Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Obie Caving? Corporatism Led US To Ruin: Murdoch - King of Formula Journalism Suffers Formula Demise? Plus ça change! Acrid Smell of Business As Usual

So much is happening today as we slide toward economic oblivion at the hands of elected clowns and outright fools who will never be asked to relinquish undeserved power and control (too impolite for us to deal with right now, dear, thank you, say the TV Villager talking heads who need to get back to tending their investments (and House & Gardens), or as Jesse Helms said, and was applauded for by millions, "But they stole it fair and square!") . . . (My 22,000th visitor arrived yesterday from Christchurch, New Zealand. Welcome, friend! And for those who enjoy this site from all over the planet, please consider making a small contribution to its continuation in these increasingly grim times.)

It seems as if Quentin Tarantino has scripted Washington's debt ceiling showdown. Most of his movies include an imaginative version of the ever-classic Mexican standoff. (See Reservoir Dogs.) And the current drama in the nation's capital is playing out like a Tarantino flick.

On a side note, speaking of the type of "formula" (very well-conceived "formula") writing that seems to have spread virally in the last 30-40 years on the western front . . . John Pilger in the exciting new venue Cold Type (formerly Cold Type Reader) in War Is A Crime (formerly After Downing Street) tells us that it's still Business As Usual For British Media. Makes one wonder about American media, doesn't it? Sure. As if.

In Scoop, Evelyn Waugh’s brilliant satire on the press, there is the moment when Lord Copper, owner of The Daily Beast, meets his new special war correspondent, William Boot, in truth an authority on wild flowers and birdsong. A confused Boot is ushered into his lordship’s presence by Mr Salter, the Beast’s foreign editor. “Is Mr Boot all set for his trip?” “Up to a point, Lord Copper.” Copper briefs Boot as follows: “A few sharp victories, some conspicuous acts of personal bravery on the Patriot side and a colourful entry into the capital. That is the Beast policy for the war . . . We shall expect the first victory about the middle of July.” Rupert Murdoch is a 21st-century Lord Copper. The amusing gentility is missing; the absurdity of his power is the same. The Daily Beast wanted victories; it got them. The Sun wanted dead Argies; gotcha! Of the bloodbath in Iraq, Murdoch said: “There is going to be collateral damage, and if you really want to be brutal about it, better we get it done now . . .” The Times, the Sunday Times, Fox got it done. Corporate Monoculture Long before it was possible to hack phones, Murdoch was waging a war on journalism, truth, humanity, and he succeeded because he knew how to exploit a system that welcomed his devotion to the “free market”. He may be more extreme in his methods, but he is no different in kind from many of those now lining up to condemn him who have been his beneficiaries, mimics, collaborators, apologists. As former prime minister Gordon Brown turns on his former master, accusing him of running a “criminal-media nexus”, watch the palpable discomfort in the new parliamentary-media consensus. “We must not be backward-looking,” said a Labour MP. Those parliamentarians caught two years ago with both hands in the Westminster till, who did nothing to stop the killing of hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq, and stood and cheered the war criminal responsible, are now “united” behind the “calm” figure of Ed Miliband. There is an acrid smell of business as usual. Certainly, there is no “revolution”, as reported in the Guardian, which compared the fall of Murdoch with that of the tyrant Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania in 1989. The overexcitement is understandable; Nick Davies’s scoop is a great one. Yet the truth is, Britain’s system of elite monopoly control of the media rests not on News International alone, but on the Mail and the Guardian and the BBC, perhaps the most influential of all. All share a corporate monoculture that sets the agenda of the “news”, defines acceptable politics by maintaining the fiction of distinctive parties, normalises unpopular wars and guards the limits of “free speech”. This will be strengthened by the illusion that a “bad apple” has been “rooted out”. When the Financial Times complained last September that the BSkyB takeover would give Murdoch dominance in Britain, the media commentator Roy Greenslade came to his rescue. “Surely,” he wrote, “Britain’s leading business newspaper should be applauding an entrepreneur who has achieved so much from unpromising beginnings?” Murdoch’s political control was a myth spread by “naive commentators”. Noting his own “idealism” about journalism, Greenslade made no mention of his history on the Sun, or as Robert Maxwell’s Daily Mirror editor responsible for the shameful smear that the miners’ leader Arthur Scargill was corrupt. (To his credit, he apologised in 2002.) Greenslade is now a professor of journalism at City University, London. In his Guardian blog of 17 July, he caught the breeze and proposed that Murdoch explain “the climate you created”. How many of the political and media chorus now calling for Murdoch’s head remained silent over the years as his papers repeatedly attacked the most vulnerable in society? Impoverished single mothers have been a favourite target of tax-avoiding News International. Who in the so-called media village demanded the sacking of Kelvin MacKenzie as Sun editor following his attacks on the dead and dying in the Hillsborough stadium tragedy of 1989? The Kowtowing Class This was an episode as debased as the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone, yet MacKenzie is frequently feted on the BBC and in the liberal press as a “witty” tabloid genius who “understands the ordinary punter”. Such vicarious middle-class flirtation with Wapping-life is matched by admiration for the successful Murdoch “marketing model”. In Andrew Neil’s 470-page book Full Disclosure, the former editor of Murdoch’s . . . devotes fewer than 30 words to the scurrilous and destructive smear campaign that he and his Wapping colleagues conducted against the broadcasters who made the 1988 Thames Television programme Death on the Rock. This landmark, fully vindicated investigation lifted the veil on the British secret state and exposed its ruthlessness under Margaret Thatcher, a confidante of Murdoch’s. Thereafter, Thames Television was doomed. Yet Neil has his own BBC programme and his views are sought after across the liberal media. The Guardian of 13 July editorialised about “the kowtowing of the political class to the Murdochs”. This is all too true. Kowtowing is an ancient ritual, often performed by those whose pacts with power may not be immediately obvious, but are no less sulphuric. Tony Blair, soaked in the blood of an entire society, was once regarded almost mystically at the Guardian and Observer as the prime minister who, wrote Hugo Young, “wants to create a world none of us have known [where] the mind might range in search of a better Britain . . .” He was in perfect harmony with the chorus over at Wapping. “Mr Blair,” said the Sun, “has vision, he has purpose and he speaks our language on morality and family life.” Plus ça change. CT John Pilger’s latest film, “The War You Don’t See”, is now available on DVD at Amazon.co.uk. His web site is www.johnpilger.com.
Anyone want to see how a neato Ponzi scheme works? Perhaps you're already a member? Many people are without having a clue that this is what has deep-sixed them financially. Read and learn (and take action!):
This Is What A Collasping Ponzi Scheme Looks Like: Housing Market Headed Off A Cliff As A Shocking 10.8 Million Mortgages At Risk Of Default July 27th, 2011

This Is What A Collasping Ponzi Scheme Looks Like: Housing Market Headed Off A Cliff As A Shocking 10.8 Million Mortgages At Risk Of DefaultYou might want to sit down for this one. As bad as the housing crisis has been over the past three years, it has only been a warm up to what we have headed our way. Laurie Goodman, from Amherst Securities, has been tracking the housing market as well as anyone. She just presented her latest findings at the American Enterprise Institute and it is a horrific forecast, to say the least. As she puts it, “10.81 million homes are at risk of default over the next 6 years. Even if we try to be extremely conservative we can’t get the number below 8.7 million units.”

With defaults already piling up, the shadow inventory of homes has been growing rapidly, and given this new data the number is going to skyrocket. As this chart shows, the total has gone up from 2 million homes in 2009 to 3.35 million as of April, a 67.5% increase already.

The Atlantic explains this shadow inventory chart: “What’s happening to the homes of all those defaulted borrowers that we hear about? Many of those properties are a part of so-called shadow inventory. This is the sort of limbo between when a home’s loan defaults and when the property is put on the market for purchase. The increase shown above is staggering. The shaded area shows mortgages more than 12 months delinquent or in foreclosure (darker blue) and those seized by the bank (lighter blue).” (Laurie Goodman’s full presentation is available in pdf format here.) Obviously this is going to significantly drive home prices further down, as I reported a few weeks ago, 28% of US homeowners already owe more on their mortgage than their homes are worth. A recent survey by Fannie Mae found that 27% of American homeowners are considering walking away from their mortgage. A perfect storm is brewing. As prices continue to drop, with 10 million now at risk of default, a strategic default movement could devastate the “too big to fail” banks that caused this mess in the first place.

With all this trouble headed their way, no wonder they are fighting hard to, as Reuters put it, get “immunity over irregularities in handling foreclosures, even as evidence has emerged that banks are continuing to file questionable documents.” They can attempt to fraudulently paper over reality, play accounting games, “extend and pretend” and buy off all the state attorneys and regulators they want, even have the Fed, Treasury, Congress and the president in their pocket; they can buy all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, but they can’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

This is what a collasping Ponzi scheme looks like.

We must break up the “too big to fail” banks and end this RICO racket now. As the data proves, the longer we wait, the uglier this is going to get.
WE WILL NOT BE SILENCED! Attend the October 2011 Coalition!
Don’t Accuse Obama of “Caving” In a campaign almost as frenzied as the effort to get Barack Obama into the White House, liberal groups are now mobilizing against the White House and reported deals that would cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits. They accuse President Obama of being weak and willing to “cave” to corporate and conservative forces bent on cutting the social safety net while protecting the wealthy.

Those accusations are wrong.

The accusations imply that Obama is on our side. Or was on our side. And that the right wing is pushing him around.

But the evidence is clear that Obama is an often-willing servant of corporate interests - not someone reluctantly doing their bidding, or serving their interests only because Republicans forced him to.

Since coming to Washington, Obama has allied himself with Wall Street Democrats who put corporate deregulation and greed ahead of the needs of most Americans.

** In 2006, a relatively new Senator Obama was the only senator to speak at the inaugural gathering of the Alexander Hamilton Project launched by Wall Street Democrats like Robert Rubin and Roger Altman, Bill Clinton’s treasury secretary and deputy secretary. Obama praised them as “innovative, thoughtful policymakers.” (It was Rubin’s crusade to deregulate Wall Street in the late ‘90s that led directly to the economic meltdown of 2008 and our current crisis.)

** In early 2007, way before he was a presidential frontrunner, candidate Obama was raising more money from Wall Street interests than all other candidates, including New York presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani.

** In June 2008, as soon as Hillary ended her campaign, Obama went on CNBC, shunned the “populist” label and announced: “Look: I am a pro-growth, free-market guy. I love the market.” He packed his economic team with Wall Street friends - choosing one of Bill Clinton’s Wall Street deregulators, Larry Summers, as his top economic advisor.

** A year into his presidency, in a bizarre but revealing interview with Business Week, Obama was asked about huge bonuses just received by two CEOs of Wall Street firms bailed out by taxpayers. He responded that he didn’t “begrudge” the $17 million bonus to J.P. Mogan’s CEO or the $9 million to Goldman Sachs’ CEO:I know both those guys, they are very savvy businessmen,” said Obama. “I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free-market system.”

After any review of Obama’s corporatist ties and positions, the kneejerk response is: “Yes, but Obama was a community organizer!”

He WAS a community organizer. . .decades before he became president. Back when Nelson Mandela was in prison and the U.S. government declared him the leader of a “terrorist organization” while our government funded and armed Bin Laden and his allies to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. That’s a long time ago.

It’s worth remembering that decades before Reagan became president, the great communicator was a leftwing Democrat and advocate for the working class and big federal social programs.

The sad truth, as shown by Glenn Greenwald, is that Obama had arrived at the White House looking to make cuts in benefits to the elderly. Two weeks before his inauguration, Obama echoed conservative scares about Social Security and Medicare by talking of “red ink as far as the eye can see.” He opened his doors to Social Security/Medicare cutters - first trying to get Republican Senator Judd Gregg (“a leading voice for reining in entitlement spending,” wrote Politico) into his cabinet, and later appointing entitlement-foe Alan Simpson to co-chair his “Deficit Commission.” Obama’s top economic advisor, Larry Summers, came to the White House publicly telling Time magazine of needed Social Security cuts.

At this late date, informed activists and voters who care about economic justice realize that President Obama is NOT “on our side.”

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont - widely seen as “America’s Senator” - is so disgusted by recent White House actions that he called Friday for a challenge to Obama in Democratic primaries: “I think it would be a good idea if President Obama faced some primary opposition.”

Although Sanders has said clearly that he’s running for reelection to the Senate in 2012 - not for president - his comment led instantly to a Draft Sanders for President website.

Imagine if a credible candidate immediately threatened a primary challenge unless Obama rejects any deal cutting the safety net while maintaining tax breaks for the rich. Team Obama knows that a serious primary challenger would cost the Obama campaign millions of dollars. And it may well be a powerful movement-building opportunity for activists tired of feeling hopeless with Obama.

It’s time for progressives to talk seriously about a challenge to Obama’s corporatism. Polls show most Americans support economic justice issues, and that goes double for Democratic primary voters.

If not Bernie, who? If not now, when?

(Jeff Cohen is cofounder of RootsAction.org, former TV news pundit and author of Cable News Confidential.)

Kucinich: Protect Social Security; Numbers Show Lifting the Caps Works War Is Hell (Except In Retirement!)
Former National Security Advisor and Marine Commandant Gen. James Jones spoke at a National Press Club luncheon last month. He will speak to you, too, for a price. How much? Call his speaker’s bureau, Leading Authorities, Inc. In fact, there are several more generals available for hire, including the recently retired Stanley McChrystal, the former Commander of U.S. and International Forces in Afghanistan.

Less than eight months after leaving the White House, Jones has his own consulting group, Jones Group International, with offices in the Washington, D.C. suburbs. His government service is the group’s main selling point. And that is exactly what he and almost every other ranking military officer do to some degree: sell their military service, training, and knowledge to the highest bidder.

Standing in front of the Press Club audience, Jones looks like a Hollywood version of a Marine general. An imposing six feet, four inches, he is not a particularly moving or inspirational speaker. His voice and cadence do not match his stature. But one cannot help but wonder, listening to his speech and the subsequent questions and answers about his views on national security, if his opinions are his own or are they influenced by his clients’ interests. If he is on the payroll of corporations and foreign governments, how much credibility can one give to his views about Iran’s “menacing shadow,” except to think that Iran is not one of his clients?

Read the rest at DCBUREAU.

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2 comments:

TONY said...

I wish I could be there. Strange but for some reason I always thought David Swanson was English.

Suzan said...

Me too, Tony, me too!

Wouldn't it be fun to meet all our friends there?

Now that would be a life-affirming party!

S