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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Framing the debate

Glenn Greenwald, whose blog I need to read more often, has been watching the vile mainstream media put Nancy Pelosi into a narrow little box (with her help, to be sure). Media pundits decided that Pelosi's choices to head the important House Intelligence Committee (an oxymoron if ever there was one) were only two--Alcee Hastings, who had been impeached as a judge, and war-mongering "centrist" Dumbocrat Jane Harman of California. Under committee rules, Harman wasn't even eligible, even if she would be good for the job (she wouldn't) or if Pelosi liked her (she doesn't). Offering up the scandal-ridden Hastings as the only alternative, the press insisted on putting Pelosi in a lose-lose position. (See Greenwald's posts here, here, and here.) To Pelosi's credit, she seems to have squirmed out of that box, although the media still appears to be trying to make the nomination for her. Their choice now is Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), who is praised by Repugs including dingbat Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. Not a good sign. Nancy, you've got Kucinich, Waxman, Woolsey, Conyers and a few other really good choices--don't let the media try to box you in again!

In a similar vein, Greenwald describes the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group, and the media's coverage of it. The media describes how "extremes" from either side of the Iraq war debate were excluded, with the left "extreme" apparently being withdrawal of US forces--which is the majority opinion in the US these days. Greenwald:
I'd really like to know what the excluded anti-war "extreme view" is that is the equivalent of the neonconservative desire for endless warfare in Iraq and beyond. The only plausible possibility would be the view that the U.S. ought to withdraw from Iraq, and do so sooner rather than later. What else could it be? Nobody, to my knowledge, is proposing that we cede American territory to the Iraqi insurgents, so withdrawal essentially defines the far end of the anti-war spectrum.
The technical term for what the media and the politicians continue to do to us is "false dichotomy." The 2004 election was a prime example--present us with two inarticulate warmongering Yalie frat brothers and tell us this is the whole range of alternatives to be considered. It was win-win for the powers that be, and lose-lose for everyone else. I believe that the main purpose of American education these days is to make sure that students never learn to recognize false dichotomies. That way they're better prepared to serve their masters. College or the army. Wal-Mart or K-Mart. McDonalds or Wendy's. Coke or Pepsi. "Free trade" or isolationism. Hannity or Colmes. War with Iraq or war with Iran. Rudy or Hillary. In most cases, the rulers win either way. Even in cases where there is clearly a better choice (college over army), enough people will make the wrong choice (or have it forced upon them economically) that the rulers still win. The two-party system is perhaps the ultimate substantiation of a false dichotomy, and it serves its masters well.