Archive for November 25th, 2011
I’m not in a holiday mood at all. Weapons from my country keep killing adult and children civilians from Afghanistan and, based on America’s newspapers, almost no one from the United States gives a crap. In fact, we are repeatedly hearing politicians and wanna-be politicians blithely talk of starting a war with Iran. Add to the Afghanistan carnage that at least 168 children have been killed by U.S. drones in the ongoing illegal war in Pakistan.
Now back to the dead civilians. Quite often, my “leaders” claim that those who were killed were “insurgents,” though we must keep in mind that this term has a nefarious real-life meaning: anyone who is killed by an American weapon is a insurgent, and there is no American media present on the ground to dispute these sorts of government claims. Sometimes, we do admit that we have killed civilians, and the “solution” is to apologize to the mourning families, as though that means anything to the weeping families. As Glenn Greenwald points out, these American killings of children are not unusual and they thus are morally reprehensible. These killings by America keep occurring the midst of a ten year so-called war that is costing America $2 Billion per week. This is a grotesque amount of money to spend on an activity that has no feasible morally justifiable objective.
In the absence of any reasonably articulated objective, we are left with de facto objectives: We are indiscriminately killing children as part of our program to keep America’s defense factories humming and to give American politicians an excuse to claim that they are “defending the United States.”
You’ll find articles on Black Friday everywhere you look today. If you are an American, you’ll find almost nothing about the blood that is on your hands because you are not working hard enough to voice your opposition to this so-called “war” in Afghanistan. Your friends, family and politicians desperately need to hear more from you (and from me).
At Salon.com, Glenn Greenwald discusses the myth of journalistic objectivity by discussing the way one of the establishment’s so-claimed “objective” journalists, Bob Schieffer, arrogantly portrayed himself to be “objective” in the course of abusing Ron Paul in a recent interview. Here’s the problem (it was the same problem with Tim Russert and it is the same problem with almost all of our celebrity journalists): Some of Ron Paul’s views are massively inconvenient to those who crave ever more warmongering:
(1) American interference and aggression in the Muslim world fuels anti-American sentiment and was thus part of the motivation for the 9/11 attack; and (2) American hostility and aggression toward Iran (in the form of sanctions and covert attacks) are more likely to exacerbate problems and lead to war than lead to peaceful resolution, which only dialogue with the Iranians can bring about.
Here’s how celebrity journalists like Schieffer deal with these sorts of inconvenient truths:
Views that reside outside of the dogma of the leadership of either party are inherently illegitimate. Such views are generally ignored, but in those rare instances where they find their way into the discourse — such as this Paul interview — it is the duty of “objective” reporters like Schieffer to mock, scorn and attack them. Indeed, many journalists — such as Tim Russert and David Ignatius — excused their failures in the run-up to the Iraq War by pointing to the fact that the leadership of both parties were generally in favor of the war: in other words, since war opposition was rarely found among the parties’ leadership, it did not exist and/or was inherently illegitimate (in a March, 2003 interview, Schieffer explained what a great job the American media did in the run-up to the war) . . . I would have no problem with Schieffer’s adversarial behavior here if this were also how he treated claims made by David Petraeus, Joe Lieberman, John McCain, and Hillary Clinton. But one would never, ever see that. Part of this is what Jay Rosen calls “the Church of the Savvy”: journalists revere power and political success and thus revere those who wield it in their world (Washington) while scorning those who do not (like Paul). But part of it is also that their function is to defend the political establishment of which they are a part and glorify its orthodoxies — defined as: the approved views of the leadership of the two parties, which in turn reflect the interests of the private factions that control both parties — and, conversely, to try to delegitimize any views and/or persons posing a challenge to it. This is why one sees truly adversarial conduct from establishment journalists applied only to those who are relatively powerless and marginalized (i.e., OWS), or to those views that have no currency within the political establishment (Paul’s foreign policy/civil liberties arguments).
One reason modern establishment journalism has become so corrupted and worthless is because of the conceit that they engage in some sort of objective reporting that is free of bias and opinion, even as they are the stalwart defenders of a clear set of political opinions and interests (those wielded by the same power factions which they pretend to hold accountable). Any time someone is tempted to believe these fairy tales of objectivity, they should just re-watch this Schieffer interview.
Democracy Now recently hosted a discussion concerning the accomplishments and aims of the Occupy movement. Here are a few excerpts:
[The movement has] already had some important victories. It has alleviated despair in this country. It has—it has killed apathy. It has changed the conversation in a profound way. Seven, eight weeks ago, all we were listening to was about the debt ceiling and the deficit crisis, and [inaudible] nobody’s talking about that distraction any longer. They’re talking about the real issues now that are facing the majority of Americans: jobs, the fact that millions of homes are underwater, that 50 million people don’t have health insurance, we have 49 million living in poverty now, we have 40 million adults who cannot read and write above a fourth grade level, that are functional illiterates. That’s the nation that corporate America and the banks and Wall Street have created. And when somebody asked me the other day, “Well, who organized this? Who organized this movement?” I said, “Well, actually, Goldman Sachs organized it. Citibank organized it. BP organized it. They did—they did the organization.”
And I think that, you know, it’s—if you want to trace the current roots to this, somebody—I was being interviewed the other day. “Well, you know, at the end of your last movie, you were wrapping the crime scene tape around the Stock Exchange, and you called for this uprising.” I said, “No. Yes, I did, but, you know, it’s not that. It’s not a magazine from Vancouver. It’s not—if you want to—if you really want to pin it down to somebody, I would thank Bradley Manning.” And here’s why. A young man with a fruit stand in Tunis became very upset because he couldn’t figure out why he was just getting screwed and why he couldn’t make it. And he read a story, put out by WikiLeaks, that exposed how corrupt his government was. And he just couldn’t take it anymore, and he set himself on fire. That event, by giving his life to this, created the Arab Spring movement that went across the Middle East and then boomeranged back here to what has been going on in the fall here in North America. But if one courageous soldier hadn’t—allegedly—done what he had done, if he hadn’t done this, it—who knows? But it was already boiling just beneath the surface, and it just needed somebody to get it going.
And thank God for you and your friends, who went down there on that first day, who endured the ridicule first, then the attacks, and then the attempts to co-opt. But they have held strong. And it’s not now—it’s not just the people who can camp out overnight. It’s 72 percent of the American public who say they want taxes raised on the rich. That’s never happened before in this country. It’s people taking their money out of Chase and Citibank and Wells Fargo and putting it in their credit unions. And it’s taken so many forms that—and it can’t be stopped. And it’s so great to watch Fox News and the others try to wrap their heads around it, because they can’t get their brain quite—like it can’t grab onto it, which is great. That’s what’s great. So, I’m a big supporter of it staying leaderless, with a lack of a certain amount of organization, that it remain in its free and open state. And thank God for all the young people who are willing to not take it anymore. And I’ve just been inspired by it, and I’m glad that I got to live to see what I believe, or hope, will be the beginning of the end of a very evil system that is unfair, and it’s unjust, and it’s not democratic. So, thank you.
Patrick Bruner (Occupy Protester)
And, you know, we—obviously this has to do with a break in the way that we view the world. Eighty-five percent of the class of 2011 move back in with their parents. That’s something that, you know, has never happened before. We have youth who are aware that their future has been stolen, because that’s true. That’s true. And we have everyone else who’s watching that and who sees that the youth’s future has been stolen and believes that their future has been stolen, as well. You know, the Tea Party comes from the same mindset as we do, you know, although we have many differences. You know, those are people who had legitimate grievances against this system that they had tried to work for their entire lives, and then it ended up screwing them. And, you know, that’s what’s going on with my generation. We have kids who have massive amounts of student debt, and they’re, you know, going to carry that for the rest of their lives, possibly. . . it’s a way to at least start a discussion, a real discussion, about all of the things that ail us on a daily basis, the things that are never really discussed. Like you said, before this, you know, the biggest discussion in American politics was whether or not to raise the debt ceiling for the 103rd time. You know, now we don’t talk about things like that. Now we’re starting to talk about wealth inequality. We’re starting to talk about greed.
The kinds of action that we want from the state can systematically devolve power to the community level and decentralize it. I mean, that’s what’s exciting about these—all of these examples, whether it’s economic localization, community-based renewable energy, co-operatives, what they share in common is that they decentralize and devolve power, and, I mean, by their very nature. I mean, renewable energy, if you compare it with fossil fuels, you know, it’s everywhere. That’s the point. That’s why it is less profitable, because anybody can put a solar panel on their roof and have energy. And that’s why there’s such momentum against it from corporate America, because they want huge, centralized solutions, because they’re way more profitable, which isn’t to say that you can’t make a profit. You just can’t make a stupid profit. You just can’t—and so, I think, you know, if we look at what there’s so much outrage over, it is that concentration of power, that vertical power. And so, yeah, I do think the solutions have to disperse power, but that we won’t get there without very strong intervention, national, international, local.
[More . . . ]