‘We Are Drowning’ On A Road To Nowhere

240px-Frederick_Douglass_portraitFrom Military Resistance: “At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. Oh had I the ability, and could reach the nation’s ear, I would, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke.” —Frederick Douglass, 1852

Oil prices are rocketing. Iranian warships are moving into the Mediterranean to shadow the US warships already there. Propaganda news is growing with rumors of Al Qaeda links with Iran, and, then, less speculative news about real links between the terror groups and the armed opposition in Syria.

As Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi puts it, the smell of war is in the air and on the air,

“You can just feel it: many of the same newspapers and TV stations we saw leading the charge in the Bush years have gone back to the attic and are dusting off their war pom-poms.”

CLG adds:

“Officials in key parts of the Obama administration are increasingly convinced that sanctions will not deter Tehran from pursuing its [alleged] nuclear program, and believe that the US will be left with no option but to launch an attack on Iran or watch Israel do so.”

The timing now seems to be for war in October, just before the next Presidential election. Does that mean that the White House believes that war fever will generate more support for an embattled Commander in Chief. Orwell was right in his classic 1984: “the object of the war is not to make or prevent conquests of territory, but to keep the structure of society intact.”

Here in the “homeland,” the FBI busts a “terrorist” on his way, we are told, to blow up the Congress. Turns out he was supplied with phony weapons by the FBI itself, a specialist in entrapment. The G-Men supposedly became suspicious when they heard that this young Moroccan, living illegally in Virginia, told someone who told someone that the war on terror was a war on Muslims. That’s probably a majority view in the Middle East, but to them it was menacing and proof of evil intent.

After their puppet “suspect” was in custody, they reassured one and all that the Congress was never at risk. (Nor, now, is the FBI’s next appropriation!)

What a relief! Congress has survived to fight another day in its own war– a partisan war without end. For the most part, the political logjam and stalemate continues and not just because of warring ideologies.

Unseen and only rarely commented upon by pundits who know how to cover political horse races but not political skullduggery is the role that big money plays behind the scenes. That is kept out of sight and out of mind.

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship write:

“Watching what’s happening to our democracy is like watching the cruise ship Costa Concordia founder and sink slowly into the sea off the coast of Italy, as the passengers, shorn of life vests, scramble for safety as best they can, while the captain trips and falls conveniently into a waiting life boat.

We are drowning here, with gaping holes torn into the hull of the ship of state from charges detonated by the owners and manipulators of capital. Their wealth has become a demonic force in politics. Nothing can stop them. Not the law, which has been written to accommodate them. Not scrutiny — they have no shame. Not a decent respect for the welfare of others — the people without means, their safety net shredded, left helpless before events beyond their control.”

Yes, “we are drowning here.”

But is not just money per se that is the problem, but those one percenters that are manipulating it as a weapon to drive our democracy into the dumper.

Charles Pierce names and shames them in the pages of Esquire, writing about,

“the undeniable fact that, over the course of a decade, a bunch of cheats, thieves, and suited mountebanks stole most of the national economy and then wrecked whatever was left of it. But what’s most extraordinary about the whole thing is that, after they swindled their swindles and heisted their heists, and got paid off by the rest of us for having looted our naional economy, they all kept doing the same things they were doing before. These included extravagant bonuses and, of course, continued crimes of capital that ought to be capital crimes.”


On the same day I read, Joe Nocera in the New York Times saying it’s not important to punish the banks. So clearly the liberal media is in large part in cahoots with the right wing message points, avoiding any structural analysis, while pushing for mild “reforms” unlikely to reform anything.

One consequence of our corporate news system, according to Richard Flanders in The Atlantic is that Americans are being steered into becoming even more conservative:

“Even with the president’s approval rating showing signs of life and the Republicans busily bashing themselves over the head — ‘one is a practicing polygamist and he’s not even the Mormon,’ retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor recently quipped about her party’s two frontrunners — America continues to track right, according to polling data released by the Gallop Organization this week.

“Americans at this political moment are significantly more likely to identify as conservative than as liberal: conservatives outnumber liberals by nearly two to one. Forty percent identify as conservative, 36 percent as moderate, and 21 percent liberal.”

Most upsetting is that the people who suffering the most are stuck in the Alice in Wonderland world of conservative ideology.

This study concludes:

“The ongoing economic crisis only appears to have deepened America’s conservative drift – a trend which is most pronounced in its least well off, least educated, most blue collar, most economically hard-hit states.”

The public becomes dumber  in part because our media is a dumbing down machine. No wonder, alternative voices are brushed to the margins by our not so free press. This past week, I was interviewed by Russia Today and Al Jazeera, but none of the US TV news networks I used to work for will have me on. It’s not a personal thing:  I am not alone.

Yes, MSNBC has added two progressive hosts, but in the morning, on weekends, when viewing is lowest. Fox, meanwhile, dumped Judge Napolitano and his sometime sensible and outspoken libertarian show. Can’t have that, can we?

It’s time for Occupy Wall Street to add media reform to its emerging agenda. The media war is as real as any other, and unless we fight that one, we will lose all the others. Politics is a war of ideas, of different narratives in collision.

It’s not enough to chant, “We are the 99%.” We have to explain who rules America and how to change it.

One way to do it is educate the country about how many of the same interests that own the banks own the media.

Perhaps that’s why most media outlets are not reporting that unemployment increased this month and that underemployment is up to 19%

Writes Rex Nutting on MarketWatch:

“Everyone knows that the Great Recession has inflicted tremendous damage to the lives and fortunes of millions of Americans. But what you may not know is that most of the suffering is still to come.

We’re not even halfway done with this mess.”

A mess it is, a “mistake” it isn’t.

That’s why activists can’t give up

If there was ever a time for progressives to unite around some coherent ten point plan that can be used to reach potential supporters and broaden the movement for change, this is it. The aspiration should be to build a coalition that can win, to  “occupy the mainstream.” Sadly, here as in Greece where the economic crisis is at a boiling point, a headline in the Financial Times sums up a key obstacle to fighting back:

“Greek Left Has Most Support But is Fragmented”

What say you, unions, churches, minorities, students, workers, activists, feminists and occupiers? Do we work together or lose apart?  Assuming that the GOP self-destructs, do we really think that more ‘Bama can make the difference that needs making?

Danny Schechter writes about Occupy Wall Street on Al Jazeera, Progressive Radio Network other outlets and his News Dissector blog. He made the film Plunder the Crime Of Our TimePlease email comments to dissector@mediachannel.org

12 Comments on "‘We Are Drowning’ On A Road To Nowhere"

  1. I think the military-defense industry is watching with glee as events unfold in Iran. Don’t discount the power of the social media to repair the damage being done to this country by the wealthy politicians who are being played like pupets by big business and lobbyists. The little guy still has a voice through social media. Change can happen for the good if we try. Start by NEVER voting for an incumbent no matter how much pork they bring home to your district. We should work toward a constitutional amendment to limit term of office for ALL elected offices to a SINGLE 4-year term. Make all elections publicly financed with strict rules for expendature.  Perhaps with all of the above changes we can get our government back. 

    • Start by never voting for a Republican or a Democrat, only third party or independent candidates.  And we should work towards a constitutional amendment to institute ranked choice voting.  I like the public finance idea, especially if all candidates get the same funding and not just the Republicans and Democrats.

      • Jin The Ninja | Feb 20, 2012 at 4:50 pm |

        not a fan of reformatory politics, but your points are very logical and well-positioned for the  democratic system we have now. liked.

      • Would voting for any president really constitute the change we so desperately need? I’m not saying don’t vote. But it seems our problem is very deeply rooted..And it seems if we just changed the position of one man things wouldn’t change much.. Especially if it is only one man that is “in-power” so to speak..
          Yes I’m aware of  so called “checks and balances” but damn, it sure hasn’t been doing a good job..We live in such unsustainable ways it seems like its going out of style. The very food and water we drink is so unnaturally pervaded it is detrimental to our being.  No one wants to live like that. We are just struggling to survive and can barely think about sustainability or buying quality food. We base our value,and shape our lives around a piece of paper that isn’t worth what its printed on…Surely,a lot of people are from dropping materialistic ways..But surely there’s a way for them too, without all this non-sense..
          Why is it so crazy to think about living in a better society? Why is a 
        “utopian society” so absurd? Every time someone talks about it or even gets close to it they get laughed right out? Is it so crazy to believe this world can in fact be a utopia? Why are we to believe it is a  merely a “fantasy” which cannot be attained? It most surely cannot happen over night..And it surely cannot happen if we continue be accustomed or uneducated to these vile ways.. And it will most definitely if we continue to be indifferent towards the people that promote such ways..Seriously what human beings are for this???Nevertheless..
          If  we are not striving to attain a “utopia” then I don’t know what were aiming for…
          One day people in such positions will no longer be able to continue running us, and their fellow leaders, around in circles. I find it very hard to believe that they cannot find ways for people to sustain themselves or provide for their family than working a back-breaking, sometimes meaningless, 9-5..For “notes” that aren’t worth the money their printed on. On top of that have them go through all the hoops everyday life,while paying taxes on everything, and out of their hard earned money…But no, we can’t be sustainable or do work that we love and would help others,ourselves,the environment etc..Why? Is it too far fetched?Or would it have disastorous effects among corporations? Would it cause certain ones to cease to exist?
          The technology is surely available,without a doubt.The resources are available,without a doubt.There are great minds that have brilliant ideas. These ideas are not merely science-fiction, they are real and they are waiting to be brought forth.

    • Jin The Ninja | Feb 20, 2012 at 4:48 pm |

       4 years is far too long. elected office is a privilege that should not grant privilege.

  2. blahblahblacksheep | Feb 20, 2012 at 11:22 am |

    And how does one change things when people are living an “Alice in Wonderland” world?
    People just look at me crazy when I bring up ideas like those stated in this article. People
    just don’t get it or want to see whats going on. I have 3 kids… I’m tired… and sick of beating my
    head against the wall. I just want a better life for my kids. Remember the 90’s when we thought things might actually get better! I think I may have to move to Portland…it’s where young people go to retire.


  3. The worst is far behind us.All the corruption, false ideals, and heinous acts against our people are surely coming to and end.And it is apparent that the ones who impose such acts are becoming desperate and “losing they’re grip”,as can be seen in their own media outlets.As well as ours.And most importantly people everywhere see what is going on.And are spreading the word and helping others who do not yet see to see the truth.It is spreading like a beautiful virus,as is change.And it started with each one of us and continues to spread inconceivably..
      Maybe the “collapse” of these systems based nothing but leading people into sheep-like consumer ideals,oppression,and keeping people in “fear” are a good thing, and we should be glad.There will probably be some parts left..But, with people “waking up” in mass numbers surely only truth,honesty, and real ideals can survive.We must look to ourselves,and not to any media or other source as to what is really “right” or going on,or we will most certainly be setting ourselves up once again to be lead into something which is false.
      It sure seems that sometimes nothing will change, and it is just getting worse..But somewhere inside me,I still have hope, and a knowing feeling that is not really what is going on at all,as I’m sure you all do as well..And that true changes are coming,ones that benefit everyone..
     Interesting times are ahead and as fucked as everything seems, I for one am glad to be here right now.

  4. howiebledsoe | Feb 20, 2012 at 12:13 pm |

    What’s the problem?  We have always been at war with Airstrip Oceana 2.

  5. m1kesa1m0ns | Feb 20, 2012 at 12:18 pm |

    I’m glad you say “it’s not JUST money per se that’s the problem.” Because money IS the problem. Western society is currently standing around, not doing shit, wondering to itself how the hell to maintain stasis in the post-industrial age. We have correctly assumed the old days of all of us rolling up our sleeves and making the nation great just by doing more of what we’ve always done is over. There is NO vision in our leadership to give us the courage the accept the inevitable: we need to find a way to move forward that does not rely on the thoroughly flogged dead horse of supply and demand of goods and services. It will require a common purpose and trust in each other. But wall street is doing everything it  can to destroy the trust required to escape its icy death grip.

    I sometimes think what happened in 2008 was a terrorist act- perhaps the most effective act of terrorism one could perpetrate in a capitalist country. Changes in laws made it possible to loot the common trust. Then wall street moved in and did just that. a vast chunk of wealth- and security and stability with it- sucked either into the hands of the elite or simply vanished into thin air. The only substantial difference in today’s society is with whom we think the blame for this act lies. One side blames government, one side blames corporations. Of course, both colluded to make it occur, so this is a completely moot argument. But as long as we scream at each other about it, the looters can go on looting until there really truly IS nothing left to loot. We think we are fucked now. Just wait until that day happens.

    The only way forward is a manner of working together exemplified in the work of R. Buckminster Fuller. A post-war, post-political, post-dialectical materialist way forward together. Sounds like utopian hippy bullshit. Sure. But I think if you look deep inside yourself you might find you agree.

  6. Perhaps we should be considering some Second Amendment solutions.

  7. Eric_D_Read | Feb 20, 2012 at 2:41 pm |

    At this point, the only thing that will stop the American war machine is getting the living shit kicked out of it; which is unlikely to happen in the near future. 

Comments are closed.