First, you must crackdown some eggs

4/14/2014, Originally published on Eradica

No sooner has smoke cleared in the quite tragic shootings at a couple of Jewish sites in Kansas City than hopeless finger-knitters started popping out zero-sum observations and nonstarter suggestions.

forlimiA local Rabbi adjusts his glasses, swallows in a way that bounces his Adams apple like an NBA Spalding while telegraphing he’s ‘really kinda nervous piping up here’, and wags his finger in the air:

“We need to search our souls to ask why we, as a society, allow these daily murders to continue.”

Breathtaking. Well… that shifts blame from the perpetrator to society as a whole – doesn’t it? I suppose that could be a “big picture” approach if the suggestion were viable. It isn’t. Society doesn’t “allow” these daily murders to occur. They simply OCCUR. Society – any society, anywhere – cannot stop them. Human beings will murder each other  – usually for our own, often lunatic reasons – as long as we walk the earth. We might be able to curb it if we became a society as grimly oppressive as a Stalinist labor camp, but is it worth that?

Please. Let’s keep focus here. Let’s NOT blame society – for once. That’s stupid, but more importantly, it blinds us to practical ways we could lessen the violence, like enhancing sentences not based on hate or thought – but violence. However, whether that would work here is uncertain, since the accused shooter apparently was propelled by his own lonely goblins.

Rabbi Mark Levine comes up with a few more howlers in his CNN guest piece, like, “…Our community has been hauled into the violence that plagues our nation.” Whoa, Mark. You’re suggesting God’s Chosen has joined the rest of us down here on the stuffed minefield that IS terra firma? Let’s not get too out of hand.

This astute aside is as revealing as last fall’s sudden eureka moment throughout media that there’s something called “Punch-Out Game” (of “Polar-Bear Hunting” out here in L.A for the past decade or so – underlining thugs’ pale preference for jawbreak targets) once Jews in Crown Heights starting dropping on concrete. Then, though, reality set in among our information industry, its elite owners, and their ass-kissing hangers-on as they realized,

  • Virtually all perpetrators are black
  • Virtually all victims are white·
  •  This is contradiction of social reality we’re supposed to pretend we believe – that darker types never, ever victimize us honkies. It’s always the other way around. …Except for the 90-95 percent of the time it isn’t.

Certainly, Rabbi Levine jumped into some pretty goyishe moccasins and wandered off the rez with this:

It surely threatens Jews’ sense of security and multiplies the fear that we are persecuted… (But) we live among friends, and that is very different from Pharaoh’s Egypt, Nazi Germany or any other place in which Jews have suffered persecution. We are being singled out, but in a larger sense we are not, because this is no longer a unique act of terror. Rather, the scourge of violence in America threatens us all. Those who hate as a way of life must be rooted out, isolated and punished.

OK, Rabbi. Put the cuffs down. Let’s remember “hate” is defined as subjectively as “haters” identify their disposable enemies.

And, boy, that “we’re all in this together” warbling won’t win points with our sacred lights in media and academia, for sure. This will not be takeaway from the weekend’s ugly episode. The idiot rebooted chance for our relentless grievance industry to paint the country as full of Klan gunmen combing jerkwaters for coloreds to lynch. Utterly ignoring comparative rarity of these attacks (Jewish body count over the past quarter century is under 10), the shooter’s crime will be twisted into evidence of vehement anti-Semitic hatred roiling hearts of (preferably white) Gentiles. This, even though two of the victims apparently were Methodists attending an event at a Jewish community center that came under fire.

When a similar attack (geezer gunman, Nazi notions) occurred at a Holocaust museum in Washington, D.C. five years ago, the Lefty media raved itself into armchair blitzkrieg. Sites like Talking Points Memo and Slate all but called for full-scale crackdown on feed-slinging tit-pullers out in the boonies. Any honky with straw in his mouth, match in his ear, or hick-logo cap on his head would be thrown into abandoned shopping malls and tortured at night for kicks.

That’s signal hazard of that other cultural milestone this weekend – a band of cowboys and militiamen forcing the Bureau of Land Management to give up hundreds of cattle the rangers had confiscated, claiming they were were grazing on federal land. I worked for the daily newspaper in Prescott, AZ in the ‘70s, and can testify that even at that early date, the BLM was riddled with hardcore, radical environmentalists with trust funds, overweening self-righteousness, and overwhelming hatred for farmers and ranchers. Actually, this brand of tree-puller doesn’t so much love flora as hates human fauna. Anyone working the land is to them polluter, destroyer of the landscape and endangered bugs nobody gives a shit about, as well as facilitating litters of more two-legged debris-strewing, forest-burning ravagers of the earth.

(Check out this story on the incident in England’s Daily Mail. Its Brit reasoning – note how decriptives like ‘radical’ and ‘militia’ pepper the account – is no more condescending than that of our Eastern Establishment toward rubes in areas of the country important to our gentry only for racking up MileagePlus benefits.)

The “cowboys” got a pass this time. But, in this age of calculated hysteria, I’m sure someone in the vast architecture of our security bureaucracy realizes that this only will embolden these anti-federalistas, that next time there can’t be any good-doggie rollovers by government, and any bloodshed resulting will prompt that “crackdown” for which everyone Left of Eric Cantor seems to so hanker. They’ll walk right into it.

‘Course, once the dogs of war are loosed, they’ll charge the nearest meat regardless whose side its on.

 

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Shoveling bull at the Bear

vonoinjAugust 18, 2008, 3:44PM

A disarming calm beneath bellicose condemnation of Russian “aggression” in Georgia may betray a stealthy delight that 20 years of Cold War glasnost has been put on ice, and a half-century regression to the geopolitics of brinksmanship awaits for completion only reinstalled backyard bomb shelters and Ike-era martini abuse.

Our Beltway Elite regardless of party issues with absolute uniformity dark, intoned monition about Russian schemes to reclaim its “evil empire” status. Our stenographic media follows suit, conveniently burying in its accounts of Caucasian depravity the fact that poor little Georgia started this latest dust-up, landing unexpected sucker punches on the disputed regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Those attacks killed about a dozen Russian the very gall to strike back.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and communist governments throughout Eastern Europe two decades ago, neoconservative think-tankers have struggled mightily to engender another Grand Crusade to justify our cumbersome, corrupt and astoundingly costly military-industrial complex. Without the reliable Iron Curtain threat, defense-industry insiders saw their postwar sugar-tit world threatened by the bane of war profiteers everywhere: Peace. That’s when the ever-resourceful Straussians kicked into high gear, scouring the world for this nation’s next perilous foe. That the Arab world would have some sand kicked in its face was no surprise. After all, Arabs reside atop the world’s biggest oil fields, and they are dead-set against our favorite ”partner’ in the region, Israel.

In 1990, the first Bush Administration, acting through ambassador April Glaspie, suckered Saddam Hussein into invading Kuwait. The resultant first Gulf War reduced Iraq to a fifth-rate power (if that) and allowed the U.S. military to try out some nifty post-Vietnam deathware. Although the televised birth of joystick warfare may have been the brief campaign’s most memorable vestige, its crucial legacy was establishment of America’s first permanent military bases in the Middle East. The subsequent overthrow of Saddam in 2003 would widen and deepen that presence, splitting Muslim states and eliminating any future danger of a united Arab front attacking Israel.

But coinciding with the disappearance of European and Russian communism, the first Gulf War also announced to the world that the U.S. was willing to act decisively and militantly to establish itself as the supreme arbiter of international justice, underlining a New World Order with the U.S. as earth’s sole remaining superpower.

In 1992, chronic Pentagon shadow warrior Paul Wolfowitz chiefly authored the very controversial “Defense Planning Guidance”, a policy paper proposing, among other hair-raising items, that strategic ‘containment’ as practiced in the Cold War was a spent idea, a relic of more genteel times. Its guidelines advocated that America’s military strength should be maintained beyond challenge, and should be used to preempt provocations from rogue states with weapons of mass destruction. And it stated that, if necessary, the U.S. should be prepared to act alone. Alliances, like scruples and quarter, evidently had become disposable.

Wolfowitz’s proposals called for nothing less than global U.S. hegemony, and when the paper was leaked, and the firestorm of controversy blew out the windows, it was hot-potato’d back to Defense Secretary Dick Cheney for some kinder, gentler rewrite. But as we’ve seen in neoconservative regimes past and present, their dark schemes are like B-2 bombers: Just because they vanish from sight doesn’t mean they’re no longer aflight. Once 9/11 provided the ‘Pearl Harbor’ excuse for radical action, the paper was the very foundation for the Bush II doctrine of preemptive attack on strategic malefactors, and ultimately mounted on a scaffold both Saddam and his unfortunate, blood-drenched country.

However, for big-money defense contractors, the drawbacks of the Muslim-focused War on Terror were obvious: Since no officially antagonistic nation in the Arab world was a nuclear danger, and none were capable of producing their own standard munitions, big-ticket weapons research projects would be unnecessary. Sure, the bombs-and-bullets hardware shops are happy with low-intensity battle fronts like Iraq and Afghanistan, but where are the gold mines offering conditions amenable for deep-pocket, wasteful ‘Star War’ fiascos that drain away tax money like four-year-olds suck up chocolate malts?

Also, there’s that little blowback problem. The attacks seven years ago brought home spectacularly the hazards of occupying someone else’s holy land.

Nope… it’s best to keep your enemies at bay with the concomitant threat of mutually assured destruction. And you need H-bombs on the table for that kind of dice-throwing. China would be the obvious enemy, since it’s still (officially, at least) communist. But the Middle Kingdom’s capital-friendly naugahyde Marxism has turned it into a creditor nation, and one that holds a lot of U.S. paper; our ultimate peace pact with China is tacit, and in the form of loan documents.

That leaves Russia, resurgent and nuclear-capable, as the perfect foil.

The Wolfowitz paper wasn’t produced in a vacuum. Its authors were aware that such self-endorsed ascension – taking America from world power to world ruler – would spark conflict and animosity abroad. That was part of the plan: The Cold War and its defense-industry bounties would not be pegged to the lifespan of any obnoxious regime or isolated hotspots. The set-up that so alarmed Dwight Eisenhower in his last Presidential speech would generate and regenerate itself for all time, and for all purposes. Once the new paradigm sanctioning pre-emptive attack became official policy with the Administration’s New Security Strategy in 2002, the gloves started coming off.

The Clinton Era saw some occasional abrasions between the U.S. and Russia. Bosnia was one, with the Russian Bear taking the side of their Slavic cousins while the Western press trumpeted filmy ‘atrocity’ accusations at the Serbs. Late in the ’90s, NATO hot-war violence unleashed on Serbia over the embattled Kosovo region drew real – and valid – protests from the Kremlin. That reaction was muted, however, by Russia’s own dirty little war in Chechnya, an assault in mid-decade that saw ambivalent coverage in the West.

But those were more sanguine times. Russia was in the unsteady hands of Boris Yeltsin, whose decisions were marked by alcohol-soaked oblivion, and whose administration was corroded by breathtaking corruption. Under his rule, Russia’s vast natural resources, as well as its key industries and utilities, were literally and crookedly auctioned off to the highest bidders. This was the period when the mighty nation was in the pockets of an oily collection of mobsters and Western-fronted operators known as the Oligarchs.

Vladimir Putin’s assumption of leadership in 2000 saw a sharp change in affairs. The Oligarchs were put on the run, corruption in government was curtailed if not eliminated (is it ever?), and Russia regained control of its own destiny. How could it not draw the enmity of the neocons?

Suddenly, color-coded, anti-Russian ‘revolutions’ began shaking up former Soviet republics lining Russia’s borders from the Baltic to the Chinese border; this “democratic” phenomena was underwritten by seed money and organization from shadowy types like George Soros, and neocon outposts like the National Endowment for Democracy. Some of these newly Jeffersonian micro-nations have been tempted with membership in NATO. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a Cold War vestige, a loose if well-armed collection of European states that served as a postwar big stick to drive off Soviet intrusions. The first George Bush promised Andrei Gorbachev 20 years ago that the defensive union would dissolve with Soviet communism; instead it was maintained as a trump card for the soft militancy of the European Union.

Sometimes, Western pressure has been more overt: Recent violence in the Caucasus has moved Poland to finally purchase missile interceptors from the U.S., an expensive defense system it had previously disdained as unnecessary. Why in the world would Poland need missiles? To keep the Czechs in check? We can be sure the gyros well be programmed in an easterly direction.

The Georgian conflict has brought threats that Russia will be jettisoned from the G-8 group of top industrial states. The U.S. departments of State and Defense huffily demand Russia withdraw its forces from the environs of an antagonistic, anti-Democratic “statelet” at its southern border – a nation the U.S. and other parties, notably Israel, have been arming and training for years – for purposes unclear. That Russia could scarcely consider these stratagems a big, warm friendly handshake is understandable.

The Bush Administration has gone out of its way to antagonize Russia, and the Western media has played along, accusing Putin of everything from crowning himself pseudo-czar to jailing opposition politicians and assassinating opponents. When ex-KGB agent and fired Oligarch flunky Alexander Litvinenko died mysteriously from radioactive poisoning two years ago, the American and British news industries practically frothed at the mouth to pin the “murder” on Putin, ignoring the fact that Litvinenko’s reputation for fact-spinning – for instance, he blamed Putin for engineering the 2004 Beslan school massacre – had turned him into the Art Bell of Moscow.

Neoconservatives are suspiciously tight with the Oligarchs, and so are Western-based heavy industries, who in the ’90s were negotiating sweetheart deals to tap Russia of its natural wealth like oil, natural gas and even timber resources. But, really, our ravenous power elite – fueled by the intellectual ‘vision’ of the neocons – don’t need cross-cultural coziness and overseas investment as excuses to draw a line in the sand.

A big, arms-based industrial web needs big enemies to excuse big, wasteful government contracts and purchases. A resurgent Russia that pushes back when we shove is just what our toxic Washington brain-trust had in mind.

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Loose cannon afoot – and shooting it

September 23, 2008, 2:38PM

The uneasiness with which many Democrats have received Sen. Joe Biden’s nomination as vice president doesn’t involve Biden’s tendency to shoot himself in the foot as much as it does their confusion over exactly where those well-heeled feet stand.

There’s been a teacup-tempest in the past news cycle over Biden’s bashing of a Democratic Party ad that called Republican hopeful John McCain- out of touch – to the point of being computer illiterate and generally funky. Biden told CBS anchor Katie Couric last night that he considered the ad “terrible”.

“I didn’t know we did it, and if I’d had anything to do with it, we would have never done it,” Biden said.

When the McCain campaign of course used Biden’s gaping insipidity to aim a broadside at Barack Obama in general and his campaign ads in particular, Biden tried to backtrack. But, like Hippocrates’ oath for physicians, explanations for political stumbles should first do no harm:

“I was asked about an ad I’d never seen, reacting merely to press reports,” Biden was quoted as saying. And remember: This is a squabble over a candidate’s detachment from all things current.

There had been nervous mutters about Biden’s long tenure as a “loose cannon”, always ready to shoot off his mouth and then cool down the breeches with the cool unguent of embarrassed foot-pedaling. In his own Presidential bid during the party’s primary-go-round last year, Biden memorably jackassed himself in a reference to his future running mate, as noted by Chris Cilizza:

On the day he formally announced his candidacy, a New York Observer story that quoted Biden as calling Obama “articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy” came out, and the resultant uproar effectively undercut any momentum Biden was hoping to build.

Well – at least Biden didn’t pat him on the head and deny Obama is “uppity”.

And there’s another worrisome facet to Biden… his arrogance.

Other than a vague awareness of the Delaware Senator as a chronic also-ran Presidential candidate (whose numerous runs were turning him into a kind of Democratic version of the “always-a-bridesmaid” Harold Stassen), I had no opinion of him one way or another until Senate testimony in 1998 on Saddam’s see-saw game with IAEA nuclear inspectors. In a hearing over whether Iraq’s off- limits site designations could hide a viable weapons program, longtime inspector Scott Ritter affirmed it could to the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees.

That’s when Biden ripped into Ritter, trying nothing less than to shame the inspector into silence:

Biden suggested that the question of taking the nation to war was a responsibility “slightly beyond your pay grade. That’s why they (who make such decisions) get paid big bucks. That’s why they get their limos and you don’t.” Biden advised that Albright had more to consider than “whether old Scotty-boy didn’t get in” to a suspected weapons site. He said that the question of the use of force was the kind of decision that people like Colin Powell and George Bush made, saying that it was a very complicated decision, repeating, “It’s above your pay grade.”

That’s why they get their limos and you don’t. Wow! How progressive!

Ritter basically was doing his job – being relentless in the search for any hint of a Saddam bomb. When he became convinced that Iraq’s nuclear weapons programs ended with the first Gulf War in the early ’90s, Ritter was one of the first sources with any authority to oppose the war in Iraq – long before the 2003 invasion – and has remained a powerful critic of our New Imperium in the Mideast ever since.

Look over Biden’s words again, and remember that he’s aiming them at a countryman, at a conscientious American operative trying to keep us safe. And now, remember, he could be a heartbeat away from the top spot in America.

Biden came to his “working-class” base the hard way: He fell there. His family, once prosperous, lost its wealth. As a Senator, his expensive suits and first-class demands take on an almost defiant edge, as if he considers himself a prodigal grandee eager to assert his return to the plush life, strutting in what he considers the finery of deserved status.

Politically, his actions on the Hill haven’t exactly indicated he’s a â”man of the people“ unless those people occupy the offices and boardrooms of corporate, financial America. His legislation helped lay the groundwork for Delaware to become a center of our now-debased credit industry, by removing limits on interest rate unsecured lenders could charge.

Also, along with Joe Lieberman and some other practical Democrats, he helped limit bankruptcy relief for debtors suckered by adjustable rates that could quickly wipe out their ability to pay. For all the blame rightfully shouldered by the GOP for setting up the credit industry as Loanshark, Inc., Democrats like Biden played their part, sometimes by contributing mere inaction.

As “In Debt We Trust” filmmaker Danny Schechter once noted:

“They call Joe Biden ‘the senator from MBNA,’because he’s from the state of Delaware, which is one of the two states that has given very low tax rates to all these credit card companies, and unlimited opportunities for them to operate out of the state on a national basis.”

On top of that, Biden is one of the most combative of Beltway chickenhawks when it comes to baiting Russia, throwing his lot solidly with any and all interests pushing to re-energize the Cold War. He has made mealy-mouthed on-again, off-again critiques of the Iraq War, but mostly on tactics – never admitting the obvious conclusion that the war was just about the stupidest move this country ever made. Can’t, really – he voted for its authorization. And he remains a fan of splitting up the volatile country.

Biden can be reduced to the simplest exponent on other roiling Mideastern issues: As he told Israel’s Shalom TV last year, “I am a Zionist. You don’t have to be a Jew to be a Zionist.” Same old business, same old stand – and, no, he won’t be inviting Palestinian contingents to Wilmington Labor Day cook-outs any time soon.

The Obama campaign is found of saying Biden has populist appeal, but his brand of populism seems more than content to let the bulk of this country’s population unrepresented by well-connected lobbyists eat cake.

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Take the damn gloves off, already!

  • NOTE: This was posted on another site four years ago, when Barack Obama had the most-important criteria for President: He wasn’t George W. Bush. My… how times change.

August 27, 2008, 11:27AM

For a party that needs to be a badass dishing out some hard licks, the Democratic donkey is becoming a sad ass with no kick.

So far in this convention week, we’ve had little but summer-camp hand-holding and affirmations that – gosh darn it! – Democrats trump Republicans as feel-good political Pollyannas.

Where, as none other than Pat Buchanan put it, is the “red meat”?

After its convention opening night Monday, the party started taking flack from know-it-all pundits, who complained that it had burned through key television time without taking chunks out of GOP hide. It’s not like they lack ammo: Transgressions and misrule by the Bush Administration lie stacked before us like bales of toilet tissue in a big-box store.

As the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson declaimed on MSNBC last night: “Where’s ‘torture’? Where’s ‘Iraq’?

Up to now, the Democrats have done exactly what they needed to do: Dominate the news cycle. Last week, when the big news should have been McCain pulling ahead in some polls, the punditry was yapping about Barack Obama’s vice presidential choice instead. Perfect! When bad news can’t be countered, obscure it with theatrical suspense. That’s good politicking, baby!

Despite what most critics say (and it’s a narrative trafficked mostly by GOP operatives), this convention isn’t about tearing up John McCain; it isn’t about McCain at all.

But the lack of any spark, any show of force had TV anchors scratching their heads for anything worthwhile to report. There is just so much nerf warfare the public can take.

In desperation for spectacle, the media tended to fall all over Sen. Hillary Clinton’s elegant send-off. She did what she had to do – economically, energetically and with style. In fact, it was in her speech – urging her crowd to take up Obama’s cloak – that the best slings and arrows were sent at the GOP. But cable-news wrap-up waxed a little too poetic at her appearance. It was, after all, expected: Clinton is a pro, whatever else you may think of her. She wasn’t going to gob-smack Obama – and thereby herself  – with anything less than a ringing endorsement.

The other main speaker of the evening, Virgina Governor and Senate candidate Mark Warner, talked about himself all through little mining hamlets in Virginia. There was something in there about health care. I think… Anyone listening to his gummy rhetoric could be forgiven for expecting him tear into a thunderous explanation of why Gandalf is his favorite “Lord of the Rings” sprite.

There seems to be a deliberate strategy of passive aggression among the Democrats so far. It’s as if they don’t want to stir things up too early? At all? Are they holding off their best shots for the fall, when heavy artillery will be needed? (It’s that matter of ammo bounty again: McCain has more skeletons in his closet than John Wayne Gacy.) Or are they side-stepping our tenuous reality for other reasons?

The more the party soft-sells itself, the more the public will see it as merely a user-friendly version of the remote, contemptuous status quo that’s spent eight years shredding the Constitution and draining us of blood and treasure. That’s a summary not altogether incorrect. In truth, Democrats are in thrall of the same lobbies and deep-pocket interests as Republicans, but at least have given lip service to the lowly everyman’s welfare.

The country, at that 40-hour, bill-paying level, has been against the war for years now. They are nettled and peeved at higher and higher prices in the face of stagnant wages. The ballyhoo’d causes of the pompous elite – Georgia, Iran and the New Imperium – mean little to them.

The issues that do matter like health care and immigration are twisted and refabricated to again benefit the already comfortable. These mutations can get downright insulting:  Mom-and-pop America are concerned that open borders immigration policy would fill the country with low-expectation workers willing to do anything at any wage to escape origins that offer even fewer prospects. Such an economically pliable workforce is a boon to the economically well-off, depressing operating costs and inflation, as much as it is devastating to low-income Americans – but if those “disadvantaged” dare protest, they’re branded “racist” and worse.

The more the American political herd shifts to the greenest grasslands to sniff out richer money thickets, and the more this year’s campaign strategy moves to a “safe” middle ground to assume  the broadest possible priorities, the more the Democratic Party’s focus softens, and it’s platform becomes adulterated.

But that shouldn’t stop it from showing a little fire.

As Buchanan said last night, calling for shots at the sitting Vice President: “Cheney’s at 18 percent. C’mon – it’s an easy shot!”

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Truth hurts! …Hurts REAL GOOOD!

August 13, 2008, 1:45PM

The Quiz Show Scandal of the 1950s is regarded as yet another of America’s strangely frequent, evidently arbitrary ‘end of innocence”moments, supposedly leaving a devastated American psyche in its greedy wake. A latter-day PBS documentary and Robert Redford’s film “Quiz Show”maintain this thesis, as if the American public, lumpen and dumbfounded on their overstuffed living room sets, were mesmerized by the magic of coast-to-coast shell games. Honestly, according to this narrative, it would be impossible not to overestimate the impact of the rigging scandal, since its revelation sparked Congressional hearings, and even President Eisenhower decried its baleful issue. (Never doubt politicians’ willingness to posture politically, no matter the topic.)

But nothing could be farther from the truth. In that primeval stage of the video era, Americans noted the crash-and-burn in the same way they would witness any other public self-immolation  – with transient fascination and benign detachment. They knew the truth of which press agents dare not speak: Quiz shows were as unimportant and disposable as any other cheap diversion. What mattered to the “just folks”then as now was family, friends, job, paycheck. Throwaway entertainment matters only to the throwaway media that relentlessly distributes it; for the rest of humanity, it’s just a jingle to download on a cell phone.

But you’re not going to hear that from any given news pundit or newspaper column, much less from this nation’s jarring, relentless movie and TV industries. In that world, the media has untold power to take the American communal worldview and mold it like soaked clay, stretching and mutating our perception of  reality surrounding us until it becomes unrecognizable, frightening. Bubbling down real life to a literary conceit  – an “end of innocence” or a “new beginning” – puts a catchy tune to the dark but imminently ephemeral lyrics.

So recent events must have snapped back on our psychic sculptors, and given them a bit o’ pause, since Americans aren’t biting at the carrot as intended. Almost 65 percent of Americans disbelieve the FBI’s narrative that a lone, conveniently dead researcher was responsible for the 2001 anthrax attacks. And we’re just plain-old unwilling to jump into another Cold War over a Caucasian state few of us recognize.

This is good news  – if you’ll pardon the term – since in the past decade contemporary mass media has transformed itself into a virtual crop circle, with all the credible integrity of a Charles Ponzi or Ken Lay. They helped lead us  – leashed and eager  – to the abyss of Iraq. They chant in accordant unison whenever the Administration hints at impending war with Iran. On any issue  – from immigration reform to re-regulating our financial institutions  – they await word from the halls of power before taking a stand. And, once taken, unyieldingly barrage us with twisted message and ass-backward reasoning to make up down, black white and night turn bright noontide.

As Antiwar.com columnist Justin Raimondo notes today about the newest Asian conflict:

“The news media  – and, not coincidentally, the War Party  – isn’t interested in reporting the facts. All they care about is the ‘narrative’  – one not necessarily based on reality, designed to convince the public that what our rulers are doing and planning is right and just. The (William) Kristolian narrative of poor, little, pro-Western Georgia is a tall tale. Georgian “free market democracy” exists in the same alternate universe as Iraq’s famed ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and the Piltdown Man, but you won’t see many other media outlets saying that.”

Most news stories, in the opening days of the battle over South Ossetia last week, topped stories with breathless accounts of “Russian aggression”and “attacks”that had left scores of civilians dead. Usually buried in accounts was the fact that Georgia had attacked first, trying to gobble up the breakaway province, as well as another disputed region, Abkhazia. Some in the news business have even admitted that Georgia is a bastion of democracy much in the same way John Edwards is a paragon of faithful abstinence.

But it was the media’s dance around the bonfire of Dr. Bruce Ivins’ reputation that may have opened the eyes of America’s distracted media consumers once and for all. After promised FBI evidence indicated the feds had little to connect the late researcher with the sinister anthrax letter attacks of 2001, even the most dedicated News Corp. customer must have realized that the only real proof against Ivins was his suicide itself  – regardless of its finality, not a smoking gun. The media is really left holding the bag here, looking very foolish, and maybe deceitful, for helping “convict”Ivins with little more than innuendo.

You’d think a lesson would’ve been learned by now. At some point, the media’s shrinking credibility will hit them in the pocket book. The clearest indication of trouble is that one of the Fire Magic Media’s chief shamen, Bill O’Reilly, has seen his ratings steadily erode since 2006. That’s ratings, Mr. Murdoch. Ratings, like time, is money.

But this opens a larger question: Regardless of its inescapable cacophony, how much of the brusque, intrusive ganglia of the information industry truly infiltrates our lives? And does it have that much of an impact?
It’s always funny to see the media angrily react to evidence of its own irrelevance. Nothing sums this up better than the behavior of bottom-feeders  – like celebrity paparazzi. Their surly contempt for the very stars they “cover”turns quickly to antagonism and even outright abuse when the rich and famous don’t play their game, don’t pause a moment to preen for the flashbulbs.

This dispassion oddly is both antidote and fuel for our cultural imperialism, the global juggernaut that so entices and rots. If Coca-Cola, logo-printed T-shirts and Tom Cruise disappeared in the next minute, they would not long be missed  – if at all. American popular culture is so fun, so vibrant, so immediate expressly because its underlying insignificance is almost universally recognized, dispatching any “tension”of importance. 

Average Joes are not superficial because they consider their own, active pastimes crucial – and constantly presented, unsolicited “sideshows”unimportant. They are stronger because of that intuition, however unacknowledged it may remain.

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Nationwide bug abuse

Saddam: Fall afoul of neocons, you’re naked, dead

April 8, 2008, 3:53PM

Isn’t it odd that the Iraq War is always blamed on American vengefulness post-9/11? Seems to me, the passions of Joe and Joanne America had cooled along with the Trade Center girders by the time Saddam was toppled 18 months later. It’s not as if throngs of raving Americans filled the streets demanding the vicious princes of Baghdad be brought to their knees. The war notice was as much a surprise to folks here as it must have been to Iraqis. Up to that moment, everyone expected the weapons inspections/Saddam defiance square dance to shuffle along until the beleaguered denizens of the Fertile Crescent were forced to accept more and more humiliating sanctions. Then: BOOM!… get outta town Hussein. And take your cotton-pickin’, owl-hoot sons with you.

We now can be pretty damn sure the actual, shock-and-awe Iraq War wasn’t the product of vengeful Americans. It was a coldly planned and cynically calculated act of strategic belligerence that was in the works long before Atta and his upper-middle class fanatics climbed aboard the airliners.

Although the New York attack was hijacked and used as the war’s trigger, the Pearl Harbor that finally detonated direct, violent action on the hapless Iraqis, supporting “evidence” in Saddam’s indictment was pretty screwy, and even to committed true-believers the whole scheme stank to high heaven. Nevertheless, with the help of a stumblebum, lap-doggie national media, the casus belli was impelled along by a myriad of shady characters, clumsy forgeries and bald-faced lies. One of the most direct acts of evil in the casebook, and the one which outwardly appeared as work of the CBW-obsessed Saddam, was the anthrax letter attacks in the weeks following 9/11.

None other than Fox News ran some coverage of the strangely forgotten, extavagantly ignored atocity’s resurfacing last week. After pursuing one innocent suspect and convicting another, by proxy, in the press, it seems the Department of Justice has announced it’s narrowed the list on the potential killers. It’s here. And a website tracing a carefully studied blow-by-blow of the case is here.

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Obama going soft in the middle?

Barack Obama campaigns in '08

August 20, 2008, 2:13PM

By adopting a strategy of “soft sell” and attenuating what should be continued disavowal of Bush policy – a powerful stance that made him popular in the first place – is Barack Obama playing a smart game of moderated politics… or turning himself into this year’s Ned Lamont?

Remember, this is a country where superficial perception counts as much as substantive proof. Accusations of flip-flopping – even though actually inaccurate – are enough to convict as wishy-washy fresh, transformational candidates whom voters are perpetuallly “getting to know.”

And its an election very much in play. Obama has seen his lead slip seven points since last month, and today’s Zogby figures show McCain ahead for the first time. Guess all the celebrity accusations and oil-derrick clowning works for a nation buffetted by the cyclone winds of economic downturn.

Even though some of this polling seems hell-bent on blunting Obama’s momentum, the Democrat has his work cut out for him. And the worst thing he can do is panic and move his positions closer to that rugged, unmapped “middle ground” that proved such a minefield for one New England Democrat in 2006.

You remember Lamont: Two years ago he bumped Joe Lieberman out of the Connecticut Democratic primary by campaigning on a pronounced anti-war, anti-Bush platform. But in his race for Lieberman’s Senate seat in the general election, Lamont began toning down his passions for change, hedging his proposed deadlines for ending the Iraq War.

Lieberman ended up retaining his Congressional post, running as an Independent after his own party spurned him for his emerging copperhead neoconservativism. Seems voters decided Lamont had turned himself into Lieberman Lite, and in a choice between the two, opted to stick with the candidate familiar to them – and known to be an effective Beltway pork producer for the home state. Since then, Lieberman has proved himself such a reliable GOP ally he’s been touted as a possible running mate for John McCain – after running as a Democratic VP candidate in 2004! An embarrassment to anyone who ever considered him a progressive politico, Lieberman also is remaking himself as kind of an American “Curveball”, telling CNN as late as last December that in Iraq “we’re fighting the enemy that attacked us on 9/11.”

That Obama really is running against two long terms of Bush Era misrule is as true today as it was early last year when the candidate stood on the steps of the Lincoln state house in Illinois and threw his hat in the Presidential ring. Voters responded to his call for change: Not a gentle tack in the wind, a subtle alteration more in appearance than substance, but a dramatic reversal, a 180-degree swerve from our lap to the abyss.

But lately, he’s appeared to adulterate and even diminish the sharpness of his attacks. He’ listen to proposals for offshore drilling. While clinically avoiding flip-flops on Iraq War policy, he’s become more pointedly precise about his previous wording on the topic – while seeming to muddle the exact nature and scope of his troop withdrawal timetables.

When Obama mentioned Sen. Joe Biden during his Veterans of Foreign Wars speech this week, the gesture indicated Biden may just be Obama’s vice presidential pick, and that point dominated most news reports. But the mention was contained in Obama’s announcement supporting $1 billion in aid to embattled Georgia. Since there was no mention of help for South Ossetia, left demolished and bleeding after Georgia’s surprise assault two weeks ago, we can be forgiven for assuming Obama’s approach to Caucasus intrigues will be as one-sided, agenda-heavy and aberrantly anti-Russian that of Bush and McCain.

Also, Obama has lined up a corps of advisors not generally known for advocating kid-glove foreign policy approaches, especially regarding the Mideast – Robert Malley, Dennis Ross and Merrill McPeak. Topping them off, of course, is Zbigniew Brzezinski, whose reputation as a calculating uber-hawk was only enhanced during the Carter Administration 30 years ago, when he masterminded Machivellian subterfuge like urging China to support Cambodia’s gore-drenched Pol Pot regime as a foil against Vietnamese expansionism. Brzezinski seems to hover in the shadows as a phantom brainiac – sometimes an admitted Obama consigliore, sometimes not.

These backroom permutations have shaded the Democrat’s run, and as early as the spring of 2007, the Washington Post’s Robert Kagan noted “realistic” if not cynical “toughness in Obama’s” foreign policy:

Obama talks about “rogue nations,” “hostile dictators,” “muscular alliances” and maintaining “a strong nuclear deterrent.” He talks about how we need to “seize” the “American moment.” We must “begin the world anew.” This is realism? This is a left-liberal foreign policy?

And the candidate’s speech before the hawkish American Israeli Public Affairs Committee mirrored the fulminations of all other speakers at the perpetually demanding organization’s annual forum – drawing a line in the sand, putting Israel forever under the protection of the United States and its fearsome forces, and sending verbal shock and awe in the direction of Tehran.

What happened to the agent of hope and change? Where is the message that this country is immersed in a “dumb war” and is on the wrong course? This was strong medicine spooned out with tough love to a country sick of counterintuitive lies and shyster trickery by a Beltway elite that considers this country’s citizenry feeble-minded children, waiting dumbly for the next dose of palliative fairy tales.

By presenting himself as an alternative to business as usual, as antidote to the corrosions of the past eight years, Obama won the candidacy of his party. And all spin aside, that’s the real news of this election year: An African-American candidate with only four years experience in national office is (mostly) leading the race for the nation’s top spot. It’s a slim lead, but he’s still ahead – Zogby be damned. If anything, that astounding circumstance is testament to just how repellant GOP and neoconservative agendas have become.

Not all voters are stupid, and that’s especially true of those who’ve heeded Obama’s admonitions for change and hope. They realize that playing the political game in this country and “playing it successfully” means playing to the middle. Moderation sells at election time, even in a country as disgusted as this one with political status quo.

But in moving to the middle, and attempting to broaden his appeal among the electorate, Obama should be careful not to roll his campaign out of kilter, and become just another watered-down also-ran.

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