Saturday, February 06, 2010

Problems with moving on and turning the page

David Seaton's News Links
I haven't blogged for several days, in great part because on one hand I have been curing a horrible flu-type cold and was reserving my energy, I must confess, for things I get paid for; and on the other hand because the Supreme Court decision that I have devoted my last posts to, depresses me so much.

Between the cold and the black dog. I haven't written anything at all.

"Turn the page", some will say, "move on", others will say and "suck it up" or "get a life", might also be typical pieces of advice in such circumstances. I would like to take that advice, but I'm having trouble doing so.

I can't stop thinking about it. The United States' policies and politics are not just an American problem, they are a world problem: read this little snippet:
Republicans already counting the seats they will pick up this fall should keep in mind Obama has a big card yet to play. Should the president declare he has gone the last mile for a negotiated end to Iran's nuclear program and impose the "crippling" sanctions he promised in 2008, America would be on an escalator to confrontation that could lead straight to war. And should war come, that would be the end of GOP dreams of adding three-dozen seats in the House and half a dozen in the Senate. Pat Buchanan
I chose that comment because of its "in a nutshell" brevity, but I could easily quote dozens of articles any day of the year from the left or the right that would illustrate the point as well if not as quickly. The American political process has a direct and immediate effect on the lives of  every living creature on the face of the earth. That process is in the hands of a very few men and women who get elected to that position in extraordinarily expensive campaigns.  The Supremes have just handed that process, lock, stock and barrel to the world's multinational corporations and their bottomless pockets. Who exactly are these people that will control public opinion and the lawmakers, even at a local level?

The skinny is that the future of the United States, the fate of its people and peace and welfare of the peoples of all the rest of world hinges on the opacity of American campaign financing and the falsifying of public opinion known as "AstroTurfing".

In a sense what is hanging in the balance is the mental health of the American public, subjected to an endless and Orwellian flood of spurious news, reports, rumors, slander and false issues that will make clear thinking and policy making next to impossible... if they aren't already.

Unless something happens to change this ruling every political decision that will be taken by the United States in the future will be molded by it. Nothing less than government: of the people, by the people, for the people will have perished in the United States, if, hopefully, not the earth.

I can't think of anything that represented such a defining, yet unnecessary, political moment since Weimar Germany's chancellor, Franz Von Papen empowered Adolph Hitler.

I'm sorry, but I find all the other news I'm reading these days just so much background static to this breathtaking ruling. The only other commentator that seems to have his knickers in as much of twist as I do is Michael Moore. The newspaper "opinion makers" appear to have "moved on".

The way I feel reminds me of something I wrote awhile back:

I remember once many years ago sitting on the terrace of a bar overlooking the rugged coast of Spain. I was nursing a drink and watching the tiny cars miles away as they zipped around the hairpin turns on the cliffhanging coastal highway... the others at the table were engrossed in conversation with their backs to the sea and I was the only one watching the distant road. My attention was drawn to a small Mini Cooper that was coming down the mountain, way too fast... my friends were all looking in my direction and talking as the tiny car, miles away, crashed through a guard rail and hurtled some 500 feet into the Mediterranean... I was the only one who saw them die... all my friends suddenly were staring at me as I vomited all over the table. I feel a bit like that now.


Anonymous said...

A couple of years ago, as a result of a lawsuit filed by a FOX reporter who was fired for refusing to change a story into a lie, the 'supreme' court ruled for the defendant and against the reporter, stating that a news corporation had a right to lie. Now they can lie and pour billions of dollars into the elections on the day before the election with no recourse by the other side and no fear of fines or sanctions. A far cry from the first corporations which had to exist for a limited number of years, prove they benefited the public good and were closely monitored by government. In fact, many of our founding fathers were totally against corporations. They must be worn out spinning in their graves.

There are commentators on the left speaking out, but they are mostly on small, low-wattage stations. People like Thom Hartmann, Randi Rhodes and Mike Malloy. And the folks on the tiny network, Pacifica, like Amy Goodman. It's all too easy for Fox to drown them out, even though only about 30% of the population listens to them, they are true believers.


Forensic economist said...

On news spinning, lies, damn lies and statistics and why this is different from the Great Depression (or the government and media has learned how to lie better)

Statistics gathering was given a large start under Hoover at the Commerce Department in the 20s. It accelerated greatly in the 30s. Being new, the government did not realize then the benefits of massaging the data.

Now it is accepted by the media that a recession means falling production as measured by GDP and a recovery rising production. If this definition had been applied in the 30s, the Great Depression would have been defined as ending in mid 1933, when the trend lines turned up. Production did not reach capacity for another six or seven years.

We have recently been told that the unemployment rate fell to 9.7. This is entirely due to a "seasonal adjustment"; which added a half million non-existent workers. Seasonal adjustments are supposed to smooth factors such as hiring for Christmas followed by layoffs in January. There was fewer actual layoffs in January than expected, therefore the unemployment rate fell in January.

Likewise the artifact of the "labor force" - defined as working or looking for work. The unemployment rate is those counted as "looking for work" divided by the labor force. Those counted as in the "labor force" has shrunk by millions over the last two years.

There are now fewer people working in the US than in 1999. A good measure of what is really happening is the labor force participation rate - people working divided by population. There had been a long term uptrend as more women worked. We are now back to 1975 levels. The true unemployment rate is approaching depression levels.

You would never know this listening to the networks or reading your local newspapers.

Out here in California, Meg Whitman is running for governor spending her own money running ads saying that people are unemployed because welfare benefits are too generous and should be cut back. Polls say she is in the lead for the Republican nomination and has a good shot at winning. She is estimated at planning to spend about $40,000,000 for the election.

Yes, it is depressing.