I was sitting at my computer mid-morning, wearing three-layers, attempting warmth on a 10-degree day. More snow is due by Monday here in Missouri, and there was snow this week in Washington, D.C. as well. Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, author of The Greatest Hoax: How The Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future, scooped up a handful and tossed a snowball onto the Senate floor to ‘disprove’ reports that this is, overall, one of the warmest winters on record. Consider it theatrics of the mendacious kind. Inhofe will go down in history as a belligerent curmudgeon, if that kindly. I consider him a danger to global security.
Perhaps he should listen to the nation’s hands-down favorite Today Show weather man, Al Roker, who named the extreme temps this week due to climate change. Roker is about as mundane as a corn dog and a coke, so perhaps Inhofe should think twice about trying to twist the rubes’ tails with stunts, now that Willie Soon has been caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
Soon, an aerospace engineer, climate truther advocate and part-time employee at the Smithsonian, has long been quoted on the right as an ‘expert’ on the topic of climate. He’s one of 58 such experts promoted by The Heartland Institute, the most influential of the climate truther think-tanks, frequently referenced on FOX News.
The Daily Beast vetted the 58 and found that only three have credentials that would entitle them to an informed opinion, noting that Greenpeace had recently discovered that Willie Soon is employed by the Charles G. Koch Foundation and other fossil-fuel advocates, to issue “deliverables”: scientific papers refuting climate change. The Beast also notes that one of the three actual atmospheric scientists took 40 percent of his funding from the industry, while the truther movement itself is entirely funded by big oil, resulting in “an avalanche of bullshit.”
Since not a single Republican validates global warming, I think we can assume that across the board, their bread is well buttered by petroleum. We should also be aware — as in loudly declarative and obnoxiously so, if required — that as a party they are LYING to the nation, for profit and on purpose. Isn’t that obvious enough now, to catch everyone’s attention? Isn’t that enough to begin to question their motives on who and what they represent? The question: Do they represent us, or only themselves?
Jon Stewart, feeling the pressure of exit count-down, has gone at FOX with real passion the last few days. His most recent hit was a challenge between FOX and The Daily Show in a ‘lie-off.’ He proved his point with an amazing little snip called “50 Fox News Lies in Six Seconds,” just a glimpse of what he’s spent much of his career exposing in recent years. And because these things are synchronous, this comes at a time when one of the more (strange but true) ‘moderate’ of the FOX commentators, bully-boy and ego-case Bill O’Reilly, has come under fire for embellishing the truth.
I suppose if O’Reilly hadn’t expressed so much faux-outrage about Brian Williams inserting himself into historical events, the spotlight wouldn’t have swung back so quickly to catch him up. As it is, however, no less than four previous statements of O’Reilly’s have come under scrutiny by those who were there. Despite what Bill has said, he did not see nuns shot in the head in San Salvador; protests in Buenos Aires, where he was reporting, were neither a ‘war zone’ during the Falklands war nor particularly dangerous; he was not outside the door of George de Mohrenschildt, friend of Lee Harvey Oswald, when he committed suicide; and he and his crew were never “attacked by protesters” during the Rodney King Los Angeles riots in 1992.
Should O’Reilly represent a rational world-view or any level of respected journalism, we could expect this kind of fiction to create a shit-storm, similar to Williams’s helicopter tale. Nothing on the right side of the spectrum requires supporting fact, however, so no surprise, ratings for The Factor have jumped in these last couple of days. Everybody wants to hear Bill’s bluster, belligerent in the manner of Limbaugh and every bit as much a shock-jock and provocateur. Everyone, it seems, wants to watch O’Reilly lie.
O’Reilly’s No Spin Zone — as accurately descriptive of his show as FOX News is fair and balanced — has won some viewers but has it won any respect? And does anyone actually care? The FOX brand stands behind O’Reilly as an entertainer, not a reporter. The nation should be able to examine that stance, compounded by the examples of outright lying and skewed reporting that Stewart offered, and determine that not very much presented on this news [sic] show is anything other than extremist propaganda.
Indeed, nobody is calling for O’Reilly’s head on a plate. They KNOW he’s outrageous and his rhetoric is slanted. They KNOW FOX News isn’t objective reporting. Most of us can say with certainty that very little FOX News has to say is more than right-wing clap-trap, designed to ensnare a morbidly paranoid right-wing base, but they still have a place at the table, they still show up for White House briefings, and we tolerate them in the name of “bipartisanship” or some such nonsense. Why can’t we connect those dots to condemn obvious flim-flam?
We should be very, very clear about this kind of statement when we hear it, and be quick to respond. Taking our sweet time has given the right the opportunity to move the football so far to the right that we’re all whistling Dixie. Every time we hear something that serves no one but the privileged, we should sing it to the heavens, tweeting and blogging, talking with friends and acquaintances, making it plain that with plans like these for the average citizen, right OR left, the conservatives “just aren’t that into you.”
Here’s more counter-intuitive flim-flam. The Republicans still want to privatize your Social Security, but don’t want oversight into the fraudulent banking that put the world on the edge of fiscal plummet. Sounds to me like they’re pushing the old folks to the edge of the herd while shoring up the one-tenth of one percent to which they all aspire. The question for your neighbor: “So you’re willing to allow your retirement funds to be gambled on the stock market?”
Every one of the Pub presidential wannabes have declared that they would void the Affordable Care Act without having a replacement. What’s being said, ultimately, is that showing up at hospital emergency rooms is good enough for the indigent, the uninsured, and the helpless, who would only thrive under preventative care, costing more to keep alive than they’re worth. And didn’t God say he helps those who help themselves? (Actually that was Aesop, not the Bible, although three-quarters of those polled thought it came straight out of the Good Book. It’s been cited as a favorite quote of pick-pockets.)
Can we see how well this serves plutocracy? An underemployed nation, no longer expecting benefits, quickly becomes grateful for what it can get. Witness Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, the (deliberate) decline of the union movement and the rise of Right To Work legislation across the nation. From the point of view of the business class, workers should be grateful to have a job at all, let alone health care. Isn’t that what Republicans are actually saying? And isn’t that reminiscent of the default ‘death panel’ that Palin was sure the godless liberals wanted to foist upon her? The question for the neighbors: “Are you sure you can trust the insurance companies to cover you? Not to increase your rates? Are you sure you’ll keep your health care coverage if you change your job?”
Here’s a case in point. As I write this, the U.S. House of Representatives is preparing to punt on funding Homeland Security — their very own and very personal hedge against all things that go bump in the night — rather than allow Obama to go forward with his immigration plan. The message couldn’t BE any clearer! Are you of Latino heritage, citizen? The right-wing faction of the American political process is at war with your race. They are never going to allow you equality, so it’s in your best interests to not only ignore them, but to begin taking every opportunity to declare your independence from austerity and manipulation.
In Chicago this week, sitting-mayor Rahm Emanuel was forced into an election run-off — the first ever for a Chicago mayoral candidate — with Chuy Garcia, a Mexican-American immigrant who has come up through the populist ranks. A Democrat, Emanuel has always been controversial, not a politician to engender affection, and this time, in a city infamous for crony capitalism and corruption, his elitist connections and big money did not prevail. Garcia’s win against Emanuel’s thirty-million-dollar war chest can be rightly called extraordinary. The neighborhoods connected the dots in the Windy City, got out the vote, and shook the foundations of outworn tradition. Garcia faces a steep climb now, and deserves whatever support we can offer his campaign.
This is exactly the way it’s going to have to look all over this nation before we can say we understood the message of this new century, putting to rest the echoes of inequity reminiscent of the last one, and a radical religious streak that hasn’t been equaled since Cotton Mather pounded a pulpit. Before we can beat back the nameless fears that assail us, geld those who play us against one another, or put an end to the constant manipulation we’re exposed to, we’re going to have to recognize the face of radicalism when we see it.
ISIS is, on all accounts, a hybrid of the various terrorist movements of the last few decades, constructed from the DNA of every perceived outrage in the Mid-east, enhanced with the techno-talent of a hopeless generation, and fashioned over the bones of the unjustly dead. I agree with Obama that it should not get any props for being a legitimate part of Islam, or even a title used for an esteemed enemy. Each outrageous act of brutality is a plea for attention and legitimacy, like those of L’il Kim in North Korea, only infinitely worse because they don’t actually want response from the U.S. except in ordnance and warfare. They are a rogue end-times cult, marketing nihilism like snake oil medicine, bent on hastening the end of the world. Sound like anyone we know?
Here on our shores we have a radical religious movement wedded to a self-serving political party buoyed and supported by a for-profit corporate body that has turned this nation into a zombie eating its own brain. Bigotry and repression are not just tolerated in this mix but promoted. Black kids are seen as the enemy, gay persons must be turned ‘normal’ and women must not be allowed sexual freedom. To those who currently hold the good of the nation in their hands, government, medicine, education must all be leveraged for profit, quietly cutting the legs out from beneath America’s roots in democratic socialism.
And face it, those mindlessly pursuing profit are oblivious to the bottom line of this God-given mission: to kill off every progressive plan, liberal thought and public give-away until the Second Coming, which will arrive on the heels of a fiery conflagration in Israel. (And just so you know, it was a devious plot by noxious Hollywood liberals that American Sniper — the heroic story of a warrior living and dying by the scope of his rifle and his patriotic American values — did not win a deserved Oscar for Best Picture.) Yes, here in America we have some radicals of our own.
ISIS kills those who oppose it in as loud and dramatic a fashion as it can muster. Can we admit that the politics of this nation is slowly and quietly strangling its own, pushing policies that make us weaker and dumber? Meanwhile, the world awaits a rational American partner to rebuild and renew the planet. The question: who’s the radical, again? Who are the haters? Who are the lovers?
Now, take a deep breath. It’s a relief to face things clearly, and since we still have a good deal of illusion about what military-might can do for us in this country, we DO need to look very carefully. On the plus side, it’s not all bad news, here in the purge of darkness and Shift of Era. In fact, there have been a couple of big things to celebrate this week, things that give us the hope necessary to keep on keeping on.
The FCC has voted to support net neutrality, so remarkable a change in philosophy going foreword that long-time observers are stunned at the turn-around. This decision is akin to civil rights legislation, creating a level of equality upon which we can continue to build. Also, the XL Pipeline legislation was vetoed in the Oval Office — only the third veto of Obama’s presidency — but be aware, the pipeline itself is still in play, while the Republican proposal to approve it has been disposed of.
For American readers, there is activism needed to shore up these fragile successes. Our attention is still needed to make our desires known about these important breakthroughs. There is more to do. Next, the FCC needs to hear from us about the possible merger of Comcast and Time-Warner, in what we used to call ‘monopoly.’ Consumers Union will deliver your comments, here.
The Pipeline is still under consideration, and we need to continue advocating against it. For their part, the Republicans will try for a veto override next week, and we need to stay on top of that. Nine Senate Democrats and 28 House Democrats approved this legislation; check to make sure none of them were yours, or if they were, contact them with your view on this defeated legislation. Here’s the list from Daily Kos:
These are the 28 House Democrats who voted with Republicans last time: Terri Sewell (AL-07), Jim Costa (CA-16), Gwen Graham (FL-02), Patrick Murphy (FL-18), Sanford Bishop (GA-02), David Scott (GA-13), David Loebsack (IA-02), Dan Lipinski (IL-03), Cheri Bustos (IL-17), Cedric Richmond (LA-02), Tim Walz (MN-01), Colin Peterson (MN-07), Rick Nolan (MN-08), Brad Ashford (NE-02), Donald Norcross (NJ-01), Albio Sires (NJ-08), Sean Maloney (NY-18), Kurt Schrader (OR-05), Bob Brady (PA-01), Mike Doyle (PA-14), Jim Clyburn (SC-06), Jim Cooper (TN-05), Al Green (TX-09), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Gene Green (TX-29), Marc Veasey (TX-33) and Filemon Vela (TX-34)
These are the nine Senate Democrats and independents who voted with Republicans last time: Michael Bennet (CO), Tom Carper (DE), Joe Donnelly (IN), Claire McCaskill (MO), Jon Tester (MT), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Bob Casey (PA), Tom Mark Warner (VA), Joe Manchin (WV)
Contact your legislator here by scrolling down to Elected Official and picking your poison.
Rather than become overwhelmed by all that needs doing, let’s remember that the dregs must rise from the bottom before the glass can fill with clear water. It may feel as though we’ve talked and talked and yelled and yelled, argued and objected and made ourselves a target at family dinners and city meetings. It may feel as though we’re worn down to a nubbin, speaking truth to power as we might, but — oh, my dears — we’ve only just begun.
One more time, dearhearts, into the breach. The stars have moved us closer to awareness, our circumstances opening opportunity from moment to moment, and we must use what’s at hand to lift ourselves and others into something other than disabling, nihilistic end-times rhetoric. We owe one another activism in service to healing the planet and her wounds. We owe one another the loving attention that is at the heart of decent leadership and common good. The least we can do is ask the questions, tell the truth and expect the best of, and for, one another.
If you need to hear someone speak truth to power this week, go here to listen to California fire-breather Barbara Boxer give the Pubs a piece of her mind over the Homeland Security smack-down. She makes their actual intent very clear, and if your neighbor still isn’t listening, send this YouTube. They may hear something that sounds — oh so very — familiar. Do not underestimate the shifting currents that can make us suddenly visible to ourselves, the energies of change that urge us to remain teachable.
Let me put it another way. Nothing we — any of us — ever did entirely for our own good, with thought to no other, served the world around us or improved life on the planet. Is that who we want to be, who we want to elect and what we want to become? Impoverished in plenty? Heartless in power? Culturally mindless and spiritually hopeless?
No? I didn’t think so. A Course in Miracles tells us that the goal is not to achieve a perfect world, but to heal our perception enough to experience the one we’re in as a ‘happy dream.’ That’s the work. One more time, then, find the good; bless the righteous; act to counter, without judgment, the unkind and selfish; and serve the Light.