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Posted on June 24th, 2007 in General,Politics by Robert Miller

People high up in the military are appalled by what Rumsfeld did to General Taguba, the two star general whose report left no doubt about the torture that had taken place at Abu Ghraib. Taguba was an outstanding general that had come up the hard way as an immigrant from the Phillipines and had achieved his promotions and recognition because of his competency and intelligence. Unfortunately for him, he just happened to be in the spot where a person of his rank was needed when the Abu Ghraib scandal hit. He assumed that what was wanted of him was a ‘by the book’ investigation of the prison. His report was thorough and clear: violations of prisoner treatment at Abu Ghraib violated the Army’s code as well as the Geneva convention on prisoner treatment. But of course that is not what Rumsfeld wanted to hear at all, because there was agreement, once this issue hit, to let the grunts bear the brunt of it and the attention that Taguba’s report received seemed to be carrying that unwritten code into another direction.

How Television Ossifies Our Political Parties

Posted on June 21st, 2007 in Culture,General,Politics by Robert Miller

Earlier today I was watching the C-span journal program, something I like to watch in the early morning, if possible. The program I caught was in the middle of some issue about television coverage for candidates who were not in one of the major parties. All of the callers were talking about why a specific candidate was left out and complained about how difficult it was to get third-party candidates any visibility on C-span or any other news outlet. The thought occurred to me that before the age of television, it was a more even playing field in the sense that there was no communication medium, including radio, that had the kind of mass distribution that television offers today and, of course, nowadays appearances are everything too as a person’s demeanor, particularly during a debate, can lead to a process of trivialization by the news reporters.

Michael Boomberg Can Make 2008 a Lot More Interesting

Posted on June 19th, 2007 in General,Politics by Robert Miller

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced today that he is leaving the Republican Party and becoming an independent, leaving open the possibility that he might run for President, depending on who is nominated. My friends in New York tell me Rudy Guiliani was a disaster as New York Mayor, allowing ideology and tough guy issues to cloud his function as a mayor. Even the fire fighters, whom he touted after 9/11, are not too keen on Guiliani. But Bloomberg, who switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party because he was more assured of getting the nomination, has been given high marks for the non-ideological way he approached the New York Mayorship. He brought more competence into the position and seems level headed. He seems like a natural Democrat, except for the fact that he is super rich and has said he might spend up to $ 500 million of his own money to run for President if he sees things are getting out of hand, whatever that means. But if you think it means he will be a swing factor to the left, save it; he is far more likely to go down the middle of the road, which now days is pretty far right. On the other hand, he has also said he doesn’t want to be a spoiler. Bloomberg can’t run for the Mayor of New York again and he seems to have a feel for what needs to be done, perhaps not as dramatically as some of us, but he could make the race more interesting. Meanwhile back at the left side of the corral, we need people like Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich to get more visibility; my guess is that the ideas these candidates talk about resonates with voters, but the PR apparatus of this country prevents these views from getting expressed as mainstream and hence no opportunity to build resonance, something that is owned these days by the power of TV. Meanwhile I am hoping to see a kind of political firestorm emanate from Michael Moore’s Sicko coming out locally here on Friday.

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