IBI Watch 8/7/11

7 08 2011

Let’s Pretend, or, a Tale of Three Big Lies – Past, Present and Future

Submitted for your consideration – a survey of three very consequential examples of what I call ‘pignorance.’  That is, ‘Pretend Ignorance.’  This is when powerful interests deliberately promote fact-free ideas, sowing confusion in order to make policy gains, i.e. financial gains.


Lie # 1 –  Past (Mostly)

“We don’t really know that tobacco is harmful.  Menthol cigs could soothe that sore throat.  There’s no proof that passive smoke is harmful.  Smoke that cigarette!”

OK, this is an old one.  Long after science had established a link between cigarettes and health problems, Philip Morris, R J Reynolds and other purveyors continued their campaign to misinform  the public, avoid liability and head off more stringent regulations.  First link – a Canadian documentary that covers the illustrious past of the industry.  Second link – This American Life re-ran an excellent segment on the tobacco industry’s attempt to trumpet the bright side of death – it saves on health care costs, you see – a dead person needs no doctor.  Third link – recent info on the latest tobacco controversy – the new graphic package warnings.





Lie #2 – Present

“Those economists don’t know what they are talking about – spending more money – more stimulus? – forget about it.  If the debt ceiling is not raised, nothing really bad will happen.  The country has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.”  These are not actual quotes, but might be.

First link.  Anyone following this issue knows by now that Standard & Poor’s lowered the US credit rating.  But did you know that S&P specifically called out the chief culprits?  Second link – a NY Times article that shows what we all know – the economy did not need the uncertainty caused by the protracted debt stalemate, and certainly did not need the focus on spending cuts that comes out of the ‘agreement’ between Congress and the president.  Third link – a James Fallows article from the Atlantic.  Check the charts that show two very important perspectives – first, how spending by Bush II and Obama contributed to the debt crisis; second, the critical contribution to the crisis of one key, ‘resolute’ action by Bush.  Can you guess what that might be?





Lie #3 – Future (though not very distant future)

“Global warming?  A conspiracy by greedy scientists and Al Gore.  The earth is cooling.  How do I know?  Rush Limbaugh said so. And of course, global warming is the biggest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.”

The ‘big pretend’ here is simple, and most mass media are complicit.  It’s this unwritten protocol – no matter how extreme the weather, no matter how widespread, no matter how unprecedented, DO NOT make the connection with scientists’ predictions of climate chaos.  And never mind that the pattern shifts we are seeing today are totally consistent with scientific predictions going back to the 80s, even the 70s.  Yes, let’s pretend that we can pour more than 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually (the latest IPCC estimate), and things will be pretty much OK.  Uh huh.

First link – relentless triple-digit heat across the South.  Second link – persistent, record-setting humidity in Minnesota.  In neither piece, of course, one word about 390 parts per million carbon dioxide, courtesy of our tailpipes and smokestacks.  Final link – a thought-provoking perspective:  manmade climate chaos as the Big Kahuna not just of environmental problems, but security problems as well.





Farewell to these three lies, for now.  It took decades for the first big lie to be discredited.   How much time do we have for the other two, particularly with hyperpowered, Supreme-Court-enabled corporate ‘speech’ leading the charge to institutionalized pignorance?  Stay tuned.


Movers and Breakers – Know Your Villains

Here, in one place, the twenty right-wingers most responsible for our rush toward corporatist dystopia, plutocracy, even theocracy.  They’re working hard, in the shadows in some cases, with their way greased by the likes of Limbaugh, Hannity and Will.  Here they are – 19 bad guys and one bad gal.


And by the way, have you met ALEC?  If not, I hope you will introduce yourself.  I recently linked to a Terry Gross interview with Noble Ellington, chairman of ALEC – the American Legislative Exchange Council.  This shadowy organization enables corporations to write ‘model’ legislation that then goes to statehouses, for consideration by legislators who take lots of corporate cash.  Sound interesting?  Gross’s interview of Ellington on Fresh Air was a real eye-opener, worthy of another link here.  Listen to Ellington’s bald-faced assertion as to how he represents the public.  And Democracy Now got into the act this week.  Find out about a growth industry – for-profit prisons!  The Nation, Truthout and Daily Kos links provide deeper background on this very powerful, very corporatist entity.







Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss!  (Or . . . Oh no, not again?!)

For some time, I have been predicting that a prominent Republican governor would emerge and become a force in the battle for 2012 Republican presidential nomination.  Likely candidates – New Jersey’s helicopter-flying, tunnel-canceling Chris Christie, Florida’s dynasty-inheriting Jeb Bush, and Texas’ gun-shootin’ Rick Perry.  Look out – Governor Perry is riding into town.  Think George W Bush, only with ‘convincing’ public piety, and no outrageous malapropos.  Molly Ivins – You left us too soon!






Kicking the Debt Can Down the Road

Relief!  Congress and the president finally compromised.  Aside from that nasty debt rating reduction, things are back to normal.  We move ahead, right?  Think again.  We will be back at this battle soon, friends.  And it will only be uglier next time.  Revenue will be completely off the table again, forcing any solution to be entirely composed of cuts to entitlement programs.  Why will revenue be off the table?  Just read who will exert influence over the membership of the congressional panel charged with identifying future cuts.  Also, some perspectives on what the REAL problems are, and how we might solve them. . . even from the Onion.









Conservative Views on the Economy and Debt

The dominance of Tea Party ideas over the Republican Party, and their national influence, has reached such an extreme level, that even many conservatives are aghast.  Even conservatives who were prominent in the Reagan and Bush II administrations.  Last week, we highlighted David Stockman.  Now hear from David Frum, a prominent advisor in the early days of the W administration.  Here is a summary of his perspective:

1)    Unemployment is a more urgent problem than debt.

2)    The deficit is a symptom of America’s economic problems, not a cause.

3)    The time to cut is after the economy recovers.

4)    The place to cut is health care, not assistance to the unemployed and poor.

5)    We can collect more revenue without raising tax rates.

6)    Passion does not substitute for judgment.

7)    You can’t save the system by destroying the system.

Aside from his notion that tax rates don’t need to rise (they are at historic lows, especially for the top bracket), he is pretty right on here.



A Letter from on High

You know some of our holy ‘Job Creators’ think this way.



Environmental Progress – It’s Out There

Shark fin soup is exacting a grievous toll on the oceans’ greatest predators.  Sharks are in catastrophic decline, and that is bad news for the world’s oceans.  This is not to say that conservationists aren’t trying.  First link describes a new initiative.  Next two links describe how spirit bears in the northern extreme of our continent figure in the battle over tar sands oil pipelines.  At the last link, check the video ‘Where’s the Octopus?’  I guarantee you will be amazed.  The military should have camouflage this good!







“And it is these ignorant people, the most uneducated, the most unimaginative, the most unthinking among us, who would make themselves the guides and leaders of us all; who would force their feeble and childish beliefs on us; who would invade our schools and libraries and homes. I personally resent it bitterly.”

~ Isaac Asimov



Contributed links to this posting – Jeff Carlson, Mark Goldberg, Allyson Harper, Mike Kuehn, Linda White




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