Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Our corporate media keeps Americans in the dark

There is fresh scientific evidence that the rate of global warming is accelerating faster than we imagined. A recent major study from New Scientists states that anthropogenic climate disruption (APD) is “worse than we thought” because it is happening “faster than we realized.” In other words, our failure as a global community to significantly reduce emissions of carbon dioxide is causing massive negative impacts on the air, water and earth of our planet.

Looking for good news? Don’t focus on the U.S. economy. Things are worse than most people realize. This article lays out the bad news in an easily digestible list. Just one of its tragic tidbits: According the New York Times, the “typical American household” is now worth 36 percent less than it was a decade ago.

This is real news that should greatly concern Americans, but what is the mainstream media focusing on? Ebola, a disease that has infected three U.S. citizens out of 317 million people. Is it a horrible, deadly disease? Yes. Should the average American be concerned about catching it? No. Does it make for blood curdling, alarmist headlines? Most definitely.

Once again the corporate media latches onto the latest shiny object while the real news is reported by a handful of liberal and progressive websites with limited readership. Americans are dangerously ill informed about what is really important, and that is by design. Reengineering to reduce toxic emissions will cost corporations a lot of money, even though doing nothing could cost us our planet. The callous indifference of the Koch’s and others to the damage they are causing is in my mind criminal and generations of future humans will pay the price. Same thing applies to the economy. Not doing anything about income equality and joblessness and the minimum wage means an escalating descent into the economic abyss of poverty and despair.

The question is: How long can the mainstream media keep the American people’s attention focused on the waterskiing squirrel and away from issues that really matter?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Krugman’s last ditch effort to save Obama is too little too late

In today’s Salon, Frank Rich writes a lengthy rebuttal to Paul Krugman’s odd and counterintuitive Rolling Stone article lavishing praise on Obama’s presidency. Rich was an enthusiastic supporter of the Senator from Illinois when he ran for the nation’s top office in 2008, and tried to hold on to it through Obama’s early years, but, like many on the Left, he had to eventually succumb to reality. Obama has been a great disappointment. For me, all of Rich’s arguments boil down to a simple fact: Obama is not a leader.

For all of his oratorical skills, Obama simply could not or would not back up his words with action. Unlike another great orator, Martin Luther King, Jr., Obama talked the talk but didn’t walk the walk. He didn’t lead the march or galvanize the community or put his personal safety on the line for his beliefs. His words were intended to inspire, but his actions were consistently weak and ineffectual. Maybe we’ll learn from some tell all book in the future that Obama was surrounded by advisors who gave consistently bad advice, but if Obama is one thing, he’s intelligent. It’s just hard to imagine the man meekly taking orders from others, orders that he knew were wrong or mistaken.

As Rich points out, Obama had a real opportunity to move this country in a new direction during his first years in office, but instead he hedged and hawed, instituted half-measures and continued hoping for bipartisanship long after that ship had sailed. For reasons that still baffle me, right from the beginning he surrounded himself with Washington and Wall Street insiders, men and women who had no interest in the “change” he talked about in his campaign, and the results bear that out.

Being President of the United States can’t be easy, and turning a ship as large as this country in a new direction has to be daunting. The point that Rich makes and that I have made in the past, is that Obama never really tried. He never challenged Republicans in any meaningful way, never went to the American people to garner support, never stood his ground and fought for what was clearly right.

Obama’s opportunities as President have slipped away, despite Krugman’s late attempt to inject some energy into his administration. If predictions about the mid-term election prove true, he won’t be able to get anything through Congress and the bright torch of hope that has been dimming over the past six years will be permanently extinguished.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Deep State doesn’t care about you or your laws

Still unconvinced we’re living in the midst of an Orwellian nightmare? With the introduction of Apple’s new iPhone 6 that includes an improved encryption system, the FBI went on a whine-spree about how dangerous this was to national security that they couldn’t easily hack the phones. It culminated last week with an appearance by FBI Director James Comey at the Brookings Institute where he declared in a speech that Apple was creating an environment where America “…is no longer a country governed by the rule of law.”

It’s ridiculous to even have to point out this Orwellian double-speak to anyone over the age of five. Imagine, there are actually people out here who don’t think the government should be able to listen in on their conversations. They think that it might actually be against the law and unconstitutional. So a company does something to try and reassure a very nervous public that its phones are less likely to be bugged by the government, and the government reacts as if this is high treason.

Simply put, our government no longer believes that Americans have a right to privacy. The Constitution? Fuggetaboutit. We have secret courts that hand out secret rulings that say anything we want to do is okay. The unelected Deep State is not concerned with what Americans want or the rule of law, it’s sole concern is its own survival.

War is peace. Slavery is freedom. Ignorance is strength.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Ready for a good Halloween scare? Republicans set to control both houses of Congress.

Forget ISIS. Forget ebola. The scariest headline of the day comes from the Huffington Post: “GOP Set to Seize the Senate?” or as Salon aptly puts it, “America’s Looming Freak Show.”

This situation is like those milliseconds before a car accident where you know the impact is inevitable but you can’t do a thing about it. After all of the gridlock, the government shutdowns, the partisan grandstanding, the anti-science, anti-logic rantings, the racist attacks on Obama, American voters seem hell-bent on doing it all again.

Any country that has a system that allows this to happen is seriously broken. Thanks to the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Supreme Court decisions, the corporate media, and the Koch’s, conservative billionaires and companies are simply buying Congress for themselves. Democracy is for suckers.

How does all of this square with the fact that in poll after poll, the American people repeatedly rate Congress lower than Satan and rabid dogs. I DON’T KNOW! I have no idea why the polls tell us one thing and the people who actually vote tell us something completely different. And I don’t watch mainstream news shows much, but the evidence indicates they are doing a very bad job of providing their viewers with solid information on which they can make their voting decisions. And people are lazy. Many of them will make their choices based on who had the nastiest attack ad or who looks better draped in an American flag.

I know that compared to other political blogs, my readership is small, but I implore any Democrats who find themselves here to vote in the upcoming midterm elections. It matters. Having Republicans in control of both houses of Congress will be a godsend for Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and the late night shows, but it will be a nightmare for the rest of us.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The lessons of Vietnam have been long forgotten

The Pentagon is going to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War by, as Salon writer Marjorie Cohn puts it, “…launching a $30 million program to rewrite and sanitize its history…” This includes a Pentagon sponsored website that attempts to reflect the era of the war with very scant mention of the massive anti-war protests in the U.S. and around the globe, and no mention of the many thousands of Vietnam veterans who voiced their objections to the war.

I am a Vietnam-era veteran. In a failed attempt to make the draft fairer, the Selective Service instituted the lottery system in 1969, where birthdates were drawn from a large vat. Of course my friends all had high numbers. I was number 12.

Terrified at my prospects, I reported to base camp at Fort Ord, California in May of 1972. Fortunately for me, it was the year they stopped sending soldiers to Vietnam, so my three years in the Army were spent in California and Germany.

Although I didn’t go to Vietnam, the mental and emotional toll of the war was all around me. Angry, scarred, tortured souls came back from the war to try and fit into society again. Probably the most successful ones were those who stayed in the military. Many others were lost to suicide, addiction and homelessness.

I doubt the Pentagon’s anniversary website will mention the fact that the impetus for our large scale entry into that war was based on a lie, just like Bush’s WMDs in Iraq. Sadly, our thirst for war has increased in the last 30 years and the government continues to drag our country into conflicts based on the sketchiest of pretexts.

The primary lesson of Vietnam, that sending Americans to fight and die in foreign lands to expand America’s geopolitical interests is almost always a bad idea, evaporated relatively quickly and we now find ourselves mired in the Middle East as we once were in Southeast Asia.

The 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War should be a time of reflection and soul searching by our government on the use of force as foreign policy, but they’re too busy dropping bombs and spying on citizens to take the time.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Discovery of Iraq chemical weapons does NOT vindicate Bush

Yesterday’s New York Times investigative piece on chemical weapons found in Iraq is a bombshell of an article, but not for the reasons that many conservatives would have you believe.

As an article in today’s Salon and other publications point out, there are two very solid reasons why this revelation is not vindication for those who are crying, “Bush was right. Saddam did have chemical weapons.” The primary point to make is that the chemical weapons our military uncovered in Iraq were pre-1991, degraded chemical munitions that were buried during the Iraq-Iran war and forgotten about. These corroded weapons were not useable and definitely not part of an ongoing WMD program by the Iraqi government. Ironically, many of the weapons were built with the assistance of Western companies

The second point that should be clear to even the dimmest conservative pundit is that a number of these buried caches were found during our invasion of Iraq and after, yet there was not a peep about them from the Bush Administration. If they had found proof that Iraq actually had an active WMD program, don’t you imagine there would have been trumpets blaring and hearty rounds of “I told you so” from Bush and the right-wing media? The Pentagon has admitted that the chemical weapons they found, “Were not the WMDs we were looking for when we went in this time.”

And that brings me to the most disturbing revelation in the Times article. Not only were these weapons not “the WMDs we were looking for,” the Pentagon would not even acknowledge they were found at the time, and even went so far as to deny medical treatment for troops injured during the excavations. Instead of a ticker tape parade down Broadway celebrating the discovery of WMDs, the Pentagon was throwing a blanket over the operations and pretending the weapons didn’t even exist.

George Bush’s invasion of Iraq was a disaster that keeps on giving, and the more we learn about it, the clearer it becomes that this was the largest, and most costly, military blunder in U.S. history.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Crazy Republicans are useful idiots for the one percent

Washington Post writer Paul Waldman ruminates in a column today on the different standards the mainstream press uses when evaluating the damage caused by gaffes made by Republican and Democratic candidates. He notes correctly that Democrats are held to a higher gaffe threshold than Republicans, and a minor slip for a Democrat will induce howling indignation among the pundit class whereas Republicans can drop crazy bombs all day long and there isn’t a whisper in the MSM. The author concludes that the media has become so numbed by Republicans saying insane things they simply ignore the stupid. I have a slightly different take.

My feeling is that Republicans are generally spared harsh MSM critiques because they are the party of useful, pliable dupes who can be counted on to do the bidding of America’s corporate elite. Our media is owned by a small cabal of corporations who depend on Republicans (and some Democrats) to push their goals and policies while in office. They know that many Republican politicians are crazy, but why should they care, as long as the nut job they own supports deregulation and low corporate taxes?

So for the most part, Republicans can get away with calling Obama a socialist or saying that local sheriffs should arrest people trying to institute the Affordable Care Act without much reaction from the MSM. It’s not because the MSM has grown calloused to the right’s crazy rants, but because Republicans play an important role in helping corporate America get the policies it wants.

Deal with the Devil?