Tag Archives: propaganda

Revolution and Beer, Reactionary of the week: The Myth of Margaret Thatcher

So long, Maggie. Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister to Great Britian died this week. She dumped on England and the rest of the world from 1979-1990. The right would have you believe her contribution to the planet, and freedom, was substantial. There is a reason for that. Thatcher is a cornerstone to their mythology about Ronald Reagan. Together they are cartoons to the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet union. I will defer to the actual historic record regarding those two events, and not to the fictionalized foolishness of star wars missile programs, and the silly beckoning of “Mr. Gorbachev, tears down this wall,” by the actor-in-chief. For the clearest acedemic study of the Cold War, see “The Cold War, 1945-1987 by Ralph B. Levine, 2nd edition.

But I think that history will, once we get beyond the insipid propaganda of current American historical paint-by-number trash, show quite clearly that the “Iron Lady” was a tramp. So, if I may-and I will-allow me to help get that record back on track with a list of Thatcher’s accomplishments. Called the “Iron Lady” by a Soviet newspaper, perhaps the Soviets understood that Iron quickly rusts and eventually crumbles to dust. England, at the very least still suffers her legacy.

First of all, all those on the right who accept her exalted position at the right hand of our lord and savior, Reagan ,should take note that she voted to decriminalize male homsexuality in England, and to legalize abortions. While as a Progressive I believe these were positive steps for England in terms of hunman rights, you will never hear any of that mentioned by the right.

She supported austerity, and cut a school milk program for children ages 7-11, spawning the rebuke of “Magaret Thatcher, milk snatcher!”

She lowered income taxes, but increased indirect taxes. In other words when it came time to collect taxes she took less up front, but then stole the money from their pockets later.

She cut education, social services and housing at a time when England was suffering through a terrible recession. It cost her an honorary doctorate, the first time one had been denied to an Oxford eduacated PM since the 2nd World War.

Crime increased year over year throughout her term in office.

Thatcher’s austerity sparked massive unrest, frequent demonstrations and riots.

She called Nelson Mandela a terrorist and opposed German reunification.

Her government openly supported the bloody Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, and secretly trained fighters opposing Vietnamese forces fighting to stop the slaughter in Cambodia.

She supported brutal Chilean dictator, Ernesto Pinochet, offering him refuge from prosecution for his crimes against the people of Chile.

She negotiated away Hong Kong back to the Chinese.

Her failed policies in Northern Ireland set back the peace process decades and cost untold numbers of lives.

Manufacturing nearly collapsed in England under Thatcher.

England faced staggering unemployment. Amid the economic upheavals she attacked the labor unions, comparing them to the pointless and misguided Falkand Island War she’d fought, calling union members, “the enemy within.”

As for the passionate ideological affair she enjoyed with the American passion-prince, Reagan, not so much. After he lied to her about the imminent invasion of Grenada Thatcher vowed never to trust him again.

There’s more. There is much more, but I was just too depressed to go on. So the next time the right extolls the virtues of this “great” lady, you know the truth. Pass it around. Let’s set the record straight…for a change.

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The Burden of Being on the Right: The NRA, Newtown and Michael Medved’s Confused Logic

So this is the narrative from the NRA and the Right: Evil men are poised to bust down your door or attack you every moment of the day. So that’s why you need to pack a bazooka at all times; cooking dinner, taking a dump, making love you…who ever you make love with. You have to have a gun because it is a brutal dangerous world, filled with brigands and marauders constantly stalking you. You my friend are a limping gazelle in a lion’s den. Without an AK-47, body armor and  more ammo than a Marine battalion you’re done for.

And that narrative has worked, at least as far as the gun industry is concerned. They have reaped a fortune pimping fear and distrust, feeding “scripts” to their surrogates in the right-wing media and in the government. Lobbyists spend huge sums to sway public opinion on guns, and to skew debate about reasonable gun legislation. The NRA spent $2.2 million in lobbying and n additional $17.6 million in outside propaganda, that is, to help create the pressure on and in you to buy guns. And make no mistake, the NRA loves the attention from mass shootings, and exploit it to great financial advantagehttp://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-07/nra-sought-donations-in-days-after-colorado-shootings.html.

And we’ve bought it fully, despite the fact that the very few incidents of people defending themselves with a gun are so remote as to barely be anecdotal. You are far more likely to be shot with your own gun, by someone you know, like the 7-year-old boy accidentally killed by his father a few weeks ago as the weapon discharged while he was getting in his truck at a local gun store. Last week, following the Connecticut tragedy two Kansas police officers were gunned down last week, responding to a suspicious vehicle report at night http://edition.cnn.com/2012/12/17/justice/kansas-officers-killed/index.html. Both officers were armed. Last August, 9 were wounded in a gun battle between police and  a murder suspect. All 9 were accidentally wounded by the police during the battle http://edition.cnn.com/2012/08/25/justice/new-york-empire-state-shooting/index.html.

On Friday, the NRA, suspiciously silent since the deaths of 27 a week ago, but for their media servants, spit in the proverbial face of the Connecticut shooting victims by saying “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” The truth of it is, not one “good guy” with a gun has ever stopped any of these mass shootings. To believe they would or could is childish and foolish. The victims’ families, that teases their pain with the cruelty of what-if scenarios after the fact.

So where is the inconsistency? Following the Connecticut shooting  it is unavoidable to draw attention to the dangerously high and frequent numbers of mass shootings in the United States, where gun proliferation far exceeds nations at war. Last week Michael Medved, who frequently has difficulty, like many on the right, remembering their previous B.S. positions on critical issues, revealed the absolute inconsistency in the Right’s gun-culture religion.

Right-wing talk host and history propagandist, Medved is an advocate for the NRA’s irresponsible proliferation ideology,  a champion of fraudulent conceal/carry laws and a defender of ridiculous and demonstrably false and cartoonish public perceptions on gun proliferation. Cornered by logic, or the illogic of his positions, Medved claims that America is not a violent nation, and that violent crime has actually declined. And that is true, but that calls to mind a fundamental flaw in the whole perverse NRA ideology.

On one hand they tell us we need guns because the world is a dangerous place. Then, when confronted by the blood-soaked product of that religion of violence they tell us that crime is declining and the nation isn’t violent and dangerous, which would ultimately mean that we all don’t need a personal array of weaponry. And maybe that means that I can take a dump without being strapped, with a thousand yard stare and a finger on the trigger as I reach for the toilet paper. But then taking a very liberal and large dump on the American people is exactly what the Right and the NRA have been doing from the start.

Lawyerism, Libya and the Chicago Teacher’s Strike

Threads. The world is about making connections…or tearing them down.  Truth is relative. Is God truth? Could be, but we’d never know. We follow leaders, sacrifice our kin to flags and swell to war praying to god. If truth is that we might gain god’s favor in the curse of war, then either god is a lie or we are. The answer to that will lead a good heart to the ultimate morality behind war and violence.

Some individuals, likely opportunists and fools, and hardly reflective of so many good people in Libya swelled to violence reportedly over a video. Just as sickening as that response was the reply by Rightwingers in this country who, for political expediency were quick to make excuses for the film maker, or for the actions of this nation which have also contributed to the very long process that set the stage for the assault on the consulate in Ben Ghazi that resulted in the deaths of 4 Americans.

In this country it seems we have lost the capacity for at least pursuing truth, if never actually attaining or defining it. We are angles and excuses framed by lawyeristic bickering. If one side says up, the other must say down. There is no middle, only extremes, positions, argument.

We wonder over the fury and mindset of those who seem to parade regularly before cameras across the Muslim world shouting for and sometimes exacting retribution against the West. In part, in a small part inflated by cameras and western media for the sake of control is a cartoonish profile of Muslims. We see, by in large, a relatively small number, mostly under educated, or educated almost exclusively on the Koran.

There is a purpose to that. It is about control. narrow the amount of information people may see, or know about their larger world and others and they are easily whipped and swept to the whims of a controlling power.  God forbid the West and China, with their constructed monarchies and dictatorships faced true equitable global competition. Instead, feed poor Muslim populations on a militant Islam keeps them under enough control that, through their proxies, the Industrialized world and west may gorge itself on oil and other pilfered resources.

In this country we have FOX news, MSNBC, CNN, and the rest of the pandering media slowly narrowing the quality and accessibility to information. And that brings me around to the final point.

The Chicago Teacher’s Strike is a symptom of a system that has steadily degraded information in this country for the purpose of social, commercial and political control. Not Left or Right, Republican or Democratic. It is all of them, and it is us. Unions, and the strongest of the remaining unions in the public sector, are the prime targets. In Wisconsin, Scott Walker attempted to cleave the police and fire unions in lawyeristic double speak and then attack the more vulnerable teachers union. For a time it appeared that he had won in eliminating collective bargaining-the very definition of Union. Last week a Wisconsin judge overturned Walker’s effort, calling it unconstitutional.

There is power in Unions. Since the Second World War it has defined the standard of living in this nation, established the benchmark, and refocused the concept of the American Dream. There is power in holding that dream and having that standard of living.  The strike was not about money, but about an assault against the frontline teachers and their ability to teach.

The endgame is not for the love of the taxpayer. That is the FOX News mask, the sugar-coating on the bitter pill of an effort to restrict and narrow the amount and quality of information…if you agree that all news has a bias, and that it is liberal in bias, you’ve already succumbed to the message. You went there on your own two feet, just as they would prefer. Self, rather than imposed censorship has always been the ultimate and most effective….Control is the endgame, and that’s what ties it all together.

Art vs. Media: The Transforming Power of Human pain

In an age when media and government(s), corporations and personalities have devalued the definition of truth, when facts are muddled, fabricated and manipulated, what remains is the basis for sincere and believable communication among people?

The courts have upheld that FOX news literally has a first amendment right to lie. “Fair and Balanced” in no way promises truth, but their intention is for propaganda and promoting a tactic to confuse issues so that their ideology can seem acceptable. Ads promising utopian-esque wonders are ultimately negated by fine print. Herman Cain’s accusers were compelled to sign non-disclosure statements-effectively erasing their right to speak, allowing Cain and his propagandists to attack and impune these accusers without fear of retaliation. Where was the evidence against Cain? It was censored by lawyers and the courts. These are tactics used by corporations and the powerful to compel silence over their crimes. Truth has been extinguished, degraded and confused. So what remains?

The news media is, by definition, dispassionate with regards to our truest humanity. Certainly it can show us great suffering and tragedy, which cane move us deeply and bring some of us to action. It is, despite its best and most compassionate assertions, clinical in nature, and here’s why.

It cannot inhabit the deepest thoughts, nor the spark of those thought. It cannot explore the primordial evolution of a thought or an emotion, that moment when it escapes from a single cell at the dawn of our history, evolving through mankind or a single individual from a moment or over the course of a life. The news media is incapable of pouring itself into a soul and rummaging around for secrets and intentions each of us keeps protected or hidden from the world. Above all, it cannot properly quantify human pain.

This, this is the very precise dividing line between fiction and journalism. Much to the propagandists assertions, Left, Right or middle, it is a line journalism cannot cross without erasing itself. That is the definition of propaganda. That ultimately is the best argument against FOX’s assertion that they have a right to lie. Indeed they do, but then they abrogate their pretense of journalism. The proof is in the word lie, which FOX lawyers freely called it in court. I lie is a hidden fiction paraded as fact.   

Here is a test. What news story adequately describes your own pain? The news can only describe suffering and tragedy, but only fiction allows the reader to dissolve their existence into a story. It is here that the power of fiction and art transcends, but real art and honest fiction. That is, fiction and art that openly and completely describe themselves as such, nakedly allowing the audience to freely judge its merits.

In 8 days Occupy Chicago will put on a play, a modern Occupy retelling of a Christmas Carol before thousands in Grant Park.  The purpose was to transcend the media,  and the impassioned arguments that come close but do not fully connect us with the human suffering the Occupy movement seeks to address. But the characters are faced with the things each of us face, their words and actions deeper and fuller and more contextual than journalism would dare, or activism alone could accomplish. That is the power and distinction of art.

Truth and Lies: Musings from the bike trail

Its forty-seven miles by bicycle from the Wisconsin border to my doorstep on the North side of Chicago. There’s a stunning bike path for a good stretch, more or less from the Great Lakes naval Air Station almost to Winnetka. It was a brisk Autumn day today. The leaves were just changing and a steady wind was coming off Lake Michigan, The wind and cool temperatures no doubt conspired to chase off the summer and fair-weather riders, leaving only hardcore adventurists.

On the trail near Fort Sheridan in Northern Illinois

That near solitude, the smell of wet leaves from the previous day’s rain and a mottled sky with patches of rich blue between fat grayish-white clouds lent itself perfectly to odd musings. Passing through North Chicago, a struggling town just outside the Naval Air Station, where unemployment is as problematic as the crime level, a town like so many others around the nation, in which the “American Dream” is fast becoming at best an illusion and at worst a hypocrisy, I had a thought.

It had to do with the truths and lies we tell ourselves, that the media fills the culture with and which our leaders recite almost mechanically and certainly in an obligatory reflex. The difficulty is in separating truth from lies and fact from fiction. That task, and responsibility as an American citizen and voter, becomes harder every day, more so as agenda driven information and propaganda makes it more difficult than ever to tell the difference. And that is very much by design.

This culture uses words like lies and facts and truth with careless disregard. But the truth is, lies and truths have something in common. They both rely upon facts. Both include and exclude facts to define their character. But while facts are bricks, a pile of bricks does not make a house. A set of facts may create some truth, but they may also reinforce a lie. By purposeful omission, or rearrangement facts become a lie. Indeed, a truth may also be a lie, as in a partial truth, or say, FOX News; the News part becoming at the very least a supreme exaggeration.

What each of us is seeking(or seeking to obscure) are ultimate truths. That is truths that are well beyond mere facts, and absolutely not a lie.For example, there is an ultimate truth to whether or not God exists. For now, that ultimate truth is unknowable and untestable. since facts alone fail us here, we bridge that immense gap with faith-the polar opposite of fact.

It may be said that faith is the  acceptance in at least one possibility of an ultimate truth. But faith is not a fact, and faith alone is a choice. Reason dictates that our faith is potentially the belief in a falsehood. One who has faith has a responsibility to understand that alternate faiths are then equally valid.

In the end could it be that there may be no real truth, but only lies and shades of the truth, and faith? So where does that leave us? If truths and ultimate truths fail us, what is left?

The media is more and more under the control of corporations. More and more it plays a game between satiating its consumer audience, while steering the nation and government towards corporate governance and control. The Occupy Wall street protests, now catching on in cities around the nation are illustrative here. When they began two weeks ago, I had to look to news organizations outside the country for information. There was not a single story in MSNBC-owned by GE, a major weapons contractor, or FOX-News Corp and CNN-owned by Time Warner, who contributed the maximum allowable amount to George Bush in 2005.

The media, with so-called Liberal bias like MSNBC and Right-wing bias like FOX, dominate and steer the discourse  on topics of grave national interest through carefully channelled and scripted arguments, and in very much the same direction.

Take the Iraq invasion. In the weeks and months leading up there was ample evidence that Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction. Evidence was forged, critics of the invasion were pilloried and discredited for daring to point out that even the most credible reports had come from highly unreliable and even corrupt sources. Chris Matthews, castigated by the Right, and held up on the Left for his insight never once debated before the invasion what should have been obvious questions to the rest of us. He finally did, several years, many thousands of lives and a trillion Dollars later. The media’s truth was a self-serving truth, but it revealed a truth beyond even ultimate truth.

The trail

It contributed to and created real human pain and suffering. Human pain might well prove the profoundest truth, and the only truth impervious to lies, distortions, facts and faith. For each of us, our own pain becomes the ultimate truth. At the end of all lies is human pain, which arises from the individual as a wall. Where your pain meets the pain of another becomes, in the absence of real truth, the point of negotiation. From each person’s perspective the other’s pain is hardly equal to their own, but there is ultimate equality in their opposing pain. It was, after all the true basis for the civil rights movement, and indeed all assertions of minorities for their rights. It is even at the heart of those sadly mislead and exploited folks that believe the Tea Party isn’t merely a populist front for predatory corporate greed.

So, at the end of all truth,  when truths are distorted or framed artfully to be just this side of a lie we are left to negotiate one another’s pain. It transcends media and propaganda and politics. It becomes the point in which each of us draws a line in the sand and forces us to face other human beings as equals. I think Jesus said it best…do onto others… 

And, oh, by the way. Just in case you were wondering, with a couple scenic detours, the ride from Wisconsin back to the city takes about 3 hours. Lots of time to chase errant thoughts.

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