An Absence Of Reality In TV News

So my mother-in-law calls from Pittsburgh, asking if she should send water-wings out to us here in Los Angeles. She’s been watching the news which has been giving her the impression that we’re under water from all the rain. I reassure her, that it’s all nonsense. All we’ve experienced so far is a few sprinkles. I then turn on the local news, for the latest on our “sprinkle-watch” to get the latest. IT IS GOING TO RAIN OVER THE WEEKEND!” OMG!

Think we’ll live through it? Maybe. If we don’t watch the news?

Question: Whatever happened to reality? It used to be a big thing.

The Duping Of America - How The Bad Guys Won

And now the Soviets…er, forgive me, the Russian Federation, is leveling the nasty charge that the interim Ukrainian government is acting like a bunch of Nazis.  Oh really?  Nazis?  Like the party of Hitler that murdered more than 12 million people as their “final solution” and conducted sadistic experiments on human subjects that only the worst kind of psychopath would condone?  Those guys?  Really?

Vladimir Putin, who is little more than the newest Russian dictator, had his underlings play the Nazi card in an effort to condemn and damage the Ukraine’s new government as they move away from his control and towards the European Union, and Democracy.

It might be considered a type of “transference?”

There are various definitions of the psychological principle of “transference.”  It’s been a long time since “Psych-101,” but basically, it means transferring the characteristics of one person, perhaps a person from your childhood, onto another person, possibly someone you just met who might look like that other person from your past.  The two people look alike, therefore, you expect them to exhibit similar character traits.  Simple enough, isn’t it?

I need you to go to intellectual afterburners, and consider a type of collective transference that is being used not only by the Russians, but by some American politicians, as well.

It’s what the Russians did, when they accused the interim Ukrainian government of behaving like Nazis.  It is of course a ridiculous overstatement.  So ridiculous, that people are likely to be caught off-guard.  Which is, in part, the effect the Russians were going for.  They not only want to do as much damage as possible to the new Ukrainian government, they also want to put up a smokescreen, hiding the fact, that it is not the interim Ukrainian government that’s acting like Nazis.  It’s the Russians, who are Nazi-like in their new dictatorship, which, despite the glowing cloak of the Olympic Games, is becoming ever more fascist, throwing demonstrators in prison for protesting against the rigged election of Vladimir Putin,  sentencing performers to prison for demonstrating inside a church, and on and on, which begs the question of why Russia was given the honor of hosting the Games?

According to Amnesty International, this current Russian Government, is the most repressive gang of thugs to take control of the Russian people since the fall of the Soviet Union.   It’s their behavior that is increasingly reminiscent of the Nazis, while they transfer what they are doing onto the interim government in Ukraine, which is moving not toward Fascism, but away from the iron fist of fascism and toward Democracy.

Putin’s greatest fear has to be that what’s happening in Ukraine, might spread across the border, threatening his repressive, regressive, regime.  So he transfers what he is, his very political and homophobic essence, onto the interim government in Ukraine, to cloud our vision of what’s truly going on.  It’s happened here in the U.S., as well.

Remember when George W. Bush did the same  thing, comparing President Obama to “Nazi appeasers?”   Isn’t that the same as saying the President approves of Naziism?  Didn’t the Neocon partiers receive the message, all the way down the line?  Of course they did.  Remember the swastika picket signs at the right-wing rallies?  Think they came up with that on their own?  What rubbish.  It was reality in reverse.  Transference.

It was the Bush/Cheney regime and not Mr. Obama, that set aside whole articles of the United States Constitution, debasing due process, further stripping away our privacy rights and giving open approval to torture and the wholesale warrantless spying of Americans on American soil.  Moving us away from our representative democracy and towards Fascism.   Giving control to those wealthy enough to buy it, while the American middle class continues to be devastated, all the while hiding their wrongdoing beneath a thick layer of verbal smoke by suggesting President Obama is guilty of their past deeds.

“It’s not us!  We didn’t do it!  He’s the one acting like a Nazi!”

It’s the Putin gang of thugs and the Bush/Cheney Neocons that seek absolute control, moving us away from our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms and into Fascism, be it through control by the corporatocracy and the wealthy elite in America or by a post-Soviet regime employing tactics of the KGB in the Russian Federation.

Anyone who crosses these people is likely to be called a Nazi, a conspiracy nutcase or worse, as they transfer their characteristics onto the opposition.

“It’s not me, it’s them.  They are guilty of doing what I already did, but now wish to hide and deny.”

It’s terribly confusing, highly effective and maddening.   This form of transference, along with regularly updated talking points, have permitted the far-right to confuse and coerce the thinking of millions of Americans who have been duped into believing that which will do them the most harm is in their best interest.  And they believe it with a zeal comparable to religious conviction, regardless of how outrageous, improper and un-American it might be.

Just today, the breaking story was once again about right-wing rocker Ted Nugent, who again complained about the Obama Administration because of what he thinks are its “similarities to Nazi Germany.”  Imagine that.

Ukrainian Courage - Alpine Skier Leaves Games To Show Solidarity With Protest

Two Ukrainians, are withdrawing from the Olympic Games in Sochi to show their solidarity with protesters filling the streets of Kiev.   The New York Times reports that 24 year old Alpine skier, Bogdana Matsotska, and her father and coach Oleg Matsotskyy, will be leaving the Games before Bogdana completes her events.  The announcement, according to the Times, was made on Matsotska’s Facebook page, along with a photo of Bogdana and her father holding a Ukrainian flag.  Here is the post-

“We, members of the National Olympic Team of Ukraine, Bogdana Matsotska and Oleg Matsotskyy, are outraged by the latest actions of the President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, who drowned the last hopes of Ukrainians in blood instead of solving the conflict through negotiations with the Maidan—which we had hoped for till the very last when we went to the Olympics in Sochi. He has violated the eternal rule of the Olympics - Peace during the Games.

“To show our solidarity with those fighting on the Maidan barricades and our protest against the bandit president and his lackey government, we refuse to further perform at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

“May the heroes killed for the freedom of Ukraine rest in peace!

“Glory to Ukraine and to its Heroes!!!”

Other Ukrainians have left Sochi to return to Ukraine, but most, the Times reports, had completed their events.

Good for Bogdana and her father for having the courage to follow their convictions.

With the 8th largest city in Europe burning and Ukraine on the verge of civil war, this is perhaps, no time for games?

(”Maidan,” is the name of Independence Square in Kiev, the city’s central square where most of the fighting has taken place.)

A Need For Enlightenment - Is The American Media Up To It?

It occurs to me that the underlying cause for unrest in Ukraine, is an absence of representation.  Many, obviously feel their concerns are not being taken seriously by their current government led by President Viktor Yanukovych, and are demanding a return to a government with a stronger parliamentary body and a weaker presidency by rolling back their constitution to a version that existed in 2004.

Yanukovych responded by restricting the freedoms of speech and assembly and by handing out live ammo to his police officers.  His Russian supporters have made a case that what’s happening is nothing short of a coup d’tat, since Yanukovych, is the elected President of Ukraine.   They have a point, and that only further complicates matters if the west purports to support democratic rule.

Beyond that, the Russians, spouting their finest nonsense,  accuse the west of a “double standard,” by blaming the Yanukovych government for causing the unrest, when in fact it is the west they say, which is fanning the flames of unrest.

That’s choice, coming from the repressive and regressive Russians, who appear determined to do everything they can to eliminate human rights on Russian soil as they take their country back to little more than a dictatorship.  We need to keep reminding ourselves that Vladimir Putin was at the helm of the KGB prior to his takeover of the Russian government.

It should be of little comfort to Americans, that Mr. Putin now has his very own television channel, the RT Network, being piped into millions of homes across the United States and around the world.  He’s even brought in established talk show host Larry King and well known progressive talker, Thom Hartmann, to lend credibility to the effort.  This is not to say Messers King and Hartmann are doing anything wrong or unethical.  It’s only to say that Putin having his own American tv channel was, not that long ago, beyond the wildest dreams of the Russian secret service.  While denying human rights and destroying the rule of law in Russia, they promote Larry King and Thom Hartmann on American cable and satellite outlets, turning the world of news and information upside-down and leaving you with a very important question.  Who do you trust?  I know and trust Larry King.  I don’t know Thom Hartmann, but he seems like a stand-up guy.  I admire his work.   I don’t trust Vladimir Putin or the motives behind the RT channel.

It would be the perfect KGB-type ploy.   Confuse the issue of credibility to the point that nobody knows what to believe.  Then, while they’re all looking the other way, you insert your disinformation and quietly slip out a side door, leaving no fingerprints.  But forgive me, the KGB no longer exists so that won’t be a problem will it?

It’s being reported that Yanukovych, has a majority in the Parliament.  It’s also reported that a majority of the Parliament was ready to vote to strip Yanukovych of some of his powers, but that Yanukovych would not allow the issue to go to the floor for a vote.  After that, all hell broke lose in Independence Square.

At the bottom of it all there appears to be a general feeling by many Ukranians that their concerns and needs are not being taken seriously.   In other words, inadequate representation by a government intent upon doing what it will regardless of the people’s will, not unlike our current situation here in the United States where a majority want higher taxes on the rich while the government refuses to make it happen.

A recent count, puts the dead in Ukraine at about 70 with more than 500 injured.  The country appears to be on the verge of civil war for reasons we can relate to.  This is not happening in Egypt or Mali or Syria, or any other area with long-standing religious divisions.  This is happening in the very heart of Europe, in a dispute over representative government, and it feels perilously close to home.  Close to a re-opening of the cold war with Russia.  Or worse.

Russian President Putin, who says he is staying out of the conflict, has sent an envoy to Kiev at the request of  Viktor Yanukovych.   Putin, who got into a bidding war with the European Union over financial aid to Ukraine, is saying one thing and then doing another.  Maybe its his old KGB training kicking in?  That’s not to say the EU has done all it can, or should have done, in an effort to prevent things from going this far.

I’ve been relying upon Euronews, France24 and the Internet for information.  One hopes the major American media picks up on the potential impact this situation has for the west, and that they are capable of handling it responsibly - although I know that’s asking for a great deal in this age of partisan pundits and radio screamers who care only for their ratings-driven ad revenues and next to nothing for balance or truth.  However, this is what deregulation has given us.  Reversing the dumbing down of America, won’t be easy.  If all else fails, you can always watch the RT channel.

The “Giant Sucking Sound” Becomes An Unbearable Roar

Stories about Donald Regan* whispering in Ronald Reagan’s ear, telling him what to say next, abound.  “Speed it up,” he ordered the President of the United States.  It was embarrassing.  After that, it was wife Nancy whispering in Ronny’s ear, and God knows who else?   Which captains and kings of business and industry were issuing orders to the nation’s chief executive, be they real orders or simple “suggestions” that were taken as such rock-solid advice that they could not be ignored?  And so, the country moved into the era of “Reagonomics,” heralding the destruction of American unions and the economic devastation of the middle class.

This was about middle America.  The people who built the country.  Average folks who fought the wars , giving their lives to provide stability and security so that multi-national corporations and big banks could flourish, were being screwed to the wall by those very same corporations and big bankers.

It only got worse with Bill Clinton signing a Republican bill killing Glass-Steagall, deregulating the banking industry, along with his support for the WTO and NAFTA, as the rich got richer and the slide into oblivion continued for the middle class with both husband and wife being forced to work at least one job each in two-parent families and many single parents being forced to work at least two jobs just to pay the rent and buy groceries.   Some were, and many still are, being forced to choose between cutting gasoline or groceries or paying the rent as trade barriers came crashing down and big business shipped millions of American jobs overseas and south to Mexico.

We stopped making things and began importing nearly everything we needed from China, India, Vietnam, Mexico and other developing nations with an abundance of slave labor.

The “giant sucking sound” Ross Perot warned us about was fully engaged, and suck it did.  For many Americans, things continue to suck.

And now Mr. Obama, despite having the advantage of being able to review recent history, has decided to lower trade barriers with Mexico even further while he continues pushing for the so-called “Trans Pacific Partnership” or the “TPP” agreement, which is apparently being written by multi-national corporations and negotiated in secret so that the American people and the Congress won’t have a chance to react.   Obama, wants the Congress to allow him to “fast track” it through the congressional approval process.   It’s got “snow job” written all over it.  Fortunately, to date, the Congress, has refused.

Because nearly everything he throws at the House is thrown back in his face, Mr. Obama, has promised to start getting things done by executive order.   God knows, there are any number of critical issues that have been blocked by those on the right.  Things like a federal jobs program to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, rolling back the disastrous Bush tax cuts, the extension of unemployment benefits, restoring food stamps to the poor and cutting or killing federal subsidies to big oil while erecting new trade barriers, putting the United States on a more defensible economic footing internationally.   There is also the burning issue of getting money out of politics (to the degree that’s possible) and pushing to restore a representative democracy in America.

It isn’t as though the critical issues are not there.

So what does Obama do?  Is he taking a bold move by starting a federal jobs program or cutting federal subsidies to big oil?  No.  He’s relaxing trade sanctions against Mexico even further, driving another nail in the coffin of the American middle class and American unions.   While the Swiss put themselves first and move to tighten the screws on immigration policies, Obama repeats the mistakes and wrong-headed actions of past administrations by throwing open America’s doors even wider, furthering the cause of turning the United States into a two-class society - a society, with only the very wealthy, who live behind iron gates, and the poor, struggling to live from one day to the next.  He appears determined to do all he can to further the cause of neo-feudalism in America.

Stories about people whispering in Ronald Reagan’s ear abound.  One wonders who is issuing orders to Barack Obama.  Surely, he can’t be thinking for himself.

(*A proponent of “Reaganomics,” Donald Regan was a former CEO of Merrill Lynch and Chief of Staff to President Reagan from 1985 to 1987.)

The Olympics: No Time To Be Playing Games?

 

Events unfolding in Kiev, Ukraine, are utterly disgusting and terribly ironic.  Disgusting, because the 8th largest city in Europe is burning as pro-democracy, pro-European protesters hurl molotov cocktails at riot police representing a government that appears to be little more than Vladimir Putin’s puppet.  A government that solved it’s problems with the opposition, not by talking, but by throwing their leader in prison.  By enacting laws restricting the freedoms of both speech and assembly, and by refusing to let issues it opposes go to the floor for a vote.   A puppet leader who largely set aside the parliamentary-republic process, turned his back on working with the European Union, and instead accepted a huge loan from Russia, marking one more notch in a return to Putin’s Soviet-style philosophy as he apparently strives to put at least some of the old empire, both philosophically and geographically, back together a bit at a time, methodically crushing human rights in Russia and bringing Ukraine back under his economic and political thumb.

Of course none of Russia’s (or anyone’s) interest in Ukraine, could possibly be tied to the recent discovery of an oil field thought to contain 100-million  barrels of crude, the biggest oil discovery in the area in 15 years.   Beyond that, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency-

  • “Its geographic position and proximity to Russia explain Ukraine’s importance as a natural gas transit country, through which volumes flow to Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Turkey. In the past, disputes between Russia and Ukraine over natural gas supplies, prices, and debts have resulted in interruptions to Russia’s natural gas exports through Ukraine, with the latest one occurring in 2009.
  • Recent discoveries of shale gas deposits in Ukraine provide the country with a possible means to diversify its gas supplies away from Russia. In January 2013, Shell agreed to explore an area which the government estimates holds about 4 Tcf of shale natural gas in reserves. Current plans include development of shale gas resources for domestic consumption and exports to Western Europe by 2020.”

Still wonder why Ukraine, is of such interest to Vladimir Putin?

All of this is of course ironic, because, while Kiev burns and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych hides out, refusing to let elected leaders debate and then vote on key issues , the Olympic Games continue unabated in Sochi, which is considered to be a huge public relations coup for Putin.

I don’t know if it should happen, or if it’s even feasible,  but someone should at least be talking about bringing the U.S. athletes home from Sochi.  Athletes from the rest of the democratic nations would hopefully follow.   The games are important, but they are only games. What’s happening in Kiev, a strongman turning a democracy into a dictatorship with the support of a Russian dictator, cannot and must not be tolerated.

While we’re at it, we might as well offer amnesty to Edward Snowden and let him come home as well, denying Putin the image of someone who actually cares about attaining justice while the United States attempts to cope with its own inner-demons of where justice begins and ends when wholesale and probably unconstitutional spying of an entire population is taking place.

It just does not feel right for the United States to be playing games while Kiev burns, does it?  Is there a parallel with the Berlin Games of 1936, or is that taking this too far?  Would we have pulled our athletes out of Berlin, had we known that Hitler was drawing up plans for the invasion of Poland?   Isn’t what’s happening to Ukraine, nothing short of economic conquest?   How do we know what Putin’s next move will be if he succeeds?  Who and what will be next?

I don’t claim to have an answer, just the feeling that we’re headed for a reckoning and that much of the west is in denial, and that it’s all happened before.   Of course Yanukovych, could prove he’s not a Putin puppet by restoring the parliamentary process and letting the democratic procedure run its course.  Or he can watch while his city burns and his people die, while in Sochi, the games go on.  Meaning what?  That we don’t think that any of this is all that important?

CBS News Finally Gets It Right

 

Notice how the price of groceries has continued going up?  CBS News tonight, ran a nice story about a mother of two out shopping for groceries, and how she can’t afford to buy food for her family because, while prices keep climbing, the wages of most Americans have stagnated.  It’s been a problem ever since Ronnie Reagan moved into the oval office back in 1980, busting the unions and deregulating the banks and corporations which began taking the food out of children’s mouths by playing games with commodities and other futures while the big shot CEO’s sent millions of jobs offshore, undermining the American economy.

Good job CBS, it’s about time.  You guys need to run that story, or some version of it, every night, and maybe the wealthy  idiots inside the beltway will eventually get the message.  America is hurting, and it’s their responsibility to do something about it - unless they get off on hungry kids who can’t afford to go to college while Bill Clinton and the rest of the top 1% continue to slobber at the trough, courtesy of the American middle class.

Perhaps another mother’s march on Washington is needed, sending the message that “We can’t feed our kids or send them to college, and it’s your fault!  Fix it, our we’ll vote you out!”

It’s really the only thing the millionaires in the House and Senate care about.  Look at the record.

Don’t Give Up On The Kids

 

This could be cause for hope.   God knows, we need it.  The government’s broken, bought off by a corporatocracy that’s pretty much undermining our democratic process to the point that Wall Street can gamble away millions and then demand that we replace all that lost (stolen) money with our tax dollars - and all of it mind you, without any of the Wall Street high-rollers ending up in jail.  Which is where they belong.  If only the Fed and the Justice Department were doing their jobs.

There’s more of course, but my point, as opposed to getting into an endless rant, is to let you know that something good, yes, actually good, appears to be happening.   I had pretty much given up on younger people getting involved in the political process after the Occupy movement faded away.  And then I get this email promoting something called the “United We Stand Festival” at UCLA.  With a little research I found Christina Tobin, to be a (or the) guiding force behind what appears to be an honest effort aimed at turning more college kids into social activists with the goal of reclaiming our political process from Wall Street, the corporations and a relative handful of billionaires who care only about their bottom lines.  (sorry, I said I wouldn’t turn this into a rant)

The festival is scheduled to take place at Pauley Pavilion on May 10th.  It will feature hip hop artist Immortal Technique, Public Enemy, Playing For Change, founding members of the Wu-Tang Clan, Independent candidate for congress, Marianne Williamson, former Green Party presidential candidate, Jill Stein, Nick Bernabe, from the march against Monsanto and others.

This might not be a solution to all our political and social woes, but it could very well be a beginning.  It’s damn sure better than nothing at all.   A college recruiter friend has advised me, “don’t give up on the kids.”  I hope he’s right.

Here’s the video -

Al Jazeera, Qatar And Slave Labor

 

“Riddle me this.”   Al Jazeera America, is doing a wonderful job.  I think, at least.  If you want any information (fair and balanced) about the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, you really need to start watching Al Jazeera.   I like their choice of anchors.  I like Joie Chen, an Asian-American who was formerly with CBS.  I like their choice of Kate O’Brien as their Prez.  She’s another American, who was with ABC before moving over to Al Jazeera.  For reasons that should be obvious they have no need to fear the Israeli lobby in America.  So the’re lookin’ good, right?

Not necessarily.

I now see a piece on EuroNews, about a French-national soccer player in Qatar (the Royal Family of Qatar, owns Al Jazeera), who got into a contract dispute involving two-year’s back wages with his owners.  He and his family wanted to leave the country, but could not he says, because his “owners” refused to allow it.  They wouldn’t sign off on an exit visa, giving him permission to leave Qatar.  Huh?

So Qatar, is pretty much supporting at least some of the cannons of slavery, right?   Even if you missed all the reporting on Qatar importing slave labor in anticipation of the 2022 World Cup, this thing with the French soccer player has to ring a bell.  It’s what the richest 1% are trying to do to the test of us here in the United States.  Get it?  If you work in Qatar, your employer owns your ass, Bubba.  And some of us are looking to them for news and information?

What a shame.

What if Joie Chen goes over there, and Al Jazeera, refuses to let her leave?  We gonna go to war with Qatar, to get her back?  Beyond that, if they’re into  some of the principles of slavery, what can we believe when it comes to AJAM’s reporting on the Middle East?

And they were doing such a credible job…   All those American faces fronting for the Royal Family of Qatar - the “House of Thani.”  Or is it more than that?  Is it for real?  Did the 300 or so richest citizens of Qatar wake up one morning dedicated to the mantra of “Give us democratic egalitarianism or give us death!”

Of course not.

In the final analysis, the Royal Family, is signing the checks.  I still believe they’re doing a good job but don’t look for any in-depth reporting on the Qatari government from Al Jazeera.

Gotta run now.  Joie, is doing an in-depth piece on the Libyan-humanitarian project.  It’s surely an eye-opener.

None of this would bother me so much, were it not for the fact that Al Jazeera America is doing a better job of reporting on what’s happening in the U.S. and around the world, than are ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX and CNN.

They Cry Pax! Pax! But There Is No Pax

The Weather Channel continues to give names to winter storms, even though there are so many, and some follow so closely on the heels of one-another, that it’s next to impossible to keep track when one ends and another begins.

They have given the name “Pax,” to this latest storm tearing into the eastern seaboard.  “Pax?”  Are they kidding?  Isn’t that Latin for “peace?”  Do they really think the Roman goddess of peace is at fault for all the snow and freezing rain that has millions of easterners swearing, shoveling and sniffling?  I was so blown away by the incorrectness of the name that I had to do a little research on the web to make sure I understood the real meaning.

Who is in charge of the naming process over there?   Don’t they know about Google?

The Problem With Parody

Yesterday a “news story” went viral on the Internet.  It was about a man who screwed up the reveal of the the rings at the opening ceremony at the Olympic Games.   You may have seen it, one of the rings was supposed to start out as a snowflake and then open into a big ring but it failed to do so?  It got a ton of publicity and now the “follo” in cyberspace was that the man was found dead.  It was implied that Vladimir Putin, might have been responsible.  Some, thinking it was for real, copied the URL and sent it along.  Some with context, and apparently some others, without.

Thing is, it was a joke.  A hoax.  A parody from the Daily Currant.  But as the parody re-tooled itself into an Internet rumor  apparently an untold number of people took it as fact.

Today, I’m looking through the news offerings and I find a piece from the New York Times, entitled, “Suicide Bomb Trainer in Iraq Accidentally Blows Up His Class.”  Oh really?  Naw.  It’s gotta be a put-on, right?  But hey, this is the New York Times, not the Onion, which is famous for news parodies.  The New York Times would never do something like that.  Would they?  No, they would not.  And yet, could this actually have happened?  After the piece in the Currant, I now have doubts, even though it’s the mighty New York Times.  According to the newspaper-

“Just last week a suicide bomber struck a popular falafel shop near the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here, killing several people. On Monday evening Raad Hashim, working the counter at a liquor store near the site of the attack, burst out laughing when he heard the news. (about the suicide bomb instructor blowing himself up)

“This is so funny,” Mr. Hashim said. “It shows how stupid they are, those dogs and sons of dogs.”  -New York Times

Do you believe this?  Sounds like a bit from SNL, doesn’t it?  Is it possible they were snookered by a source?  Could this somehow be the work of Howard Stern?  Is it possible that Baba Booey went all the way to Iraq, risking life and limb in an evil plot to put one over on the Times?

I then see a piece about U.S. Olympic bobsledder, Johnny Quinn,who’s gotten stuck in Sochi again.  The first time, he got stuck inside a bathroom and had to literally bust out, breaking a big hole in the door to regain his freedom.  And now he was stuck again.  This time, inside a malfunctioning post-Soviet elevator.

Like the suicide bomber who blew up his students, this story is in the major media, so it must be real, although it would make for great parody, wouldn’t it?  Where will Quinn get stuck tomorrow?   What will the former NFL player have to bust out of next?  You can almost hear the fanfare.  “Dum, dah, dah, dahhhhhh!  Captain America goes to Sochi!”

Take that, Putin.

It’s gotta be real, considering the media outlets that are running it, so I give a mental shrug and move on only to be confronted by news that  the President of PayPal had his credit card info stolen and the bad guys used it to go on a shopping spree.  Like the Sochi bobsledder, it’s gotta be real because it’s coming from major media.  Right?  I guess so, but echoes of the Captain America fanfare are still playing deep within the recesses of my brain, causing me to wonder if it’s all for real or if the world’s gone mad - or should I say,  just a bit crazier than usual.

The problem with parody is that if it’s done really well, there will be some who believe it.  Remember what Orson Wells did with “War of the Worlds?”  And that was limited to radio.  Radio.   With the reach and speed of the Internet, a really good parody can lead to millions thinking fallacy is fact with the click of a keystroke.

Trying Too Hard To Be Mr. Nice Guy

 

So President Obama gave Bill O’Reilley a one-on-one at the White House?  Why?  Don’t his advisers know that a one-on-one interview with a FOX pundit won’t be a meeting of the minds?  After six years of being hammered by these guys, don’t they understand that there is no percentage in giving aid and comfort to the enemy, that it is sure to be a lose-lose for the President?  So why do it?   And why is the President of the United States traveling to Saudi Arabia for a confab with Saudi leaders?  Why doesn’t he tell the Saudis to travel to the U.S., if they want a face-to-face with the most powerful man in the world?

President Obama, in the State of the Union Address, continued reaching out to Republicans who obviously have no intention whatsoever in reaching back.  Now he’s doing one-on-ones with commentators whose only interest lies in his humiliation?

A trip to the Middle East could have geopolitical issues that make a meeting with the Saudis critical to the peace initiative.  Or maybe not.  But beyond that, what’s next?  A special award memorializing Jesse Helms and George Wallace?

The State Of The Union - A State Of Disappointment

 

The following is a statement from former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich, reprinted from Facebook.   He expresses exactly, my feelings about the State of the Union Address.  The nation is in crisis, and these guys inside the beltway are throwing smiles at one another and kidding around while average folk have to deal with their unemployment being cut off and the loss of food stamps as the gap between the rich and the poor soars to new highs.  Even some of the left-leaning pundits appeared to be clueless, as they made excuses for the President’s weak performance on the national stage.

Some  of the pundits and and many of our elected leaders appear to be living in a separate reality.  None of it seemed to be a problem for John Boehner, who exhibited various bizarre facial expressions  including and perhaps most predominantly a smirk.  One wonders if he was thinking that nothing Obama could say would matter in the least, because there is little he can do so long as Republican neo-feudalists continue to hold power in the House.

Once again, Barack Obama needed to come out swinging.  Once again, he did not.  He needed to convince the American people of the critical  need to gain a Democratic majority in both the House and the Senate, and he failed as he played “buddy, buddy” with his Republican opponents.

We need a President, not a college debate team captain.  What a disappointment.

To be fair, the pressures of the Presidency are obviously brutal, and this President faces a stagnant racism that continues to fester just beneath the surface of American society.  But that’s something we don’t normally discuss.  For many it’s just too unpleasant to consider.  However, beyond and precisely because of all that, a President needs solid advisers.   This President, it appears, is not being well-advised.  Or if he is, he must be refusing to listen.

Here is Robert Reich’s take on it-

“Rarely before in American history has there been such a disconnect between the mammoth size of the nation’s central problem as stated by a President in a State of the Union message, and the small-bore solutions offered. Obama got the problem right last night: “Those at the top have never done better, but average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled … Too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by, let alone to get ahead.” But other than raising the minimum wage to $10.10, his remedies — an executive order raising it for federal contractors, improving access to broadband, creating retirement savings bonds, and reforming federal training programs — were policy miniatures. Granted, the Republicans won’t go along with anything, and too many Democrats lack the spine to take a stand. But then why not think big and lay the groundwork for a new shared prosperity that America might achieve when we send Republicans packing and give Democrats some backbone?”  -Prof. Robert Reich in Facebook

 

A Mention On Maddow For Former KABC-TV Photog

A big shout-out to my former colleague at ABC, Heather MacKenzie, who got a mention on the Rachel Maddow show last night.   The reason for the mention, is interesting.

Former Virginia Governor,  Bob McDonnell, has been indicted on federal charges for accepting gifts.    It’s being reported by “The Wire” that McDonnell and his wife might have to sell off certain of those alleged “gifts,” if the former Gov is convicted.  The possessions include an Oscar de la Renta sweater, an engraved Rolex watch, and a “Heather MacKenzie watercolor and frame.”

I’ve admired what Heather’s been doing with her watercolors and photography for several years.  Hopefully, the mention by Maddow, will help attract a broader base of art lovers to her work.   Click here, to check out Heather’s watercolors and photos.  Here’s the original $1,200 watercolor that ended up with Bob McDonnell.

               “Seals at Chatham Bars Inn”  by Heather MacKenzie 

                              (image used with permission)

(Heather MacKenzie, is a former video journalist at KABC-TV in Los Angeles.   She now works out of a studio on Cape Cod.)

What Would MLK Say?

 

In the midst of all the confusion about who is fighting whom and why in the Middle East and North Africa, a piece by CNN International, appears to cut through all the theory and offer something understandable.

CNN’s Washington Bureau reports, “Iraq, Syria and Lebanon are all seen by many experts as proxy wars between Shiite Iran and Saudi Arabia, a Sunni nation.   A full-blown civil war in Iraq, in addition to Syria, could further increase sectarian tensions and destabilize the region.” 

When you consider that 15 of the 19 skyjackers on 9-11 were Saudi, and the progress the United States and other nations are currently making on the issue of nuclear materials development in Iran in combination with the push for peace in Syria and Israel’s opposition to nearly every Iranian initiative, peaceful or not,  it becomes really tangled - not to mention Iraq and Afghanistan, which continue slipping backwards into increasing violence despite the efforts of the U.S. and her many allies.

Can we fix this, or are we just kidding ourselves through our intervention in a hopeless sectarian mess that’s thousands of years old?   Can the path to peace, if there is one, only be determined by the indigenous peoples rather than a foreign power and to what degree is our position determined by profits for big oil and the armaments industry?

I wonder what Martin Luther King would say?

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