Click to listen:
First they cried, “Why won’t Obama appoint an Ebola czar???” Then they cried, “How could he appoint that guy to be the Ebola czar!?” And soon they’ll be saying, “Why do we need an Ebola czar, anyway?”
And no matter what happens with Ebola, it’ll all be Obama’s fault. Whether we have a handful of infections and all of them survive or thousands catch it and most of them die, whatever happens will be blamed on the President. If it turns out to be no big deal here (let’s not forget it’s a huge deal in several African countries) they’ll say he wasted money on the czar and got us all upset over nothing. If there’s a major outbreak, they’ll say he didn’t act fast enough – as if the President should have been immediately running from hospital to hospital, checking on quarantine procedures and making sure every member of the medical staff knew how to put on and take off his or her hazmat suit. From the right-wing screams coming out of the likes of Rand Paul, Louie Gohmert, Reince Priebus, and of course, the pundits like O’Reilly and Rush, you’d think the President had caught the disease himself and had spent the next 2 weeks riding in planes, buses, and trains, and visiting elementary schools, sneezing and coughing and rubbing up against as many people as he could.
Hey, at least he wasn’t playing golf.
So if Ebola is a distraction – and certainly all the fact-free fear-baiting coming from Faux News and the right-wingnut blogs would say that it is – what are we not looking at?
Well, how about:
The Supreme Court supporting the voter ID law in Texas, keeping hundreds of thousands of Texans from the polls for the 2014 midterm election? There are 600,000 Texans who don’t have the proper ID, and nationwide, the NAACP says 25% of African-Americans and 16% of Latinos of voting age lack a current government-issued photo ID. If that percentage holds in Texas, that means almost half of the people kept from the polls will be the very groups the GOP in that state would love to silence.
Or could it be the fact that there may be no indictment of Officer Darren Wilson in the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson? That’s sure to cause some unrest, and the cops there are ready and waiting to crack some skulls.
Or is it ISIS? There are lots of things going on with that story, from the UK toying with the idea of charging anyone going to Syria with treason to reports that ISIS could overtake Baghdad to Turkey refusing to cooperate with US support for the Kurds in Syria. Before the Ebola patient arrived and was mis-treated to death, ISIS was the approaching end of the world. What happened?
Voter ADD happened. In our media-drenched world, nobody has the time or real interest to plumb the depths of coverage of any one story and get perspectives from multiple sources. They want quick takes, snappy video clips, and headlines that spin us up just enough to read the first paragraph of any news story. And then it’s back to funny cat videos on YouTube.
The media has ADD, too – brought on, presumably, by the stress of trying to figure out how to weather the demise of print news and reduced viewership for news on TV. Apparently, the solution is advertising – even if it makes people avoid the websites because it drowns out the subject you went to the page to find out about in the first place. Imagine if Walter Cronkite had had to talk over the din of ads being read by people flanking him at the news desk and banners with product names being trotted behind his head. There’s no reverence for news, for facts, for essential information anymore. It’s all just part of the noise.
But hey, does it even matter? When the talking heads aren’t making any sense and our legislators are spewing misinformation on purpose – which the talking heads then repeat, lending credence to their words – does it even matter if nobody’s paying attention to the right stuff?
If you still think it might… here are this week’s links:
Click to listen:
Our guest today was Charlie Hample, running for the PA State House, representing the 97th district. Why have a local PA candidate as a guest when our show is broadcast nearly everywhere but Pennsylvania? Well, there’s this blog /podcast, which does have devoted PA readers/listeners, but more importantly, there’s the sad fact that most Americans won’t bother to vote next month in the midterm election – and we thought perhaps discussing some of the issues facing Pennsylvanians in particular and Americans in general might generate some interest in voting.
Of course the very fact that we even have to think about encouraging people to vote – considering how hard so many people have fought for that right – is pretty sad unto itself. Low voter turnout is an embarrassment to this country. It’s shameful, really, and the apathy and laziness it demonstrates are at the root of virtually all the problems our nation is facing as a whole.
How’s that? Well, imagine if nearly everyone who could vote did vote. Imagine election-day turnouts where 90% or more of the electorate (the people who are eligible to vote) turned up at the polls. Imagine further that the voters knew a lot about the candidates, had read up on the issues, made informed choices when voting, and stayed engaged after casting their ballot and paid attention to which promises were kept and which weren’t and why. If you promise X, deliver X. If you say you’ll fix something, fix it. Or at least go down swinging, trying to make good on your promises. Imagine if because of all that, elected officials were more worried about disappointing voters than they are about raising campaign funds. House representatives in particular spend their entire two years in office drumming up financing for their next run – be it for the same seat or for higher office. That’s a sad fact, too.
Of course, a 90% or better voter turnout is a complete fantasy. The reality is we get a little over half of the eligible voters to vote in a presidential election, and far fewer for midterm elections, largely because people don’t understand that their local and state representatives – and governor – have a bigger impact on their lives than the President ever does. Local and state government is where the regulations that protect your immediate environment, your loved ones, your job – everything and everyone that matters to you personally – are created and enforced. Local and state government decides how education funding is spent. Local and state government decides how well environmental protection agencies are funded and run. Local and state government decide when to raise your school taxes, often in response to reduced state funding from the federal government. So the President who promises to lower your federal income tax may not be doing you any favors if the result is higher property taxes. Neither is the President who won’t raise taxes on the 1% or go after corporations who pay no tax at all, because that lost revenue then comes out of the average 99%er’s pocket.
Amazingly, most Americans don’t know any of this. Most Americans can’t even name their state legislators, and even fewer Americans have any idea what their legislators are up to at the state capitol. And that plays right into the hands of the corporations who want to see regulations lifted, rules made easier to follow, standards lowered. It plays right into the hands of people who seek public office not for the chance to serve their community but to serve themselves and seek higher office after doing time at the local or state level. They’re in perpetual campaign mode, and that means they’re corrupted, obligated, bound to their benefactors. That means they aren’t working for you, their constituents, but for the corporations and vested interests that contributed to their campaigns.
If that sounds OK to you, go about your business on November 4th. Don’t stop to vote on the way to or the way home from work. Don’t go vote at lunch or after dinner. Nah. Why bother?
Because we get the government we deserve, and if you can’t be bothered to vote, if you can’t be bothered to stay informed about what’s happening around you, and if you therefore don’t mind being screwed by the people you’re paying to represent you, the government you get is exactly what you’ve got coming.
This week’s links:
Click to listen:
The news lately has been very scary. From the first case of Ebola within the US to the continuing barbarism of ISIS to the Secret Service failing to keep crazy people away from the President to the revelation that we’ve lost half of the wildlife on the planet in the last 40 years, it’s enough to make you reach for a drink.
But then again no, because a recent study shows that beer makes you smarter – and when the news is grim, who wants to be even more aware of it? It’s a bit of a moot point, however, because you’d have to drink 3500 pints of beer a day to get enough of the intelligence-boosting ingredient in beer to realize any increase in IQ. And after 3500 pints, if you’re still alive (which is doubtful), you’d be hard-pressed to tell anyone what day it is, much less explain the intricacies of ISIS, the potential for catching Ebola, how to fix the Secret Service, or what the hell happened to half of the world’s wildlife.
There are some simple takeaways from the news, however.
First, war is really profitable. The stock values of companies like Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman have been rising steadily since August, enjoying a bump from our attacks on ISIS in Syria and Iraq. No wonder we’ve been at war for going on 20 years now. And no wonder the fear-mongers over at FOX are all humping the furniture, unable to contain their lust for military action. “Judge” Jeanine Pirro really lost her mind in a screed about ISIS that you have to see to believe.
As for Ebola, the CDC apparently survived the 5% reduction in their budget (thanks to the sequester – remember that??) better than the Secret Service survived their cuts and the loss of 550 agents. We’re assured the patient hasn’t infected anyone else, but they’re watching everyone he might have had contact with very carefully. If they try to run across the White House lawn and into the building, however, nobody’s going to stop them.
And it turns out that humans are really bad for the environment. Who knew you can’t chop down most of the rainforests, pour toxic muck into the watershed, and heat up the planet by burning every fossil fuel you can get your hands on without causing some damage?
Got all that? Confused? Frightened? Not yet?
Then check out this week’s links:
The GOP Tackles ISIS:
Jeanine Pirro’s ISIS/ISIL Fear-Baiting Screed:
And Now for Some Facts About ISIS:
One Year Later: Has the GOP Learned Anything?
The Stupid, It Burns:
Ebola: Coming To Getcha?
And if All That Doesn’t Scare You, Check THIS Out:
Click to listen:
Could it be? Could the radical right’s stranglehold on the GOP be weakening?
ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, has long been supporting corporate-friendly candidates and writing corporate-friendly laws, with the help of Charles and David Koch and a disturbingly long list of huge corporations. In 2012, however, thanks to ALEC’s support of Stand Your Ground laws – which drew public attention and outrage after the shooting of Trayvon Martin – ALEC lost some big sponsors: WalMart, Coca Cola, Kraft Foods, GE, McDonald’s, and Amazon. Now they’ve lost Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, and Yelp, thanks to ALEC’s support of voter suppression laws, climate change denial, and their purposeful dissemination of fact-free information about renewable energy.
Now, if you’re a casual observer of news and politics, you probably haven’t heard of ALEC.
And that’s by design, as it turns out. Because many of the same corporations – including those who still haven’t fled ALEC in the wake of their controversial impact on elections and our legislative process – have seeded America’s media outlets (TV, radio, print, and online) with their own CEOs. That’s right. Bigwigs from corporations, the antics of which should be news are deciding which stories get covered, and yes, you guessed it – most of the time they don’t allow coverage of anything that would put their companies in a bad light. This impacts news about climate change, fracking, corrupt big banking, genetically-modified food, trade agreements, military contractors, health care reform, food and drug safety, you name it. The news blackout, of course, also includes connections to ALEC, contributions to political campaigns, laundering of money through various Super PACs, and the general corruption of America’s legislative and judicial branches through a corporate takeover of our elections. Click here for a list of which corporations are controlling your access to news and information.
More evidence of a possible weakening of the wingnut grip?
Eroding influence. We saw Karl Rove’s “American Crossroads” Super PAC lose big time in the 2012 elections, while 54% of Americans voted to give President Obama another four years.
More people voted for Democrats in 2012 to fill seats in the House (but thanks to gerrymandering and how votes get counted, the GOP retained their majority).
Focusing on insane minutiae. Just this past week, we saw the GOP and its Tea Party nutjobs lose their minds over the President holding a coffee cup while saluting two Marines. Funny how nobody cared that W couldn’t stop snuggling his pooch long enough to give a proper salute when he was in office…
This comes on the heels of Obama wearing… brace yourselves… a beige suit. The humanity!!
Grasping at straws much?
This week’s links:
Click to listen:
Perverts? Wait. No. Pope Francis, on a visit to Albania this week, said religious extremists are “perverting religion to justify violence.” Big difference there. And here’s the quote, in context, juxtaposing current goings-on around the world to the current peaceful coexistence between Muslims, Catholics, and Christians in Albania, a country that’s known more than its fair share of religious oppression and related suffering:
“This is especially the case in these times where an authentic religious spirit is being perverted by extremist groups and where religious differences are being distorted. Let no one consider themselves to be the ‘armor’ of God while planning and carrying out acts of violence and oppression!”
You hear that Islamic extremists? He’s talking about you! But he could be talking about any religious group that uses faith as a weapon to divide people and then uses actual weapons to seek dominance. And virtually every religion has been or is guilty of it, so slamming the Qur’an as a terrorist’s handbook is naive – and dare we say it – stupid. The Bible has been used to justify everything from genocide to slavery to segregation, so it’s hardly an ode to peace and compassion.
Of course, the Pope’s statements could also just as easily apply to anyone who uses religion to confuse and divide people on any number of issues, ranging from education to race to abortion to climate change, the latter being the real threat to our existence. Pitting climate change believers against climate change deniers here in the US is putting people’s lives in true danger – and given that air and water don’t pay much attention to national borders, the entire globe is affected by our ridiculous debate on the subject.
And yes, that’s what we’re saying.
Climate change is a greater danger to our lives than ISIS/ISIL will ever be. Because squabbling over land and religion and history – even when the squabbling includes guns and bombs and video-taped beheadings – will seem like a day at the beach (which will have moved quite a bit, due to rising seas) compared to people fighting over the last drops of clean water and a dwindling food supply, on a planet heated and poisoned to the point that it no longer supports the lives of billions of hungry humans.
So once again, Americans are being led away from what should really concern them – the future of the planet – by media hype of everything from domestic violence involving millionaire athletes to Syrian airstrikes and whether or not we’re already at war again, to the state of Beyonce and Jay-Z’s marriage and their “On the Run” tour.
No wonder Americans don’t see the point in voting.
And speaking of voting, we’re also being distracted by all the talk about the 2016 Presidential election, when our eyes should be firmly fixed on November 4, 2014 - a date that’s less than 2 months away. This midterm election is important (as they all are) because depending on voter turnout, the GOP could end up with a majority in both the House and the Senate. And if you think President Obama has had trouble getting anything done except by executive order so far, just you wait ’til he’s completely stymied by a corporate-sponsored Congress that – in an utter perversion of their jobs as our representatives – would rather do nothing about anything, and hurt millions of Americans in the process, than let the black man in the white house do the job a majority of Americans elected him to do.
This week’s links:
Climate Change: A People’s March or a Corporate PR Opportunity?
Click to listen:
Language matters. Because pointing and grunting and drawing pictures on cave walls only got primitive humans so far. It turned out we needed words to identify and describe things, so that instead of just waving madly, we could shout “The lion is right behind you!” and save our friend from being eaten. Then, with those basics out of the way, language became a tool for getting people to give us what we want. Because we have words, we can say things like “Pass the salt” when our diner is too bland or “Corporations are people” when the corporate overlords tell the Supreme Court they want to be able to spend freely and determine the outcome of elections.
But we can speak, too. We can say “Enough!” and demand the overturn of Citizens United. Use our links below to find out more, or click here to speak up.
It’s time to use your words.
This week’s links:
Giving Congress the Ability to Overturn Citizens United:
Hyperbole from the Right:
Speaking of Speaking:
Pretty Funny, Mr. President:
And He’s a Really Crappy Socialist:
Click to listen:
This week’s links:
The History of Labor Day:
To Serve & Protect? Not So Much:
Are We Really Free in the US?
Everything You Never Wanted to Know About ISIS:
The EU’s Interesting Regulations:
The Upcoming Scottish Referendum: