day after day, agreeing with everything he says in support of the Iraq war when all polls show the majority of the military, their families and general population oppose the war? Just coincidence, I guess. We can trust everything we hear on the airwaves of blatantly biased, fanatical talk show zealots, right?

Kucinich is not likely to get the doctrine reinstated while Bush is in office, but the debate is healthy and he is nevertheless a busy advocate for policy reform. He may also not have a realistic chance to win the nomination in 2008, but he is a beacon for responsible representation and just as he was proven right over time in his original decision to oppose the utility takeover as Cleveland's youngest mayor, he has been proven right again in his original anti-Iraq war vote and opposition of the $87 billion supplemental as one of the earliest and most vocal to do so.

In direct contrast to minimalist Hillary, coasting on her first lady fame, or too-cautious overnight rockstar Obama, nerdy do-gooder Kucinich's bid for the presidency seems to be based on doing as MUCH as possible to benefit the American people.
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(OpEdNews Contributing Editor since October 2006) Inner city schoolteacher from New York, mostly covering media manipulation. I put election/finance reform ahead of all issues but also advocate for fiscal conservatism, ethics in journalism and (more...)

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