Sunday, October 25, 2009

"White House vs. Fox News"

While this blog may not be the most recent in the outpouring of material on the controversy between Fox News and the Obama White House, it does address the appropriateness of the White House's apparently controversial policy of standing up for itself in response to the constant onslaught directed toward it from the Fox News Network. As the blog appears on the site, one can assume that the intended audience consists of people of generally left-leaning attitudes, people who will recognize that the first sentence (fragment) of the blog, and even the blog's title are stated sarcastically, that the opinion being expressed is opposite that actually stated. The author's credibility is strong for a blog, as MediaMatters is a site of some reputation (credible enough to be a recommended source in this class :-).

The argument implied in the blog is that the White House is right to speak up in defense of itself in the face of the constant onslaught coming from the Fox Network, despite its being depicted as being a bully or lowering itself. The author cites a Time article that announced the "new White House strategy," as well as several video clips and blogs, which provide extremely effective support for the author's claim that, since the major news networks are not responding to Fox's claims, not clarifying anything themselves, leaving the facts so obscured by crap on all fronts, the Obama Administration is justified in wanting to "call 'em out."

I whole-heartedly agree with this assertion, though I wish it were not a necessary step. I shake my head at what has become of our beloved press. For a more detailed harangue, not really appropriate for this assignment, see the previous post.

It's worse than I thought

...And oh so putrid.

I have long known that Fox News was a conservative pipeline with a Machiavellian drive to spread right-wing dogma and garner support for its Grand Ole' Party by offering oft-quoted soundbites and manipulative rhetoric and by building elaborate thought-structures of ostensibly explanatory purpose, yet which are in fact shoddily constructed, extensively self-referencing, often built on cornerstones of falsehood, much of which is provable as such (though such honesty would be inconsistent with network objectives, and therefore appears nowhere and at no-time on the network); that with charismatic, persuasive, bold and recognizable public personalities forcefully and self-assuredly asserting these soundbites, talking points, and referencing and updating the fear and manipulation-bent structure/ideology/dogmatic construction/web of lies/machine, the network systematically and methodically chugs away toward its apparent goal of chipping away at the credibility of the current administration.

Incidentally, I have worked before with people who had their radios on constantly, tuned into Rush and Hannity and their ilk, a fact I mention only to lend at least some measure of credibility my analysis of their output. I can honestly say that it is a real challenge to me to remain objective while listening to what they say, and how they are saying it, both in terms of non-verbal communication and in terms of the terms themselves (i.e., decoding the rhetoric, shaving through endless layers of entrenched dogma, cutting through a sort of political slang in which phrases are used in such ways that imply frameworks that are in fact narrowly and faultily built, and which aught to be deconstructed and contextualized before any serious discussion can take place), the product of which is an urgent-sounding pounding on the listener's brain; these voices demand to be heard, and address their material with the relentless cunning and speed of, well, the best professionals in their field, propagandist loudspeakers, and to me, it seems, to be able to survive without being reactionarily reoriented in some way, one must have either strong and resilient beliefs that survive any harangue (not my cup of tea, generally speaking), or be extremely swift, deft, and sharp, able to engage in all manner of mental gymnastics and martial arts, capable of addressing each spin, twist, attack and maneuver without losing focus, calm, or bearing. It seems to me that this would require intense training for some time, and, had I these skills to the degree I think it would require to engage at this level, I might feel obligated to do so, though I would likely not be given much room to speak, at least on their airwaves. As it is, I'm afraid I have a terribly weak stomach for all this, and must leave such matters to others, as diverse as Noam Chomsky, John Stewart, and now Anita Dunn and her crew, to whom I wish clarity, honesty, and candor, along with ample doses of the patience and discipline it is going to take to sort through all of that fetid and noxious excrement.

This will obviously not meet the needs of the assignment, but was a prerequisite.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

More on Agri-business

This article shows how continuing malpractice by slaughterhouses and meat processors saves them money and puts carnivores at risk. A quote from a USDA official, exasperated by Cargill's probably not unrepresentative reluctance to improve its food safety precautions, wrote during USDA's four months of negotiations with Cargill, "How is food safety not the ultimate issue?"

If you don't want to read the whole article, there's a reader's digest quality video a little bit down the page.

Friday, October 2, 2009

If nothing else, break up this affair

As noted in this article, doctors stand to profit greatly from intercourse with pharmaceutical companies. Here we have the suggestion that the federal government take more power, involving itself in relationships between corporations and professionals in related fields. This, viewed from this fundamental perspective, may seem like a bad idea, granting more power to what seem already to many a federal government swollen with powers, at a time when less federal interference might seem the direction the pendulum aught to swing.

However, in this particular case, the corporations under examination appear even more swollen and powerful than the government, or at least in ways that are more disgusting and potentially malefic, and the professionals happen to be more directly involved in the health and survival of those they serve than perhaps any but those patients themselves. In this particular case, as there exists the potential for mutual backscratching between corporations and professionals, and to the detriment of the public whom it seems they aught to serve, it seems here reasonable to ask the government to offer its people some protection from this abusive practice.

This article addresses these points, with specifics, confirming that this practice is in fact in effect, and does in fact benefit pharmaceutical companies and doctors alike. While the article does not support its claim that by presenting material provided to them by pharmaceutical companies, doctors "cease to be unbiased caregivers for their patients," though, in fairness, this is an opinion-editorial piece, and it seems true intuitively, and frankly, the exploration of that topic is not well suited to the medium.

All in all, this is a well-written and effective article, asserting ideas with which I largely agree. As members of this society, and particularly of roughly its middle-class, we would all do well to take note of this, and, until greater transparency and control are required of our health care professionals, we should not take prescriptions blindly, that is without recognition of the state of 'affairs' between doctors and corporations that provide them with incentives to peddle their wares; in short, maintain perspective!