Failed Empire

Chronicling the collapse of a failed society

Category Archives: Media

Murdering Murdoch: Whistleblower Found Dead, American Public Shrugs

creepy Rupert Murdoch

We may now add murder to the deepening scandal surrounding the man who brought us, among much other tripe, Fox News:

Whistleblower in Murdoch Phone-Hacking Scandal Found Dead

On Monday, Sean Hoare, a former reporter who helped blow the whistle on the Murdoch-owned News of the World, was found dead in his home. Hoare had been the source for a New York Times story tying phone hacking to former News of the World editor Andy Coulson, who would later become director of communications for British Prime Minister David Cameron. Coulson was arrested as the scandal broke open earlier this month. Police say Hoare appears to have died of natural causes, but the determination had not lessened suspicion of foul play. Hoare not only talked about phone hacking, but phone tracking as well, or as he said they called in the newsroom “pinging,” where he said News of the World would pay police, he believed, to track individuals’ locations.

It is becoming evident that Murdoch’s revolting media empire, a veritable propaganda factory, has extensive ties to the wealthy and powerful, including government officials and the police force that is entrusted with maintaining public order.  What is less apparent, however, is why exactly this has come to the fore now.  What has Murdoch done to fall out of grace with the ruling elite?

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Bogus Poll Reveals Americans’ Pervasive Belief in the Fictional Republican/Democrat Divide

Bush and Obama, BFF

If it’s not A, it must be B, because life is always black and white, right?

Voters are increasingly displeased with President Obama’s handling of the economy, but a new poll finds most Americans still think George W. Bush is responsible for the nation’s dismal financial state.

According to a new Quinnipiac poll, 54 percent of those surveyed say Bush is responsible for the “current condition” of the economy, compared to just 27 percent who blame Obama. Among self-described independent voters, a key 2012 voting bloc, the number shifts slightly: 49 percent point the finger at the former GOP president, while 24 percent blame Obama.

Part of the problem, of course, is the simplistic wording of the question which automatically creates a false dichotomy of Republicans versus Democrats.  The question might have been, which administration is more responsible for the current financial crisis, which then translates into the definitive statement that voters “think George W. Bush is responsible.”  This simplified version of reality, which suggests that the complex terrain of the political frontier is easily understood in concrete, black-and-white terms, is then absorbed by an impatient and apathetic public whose attention span is incapable of grasping anything beyond the 10-second sound byte.

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Dennis Kucinich and the Reality of Class Warfare in America

Dennis Kucinich speaks out

A lonely voice of reason in the wilderness of our corrupt single-party Corporate State:

The rancorous debate over the debt belies a fundamental truth of our economy — that it is run for the few at the expense of the many, that our entire government has been turned into a machine which takes the wealth of a mass of Americans and accelerates it into the hands of the few. Let me give you some examples.

Take war. War takes the money from the American people and puts it into the hands of arms manufacturers, war profiteers, and private armies. The war in Iraq, based on lies: $3 trillion will be the cost of that war. The war in Afghanistan; based on a misreading of history; half a trillion dollars in expenses already. The war against Libya will be $1 billion by September.

We have to realize what this country’s economy has become. Our monetary policy, through the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, privatized the money supply, gathers the wealth, puts it in the hands of the few while the Federal Reserve can create money out of nothing, give it to banks to park at the Fed while our small businesses are starving for capital.

 Mark my words — Wall Street cashes in whether we have a default or not. And the same type of thinking that created billions in bailouts for Wall Street and more than $1 trillion in giveaways by the Federal Reserve today leaves 26 million Americans either underemployed or unemployed. And nine out of ten Americans over the age of 65 are facing cuts in their Social Security in order to pay for a debt which grew from tax cuts for the rich and for endless wars.

Sadly, Kucinich stands little chance of having any impact from within the rotting heart of the corporatocracy he despises.  In a nation where the flow of virtually all information is controlled by a vast corporate media machine, where style perpetually trumps substance and political debate is always relegated to the realm of the 10-second sound byte, Kucinich’s passionate and reasoned diatribe will be drowned out in the maddening din of propaganda, pushed to the fringes of our extreme-right corporate-controlled society.

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Harbingers of Climate Change: Dust Bowl-Size Droughts Spread Through the United States

Texan farmer stands in drought-stricken land

As if things weren’t bad enough, we now have droughts on the scale of the Dust Bowl era to contend with:

Drought Spreading through the United States Rivals Dust Bowl Era

 In other climate news, Texas and 13 other states stretching from Arizona to Florida continue to face one of the worst U.S. droughts on record. Some say the drought c
ould rival the Dust Bowl Days. In Texas, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently designated all 254 counties in the state natural disaster areas.
While impossible to assert with any degree of certainty, there is a strong likelihood that the current bout of severe drought is related to human-induced climate change.  All over the world, weather patterns have been shifting to such a large degree that even the most skeptical climate change deniers have noticed the difference.  Brutal winters, searing summers, massive storms, widespread flooding – all occurring with greater and greater frequency, in locales that historically have rarely or never experienced such events.

House Approves $649 Billion Military Budget as Austerity Measures Loom

tomahawk factory

Forget the sick and elderly, we have wars to fight:

The US House of Representatives has approved a 649-billion-dollar military spending bill, increasing the Pentagon budget while the country is facing austerity measures and huge debt crisis.

The bill, passed with an overwhelming vote of 336-87 on Friday, boosts the Pentagon budget for the 2012 fiscal year beginning on October 1 by some $17 billion compared with the current spending, Reuters reported.

The measure, which was about $8 billion less than what President Barack Obama had sought, would provide $530 billion for the Pentagon’s primary budget and $119 to cover the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The approved bill excludes funds for US nuclear programs or military construction which will add another $33 billion to military spending in later bills.

The increase in military spending comes while huge budget reductions are expected in other agencies, affecting food aid for low-income women, health research and energy efficiency.

And while Barney Frank is a bit of a tool, he really nailed it on this one:

“The military budget is not on the table. The military is at the table, and it is eating everybody else’s lunch, “Frank said.

There’s not much more for me to say about this, folks.  This is a theme I have pounded into the ground over and over again, but nothing ever seems to change.  It’s a bit nauseating to observe the American public fervently buying into the fabricated budget crisis, arguing about arbitrary debt ceilings and deciding which important social services should be cut, but the military machine churns on unhindered all the while.

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400,000 Brain-Injured Veterans a Fair Price for American Empire

Bush and veteran burn victim

In addition to the trillion dollar price tag, 600,000+ dead civilians, 1 million orphans and 6,100 dead American soldiers, we can now add 400,000 brain-injured veterans to the cost of our latest wars of aggression:

 Independent experts suggest that more than 400,000 American service members will return from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with traumatic brain injuries that could lead to severe personality disorders, and little is being done to help them.

Having wasted countless billions – trillions, in all likelihood – on our five concurrent wars and exposed hundreds of thousands of American soldiers to the dangers of the battlefield, our gifted military leaders have identified the true culprit behind our reckless spending:  health care for soldiers.

Afflicted veterans have every reason to expect their government to continue to treat them as expendable waste, as the Pentagon actively opposes formal diagnoses of the condition, known as mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and denies the validity of treatment that its own researchers have said could help. Defense Secretary Robert Gates called for a cut in the military’s $50-billion-a-year health budget, saying “health care costs are eating the Defense Department alive,” according to a Huffington Post article in January.

And that in a nutshell is the very essence of American empire.  Exploit the little guys for all they’re worth, using them in any way necessary to reap maximum profits.  Because war is, after all, little more than a business venture for the giant corporate entities within the military-industrial complex.  Just as the private sector throughout America has little interest in providing health care for the workers it underpays and overworks, so too does our for-profit military increase it profits for its shareholders by cutting corners on such luxuries as medical care for the severely wounded.

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Obama Boasts of Troop Reductions in Afghanistan, The Machine Trudges On

Tahrir Square

For the last ten years, we’ve been hearing about troop withdrawals in Afghanistan.  It’s not at all surprising that politicians will try to manipulate the masses with promises of an end to the war, but it is somewhat shocking that we seem to fall for it over and over again.  So with the latest reports that Obama is pledging a reduction in troop numbers in Afghanistan, it’s a good idea to ignore the corporate puppet and listen to what Pentagon officials have to say:

 U.S. Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy reminded lawmakers the U.S. troop force in Afghanistan will still be larger than it was when Obama took office, despite the President’s pledge to reduce the military presence in the country.

Michele Flournoy: “Even after the recovery of the surge forces, totaling about 33,000 troops, we will still have 68,000 U.S. service members in Afghanistan. That is more than twice the number as when President Obama took office. Clearly, this is not a rush to the exits that will jeopardize our security gains. More importantly, at the end of summer 2012, when all of the surge forces are out, there will actually be more Afghan and coalition forces in the fight than there are today.”

We’re not leaving Afghanistan, or Iraq, Libya, Yemen or Pakistan at any point in the foreseeable future.  As long as there is something to be gained by maintaining a troop presence, we will be there.  Such is the nature of empire, and ours is no different.  It doesn’t matter if the nation bankrupts itself in the process, because the wealthy elites that are pulling the strings have rigged the system in such a way that they always profit.  When the masses lose, they win.  When we’re struggling to survive on the unemployment line, they’re greedily lining their pockets with our national wealth, and laughing all the while.

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FDR’s Second Bill of Rights: Nearly 70 Years On, Still Exactly What We Need

It’s rather shocking to think just how much we’ve devolved socially in the 67 years since FDR first proposed his Second Bill of Rights:

It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

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Massive Protests in Spain Offer Lessons to U.S. Leftist Movement

anti-austerity protests in Spain

As 1 million people turn out for the Stanley Cup parade in Boston, hundreds of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets across Europe to decry proposed austerity measures:

 Anti-austerity rallies have been held across Europe – in Spain thousands marched to protest against high unemployment and their government’s handling of the economic crisis.

It was the first major demonstration since the end of the so called Indignant campaign in which Madrid’s central square was occupied by activists for several weeks.

A protest movement called “The Indignant” is leading the way in Spain:

 More than 100,000 protesters took to the streets in cities across Spain on Sunday, accusing politicians and bankers of implementing economic policies that led to the highest unemployment rate in the eurozone.

In Spain’s capital, Madrid, protesters converged near the parliament building where 500 police were deployed to maintain security. The police estimated that between 35,000 and 45,000 people joined the demonstrations with no reports of violence.

I’m here because this is a con,” Juanjo Montiel, a 26 year old who works in information technology, told the news agency Reuters. …

Since its founding in May, the protest movement has fanned out across Spain with protesters on Sunday reading a manifesto calling for a general strike and for a revolution.

The capitalist system does not work, it only benefits a few and harms the majority,” a young female protester told the news agency dpa. …

“The banks and the governments that caused this situation must know that we do not agree with the measures and the budget cuts, that we intend to be heard,” the “indignant” movement said when calling for nationwide protests.

With the official unemployment rate in Spain exceeding 20%, the rage felt by ordinary citizens is quite understandable.  Their situation is in many ways similar to our own; after years of reckless profiteering by the banks and other corporations, ordinary citizens are now faced with the prospect of slashing social services to bail out the very entities that caused the crisis in the first place.  There are, of course, crucial differences between them and us – perhaps the most notable being that people in Spain are actually turning out en masse to protest the latest proposed austerity measures.

But beyond that, the situation across Europe is different in that they actually have meaningful social services at risk of being lost.  Universal health care, free or reduced college education and comprehensive unemployment benefits are the norm throughout the EU, meaning that normal citizens actually have a lot to lose if the proposed measures are implemented.

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Intellectual Engagement with the Fringe Right: “It’s like a retarded person who had AIDS”

idiocracy

Over the last few days, Failed Empire has received quite a bit of attention from, shall we say, less than sympathetic readers.   In the interest of openness I never delete any comments, but the comments that self-professed conservatives tend to leave say quite a lot about what we’re up against in the fight to build a better world.  Consider the following examples (I’ve put all personal insults and particularly ignorant comments in bold).

From the post “One Million Expected for Bruins Rally as Nation Crumbles“:

the write of this article is a complete jackass. yes there are lots of problems in the world. and having parades like this to celebrate good things, things that make people happy, helps remind us what we are fighting wars for. Just sit at home and be miserable you fucking loser.

 — “Joe,” blowme@here.com

lol this guy is such a tool.
fight the power, pro! lmao.

 — Anonymous

And then a slew of comments from a particularly mature individual who has given himself the devastatingly witty moniker “Impeach Hussein”:

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