Thursday, August 25, 2011

Friedman Burlesque: Pure Propaganda With Drone Strikes and Bundling (Libya Lies Exposed) Again and Again & Medicare Terrorists! BEWARE!!!

I hadn't realized that this was such a competitive event before (h/t Driftglass), and hadn't planned to start today's essay on such a humorous note, but it seems kinda like a Friedbrain tasting day, so here are a few of the roasters (and ain't he a hoot?):

The Thomas Friedman-est Column of the Year

You may have thought that soothsaying mustachioed one-trick pony Tom Friedman had done his best work of the summer last week, when he achieved near-total conceptual pointlessness. Not so! Yesterday's column was an altogether masterful demonstration of Friedmania.

Starting with the headline: "A Theory of Everything (Sort Of)." Are you unfamiliar with Thomas Friedman's oeuvre? I can think of no way to sum it up better than "A Theory of Everything (Sort Of)." That is, fundamentally, what Thomas Friedman strives to present to his audience of weary business travelers: "A Theory of Everything (Sort Of)." Tom Friedman hopes to have the words "A Theory of Everything (Sort Of)" on his tombstone, which will be made in China, cheaply.

There is political unrest in the Middle East. There is political unrest in Europe. There is political unrest in America. "What's going on here?" asks Thomas Friedman, with his typical rhetorical flourish.

There are multiple and different reasons for these explosions, but to the extent they might have a common denominator I think it can be found in one of the slogans of Israel's middle-class uprising: "We are fighting for an accessible future."
Not only are there multiple reasons; those multiple reasons are also different. Very important. And all these multiple as well as different reasons add up to: "The world's vaguest slogan." Coincidentally, "The world's vaguest slogan" is the backup inscription for Thomas Friedman's tombstone. (He is having the backup tombstone made in India. Hedging those bets!)

Why now? It starts with the fact that globalization and the information technology revolution have gone to a whole new level. Thanks to cloud computing, robotics, 3G wireless connectivity, Skype, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, the iPad, and cheap Internet-enabled smartphones, the world has gone from connected to hyper-connected.
This is the single most important trend in the world today.
Sorry, did I just pull a random quote from any one of Thomas Friedman's hundreds of identical columns and/ or books over the past decade and paste it, above? No, that is from the column which we are discussing, from yesterday. It is. Just because it could have appeared in any of hundreds of other Thomas Friedman columns on hundreds of other subjects is no reason to think differently. What is the most important trend in the world today? "A list of random words related to the internet." ("A list of random words related to the internet" is the second backup Tom Friedman tombstone inscription, the one that he outsourced to Brazil, to be on the safe side.)

Surely one of the iconic images of this time is the picture of Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak - for three decades a modern pharaoh - being hauled into court, held in a cage with his two sons and tried for attempting to crush his people's peaceful demonstrations. Every leader and C.E.O. should reflect on that photo. "The power pyramid is being turned upside down," said Yaron Ezrahi, an Israeli political theorist.
[Item in the news this week about the Middle East.] [Nonsensical patronizing platitude directed at audience of fanboy businessmen.] [Crushingly obvious quote from Israeli political person,] says Thomas Friedman.
Cancel your New York Times subscription and simply reread this post three times a week for the rest of the year.
And one more jewel in the Friedbrain Crown before we move on to the blood sport of today.

What Is the Point of Thomas Friedman?
There is much glee on the ethereal plane high above the Bethesda clouds from which New York Times columnist Tom Friedman writes his column today. We're treated to his latest venture into despondent centrist wet-dream fanfic, in which the Mustache of Understanding imagines a world where political parties don't have bases, but still manage to dig deep, treat each other politely, and deal with false problems in bad ways through their own sheer purity of will.
Yeah, he's written another one of his "concept" columns. In this one, he imagines a future Associated Press article which, when printed in real life as an accurate write-up of real events, will signal the end of America's troubles. Until then, however, "we'll be stuck in a world of hurt." Perhaps because we'll still be reading Thomas Friedman columns misdiagnosing everything?
Friedman's fake AP article imagines the major players in Congress giving a press conference alongside the President, at the White House. They have big news.

Washington (AP) - It was a news conference the likes of which the White House had never seen. President Obama stood in the East Room, flanked by the House speaker, John Boehner; the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell; the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid; and the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi. The president asked Mr. Boehner to speak first:
My, what an unusual courtesy from the president! What does John Boehner have to say?

"My fellow Americans," the Ohio Republican began. "We have just concluded a meeting with the president, prompted by this moment of extraordinary economic peril. Our party, as you know, is convinced that the main reason for our economic decline is that we have too much debt, that government has grown too big and that taxes and regulations are choking our dynamism. But I have to acknowledge that, over the years, our party has contributed to this debt burden and government spending binge.

We are not innocent, and, therefore, we owe the country a strategy for governing and for fixing a problem that we helped to create - instead of just blocking the president. The G.O.P. is better than that and has more to offer the nation. Therefore, we have informed the president that our legislators are ready to reopen negotiations immediately on a ‘Grand Bargain' to address all these debt issues once and for all and that everything will be on the table from our side - including tax reform that closes loopholes and eliminates wasteful subsidies, and, if need be, tax increases."
And the nation filled the streets in rejoice, to hear that yet another austerity package would be on the way during a period of wretched economic growth! Replete with tax increases, which... well, who knows how Tom Friedman would get John Boehner to dump strict anti-tax orthodoxy as the fundamental tactical strategy of the Republican party that defines everything it does. Maybe John Boehner will have a dream too! But really, how do you change the entrenched structural factors that make John Boehner do what he does? According to Tom Friedman, you pretend they don't exist and that people are just silly for no reason.
President Obama, then, "warmly embraces" Boehner — as if the American people aren't confused and frightened enough! — and gives his own lengthy, stirring monologue, calling on two old hacks to form another super committee that will be charged with solving every problem:

"Speaker Boehner and Senator McConnell, thank you for your commitment to act in our nation's highest interests. Let me say publicly what I committed to you privately: I have asked Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson to revive their deficit commission and to use their recommendations for how to cut spending and raise revenues as the starting point for our negotiations. But it will now be called ‘The National Commission for American Renewal.' Because in addition to the original Bowles-Simpson members, it will include Senator McConnell, Speaker Boehner, Senator Reid and Congresswoman Pelosi, and its goal will indeed be a comprehensive plan for American renewal.
So that's how it gets done in a great country: Take every issue imaginable and have a dozen or so people plus Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles decide what to do with them, in one bill, in private.
Later in the monologue, President Obama starts talking about why he's a shitty president:

And I, too, have a confession: I've done a poor job integrating my nation-building ideas, including health care, into a single vision so people understood where I was going. I also let tactical political considerations - like abandoning the Bowles-Simpson commission - intervene, so Americans lost sight of my priorities. That will not happen again. No one loves this country more than I and my Democratic colleagues.
And finally, Friedman's colorful kicker: "At that point, all five leaders shook hands and retreated into the Oval Office. It was exactly 9:29 a.m. One minute later, the New York Stock Exchange opened. The Dow was up 1,223 points at the open - an all-time record." Aww! But did it then plummet when traders remembered how to do their jobs?
It's really not hard to write a fantasy story in which everyone in politics decides to get along and fix the country overnight. It's fiction; you just make up whatever! Anyone can do this. Shouldn't the New York Times political columnist's job be to explain how things actually work?
Nah. What fun is that? And how many columns would need to be written with actual thought or reporting behind them? Brrrrrrrr.

Therefore, it is crucial for a nation's leaders and its citizens to tell and live the truth, especially since "truth" is similar to reality. Lying distorts thinking and judgment. It alters reality and perception. When confronted with the 168 children that have been killed by U.S. drone strikes, or the documentation showing for every 10 to 15 Pakistanis killed by drones only one is a suspected militant, Pentagon officials and political leaders still claimed the strikes defended the U.S. and protected its national security and freedoms.

(Drone Warfare)

From Tony at Wolves in the City: Correspondent Dallas Darling.
"I didn't realize how high a price we were going to pay for that lie."

- President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1960.

"Think of the use of drone air strikes as summary executions, extra-judicial killings justified by faceless bureaucrats using who-knows-what "intelligence," with no oversight...a world where joystick gods manipulating robots deal death from the skies and then go home and hug their children." - U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich, 2011.

It was banal, when United States political and military leaders immediately dismissed the London-based Bureau for Investigative Journalism's report documenting that since 2004 lmost 2,300 Pakistanis had been killed by CIA covert drones, 160 of them children. Predictable too was the Pentagon's frail attempt at denying the fatal report by blaming it on faulty intelligence, and then employing a propaganda surge by claiming those killed in drone strikes were "terrorists."

Architects of empires and nation-builders, including their consumerist populaces, have no need for truths or reality, especially since they believe their new world order justifies lying. Hannah Arendt warned of this, of how darkness comes when this light - the public realm throwing light on the affairs of men - is extinguished by a "credibility gap" and "invisible government," and how they "sweep under the carpet and, by moral exhortations and under the pretext of upholding old truths, degrade all truth to meaningless triviality."(2)

Similarity, when U.S. pilot Gary Powers was sentenced this very same week on August 19, 1960, another denial, another lie leading to credibility gaps and invisible governments, was exposed. What led to Powers arrest and imprisonment (symbolic of ours?) was when his Lockheed U-2 Spy Plane, illegally flown over Soviet airspace and collecting data, was shot down. For days, President Dwight D. Eisenhower intentionally lied and deceived the world, claiming the spy plane was merely a weather plane that had strayed off course.

But President Eisenhower and state department officials were also lying to the American people about a "missile gap," claiming the U.S. lagged far behind the Soviets in nuclear weapons technologies and arsenals. Even though photos from previous U-2 flights over Soviet installations had proved otherwise, they still lied and deceived Americans. When John F. Kennedy, before taking office, discovered how inaccurate the missile gap assertion was, he perpetually lied about it too, using it for political gain.

Meanwhile, President Eisenhower was unaware that the U-2 Spy Plane's wreckage was intact enough for the Russians to have recovered the camera, complete with the film of Soviet missile bases. Even more shocking and embarrassing for U.S. officials was that Powers, the pilot of the plane, had been taken captive and was still alive. They had either thought or hoped Powers, the pilot of the plane, had either been killed beyond recognition in the crash, or that he had taken his suicide pills.

Although President Eisenhower was forced to admit he had lied, he refused to apologize. As the Soviets cancelled the next USA-USSR disarmament summit, the U.S. lost some of its moral high ground. Out of fear, the Soviets started constructing the Berlin Wall and then attempted to station nuclear missiles in Cuba. In America, lying became routine: the Gulf of Tonkin Incident and U.S.-Vietnam War, Watergate, Iran-Contra Affair, and Iraqgate I and II. It also became deadly and costly as millions of people were killed.

Since America's U-2 Spy Plane, the one shot down over Russia, took off from a U.S. military base in Peshawar in Pakistan, maybe this new report recording and detailing how 2,300 Pakistanis were killed, including 160 children, is another warning and indictment against America's credibility gap and invisible government-ruled by American political and military leaders obsessed with intentionally lying to themselves, each other, the American people, and the rest of the world.

Perhaps it serves as a condemnation too, not of America's technological achievements but of its technological inhumanness. Since 1960, the human image, either of the warrior or the enemy or of civilian casualties, appears less and less frequently in modern portrayals of war.(3) The weapons themselves, like the deadly flying drones, are the new surgical and sanitized icons. What happens to an ideological paranoid nation when their own weapons, fashioned by their own hands and in their own images, become the new face of war?

In this new technologically, aggressive and delusional environment, there is no moral ground. Lies are no longer troubling or discomforting. Neither are they and humanness detected. Instead, national- and technological-serving motives are what really counts. Protecting liars and enhancing their industrial investments becomes paramount. But in this culture of habitual lies and technological violence - a deliberate assault on human character has occurred, one that can coerce even the good and just to act against their will.

Therefore, it is crucial for a nation's leaders and its citizens to tell and live the truth, especially since "truth" is similar to reality. Lying distorts thinking and judgment. It alters reality and perception. When confronted with the 168 children that have been killed by U.S. drone strikes, or the documentation showing for every 10 to 15 Pakistanis killed by drones only one is a suspected militant, Pentagon officials and political leaders still claimed the strikes defended the U.S. and protected its national security and freedoms.

It is impossible for a nation to function properly and to have a vibrant democracy while its domestic and foreign polices are perverted and delusional. Only more destruction and death awaits a lying and deceitful nation. As Pakistan considers vetoing deadly U.S. drone strikes, will Americans find the courage to veto its leaders' lies which continue to kill? Alas, we should have told the truth then...and now, not only for our national well-being but for the sake of innocent children who have been murdered with our adversarial lies.

Dallas Darling (
And all I meant to lead off with were the very intelligent thoughts of my bestest buddy at Salmon Alley (as if anyone in the powers-that-be really cared about reducing the debt in ways that would benefit the nation and wouldn't harm the lower classes):

Medicare for All Reduces the Debt by $400 Billion a YEAR!

Here is the real deal from Dr. Quentin Young via FDL
The biggest albatross around the neck of our health care system is the private insurance industry, which remains firmly entrenched under the new federal health law. [my bold]
... if we’re to believe top lawmakers, Medicare is part of the problem, right? Aren’t we supposed to be talking about raising the eligibility age from 65 to 67, reducing benefits, increasing seniors’ co-pays and deductibles or, even more dire, abolishing the program altogether and handing seniors vouchers to buy private insurance?
Wrong. Despite its market-obsessed detractors and those who would weaken the program in the name of deficit reduction, Medicare is the solution, not the problem. More precisely, an improved Medicare for all – a single-payer health system – is the right prescription for treating not only our health care woes, but our ailing economy as well.

Thanks to companies like UnitedHealthcare, WellPoint, Aetna, Humana and Cigna, our nation’s patients, businesses, and health providers are chronically tormented by skyrocketing premiums, denials of care, endless paperwork and bureaucracy, and the spectacle of obscene CEO salaries and insurance company profits.
And what does this so-called system get us? Fifty-one million people who have no coverage at all; 45,000 annual deaths linked to lack of coverage; a million personal bankruptcies annually (62 percent of the total) linked to illness or medical debt; and World Health Organization indicators that put us in 37th place globally, even though we spend twice as much per capita as any other nation.
Waste in our system is staggering. Research shows about 31 cents of each U.S. health care dollar is currently spent on administration, over half of which is unnecessary. That translates into $400 billion wasted annually. If we recaptured that money and applied it to clinical care – as we could under a single-payer system – we’d be able to assure everyone comprehensive, first-dollar, high-quality coverage.
Read the rest here

Have you been the slightest bit curious about who that mysterious "bundler" was that switched to the Rethugs after Hillary "lost" the nomination to Obama (and raised so much hell during the campaign about her being slighted)?

I know I was. Here's the scoop, babies!

War Room

We talk to Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild

By Justin Elliott 
lady rothschild
Reuters/Pascal Rossignol
Lynn Forester de Rothschild

Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild became a fixture on cable television in 2008 as one of Hillary Clinton's fiercest supporters in the Democratic primary. A successful businesswoman who married the financier Sir Evelyn Rothschild in 2000, she was also a major bundler for the Clinton campaign.

But when Hillary lost, an embittered Rothschild switched sides and endorsed McCain in the final weeks of the 2008 campaign. In the 2012 cycle, she has both hosted a fundraiser in Manhattan for former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and been associated with the hedge fund-backed group Americans Elect, which seeks to circumvent the party conventions and nominate a bipartisan presidential ticket.

On Friday, Rothschild spoke to Salon by phone from Martha's Vineyard. The conversation ranged widely, from her support for single-payer healthcare as well as Republican economic policies to her unlikely admiration for both Hillary Clinton and Eric Cantor. And, of course, her abiding enmity toward Barack Obama.
You're not supporting Obama for reelection. Where do you think he has erred in the last three years?

In 2008 as a Democrat, I tried as hard as I could to say that it mattered that Barack Obama did not have the experience to run this country. In the last three years we have seen absolutely that that is the case. The man is lost. The man is a loser. The man is not listening to people who might help him. And four more years of Barack Obama will be devastating for the country. 
Are there policy areas where you think he has gone wrong?

Where he has gone wrong is the disgraceful fact that there are 14 million people unemployed and 25 million people underemployed or who have given up work. That is a disgrace. That's number one. This man cannot say it was given to him. I believe it was cravenness and vanity that caused him to do Obamacare, giving us an entitlement program that costs at least $1 trillion, before he fixed the economy and brought people back to work. To have done healthcare without dealing with the cost curve, and without giving us ultimately what we should have - like the British have, which is a single-payer system -- is an outrage. He's created a monster; he has taken healthcare, which is 17 percent of GDP right now, and has expanded it to another 30 million people. He is going to bankrupt America. He's so vain and he's so convinced of his own transcendence as a solution to everything that he's incapable of doing the right thing for the country.

On healthcare, a lot of people will say that the law that ended up passing looks a lot like Hillary's plan from the election, with its inclusion of the individual mandate. How do you reconcile your support for Hillary with your opposition to Obamacare?

I think - and I have not spoken to her at all about this - that Hillary Clinton would have fixed the economy before she tackled healthcare. And then she would have tackled healthcare with all the knowledge she has. She would have found a way - in spite of enormous political opposition - to deal with the healthcare cost curve. Barack Obama did not do that, he made a deal with the insurance companies. It was a check-the-box effort.
On the economy, what do you think he should have done -- or Hillary would have done? Would you support, say, a bigger stimulus? What do you think is needed?
First of all, in times of economic crisis, a person who understands the way the world works would have embraced business and would not have demonized business as Obama did. 

That's what a leader does. Barack Obama is not able to get off of the partisan bandwagon. He is the exact opposite of what he promised he would be. He was supposed to be the great unifier and to bring enlightened solutions; he's really hurting this country. So I am more worked up for 2012 than I was for 2008.
With the current Congress and Republicans controlling the House, they're not on board with doing more stimulus or anything like that. So what do you think Obama should do right now on the economy? Are there concrete steps that can be taken that would get through Congress right now?
The Republicans are saying, "We need growth because without growth there can be no job creation." So the Republicans are looking at proposals Barack Obama has to spend more money as proposals to limit growth; that's the reason for the opposition. So Barack Obama makes a speech where he attacks Congress but he offers no positive solutions. If you read the document that Eric Cantor sent out to his members. He said, we have two goals: one is that we have to reduce the deficit and the debt; and the other is we have to create growth in the economy. And we can't reach one of those objectives if it hurts the other objective.
Do you think that deficit reduction will lead to growth in the economy?
No. I wish it were that simple. I think that you have to have a bold reform agenda including tax reform on a mega scale. That includes removing deductions and special interest subsidies as well as making the tax regime fairer and flatter. You've got to have complete certainty around taxes. You've got to have free trade agreements. And you've got to have a very clear buy-in of what government can do and what government can't do. It's not an overnight solution.
The Times reported recently you hosted a fundraiser for Jon Huntsman. What do you see in him?
I really like Jon Huntsman, I think he is exactly the president we need right now. Number one because he is a knowledgeable and experienced fiscal conservative. He knows how to create jobs though reducing regulation and reducing taxes. At the same time he understands the important and constructive role government has in making our society fairer and better. When he as governor of Utah came out in favor of civil unions, it showed how deeply this man is committed to social justice and fair treatment for all people. That's the combination that I really admire in him. Whether he can win the Republican nomination I don't know. If he won it, he would beat Barack Obama in a heartbeat.
A lot of people know you as a prominent Hillary supporter in 2008. Going from Hillary to Huntsman - have you changed ideologically?
You know, if I were able to pick the president, it would be Hillary Clinton. I still consider myself a Clinton Democrat. But the Democratic Party has been so cowardly in standing for the things that Bill Clinton did that made the country so strong in the 1990s, that I have no time for the Democratic Party anymore. Their failure to stand up to the Chicago-dominated Democratic Party is appalling. The only person who is really doing it is Andrew Cuomo. I think Cuomo is a really unique thinker, and he is outside of the Chicago boys Democratic Party of Barack Obama that everyone else just falls in line with. Obviously the Republicans don't offer me everything, but I also refuse to demonize the Republicans. I think John McCain is a great and very courageous man. I think that Eric Cantor, who is so demonized, if you look at what he actually says and believes in terms of the economy, he is actually a very constructive person.
Yep, it's a damn shame we don't have business-understanding Hillary as Pres., ain't it? Or those fine thinkers John McCain and Eric Cantor!

Anyone who actually thought a Rothschild was a Democrat (except for the definition that includes the Dims), please . . . go to the end of the line.

If it occurred to you after the final screams were emitted from the always-right righties, following the disappearance of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, that there should have been a decrease in the Defense budgets and an increase in freedom (at least in the U.S. if not in the rest of the world), you wouldn't be alone.

However . . . the budgets increased (although they hadn't actually invented the exact reasons why yet) and the public (MSM-generated) fear factor of attack increased. (But from whom?) Not to worry. We would invent them BIG when the need arose. And if you enjoy the Libya War coverage, get ready. They've got a whole lot more coming!

Amerika's Global Wars Expand

When the US no longer needed to fight a superpower, no one lost their jobs. They got bigger budgets to spy on Americans in America. The "War on Us" has gone global.

The reasons for what has happened since are complicated and yet, very simple.

Because they could. And now that we are triumphant in Libya (What does that mean again?), the propaganda emerges that we never fought in EastAsia . . . .*

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

1 September 1944 — This article gives the reader a fair representation of Orwell’s desire to think objectively rather than to accept propaganda blindly.  In 1984, objective reasoning would be referred to as “oldthink.”  This article also mentions how people sometimes accept policies, and, a few years later, repudiate the same exact policies, as though they had never supported them.  This would be called “doublethink” in 1984.  “We are at war with Eastasia; we have always been at war with Eastasia.”

(The Infamous Greensboro Party Atheists!)


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