IBI Watch 3/27/11

27 03 2011

Our Age of Magical Thinking

Karl Rove was telling it like it is, (or isn’t?) when he said in 2004 that the US empire ‘creates its own reality.’  On all my favorite issues, the modern GOP, skewed heavily toward the right extreme, publicly adopts stances that are patently at odds with the facts:  Trickle-down economics will benefit everyone; Iraqis would welcome us as liberators; government is the problem; climate chaos is not a problem; voter fraud is a major problem.  The list could go on and on, but you get the point.  And what’s worse is this – modern Republicans have become so adept at ‘staying on message’ that they have enlisted the support of many of those who are most harmed by ideology-driven (rather than fact-driven) policies.  These links – local and national – provide some updates and depth on just what fact-driven progressives are up against.  First link – a group of stories on the budget battle raging in Minnesota.  After eight years of smoke and mirrors from Governor Pawlenty, the current crop of Republicans are finding it harder to keep playing the same game (i.e. let’s pretend we are lowering taxes).  After all, you can only make so many game-playing adjustments.  Second – Most Republican Senators today do not believe in science.  (This is surprising?  Remember – ‘we create our own reality’!)  Third link is a Buzzflash piece by Stephen Pizzo, rightfully pointing out that public ignorance is the biggest problem today.  (Of course, it is built relentlessly by WILLFULLY ignorant officials, mainly Republican – professing ignorance is their newfound meal ticket, so profess they will!)  Next, an excerpt from what looks like an insightful new book – “Back to Our Future,” by David Sirota.  The author points out that the 1980s put us on the corporatist, anti-science path we have followed since.  (Hey, is it still ‘Morning in America’?!)  Next, a Mark Hill commentary from, of all places, Cracked.com – ‘Five Reasons Humanity is Terrible at Democracy.’  If you can put up with some overdone potty-pen (how many ‘bullshits’ can you count in the piece?), I think Hill gets a lot right in this funny piece.  Of course, he misses the elephant in the room – the fact that we have decided to enable unlimited corporate spending to buy our ‘democracy,’ thus making the challenges he talks about dramatically worse.  Hill’s piece brought to mind the final two links.









Them that’s Got Shall Get, Them that’s not Shall Lose

You could say that, along about 1980, that lyric – from Billie Holiday’s ‘God Bless the Child’ – became our national operating principle.  Tax cuts for the wealthy, step-by-step dismantling of the Great Society, and now the New Deal, and insidious propaganda to get the masses to drink the Kool-Aid.  So what have we wrought?  Check these links.  First, a very impressive interactive study from the Economic Policy Institute on income trends in America from 1971 to 2008  It includes a time line with a slider that you can move to compare the fate of the wealthiest 10 percent of the American public compared to the bottom 90.  And as you look – think of what the policies being pushed by Republicans – permanent tax cuts for the wealthy, a permanent end to the estate tax – will do to these trends.  Second – another story from the Business Pundit site that tells a similar story, also with interesting graphics.  Next – a short article from Jim Hightower, pointing out that productivity gains in recent decades have vastly increased wealth in America – but who do you think pocketed that?  Next – a Paul Krugman piece on the lengths Republicans will go to in order to keep Elizabeth Warren from enacting meaningful consumer protections.  Finally – a chance to do something to keep program cuts from harming disadvantaged women and children.








A Grim Anniversary Yes, But It’s Fashionable to Beat up on Labor

It was 100 years ago that an infamous incident took place in Manhattan.  It has a strong current connection.  The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire killed 146 factory workers, almost all young immigrant women working for low pay under inhuman conditions.  It resulted in labor protections.  The connection to today?  The same conditions exist in many Third World countries, where they produce the stuff we buy at low, low prices.  In a book I am reading, ‘Free Lunch,’ author David Cay Johnston calls this ‘economic pollution.’ So there is the connection today.  But how about one more?  It’s very popular to trash labor unions today.  And of course Republicans want to weaken OSHA.  Remember to repeat – the government is the problem.  First, a YouTube video on the fire and the context that’s not flashy but it is effective.  Next – the Johnston book.  Next – an almost unbelievable story.  You heard of the old Communist witch hunts led by Joe McCarthy.  Now it’s fashionable for our elected officials to scapegoat labor.  We’ve been reading about the Walker campaign in Wisconsin.  Now check the stunt of Maine’s governor.






Another Country, Another War

As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan drag on, President Obama, rightly or wrongly, has involved the US in another conflict.  Here are two views.  First, a letter from former FBI agent to Minnesota’s senators asking them not to support the war.  Also – a more generalized appeal for reductions in military spending.  It includes a funny Mark Fiore cartoon about how military spending is not often what it seems – thanks to ‘military math.’




Soundscape Ecology

Though it is a little late in the game, scientists have actually invented a new field, or a new branch of ecology. It studies the sound environment in natural areas – that is, areas without roaring traffic, pounding pile drivers and deafening leaf blowers.  A very interesting short piece on NPR described the new field, and of course the implications of relentless human encroachment on wildlife areas.  Made me think of the song of the indri.  This is the first time I have listened – pretty incredible – you will agree if you check the second link.  Covered extensively in one of my favorite books – Song of the Dodo.





“Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.”
– H.G. Wells


Contributed links to this posting – Jeff Carlson, Mark Goldberg, Jason Gorry, Alysson Harper, Linda Kriel, Liz Kroschel




One response

27 03 2011

Congratulations on your home on the web. I do think using Categories is a good idea, including showing the category widget in the side menu.

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