Establishment Media

Mainstream media is corporate media is establishment media. Power serves power. It’s difficult trying to speak truth to power when one is part of the power structure.

The following video is an inside view of how mainstream media works.

 

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Investigations On WMD Lies That Led To Iraq War

That rant was quite satisfying. I’ve noticed lately a lot of frustrated ranting from progressive liberals, specifically from people who aren’t known for their ranting. The guy in the above video is someone I regularly watch and I don’t recall ever having seen him gone off on a rant like that. Another example of this is Thom Hartmann which I made a longer post about:

https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/life-is-stupid-humans-are-stupid/

I’ve grown tired of the weak sauce moderate centrists that have taken over the Democratic Party. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama seem like nice people. I respect them as far as my respect goes for most professional politicians of the moderate centrist variety, but I don’t respect them as liberals and for damned sure I don’t respect them as progressives… because they are neither.

I’d love to see Washington politics filled with passionate defenders of progressive liberalism. People like Bernie Sanders, Anthony Weiner, and Alan Grayson. I don’t care if I entirely agree with everything these people say and do. I just want people who have strong convictions that they are willing to fight for. I don’t want professional politicians who only care about maintaining their power by maintaining the status quo, who only care about advancing their careers.

I want a functioning democracy where citizens have real influence. I want civic participation like never seen before. I want people angry and out in the streets.

I know I’m part of the problem. Like most Americans, I’m apathetic and cynical. But, at least, I’m not ignorant. I know what is going on and I know I don’t like it. I want to live in a society where everyone matters, not just the rich and powerful. I want to live in a society where justice and fairness matters.

I don’t want to live in a society where the powerful get away with lying to the public, get away with blatant corruption, get away with war crimes. Is that too much to ask for? I don’t know. I too often feel isolated in caring about any of this. The media seems to intentionally isolate us. The mainstream media personalities usually just distract us from anything of consequence. When someone in the media actually says something true and says it with passion (which usually only happens in the alternative media), I feel part of myself wake up from apathy.

I want all of society to wake up. I was reading a book about the Populist Era where a person of that time was quoted. The person spoke of it in the terms of a whole generation waking up to the corruption as if the flames of the Holy Spirit brought forth a revival across the land. It’s amazing to read about that time. People were content and apathetic… and then all of a sudden they were fighting for a whole new vision of society. What wakes up a generation like that? What is the event that finally pushes people just too far and it somehow becomes collectively determined that they can’t, won’t take it anymore? How do people go from feeling like powerless individuals to feeling like a collective force to be reckoned with?

– – –

I was looking through my books about the Populist Era, but I couldn’t find the exact quote I was thinking of. Instead, I found a couple of passages from one book that describe clearly what was going on at the time.

Rebirth of a Nation
by Jackson Lears

Location 2964:

…had demonstrated what insurgents could do by connecting monetary reform to a wide range of egalitarian and anti-monopoly policies. They could challenge the notion that government was a private (white) men’s club; they could widen the public sphere by creating common ground among the indebted classes, linking farmers and laborers, even blacks and whites. Of course these alliances were shaky and easily toppled. But they provided political outsiders—people who had never imagined themselves acting effectually in public—with a glimpse of what an insurgency could do. As the historian Lawrence Goodwyn has argued, this was a crucial moment in the creation of a “movement culture”: a mass of insurgents becoming visible (to themselves and others) as political actors for the first time.

Farther west, the Farmers’ Alliances had embarked on a similar project. The organization began in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Kansas as a counterforce to the feelings of isolation and impotence that enveloped the countryside in the 1880s. Dividing into Northern and Southern Alliances, the farmers nevertheless soon began to see themselves as part of a huge and effectual national movement—and not merely another interest group scuffling for narrow gain.

Location 3035:

Indeed, Kansas was one of the states where the Farmers’ Alliance began to take on the characteristics of a regenerative mass movement—described by various observers as “a pentecost of politics,” “a religious revival,” and “a crusade.” Along with stump speeches by Macune and other orators, Farmers’ Alliance meetings featured long parades of wagons stretching for miles, decorated with evergreens to symbolize the “living issues” of the Alliance rather than the dead tariffs and bloody shirts of the existing two-party system. The plain people could see themselves acting politically en masse. In Kansas as elsewhere, farmers fired up by the experience of participatory democracy began to take matters into their own hands. The insurgent culture produced insurgent politics. In Harper County, Kansas, the Alliance demanded stricter usury laws; in Brown County they protested “the extortions of the binding twine trust” and proceeded “at once to the erection of a co-operative manufactory for binding twine.” This was how a democratic social movement was born.

Still, the Alliance had to overcome the power of regional and racial mistrust. Little more than twenty years earlier, Midwesterners and Southerners had been killing each other at Fredericksburg and Chickamauga. Old resentments died hard, as Garrison understood when he recommended the bloody shirt to Republican orators. At the same time, the two regions’ shared evangelical ethos began to acquire greater strength and political significance, bringing old antagonists together on common cultural terrain.

Toward A Truly Free Market w/ Author John Medaille

How can rightwingers (whether libertarians, objectivists, or social conservatives) defend local small businesses like mom & pop stores while simultaneously defending transnational big businesses like Wal-Mart?

It’s interesting that Medaille describes the internal functioning of a monopolistic corporation as being like a socialist state in that they decrease competition & having very controlled planning. Many rightwingers love both big businesses and the military which combined as the military-industrial complex form the largest manifestation of socialism in the US and possibly in the world.

In this interview, Medaille pointed out that a corporate charter originally prohibited political involvement. He also pointed out (as did Thom Hartmann in another video) that the original Boston Tea Party was a protest against a corporation and against a government that was giving tax cuts to the rich. Medaille said something I had never heard before: “Jefferson and Madison both wanted an amendment as part of the bill of rights which prohibited the formation of corporations.” Why don’t we hear conservatives and constitutionalists mention this part of history? And why do most of the people supporting today’s Tea Party movement seem ignorant of the history of the Boston Tea Party? I don’t know if Tea Party supporters are more ignorant than the average American, but you’d think they’d at least be informed about the history of the Boston Tea Party which supposedly is the inspiration of their movement.

All of this reminds me of another issue of concern in the founding and development of American society. The founding fathers idealized a professional political class which would act as a disinterested aristocracy. They hoped that this political class would be disinterested in that they’d be independently wealthy enough so as to not be directly involved in business affairs. They thought it was dangerous for powerful people to be simultaneously involved in both politics and capitalism. They wanted a political class that didn’t favor any group but instead was able to dispassionately make decisions for the good of all.

Cost of War

“I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.”

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”

 ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

1 Soldier or 20 Schools?
By Nicholas D. Kristof

In the presidential campaign, Mr. Obama promised to invest in a global education fund. Since then, he seems to have forgotten the idea — even though he is spending enough every five weeks in Afghanistan to ensure that practically every child on our planet gets a primary education.

We won our nation’s independence for $2.4 billion in today’s money, the Congressional Research Service report said. That was good value, considering that we now fritter the same amount every nine days in Afghanistan. Mr. Obama, isn’t it time to rebalance our priorities?

I’ve known these kinds of statistics for a long time, but the comparisons help to put the abstract numbers into practical terms. I always wonder why it is that conservatives see it as a patriotic duty to support the military at all costs even when the cost is high… in terms of money spent and in terms of loss of moral high ground and loss of global goodwill. Why is it that data like this tends to only make sense to liberals? Why shouldn’t conservatives care about making the world a better place, about actually helping the Afghanistan people rather than merely bombing them into oblivion?

(By the way, when I speak of liberals I’m not equating them to Democrats. Most Americans, including most Democrats, identify as conservatives. It’s liberals, whether Democrats or Independents, who were the most critical of Bush on his wanting to start wars and who are now the most critical of Obama for wanting to continue those wars.)

The cost of such wars wouldn’t be too high if the end result was worthy. I’d be more than happy if all my tax money was spent on building schools for poor people instead of bombing the homes of poor people. Even if you’re selfish and hate the idea of helping poor people in other countries, then why not bring our troops home and use the money to help the poor in our own country? Or even if you hate all poor people including those in the US, why not spend the money on building infrastructure or for loans to small business owners?

The worst part is that the cost isn’t just money. In our War against Terror, we’ve merely created more terrorists who will have to be fought in the future by the next generations. Also, US veterans come back with severe disabilities, brain trauma, PTSD, depression, alcoholism, drug addiction, unemployment, homelessness, and violent tendencies. To put it simply, war fucks people up. No one is a winner in war.

You want to know why wars go on? There is the wealth elite who makes massive profits off of war. Military contracts are probably the single largest industry in the entire US economy. This is what Eisenhower called the Military-Industrial Complex. And guess what? The children of these wealthy elite aren’t the soldiers dying in foreign lands. It’s the children of the poor and the working class who are dying for the profits of the wealthy elite.

I understand that the wealthy elite want to maintain their power and increase their profits. That is normal human behavior. They are acting in their own self-interst. What I don’t understand is why do the American people (in particular, conservatives) continually believe the lies and propaganda? When will the American people wake up? Why does the average American want to pay into the wealthy elite’s profit-making so that the wealthy elite can send their children off to die killing the children of poor working class people in other countries?

Tell me that Bill Maher is wrong when he says Americans are stupid. I want to believe Americans aren’t stupid, I honestly must say that any American who believed the rationalizations Bush gave for going to war is a complete and utter retard. If you supported Bush in his warmongering, you are fucking worthless. It’s because people who simply do what they’re told and don’t question that the world is so fucked up.

I hope that one day Americans will know all the misery they’ve caused around the world by toppling democratically elected leaders and supporting oppressive governments, by bombing innocent people. I hope one day that Americans personally experience all of the horror they’ve inflicted on others. I can promise you that if Americans ever do experience the same amount of suffering that the US military and CIA has caused, the 9/11 terrorist attack will seem like child’s play.

There would be a lot less suffering in the world if people had to experience the same suffering they cause others. Just imagine if wealthy politicians and capitalists had to experience the suffering the poor parent feels when their child is brought home in a body bag. Just imagine if the soldier had to feel the suffering of all the people disabled from the bomb he dropped, had to feel the suffering of the child who lost her father. Just imagine if the American people had to feel all the suffering of the people living under oppressive regimes supported by their tax-funded government, had to feel the suffering of people living in war zones created by the US military.

Disturbing Study Highlights Racism

The Visible Hand:
Race and Online Market Outcomes
Jennifer L. Doleac and Luke C.D. Stein

http://www.stanford.edu/~lstein/visiblehand/

Abstract

Do prospective customers behave differently based on sellers’ perceptible race or signals about sellers’ socioeconomic class? Does the answer to this question depend on whether a customer lives in an area that is racially segregated or plagued by property crime? We investigate these questions in a year-long experiment in which we sold iPods through local online classified advertisements throughout the United States. Each ad features a photograph of the product being held by a hand that is dark-skinned (“black”), light-skinned (“white”), or light-skinned with a wrist tattoo (traditionally associated with lower social class). We find that black sellers do worse than white sellers on a variety of metrics: they receive 13% fewer responses to their advertisements and receive 17% fewer offers. These effects are similar in magnitude to those associated with the display of a wrist tattoo. Conditional on receiving at least one offer, black sellers receive offers that are lower by 2 to 4%, despite the self-selected — and presumably less biased — pool of buyers. In addition, buyers corresponding with a black seller behave in ways that suggest they trust the seller less: they are 17% less likely to include their name in e-mails, 44% less likely to accept delivery by mail, and 56% more likely to express concern about making a long-distance payment. We find that black sellers suffer particularly poor outcomes in thin markets; it appears that discrimination may not “survive” in the presence of significant competition among buyers. Furthermore, black sellers do worst in markets that are racially segregated and that have high property crime rates. The latter result suggests that at least part of the explanation is statistical discrimination — that is, buyers being concerned about the time and potential danger involved in the transaction, or that the iPod is stolen goods.

Shep Smith vs Bill O’Reilly

I have a hard time feeling outraged at or even caring about all the stupidity in politics in the media. The Sherrod incident is so predictable that it’s boring (and I’m as critical of the right-wing media as I am of the Obama administration). Still, there is one interesting thing to note. That interesting thing is Shep Smith. My respect for Shep Smith keeps growing and the video below shows why. As comparison, I’ll also post a video about Bill O’Reilly. Both videos are from The Young Turks and both involve the Sherrod incident.

Obviously, O’Reilly isn’t a journalist and admits he isn’t, but my respect for Shep Smith isn’t simply that he is a journalist. Cenk Uygur, who is the host commenting in these two videos, is also a commentator like O’Reilly. Even so, I have respect for Cenk Uygur for the same reason I have respect for Shep Smith. Neither Uygur nor Smith limits their criticism to ideological partisanship.

The comparison between Shep Smith and Bill O’Reilly is even stronger for the fact that O’Reilly might be the best commentator on Fox News. O’Reilly can, on rare occasions, surprise me in saying something honest and even principled. Compared to Beck, O’Reilly is an exemplar of moderation and sanity. But, compared to Shep Smith, it becomes clear how extremely partisan O’Reilly is.

Mean Bosses & Inequality

The following video shows one of the many dangers of wealth disparity.

I’ve posted about wealth disparity in the past and I was recently reading the book The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett (here is the official website: The Equality Trust). Here is a video by the authors:

The data shows the correlation between wealth disparity and a wide variety of health and social problems. Some have argued against this apparent correlation being causally related (or, to the extent there is a causal relation, that the results are necessarily negative… arguing, for example, that wealth disparity is inevitable for economic growth), but the research mentioned in the first video further strengthens this correlation (and the negative conditions that result) by putting it in context of the psychology of human behavior. As Cenk Uygur points out, we all have this predisposition to misuse power (whether we meritoriously gained that power or were merely given it), but this predisposition is just a potential that we can guard against.

As a liberal, I’d argue that if you remove the temptation by decreasing the wealth disparity, then you don’t have to worry about people struggling to resist the corrupting influence of too much power. Anyways, as the data shows, societies with high wealth disparities are bad even for the wealthy in that they too suffer greater problems than the wealthy in societies with low wealth disparities. So, it does no one any good… no matter what conservatives may claim about some hypothetical meritocracy.

Even if they were correct that the economy grows quicker with greater inequality, that is hardly a moral argument for inequality (What good is growth merely for the sake of growth?). As the US data shows, even though the economy is growing, this only directly benefits the upper class. This growing economy isn’t increasing the living wage or employment rates of the lower classes.

If you’re wondering about criticisms of the data and correlations from The Spirit Level, here are some relevant links:

http://www.leftfootforward.org/2010/07/debunking-the-rights-attacks-on-the-spirit-level/

http://www.thersa.org/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/328517/Kate-Pickett-and-Richard-Wilkinson-Responses-to-All-Critics.pdf

http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/saunders-response

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jul/09/spirit-level-policy-exchange

The next video is a debate the authors of The Spirit Level had with one of their critics:

Here are some further videos: