Lee Camp and Dean Baker cover the news the way it ought to be (covered)

Published by marco on

Updated by marco on

Lee Camp is definitely in the lead when it comes to incisive coverage of politics with a humorous edge, as pioneered by The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Unlike those two shows, he goes farther while staying on-point and not being partisan: his hate is pure and in sufficient supply for all responsible parties alike. For example, there’s his recent show on the inauguration and the march, which was really, really good.

Be Awake to All Evil

[132] The First Orange President, Obama Left Dictator's Toolkit, Women's March by Lee Camp (YouTube)

Trigger Warning: show is broadcast by RT, the source of all evil in the world, according to the absolutely-not-beholden-to-the-US-power-elite New York Times and Washington Post.

Lee Camp and Co. provide insightful and measured coverage of the nomination hearings (focusing on Secretary of Defense). There are shots fired at (the left’s great hope) Elizabeth Warren’s lack of attack and (the other left’s great hope) Corey Booker’s craven kowtowing to Big Pharma. Obama is upbraided for all of the wonderful “dictator’s tools” he left for Trump—but Camp also points out that Obama didn’t invent most of these, that they’ve been available since Clinton and Bush, for the most part. But not only did (the left’s great hope) Obama fail to repeal the powers or curtail them—e.g. surveillance, drones, etc.—he expanded them.

Camp eloquently and humorously points out the problem with the resurgence of umbrage being taken by so many others: they act as if the evil of Trump is something special, something that the sheeple need to wake up to fight.

That’s the correct sentiment, but I take offense at the implication that the sheeple were justified in having been asleep to the exact same form of evil under Obama. Treating Trump as a special form of evil is the wrong approach—we have to be honest and see him as a natural extension of existing evil. If you treat him as special, you’ll go back to sleep once you’ve defeated him, you’ll sleep through the evil of Obama—or Cory Booker, who’ll sell us all to his pharmaceutical backers, or Elizabeth Warren, who’ll sell us all to the military-industrial complex that funds her state.

Smugness is the Enemy

It was also nice to see him focus on the hearing where all sides come off looking beholden to special interests, instead of the one for Betsy Devos (Secretary of Education). Coverage of that hearing was much more one-sided because Devos is so clearly unaware of how the education system works in America today.

There’s a difference between knowing how something works, but being open to massive change and pleading for massive change without knowing how something currently works. Devos comes off looking bad and “the other side” (e.g. Al Franken) comes off as looking superior.

But we have to be careful of garnering too much self-congratulation from such hearings. Smug—but ultimately powerless—superiority is what got us into this situation in the first place. There’s a good chance that these champions will shit all over Devos—garnering accolades from their left-leaning fans—and then just approve her anyway when no-one is paying attention anymore. What good is that fleeting feeling of superiority then?

As the short post No Free Lunches by Corey Robin (Jacobin) points out: Devos’s response about free tuition for universities being “really great to consider and think about […] but […] there’s nothing in life that’s truly free” is pretty much the same thing that prominent Hillary Clinton supporters were saying when Bernie brought it up during the campaign. Your job is to criticize that answer regardless of who says it, not because of who said it.[1]

Critical Consumption of Media

We all should learn to read the news more carefully, like in the post NYT Says Davos Elite Are Concerned Because Public Doesn’t Buy Their Lies Anymore by Dean Baker (CEPR: Beat the Press). Baker is the master of succinctly pointing out the capitalist/conservative bias inherent in supposedly left-leaning sources like the Washington Post and New York Times. His style is to restate what an article is really saying by removing the obfuscatory prose (i.e. propaganda). For example,

“Since these measures redistribute income upward to people like them, the Davos elite is perfectly happy with them. They only object to protectionist measures which are intended to help ordinary workers.

“The concern in Davos is that the public in western democracies no longer buys the lie that they are committed to the public good rather than lining their pockets.”

That’s the right way to read this article:

  • Why are the people in Davos concerned? Because their control derives from the majority believing their myths.
  • Why should people even care what these (Davos) people have to say? Because they’re rich and powerful? Isn’t that an Ouroboros? We listen to them because they’re rich and powerful and they get more rich and powerful because we all listen to what they have to say, which advice invariably leads to more power and wealth for them?
  • Isn’t part of the problem with the planet that we even care about the rich’s suggestions? So why are media sources constantly reporting the news as if that’s the only thing that matters? That the valuations on the stock market are an indicator of economic health? That trade agreements that benefit the ruling classes are a-priori good and de-facto “free”?
  • Instead of sharing the rich’s concern, we should be delighted that they’re uncertain. When 8 people own more wealth than 50% of the planet, they’re the last people whose feelings we should care about. They can take care of themselves in the system that they’ve wrought and that they control. When Bill Gates’s personal fortune alone is sufficient to allay world hunger for two years, he’s part of the problem, not part of the solution.

The article from the New York times is propagandistic garbage and should be ignored as a source of useful information.


[1] This is a friendly reminder that the press happily describes Sanders’s plan as “free universities”, eliding the part about “merit-based entrance exams”. That’s the way it works in all countries which subsidize higher-level education fully or to a high degree. The state supports students who have shown that they are worthy of the investment.