Media Coverage of Israeli Affairs–Trying to Understand It

How does the media decide what is worthy of coverage and when?  On Wednesday, the Israelis fired upon Gaza and the press began covering the matter.  I’m trying to understand why they’re starting to cover this now, and not at any time when 750 rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza during the past year.  Actually, where was the media coverage when 200 rockets were fired upon Israel in one 24 hour period during this last week?  Why did coverage only seem to begin when Israel fired back?  Why does the coverage always seem to begin when Israel responds?  Why, in one article I recently read, is Israel’s response referred to as “straining its delicate relations” with Egypt?  What is the implied assumption of this language?  Is it expected that Israel should consistently absorb attacks without reaction and that to not do so makes them the ones responsible for straining relations?  Why were Hamas’s attacks on Israel not seen as actions that could lead ultimately to this situation and thus strained Israeli-Egyptian relations?  And for that matter, where did all those Gaza rockets come from?  It appears that the Gaza strip’s only borders are with Israel, Egypt, and the Mediterranean.  So how did Hamas obtain the rockets?  I’d really be interested in the results of some investigative reporting on that.  But the mainstream media does not seem to have an interest in pursuing such questions, not at this point in time at any rate.

I hope it won’t come to an Israeli invasion of Gaza, but if it does, I’d wager that the press will cover that in a larger fashion, and that the coverage will be largely about civilian casualties with little or nothing about the cause of the invasion, the part played by those who supplied the rockets to Hamas, those who smuggled the rockets in through Egypt or by sea, or even an investigation of why Hamas decided to launch 200 rockets at Israel at this particular time.  And if past practice is any indication of future practice, probably Israel will be condemned by the U.N. before investigation, and quietly (very quietly, back-page quietly) revealed to be innocent of whatever charges three or four months later, after an actual investigation has been conducted.


NPR’s Answer to a Gas Crisis Emergency: Gouge?

I have felt for some time that the dubbing of National Public Radio as a bastion of liberalism  is a misleading myth.  This morning presented another example, and I am again shouting at the walls in outrage.  The interviewer mildly notes the gas crisis in New York due to the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy, states that usually, when there is a gas shortage, prices go up, and notes that gas stations are not doing so because that could put them in trouble with the state (presumably there are laws in place against gouging?–that was not clear).  She then goes on blithely to posit that economists would take the view that raising prices a couple of dollars would prevent hoarding, and interviews an economist who starts out by saying that if they just raised the price a couple of dollars people wouldn’t try to fill up their tanks, that without that some people will fill up and others will be left without.

RIGHT!  That’s the answer to an emergency.  Require people who have lost just about everything–or even if not that, have lost enough that they need every cent they have to deal with the emergency and get back on their feet–to pay gouging rates for gas that is essential to their ability to get from one place to another to survive.  THAT’S NPR’s promoted answer to this immense catastrophe?  Not rationing?  OH, NO.  I suppose THAT would be “socialism?”  Let’s do something that will allow corporations to profit off other people’s misery.  THAT’s the American way.  And apparently, NPR’s way too.



McPherson Square, Former Site of the D.C. Occupy Movement

mcpherson square after departure of occupy movement, fall 2012

McPherson Square, October 8, 2012–Restoration?

McPherson Square–Are all the grassy parts fenced off because they need restoration?

MchPherson Square, October 8, 2012

Do they look like they need restoration?

McPherson Square

McPherson Square, October 8, 2012

Or does someone just want to prevent any new occupation?

Are You Registered to Vote? How to Be Sure.

I’m sharing this information supplied by Leslie Brown concerning your voter registration status (It is not a complete list of where to check your status, but it is a start.  See also, our resources page):

Important! if you have not voted recently, check to see if you are still registered.
These states are making it harder for people to vote.
Michigan, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and Washington

Check your registration status and/or register to vote

Michigan check are you registered
North Carolina
Note: DEADLINE TO REGISTER TO VOTE in North Carolina is 25 DAYS before the day of the election.

The Politics of Voter Suppression

We all know (or should know) of this year’s illegal purging of voter rolls, curtailing of early voting to keep working people from getting to the polls, the requirement of and charging for picture IDs accompanied by the closing of DMVs in Democratic districts to prevent those who might vote Democratic from obtaining the necessary ID.  No need to get into more detail about that here.

But here are some additional things you might be interested to know:

–According to Carmen Berkely, of the Generational Alliance, 54 percent of young voters turned out in 2008, and they are as thoroughly engaging with political issues this year.  But  people just turning 18, for whom this will be their first election, may not know what requirements they must meet to register.  They’re still in school, and may not have a driver’s license or know their social security number.  They are also harder to locate in order to register them and, when in college, the location where they plan to register may not correspond to where they are.  With the goal of “meeting people where they’re at,” Berkely suggests creative approaches such as the use of social media, and even voter registration parties, to reach them.

–Clarissa Martinez, of the National Council of La Raza, says we need to “put voters back in the driver’s seat,”  that no politician should be able to change the rules in order to make themselves win.  According to Martinez, , La Raza has registered 70,337 voters this year thus far, about 45,000 in Florida.

–Finally, Tova Andrea Wang, author of The Politics of Voter Suppression:  Defending and Expanding Americans’ Right to Vote, has noted that those trying to prevent people from voting have been trying to reframe voting as a “privilege”–something that you have to “earn”–rather than the right that it is.  Wang says that the battle we’re fighting now is not new; the arguments and the rhetoric are not new.  These manipulations of the voting process have occurred in one incarnation or another for the last 150 years.

This, and much, much more was covered today at the AFL-CIO book series, which featured a panel discussion by Wang, Martinez, and Berkeley of Wang’s book, The Politics of Voter Suppression:  Defending and Expanding Americans’ Right to Vote.  The panel was moderated by AFL-CIO Executive VIce President Arlene Holt Baker.

AFL-CIO fall book series-sept. 19th 2012

From right to left: AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker, author Tova Andrea Wang, Clarissa Martinez of the National Council of La Raza, and Carmen Berkley of Generational Alliance

I highly recommend Wang’s book, available, among other places, at our wonderful  local independent bookstore, Politics and Prose.

ALF-CIO book table

Politics & Prose book table outside AFL-CIO Book Reading. (Look closely: they read the books they sell!)

Up with Unions!

Bob King speaks to UAW in Charlotte

Bob King, president of the UAW, speaks to members at the Blake Hotel, in Charlotte, N.C.

Bob King, President of the United Auto Workers spoke in prime time at the Democratic National Convention, the first time in about 40 years that a labor leader has been a prominently featured speaker.  While it may seem natural that a representative of the auto workers, whose jobs were saved by the Obama administration, would be featured, I can imagine times and administrations–even Democratic administrations–under which the head of GM or Chrysler would have been given the spot.  The featuring of Bob King (and of Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, earlier in the same evening) strongly signaled the Democratic Party’s support for labor unions and the right of working people to organize and bargain with the corporations for whom they work concerning their pay and their working conditions.  It was an especially important signal of support at this time, when unions have been eviscerated and the accumulated gutting of regulations concerning safety, wages, outsourcing, etc., has permitted corporations to operate without restraint on their excesses; and when working people have been under attack in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and other states.  Perhaps giving labor a voice at the convention can also begin to compensate for holding the convention in a state so hostile to unions.

The Trip to Charlotte

DC for Democracy's billboard

DC for Democracy and their statehood billboard on Tryon St., Charlotte, N.C.

I’m finally back from DC for Democracy’s trip to the Democratic Party’s 2012 Convention in Charlotte, N.C., and finally recovering, sleep-wise, from a week of 14 hours days filled with passing out literature; talking with delegates and other citizens; getting signatures on a statement of support for D.C. statehood and, for some of us, actually getting to watch some of the convention speeches live in the Arena.

the convention floor -john lewis speaking

The Convention floor, a view from the top

This was followed by long, late evening car-rides on inner and outer I-485 to ferry fellow DC-ers to their local abodes, and then to Mathew, N.C. where two of us were staying.  (The freeway there runs in a circle, so forget north and south.  You have to figure direction clockwise and counter-clockwise.  They call one direction inner and the other outer–I was always forgetting which corresponded to which.  And at two o’clock in the morning, that can be tiresome.  Much less confusing, and quite charmingly contrary, Charlotte calls their downtown “uptown.”)

It was amazing to discover how many people were not aware that we don’t have a voting representative or senators to represent us in Congress, and heartening that their astonishment at the discovery resulted in an immediate willingness to sign a statement of support.  Of course, the real test will be whether they are willing, if contacted, to spread the word in their home states because, to get statehood, we will need the support of those who do have representation, and who can influence their representatives in the House and Senate on our behalf.  We know it’s not a goal to be obtained in a day–or even five.  But it is a beginning.  I’m reminded of a sign on the side of the NASCAR building, located a few steps from the Convention Hall in Charlotte:

NASCAR building sign

“If winning was easy, losers would do it.”

If winning was easy, losers would do it.  The corollary–that nothing worthwhile is ever achieved without struggle–seems applicable not only to DC statehood, but to politics in general.  Given that, the other heartening aspect of this trip was seeing the number of first time delegates to the convention, the excitement and openness (to the degree that security permitted) of the caucuses and the convention itself, and the enthusiasm and spirit of the people attending.   What with the efforts of the Republican leadership to eliminate democracy by preventing citizens from voting, those who truly believe in democracy have their work cut out for them but, judging by the speeches at this convention and the solidarity expressed by the delegates and citizens attending, the battle has been joined.