The Normalization of Totalitarianism

Do you ever watch "Without A Trace"?  Every week, Anthony LaPaglia (Agent Jack Malone) and his crack crew of FBI investigators track down people who have been reported missing by relatives or friends, solving mysteries and crimes as they go.

In other words, an adult American crime-free citizen decides to go silent for a while.  By having someone report them as "missing", this apparently gives the FBI the right to tear that missing person's life apart:  tracking bank accounts, credit cards, travel records, phone lists, interrogating friends and colleagues, interviewing doctors and psychiatrists.  And we cheer on their successes .

By what law can they do this?  Is a judge supervising them?  Isn't this the basest form of warrantless surveillance?

We applaud Jack Bauer in "24", as he uses whatever form of interrogation technique (i.e., torture) that he feels is required to obtain the information he thinks he needs.  The last Bourne movie was about nothing but the government's abilities to track individuals anywhere in the world. Wherever we turn, there are attractive images of lawmen breaking the rules to ensure that "justice" wins in the end.

As Chomsky and Herman's "Propaganda Model" of media shows, this is the normalization of totalitarianism.  If we accept -- neh, applaud -- these illegal actions on entertainment TV, we are more inclined to accept them in real life.  This is a not an accident.  This is what they want to see happen.  This is what they need to happen if their plans for control are to be accomplished. 

We need to fight back.  Write to each network and studio and ask them to explain how the law enforcement officers in their series and movies can operate so wildly outside the laws required for you and me.  Write, and write again.  It is the least we can do, to show that we care about our loss of freedoms.


October 20, 2007 in America Inc, Bush Administration, Capitalism, Cheney, Dick, Government Intrusion, Right wing, US Justice System | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Far Rights' Values

At the far-right's "Value Voters Debate" the other night, the program began with a singing of "God Bless America". However, the lyrics were changed to the following:

Why should God bless America?
She’s forgotten he exists
And has turned her back
On everything that made her what she is

Why should God stand beside her
Through the night with the light from his hand?
God have mercy on America
Forgive her sin and heal our land

The courts ruled prayer out of our schools
In June of ‘62
Told the children “you are your own God now
So you can make the rules”
O say can you see what that choice
Has cost us to this day
America, one nation under God, has gone astray

Why should God bless America?
Shes’s forgotten he exists
And has turned her back on everything
That made her what she is

Why should God stand beside her
Through the night with the light from his hand?
God have mercy on America
Forgive her sins and heal our land

In ‘73 the Courts said we
Could take the unborn lives
The choice is yours don’t worry now
It’s not a wrong, it’s your right

But just because they made it law
Does not change God’s command
The most that we can hope for is
God’s mercy on our land

Why should God bless America?
She’s forgotten he exists
And has turned her back on everything
That made her what she is

Why should God stand beside her
Through the night with the light from his hand?
God have mercy on America
Forgive her sins and heal our land

This is what the core republicans truly believe about America today. They hate it. They hate you and your friends for making it what it is.  They are desperately filled with hate and self-loathing, and thet will continue to thrash about until someone gets hurt.

That's scary enough. But can you imagine the vitriol from O'Reilly and Hannity and Coulter and the others had a Democrat changed the song to meet "liberal" views?  But the hypocrites are silent, of course.

I guess Giuliani, Romney, McCain and Thompson deserve some sort of credit for  refusing to take part in this  charade debate.

September 23, 2007 in Campaign 2008, Right wing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The American Way ...


August 31, 2007 in America Inc, Current Affairs, Right wing, Same-sex relationships | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The State of US Medical Care -- Again


August 22, 2007 in America Inc, Bush Administration, Right wing, US Medical System | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Sad Truth About American Medicine

If anyone still thinks that Michael Moore's "Sicko" was an inaccurate portrait of the state of health care in the United States, they better read this incredibly sad story and think long and hard about its meaning.

Here is a man who cares deeply about his wife and cannot bear to see her suffer.  He could no longer afford the $800 per week her medications were costing.  All the system could offer was a long drop off the balcony for her, and a lifetime in jail for him.  Truly sickening.

August 16, 2007 in America Inc, Bush Administration, Capitalism, Right wing, US Medical System | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Bravo To Cuba's Revolution Day!

Fifty-four years ago today, Fidel and Raoul Castro, along with about 150 supporters, attacked the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba.  The attack was a miserable failure but this action was the formal start of the revolution in Cuba.

Bravo to the Cuban people for surviving fifty years of vicious military and economic attacks by the world's major superpower!  Bravo to those countries (including Canada for a change) that simply ignore America's outrage at the business and tourism links that have grown over the years!  Let us all smoke fine Cuban cigars in celebration.

July 26, 2007 in Capitalism, Cuba, History, Right wing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sicko Is Superb, Should Bring Revolution

Sickoposter2 Michael Moore's Sicko is simply superb.  Far less bombastic than his previous efforts, the documentary succeeds on all levels by the simple tactic of showing the truth and exposing it to the world.

I suspect that, with a single major exception that I'll discuss below, most of us -- and most Americans -- already know about the failures of the US healthcare system.  What Sicko does is to contrast and compare it, in depth, with the successful systems in Canada, the UK, France and Cuba.  The differences will probably come as a true shock to most Americans (because they have been lied to by both politicians and insurance carriers): every other Western country has universal and free medical coverage, with complete choice of doctors and procedures, paid for with a tax system that is no more onerous (perhaps less) than what Americans pay for taxes plus incomplete insurance today.  And every other Western country has smaller percentages of their populations afflicted with the major diseases than does the US, and their populations live on average several years longer.

Michael Moore's interview with that old British Labour warhorse Anthony Wedgewood-Benn was perhaps the most important segment in terms of explaining the differences. Benn recounted how, in 1948, the British National Health System was established.  Remembering the billions upon billions of dollars the Brits had managed to raise to defeat the Germans in the War, he recalled that the post-war leadership realised that if one could spend that kind of money to kill people, then you could equally well spend that kind of money to make people better.  And thus was born the concept of free health coverage for everyone, rich or poor.

It was also Tony Benn, I believe, who pointed out that the significant political difference between Europe and America is that in Europe the politicians are afraid of the people, while in the States most people are afraid of the government.  As he said, even that generally-insensitive doyen of the British right wing, Maggie Thatcher, would never have dared to try to eliminate the National Health Service.

My only complaint about the movie is in the marketing. The ads have one viewer saying it is "hilarious", and another saying that he couldn't stop laughing.  Well, I have no idea what movie they saw.  Moore is often sarcastic and certainly likes to point up the ludicrousness of the American situation but, in a crowded theatre yesterday, I heard nothing even approaching a chuckle.  The situation is simply too dire for that.  Moreover, the section of the movie where Moore takes American 9/11 first responders who cannot get treatment in the States to a Cuban hospital actually brought me to tears.  The compassion shown by the superb Cuban medical team is in such stark contrast to the terrible treatment these people suffered in the States that I was overwhelmed.

I mentioned above that generally the bad state of American healthcare is well known. Most of us can recall reading stories about US insurers refusing treatment. However, I suspect that most of us will be shocked to the core, as was I, to see elderly and desperately sick patients being dumped out of cars in the Los Angeles' skid-row neighbourhood by a hospital who had evicted them for inability to pay. The picture of an elderly woman, very sick and completely disoriented, shuffling along the street wearing nothing but a thin hospital gown should be branded on the foreheads of every HMO CEO.

If the American people don't see this film and use it as the kickoff to a mighty revolution in US healthcare then, frankly, they don't deserve anything better than the crappy system they have today.

June 30, 2007 in America Inc, Bush Administration, Capitalism, Cuba, Movies, Right wing, US Medical System | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Extremism In The Defence of Liberty blah blah blah

The NRA is forcefully opposed to a new piece of "gun control" legislation that attempts to make it impossible for terrorist suspects to obtain weapons.  In defense of their anti-strict-constructionist reading of the Second Amendment they are happy to see violent extremists buy assault rifles over the counter.  Sickos.

May 4, 2007 in America Inc, Capitalism, Government Intrusion, Right wing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Bigger Picture on the Attorney Scandal

Many of us have been following with interest the twists and turns in the Attorneys scandal in the United States.  What many of us have missed -- mainly because the mainstream media have failed to pick up on it -- is the bigger picture:  The attempt by the Bush regime to use electoral laws and US Attorneys to create an environment specifically better for Republican voters than for Democrats.

McClatchy's Washington Bureau has an excellent and detailed overview of the situation today -- it really is a MUST READ.   

One quote stood out for me.  It stood out because it was not made by a Democratic politician or someone in the "liberal" blogosphere.  It was made by Joseph Rich, who left his job as chief of Justice Department's Voters Rights Section in 2005.  He said the actions of the Bush regime fit a definite pattern:

"As more information becomes available about the administration's priority on combating alleged, but not well substantiated, voter fraud, the more apparent it is that its actions concerning voter ID laws are part of a partisan strategy to suppress the votes of poor and minority citizens."

None of this comes as a shock to those of us who have believed for decades that the western electoral system is a crock.  It must however be upsetting to any regular American who has the naivete to believe that the DOJ and its various "Rights" sections are there to actually protect them.

April 20, 2007 in Bush Administration, Campaign 2004, Campaign 2006, Campaign 2008, Current Affairs, Right wing, US Justice System | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What To Read Over The Summer -- Karl Rove's Emails

In an earlier post, I had mentioned that I thought the documentary gap of 18 days would prove important in the Attorney-General scandal; and in fact the late batch of documents that cover some of that period has already indicated that AG Gonzales misled Congress about his involvement in the firings. 

Now we hear that much of the Administration's business has been handled by partisan third-party email accounts, presumably to avoid their being dredged up in any White House document dump.  One report has it that Karl Rove uses such accounts for 95% of his business.  Luckily Henry Waxman and his Committee have the bit between their teeth, and are asking the serious questions.  Josh Marshall makes an excellent case that such emails cannot fall under the protection of "executive privilege", no matter how broadly Bush tries to paint that situation.

This has the potential to be even more fun than the AG document dumps, ridiculous gaps and all!

Update:  a further short note from US News.

March 26, 2007 in America Inc, Bush Administration, Right wing, US Justice System | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack