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Guest Commentary

Guest Commentary (4869)


Author of The Crime Of Our Time 

With eleven pens for souvenirs, President Obama signed the financial reform bill in a rare celebratory moment. Significantly, the ceremony did not take place in the Oval Office but up the block at the Ronald Reagan building perhaps to signal recalcitrant Republicans that this is a cause they should sign on to.  

It wasn’t clear if he was aware that he was signing up for the a new volatile phase of struggle to rein in out of control financial power. 


Under the I-hate-government, let’s-drown-it-in-the-bathtub administration of George Bush and Dick Cheney, the Secrecy State swelled to such enormous proportions it required more than a dozen investigative journalists from the Washington Post two years to fathom its size and shape.

In our otherwise financially bankrupt society, where we can afford virtually nothing that actually helps people, money is no object in the Secrecy State. Thus in the name of national security, as Dana Priest and William M. Arkin tell us in “Top Secret America,” their harrowing tale of government gone wild, 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies are currently in the homeland security, counterterrorism and intelligence game.

These agencies either expanded their operations vastly or sprang anew from the head of Zeus (I mean Cheney) in the wake of 9/11, when secret government, like torture, bloomed:


you can't make it up.... a right wing obama hater puts out a phony tape to stir up white people's anger. fox runs with it ............. the woman gets fired and it's all the white house's fault. you have to admit....fox may be the kkk in suits and short skirts with low cut neck lines.............but they are very good at manipulating people!


It’s important for the public to review what was reported yesterday (7-20-10) on Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now! Ask yourself if you can count on the Government and mainstream media to tell you the truth about the deadly toxic dispersants in the Gulf.  According to the corporate networks, BP is doing a splendid job down in the Gulf.  Last night, Katie Couric CBS reported that there’s green grass sprouting up in the marshes now.  By contrast, here are the awful facts: These are excerpts from this critical report: 

With BP having poured nearly two million gallons of the dispersant known as Corexit into the Gulf of Mexico, many lawmakers and advocacy groups say the Obama administration is not being candid about the lethal effects of dispersants… 

 HUGH KAUFMAN: …Consequently, we have people, wildlife—we have dolphins that are hemorrhaging. People who work near it are hemorrhaging internally. And that’s what dispersants are supposed to do. EPA now is taking the position that they really don’t know how dangerous it is, even though if you read the label, it tells you how dangerous it is. And, for example, in the Exxon Valdez case, people who worked with dispersants, most of them are dead now. The average death age is around fifty. It’s very dangerous, and it’s an economic—it’s an economic protector of BP, not an environmental protector of the public. 


Just released Center for New Community report charges "Apply the Brakes" and The Weeden Foundation with supporting hard-core anti-immigration agenda

If over the years you haven’t paid all that much attention to some of the internal struggles within the mainstream environmental movement, you’ve missed a whole bunch of interesting battles, and, to be honest, you’ve saved yourself a whole lotta unnecessary grief. However, one of the most important – and divisive -- battles that has taken place is over the issue of population, immigration and the environment. Perhaps the most vicious fight took place in 2004, when a slate of anti-immigrant forces tried –and failed – in their effort to take over the Board of the Sierra Club.  

On Wednesday, July 21, The Center for New Community (CNC), a Chicago-Illinois-based civil rights organization, published a new report titled Apply the Brakes: Anti-immigrant Co-optation of the Environmental Movement (http://www.newcomm.org/content/view/2138/117/), which according to a CNC press release “reveals how anti-immigrant forces have corrupted the dialogue on population and the environment.”


To all those cheeky ‘EMPLOYED’ Republican Senators:

I keep hearing the folks in Government talk about the lazy unemployed people not even trying to find a job. Unfortunately, I never, ever thought I’d be unemployed this long. Otherwise maybe I’d have kept better records. I’m fairly certain that I’ve applied for over 3,000 jobs since being laid-off in October 2008. Even if benefits are reinstated, I’ll only have a few filings left so please approve Tier 5.

I have a verifiable job search; a 112 page document that I downloaded from monster.com. It does not include the hundreds of jobs I’ve applied for after doing hours of research about a particular company. And, I don’t apply for just any job, since I try to take care not to inundate HR folks with bogus applications (since I have an understanding of what that job entail’s). I had a job interview last week and the interviewer told me that she is suspicious of people who’ve been out of work for so long. She claims that that’s when folks get desperate and do something bad.  

Thank you for your compassion! Too many people judge us unemployed folks, think we’re just lazy and just sitting around sucking up the “grand” benefits of unemployment dough! Yeah right. I’m on verge (August 10th ) of losing my house and living out of my vehicle. I’ve applied for the government loan modifications but my mortgage company, Wells Fargo, has denied me 3 times. Its bogus, they really don’t care to help you – just want their money … ASAP!!  I’ve written to just about everybody in Texas senate, just get the ‘cookie-cutter’ letter and run-around.


If the U.S. economy eventually recovers and current trends continue, U.S. workers won’t be celebrating in the streets. The corporate establishment has made it clear that a “strong recovery” depends on U.S. workers making “great sacrifices” in the areas of wages, health care, pensions, and more ominously, reductions in so-called “entitlement programs” — Social Security, Medicare, and other social services.  

These plans have been discussed at length in corporate think tanks for years, and only recently has the mainstream media begun a coordinated attack to convince American workers of the “necessity” of adopting these policies. The New York Times speaks for the corporate establishment as a whole when it writes:

“American workers are overpaid, relative to equally productive employees elsewhere doing the same work [China for example]. If the global economy is to get into balance, that gap must close.” 


            As I discovered in the course of researching my book, No Rain in the Amazon: How South America’s Climate Change Affects the Entire Planet (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2010), the oil industry has had a poor record when it comes to protecting aquatic sea life.  Take for example the manatee, which has been put at risk from the Amazon to the Gulf of Mexico as a result of the oil industry.  One of the most outlandish creatures on the planet, the shy and retiring manatee, which gets its name from an American Indian word meaning “Lady of the Water,” was first described as a cross between a seal and hippo.  The creature has a wonderfully round body, mostly black skin the texture of vinyl, a bright pink belly, a diamond-shaped tail and a cleft lip.

            In the wake of BP's disaster, the manatee could be in for a rough patch. Indeed, oil could ultimately result in death or significant injury in the event that manatees are exposed to petroleum. The docile sea creature, which can be found along the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, could ingest oil-damaged sea grass beds and other vegetation.  Because manatees need to surface to breathe air, they could become exposed to oil on the water. If they ingest oil, manatees could develop lesions and erosions of the esophagus, liver toxicity and kidney problems. Ingestion could kill the organisms in manatees' stomachs which aid in the digestion of sea grasses consumed by the animals.

            Though the case of the manatee is certainly tragic, could we be missing the larger marine picture?  For sure, surface petroleum provides easy photo ops and for weeks we’ve been subjected to countless images of oil washing up on local beaches.  What’s been sorely lacking in the coverage, however, is any discussion of mysterious and inaccessible deep sea marine life.  Take, for example, the enigmatic giant squid which will be placed at risk by BP’s methane emissions.


How do we respond to a political landscape where Meg Whitman can spend $80 million on her primary candidacy alone? Or where, aided by the ghastly Citizen's United Supreme Court decision, right-wing groups are pledging over $200 million for the November elections. On-the-ground activism is key, ordinary citizens reaching out to knock on doors, make phone calls, talk to friends, neighbors and coworkers, spread the word through social media, and do everything possible to convince undecided voters and get reluctant supporters to the polls. That's what so many of us did during 2006 and 2008, helping tip the balance in race after race. If voters are dependent on campaign ads and sound bites to make their decisions, the most manipulative politics tends to prevail. If we can reach out broadly enough to talk about the real choices at and reach out beyond the core converted to those who may have vastly different perspectives and experience hand, we can overcome the electronic lies.

If we do this well enough, even with lowered expectations, we'll be in far better shape working to create a more just and sustainable world. If we do it badly, or fail to actually reach out, we'll go backwards. So the next hundred and something days matter immensely.

One way to do this outreach while simultaneously building a base for the future is to work toward engaging those face-to-face communities we're already part of in key issues like climate change or the challenges of creating a just and sustainable economy. This means churches and temples, PTA's, block associations and Rotary Clubs, soccer clubs and softball leagues, the places we work, and all the other ordinary institutions of daily life. Building on the community that they offer, and on our relationships with colleagues, co-workers, and neighbors who already know us, they can provide powerful venues to engage our fellow citizens in our country's most critical issues.


The tactics Fox News employs to subscribe to some pretense of legitimacy in the 'news' it reports (and that you get to decide) is fairly straight forward. First, Fox and Friends, while not overtly claiming to be news delivery, but opinion and entertainment, will have a 'guest' or host make an assertion, and then Fox News (It's important to bear in mind the difference in the program titles; 'Friends' vs 'News.') will later report that "'sources' have reported that . . ."

The reasons it can get away with this despicable enterprise draw from a few basic exigencies. One, the corporation is highly attuned to the sad circumstance that, to one degree or another, all of us engage feelings of Schadenfreude; taking pleasure in the misfortunes of others; the private, personal delight behind the "he got his" syndrome. The corporation is also keenly aware of the just below the surface (and the just plain overt) racism that yet plagues much of our society, and that that segment (most particularly conservatives) is not only prepared to believe anything negative about the target of its bigotry that will tend to support that bigoted premise, but that seeks out such support, regardless of the outrageousness of the facts or source. Next, exactly as with ABC, CBS, and NBC, Murdoch's corporation knows that Americans, by and large, are just too damned busy to fact check every allegation it issues.  

News Corp knows that something's gonna stick. It's the same 'Big Lie' strategy that employs the three truths I just outlined, and that worked so well in Germany. 

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