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Beyond the Dog Days of Summer: After August, Reality

As Summer Ends, the Campaign Begins and the Challenge Remains

Danny Schechter

Traditionally, time seems to slow down, I mean slooooow down, at summer’s end. The phone calls taper off along with the emails. We have now had endless gold medals and the Guns of August. Obama stirred his hoojie with his Biden moment, sliding into centrist field. That’s done now. What “action” there is has moved to Denver.

There are but a few days of respite before the month goes from the quiet of the countryside to simulated excitement and high-flying convention oratory. As THEY wait to pounce; we wonder who will get the bounce?

Barack Obama accepts the nomination on the 45th anniversary of the March on Washington of 1963. He pursues his dream on the Day of The Dream.

Yet, another August day has a memory for me: August 24 1967, to be exact. That’s when my deeply missed pal, Abbie Hofffman, and a band of fellow Yippies, threw money on to the floor of the stock exchange to mock the greed in full display below.

The Exchange later spent $20,000 to enclose the gallery which is now closed in keeping with post-911 paranoia. Abbie’s stunt was in its own way a protest against the crimes of Wall Street, and a prophecy of what was to come. Perhaps he foresaw the breakdown that the global economy is threatening us today.

Soon it will be Labor Day, a day for Labor in name only, and, then, we are off to the races. Everything will speed up. Politics will dominate, schools will reopen, and life will hurdle on into whatever abyss we are headed. Surge on o’ ship of state, surge on.

We do know that there are certainties however much we want to avoid or deny them. The economy will not be bouncing back any time soon. The political race will get nastier, even more dangerous. Our wars will not end. And our press will not improve in an age when media snacking replaces real information absorption, much less digestion.

Behind the scenes, out of media glare, is the real battleground we rarely see, much less understand. It involves the agendas of elite power centers and key decision-makers, as Jessie Richard makes clear:

“The battle over who becomes president does not take place (only) among the citizens of this nation, it takes place among groups such as the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission and the Bilderberg Group. Let me tell you something…the Cheney/PNAC cabal= stole the elections from George H.W. Bush, James Baker, George Schultz and associates, not from the Democrats. They are the ones who assembled the Bush administration and rigged the 2000 election to place them in power as a proxy presidential administration. The problem was that the Neocons, once in office, took control and did what they wanted to do, not what their sponsors wanted them to do.

Here is how it used to work. The media, which is controlled by the real power brokers in this nation, have controlled elections in the past by presenting and withholding selected information from the public in order to influence their voting. By doing so, they pretty much guarantee the outcome of an election. Do you think that if the media did their job and actually informed the public accurately about who George W. Bush was and what his qualifications were he would have stood a chance of becoming a US President? This guy was less qualified to be president than Britney Spears is qualified to be a parent! ….”

Maybe this is too harsh for you, too simplistic, too conspiratorial? It pictures politics as the work only of forces in the shadows when in fact, as Mike Whitney writes, all of us have to do more soul-searching and introspection.

“America needs to spend a little time on the couch reassembling its shattered psyche and reconnecting with its inner-self. That means, sorting through the rubble of the Bush years and getting back to basics; a strong commitment to justice, human rights and personal liberty.”


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Well said, Mike, but there are interests out there who like things the way they are, and are determined to keep them that way. In an era where the consumer economy is going to pot, they take refuge in the war economy which seems to be working overtime. I was surprised to find Paul Farrell’s article for Marketwatch reprinted on the Fox Business Channel site:

“There really is only one answer: Deep inside we love war. We want war. Need it. Relish it. Thrive on war. War is in our genes, deep in our DNA. War excites our economic brain. War drives our entrepreneurial spirit. War thrills the American soul. Oh just admit it, we have a love affair with war. We love ‘America’s Outrageous War Economy.’”

I don’t love it and I don’t believe we all do. Not at all.

Selling war is part of what our media culture does. When I used to work for ABC News, a list of staffers was referred to as “the troops.” Look at your neighborhood movie theater and see how many violent films are there. Athletic contests are spoken of with the metaphors of war. Ditto for political campaigns. Hooray for “Team America.” It should be Brand America.

In this August interlude, with many of us still in an escape or vacation mode, perhaps there is time to reflect, and to think about where we are headed and where we really want to go or be. We can’t control everything, but on the other hand, we can’t accept everything either.

Will we, when the “real world” resumes, hold out for what our hearts and our values tell us are needed, or will we succumb to what we are told is the politics of the possible?

The latter all too often leads to rationalizing the unrationalizable and succumbing to the logic of the market and the conventional wisdom. That is the path to compromise and what often becomes self-delusional. It leads us to suspend belief because we want to believe so much. Who wants to vote while holding your nose?

The challenge we face as the “new year” begins — once you have been a student, the New Year seems always to start in September — is to think about what really matters to us and for us. Yes, we need new political leadership, But we need more than that too. Do we ever!

To me the question and the need goes beyond party politics. It goes to how we work for a just economy, defend the vulnerable and assure more equality and fairness. Throwing money at the stock market has been done. Throwing heavier rules and regulations at Wall Street must be part of a strategy for the deeper changes that we really need.

That’s a tougher face-off than Dems vs Repugs. It’s a collision with the real powers that be.


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News Dissector Danny Schechter edits His new book “investigating our economic calamity,” PLUNDER, ( is out next month. Comments to

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