How does it happen that a year after the economic crisis, Congress has enacted no real economic reform? Is it because financial corporations have spent five billion dollars on campaign contributions? Why do Americans pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs? Why do we have an enormous military despite the end of the cold war? Independent Senator Bernie Sanders points to the common source of the problem:
On and on it goes. The reality of Washington, to a very significant degree, is that those people who have the money are able to influence public policy. Big money controls the agenda. If you don’t have the money, you get to the end of the line.
That’s the reality today. It could get worse. Right now, the Supreme Court is considering a case that could be used to open the coffers of all the big corporations to directly fund campaign ads in this country. So you would not just be dealing with political action committees and lobbyists, you would have to deal with the treasuries of large corporations.
This is a huge issue. The antidote, in my view, is public funding of elections so that everybody has the opportunity to run for office without having to be beholden to powerful special interests.
Here’s another issue where money is corrupting the debate: net neutrality. I agree with Sanders. In fact, I’m ready to concede that we are unable to deal with any important issue in the United States because the conversation has been thoroughly corrupted by money in the form of private campaign contributions. We desperately need publicly funded campaigns to have a chance to honestly deliberate important issues.
Over on his blog, Whatever, John Scalzi does an interesting analysis of just what Obama is doing with FOX News. I’m heartened by the idea that he’s playing the GOP in their own game of unfitness-by-association-with-a-label and winning, especially when it doesn’t actually appear that that’s what he’s doing.
You would think that the bloviations of such methane-rich mineral deposits like Rush Limbaugh would long since have caused people who might have basked in the eerie swamp-glow of Republican ascendancy to hide themselves from public view, but instead they are forming ranks. If Scalzi’s take is correct, they are simply moving into their own corner, isolating themselves, and making it easy to identify them. Those with any brains have begun to distance themselves, and the more FOX bleats about Obama This and Obama That the less sane they all look.
Still, the hard core of the GOP is still driven by ideologues who have a hard time understanding that not only are there other viewpoints but that some of them might make sense. Since that ideology is but a short space away from a belief that whether any other viewpoint makes sense or not it doesn’t matter because Jesus is coming back “real soon now,” they are utterly hamstrung. For years some of them have surely known that they needed to get rid of that wing of the party, but they couldn’t do it without sacrificing seats in Congress. Now they’ll be forced to not only rid themselves of that, but also disavow their cheerleading section. It will be a long road to recovery, but once they admit they are no longer in control of their own lives, that a higher power must be appealed to, that they have to turn this around one step at a time, we should then stop picking on them.
In the meantime, may I suggest no quarter. But let us not get ugly about it. Let’s take a page from our president and gut them with style.
I was recently chatting with a friend who has been a Scientologist for several decades. He was attacking the White House for its conspiracy with other networks to censor and muzzle Fox News. He later sent me this screed on the Campaign for Liberty blog under the Subject “Fox News is Right”. The CfL is one of the political arms of Scientology. Check out their mission and board if you want. The introduction to the post is (in part, go read it yourself):
Why is America under such a vicious and prolonged [internal] attack against its basic beliefs? Why are some Americans attacking the hand that feeds them? Why tear down a working system? None of the attacks make sense. It is as though we are living in a looking glass world. I am looking backwards and it seems left is right and wrong is right and right is wrong. Politically correct speak replaced plain speak and the silent Christian majority are called domestic terrorists.
Okay, I paused at this point and replied (in part):
Lost me at “silent Christian majority”. An iconic building in every neighborhood, billboards every mile, ads every hour on radio and TV channels not already owned outright by Christian networks, and their creed printed on money and embedded in children’s daily oath to the flag does not fit my definition of “silent”.
I didn’t mention the wholesome Christian activities of blockading health clinics, continuous protests with gory signs on streets and campuses, bombing clinics and shooting doctors.
But the actual point of the article is that the KGB is alive and well and still trying to take over America via a conspiracy with the Psychiatric Industrial Complex. They have (the article claims) powerful mind control methods that are being used on the public.
If so, I asked in reply, how did we ever manage to get rid of CheneyBush?
Today, my friend sent me (among other Scientology political pieces) a YouTube video attacking Obama’s plan to sign the latest international emissions control treaty. It took a while of watching to figure this out, among the doomsayer speech of One World Government, global warming denialism, and the demise of America and such. Many of the positive comments to the video seem to be from garden variety End Days Christians, but the platform is quite visibly Scientology.
The point of all this is, Why are the Scientologists aligning with Fox and Christian Fundamentalists? For recruitment? For political palatability? To hijack a powerful propaganda machine?
Read and listen to what they actually say, and get back to me.
Covert government by defense contractor means corrupt wars of conquest, government by dope dealer. When the world’s traditional inebriative herbs become illegal commodities, they become worth as much as precious metal, precious metal that can be farmed. … Illegal drugs, solely because of the artificial value given them by Prohibition, have become the basis of military power anywhere they can be grown and delivered in quantity. … To this day American defense contractors are the biggest drug-money launderers in the world.— Drug War: Covert Money, Power and Policy, p.318.
Revelations from today’s New York Times that Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of president of Afghanistan, has been on the payroll of the CIA for years should be utterly unsurprising to anyone that has followed the history of either the CIA or drugs in Afghanistan. In a considerable understatement, the Times story says “The C.I.A.’s practices also suggest that the United States is not doing everything in its power to stamp out the lucrative Afghan drug trade, a major source of revenue for the Taliban.” Far from “doing everything in its power” to end the drug trade, Afghan poppies are also a major source of revenue for the CIA. As Noam Chomsky said: The close correlation between the drug racket and international terrorism (sometimes called “counterinsurgency,” “low intensity conflict” or some other euphemism) is not surprising. Clandestine operations need plenty of money, which should be undetectable. And they need criminal operatives as well. The rest follows.”
Israel is one of the countries most fervently criticizing Iran in Iran’s quest for nuclear research (see here and here). Al Jazeera English notes, however, that Israel hasn’t even signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
We have previously posted regarding the latest reprint of Darwin’s “The Origin of Species”, by Ray Comfort. If you don’t know about it, it has a 50 page forward full of untruths, confusion, and misdirection in an attempt to discredit the original text that follows. Yes, he’s trying to use Darwin to discredit 200 years of thoroughly tested evolutionary biology.
Unfortunately, Amazon.com reviews and ratings confuse it with another (reputable) reprint by the same name, as discussed in detail here:
THE world will have to find four Saudi Arabias by 2030 if it wants to maintain its oil dependency, the International Energy Agency says.
The reality of peak oil is fast approaching, and more must be done to develop and encourage the use of alternatives including solar and nuclear, the agency’s chief economist has warned.
“My main motto never changes, the era of low oil prices is over,” Dr Fatih Birol said.
That’s the verdict reported today in The Australian. I thought I’d check to see what other sources had to say about Birol’s assertion, but I cannot find a single U.S.- based source reporting it, other than blogs that are dedicated to peak-oil issues. This is rapidly becoming a crisis, and almost nobody is discussing it in America. Not just here, of course– study groups in Britain have been trying to get their government to begin planning for the reality of peak oil for years, and now they are saying it’s simply too late. (see this also).
I’ve long been an advocate of the FireFox browser. I’ve used it since it was first announced, and rarely use IE for anything but testing web designs and browsing Microsoft’s own non-W3C compliant web pages.
One of my reasons is that Internet Explorer has major vulnerabilities via its ability to directly run ActiveX code on the machine of users without asking permission. That is, it is a hacker’s pipeline into your operating system.
Well, a few weeks ago, a Microsoft Update quietly installed the .Net Framework assistant into any FireFox browser it found. Shoved that narrow shiv of vulnerability right into the heart of the generally more secure FireFox core. When it was noticed, the savvy segment of FireFox users were outraged. Not just because it was done, but because it was done in such a way that it couldn’t be easily removed! Sure, it would let FireFox users see those rare sites dependent on ActiveX, but it would also let hackers run ActiveX on your machine!
When I found out, I first Googled to find a way to remove it using regedit and about:config (two dangerous powerful tools). But a week later, updates by Microsoft and FireFox made it easier to remove. If you have it, remove it.
Here’s one of the articles about it from ZDNet, a generally Microsoft friendly environment. This article also contains removal instructions that assume you have recent updates.
btw: If you didn’t know. FireFox spell checks all blog entry fields as you type. And you can add nifty customizable Make Link tools for easy creation of links in comments to blogs and such. Just highlight text on a page, rt-click and Make Link to copy complete link code, ready to paste.