15 Nov

Are Americans too busy to think critically?

in Capitalism, Congress, Corporatism, Democracy, Democrats, Elections, Libertarianism, Marxism, Politics

Image by UN MANUÉ via Flickr

Alternet has yet another compilation of 16 of the dumbest things Americans believe --- taxes went up under Obama, Hussein was connected with 9/11, ad nauseum.  Articles like these may salve the sensibilities of those not victim to the propaganda machine of a certain billionaire and corporate-sponsored “grassroots” movement currently in the ascendency, but no matter how blatant a lie is exposed, it will do little to sway those who believe the big lie – that U.S. media has a liberal bias. 

So what to do in a political and cultural landscape in which well-told lies have more validity than fact-based truth:

“ a two-to-one margin likely voters thought their taxes had gone up, when, for almost all of them, they had actually gone down. Republican politicians, and conservative commentators, told them Barack Obama was a tax-mad lunatic. They lied. The mainstream media did not do their job and correct them. The White House was too polite—"civil," just like Obama promised—to say much. So people believed the lie.”

We’ve entered a bizzarro world in which calling out lies is considered rude, says Perlstein, so liars are allowed to sit tight and dominate the discourse. This gels with Bill Maher’s critique of the Rally for Sanity, that calling for “balance for balance’s sake” ignores two important aspects of news reporting: facts and evidence.

The modern left is saddled with a two-fold curse.  The first is the erroneous belief that civility is paramount – a paradigmatic weakness that prevents us from calling out lies and the liars who repeat them.  The second is the conundrum that left-leaning politicians are beholden to the same corporate interests that drive such lies.  True Enough has become the mantra of the modern-era; a policy of ignoring the “little” lies, laughing at the big ones, and losing elections rather than bucking the status quo.

Blaming Americans for being ignorant unwashed masses--or taking potshots at an education system that doesn’t teach critical thinking-- would be the easy answer to this conundrum.

But the reality is that if messaging has such a big effect on Americans, then messaging matters.

And indeed, it is messaging over fact that drives the 21st century political consumer.  The intelligentsia and masses alike fight a perpetual battle over whose lie can achieve critical mass (hint – the corporate media are neither left- nor right-wing, but overwhelmingly neoliberal) while multi-national corporations continue to consolidate power.  In the end, it really doesn’t matter what liars control which body of government; the debate itself is king.  Our capacity to choose tribal identity over self-interest keeps us all distracted from the only truth that matters – that the interests of the ruling class are not our own.

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20 Aug

More shenanigans from the TSA’s Keystone Screeners

in TSA / Homeland Security
TSA employee sleeping at Reagan National Airpo...

Image via Wikipedia

After September 1st, the TSA issued a new directive that airport screening must be related to airport security alone.  Meh:

That same screener started emptying her wallet. "He was taking out the receipts and looking at them," she said.

"I understand that TSA is tasked with strengthening national security but [it] surely does not need to know what I purchased at Kohl's or Wal-Mart," she wrote in her complaint, which she sent me last week.

She says she asked what he was looking for and he replied, "Razor blades." She wondered, "Wouldn't that have shown up on the metal detector?"

In a side pocket she had tucked a deposit slip and seven checks made out to her and her husband, worth about $8,000. … She protested when the officer started to walk away with the checks. "That's my money," she remembers saying. The officer's reply? "It's not your money."

As the full article points out, there are laws against such fishing expeditions (not to mention that pesky little fourth Amendment thingee), so Why exactly do we let the TSA issue such ‘directives’ – as though they could pick and choose which constitutional tenets to obey?

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11 Jul

More for Joe Barton to apologize for

in Corporatism, Funny, Republicans

The topical index on this one is fading fast, but head over to and hit refresh a few times – you won’t be ‘sorry’.  Eh?  Eh?  Sorry.  Get it?!

28 Jun

My Awesome Sister – One Year Later

in Personal

Tough day.  No words.

Lori Beth Neiverth Key
March 19th, 1971 – June 28th 2009

25 Jun

Obama’s new 50-state plan

in Funny

Obama-To-R_jpg_600x345_crop-smart_upscale_q85 For all those nay-sayers out there who feel as though Obama should be able to wave a magic wand and stop oil from leaking, reverse a decade of Republican fiscal mismanagement overnight, and defeat the evil Voldemort, finally … FINALLY we have a plan.

ROCKLAND, ME—In an attempt to convince an anxious populace that his legislative agenda is working and that everything is going to be all right, President Barack Obama embarked on a 50-state, 30,000-town tour Monday during which he plans to gaze assuredly into the eyes of each American citizen, one at a time.

"I know a lot of people out there are nervous. They're worried about unemployment, the oil spill in the Gulf, and whether or not I am making the right choices in Washington," Obama said during a rally at Rockland District High School. "To those Americans, I offer you this inspiring, confident gaze."

Obama then stepped down from his podium, walked into the 2,000-person audience, and peered comfortingly into each person's eyes. After taking 45 minutes to methodically work his way from the front row all the way to the balcony, and punctuating each look with a gentle pat on the shoulder, Obama returned to the stage, collected himself, and addressed the silent group before him.

"There," he said. "All better."

Ahh … I hope I get mine this weekend.

24 Jun

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: An atheist’s son comes home to his mom …

in Funny, Religion, Video

Have I seriously not posted this yet? These are dramatic readings taken verbatim from comments posted at fundamentalist forums.  Whatever your faith is, these are fundy.  Er, I mean funny.

22 Jun

SCOTUS: Teaching terrorists to be non-violent is a crime

Seal of the Supreme Court of the United States

Image via Wikipedia

Given the lack of ink on the subject, you may have been unaware that the Supreme court has just ruled against nonviolence, free speech, global equality, and common sense in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project.  This suit was landmark in challenging the original 1996 anti-terrorist law (and the PATRIOT Act) prohibition of material support to terrorist agencies. 

On the surface, this may be a no-brainer – of course it is a crime to contribute to murder and terror.  But this case was not about providing actual material support to terrorist actions, but rather about whether it is criminal to provide terrorist groups with lawful information to help them resolve disputes in a legal manner.  In other words, training would-be violent offenders how to navigate international law to pursue redress nonviolently has now become a crime.  Seriously. 

Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority. “A foreign terrorist organization introduced to the structures of the international legal system might use the information to threaten, manipulate and disrupt. This possibility is real, not remote.” … “Training and advising a designated terrorist organization on how to take advantage of international entities might benefit that organization in a way that facilitates its terrorist activities,” he said.

Legal frameworks exist, by definition, as an open-source framework.  The entire foundation of common law that underlies the modern judicial system – as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - is predicated on equal access to the law for all.  That the highest court in the land has just outlawed access to the court system (and by fiat, the entire international legal framework) is unfathomable on its surface.  But to undermine the only efforts at counterterrorism that have had any measurable success is not only absurd, it is criminal,  stupid, and unabashedly immoral.

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