Friday, July 23, 2010

Lies, Damned Lies, and Rupert Murdoch's Curse on the World

The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity.
~Andre Gide

Perhaps the most teachable moment in network news coverage since the "Balloon Boy" fiasco of late last year unfolded this week. The real question is, in this time of 24 hours news cycles, will anyone learn anything? Before we forget and move on to the next celebrity-going-to-jail story here's a recap:

Right-wing media terrorists do a drive by smearing of a government employee. Obama administration tosses the employee under the bus immediately. Someone actually bothers to investigate the right wing smear machine and discovers it was all a disgustingly manipulative hoax (as well as defamation of character, which could be a sweet legal issue to smack down these fools this time). Right-wing media blame Obama.

The real beauty of this, besides a lawsuit against these bastards, is that they had pulled this shit dozens of times before and gotten away with it. Van Jones and ACORN were the most high profile victims of the lie machine's withering attack on Democratic timidity. But now no one will EVER take them seriously again. We hope.

Fox "News" looks more transparent than ever as the propaganda arm of the Republican Party. And as such, the narratives they adhere to, such as the divide and conquer strategy that is as old as ancient Rome and as young as Nixon's Southern Strategy, has become obvious to all who wish to see it. Rachel Maddow had an excellent breakdown of how they changed tack on the Sherrod smear once the lie had been exposed. She used the network's own video clips from one day to the next to expose their blatant shilling. They are beneath contempt!

President Obama is walking on eggshells because of the power-charged race issue that Republicans have and will exploit to the hilt. However, I don't believe Hilary Clinton, or any Democrat for that matter, would have had any more fortitude than Obama. Do you recall Lani Guinier? The Democrats have enabled the lies and smears by rewarding them instead of fighting them with the most powerful weapon there is: the truth. Ultimately, it falls back on the American public to put an end to the bullshit, but they seem to be more interested in Hollywood gossip than in politics. That is the real source of the problem.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tonight We're Gonna Party Like it's 1789

‎"Immovably, they insist on the very ideology which enslaves them. The misplaced love of the common people for the wrong which is done them is a greater force than the cunning of the authorities."
~Theodore Adorno and Max Horkheimer, 1944

Today is le quatorze juillet also known as Bastille Day, marking the onset of the French Revolution, which overthrew a hopelessly corrupt, and ineptly deficient monarchy. Far flung wars of conquest had bankrupted the country to the point it could not even take care of its growing number of war veterans. Years of no-so-benign neglect had resulted growing poverty and inequity between the peasants and the ruling class. Sound familiar? Not to fear, the royal warmongers of this country are currently safe, and at this time even seemingly poised for a comeback. If one were to listen to the right-wing media, the biggest issues in the elections of 2010 are not perpetual war, too-big-to-fail banks, or even the continued decline of the middle class from globalization. No, these topics are not even being debated because both of the major political parties are competing for the big money of those special interests, and no substantive change can occur. None of the major media speak of the one solution to this mess: then end of pay-for-play politics.

What we get instead are plenty of wedge issues as a distraction. How long will peasants fall for this? Instead of "let them eat cake" those holding the reins say "let them swallow this BS" and that not insignificant segment of the electorate with racist/homophobic/xenophobic tendencies put their own heads in the guillotine for another election cycle.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Ode to the Dead Poets

We have imagined for the mighty dead;
All lovely tales that we have heard or read:
An endless fountain of immortal drink,
Pouring unto us from the heaven’s brink.

~Keats, "Endymion"

One of the nicest features of the internet is that it allows you to catch up on your past. Being in a reflective mood recently, I sought to search for the contact information of an English professor whose class (Introduction to English Literature) I took as a college freshman. I wanted to express, almost 20 years later, how much that one course changed my life and made me appreciate the written word as a way of "saying the unsayable", as the phrase the professor used to explain the purpose of poetry.

Now that's deep when you think about it. It means that all poetry is ultimately futile. No matter how well you choose your words and arrange them, they can never fully express what motivated you to write them. But the very act of trying to express those feelings goes a long way just the same. That was just one of the important revelations that unfolded in that class. It was a basic, introductory class, but the reverence shown for the written word combined with the interpretation of the meaning of each line got my attention. The interpretation of each poem was attended by an explanation of the personal motivation of the poet, so that the words could be fully realized and appreciated by the students, who all too often were disinterested, hungover and just there to fulfill a requirement. Which was the reason I was there, too, because I could not get out of it by taking a CLEP test. This was one case of things working out for the best.

When you do intensive physical training, you can actually see your body changing. This class was the educational equivalant of that transformative process. I could actually sense my perceptions of the world around me changing. It made me realize the true purpose of education in making us better at appreciating all we are exposed to and motivating us to seek further horizons. This is what I wanted to thank this professor for after all these years.

So I searched for the name on the internet. Sadly, I found that the professor had died almost five years ago. I knew this was one of the possible outcomes of so many passing years, but it still came as a great disappointment to me. There was no way to express how he had transformed my mind. Then again, it would not have been fully possible to do that anyway, as he had already explained.

Monday, July 05, 2010


"To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sound of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants brass fronted impudence; your shout of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanks-givings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy -- a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour."
~ Frederick Douglass "The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro", 1852

Each July 4th I am reminded of the classic speech made almost 150 years ago, which fully sums up my feelings about self-congratulatory displays of patriotism made whilst the list of crimes is added to on a daily basis by a government representing not its people, but transnational corporations which despise the very ideals that we are supposedly celebrating. Like most people, I want to join the herd and wave the flag in pride, but unlike so many people, my grasp on reality won't let me. I can feel a quick tinge of emotional patriotism when the promise of what this country is about is alluded to, followed almost instantly by a sense of rage because that promise is so tragically unfulfilled.

To the reactionaries that would call me "Anti-American", I ask for a definition of that phrase. I am anti-war, anti-exploitation, anti-corporate oligarchy, and anti-environmental destruction. I don't approve of democratically governments being overthrown by our government because they threaten the profit margin of an influential cartel of international gangsters. If that's what you mean, then yes, I am Anti-American. And proud of it.

Perhaps someday soon this system will be forced to fall under its own weight. It is unsustainable and therefore will be brought down eventually. But what would make me most proud as a citizen of this country, what would make me wave the flag and feel a great rush of pride, would be if "we the people" forced it to fall BEFORE then. Before it had consumed everything in its destructive path. Now THAT would be worthy of a grand celebration!