IBI Watch 8/5/12

5 08 2012

The Filthy Road to Victory   //

For anyone who has not been paying attention for the past three years and six months, a never-ending presidential campaign is in full swing.  And the public disinformation initiative that began on 1/20/09 – to prove that all problems inherited from President W and otherwise in place at the time – were actually ALL the fault of that black guy in the White House – is also far down the road.

As for the campaign itself, along with the usual horse-race coverage, and the ‘message’ type stories, i.e. how will Romney appeal to ordinary, working-class voters, you can find coverage – if you know where to look – of the real campaign.  That would be this.

The modern Republican Party, despite its backing by the Tea Party, is not stupid in any way.  Its leaders understand that a true referendum on its actual agenda – making the US safe for plutocracy – would result in a devastating loss.  So the key to preventing such an unfortunate outcome is three intertwining strategies:

  • Unfettered, unregulated, Supreme-Court sanctioned political spending by billionaires
  • Propaganda based in no small way on that massive spending
  • Suppression of the vote, i.e. the vote of those people least likely to vote Republican

As noted, these strategies intertwine.  You can’t really talk about the propaganda spewed by ‘social welfare’ organizations like Crossroads GPS without also talking about massive spending by particular titans, like Sherman Adelson and the Koch Brothers.

But the real action, where the rubber meets the dirty road, is in controlling the size and identity of the electorate.  In this attempt to engineer, er, ah, wink-wink, prevent, voter fraud, barriers to voting are rising all over the country, including in battleground states.  Can you guess which party stands to benefit?  Shocking, I know, but it is the Republicans.

I put it this way – even if Romney loses, he ‘wins.’  And of course if he wins, so do his billionaire backers, the vaunted ‘job creators.’  And then we all win, right?  Any day now, we will put enough money in the hands of the John Galts of the world in the form of lower taxes and shredded regulations so they can get about the business of tinkling down that prosperity to the masses.  The Bush tax cuts weren’t enough, so Romney wants to go further.  One of these times, we are bound to get it right.

All this plutocracy building will be so much easier if we all shut up and allow the Republican overlords to ‘protect the vote.’  Find out more during an excellent 20-minute video interview run by Bill Moyers.  He talks with Keesha Gaskins and Michael Waldman  in this segment.  Be sure to catch the telling quote – from the mouth of a Republican –  predicting the impact of voter ID laws in a key state.  If the Moyers piece is not enough to make you sick, or at least burning mad, check this story on the nature of ‘voter fraud.’  And when it comes to plutocracy-pushing propaganda, this AlterNet piece is informative.  And this ‘annotated photo’ about says it all on the victory plan.

OK, so what is a progressive to do in the face of ever-stronger (and faceless) forces building plutocracy in our time?  Kill the monstrous spending, gut the propaganda.  For some good ideas, it’s back to Bill Moyers.  And here is a Lyle Denniston blog entry on why this issue has immense implications, as well as the Harold Meyerson opinion piece cited by Denniston.  A careful read of the domestic and foreign consequences of another tainted presidential election could make you want to do something.  Signing this petition is something.

Constitutional Originalism; Religious Literalism

Quite a gig.  Get appointed to a lifelong position on the Supreme Court.  Present yourself as he who can divine the original intent of the nation’s founders as they wrote our Constitution, more than 200 years ago.  Then use this ‘originalism’ as a sword to lay waste to decisions over those past 200 years that stand in the way of your eminently wise understanding of that original intent.  Precedent?  Bah, meaningless, when you have a pipeline to the ultimate Truth!  By God, it is scholarly, even priestly, even pope-like.  And best of all, it doesn’t stop you from trumpeting your political sentiments from the bench.  And you can use your pipeline to the quasi-divine truth to speculate aloud on all sorts of outlandish ideas – without pretending that your musings are comedy.  Quite a gig.  OK, it’s wishful thinking but, oh, if only . . .

Climate Change – It’s About the Science

Here is a bit of news for regular readers of this blog.  This blogger will soon have a new volunteer gig.  I have been selected to join the next group of citizen climate educators at the Climate Reality Project.  While presenting on this organization’s behalf, I will have to remain apolitical.  This is a challenge, since a certain political party has assumed as an article of faith the selective denial of science, and somehow persuaded even its intelligent, fact-respecting members to go back on their previous public statements of trust in the science.  But I will uphold my commitment and live within the requirements.  There is much work to be done.  And after all, the science speaks for itself.  Here’s an article that tells how An Inconvenient Truth passed the fact test.  Sorry, Rushbaugh.

Once a Denialist . . .

Richard Muller, formerly a prominent denialist, received well-deserved praise recently for coming clean.  In this New York Times article, he explained how he is now convinced by the science.  And yet, even in explaining himself, he gives fodder to the pignorant.  This particular paragraph really grates.

“Hurricane Katrina cannot be attributed to global warming. The number of hurricanes hitting the United States has been going down, not up; likewise for intense tornadoes. Polar bears aren’t dying from receding ice, and the Himalayan glaciers aren’t going to melt by 2035. And it’s possible that we are currently no warmer than we were a thousand years ago, during the “Medieval Warm Period” or “Medieval Optimum,” an interval of warm conditions known from historical records and indirect evidence like tree rings. And the recent warm spell in the United States happens to be more than offset by cooling elsewhere in the world, so its link to “global” warming is weaker than tenuous.”

This is just the kind of ‘there, there’ hogwash that the Singers, Limbaughs, Inhofes and that whole crowd just eat up.  And nothing bugs me more than the last line – it is bosh.  In order for it to be true, you would have to have truly offsetting cooling, i.e., records falling on the cold side in wide swaths far from the US.  That is not the case.  And even if it were, it still could be related to our vast, uncontrolled science project.  That is, radically altering the chemical makeup of the atmosphere and ocean with our greenhouse gases, and then denying responsibility.  After all, research suggests that our immense jolts of carbon dioxide seem to be altering global patterns, with some areas, at least for the short term, getting colder.

False equivalence and normalizing will not help the cause of educating an apathetic public and motivating sensible policy.  And long-term holdouts like Richard Muller have a lot of harm to undo.

Corporatism Quashes ‘Win-Win’ Idea

It is a hellish summer across the US midsection and beyond.  Record heat.  Persistent drought.  Withering corn.  So, here is a novel idea.  Eat a little less meat.  Don’t just believe NPR, try Forbes Magazine.  That would help take some pressure off cattle producers who will face more costly and possibly scarcer feed.  In addition to helping save the planet, those who eat less meat get a little healthier.  Seems like a win-win.   Think again.

Climate Progress

In a never-ending quest to find good news on the climate battle, how about the notion of the global commons?  Inklings of positive motion here.  And there is always James Hansen, who has been fighting the battle longer than most climate scientists.  I recently read his book Storms of My Grandchildren, which I highly recommend.  In this column, NASA’s embattled meteorologist lays out his main idea, which is NOT ‘cap and trade,’ but rather ‘fee and dividend.’  It makes a lot of sense.  Check this excerpt:

“This is the world we have changed, and now we have to live in it — the world that caused the 2003 heat wave in Europe that killed more than 50,000 people and the 2011 drought in Texas that caused more than $5 billion in damage. Such events, our data show, will become even more frequent and more severe.

There is still time to act and avoid a worsening climate, but we are wasting precious time. We can solve the challenge of climate change with a gradually rising fee on carbon collected from fossil-fuel companies, with 100 percent of the money rebated to all legal residents on a per capita basis. This would stimulate innovations and create a robust clean-energy economy with millions of new jobs. It is a simple, honest and effective solution.

The future is now. And it is hot.”

 “You People” are Getting Poorer – Trickle Missing You?

This on-target video rant by one of the greatest ranters of them all, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, hammers the GOP for ignoring the middle class.  The Michael Jordan fable alone is worth the watch.  And NPR’s All Things Considered ran a very informative story about how the poor are even more forgotten, even as their ranks expand rapidly.  So what are we doing about this?  Why, flirting seriously with the idea of handing all the power over to the plutocrats.  Wonder what Mr. Romney really means with his tax ideas?

Fate (With Yucks)

Fred Guterl has a damned scary new book.  Watch Jon Stewart discuss the most serious topics while injecting a few jokes.  Hey, you wanna move that deck chair over there?

“Whatever we do to nature, we do to ourselves” – Kurt Heidinger

Blogger – Michael Murphy, St. Paul MN

Contributed links to this posting – Jeff Carlson, Tess Galati, Allyson Harper, Chuck Niska




3 responses

5 08 2012
Tammie S.

That is wonderful news about your new gig for the Climate Reality Project! Good luck, Mike!

5 08 2012
Brian Roberts

Michael, Democrats may not be following the same strategy as the Republicans, but many Democrats are happily contributing to the plutocracy building of the past few decades. Progressives have also got to get hold of the Democratic Party, starting at the local level and working our way up. It’s hard to do without money, but it must be done. The right people have to be put into office.

8 08 2012
Ron Weitbrecht


In light of your first article regarding the republican purchase of our federal government, I have taken the liberty to rewrite one of our founding documents to better express the new form of government upon which we are about to embark. You are welcome to use it as you see fit.

The Declaration of Subjugation

“We hold these truths to be self evident, that rich men (not women) are created more equal than others. That they are endowed by their bankers with certain inalienable entitlements, that among these are perpetual profits, eternal corporate welfare, and tax free subsidies. That to secure these perks, governments are purchased among men, deriving their powers from the ability to bribe and outspend. That whenever any form of government becomes unwilling to protect their status, it is the right of the corporations to invoke Citizens United and select their own politicians, laying the foundation of plutocracy and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their perpetual and ever increasing income disparity.”

Ron Weitbrecht
Gilbert, Arizona

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