If you would like to contribute your own work, contact me at failedempire AT gmail DOT com.
Chronicling the collapse of a failed society
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.
Deplorable, but hardly surprising:
The House today passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which contains a dangerous provision that authorizes a worldwide war against terrorism suspects and against nations suspected of supporting them. …
The worldwide war provision was added to the bill by the committee’s chairman, Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), and goes much further than the current authorization of war. The new authorization would last as long as there are terrorism suspects anywhere in the world and would allow a president to use military force in any country around the world where there are terrorism suspects, even when there is no connection to the 9/11 attacks or any other specific harm or threat to the United States.
Of course it would be unacceptable to have such an act on the books, but the most pertinent question is this: how would the passage of this act change anything? It seems NDAA would do little more than add technical legality to what has been standard operating procedure throughout modern U.S. history, and certainly since 9/11.
After all, since the Bush regime declared the start of the disastrous war on terror, virtually every tenet of the proposed NDAA has already been practiced. Nations suspected of harboring terrorists are deemed terrorist states, and we have already shown – in Pakistan, Yemen and Libya, to name but a few – that we are more than prepared to attack without any form of approval from the U.S. population or their elected representatives beyond the White House. Our invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 in particular, nor terrorism in general, yet it was undertaken in spite of unprecedented pre-war protests, with participants numbering in the millions.
The BBC reports that the health of Bradley Manning, the alleged source for Wikileaks, is deteriorating after months in custody:
Pte Manning, a US soldier, is being held in solitary confinement in a high-security military prison at Quantico marine base, Virginia.
US journalist David House, who has been visiting him since September, told the BBC World Service he looked “frazzled”. …
The 23-year-old was arrested earlier this year and charged with stealing secret information. One accusation is that he handed Wikileaks video of an Apache helicopter killing 12 civilians in Baghdad in 2007.
However, there has been no formal indictment and no date for a trial has been set, according to Mr House.
“He is being kept in a kind of punitive fashion before his trial and it is definitely weakening his mental state,” the journalist said.
When Mr House first visited Pte Manning in September, he found him mentally “very alert” and, physically, he looked to be “in very good health”.
“Over the months, I’ve seen his condition deteriorate. Mentally, he now has trouble keeping up with some topics of conversation. He has bags under his eyes and he appears to be very weak.”
This information comes after earlier reports that the UN was investigating the treatment of Manning, after allegations surfaced that the conditions he is being held under equate to torture. It is impossible to know precisely how Manning is being treated, since his situation is cloaked in so much secrecy. But it is not difficult to surmise that, at the very least, Manning is being intentionally mistreated in an attempt to coerce him into cooperating.
Not that this should come as a surprise, but it is certainly entertaining:
Yet another study has been released that proves that watching Fox News is detrimental to your intelligence. World Public Opinion, a project managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, conducted a survey of American voters that shows that Fox News viewers are significantly more misinformed than consumers of news from other sources. What’s more, the study shows that greater exposure to Fox News increases misinformation. …
In eight of the nine questions below, Fox News placed first in the percentage of those who were misinformed (they placed second in the question on TARP). That’s a pretty high batting average for journalistic fraud. Here is a list of what Fox News viewers believe that just aint so:
91% believe that the stimulus legislation lost jobs.
72% believe that the health reform law will increase the deficit.
72% believe that the economy is getting worse.
60% believe that climate change is not occurring.
49% believe that income taxes have gone up.
63% believe that the stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts.
56% believe that Obama initiated the GM/Chrysler bailout.
38% believe that most Republicans opposed TARP.
63% believe that Obama was not born in the US (or that it is unclear).
There are a few important points to consider here. One is the danger of reaching conclusions of causation based on correlative data – namely, is Fox News making viewers stupid, or are stupid people simply more inclined to watch Fox? I do realize, of course, that using the term “stupid” is highly inflammatory and somewhat beside the point, but aside from being grossly misinformed, you really do have to be a little on the slow side to find Fox News believable.
Senator Bernie Sanders on the Federal Reserve’s secret Wall Street bailout:
After years of stonewalling by the Fed, the American people are finally learning the incredible and jaw-dropping details of the Fed’s multi-trillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street and corporate America….
What have we learned so far from the disclosure of more than 21,000 transactions? We have learned that the $700 billion Wall Street bailout signed into law by President George W. Bush turned out to be pocket change compared to the trillions and trillions of dollars in near-zero interest loans and other financial arrangements the Federal Reserve doled out to every major financial institution in this country. Among those are Goldman Sachs, which received nearly $600 billion; Morgan Stanley, which received nearly $2 trillion; Citigroup, which received $1.8 trillion; Bear Stearns, which received nearly $1 trillion, and Merrill Lynch, which received some $1.5 trillion in short term loans from the Fed.
We also learned that the Fed’s multi-trillion bailout was not limited to Wall Street and big banks, but that some of the largest corporations in this country also received a very substantial bailout. Among those are General Electric, McDonald’s, Caterpillar, Harley Davidson, Toyota and Verizon.
Perhaps most surprising is the huge sum that went to bail out foreign private banks and corporations including two European megabanks – Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse – which were the largest beneficiaries of the Fed’s purchase of mortgage-backed securities.
Sanders has some obvious biases here, but he deserves credit for broaching the inexplicably taboo subject of criticizing the Federal Reserve. And the revelations that he has uncovered are absolutely appalling, but honestly, is anyone surprised by this? It should be readily apparent to anyone with eyes and a brain that our government was long ago transformed into a vehicle for protecting and expanding corporate wealth and power. Main Street is the recipient of endless platitudes and a paltry, ineffective stimulus package; Wall Street and the corporate elite receive virtually anything they desire. As John Dewey wisely stated, our government is merely the shadow cast by big business.