Posts tagged ‘sarah palin’

4 October 2008

‘Spooky’ GDR

‘Reunification Day’. Domestic news in Germany was dominated today (3 Oct) by coverage of the annual national holiday. Extensive television coverage of reunification issues. The films Das Leben der Anderen and Goodbye Lenin were on national tv. Chancellor Angela Merkel is shown saying how positive it is that she – from the former GDR – can become chancellor of the whole of Germany. A good number of cafe, pub and street interviews ask how people feel about East Germany.

Interesting discourse moment:

  1. If this day celebrates ‘German reunification’, it’s interesting that the coverage is primarily about the former GDR and not pre-1990 BRD.
  2. As a result, the media covers primarily negative memories of the GDR. Haven’t yet seen anyone recalling their positive childhood memories, or teenage memories or first boyfriend, wedding day, social networks, first flat… the normal things normal people do, and remember doing, in the course of their lives. Hegemony has been achieved by the the kind of comment made by one teenager interviewed ARD’s Tageschau: ‘I don’t remember much about it’, he says to camera, ‘I wasn’t born at the time. But my parents have talked about being over there and how spooky [gruselig] it was.’
  3. His comment reminds me of an exhibition I saw in Berlin’s Checkpoint Charlie museum a few years ago. Shoolchildren had been asked to draw images of the Berlin wall. Several rooms were devoted to their pictures. These were kids aged around 10, all born several years after reunification. All (I mean all) the pictures showed something along the lines of coloured flowers and happy smiling families on one side of the wall, and grey/black barbed wire unhappy people on the other side.
  4. Not to pretend that everything was rosy in East Germany. But what happens to historical understanding if only one side tells the story? As even the most basic of introductions to history now regularly say:

However, history could always have been different. Whenever a history is told, it creates another side of the story, so the question of who gets a chance to speak – the politics of representation – is crucial to our understanding of history.

Also today, international news was focused primarily on the debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin. My favourite comment:

From adennak.com via Stefan Niggemeier.

27 September 2008

Applied discoursology

Applied discoursology posted on sweet-indiana‘s livejournal blog:

*Republican Sociology 101*

If you’re a minority and you’re selected for a job over more qualified andidates, you’re a token hire.
If you’re a conservative and you’re selected for a job over more qualified candidates, you’re a game changer.

Black teen pregnancies? A crisis in black America.
White teen pregnancies? A blessed event.

Grow up in Hawaii and you’re exotic.
Grow up in Alaska eating moose burgers and you’re the quintessential American story.

If you name your kid Barack, you’re unpatriotic.
If you name your kid Track, you’re colorful.

A Democrat who picks a VP without fully vetting the individual is reckless.
A Republican who doesn’t fully vet is a maverick.

If you are a Democratic male candidate who is popular with millions of people, you are an arrogant celebrity.
If you are a popular Republican female candidate, you are energizing the base.

If you are a younger male candidate who thinks for himself and makes his own decisions, you are presumptuous.
If you are an older male candidate who makes last minute decisions you refuse to explain, you are a maverick who shoots from the hip.

If you are a self-made man who recently finished paying off school loans, you are an elitist, out of touch with the real America.
If you are a legacy graduate of Annapolis, married to money, and don’t know how many homes you own, you are one of us.

If you attend a church on the south side of Chicago, your beliefs are extremist.
If you believe in creationism and don’t believe global warming is man made, you are strongly principled.

If you kill an endangered species, you’re an excellent hunter.
If you are raped and have an abortion, you’re a murderer. (And you had to pay the police for your own rape kit.)

If you spend 3 years as a community organizer growing your organization from a staff of 1 to 13 and your budget from $70,000 to $400,000; become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review; create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new African American voters; spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor; spend nearly 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people and becoming chairman of the state Senate’s Health and Human Services committee; then spend nearly 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of nearly 13 million people, sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works, and Veteran’s Affairs committees; and manage a multi-million dollar campaign; you are woefully inexperienced.

If you spend 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with fewer than 7,000 people, then spend 20 months as the governor of a state with 650,000 people, you’ve got the most executive experience of anyone on either ticket.

12 September 2008

Palin: War on Russia

The USA will go to war with Russia if necessary, Sarah Palin said in an interview with ABC yesterday. Commenting on Georgia, she said that Russia did after all ‘invade another country. Unprovoked.’

Not even the most vocal anti-Russian, pro-Georgian commentators in the US have gone this far. This kind of comment ignores the multiple provocations (from both sides) over the past months and years. When they want to shift the blame for the conflict to the Russian administration, US commentators generally have two strategies to deal with the independent evidence that both sides were preparing for war as a contingency and that Georgian forces were the first to begin massive heavy artillery bombing of South Ossetia at approx. midnight on 7-8 August:

Strategy 1: Georgia walked into Russian trap.

Strategy 2: Russian reaction was excessive.

So, what does Palin’s remark illustrate?

1. It provides more ammunition to those criticising her lack of foreign policy expertise.

2. It provides support for ‘the CNN effect’. Not uncontroversial, the CNN effect suggests that mainstream news media have a significant effect on foreign policy. Its critics say (a) it exaggerates the power of the media to affect policy, (b) meanings are not transmitted in such a linear fashion (media -> audience -> policy), and/or (c) surely policy makers have better sources of information (academic specialists, specialist advisers).

Palin’s remarks show that she, at least, is more influenced by US news media than by experts on Russian, Georgian or Caucasus politics.

On the CNN effect:

Steven Livingston (pdf), Piers Robinson (article) (book). Fred H. Cate (‘The so-called “CNN effect” is not as clear-cut as many people think’).

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