The Price of Liberty

Can Americans comprehend the joy of the Egyptian people at their recent victory over their brutal dictator? I don’t think so. I fear that we have become too complacent, numb, apathetic, & dumbed-down to truly appreciate their exaltation? And at the risk of sounding thoroughly cynical, we will probably have to live under the iron heel of a brutal dictatorship for 30 years also before we find the courage to stand up on our hind legs like the Egyptians just did.

Obama loves Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan

Nonetheless, my heart weeps with joy for the Egyptian people. If only we too, knew the power of a people united. Our so called leader who’s promise throughout his campaign for the presidency was “change,” betrayed democracy once again. Obama was/is an apologist for the power elite who bought him. I say he’s Obama, the Oreo in the Oval Office.

Viva le French Revolution "Off with their heads!"

For one thing, thanks to brave journalists like those of Democracy Now, who had the moral courage and weren’t “embedded,” the word got out regarding the brave Egyptian people who had simply had enough of Mubarak’s repression, and their determination to withstand whatever his brutal regime threw at them. This is a clarion call to all you greedy, corporate cockroaches who have raped, pillaged, plundered, & murdered to protect your profits. The people are coming and your days are numbered. The aristocracy of pre-French Revolutionary France learned this lesson via the guillotine. All people want the same, simple, common human needs e.g. food, shelter, health care, & an opportunity to succeed. Food shortages and outrageous prices may have been the final straw that served as the catalyst for this revolution but the degradation and oppression of 30 years was the impetus for this daring action.

Ironically, it was the Internet and the new, social networking technology that helped ignite and organize the Egyptian youth in their rebellion. It is ironic because the Internet was basically created through the U.S. Pentagon—funded by our tax dollars—our war machine which has trained, funded, & supported with billions of our tax dollars for weapons systems we sell to despots around the world. And the sales of these weapons to brutal tyrants enriches the traitors in our “defense industry.” If you go back and read everything Obama said as the events unfolded in Cairo, he was very careful to not demand that Mubarek immediately step down & rather than come out in clear support for the revolutionaries, he’d say things like “America hopes there is stability in the region and a peaceful transition.” Stability is the key word. In other words, our power elite don’t give a damn how repressive a regime is but only that they keep a tight lid on their people so our corporations can continue to plunder their resources & our military bases, etc. are allowed to remain. Have you ever wondered why it is that America, who has more weapons and military bases than all the rest of the nations in the world combined, is the most fearful country? And if we were truly the champions of freedom & democracy, why would so many people want to harm us? Egypt’s dictator who was just forced to flee in disgrace is just one of hundreds of bloody dictators whom we have put in power and that’s why we are so despised by the poor, the dispossessed, & the desperate.

The role of the hate & fear mongers like Limbaugh, Beck, O’Reilly, Coulter, etc. is to keep Americans fearful and angry so the money keeps on flowing into the war machine in America and now that we were forced to bail-out the Wall St. crooks and money is getting tight, they are going to wipe-out every last vestige of “entitlement” programs. So, looks like we’re going to wait until we too are starving like the Egyptian people were and perhaps after they have degraded, humiliated, and ignored us for decades, we too may find the moral courage to say enough is enough?

Unfortunately for us though, the world may not wait that long. The power elite around the globe are shaking in their boots because freedom is a virus as John McCain inadvertently revealed. They fear Egypt’s example may spread and billions of people have been suffering for decades & our war mongers may panic and they have their fingers on the triggers of the world’s most horrific nuclear arsenal? We, as a people, have allowed not only our bodies to become soft, flabby, & lazy with our television, fast food, and lack of interest in politics to name just a few factors. I have little hope for the general enlightenment of the American public because the right-wing crazies have been brainwashing the masses for far too long and our public education system has dumbed us down to such a pathetic state that I have often been embarrassed when traveling in foreign lands at what others think of us.

Naomi Wolf, Rhodes Scholar

Undeniably, America is at a crossroads. We can follow our present course down the road to fascism (the marriage of government and corporate business) or we can stand up like those brave Egyptians recently did and take back our rights as a proud & free people. Perhaps there are enough of us who haven’t drank the Kool Aid that Fox News has been pouring out and maybe if we can find a national platform we can wake up our sleeping brothers & sisters. Naomi Wolf recently wrote a book titled The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot in which she lays out the creeping fascism taking root in America. I’ll leave it to you, the reader, to fill in the examples for each chapter heading listed here:
1)Invoke an external and internal threat
2)Establish secret prisons
3)Develop a paramilitary force
4)Surveil ordinary citizens
5)Infiltrate citizens’ groups
6)Arbitrarily detain and release citizens
7)Target key individuals
8)Restrict the press
9)Cast criticism as “espionage” and dissent as “treason”
10)Subvert the rule of law

“The Founders never expected us to fall asleep or get lazy. They counted on us to keep the web of the precious system intact so that an American despot could never arise. They trusted us to cherish liberty as they did. The price of liberty, the generation that debated and created the Constitution understood, is eternal vigilance.” (Naomi Wolf, pg. 29)

Specifically, with the passage of the Patriot Act and Homeland Security in the middle of the night and without its being even read by the congressmen who signed off on it, the government’s agents can knock down our doors and haul us off to a secret prison and we have no right to a lawyer, no right to know what we’re accused of, we can be tortured (one of the reasons our government was said to see Egypt’s dictator fall because he tortured many of those “renditioned,” and our loved ones will have no idea of what happened to us.

Does this sound like the America you were taught to cherish in public school? Is this the America that our soldiers fight for, get maimed for, die for? Perhaps its human nature to let down our guard once we have gained our freedom. Maybe that’s why we have become so intellectually lazy and complacent? But the greedy never let down their guard nor do they stop their perpetual agenda of stealing ever more wealth, power, & prestige. We have been indoctrinated by our public education system and the corporate media to believe that all we have to do is send our young to fight in the never-ending series of wars or police actions around the globe that are actually power grabs by the rich & rapacious. This is a grand lie and trick to keep us weak and powerless. Its up to every one of us to inform ourselves and fight the powers that be or we will wake up one day to an America not unlike Stalin’s Russia.

Ralph Nader tried to warn us many times and most especially when that darling of the so-called democratic liberals, Bill Clinton, signed NAFTA, that it would reduce American workers to the plight of the billions around the planet forced to work for as little as $2 a day. What was Ralph’s reward? He was vilified by the liberal/progressives more viciously than he was by the right-wing nutcases. How much more evidence do we need before we wake up and smell the coffee? We’re the only nation with a healthcare for profit system that takes your home and everything you saved if you get seriously ill. And health insurance that collects your money every month and when you need it, they tell you that you broke some rule and aren’t covered. Moreover, Social Security which is so critical for millions of senior citizens is being attacked because the vultures want to get their hands on it. Pell Grants, home heating assistance, Head Start, etc. etc. etc., everything, every last crumb is being assaulted by the corporate cockroaches and the rapacious rich. Remember just two months ago, the republicans refused to budge unless the tax breaks to the rich were extended ($800 billion) and now they’re so concerned about the deficit that they demand we slash every “entitlement” program? Wake up you zombies! They are turning back the clock to the Dark Ages.

Speaking of the Dark Ages, I just heard minutes ago that the so-called “conservative” republicans are waging the most massive attack on abortion rights ever with 29 governors attempting to pass legislation outlawing abortion in their states. Furthermore, this week, the governor of Wisconsin attempted to pass a law preventing all public employees the right to collectively bargain. Wisconsin has been a bastion of labor organizing for close to 80 years and the rest of the nation is watching closely the results of this full frontal assault on public unions. The diabolical criminal, Karl Rove, has publicly stated that the republican party needs to crush public unions to effectively defund the democratic party. They want total control over all working people and have already almost completely eliminated unions in the private sector. Teachers are number one on their list for crushing, included in public sector unions will be cops, firemen, prison guards, etc. and what’s really absurd is that whenever anyone on the Left points out this class war against the poor by the power elite, they cry foul and accuse us of stirring up ugly passions and spreading propaganda. Their hubris, like their greed, knows no bounds. They are de facto striving with every weapon in their arsenal to make themselves masters of the universe.

A case in point, lest you think me exaggerating, is what the military has dubbed “Full Spectrum Dominance.” Check it out for yourself. They are working on developing a system of satellites to orbit the Earth and equipped with lasers capable of hitting every spot on Earth and thereby controlling every nation. Personally, I don’t believe they ever actually abandoned Reagan’s “Star Wars” weapons program. I am aware this is all very depressing but these are nightmares becoming reality and we can simply continue amusing ourselves to death or face up to our responsibility to become engaged both intellectually and physically in this battle. As I mentioned earlier, the riots or revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt were sparked by massive hikes in food prices and the fact that so many people can’t find work, even well-educated college graduates. When I was growing up, the myth was that if you worked hard and earned a college degree, you were guaranteed a secure and good paying job for life. My experience has been just the opposite i.e. I’ve been turned down for many jobs because of being “over-qualified.” And as a result, I’ve never made over $25,000 per year.

Clinton signing NAFTA (goodbye middle class)

Following this further, recall my mentioning of President Clinton’s passage of NAFTA and the smear campaign by not only the right-wing repulsive ones but also so-called liberals/progressives on the Left? The powers that be sold this naked grab for more dominance over the working class and the middle class of all people on the planet by claiming it would raise the standard of living i.e. wages of those in the Third World who work for as little as $2 per day and they called it Globalization. And Nader was/is intelligent and prescient in pointing out that in fact it was a race to the bottom i.e. with the passage of NAFTA, employers can more easily than ever, crush their workers by threatening to move overseas for cheaper labor if workers dare to demand a fair wage, better working conditions, etc. So, we in the industrially developed countries are watching our wages decline, our benefits being taken away, and are being turned into feudal slaves. This is why such corrupt corporations such as Wal Mart are thriving and Wall St. touts Wal Mart as the largest and most successful corporation in America. The overwhelming majority of Wal Marts’ products are made in China and poor people in America buy their products because they are cheaper than the same products made in America. And what really blew my mind was that a so-called progressive radio station that I listen to in Portland, Oregon, airs commercials for not only Wal Mart but also BP who just contaminated the Gulf of Mexico on such a grand scale that we’ll be suffering its consequences probably for 50 years or better?

brought to you by Monsanto, Dow Chemical, etc. (80% of all processed food in U.S. is GMO)

Without a doubt, if we don’t get off our collective butts and take action, our future looks like it will resemble the nightmare world of Mel Gibson’s Road Warrior. Do you think I’m being overly pessimistic or cynical again? Well, I heard recently that the Czech Republic is running dangerously low on water and I’ve known for some time now that millions, if not billions, of people around the globe have either no access to water whatsoever or the water they do have access to is polluted and unhealthy. Of course we are all aware of the oil wars in the Middle East initiated by the U.S. to steal their oil and we dress it up as war to promote democracy and freedom. Then why didn’t we take a strong stand on the side of the Egyptians rebelling, the Tunisians, and the half dozen other nations protesting right now and being attacked, beaten, jailed, and shot by their military? I’ll tell you why, it’s because their military and government leaders (dictators), are our friends i.e. they let us operate our military bases there and our corporations get to rape, pillage, & plunder their resources and people. Our power elite don’t give a damn about people’s rights, democracy, freedom, or anything except their power and wealth. This is a fight to the death. Monsanto and Dow Chemical are genetically modifying food crops and who knows what Frankenstein monsters they are creating with their “killer seeds?” They claim they will be able to feed all the hungry people on earth with these crops made from DNA modifying compounds. Then why do the rich do all their grocery shopping at the ultra expensive organic, whole foods stores? Why won’t they eat these products?

To put it another way, the reactionary, far right extremists care nothing about America, democracy, social justice, or anything except what and how they can enrich themselves. Right now in Wisconsin, their governor has revealed how corrupt and morally bankrupt they are. A guy posed as David Koch, the billionaire, who along with his brother, are financing a large portion of the class war against all who aren’t millionaires in America. In a 20 minute phone conversation with the governor, this prankster got Wisconsin’s governor to reveal just how callous these rich bastards on the right are. They are following Karl Rove’s agenda to destroy unions in America because unions contribute significantly to democratic candidates and the republican extremists want total control in government so they can force all Americans down to the wage levels of the destitute around the world.

A major weapon in the arsenal of the greedy and corrupt is their steady propaganda war and its emphasis on anti-intellectualism. Like Machiavelli, they have shrewdly used the Christian fundamentalist right by repeatedly whipping up their righteous wrath against homosexuals and abortion. These are easy emotional buttons to push on the generally speaking, less educated, simple, Christian country folk. By invoking the liberal, intellectual elite as moral degenerates who are seeking to silence all Christians in America, on a regular basis with the help of the television and radio hate & fear mongers like Limbaugh, Beck, etc., they can, at a moment’s notice, mount massive public outrage in a very well organized assault on any politician, professor, media outlet, etc. who dares to speak for the principles upon which this country was founded e.g. freedom, equality, justice, etc.

Moreover, I have been reading Chris Hedge’s book Death of the Liberal Class (copyright 2010) and it’s been a very depressing read because I had no idea just how deep the betrayal of the so-called “liberals,” has been. Here is an excerpt from inside the dust jacket to give you an idea of what I’m talking about:

For decades the liberal class was a defense against the worst excesses of power. But the pillars of the liberal class—the press, universities, labor movement, culture, Democratic Party, and liberal religious institutions—have collapsed as effective counterweights to the corporate state. In its absence the needs of the poor, the working class and even the middle class, no longer have a champion. The death of the liberal class has permitted the rise of a new and terrifying political configuration.

To more fully understand the phenomenon of how the power elite have brainwashed the millions of Christian fundamentalists, with the help of many corrupt preachers like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, etc., into voting against their own best interests, I strongly recommend Thomas Frank’s book What’s the Matter with Kansas? One of Frank’s intellectual heroes, perhaps his greatest mentor/influence, was Richard Hofstadter. I dissected Hofstadter’s classic Anti-intellectualism in American Life, and used many of my notes from it in the magnum opus I am writing. In brief, anti-intellectualism has been around since the formation of our country & has been regularly used by politicians and others seeking power. In the last 30 years or so, it has been very skillfully incorporated in the class war being waged against us in America. The powers that be have cleverly waged a steady anti-government campaign to dupe the public into believing that government is the enemy along with liberals & secular humanists, etc. And if it weren’t such a serious matter, it’d be almost laughable i.e. their anti-government campaign, because the power elite wouldn’t be anywhere as rich and powerful as they are weren’t it for the government subsidies, protections, tax breaks, etc. they are handed on a silver platter. You see my friend, it’s all a charade, designed to fool the unaware public into focusing their anger on the government and ignoring the corporations who are behind it all. This is not to say that I’m excusing the government, no, they are crime partners of the corporate cockroaches but they also do a lot of good e.g. protect us to some extent & provide very necessary services & functions.

example of Compassionate Conservatism after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans

At the same time as they, the status quo, are waging war on us and screwing us in every way imaginable, they have the gall to affront us with cuddly little phrases like Daddy Bush’s declaration that his presidency would champion a “Kinder and Gentler Nation,” and “Dubya” Bush aka Alfred E. Newman, proclaimed he represented “Compassionate Conservatives.” Yeah right! Tears fill my eyes when I reflect on the eight years under his dictatorship and how he, along with the help of that liberal bastion, The New York Times, lied us into invading & occupying Iraq. Oh, don’t forget his complicity in the continuation of the deregulations of the Clinton presidency which gave us the collapse of the housing market and our economic system which we may not recover from for decades. Never mind the propaganda from Wall St. and the Oval Office, the vast majority of Americans are seriously suffering and will continue to suffer for years to come.

Of course, everything is hunky-dory for Wall St. and the “Super-banks” too big to fail, thanks to our being forced to bail them out with the promise that they would in turn help the economy by making loans available to small businesses & individuals trying to get on their feet economically. And as usual, the big boys took the money and then said tough shit to the American public who had bailed them out and just pocketed the money and rewarded themselves. Again and again, I can’t understand why we haven’t stormed Wall St. and the government & manned the barricades like those rising-up all over the Middle East? Just how many times do the rich have to screw us and how many examples do we need to experience of their callous disregard for our health, dignity, survival, before enough is enough?

Another example of their contempt for us, for democracy, for justice, etc. is the recent revelations in an article in Rolling Stone by Matt Taibbi titled Why Isn’t Wall Street in Jail? And in brief, he reveals that not only isn’t the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department going after the Wall St. firms, banks, insurance companies, etc. for their devastating crimes that have brought so many Americans to their knees, they are de facto, protecting these criminal entities. Yeah, chew on that for awhile! Or continue to bury your head in the sand and wonder why as you lose everything you’ve worked for. Oh yeah, just another tidbit, when these corporate robber barons occasionally are prosecuted for some crime, they simply pay a relatively small fine and don’t even have to admit wrongdoing and have no criminal record. How’s that for justice in America? On the other hand, if you or I get busted for say, drunk driving or writing a bad check, etc., we have a criminal record that follows us around forever and it makes it very hard for us to get back on our feet and we are labeled as bad credit risks. Interesting?

Perhaps you thought it too harsh or wrong of me to call Obama, the Oreo in the Oval Office? Well, I make no apologies because he lied and pretended even better than “Slick-Willie,” Bill Clinton, to become president and his mantra was “Change,” but he has shown from the get-go that it was all a sham. He is Wall St.’s darling and corporate America’s step-and-fetch-it boy. He showed his true colors from the beginning by putting the very crooks most responsible for the economic tsunami, in charge of the most powerful financial institutions we have. And it just keeps getting more obvious as time goes on. Who did Obama appoint most recently as his new, Chief of Staff, none other than William Daley, the son of Chicago’s infamous Richard Daley. For those of you around my age, you may recall the Chicago Democratic Convention in 1968 when there was a police riot and the police mercilessly beat demonstrators bloody as they chanted “The Whole World is Watching.” How appropriate as we’re witnessing protests spring-up across the Middle East and they’re being beaten and killed by their own Mayor Daleys.

Once again the arrogance & audacity of the criminal class is simply amazing. The super banks have been whining that they have been victimized and are being beaten-up on like piñatas for the past year or so. So Obama the Oreo wanted to once again reassure them that he’s on their side by appointing William Daley, former chairman of J.P. Morgan’s Midwestern operations and head of corporate and social responsibility since 2007. No doubt a position invented to dupe the public into believing they actually give a damn and have a conscience. Hiring an executive from Morgan/Chase is fitting since it’s the most egregious example of corporate fraud and duplicity in the banking & financial corporate world. By the way, in case you wonder what I mean by calling Obama an Oreo, it’s a pejorative term Blacks use against one another and means you’re black on the outside but white on the inside. Seems pretty clear to me that Obama has been trying to prove to the corporate crocodile cabal ever since he took office that he’s their buddy and they have nothing to fear from him. He must have done quite a bit of ass-kissing before they even allowed him to run for president to assure them he would play ball i.e. “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss” (The Who)

Jamie Dimon & Obama's cabinet carrying on the tradition

Perhaps you think I’m being overly cynical or critical of Morgan/Chase and Wall St. & corporate America? Well, I challenge you to do a little homework and check out the history of J.P. Morgan. The founding father of this illustrious clan bought defective rifles for $3 apiece and sold them to the federal government during the Civil War for $17 apiece. You might find it informative also to read up on J.P. Morgan’s role in the first “Great Depression” originally called the Republican Depression but they didn’t like the bad P.R. So as usual in the corporate world where graft, corruption, fraud, theft, callous disregard for human life, etc. is business as usual, the worst or highest offenders/criminals are rewarded with the highest offices of “respect” and power in the highest offices in our country. Hell, why do I keep referring to it as our country? It’s no longer ours but theirs. We matter about as much as piss-ants you step on as you walk down the street. And tragically, the overwhelming majority of us will keep on playing by their rules in this rigged game we call capitalism until they have enslaved or killed-off every last one of us. We will continue to risk and sacrifice our lives in the military to enrich the filthy rich because we can’t find any work other than flipping burgers or pumping gas. And those of us in the military and the police forces etc. will serve as the Mafia type thugs who keep those of us in line who dare to protest or stand up for the so-called rights we were indoctrinated into believing we had in America as we suffered through what is laughingly called our public education system.

massive protests in Wisconsin despite freezing weather

United we stand and divided we fall and the power elite have known since the beginning of recorded history, the importance of divide and conquer. Look at Wisconsin’s embattled governor who admitted in his conversation with the guy posing as David Koch that he had considered putting agent provocateurs into the crowd of protesters so he could cause chaos and discredit the protesters & have an excuse to call in the National Guard. Yes indeed my friend, join the army and be all that you can be i.e. cannon fodder and when you, mostly women, get raped by your fellow soldiers, don’t expect any compassion or justice. No, the military protects its own no matter what crimes they commit and you will be forced to continue to serve in units with your rapist & will be looked upon as a pariah by the rest of your company for daring to file charges.

e.g. "FOX News" for those who may not know

To rephrase it, the myths we were told about America have very real consequences psychologically, physically, and spiritually. And no, I don’t hate my country but I do expect it to live up to those ideals & principles we were supposedly founded upon. I dare to criticize what is wrong with America because I am a true patriot not one of those phony, shallow lemmings who dutifully hang a flag from their front porch or wear one in the lapel of their jacket and see no evil, speak no evil, do no evil i.e. accept unquestioningly everything Fox News and the White House tells them. I don’t believe in the deification of America. We are just one nation amongst many others and we have no right nor duty to tell other nations what to do or how to behave. If all Americans knew the true history of what “our” government has done, we’d be a much humbler people and stop boasting and strutting around the world stage like our shit doesn’t stink.

Consider if you will, the recent celebration and mythologizing of Ronald Reagan in recognition of what would’ve been his hundredth birthday. Only the willfully blind or truly ignorant could believe the crap the spinmeisters have spun regarding Reagan’s tenure in office? Here are just a few facts the propagandists like Karl Rove don’t want you to know about ol’ Ronnie, the Gipper:

1)Reagan raised taxes in seven of his eight years in office.
2)Reagan nearly tripled the federal budget deficit.
3)Unemployment soared after Reagan’s 1981 tax cuts.
4)Reagan grew the size of the federal government tremendously.
5)Reagan did little to fight a woman’s right to choose.
6)Reagan was a “bellicose peacenik.”
7)Reagan gave amnesty to 3 million undocumented immigrants.
8)Reagan illegally funneled weapons to Iran.
9)Reagan vetoed a comprehensive anti-Apartheid act.
10)Reagan helped create the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden.
(source: 10 Things Conservatives Don’t Want You to Know about Ronald Reagan at salon.com)

By the way, it was Reagan’s second term in office as president of the United States that sparked my interest in politics because even as untutored as I was at the time regarding politics, he scared the hell out of me. Additionally, I had been turned on to the Pacifica Radio Network by a creative writing professor of mine at California State University at Long Beach and my political education began to flower. The old saying that what you don’t know can’t hurt you is total bullshit and we are seeing the truth of this today in every aspect of our lives from the shredding of the Bill of Rights to the outsourcing of our jobs, our being held hostage to the health for profit care system in America, and the attacks on unions, Social Security, & Medicare to name just a few examples.

Randi Rhode, "progressive" apologist for all Democrat party crimes

Moreover, as Chris Hedges has laid out so succinctly in his book on the death of liberalism, many, if not most, of the so-called liberals/progressives have betrayed the principles they claim to champion. As I said, I started out listening to Pacifica Radio, KPFK in L.A., to be specific and they too, have betrayed their stated mission to some extent but they have one program hosted by Ian Masters called Background Briefing aired on Sundays and available via the Internet, that is truly inspiring and informative. I would argue that Ian Master’s program and Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now! Broadcast Monday through Friday on the Internet and on local radio station KBOO, are the two most informative and best sources for the truth behind the scenes of power in America. And yes, I’m aware that nothing is more elusive than the truth & I’m not saying that everything these two programs say is the gospel but it is 180 degrees opposite the corporate media flak machine and we should always check the sources & references of anybody’s claims to the “facts” or “truth.”

Thom Hartmann, brilliant liberal but more concerned with making money than truth!

Because I have been paying attention for nearly 30 years now and have been reading, watching, listening, researching obsessively about politics, economics, history, philosophy, etc. I have noted inconsistencies & contradictions/hypocrisies on the so-called progressive/liberal side of things as well. Specifically, a so-called progressive radio host on what used to be Air America but is now syndicated and called simply Progressive Radio at least here in Portland, Oregon, Randi Rhodes, really turned my stomach several years ago when I heard her do a telephone interview on her radio program with Ralph Nader. She was vicious, relentless, & thoroughly unprofessional in my opinion. I remember thinking, and she’s suppose to be a “progressive voice?” Nader has been vilified by not only the right-wing nuts but also the so-called “Left.” I still stand by Ralph and believe he is a true champion of our freedoms and has devoted his life selflessly to protecting us as best he could. He tried to warn us about NAFTA which “Slick Willie” Bill Clinton signed into law & Randi Rhodes fawns at the mention of Clinton or Obama like they can do no wrong. In addition, “progressive radio” has other hosts like Thom Hartmann who is against “illegal immigrants,” being allowed to work in America. And another popular host is Ed Schultz who often comes across as bellicose and somewhat of a braggart in my opinion. And lastly, the late night host named Mike Malloy who loves to rant & rave but when I sent him an essay his only response was “Yikes, this is almost a book!” I don’t mean to sound like I’m totally trashing these “progressive” radio hosts but simply want to point out some of their contradictions at least in my perspective.

Ed Schultz, the Left's version of Limbaugh

Furthermore, still on the subject of “progressive radio,” what has really bugged me is the fact that this so-called progressive radio station at least in my area, also airs commercials for the likes of WalMart and BP. And Ed Schultz has often exhorted his listeners to “buy American,” and when I wrote him an e-mail pointing out the hypocrisy of this due to their airing of Wal Mart commercials, I got no response. It seems to me that Chris Hedges is indeed correct in his assessment of liberals/progressives in general i.e. they have been co-opted by selling out to their corporate masters. In fact, it really nauseates me to listen to progressive radio in Portland because every few minutes there is another corporate advertising commercial and I’ll switch for several minutes to KBOO which is totally listener sponsored. I do learn a lot from the “progressive” radio hosts but take a lot of it with a grain of salt. And I should listen to Limbaugh, Beck, etc. to know exactly where the enemy is coming from but to be honest, I simply don’t have the stomach for it. The bits & pieces I hear through the grapevine of what these fascists posing as patriots say & do, is so repulsive that I can’t believe they haven’t been laughed off the air a long time ago? I guess this is a sad reflection of just how ignorant we are as a nation? Remember, ignorance is not a pejorative, it simply means to not know. Bottom line, what really bugs me about “progressive radio,” is that they seem to be playing into the hands of the power elite, status quo, powers that be, however you wish to refer to the centers of power, in that they basically keep urging listeners to keep on playing by the rules, working within the system, and one day we will win. I firmly believe that the system is so corrupt and rotten to the core that we must have radical (getting to the root) change and take to the streets as they did in Seattle during the WTO conferences and make our message & voice loud and clear for all of the world to hear. Before I forget, two more “progressives,” that need a little light shone on them are Al Franken, the comedian turned radio host for Air America when it first was broadcast, and Keith Olberman, the “most dominant liberal voice” in America.

Keith Olbermann

 

It saddens me to have to report that many so-called liberals & progressives are what I would dub as fair-weather liberals & progressives and it really bodes ill for true freedom & democracy in America. I believe all humans are hypocrites or walking contradictions to some extent but some are more blatant than others and I am definitely no exception to the rule. But when national celebrities who have built their reputation on being liberals or progressives are hypocritical, they bear a much greater responsibility in my opinion because they are the role models for those of us who truly care about making this a more equitable world. In a Democracy Now interview, Michael Moore charged that both Keith Olbermann & Al Franken attacked him for opposing the War in Iraq because they supported the war at the beginning of our invasion and occupation. Al Franken has since tried to distance himself from his early stance on the Iraq war and of course he is now a U.S. senator but I must question what his true motives are? And I just learned that Keith Olbermann was making $7 million dollars a year working for MSNBC which also makes me wonder if it wasn’t all about the money?

 

I refer to myself as a progressive these days because I feel liberals have waffled or been spineless on far too many issues. And it depresses the Hell out of me to realize that not only do we have to do battle with the Republican noise machine and its overwhelmingly stronger and much more visible media empire but we have to also hold accountable those who supposedly represent the Left in America. From time to time, I will send an e-mail to people like Thom Hartman or Ed Schultz but they have never responded. Yeah, you could argue that they receive too many e-mails to respond but I don’t buy it because every time I have written to Noam Chomsky, whom most liberals & progressives would agree, is the world’s greatest and most famous voice for true freedom and democracy, Chomsky honors me by responding. And I have disagreed with him from time to time but always in a polite and civil manner. Yet Hartmann, Schultz, and several other “progressives” deem themselves too important to waste their precious time on people like myself. Please don’t misunderstand me, I agree with the overwhelming majority of what Hartmann, Schultz, et al, have to say but Hartmann’s views on immigrants in America without official permission, reminds me more of a Bill O’Reilly than a progressive voice. And Ed Schultz makes me think of him as a sort of Left-wing caricature of Rush Limbaugh with his bellicose and bombastic bragging from time to time. I listen to Thom Hartmann’s program more often than I do to Ed Schultz and definitely more than Randi Rhodes. But the thing that they all have in common is that they will only go so far in terms of criticizing our capitalist system and they definitely won’t touch the fact that many of the stations across America that broadcast their programs also run ads for Walmart, BP Oil, recruitment ads for the U.S. military, etc. And it’s clear as a bell to me that this is because they are making a lot of money playing the controversial liberal on radio and cable television. Thom Hartmann is the leader in this respect and while I don’t know exactly how much he earns, he makes a helluva lot more money than the others I’m sure.

 

You might be curious as to why I’m pointing these things out? Well, in a nutshell, it’s because I feel we must dare to air our dirty laundry if we are to stand a chance in our uphill battle against the reactionary right-wing nut extremists who are kicking our asses in the battle for the mind of the American public. We have to point out our defects, contradictions, hypocrisies, etc. before the Right does in order to deflate their arguments. And although we know it’s totally absurd when the Glenn Becks, O’Reillys, Coulters, etc. proclaim there is a liberal bias in the media, the majority of Americans don’t and in fact, believe the propaganda that FOX News spews forth 24/7 year after year. If it weren’t such an important issue, I’d be rolling on the floor with laughter. Here are two examples of “liberal bias” in the media: 1) MSNBC, the so-called “liberal bastion” of cable news, fired Phil Donahue for being too anti-war just a few weeks before we invaded Iraq. Donahue would have on his show, maybe one anti-war guest and two or more pro-war guests but even one was too much for this “liberal” network. And this is why I have been a defender of Donahue for many years, he is a true liberal or progressive and has the moral integrity and courage to stand up and speak truth at power. I remember watching the Donahue show one day, not long before the presidential election in which Reagan was running for his second term as president and Mike Wallace was on the show and announced that 60 Minutes was going to do an expose on Reagan’s ties with Senator Paul Laxalt from Nevada, who was Reagan’s campaign fund manager, and Laxalt’s clear ties with the mafia and MCA records but that was as far as it went and there was never a mention of it again on either CBS or NBC which aired the Donahue show. 2) The New York Times touted as the hallmark or flagship of “liberal thought” in America and whose banner proclaims “all the news that is fit to print,” and which supposedly sets the bar in terms of journalistic integrity i.e. most of the other newspapers around the country wait until the New York Times stories of the day are released and then rush to offer their own spin or regurgitation of the stories after the Times has told them what is worthy of reporting on. Yeah, some “liberal” paper, only FOX News—and I use that term ‘news’ lightly here—beat the war drums for our invasion of Iraq, more loudly than The New York Times did. Do you recall that it was their star reporter, Judith Miller, who wrote most of the stories supporting our invasion of Iraq by writing almost verbatim, the lies told to her by Chalabi, the guy convicted in absentia—because he fled Jordan after robbing his Petra Bank of $200 million dollars. Chalabi was at the top of our list for guys we wanted to appoint to be president of Iraq. You know how much we respect other nations’ sovereignty and free elections. But unfortunately, Chalabi’s criminal record leaked and it was also revealed that he was playing double agent for Iran so he wasn’t hired.

 

In conclusion, many Americans are fond of boasting that we are a land of “rugged individualists,” yeah right, give me a frigging break! We’ve become a nation of cowed conformists. I have worked in the education profession for well over 20 years and have known many teachers who would love to speak the truth to their students about our true history but because they are afraid of losing their jobs & their pensions, they remain silent. And I too, remain silent much more often than i used to because I am no spring chicken and worry more than anything about not having medical insurance as I grow older. It is hard for me to express how frustrated I feel when I start to talk about political issues in bars and am basically told to shut up or I’ll be asked to leave. It’s such a blatant contradiction of our so-called right to free speech. How we can our politicians, television pundits, etc., assert that America is the land of the free, the home of democracy, and we send our soldiers around the globe to supposedly fight in defense of these freedoms but here, we are not allowed to speak? Yeah, I know the common bullshit excuse is that a fight will break out. And again, I say, bullshit! Fights break out in bars al the time and for countless reasons e.g. perceived insults, disagreements over sports, one guy trying to pick up on another guy’s girl, etc. etc. etc. I believe it is a myth that fights are the likely result of political discussions/disagreements in bars. Every great now and then I have engaged in a heated political discussion in a bar and I have often noted how animated the discussion became and sometimes what started out as just me and another guy talking about political matters, soon spread and several other people around us joined in. And what really warms my heart is when I see the light come on in peoples’ eyes and how eager they are to share their points of view. Yes, there have been times when it started to become nasty and I realized that I was just beating my head against a wall and when this happened, I’d say something like “Can we just agree that we disagree” and I’d drop the subject because I knew it was going nowhere and wanted to head-off a possible physical confrontation. But there have also been times when I’ve had people say to me something like “Wow! This is the best conversation i’ve had in years!” I believe this reflects the general sense or hunger for truth and honest dialog that we are so desperately lacking in this great Republic of ours. And to be honest with you, I can’t help but wonder at times if there might be some sort of conspiracy on the part of the power elite or status quo of this country to keep us divided and silent with this taboo against talking about politic in bars? I have been to Europe several times and one of the reasons why I love going to Europe is that they are free to speak about anything they want in public bars and I have had many stimulating conversations in my travels there.

 

Most importantly, the Arab Spring has revealed that the human spirit cannot be extinguished no matter how vicious or violent the oppressing forces may be. Tens of thousands of people from Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Lebanon, Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, & Western Sahara have had their heads caved-in, been imprisoned, and been murdered in their struggle for liberty. They know the price of liberty but here in America, the so-called City on the Hill, the beacon to the world, we have forgotten how precious liberty is and have been asleep at the wheel while the rich, the corporate cockroaches, have stolen our precious liberties from us. And the propaganda machine known as the mass media or corporate media, keeps reassuring us that our soldiers are fighting for our freedom and democracy. Can we really be that blind, dumb, & stupid? Meanwhile, I will keep on writing, ranting & raving, and longing for some responses or comments on my writing and pray that America will have its own American Spring?

(Noam Chomsky, intellectual giant & immense moral integrity! If you want to remove the scales from your eyes, Chomsky is a one man revolution & can teach us all so much if we but have the courage & the heart to listen.)

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