Thirty years ago, when Barry Goldwater proposed making Social Security voluntary, he was dismissed as a lunatic. Now, however, the radical transformation of Social Security--essentially its privatization--is the consensus among the political class and the pundits who serve them. The strategy of the privatizers is proving quite successful. Sow doubts about the future solvency of the system. Chip away its near-universal political support by taxing benefits of "affluent" retirees, periodically lowering the definition of affluence. Encourage the "affluent" retirees of the future to provide for themselves, because of the system's wobbliness. And eventually turn the public pension system into welfare […]
True Confession "I admit it -- the liberal media were never that powerful, and the whole thing was often used as an excuse by conservatives for conservative failures." -- William Kristol, editor of the Standard, Rupert Murdoch's soon-to-be-launched conservative weekly (New Yorker, 5/22/95) Dole's True Lies Sen. Robert Dole condemns Hollywood for producing "nightmares of depravity," yet he's a regular guest on the talkshows of G. Gordon Liddy and Bob Grant -- hate mongers who don't produce fictional depictions of violence, but encourage real violence against real people. Many people have noted that the misogynistic, Arab-bashing gorefest True Lies, cited […]
When Will Media See the Connection?
When the Oklahoma City bombing captured the attention of the mainstream media, some women's rights activists expected that the attack would end mainstream media's reluctance to report on violence against abortion-providers and other domestic terror threats. That reasonable hope was dashed. With its first reporting of the Oklahoma story, the New York Times (4/20/95) ran a list headlined "Other Bombings in America", which spanned four decades and included some attacks that claimed no injuries or lives. But none of the 40 officially documented bombings that have targeted women's clinics in that period was mentioned. Media investigations of where right-wing militants […]
A good public library strives to offer balance, diversity and inclusivity in providing sources of information for all members of the community. Libraries do not always live up to this ideal, however. Often progressive alternatives to mainstream or right-wing publications are overlooked. Faced with cutbacks in funding in recent years, many public libraries have had to make deep cuts in their collections. Unfortunately, this often means cutting small, less popular alternative periodicals in favor of keeping bigger mainstream magazines. What can you do to protect and promote balance and diversity at your public library? Extra! July/August 1995
On May 1, a week before the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, the New York Times ran a front-page article by Stephen Kinzer under the headline, "Germans More Willing to Confront Nazi Crimes." Referring to "a month of observances at former Nazi concentration camps" in the lead of his 28-paragraph story, Kinzer claimed that "ordinary people" and "senior political leaders" have entered "a new phase in Germany's psychological history. No longer interested in repressing, denying or moderating the truth about Nazism, many Germans are for the first time confronting it directly without flinching." According […]
'Eco-Realism' Vs. Eco-Reality
"Earth Day alarmists had it wrong," proclaimed conservative columnist Joseph Perkins of the San Diego Union in a pre-Earth Day commentary (5/1/95). Drawing on a New Yorker article (3/10/95) written by veteran Newsweek writer Gregg Easterbrook, Perkins takes to task liberals and "greenies" for "grossly overstating the prospects of global warming, the threat of species extinction and the health risk of pesticides." "We have heard similar alarmist rhetoric on Earth Day," wrote Perkins, a one-time aide to Dan Quayle. "The warnings of environmental calamity should be greeted with skepticism." Perkins is hardly alone in his use of Easterbrook's work to […]
Red Meat for Republican Voters?
The outrage over the remarks by syndicated radio talkshow host G. Gordon Liddy regarding the best way to kill BATF agents ("head shots" and the rest) overlooks an important point of the timing of those remarks--in the late summer and fall of 1994. In an election year where Republicans smelled political blood in the water, it was vital to encourage a massive voter turnout for their side. Tapping in to rising voter anger with government would be a key to victory, and few things made some in the public angrier than the debacle at Waco. Liddy places the blame for […]
Don't Look at Us
"Talk radio was ahead of the pack because it's tied into the people," Michael Harrison of the National Association of Radio Talk Show Hosts (NARTSH) told John Tierney of the New York Times (4/30/95). "The mainstream press is out of touch.... That's why it didn't see the Waco connection right away." According to Harrison, who edits the talk radio publication Talkers, while mainstream media were blaming the deaths in Oklahoma City on Arab terrorists, nearly as many talk radio callers were citing the Branch Davidian debacle as the probable motivation for the bombing. As evidence for this claim, Tierney cited […]