My husband sent me a link to a blog by Marc Andreessen. Since I’m not a tech-head, I’d never heard of him (he was a founder of Netscape, it turns out), but I read his post about Obama (An hour and a half with Barack Obama) with interest. He met with Obama in person before the campaign began and his insights are worth taking into consideration.
I have not jumped on Obama’s boat, but I’ve got one toe in. Whether or not I end up on board, I am disgusted by how successfully he is being smeared. I’m well aware that there is a Noise Machine out there, but it is disheartening to watch (yet again) how very well it works. Recently, Diane wrote about a conversation she witnessed between two women in South Dakota:
Woman #1: They aren’t ready for a woman president there.
Woman #2: They aren’t ready for a black president either.
Woman #1: I hear he’s Muslim, but he’s not active in his faith.
Me: (Interjecting) He’s not Muslim. His father is Kenyan, but he’s not Muslim.
Woman #1: Well, he’s not active.
Me: (Interjecting) Actually, he goes to the same church as Oprah Winfrey. He’s a Christian.
The effectiveness of the Noise Machine is clear. It doesn’t matter if the info put out is false, all they have to do is make a connection in people’s minds and they’ve succeeded. Obama. Muslim. That’s it—that it’s not true is irrelevant. And, as Naomi Klein pointed out in this editorial, it wouldn’t be a smear if it were true—but the fact that people perceive it as one is evidence of yet another successful Noise Machine campaign. Code words: Muslim. Terrorist.
Truth should matter. Whichever side you’re on, the end cannot justify the means. If we waltz down that road, where does it end? The lies and deceit grow larger and uglier the longer we dance. Step by little step, before we know it, we’ve become an immoral nation.
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Obama’s message is about hope and change. Yesterday, I heard Jim Wallis speak and he made the point that, no matter who is elected, they will not be able to make sweeping changes. For instance, try getting a meaningful universal health care plan passed when there are three lobbyists from the pharmaceutical industry for every member of Congress (some interesting facts here). And how about this: Pharmaceutical, Insurance Industries Lead Way In Lobbying Spending; New Study Provides Comprehensive Look at Washington’s $1.26 billion Influence Industry (that was published ten years ago—think things have improved?).
Gee, I wonder if the drug and insurance giants are planning to sit on their tushes while their industries stand to lose boatloads of moola? You can bet they’re right now this minute blueprinting a massive, unrelenting attack. Code word: socialism. They’ll dredge up nightmare stories from people in England and Canada about waiting years for a needed treatment. We won’t hear about all the Americans who simply can’t get treatment, about the people who lost everything when a loved one got cancer. About ambulances being turned away from hospitals because the patients didn’t have insurance—and the people who died as a result.
The fact is, we need change.
Wallis said change comes from social movements, not politicians. I agree with him. We need a sweeping social movement in this country that says, among other things, yes to decent health care for all people. No, demands it.
It wouldn’t hurt to have a president who can maybe stir up a social movement, would it?