2014.08.12 tangled

Here I was, having spent a little more time than I ever really wanted to spend, recently, on thinking about the awful state of what passes for news here in America today. It’s an unavoidable subject, really, simply because of how badly just about any subject of importance gets mangled and confused by what gets shoveled out at the public via what we have now for “news media”.

Then, there it was. I turned on a radio to get a bit of news around noon, and got a dose of something that was, somehow, a perfect thing, regarding this subject, albeit in a twisted way. It was a story on the mid-day radio program Here and Now.

I don’t know quite how to describe it. It was a news story about news itself, and was all kinds of twisted, not really being news, in any sense of the word.

It wasn’t very good. In fact, I thought it was pretty awful. I started to use the word “extraordinary” as an adjective and then realized that was wrong.

It didn’t really address the problem of how bad things are now in most of what passes for, dare I use the term, “mainstream” news. In the course of the program segment, however, it managed to serve up something useful, in a roundabout way.

I braced myself when the people talking started rattling on about consumers and how they go about consuming news and content. A main premise of the “report” was asking what got people’s attention to nibble at some piece of online “content”, whether it would be a catchy headline on a link, or a photo piquing their curiosity. As they chattered, the discussion circled around questions of whether people even bothered to read an entire news article, given twitching attention spans oriented around Twitter and text-message word-fart gibberish.

It was a twisted little bit of subtle absurdity that takes a second to sort out. Consider- it was a news story, presented by a national news program, about how bad news is and how badly people fail to really inform themselves, that was in itself an awful failure in really reporting useful news.

The extra bonus twist was that, throughout this, the people talking demonstrated this bizarre and increasingly common communication malfunction of saying something that, it would appear, is supposed to be some form of declarative statement, while ending every phrase and sentence with the pitch of their voice rising, a normal cue of speech to indicate that the words spoken form a question… but they aren’t asking a question.

The segment ended with an extra little annoying touch, as the hosts made some lame joke about “can a monkey own a selfie?”, coming out of a last bit about intellectual property rights in a realm of people “sharing” via social media, as some notion of news consuming.

Oh dear God.

Now, at this point, part of the usual routine of things today is that an unfortunately large segment of the population would take all that in and immediately, by sheer programmed reflex, start coughing out cliches embedded into their minds about NPR and left-wing-Liberal-Media Bias whatzit, and continuing to soak their minds in the reality warp and fiction, coming from barking madmen and liars on AM radio and Fox News.

I’m doing what I often do writing notes here, which is to spend little bits of time here and there, writing in chunks. In one of the in-between periods, I saw a link posted on Facebook, pointing to a New York Times piece with NYT columnist Thomas Friedman interviewing Obama. My reaction was almost visceral, an instant thought of “fuck Thomas Friedman!”. Sound harsh? Well, let me explain that this is a man who is in a position of having his NYT gig, along with writing books that end up being best-sellers, being regarded as some sort of wise and learned great thinker and expert on all things worldwide, while being so wrong, so often, about so much, that it’s maddening that anybody ever pays any attention to this guy.

For anybody who thinks this is a little harsh and uncalled for, I will ask that they recall back around 2002-2003, when Thomas Friedman was one of the prominent public figures taking every possible opportunity to argue that the United States military should invade Iraq, must invade Iraq, and that the middle east and world at large would be a better, safer, and more peaceful place as a result.

So here we are now. The big news (now The One Thing Happening in The World, in the CNN routine) is the repercussions of the “liberation” of Iraq, with a band of psychopaths killing people with the idea in their head that God wants them to do it. The very same batch of violent psychos, known either as ISIS or ISIL, depending on who’s talking, has been operating in Syria, one of the assorted factions attacking both the Syrian military and each other, trying to overthrow Assad, while the neocon cult in Washington keeps barking and growling wanting the US government to arm and support “opposition groups” trying to overthrow Assad, but insisting that they want to only arm and support “moderate” opposition, apparently unable to even form the thought that anything could possibly go wrong. Along with everything else, consider that a few decades ago the neocon cult also happily supported “freedom fighters” Osama bin Laden and his merry little band known as “al Qaeda” in Afghanistan.

Taking a look at Fox News a few days ago, I tuned in just in time to hear Bill O’Reilly delivering a standard bit among some of the political cult, saying that Obama had made his infamous ultimatum about a “red line” being crossed if Assad attacked people with chemical weapons, Assad had then attacked people with chemical weapons, and Obama was weak and ruined America’s credibility and standing in the world by not doing anything. There’s a serious problem in this, and nothing like what O’Reilly thinks. The problem was, it turned out that Assad had not attacked anybody with chemical weapons, and it turns out to have been a “false flag” attack committed by parties who wanted to take advantage of Obama’s “red line” threat and get the US military to attack Syria. But people still spout the same nonsense as Bill O’Reilly was saying, to an audience who soak it all in and take it as truth.

I sat here for a minute or two pondering how to try to sum up a lot of large unwieldy knots, and one particular thought stuck me. Through years and years, through all kinds of particular dramas going on, one particular favorite riff of some people is to chatter about “the lessons of…” whatever Big Subject thing it might be at the moment, while proceeding to demonstrate that they’ve really learned nothing from it.

On that note, there is a certain amount of irony in coming across something that I only know about because it caught the attention of more than one person among people who manage to keep an eye on things in the world with a rational grasp of reality.

Essay in Englisch: The West on the wrong path – Kommentare – Meinung – Handelsblatt

That essay carries a whole load of good points based solidly in the act of facing reality with a working conscience and rational mind, and it’s especially noteworthy in coming from a German. I think the best way of summing up the overriding important point, along with what they actual say there, is that, shall we say, rational and conscious and conscientious Germans have a somewhat unique position of having to deal with the necessity and reality of learning from history a lesson or two about learning the hard way.

Part of what that might be should be very obvious. Part of it would be about learning about how a nation going through extremely difficult times, such as Germany in the twenties and thirties in the eary 20th century, can degenerate in mass political madness. With that came another related lesson, about the results and re[ercussions of sinking into militaristic madness coupled with delusions of being some kind of special exceptional nation with a belief that the natural order of things should revolve around them as an empire ruling the world.

A different item comes from the decades following World War II, when Germany was divided into two nations, with the east behind the Iron Curtain as an Eastern Bloc country complete with a repressive total surveillance police state under the German Stasi (which is something known from direct life experience by current German Chancellor Angela Merkel).

All of these things are directly relevant to us, here and now, in the US, and I think we would be wise to pay attention.

As the ugly repercussions of the neocon ambitions flare up again in Iraq, that seems to have done a good job of pushing the twitching attention of the main US news media away from the Ukrainian Crisis, the crisis in a parade of dramas that was essentially the product of a US government encouraged and supported overthrow of the democratically elected leader of another country on the other side of the world.

We’ve been over that story (at least anybody who has been paying attention). The American neocon cult evidently decided to have a little more “regime change” in the world, because they seem to think that goes so well, and it’s their natural place in the order of things to rule the whole planet, regardless of all evidence that not only does the rest of the world not think highly of this, they don’t manage it very well. This is putting things mildly.

When the predominantly Russian-Ukranian population of the Crimea region of Ukraine wanted no part of this new coup government, involving a cast of characters that are not only virulently hostile to Russia and Russians, but real live neo-Nazi fascists, first the Crimean parliament and then an overwhelming vote of the people of Crimea decided to declare themselves apart from Ukraine and the new gang in Kiev, and formally asked Russia to make Crimea part of Russia again, as it had been before Soviet political maneuvers in 1954 made Crimea part of Ukraine (when it probably seemed a token gesture of some sort, as it was all the Soviet Union then). The coup/junta new regime in Kiev howled with outrage and was joined by the puppetmasters in Washington, pumping out the incessant message about “Russia’s invasion and seizure of Crimea”, pointing to the Russian military that had been in Crimea all along, with their naval base there on the Black Sea coast that has been there as long as there has been a Russian navy.

Along with the people in Crimea, the population of areas of eastern Ukraine that are evidently also largely Russian-Ukrainian also utterly rejected the ugliness in Kiev that replaced an elected government leadership with a gang extremely and explicitly hostile to them, declaring themselves to be some sort of little city-states apart from Ukraine, with the junta/coup new regime in Kiev promptly invoking the bogeyman of the era and labelling them as “terrorists”, even while there seems to be no evidence that any of those people have done anything resembling “terrorist” acts, or done anything except stay in their own home territory and demand to be left alone.

The new troubles in Iraq managed to largely push aside almost anything in the realm of the TV infotainment show served up as “news” about the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine.

Just the subject of the matter of trying to get a handle on what happened to that aircraft is an impossible mess, with the whole compounded by the complications of endless propaganda about why that task is so messy and difficult. Just one part of it has been about how the Russian-Ukrainian “rebel Pro-Russian separatists” are supposedly the problem (complete with horror stories that seem to have little to no credibility about what inhuman monsters they are regarding the crash scene), even while, at the same time, even the warped US news media has been reporting, right there in front of everyone, that crash investigators from elsewhere in Europe have faced extreme osbtacles because the armed forces of the US-backed Ukrainian junta keep attacking the Russian-Ukrainian separatists in the area, and in fact, escalated the attacks even as reports were coming in about the problems of reaching the scene.

That has made it extra astonishing to keep hearing specious fucking nonsense from people squawking self-righteously saying things like that only Putin can call a halt to this and let the crash recovery and investigation proceed.

As soon as the plane has gone down, we had the spectacle of people like John Kerry immediately squawking that clearly and obviously the rebels in the east has shot down this plane with just under 300 people, and that shot straight into proclamations that obviously it was the Russians, and then straight to practically saying “Vladimir Putin shot down this plane and killed innocent civilians!”.

Anyone who reads my little corner will recognize that I’ve been pointing all this out, and this is repetitious, but it bears review, in case anybody hasn’t gotten the news. This is especially so since it’s the nature of the propaganda bombarding people that it just keeps coming, repeated endlessly in the concept of The Big Lie, hammered into people’s heads until it sticks as stuff that they think they just “know”.

I hate to seem to be belaboring the story, but it’s necessary, and I’ve hardly been skimming things.

Even while people around the world have been trying to get a clear view (as much as that’s even possible in the cloud of confusion and blatant lying), and sort out what’s what in Ukraine and the surrounding geopolitical squabbling, here in the US the main “news media” showbiz has consistently dismissed most reporting of credible reality, doing a whole routine of starting something with a disclaimer like “some claim that…” and ending by some words to the effect of saying that all that is obviously just Russian propaganda. That’s been the regular thing, even when it’s clear that something is true fact, it’s not coming from the Russians, and in the most astonishing stuff, what the TV talking heads are dismissing as “Russian propaganda” has actually been reported, on air, by the TV network’s own field reporters on the scene over there.

Just a few days ago, there was a remarkable bit of coincidence. I sat and watched a recorded episode of the BBC show Top Gear, with one segment of the show being a visit by singer James Blunt, there for a regular feature of the show where some sort of celebrity type person does a timed lap around their test track, which includes an interview in the studio with live audience. In that interview, Blunt was asked about a major event that happened around twenty years ago while he was an officer in the British army in Kosovo, amid the mess of the former Yugoslavia coming apart.

It turns out that then Captain Blount (real name spelling) commanded a large British army force in the area of a civilian airport where a small (about 200) bunch of the Russian army had gotten there first and held the airport. Blount was ordered by US General Wesley Clark, the NATO supreme commander, to seize the airport, using phrasing that struck Blount as being slightly political, in his words, ordering him to “overwhelm and overtake” the Russians, a fairly obvious bit of devious wording, having the distinct aroma of weasel maneuvering designed so that later Clark could say “well, I never ordered them to attack the Russians!“. Blount rightly balked at the order, and who knows what transpired in radio communications, exactly, until, Blount explained, the British Army general in command of him and his forces got on the radio and said in no uncertain terms that Blount was to disregard Clark’s order, and telling General Clark directly that his people were not going to start World War III under Clark’s orders.

I tell that story because it was amazing timing, so relevant, coming just days after another item I mentioned in a previous note, seeing the now retired Wesley Clark interviewed on CNN as yet another expert authority brought on to chatter, fill time, and help CNN avoid the work of actual journalism. There, Clark ran his mouth proclaiming that what was happening in eastern Ukraine was absolutely vital to “American interests” because, according to Clark, if Putin is allowed to conquer Ukraine (while there’s no evidence of any such designs), then next he’ll roll onward and take over a list of NATO countries Clark named, which, coincidentally, all are both former Soviet republics and nations that became NATO members since the dissolution of the USSR.

In the chatter from the US government players about the whole situation, you won’t find anybody saying that since the breakup of the former Soviet Union, the purpose of the continuation of NATO is seriously questionable, and nobody seems to question why NATO had any need to keep adding member nations until all of Russia’s European border is lined with NATO military forces under US government domination and control.

There we have a pretty good example of something to prompt serious questions about what are those guys trying to do over there, and by those guys I don’t mean the Russians, I mean the neocon lunatics who seem to completely dominate national government here.

To wrap this up, just today I came across something pointed out by one of the people trying to deal with the truth of what’s happening, an opinion/editorial from March 7th of this year in the Washington Post by Condollezza Rice. That would be Condoleezza Rice, former National Security Advisor and then Seceretary of State for President George W. Bush. Rice, of course, was a prime player in the whole shameful episode of the Bush/Cheney invasion of Iraq, the imminent danger and threat of non-existent “weapons of mass destruction”, and all that. Now? Rice pegs the irony meter with something titled “Will America heed the wake-up call of Ukraine?“.

Seriously. This isn’t a joke.

I can only hope that what has happened in Ukraine, and is happening, will be a wake up call for Americans, and it’s not at all what Condoleezza Rice and the rest of the neocon club is telling people. It’s past time for people to wake up to the reality of the whole neocon cult, and finally drive them out of power and control of American government, for our sake, and the rest of the world.

“A fire broke out backstage in a theatre. The clown came out to warn the public; they thought it was a joke and applauded. He repeated it; the acclaim was even greater. I think that’s just how the world will come to an end: to general applause from wits who believe it’s a joke.”

-Søren Kierkegaard

Essay in Englisch: The West on the wrong path – Kommentare – Meinung – Handelsblatt

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