Is the mass media even relevant anymore? Has our Press become the poisoned press? Is it all tabloid grade propaganda and sound bite entertainment that too many have confused with the truth? Is the media the messenger of hate and distortion, the demagogues of mob manipulation waltzing this nation down the path to a great national conflagration. If you any common sense and have succumbed to the media opiates you know the answers, and they are not good.
The Collapse of Journalism/The Journalism of Collapse: New Storytelling and a New Story
For OpEdNews: Robert Jensen - Writer
[A version of this essay was delivered as the Lawrence Dana Pinkham Memorial Lecture, Asian College of Journalism, Chennai, India, March 18, 2010.]
by Robert Jensen
There is considerable attention paid in the United States to the collapse of journalism -- both in terms of the demise of the business model for corporate commercial news media, and the evermore superficial, shallow, and senseless content that is inadequate for citizens concerned with self-governance.
This collapse is part of larger crises in the political and economic spheres, crises rooted in the incompatibility of democracy and capitalism. New journalistic vehicles for storytelling are desperately needed.
There has been far less discussion of the need for a journalism of collapse -- the challenge to tell the story of a world facing multiple crises in the realms of social justice and sustainability. This collapse of the basic political and economic systems of the modern world, with dramatic consequences on the human and ecological fronts, demands not only new storytelling vehicles but a new story.
In this essay I want to review the failure of existing systems and suggest ideas for how to think about something radically different, through the lens of journalists' work. The phrase "how to think about" should not be interpreted to mean "provide a well-developed plan for"; I don't have magical answers to these difficult questions, and neither does anyone else. The first task is to face the fact that every problem we encounter does not necessarily have a solution that we can identify, or even imagine, in the moment; that identifying how existing systems have failed does not guarantee we have the capacity to devise new systems that will succeed.
This is a realistic attitude, not a defeatist one. The lack of a guarantee of success does not mean the inevitability of failure, and it does not absolve us of our responsibility to struggle to understand what is happening and to act as moral agents in a difficult world. In fact, I think such realism is required for serious attempts at fashioning a response to the crises. The eventual solutions, if there are to be solutions, may come in frameworks so different from our current understanding that we can't yet see even their outlines, let alone the details. This is a time when we should be focused on "questions that go beyond the available answers," to borrow a phrase from sustainable agriculture researcher Wes Jackson.
Before taking up that challenge, I want to identify the story that dominates our era, what we might call the story of perpetual progress and endless expansion. This is the larger cultural narrative in which specific stories that appear in journalistic outlets are set. Charting the whole history of this story is beyond the scope of this essay, so I will confine myself to the post-WWII era in which I have lived, when this progress/expansion story has dominated not only in the United States and other developed countries but most of the world.
This story goes like this: In the modern world, human beings have dramatically expanded our understanding of how the natural world works, allowing us not only to control and exploit the resources of the non-human world but also to find ways to distribute those resources in a more just and democratic fashion. The progress/expansion story assumes we have knowledge -- or the capacity to acquire knowledge -- that is adequate to run the world competently, and that the application of that knowledge will produce a constantly expanding bounty that, in theory, can provide for all.
The two great systems of the post-WWII era that were in direct conflict -- the capitalist West led by the United States and the communist East led by the Soviet Union -- shared an allegiance to this story, that humans had the ability to understand and control, to shape the future, to become God-like in some sense. Even in places that carved out some independence in the Cold War, such as India, the same philosophy dominated, evidenced most clearly in big dam projects and the Green Revolution's model of water-intensive, chemical farming.
The failure of the communist challenge was said to be "the end of history," a point where the only work remaining was the application of our technical knowledge to lingering problems within a system of global capitalism and liberal democracy. Even with the widening of inequality and the clear threats to the ecosystem from human intervention, the progress/expansion story continues to dominate, bolstered by a widely held technological fundamentalism (more on that later).
The bumper-sticker version of this philosophy: More and bigger is better, forever and ever.
There's one slight problem: If we continue to believe this story, and to base individual decisions and collective policies on it, we will dramatically accelerate the drawdown of the ecological capital of the planet, hastening the point at which the ecosystem will no longer be able to sustain human life as we know it at this level. In the process, we can expect not only more inequality, but in times of intense competition for resources, a dramatic increase in social conflict.
This critique cannot be dismissed as hysteric apocalypticism; it is a reasonable judgment, given all the evidence. The progress/expansion story has left us with enduring levels of human inequality that violate our moral principles and threaten to undermine any social stability, and an endangered ecosystem that threatens our very survival. Whatever systems and institutions we devise to replace those at the root of these problems, the underlying progress/expansion narrative has to change.
Commentary on International Affairs
TCF Announces the Project on Afghanistan in Its Regional and Multilateral Dimensions
Lakhdar Brahimi, the former United Nations special representative for Afghanistan, and Thomas Pickering, former U.S. undersecretary of State and ambassador to the United Nations, are chairing The Century Foundation's new international task force on Afghanistan in its regional and multilateral dimensions. The task force is at the center of a project that TCF is undertaking to examine ways the international community can more effectively assist Afghanistan's transition from a war-ridden failed state to a fragile but reasonably peaceful one. The project will focus particularly on the concerns and involvement of countries in the region in Afghanistan's crises and on the roles. Learn more here. Read the press release.
From insideIRAN: Fight for Iran Is Battle Over Access to Technology
After the 2009 political upheaval in Iran, both the strength of the Iranian government and momentum of the Green movement remain unclear. Both have endured, and both continue to be major forces in Iranian politics. The Century Foundation and the National Security Network convened the first of several advisory groups to examine these issues and formulate recommendations on a way forward for Western governments concerned both with human rights inside Iran and the larger geopolitical situation around Iran. The group included eminent Americans and Europeans as well as Iranians with ties to the Green movement. This first meeting focused heavily on the role technology can play in connecting Iranians to each other and the world and articulated several recommendations. Read more about these issues on insideIRAN.
A Year of Crisis
The Century Foundation and the UNA-USA Southern New York State Division hosted the Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference, open to the public as the 2010 UNA-USA Members’ Day. Amid urgent public concerns about the world economic crisis, the dangers of nuclear weapons, and the continuing war in Afghanistan, the Year of Crises conference explored these issues. View video here.
Ignoring History, or Repeating It: The Story of United Nations Reform
In the March issue of Global magazine, Senior Fellow Jeffrey Laurenti assesses the prospects for reforming or strengthening the United Nations. Read here.
Turkey's Political Revolution
Morton Abramowitz and Henri J. Barkey | March 22, 2010
An unprecedented political drama has been unfolding in Turkey, leading toward the elimination of military tutelage over the country's political life. Prosecutors recently arrested some of Turkey's most senior military leaders, both active and retired. Continue Reading.
Uprooted Iraqis: Worse Off, Not Better
Morton Abramowitz and George Rupp | March 18, 2010
Over the past three years, we have investigated one of the unintended byproducts of the Iraq War: uprooted Iraqis. While the exact numbers are disputed, it is safe to say that between 3 and 4 million Iraqis have been forced to flee. Today, despite occasional reports exaggerating the numbers returning to their homes, most of the Iraqis who fled are still in exile. Continue Reading.
The economic elite have launched an attack on the U.S. public and society is unraveling at an increased rate.
You may have missed it in the mainstream news media, but statistical societal indicators are reading red across the board. Before exposing the root causes of this breakdown, let’s look at some vital statistics and facts:
* The inequality of wealth in the United States is soaring to an unprecedented level. The US already had the highest inequality of wealth in the industrialized world prior to the financial crisis. Since the crisis, which has hit the middle class and poor much harder than the top one percent, the gap between the top one percent and the remaining 99% of the US population has grown to a record high.
* As the stock market went over the 10,000 mark and just surged to a 13-month high, the three big banks that took taxpayer money and benefit the most from the government bailout have just set a new global economic record by issuing $30 billion in annual bonuses this year, “up 60 percent from last year.” Bloomberg reported: “Goldman Sachs, the most profitable securities firm in Wall Street history, had a record profit in the first nine months of this year and set aside $16.7 billion for compensation expenses.” Goldman Sachs is on pace for the best year in the firm’s history, they are also benefiting by only paying 1% in taxes.
* The profits of the economic elite are “now underwritten by taxpayers with $23.7 trillion worth of national wealth.”
As the looting is occurring at the top, the US middle class is just beginning to collapse.
* Workers between the age of 55 - 60, who have worked for 20 - 29 years, have lost an average of 25 percent off their 401k. During the same time period, the wealth of the 400 richest Americans went up by $30 billion, bringing their total combined wealth to $1.57 trillion.
* Home foreclosure filings “hit a record high in the third quarter [of 2009]… They were the worst three months of all time… 937,840 homes received a foreclosure letter” in this three month period. “3.4 million homes are expected to enter foreclosure by year’s end, with some experts estimating that next year will be even worse.”
President Obama has enacted a $75 billion taxpayer funded program that has been a spectacular failure in stemming the foreclosure crisis and has proven to be another massive waste of billions of taxpayer dollars.
* 25 Million people are unemployed or underemployed.
This means we have 25 million people who urgently need to increase their income, and they’re quickly running out of options. The unemployment rate is expected to rise further and remain high for several years. “The president’s chief economic adviser warned that the nation’s unemployment rate could stay ‘unacceptably high’ for years to come.”
The NY Times reports: “Americans now confront a job market that is bleaker than ever in the current recession, and employment prospects are still getting worse. Job seekers now outnumber openings six to one, the worst ratio since the government began tracking…” As this ratio continues to grow, it will lead to a further reduction in wages - average worker wages have seen a sharp decline over the past year.
Economist Nouriel Roubini, a man who accurately predicted our current crisis, just reported on unemployment stating: “Think the worst is over? Wrong. Conditions in the U.S. labor markets are awful and worsening…. So we can expect that job losses will continue until the end of 2010 at the earliest. In other words, if you are unemployed and looking for work and just waiting for the economy to turn the corner, you had better hunker down. All the economic numbers suggest this will take a while. The jobs just are not coming back.”
* As the few elite banks thrive, there have been 123 US bank failures thus far this year. Recently, three banks that the government declared “healthy” and gave taxpayer money to have folded. The Wall Street Journal reports: “U.S. regulators have seized or threatened at least 27 banks that got capital infusions from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, including some lenders government officials knew were troubled when they awarded the money. The troubles put taxpayers at risk of losing as much as $5.1 billion invested in the banks since TARP was launched in October 2008.”
* As bankruptcies surge across the board, 10 US states are on the verge of bankruptcy, with several ready to declare a financial state of emergency. California, Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Wisconsin are all “barreling toward economic disaster, raising the likelihood of higher taxes, more government layoffs and deep cuts in services.”
This is occurring at a time when the “federal budget deficit for the fiscal year that just ended was $1.4 trillion, nearly a trillion dollars greater than the year before.” In total, “US public debt topped 12 trillion dollars for the first time in history… The public debt topped 10 trillion dollars in September 2008. The debt is quickly approaching the statutory limit of 12.104 trillion dollars, meaning Congress would have to raise the ceiling to prevent a shutdown of government operations.”
Economist Dean Baker explains the risk of running such a large deficit: “The debt limit must be increased at regular intervals in order to allow the government to function normally because the government is currently operating at a deficit. If the debt limit is not passed, then at some point the government will not be able to pay workers and contractors. It won’t be able to send out Social Security checks or make payments for Medicaid and unemployment insurance to state governments. And, it will not be able to make interest payments on government bonds, effectively defaulting on the national debt.”
Needless to say, all of this will make life drastically more difficult for citizens of the US. As the middle class continues on the path of economic decline, the number of citizens living in poverty has already hit an all time high.
* Although the government’s official figure tries to low-ball the number, 47.4 Million US citizens live in poverty, and the US poverty rate is the highest in the industrialized world.
Predictably, homelessness is rising at an increased rate as well. “The US government does not tally the numbers but interested organisations say that more than 3 million people were homeless at some point over the past year…. The fastest growing segment of the homeless population is families with children.”
Children have been hit especially hard by the economic crisis:
* 50% of US children, one out of every two children, will need to use food stamps to eat.
One out of every two children in the United States of America will need to use a food stamp… to EAT!
If you didn’t think starvation was a serious threat in the US, just read this new Washington Post report: “The nation’s economic crisis has catapulted the number of Americans who lack enough food to the highest level since the government has been keeping track, according to a new federal report, which shows that nearly 50 million people — including almost one child in four — struggled last year to get enough to eat… Several independent advocates and policy experts on hunger said that they had been bracing for the latest report to show deepening shortages, but that they were nevertheless astonished by how much the problem has worsened. ‘This is unthinkable. It’s like we are living in a Third World country,’ said Vicki Escarra, president of Feeding America.”
The United States Department of Agriculture released these findings in a study that was completed in December 2008, which means these numbers don’t take into account the millions more unemployed throughout 2009. The numbers of people living in poverty and struggling to eat has seen a significant increase since then.
This a national tragedy. But it gets much worse.
* In 2008, according to the Census Bureau, the number of US citizens without healthcare grew to a record 46.3 million. “The new figures, however, understate the severity of the economic downturn because a large portion of nation’s job losses and unemployment rate increases occurred after the Census survey data was collected in March as part of the annual Current Population Survey.”
* Lack of health Insurance has caused 45,000 preventable U.S. citizen deaths in the past year. The American Journal of Medicine recently released a study that stated “Nearly two out of three bankruptcies stem from medical bills, and even people with health insurance face financial disaster if they experience a serious illness.”
A Johns Hopkins Children’s Center study reported that 17,000 children have died due to lack of healthcare. You can also add in a recent report that revealed that 2,266 US Veterans have died in 2008 due to lack of insurance.
The 50 million now uninsured and the 45,000 preventable deaths per year statistics are expected to drastically rise over the next few years. As the Senate continues to strip meaningful amendments from a healthcare bill that wouldn’t even take effect until 2013, it has become clear that, despite the media hype, the healthcare bill is going to fall far short of meaningful reform and continue to rig the game in favor of large insurance company profits at the expense of the US population. With the highest cost healthcare in the world, current trends will continue and much needed change is not on the horizon.
Never before has the United States had so many citizens with so little means, little to no income and heavy debt. Debt and costs of living have now shackled US citizens just as it has shackled people throughout the world. The economic hit men have now hit the US as well and millions of US citizens are now effectively sentenced to a slow death.
Economic Imperial blowback has hit the mainland.
And the clock is ticking louder by the day…
Here’s another fact for you:
* The gun and ammunition manufacturing industry in the United States has over 200 companies producing billions of dollars in annual revenues. This huge manufacturing base cannot fulfill demand quickly enough. The demand for guns and ammunition has hit a record high and the gun industry cannot produce enough bullets to keep up with orders.
American’s are arming themselves to the teeth!
* In the past year, 100 new armed militia groups have been formed, as militia members have doubled in numbers. Federal authorities are gravely concerned about the “uptick in militia activities.” One federal authority recently said, “All it’s lacking is a spark. I think it’s only a matter of time before you see threats and violence.”
So let’s breakdown these numbers.
You have a population of 50 million people who are in desperate need of money, they most likely have no health insurance and can’t afford to get healthcare or help of any kind. Part of this population probably also has loved ones who can’t get life sustaining medical treatments, or loved ones that have already died due to lack of costly medical treatment. The clock is ticking loud for these people and they are running out of options fast, and time delayed is time closer to death.
While the richest one percent have never had it so good, a significant percentage of the US population now has firsthand experience in this. Millions upon millions of Americans are poor, broke, struggling, starving, desperate… and armed.
We are sitting on a powder keg!
We are now witnessing the critical unraveling of US society.
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Add to this picture an environmental crisis the likes of which humanity has never faced.
Considering our current economy, what will happen when another extreme weather event like Hurricane Katrina hits a major US city? What will happen when storms, droughts and fires continue to spread with increasing intensity? How many have to die before even modest actions are taken to prevent environmental catastrophe?
Extreme weather events are pounding the globe, it is as if the environment has declared war on us as a species. Humanity has become a polluting cancer in the environmental system, and if we don’t urgently act to stop the bleeding, things are going to get drastically worse in a pace faster than anticipated. And this is not an opinion; it is happening now, there is plenty of empirical evidence that anyone can see before their own eyes, if they care to look.
US public opinion on the climate crisis has been distorted by the mainstream US media in stunning fashion. A recent Pew Research study revealed that only 36 percent of the US population thinks the climate crisis is a result of human activity.
Regardless of your beliefs, due to climate change, we are on the verge of experiencing major water shortages spreading “across the country. Sooner rather than later…” California has already been hit by extreme drought and water is in very short supply. As the Arctic continues to melt, California will continue to experience extreme drought. A new study revealed: “when Arctic sea ice disappears, the jet stream—high-altitude winds with a profound influence on climate—shifts north, moving precipitation away from California.” A recent “sweeping water-reform bill” in California temporarily eased public outcry, but the problem remains. The U.S. is confronted by a serious water crisis.
For a global example, there is currently an extreme drought in East Africa as well, which has 23 million people on the verge of dying from starvation. Due to the drought, crops have been killed in unprecedented fashion. Events of this nature are happening all over the globe.
Of the worldwide record one billion people going hungry, the leading cause is destroyed agriculture due to extreme weather.
As a significant percentage of humanity faces death due to climate change, we are in the midst of our planet’s sixth great extinction. Over 17,000 species are threatened with extinction, “more than one in five of all known mammals, over a quarter of reptiles and 70 percent of plants are under threat.”
For those of you unaware, the earth’s ecosystem is a very delicate balance. Being in the midst of the earth’s sixth great extinction is not a matter to be ignored.
The upcoming climate summit in Copenhagen was considered by leaders throughout the world to be the most critical environmental summit in the history of civilization. International headlines read: “We only have months, not years, to save civilization from climate change.”
The reason why no deal will be reached at the summit: the United States is refusing to take necessary action.
In a PR move to calm criticism in advance of the summit, the US and Japan announced a vague agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions… in 2012. However, the “agreement on this ambitious reduction target could not be reached during the APEC summit, and so was dropped from the draft statement.”
It would be smart of the public relations department to at least get one photo op with Obama actually at the climate summit. Instead of being at the most important summit, perhaps in the history of civilization, it appears Obama will be blowing it off to give his speech on how it feels to win the Nobel Peace Prize… H E L L O.
We are living in an insane asylum.
The Goldman Sachs PR guy is out giving speeches on how cool it is to cast the illusion of peace and hope, while the earth burns.
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I don’t mean to dismiss the Obama myth, his words, the change we need is real, its just his actions don’t even come close to measuring up. Just read the legal documents he has signed his name to. Read them. His actions are most often the opposite of what he says. I venture to say a 10 year old can recognize that after doing a school day’s worth of research.
Obama is a national tragedy. He is a symbol of the times. He is not a leader, just a symbol. He projects the change we need. He was our shortcut to correcting our diseased political system, a way to rid it of corruption. He symbolized the change millions so desperately need. People came out in the millions for the first time “hoping” if they could work and organize to put him in office, we would have some representation to defend against the economic elite that have put the overwhelming majority of US politicians on the payroll and brought humanity to a breaking point.
People just need to research how the Obama myth was hatched. Goldman Sachs saw Obama early on and said, “He’s our guy!” When Obama became THE MAN in Iowa, he was on the Goldman Sachs pay roll. Goldman financed the psychological operation that is the Obama myth, the Illusion of HOPE - something to keep a suffering nation pacified just a little bit longer. Obama is truly a national tragedy. His failure and inaction has disillusioned millions upon millions of desperate citizens who turned to him as their best chance for justice.
As further evidence of Obama’s duplicity — beyond repeatedly signing his name to documents covering up the Bush Adminstration’s highest crimes and increasing an already bloated military budget — in one of his very first moves as President he put Goldman Sachs’ criminal mastermind Tim Geitner in charge of the treasury.
A new report from the TARP Inspector General further exposes Tim Geithner’s role “in overpayments that put billions of extra tax dollars in the coffers of major Wall Street firms, most notably Goldman Sachs.”
Which brings us to the ultimate theft of wealth in history, and to the root cause of our current crisis.
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URGENT NATIONAL EMERGENCY: TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN PUBLIC WEALTH HAS BEEN STOLEN
This crime makes Bernie Madoff’s look like an elementary school lunch money stickup. No, I’m not talking about the hundreds of billions in the housing crisis scam cooked up by JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs that left millions homeless and investors suckered the world over, or even the $2.75 trillion oil futures market scam that has siphoned 50% of all our spending on gas and fuel.
These huge scams are just diversions from the ultimate crime.
Trillions of dollars, trillions of our money, of our tax money — the money that comes out of your paycheck every week of your working life, all the thousands upon thousands that have been taken away from you and your family and are supposed to fund our government and keep our society functioning — have been handed over to the economic elite, to the Llyod Blankfeins and Jamie Dimons of the world.
Hank Paulson and his confidant Tim Geitner, the Goldman Sachs wonder twins, have looted the US treasury. There has been an economic coup in the United States!
Trillions of our dollars have vanished! You need to understand this!
We have just witnessed the greatest theft of wealth in history, the greatest transfer of wealth from the working class to the economic elite ever. An organized banking cartel has seized the US treasury and they are making up the “laws” and the rules to this rigged game. The covert economy has grown at a staggering rate due to taxpayer-funded injections. As a result of this, economic shackles are just beginning to fall upon the American public like never before. 99% of our nation is now sentenced to a slow death.
Just as economic hit men have done to governments throughout the globe, they have gained complete control of the US government and have now shackled US citizens as well. The economic elite do not want to deal with “spoiled Americans” anymore, that’s how they see it. To them the middle class was always an annoying nuisance to be tolerated so the economy could keep functioning well enough to allow their scams to perpetuate. But once their scam known as the US stock market came crashing down, and they were threatened with losing their ultimate power, they turned to the US middle class and opened fire. “Enough with you, we are taking over your government and stealing your tax money!”
This is exactly what happened!
The economic elite are operating under the belief that the world is theirs, they own it, and to hell with everyone else. They also take the view that as the environment grows more destructive, they don’t want us around to compete for resources.
This is self-evident after some research into policy actions that have been carried out. Research it for yourself!
Recent investigations into the illegal practices of Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan have revealed the US economy and stock market to be a fraud. As more of the world becomes aware of this, the dollar will continue to plummet and the U.S. public will pay a devastating price - things are just beginning to unravel.
The US economy has been hit by a deathblow, it lay in ruins naked and exposed to “Too Big Too Fail” thieves who have raped and pillaged, who are looting public wealth in unprecedented fashion.
The economic elite are vultures feeding off the carcass that is the US economy. The whole political structure has been gutted by corruption. Democracy was the façade that this house of cards was built on - a pyramid scheme that was built on the illusion of law and freedom.
Historians will look back at this time as a period in which corrupt despots ruled the masses with utter short-sighted greed and casted an illusion over the base population to keep the scam rolling along, until the end of the American empire, until the public driven economy came crashing down in a thunderous economic cloud of greed and corruption.
The smoke is still in our eyes, but the masses are beginning to see, to realize.
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Many middle class US citizens don’t realize all of this yet, I understand their lack of action and confusion because I have also been bred as a middle class American in the propaganda system known as the US mainstream media, but I’m writing this to let you know…
Our survival instinct has to quickly override our conditioned naiveté and passivity that has been bred into us. We are threatened as a country and a species at the same time.
We, as a nation, must overcome heavy doses of propaganda administered by the mainstream media for hours a day, every day of our existence. Shake off your conditioned naiveté and passivity. This is a brutal world we live in, and we are now at war…
The American dream state is over. It’s time to get real, time to sound the alarm.
I am of the sincere hope that we will be able to rise up as a counterweight to the economic elite. In the overall scheme of things, history has placed us in a pivotal position. We are a vital countervailing force to the economic elite and must immediately start exercising our rights of redress.
People throughout the world understand that the US middle class has to serve as a counterweight to an economic cartel that has brought humanity to a breaking point.
The economic elite also understand this, this is why they have launched a war on us.
Now that our existence is directly threatened as well, people are awaking from a propagandized existence and realizing the gravity of our crisis.
We must sound the alarm and discard our illusions.
It is time to evolve from a state of “Hope” to a state of “Action.”
We desperately need intelligent leadership, free from the shackles of the banking cartel.
We, as a nation, cannot continue to settle for the politics of corruption. We must begin by addressing the root cause of our troubles and hold accountable those directly responsible for the greatest theft of wealth in history.
We must flood the halls of Congress; we must engage our House of Representatives and begin to rein in the economic elite.
This Is A… NATIONAL EMERGENCY…
Economic justice is possible, it may be hard to believe here in the US, but a nation of law is still possible. It is possible only if YOU begin to act.
We are 99% of the population, they are only 1%.
The outcome is not assured; we must start organizing on a mass scale.
Take your plight to your representative. SOUND THE ALARM!
We must understand “the fierce urgency of now!”
THE ALARM HAS BEEN SOUNDED . .
~ AmpedStatus Report
Have a Nice World War, Folks : By John Pilger
March 25, 2010 "Information Clearing House" -- Here is news of the Third World War. The United States has invaded Africa. US troops have entered Somalia, extending their war front from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Yemen and now the Horn of Africa. In preparation for an attack on Iran, American missiles have been placed in four Persian Gulf states, and “bunker-buster” bombs are said to be arriving at the US base on the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.
In Gaza, the sick and abandoned population, mostly children, is being entombed behind underground American-supplied walls in order to reinforce a criminal siege. In Latin America, the Obama administration has secured seven bases in Colombia, from which to wage a war of attrition against the popular democracies in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay. Meanwhile, the secretary of “defence” Robert Gates complains that “the general [European] public and the political class” are so opposed to war they are an “impediment” to peace. Remember this is the month of the March Hare.
According to an American general, the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan is not so much a real war as a “war of perception”. Thus, the recent “liberation of the city of Marja” from the Taliban’s “command and control structure” was pure Hollywood. Marja is not a city; there was no Taliban command and control. The heroic liberators killed the usual civilians, poorest of the poor. Otherwise, it was fake. A war of perception is meant to provide fake news for the folks back home, to make a failed colonial adventure seem worthwhile and patriotic, as if The Hurt Locker were real and parades of flag-wrapped coffins through the Wiltshire town of Wooten Basset were not a cynical propaganda exercise.
“War is fun”, the helmets in Vietnam used to say with bleakest irony, meaning that if a war is revealed as having no purpose other than to justify voracious power in the cause of lucrative fanaticisms such as the weapons industry, the danger of truth beckons. This danger can be illustrated by the liberal perception of Tony Blair in 1997 as one “who wants to create a world [where] ideology has surrendered entirely to values” (Hugo Young, the Guardian) compared with today’s public reckoning of a liar and war criminal.
Western war-states such as the US and Britain are not threatened by the Taliban or any other introverted tribesmen in faraway places, but by the anti-war instincts of their own citizens. Consider the draconian sentences handed down in London to scores of young people who protested Israel’s assault on Gaza in January last year. Following demonstrations in which paramilitary police “kettled” (corralled) thousands, first-offenders have received two and a half years in prison for minor offences that would not normally carry custodial sentences. On both sides of the Atlantic, serious dissent exposing illegal war has become a serious crime.
Silence in other high places allows this moral travesty. Across the arts, literature, journalism and the law, liberal elites, having hurried away from the debris of Blair and now Obama, continue to fudge their indifference to the barbarism and aims of western state crimes by promoting retrospectively the evils of their convenient demons, like Saddam Hussein. With Harold Pinter gone, try compiling a list of famous writers, artists and advocates whose principles are not consumed by the “market” or neutered by their celebrity. Who among them have spoken out about the holocaust in Iraq during almost 20 years of lethal blockade and assault? And all of it has been deliberate. On 22 January 1991, the US Defence Intelligence Agency predicted in impressive detail how a blockade would systematically destroy Iraq’s clean water system and lead to “increased incidences, if not epidemics of disease”. So the US set about eliminating clean water for the Iraqi population: one of the causes, noted Unicef, of the deaths of half a million Iraqi infants under the age of five. But this extremism apparently has no name.
Norman Mailer once said he believed the United States, in its endless pursuit of war and domination, had entered a “pre-fascist era”. Mailer seemed tentative, as if trying to warn about something even he could not quite define. “Fascism” is not right, for it invokes lazy historical precedents, conjuring yet again the iconography of German and Italian repression. On the other hand, American authoritarianism, as the cultural critic Henry Giroux pointed out recently, is “more nuance, less theatrical, more cunning, less concerned with repressive modes of control than with manipulative modes of consent.”
This is Americanism, the only predatory ideology to deny that it is an ideology. The rise of tentacular corporations that are dictatorships in their own right and of a military that is now a state with the state, set behind the façade of the best democracy 35,000 Washington lobbyists can buy, and a popular culture programmed to divert and stultify, is without precedent. More nuanced perhaps, but the results are both unambiguous and familiar. Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, the senior United Nations officials in Iraq during the American and British-led blockade, are in no doubt they witnessed genocide. They saw no gas chambers. Insidious, undeclared, even presented wittily as enlightenment on the march, the Third World War and its genocide proceeded, human being by human being.
In the coming election campaign in Britain, the candidates will refer to this war only to laud “our boys”. The candidates are almost identical political mummies shrouded in the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes. As Blair demonstrated a mite too eagerly, the British elite loves America because America allows it to barrack and bomb the natives and call itself a “partner”. We should interrupt their fun.
I’m collecting here the best explainer posts, widgets, and videos on the health care legislation that just passed. Immediately after the bill made it through, I started getting questions from friends who are politically aware enough to know it was happening, but not nearly as hooked-in as I am–and I couldn’t even tell them what was in the bill. So, here’s my attempt to help with that problem. Above is a video from GRITtv with Maggie Mahar of HealthBeatBlog.org and Jacob Hacker, the inventor of the public option (that we didn’t get) explaining what’s in the bill and when it takes place.
The Washington Post made this really great interactive gadget that should tell you how the bill will affect you.
The New York Times also has a gadget, though not quite as cool to my mind as the WaPo’s, it is simpler.
The Kaiser Family Foundation has a handy subsidy calculator as well, just in case the last two widgets didn’t tell you enough about your personal finances.
From CNN, a rundown on when different provisions kick in.
Nick Baumann at Mother Jones with a plain-English rundown of what happens this year.
MoveOn.org has Ten Things Every American Should Know, though frankly it’s more like Ten Talking Points. Still, stats worth looking at.
CBS has a nice summary of the bill in bullet points.
This is just a start; I plan to keep collecting. Please leave your suggestions in comments, and feel free to steal this! Almost all of these suggestions came to me via Twitter, thanks to everyone who sent ‘em.
"You need to riot": Right-wing pushes violent rhetoric
In the wake of reported threats on Democratic officials due to their health care votes, Media Matters for America takes a look back at the right-wing media's history of promoting violence.
Right-wing blogger: People should "have a swing at" lawmakers "if you're willing to do the time." In a March 24 post on his blog, Confederate Yankee, Bob Owens wrote:
No matter what you think of Obamacare and the craven ideologues that passed it, is totally unacceptable to threaten their relatives or friends and put them in danger.
Go to your Congressman's office and scream at him in the most colorful language possible. Hang him in effigy at protests. If you're willing to do the time for the crime, have a swing at him.
Better yet, throw a shoe... after all, the left values such behavior as a form of "vigorous dissent," and will no doubt ask for any charges against you to be dropped.
Perhaps one day stronger action will be required if Progressives continue to trample on our liberties in their blind quest for power. But that time is not now.
At this time, I suspect Shikha Dalmia's call for massive civil disobedience is the correct path. Show your anger. Make sure those who have trampled your liberties are stuck down by ballots. With your help, the Democratic Party's assault on the Republic can be undone.
The right way.
Owens: "Jackasses" who call health care a right "deserve to be drawn and quartered." From Owens' Twitter account:
Palin: "Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!" Fox News contributor Sarah Palin posted a list of House Democrats who voted for health care reform with crosshairs aimed at their locations. In a March 23 tweet about her map, Palin wrote: " 'Don't Retreat, Instead -- RELOAD!' " Palin's list was criticized by conservative Elizabeth Hasselbeck, who introduced and endorsed Palin during the 2008 campaign, ashelping foster a climate of violent rhetoric. Hasselbeck added that the list is "purely despicable" and "insane."
Huckabee: Members of Congress "should be tarred and feathered as the original tea partiers would have done." As RightWingWatch.org noted, Fox News host Mike Huckabee said of members of Congress in January:
HUCKABEE: Every member of Congress knows in his gut what's in the people's interest and what's in K Street's interest. If you think your real boss is some smug guy in a corner office with his Gucci loafers up on a mahogany deck and not the folks back home, those folks who voted for you, who gave you 25 or 50 hard-earned bucks, who put up yard signs and made calls for you, you deserve to lose. Shame on you, you shouldn't just be fired, you should be tarred and feathered as the original tea partiers would have done. That's my view and I welcome yours.
Morris: "Those crazies in Montana who say, 'We're going to kill ATF agents because the U.N.'s going to take over' -- well, they're beginning to have a case." During a long conspiracy theory about a "super-national authority" that will oversee U.S. financial institutions, Fox News contributor Dick Morris asserted that because President Obama's policies are "internationalist ... [t]hose crazies in Montana who say, 'We're going to kill ATF agents because the U.N.'s going to take over' -- well, they're beginning to have a case." [Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, 3/31/09]
Erickson: "At what point do the people ... march down to their state legislator's house, pull him outside, and beat him to a bloody pulp?" In a March 31, 2009, post on RedState.com discussing a Washington county's ban on certain kinds of dishwasher detergent, Erick Erickson wrote: "At what point do the people tell the politicians to go to hell? At what point do they get off the couch, march down to their state legislator's house, pull him outside, and beat him to a bloody pulp for being an idiot?" Later in the post, Erickson added: "Were I in Washington State, I'd be cleaning my gun right about now waiting to protect my property from the coming riots or the government apparatchiks coming to enforce nonsensical legislation."
Savage: "We're going to have a revolution in this country"; "These people are pushing the wrong people around." Michael Savage discussed multiculturalism and predicted: "This is not going to go on in this country much longer. We're going to have a revolution in this country if this keeps up. These people are pushing the wrong people around." Savage further said that "the rage has reached a boil. If they keep pushing us around, and if we keep having these schmucks running for office catering to the multicultural people who are destroying the culture of this country ... guaranteed the people -- the white male in particular." [Talk Radio Network's The Savage Nation, 8/21/09]
Stossel said he has "Barney Frank in effigy" hanging above his sofa. In a February 3 interview with New York magazine, when Fox Business host John Stossel was asked, "What's hanging above your sofa?" he responded: "Barney Frank in effigy." [New York, 2/3/10]
Beck portrays Obama, Democrats as vampires, suggests "driv[ing] a stake through the heart of the bloodsuckers." Beck aired a graphic portraying Obama and Democrats as vampires and said, "The government is full of vampires, and they are trying to suck the lifeblood out of the economy." Beck then suggested "driv[ing] a stake through the heart of the bloodsuckers." [Glenn Beck, 3/30/09]
Beck talks about "put[ting] poison" in Pelosi's wine. Beck stated:
BECK: So, Speaker Pelosi, I just wanted to -- you gonna drink your wine? Are you blind? Do those eyes not work? There you -- I want you to drink it now. Drink it. Drink it. Drink it.
I really just wanted to thank you for having me over here to wine country. You know, to be invited, I thought I had to be a major Democratic donor or a longtime friend of yours, which I'm not.
By the way, I put poison in your -- no, I -- I look forward to all the policy discussions that we're supposed to have -- you know, on health care, energy reform, and the economy. [Glenn Beck 8/6/09]
Beck: "To the day I die, I am going to be a progressive hunter." Telling his listeners that they "are going to learn so much on Friday," Beck compared himself to "Israeli Nazi hunters" and commented, "I'm going to find these big progressives and, to the day I die, I'm going to be a progressive hunter." He added:
BECK: I'm going to find these people that have done this to our -- you know, to our country, and expose them. I don't care where -- I don't care if they're in nursing homes. I'm going to expose what they have done and make sure that the people understand, because our Constitution, our republic -- if it survives -- it will only survive because the people are waking up and through the grace of God, because we are that close to losing our republic. [Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program, 1/20/10]
Beck: "Grab a torch." Asserting that politicians are addicted to spending, Beck stated: "When do we ever run those who are bankrupting our country and literally stealing our children's future out of town? Grab a torch." [Glenn Beck, 1/6/10]
Beck speaks for one third of the nation: "[Y]ou will have to shoot me in the forehead before you take away my gun" and "before I acquiesce and be silent." During the July 30, 2009, editionof his radio show, Beck warned "ACORN, GE, Obama, SEIU" that "you are awakening a sleeping giant, and I have nothing to do with it" and that "America is waking up. You know the American Revolution took place with 12 percent of the population? Twelve. Are you telling me there is not 30 percent of this population that you will have to shoot me in the forehead before I let somebody into my house to tell me how to raise my children; you will have to shoot me in the forehead before you take away my gun; you will have to shoot me in the forehead before I acquiesce and be silent."
Beck: "There is a coup going on. There is a stealing of America." On his radio show, Beck stated that "there is a revolution, and they think they can get away with it quietly." Beck further claimed: "At this point, gang, I'm not sure, they may be able to because they are so far ahead of us. They know what they're dealing against; most of America does not yet. Most of America doesn't have a clue as to what's going on. There is a coup going on. There is a stealing of America, and the way it is done, it has been done through the -- the guise of an election, but they lied to us the entire time." He also said, "And they're gonna say, 'we did it democratically,' and they are going to grab power every way they can. And God help us in an emergency." [The Glenn Beck Program, 8/31/09]
Beck pours gasoline on "average American," asks, "President Obama, why don't you just set us on fire?" On his Fox News program, Beck claimed to be imitating Obama while pouring liquid from a gasoline can -- which he later stated was water -- on an "average American." Beck said during his demonstration: "President Obama, why don't you just set us on fire? ... We didn't vote to lose the republic." [Glenn Beck, 4/9/09]
Newsmax columnist Perry asserts Obama "is inviting" a "[m]ilitary intervention." John Perry wrote: "There is a remote, although gaining, possibility America's military will intervene as a last resort to resolve the 'Obama problem.' Don't dismiss it as unrealistic." He added:
Will the day come when patriotic general and flag officers sit down with the president, or with those who control him, and work out the national equivalent of a "family intervention," with some form of limited, shared responsibility?
Imagine a bloodless coup to restore and defend the Constitution through an interim administration that would do the serious business of governing and defending the nation. Skilled, military-trained, nation-builders would replace accountability-challenged, radical-left commissars. Having bonded with his twin teleprompters, the president would be detailed for ceremonial speech-making.
Military intervention is what Obama's exponentially accelerating agenda for "fundamental change" toward a Marxist state is inviting upon America. A coup is not an ideal option, but Obama's radical ideal is not acceptable or reversible. [Newsmax.com, 9/29/09]
Quinn calls for "riots": "Our country was built on revolution, and it's about time we took it back." Discussing health care reform, Jim Quinn stated, "You have got to say no to this, and if they push this through, you need to riot in the streets. You need to riot in the streets." He further said, "Our country was built on revolution and it's about time we took it back. These people are dangerous," and, "It's about time to put an end to this leftist control of this country, and if a revolution is what it takes, damn it, then that's what it's going to take, because liberty will not be denied." [The War Room with Quinn and Rose, 9/10/09]
Chuck Norris: "[W]ill history need to record a second American Revolution?" In his March 9, 2009, column for WorldNetDaily, actor and political activist Chuck Norris wrote: "How much more will Americans take? When will enough be enough? And, when that time comes, will our leaders finally listen or will history need to record a second American Revolution? We the people have the authority according to America's Declaration of Independence." Norris also wrote, "On Glenn Beck's radio showlast week, I quipped in response to our wayward federal government, 'I may run for president of Texas.' That need may be a reality sooner than we think."