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Friday, September 12, 2008

[Politics and partisan outrage]

Paul Krugman writes in The New York Times:
Did you hear about how Barack Obama wants to have sex education in kindergarten, and called Sarah Palin a pig? Did you hear about how Ms. Palin told Congress, “Thanks, but no thanks” when it wanted to buy Alaska a Bridge to Nowhere?

These stories have two things in common: they’re all claims recently made by the McCain campaign — and they’re all out-and-out lies.
Since the Republican convention, the McCain campaign has apparently decided that the voters can be blatantly lied to. Sure, there's the occasional "Fact Check" on the air, and columnists like Krugman. But they can drown all that out with repeated ads.

Their whole campaign now requires the voter to believe that the Republican Party is the right organization to clean up the mess created by the Republican Party.

And to judge by the polls, that strategy has put them ahead for the first time since the general election campaign began.

I shudder for my country.

What strikes me is that there seems to be some unwritten rule that politicians and the media can't say "liar." Barack Obama has talked about distortions. Newspapers and TV news say "half-truths".

But these are flat out lies. And the people who tell them are liars.

I think the time has come for the Democratic campaign to call McCain what he is: a liar. Forget the "he served his country well." That man is long gone. If McCain ever had a shred of decency, he has re-shredded it in the grab for the Presidency. He's a liar, Palin's a liar, and the people who make up their ads are liars.

I imagine the Republican response would be "Obama lies too." And no doubt the Obama people have taken McCain quotes out of context. (The "100 years" quote and the "economy is fundamentally sound" quotes spring to mind; though both of those distortions convey an essential truth.) But they are not calling McCain a baby-killer, which, astoundingly, McCain is calling Obama. All sins are not the same. There is a difference between lying about sex and lying to start a war.

As John Neffinger wrote in The Huffington Post, now is Obama's "Dukakis Moment." He's referring to when Michael Dukakis failed to show passion at the question, "If Willie Horton murdered your wife, would you want to execute him." (Even I knew back then that the right answer was, "As a man, I would want to smash his head in with a baseball bat, myself. The problem with the death penalty is that every now and then you discover that you've executed the wrong guy.")
Everyone who sees this ad can see how dirty it is. And if Obama wants Americans to respect him, they must be allowed to see him react with the kind of anger - controlled, but still palpable - that they would feel if somebody did that to them.
I agree. It's time for Barack Obama to show how angry he is at these lies, and to call McCain a liar, and to ask the American people if they want a liar in the White House. Because we've been lied to over and over the past eight years. And if Americans go for more of the same, we'll deserve what we get.

UPDATE: From the comments:
You are a Canadian writer with a screenwriting blog. Why are you polluting it with U.S. political commentary? Especially standard issue left-wing Hollywood talking points?

The answers are not possessed by the rabid left or right - it's somewhere in the middle.
If you don't like the political posts, don't read them. See up top where it's marked "politics and partisan outrage"? I posted a bunch of other stuff today about other aspects of showbiz.

And when I say "other aspects of showbiz," don't for a moment think that politics isn't showbiz. This year in particular. And that's part of what I was analyzing.

Your dismissing my points as "standard issue Hollywood talking points" is a standard issue Republican troll gambit. They are not talking points. "Sarah Palin is a qualified foreign affairs expert because you can see Russia from Alaska" is a talking point. "The Republics are lying when they say Sarah Palin rejected Congressional funding for the Bridge to Nowhere" is a documented fact.

See, "Intelligent dialogue is balanced" is exactly the problem.

When one side says "the moon is made of green cheese" and the other side says "it's rock," the answer is NOT in the middle. But the media gets uncomfortable when it has to take a side, even if one side is right and the other is wrong. As Paul Begala noted, you get a headline that reads, CANDIDATES CLASH ON LUNAR LANDSCAPE.

One side is LYING. And if Americans are too lazy, or as you claim, "balanced," to get their head around that, we get another President who will lie us into another war or mortgage crisis.

And, as for me being a Canadian, I'm a natural-born New Yorker who lives in Montreal. I vote in California, babe. Don't try to bulls*** a bullsh***er.

Labels:

15 Comments:

Amen. This post should be read by every American. The McCain campaign has become such a joke of sleezeball politics instead of honesty and sincerity... worse the fact that its WORKING denotes a nation who'll drink the kool-aid even after apparent job/health care/housing market/etc. etc. GENOCIDE.

The only way to cope with this absolute inanity is to simply accept that if the desires of the people is to willingly drink more of the obviously poisoned kool-aid... then as sad and heartbreaking as it is (AND WILL BE!) -- as cattle lead to the slaughter -- we'll have to face the fact that it was deserved.

It would be a damn shame for Obama never get the chance to try -- due mainly to small town biases and prejudices. As those will most likely be the reasons, imagine the American subtext that will silently scream should he not succeed as the next president.

And whatever voter who says "I just don't believe him" -- either you practice partisan politics, are extremely well to do, are racially biased, or more likely -- listened to the LIES.

Please, Obama call the rat, a rat, a pig, a pig, and put your goddamn fists up. Those bastards won't fire fair... then, fight them fairly -- but, go after them. Enough is enough. Just as you would if someone endangered your family. We ARE the American Family.

Hope, people. It is missing in our country. Hope. Please return to the United States of America if/when found.

Signed,

Waiting Excpecantly.

By Blogger Ryan Covert, at 12:44 PM  

You are a Canadian writer with a screenwriting blog. Why are you polluting it with U.S. political commentary? Especially standard issue left-wing Hollywood talking points? Let it go. This is not the appropriate forum.

By Blogger Nicholas, at 1:16 PM  

Nicolas, this is not your blog and you do not speak for the readers of this blog. Blogs are about putting thoughts out there. If you think differently, then explain to me what a blog is really supposed to be?

This election is not only vitally important to America, but also the world. A fish rots from the head down, and the next leader of the only true democratic super-power will shape the future for all of us. This is not about left, or right. It is about right and wrong.

This is a time for everyone to give their opinion and to help the right choice is made.

By Blogger Kevin Lehane, at 1:32 PM  

The answers are not possessed by the rabid left or right - it's somewhere in the middle. Intelligent dialogue is balanced. It is not simply more reiteration of the same tired ideological rants. I'm tired of it, and I'm an Obama supporter. The fact that we're discussing pigs and lipstick does suggest that all meaningful communication has stopped.

This is a fun screenwriting site. Maybe I should tune back in after November.

By Blogger Nicholas, at 1:50 PM  

Dear Nicholas:

If you don't like the political posts, don't read them. This was was marked "politics and partisan outrage" at the top. There are plenty of posts about other aspects of showbiz.

And when I say "other aspects of showbiz," don't for a moment think that politics isn't showbiz. This year in particular. And that's part of what I was analyzing.

Your dismissing my points as "standard issue Hollywood talking points" is a typical Republican troll gambit. They are not "talking points." They are my concerns. "Sarah Palin is a qualified foreign affairs expert because you can see Russia from Alaska" is a talking point. "Intelligent dialogue is balanced" is exactly the problem.

When one side says "the moon is made of green cheese" and the other side says "it's rock," the answer is NOT in the middle.

And, as for me being a Canadian, I'm an American who lives in Canada. I vote in California.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 2:09 PM  

I find it amazing that the blog states very succintly and implicitly in its title:

"COMPLICATIONS ENSUE: THE CRAFTY TV & SCREEN WRITING BLOG -- WITH FORAYS INTO POLITICAL THEATRE...

Thought that was a self-explanatory disclaimer.

Oh, and to say Alex is Canadian therefore he is not entitled to his views on American Politics is absurd. What exactly are your views on Iraq? Iran? France? Canada?!?

Interesting thing about blogging and the internet... no one forces anyone to read or agree.

Amazing how freedom of expression, -- an ideology one would like to think writers of all political persuasions would long to uphold -- gets a scornful reproach anytime someone doesn't like associated content, but is a fan of the others....

Skim the articles, man. Worked for years for Playboy.

And this -- the idea that the internet and the blog owner has autonomous control -- is why writing is so damned powerful.

Sir, I do say... to let the Canadian rip on a system shattered from years of neglect and abuse...means... dare I say it? He is entitled to his opinion.

Read what you like...skip what you don't.

Such anger. Sigh. Silly as a pig in lipstick.

By Blogger Ryan Covert, at 2:10 PM  

Oops. Sorry, Alex. Didn't realize you were an ex-pat. My apologies for incorrectly labeling you Canadian.

By Blogger Ryan Covert, at 2:13 PM  

Yes, go bury your head in the sand because you are tired of it. Don't for a minute think now is the time to speak up and voice your opinions.

I don't care about left or right, but I do very much care about right and wrong. And feeling disgruntled that the political campaign for the most important job in the world is being hijacked by the trivial issues by the right is not a reason to turn your brain off.

I admire anyone who has the conviction to stand up and put their ideals out there and say this is what I believe. Be it a screenwriting blog or anything else. It's a tired adage but, Nicolas, if you're not part of the sollution, you're part of the problem.

By Blogger Kevin Lehane, at 2:15 PM  

Fact. Obama voted for the state bill. Fact. It contained provisions for teaching kindergartners sex education. Fact. Obama said it was the right thing to do. READ THE BILL.

DO YOUR RESEARCH before leaping blind into partisan outrage.

And BTW I read this blog for your expertise in WRITING, not your left leaning propaganda.

By Blogger James, at 3:04 PM  

What boggles my mind, is that there is not the uproar over Palin's flip-flopping than there was with Kerry, who possibly lost the election because of it. Is Palin lying because she does not want to appear to be flip-flopping? Speaking of which, I have no problem with someone who has changed their mind. It shows they are open to opposing views. On the other end of the spectrum, remember, you get Bush. I'd rather have someone who flip-flops than someone who refuses to change his mind even in the face of overwhelm,ing evidence to the contrary.

By Blogger Tim W., at 5:29 PM  

And the poison spreads. You know Alex, one of the things I like about when you write about politics is the fact that you and I probably both do have that fairly Democratic line politics (though one of the smartest posts I've ever read was Rogers' "I miss Republicans" post.)

But where you differ from me, or Rogers, when you write about Politics is that you actually tackle the screenwriting narrative aspect of it.

Some of the most interesting posts I've read about the speeches at the two conventions was yours -- which were entirely about narrative, and craft. The politics came second, for the purposes of the post.

To any real student of screenwriting, this is the gold stuff. It's the answer to the helpless, hopeless question, "where do your ideas come from?" That's a question that you just can't answer, because a working writer knows that you convert all your ideas from life: from the stimulus you receive from other people, your environment, and your world.

It's not a surprise that in this highly partisan atmosphere that there are those who wouldn't want to engage you on the politics side.

But the fact that they can't, I think, speaks not only to the general paucity of creativity coming out of Hollywood these days, but also speaks to the point of why the political discourse is so inane.

Just as things have become so ridiculous that you can often find more analysis and news content in a Daily Show desk bit or a Craig Ferguson monologue, so is the impulse to say, "Alex, don't bring your screenwriter's brain to political topics" the root of why we're unlikely to get beyond the bullshit to real discourse anytime soon.

Keep it coming, Epstein, you fucking Canadian.

DMc

By Blogger DMc, at 6:17 PM  

"Fact. Obama voted for the state bill. Fact. It contained provisions for teaching kindergartners sex education. Fact. Obama said it was the right thing to do. READ THE BILL.

DO YOUR RESEARCH before leaping blind into partisan outrage."

FACT. The bill was about teaching children how to avoid sexual predators . . . ie, stranger-danger, along the lines of "don't take candy from strangers, etc". It wasn't teaching kindergartners about sex, but about safety from predators.

Sure, it was sexual education, but not the type you're inferring, it wasn't teaching kids about having sex.

That's what it was. That's a fact. And that's a good bill to vote for. Do your research. The bill was about teaching kids how to be safe in a dangerous world.

So every parent is guilty of the same thing as Obama when they tell kids not to take candy from strangers?

By Blogger Joshua James, at 6:23 PM  

Palin seems to had `stumbled' into another lie by denying that she has ever denied that humans were, at least in part, causing global warming. There are two earlier quotes where she said, in no uncertain terms, that humans were not the cause of global warming. Apparently lying is something that makes her appear `flawed', and therefor easily relatable to among working class women. Is it that difficult just to say that, "Yes, I believed that once, but don't anymore after getting more facts"? I used to believe that I could safely drink water from plastic bottles, but I don't anymore. Does that make me appear weak?

Alex, you touched on it with an earlier post, but the this aversion many Americans have to intelligent and educated leaders is astounding. I simply don't understand it. Treasuring ignorance over education is something that will lead a country into doom.

By Blogger Tim W., at 8:54 PM  

"Fact. Obama voted for the state bill. Fact. It contained provisions for teaching kindergartners sex education. Fact. Obama said it was the right thing to do. READ THE BILL.

DO YOUR RESEARCH before leaping blind into partisan outrage.
"

According to the New York Times, "The proposal was supported by a coalition of education and public health organizations, including the Illinois Parent Teacher Association, the Illinois State Medical Society, the Illinois Public Health Association and the Illinois Education Association."

"The proposal called for 'age and developmentally appropriate' sex education and also allowed parents the option of withdrawing their children from such classroom instruction if they felt that it clashed with their beliefs or values. [..] At that time, Mr. Obama stated that he understood the main objective of the legislation, as it pertained to kindergarteners, to be to teach them how to defend themselves against sexual predators."

I'm not even going to make my opinion on this known, the ridiculousness of opposing that bill and acting as if Obama voting for it was a bad thing speaks well entirely on its own.

By Blogger Paul William Tenny, at 12:48 AM  

James, in case your expertise doesn't include this...that was what we call a smack-down. And thank you for proving my point about some Americans reveling in their own ignorance.

By Blogger Tim W., at 4:32 AM  

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