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May 5, 2016 / 27 Nisan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘democratic’

The Rise of American Mediocracy

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

A nation where governments are elected by the people is most vulnerable at the interface between the politicians and the people. The interface is where the people learn what the politicians stand for and where the politicians learn what the people want. The bigger a country gets, the harder it is to pick up on that consensus by stopping by a coffee shop or an auto repair store. That’s where the Mediacracy steps in to control the consensus.

The media is no longer informative, it is conformative. It is not interested in broadcasting events unless it can also script them. It does not want to know what you think, it wants to tell you what to think. The consensus is the voice of the people and the Mediacrats are cutting its throat, dumping its body in a back alley and turning democracy into their own puppet show.

Media bias was over decades ago. The media isn’t biased anymore, it’s a player, its goal is turn its Fourth Estate into a fourth branch of government, the one that squats below the three branches and blocks their access to the people and blocks the people’s access to them. Under the Mediacracy there will still be elections, they will even be mostly free, they just won’t matter so long as its upper ranks determine the dialogue on both sides of the media wall.

The Mediacracy isn’t playing for peanuts anymore. It’s not out to skew a few stories, it’s out to take control of the country. In military empires, the military can act as a Praetorian Guard. In political empires, it’s the people who control the political conversation who also control the succession.

In 2008, the Mediacracy elevated an Illinois State Senator who had briefly showed up in the Federal Senate to the highest office in the land. They did it even though he had no skills for the job and no serious plan for fixing any of the country’s problems. They did it to show that they could. They did it because they wanted to tell a compelling story and inflict radical change on a country that would have never voted for it, if it had not been lied and guilted into making the single worst decision in its entire history.

Propaganda is a powerful weapon and seizing control of the newspapers, radio and television stations is one of the first things that tyrants do. That wasn’t supposed to be an issue in a country where anyone could open their own newspaper. But that changed with the transformation of journalism into the media. The media, plural, embraces multiple mediums, most of them expensive and requiring a license and often, government approval.

Two hundreds years ago, a few friends could open a printing press and take on the big behemoths and often did. Today the only place they can do that is on the internet. Radio and television are walled cities controlled by a small number of interlinked corporations that keep merging together. Their staffers come out of carefully controlled environments, where with the pyramid of indoctrination, political gurus pass down their wisdom to professors who program students with its doctrines, to create the Mediacracy.

FOX News, for all its faults, is under constant attack by the Mediacracy because it is independent of that same rigid coercion. Wrong or right, it represents a view that is fundamentally different from the same mind-numbing conformity to be found everywhere from the weekly news magazine in your dentist’s office to the talking heads on your cable channel to the honeyed voices of the anchors giving you the news every 5, 10 or 50 minutes over the radio while you’re driving to work.

The real crime of FOX News is not that it’s especially right-wing, it isn’t. It is far less conservative than CNN is liberal. But FOX News’ existence, its patriotic color scheme and attempts at appealing to the heartland while putting a conservative spin on issues, forces viewers to notice how conformist and identical the rest of the media landscape. And that is what makes FOX News truly dangerous. Like a goat among the sheep, it makes you realize the sameness of their generic competitors who all cheer for the same team, shop at the same stores and dream of the day when everyone thinks like them.

They are the Mediacracy and they are the Ministry of Propaganda. They are the smirking people who got tired of telling you how many people died in an earthquake in Indonesia and decided to begin explaining to you why the earthquake is your fault because you don’t ride a bike to work. These are the people who longer want to report on a shooting, but want to tell you that it’s time for a firearms ban. They no longer want to report on Washington DC, unless they can control Washington DC.

The Memorandum of Understanding for the Town Hall debate was that the moderator would relay questions from the audience, but would not ask the candidates any questions or comment on what they say. Candy Crowley made it clear before the debate that she would not abide by those rules and liberal organizations piled on, deploying a petition against the silencing of Candy Crowley. And so Candy Crowley wasn’t silenced, in true Mediacrat fashion, she silenced others.

The Mediacracy’s insistence on being the third candidate at every debate, its outrage that anyone would expect it to be silent and let the actual candidates speak, reflects its power and arrogance. Its elites are not interested in the conversation except as a means of controlling its outcome. They are not here to let other people talk, except as vehicles for making their own points.

Candy Crowley, in true Mediacrat style, was not there to facilitate a conversation, but to tell us what to think. Unlike Obama or Romney, Crowley had no legitimate reason for being there. She was not a political candidate and had not passed any of the democratic tests that Obama and Romney had to be able to sit there. Her influence had no basis of any kind in the voice of the people. Instead she was there as a representative of the powerful and unelected Mediacracy which was determined to have its say. She was there to remind the pols that even in a Two Party system, the Third Estate acts as the third candidate, never running for office but always winning by controlling the conversation.

It is not in the public interest for the Mediacracy to have its say, no matter how often the Mediacrats trot out their public good routine. Power is either vested in democratic institutions or undemocratic ones and the media corporations and their talking heads are about as undemocratic an institution as can be conceivably imagined. And when Mediacrats try to control the outcome of a popular election, their actions are an attack by an undemocratic institution on a democratic institution.

Mediacrats fill the airwaves with rantings about corporate influence on politics. The 800 pound gorilla of corporate influence on politics is the media. Candy Crowley’s employer, CNN, is owned by Time Warner, the second largest media conglomerate on the planet. Not the country, the planet. The only media conglomerate bigger than it is the one that owns ABC News. But the Mediacrats never report on their own influence, never turn the camera back into the studio while warning about the danger of corporate lobbyists. But the corporate lobbyists sitting in the CNN studio don’t just want to chat with a few politicians in a closed room, they do their best to dictate the outcome of elections.

Businesses turn to lobbyists when the times are bad. The media is losing the public, so they are turning from being mere media into Mediacracy. Media is subject to the whims of the viewing public, but Mediacracy subjects the public to its whims. And they are dreaming of a country under the enlightened rule of the Mediacrats. One nation under a thousand channels all serving the interests of a dying media state.

The media, with its expensive equipment and its licenses, is confronting an era when everything is being reduced to a single medium, print, voice and visuals falling into the internet singularity and leaving them with some expensive equipment, exclusive rights to broadcast on frequencies that no one watches anymore and the ability to print millions of papers, when they can hardly move a tenth of them. And like all imploding tyrannies, they are confronting the crisis by grasping for power. They know that they will either be a Mediacracy or they will be nothing.

The greatest challenge to the integrity of our democracy may be the coup of the media corporations. Information is the lifeblood of a free society and the consolidation of information outlets in the hands of a small and powerful elite with no ethics and no boundaries is leading us down the road to a virtual tyranny that will maintain the illusory workings of a democratic society without any of the substance.
The old institutions of elections are becoming a charade, a formal routine where the outcome is determined by the employees of a handful of major media corporations that present the public with the inevitable result. And America is falling into the hands of the Government-Media Complex.

The Mediacracy has directed all its efforts into hijacking the public dialogue, turning elections into a cheap sideshow accompanied by sneering commentary. It has insisted on being the third candidate in every election and turned its corporate shills into the pretend voice of the people. It has stomped all over the traditions of this country, its independent institutions and its freedoms with thousand dollar shoes while wrapping itself in any available flag. And it cannot be allowed to get away with it.

A free society does not only become unfree at the point of a gun. It becomes unfree when its mechanisms of freedom are jammed, when the institutions that are meant to provide power to the people are taken over by unelected forces and twisted into the apparatus of a new tyranny. When undemocratic institutions seize control of democratic institutions then democracy dies, strangled by men and women who keep on smiling while they tighten their grip.

America can be a Democracy or a Mediacracy. It cannot and will not be both. And the only way to preserve democracy is to challenge the Mediacrats and force them out of the public space that they have usurped and back into the private sphere of their financial interests where they belong.

Originally published at Sultan Knish under the title “The Rise of Mediocracy.”

Daniel Greenfield

After Win, Obama Will Double Down on Middle East Policy Errors

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

Visit Rubin Reports

There are two problems with current U.S. policy toward the Middle East: both the analysis and response aren’t just wrong, the situation in the region is much worse.

The White House has supported the anti-Semitic, anti-American Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Syria; insisted the Brotherhood is moderate; gave untrained, unreliable Libyans control over the U.S. ambassador’s security leading to his death; denied that revolutionary Islamists attacked the U.S. embassy and ambassador in Libya for reasons having nothing to do with a California video; apologized for the video in a way that escalated the crisis elsewhere; wrongly claimed that al-Qaida is finished when it is still strong in several countries; defined the Afghan Taliban, despite its involvement in the September 11 attacks, as a potential partner, etc.

Meanwhile, the Obama Administration responds with a democracy-will-solve-everything approach that the same people ridiculed when President George W. Bush advocated it.

Now the errors are deepened and the lessons of experience once again rejected in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s latest defense of these wrong-headed policies in a speech given at my first employers, the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C.

Her argument is that the United States should ignore violence and extremism while helping to build democracies. The problem is that most of the violence and extremism comes from forces that the Obama Administration supports or groups basically allied with those forces. The violence and extremism is the inevitable outcome, not a declining byproduct, of this process.

Everything Clinton says lays a basis for disaster:

–The U.S. government must not be deterred by “the violent acts of a small number of extremists.”

The problem is not a “small number” of extremists—implying al-Qaida–but a large number of them. Extremists now rule in Egypt, the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Tunisia, and—despite camouflage—Turkey. They may soon be running Syria.

More than a decade after September 11, the Obama Administration is fighting the last war—the battle against al-Qaida—rather than recognizing that a small group committing periodic terrorist acts is less important than a huge organization taking over entire countries.

–“We recognize that these transitions are not America’s to manage, and certainly not ours to win or lose.”

Of course, the United States doesn’t manage these transitions but does—or can—have influence. In Egypt, the Obama Administration began with the pro-Brotherhood Cairo speech (defining Middle Eastern identity as Islamic rather than Arabic; seating Brotherhood leaders in the front row) and then used its influence to push the military out of power in 2011 and encourage the Brotherhood.

In Syria, it backed management by the pro-Brotherhood Turkish regime and the choice of a Brotherhood-dominated exile leadership. In Bahrain, if not stopped by the State Department it would have helped bring to power a new regime likely to have been an Iranian satellite. Thus, inasmuch as the U.S. government has some role, it has used it on behalf of America’s enemies. As an ally, Egypt is lost.

–“But we have to stand with those who are working every day to strengthen democratic institutions, defend universal rights, and drive inclusive economic growth. That will produce more capable partners and more durable security over the long term.”

Yet the Obama Administration has definitely not stood with those people! It has not channeled arms to moderates in Syria but to the Brotherhood and tolerated Saudi weapons’ supplies to Salafists. It has done nothing to protect the rights of women or Christians. Moderates in Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt—as well as Turkey and Iran—know the Obama Administration has not helped them. The Turkish regime and the new governments emerging from the “Arab Spring” work every day to undermine human rights.

–“We will never prevent every act of violence or terrorism, or achieve perfect security. Our people cannot live in bunkers and do their jobs.”

Yes, perfection is hard. But what does that have to do with sending the ambassador to Libya into a lawless city with no protection?

And of course you can’t achieve even minimal security if you refuse to recognize where unrest and anti-American hatred originate. For example, the Egyptian government knew that there would be a demonstration outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo and must have known the demonstrators would storm the compound. Their security forces did nothing to protect the embassy. Why? Because they want to stir up anti-Americanism and use it to entrench themselves in power, even as the Obama Administration praises the Brotherhood’s regime and sends lots of money.

Barry Rubin

Mitt, Supporting Palestinian Statehood is NOT Pro-Israel

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Let’s be clear, Barack Obama is anti-Israel president and a pro-Palestinian president. As I have written in detail, he came into office with the goal of pressuring Israel and raising the banner of the Palestinian cause.

Mitt Romney seems to have a genuinely friendly view towards Israel, which he has demonstrated in various public statements and his recent visit to Israel. And, quite frankly, pretty much anyone would be friendlier to Israel than Obama. Yet, in his foreign policy address yesterday, Romney adopted the position which is at the heart of U.S. pressure on Israel: supporting Palestinian statehood.

Romney said:

Finally, I will recommit America to the goal of a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel.  On this vital issue, the President has failed, and what should be a negotiation process has devolved into a series of heated disputes at the United Nations. In this old conflict, as in every challenge we face in the Middle East, only a new President will bring the chance to begin anew.

A Palestinian state can and will never live side by side in peace and security with the Jewish State of Israel. As a number of Palestinian opinion polls have shown, Palestinians are determined to destroy Israel even after they have a state. Palestinian organizations – even “moderate” ones like Fatah – and leaders – like the “moderate” Mahmaoud Abbas – have declared that they don’t and won’t recognize Israel as a Jewish State. They repeatedly declare that all of the land from the river to the sea belongs to them. They teach this to their children. They use violence against civilians as a political tool and devalue the worth of Jewish life. They teach this to their children too.

Nor will it be democratic as President George W. Bush called for with his Road Map for Peace. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is serving his seventh year of his five year turn. Hamas democratically won Palestinian parliamentary elections and then proceeded to militarily take over Gaza and executed their opponents.

Romney has himself made these points.

Talking about this “peaceful” and “democratic” or even “demilitarized” Palestinian state continues the delusion and results in more pressure in Israel to make gestures (which in turn results in dead Israelis) as Israel is the only party to the process willing to listen.

Of course, Romney is not to blame. Successive Israeli administrations have endorsed this position, despite the fact that it causes so much misery to Israel. So Romney should not be expected to be more Catholic than the Pope when it comes to Israel’s claims and interests.

True, pressure from the State Department has a lot to do with Israel’s position and the president is ultimately responsible for the State Department’s actions. Nevertheless it is up to Israel to stand up for its interests and make its own case to counter other voices which the president is exposed to whether it be the State Department or Arab leaders and diplomats.

Daniel Tauber

“Israel’s Capital” Lingo Re-Added to Democratic Party Platform

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

At President Obama’s behest, and to boos from some delegates, Democrats on Wednesday night inserted a few lines into their party platform affirming Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Two of the lines had appeared in the 2008 party platform but had been dropped for some reason when this year’s platform was released Monday night; no one could quite explain the omission.

The removal of the language had prompted a firestorm of criticism from Republicans, including Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, and from Democratic lawmakers in Congress, who said the removal of references to Jerusalem had blindsided them. Pro-Israel groups also asked that the language be restored to the party platform.

“Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel,” stated the amendment that passed Wednesday evening when the party’s platform committee met in Charlotte, the site of this year’s Democratic National Convention. “The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.”

Robert Wexler, a top Jewish surrogate for President Obama’s reelection campaign and a drafter of this year’s platform, told JTA that Obama played a direct role in Wednesday’s change. “The president directly intervened to make sure this amendment happened,” he said.

The first two sentences appeared in the 2008 platform. The third satisfied longstanding demands from pro-Israel groups that Obama restate the pledge he made at the 2008 American Israel Public Affairs Committee annual policy conference that he is committed to an “undivided” Jerusalem.

Antonio Villaraigosa, Los Angeles’ mayor and a chairman of this year’s convention, faced a chaotic scene when he brought the committee’s reconstituted language to the full floor for a vote. The amendment also restored the word “God” to the platform, following complaints from some religious groups.

It took three voice votes to pass the language, and although Villaraigosa finally declared a two-thirds majority, it was not clear that the amendment got majority support. Boos were audible.

The Republican Jewish Coalition, the Romney campaign and the Arab American Institute suggested that what Democratic opponents at the convention didn’t like was the change made to the Jerusalem language.

Romney’s campaign spokeswoman, Andrea Saul, called the approval of the language “begrudging.” Matthew Brooks, RJC’ director, said, “To hear delegates on the floor of the Democratic convention strongly voice their opposition to recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, then boo when the chairman passes the resolution to adopt that language, is a shock.” James Zogby, the Arab American Institute president, expressed his pride “that so many delegates delivered a resounding no.”

C-SPAN video showed delegates in the institute’s “Yallah, Vote” T-shirts voting against. But a report from the floor on the news website BuzzFeed cited myriad reasons by delegates for their opposition. Some objected to the God language; others appeared to resent having the resolution forced past them without consideration.

“I didn’t get a chance to read it and there was no discussion,” John Washburn, a delegate from Georgia, told BuzzFeed. “It was up there for 30 seconds and then it was down. I’m upset with the process. That’s why I voted no.”

An array of congressional Democrats had complained on Tuesday and Wednesday about the removal of the Jerusalem language from the party platform, saying they were caught unawares.

Sen. Robert Casey (D-Pa.) said he was angry when he learned of the omission. “It’s wrong,” he told JTA, although, he added, “these platforms don’t have a lot of meaning in terms of the work I do in the U.S. Senate.”

Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), who is running for Nevada’s U.S. Senate seat and is one of the most steadfastly pro-Israel Democrats in Congress, said that it was an understatement to say she was disappointed.

“I believe with every breath in my body that Jerusalem is the eternal and undivided capital of Israel,” she told JTA. She added that she believes Obama’s record on Israel overall is supportive, noting the enhanced U.S.-Israeli security relationship and Obama’s efforts to push back in the United Nations against anti-Israel measures.

Campaign officials had said that the language was removed because the overall platform focused on Obama’s achievements — in Israel’s case, the enhancement of defense cooperation and the isolation of Iran.

JTA

Will DNC Chair Be Dumped?

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

The Weekly Standard is already advancing the speculation that Debbie Wasserman Schultz be let go from her post as DNC chair following her blatant lie regarding Republicans, Israel, and Israel’s ambassador Michael Oren.

In a TV appearance Tuesday night, Debbie Wasserman Schultz was asked about the Michael Oren email. But instead of acknowledging her misstatement, the DNC chair attacked the reporter, Philip Klein, who quoted her.

“I didn’t say he said that,” Wasserman Schultz said. “And unfortunately, that comment was reported by a conservative newspaper. It’s not surprising they would deliberately misquote me. What I always say is that unfortunately the Republicans have made Israel a political football, which is dangerous for Israel. And Ambassador Oren has said that we can’t ever suggest that there is any daylight between the two parties on Israel because there isn’t. And that that’s harmful to Israel. That’s what I said, and that is accurate.”

But Klein fired back.  Not only did he state that “Debbie Wasserman Schultz lied on national TV,” and accuse her of smearing the good name of an honest reporter in order to achieve her goals, but posted the audio recording of her statements online, so that readers could judge for themselves whether Schultz made the statement about Oren.  The clip was uploaded to Youtube, and posted below.

Malkah Fleisher

Democratic Platform Omits Language on Jerusalem, Notes Iran Military Option

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

The 2012 Democratic Party platform omits language recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and suggests that military force is “on the table” as an option for addressing the Iranian nuclear issue.

The platform released late Monday night makes no mention of Jerusalem or of the issue of Israel’s capital. By contrast, the 2008 platform stated that “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel.” The 2008 platform also stated that the parties to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations.”

The new platform touts President Obama’s work on implementing tougher international sanctions against Iran. It says that Obama “is committed to using all instruments of national power to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.”

“President Obama believes that a diplomatic outcome remains the best and most enduring solution,” the platform states. “At the same time, he has also made clear that the window for diplomacy will not remain open indefinitely and that all options — including military force — remain on the table.”

The 2008 platform referred to “keeping all options on the table.”

On Israel, the new platform emphasizes the Obama administration’s support for Israeli security measures such as Iron Dome and refers to Obama’s “consistent support for Israel’s right to defend itself and his steadfast opposition to any attempt to delegitimize Israel.”

It also states that the president and his party are committed to seeking peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

“A just and lasting Israeli-Palestinian accord, producing two states for two peoples, would contribute to regional stability and help sustain Israel’s identity as a Jewish and democratic state,” the platform states. “At the same time, the President has made clear that there will be no lasting peace unless Israel’s security concerns are met.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition, on Twitter, criticized the omission in the new platform of language describing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The current Republican platform refers to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The RJC also highlighted the absence from the new Democratic platform of language in the Democrats’ 2008 platform calling for Hamas to be isolated, Palestinian refugees to return to a future Palestinian state rather than to Israel, and stating that “it is unrealistic to expect the outcome of final status negotiations to be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.” The Republican platform also does not articulate these positions.

JTA

Incorrect And Ill-Advised Assumptions: A Response To Critics Of The Levy Report

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Mr. Peter. A. Joseph, Chairman, Israel Policy Forum Mr. David A. Halperin, Executive Director, Israel Policy Forum Dear Mr. Joseph and Mr. Halperin,

Permit me to introduce myself. I am Ambassador Alan Baker, a member of the Edmond Levy Commission established to examine the status of building in Judea and Samaria and to make recommendations to the government on this and related issues.

As you may know, I am the former ambassador of Israel to Canada and former legal adviser to Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the latter capacity, since the early ‘90s I have served as a member in the Israeli delegations to the peace process negotiations with Israel’s neighbors, including the negotiation and drafting of the various agreements between Israel and the PLO.

I read with considerable dismay the letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu, dated July 13, 2012, sponsored by IPF and signed by 41 prominent personalities in the U.S. Jewish community, urging him to reject the Levy Commission’s findings and recommendations.

Rather than responding to each individual signatory directly, I am forwarding this response to you both, as chairman and executive director respectively of IPF, in the hope you will ensure that it is circulated among all the other signatories to the letter.

From the content and tenor of the letter, I suspect the signatories are basing themselves on selective media reports and other sources that in fact bear no relation whatsoever to the actual content of the Levy Commission report itself. This is perhaps understandable because, to the best of my knowledge, no English language version of the report exists (apart from a translation by me of the brief summary of the basic conclusion and recommendations).

Accordingly one may presume that none of the signatories have actually read the content of the report. In this context, one may wonder on what basis 41 prominent, important and responsible leaders of the U.S. Jewish community could seriously proffer criticism of a report that they have not read and presume to advise the prime minister of Israel to reject it.

Permit me, with respect, to presume that had the signatories read the report, they would not find any reason to claim, as stated in the letter, that the report “will place the two-state solution, and the prestige of Israel as a democratic member of the international community, in peril.”

Similarly, the description of the report as “legal maneuverings” and as something that will “add fuel to those who seek to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist,” other than insulting to myself and the other members of the commission in light of our respective contributions to the welfare and prestige of Israel, is totally devoid of any basis.

The central and reasoned conclusion of the report, reaffirming the legal and historic rights and claims of Israel with regard to the area and the nature of Israel’s presence therein, is no different from Israel’s policy statements over the years, including speeches by all of Israel’s leaders and ambassadors in the United Nations, as well as in official policy documents issued over the years by Israel’s Foreign Ministry.

There is nothing in the report that could in any way be interpreted as placing the “two-state solution” in peril. The opposite is in fact the case. The report reiterates, in paragraph 9, that despite Israel’s well-based and solid legal and historical claims to sovereignty over the area and the right of Israelis to settle therein in accordance with the requisite legal norms and requirements, as set out in the body of the report, consecutive Israeli governments have chosen to opt and continue to opt in favor of conducting bone fide and pragmatic negotiations with the representatives of the Palestinian people and the Arab states, with a view to determine the fate of the area.

This is completely compatible with the address by Prime Minister Netanyahu to the U.S. Congress last May, quoted in your letter.

The main body of the Levy Report deals with practical ways of resolving the outstanding issues concerning planning, zoning and building in the area, in light of the confusing situation in this field that has developed over the last few years. The report proffers recommendations for adjudicating land-ownership disputes between Palestinian and Israeli claimants – all with a view to ensuring just, proper and fair administration.

Alan Baker

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/incorrect-and-ill-advised-assumptions-a-response-to-critics-of-the-levy-report/2012/07/25/

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