"The action I am taking is no more than a radical measure to hasten the explosion of truth and justice. I have but one passion: to enlighten those who have been kept in the dark, in the name of humanity which has suffered so much and is entitled to happiness. My fiery protest is simply the cry of my very soul. Let them dare, then, to bring me before a court of law and let the enquiry take place in broad daylight!" - Emile Zola, J'accuse! (1898) -

Friday, November 21, 2008

No Agreement For US Car Bail-Out | Things Are Going Up In Smoke And That's No Joke! 



The leaders of both houses of Congress said Ford, General Motors and Chrysler had until 2 December to present a plan.


Their comments came after four senators - Republicans and Democrats - said they had agreed a bipartisan aid deal.


The White House said President George W Bush favored their deal, which would have used an energy department loan.


"This is an agreement the president could support," said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino. "We encourage the Congress to pass it as soon as possible."


But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said there would be no bail-out without a plan showing that the money would make the firms financially viable.


"Until they show us the plan, we cannot show them the money," she said.


Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, said that motor industry leaders needed "to get their act together".


"The executives of the auto industry have not been able to convince the American people or the Congress that this bail-out would be their last," he added.


After the car industry executives return to Washington on 2 December, Congress could be reconvened the following week to vote on a bail-out bill.


But time is short: the car-makers have suffered a collapse in sales and General Motors says it will run out of money by early next year.




Earlier on Thursday, Democratic Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, from Michigan, the heart of the US car industry, and Republicans Kit Bond of Missouri and George Voinovich of Ohio said they had a bipartisan deal, but this did not garner wider support.


Their deal called for using a $25bn energy department loan to the motor industry, which was originally designed to spur the development of fuel-efficient vehicles.


The idea was that as the industry recovered, it would replenish the fund and the money would be used for its original purpose.


This was the approach favored by the Bush administration.


"Their plan provides assistance from already-appropriated funds and has strong taxpayer protections," Ms Perino said.


Senator Levin said she and her three colleagues were "obviously... disappointed".


Jobs risk


The chief executives of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler pleaded for the $25bn bail-out before two congressional committees this week, but came away empty-handed.


They were lambasted for making the trip to Washington by private jet.


The car firms say they risk collapse, which could lead to millions of Americans losing their jobs.


Democrats have demanded that the White House and the Treasury carve out $25bn in funding from the already-agreed $700bn finance industry bail-out to support the car firms.


Meanwhile, the United Auto Workers president, Ron Gettelfinger, said on Thursday that politicians needed to take immediate action on a $25bn bridge loan bill to support the US car industry; otherwise he said one or more firms could fail.


Mr Gettelfinger, who testified on Tuesday and Wednesday to congressional committees in support of the loans, said action was needed "now, today". 

This is our brave new world


Confront the Delusions


By Jim Kirwan


November 20, 2008 "Information Clearinghouse" -- In the 1970s, the film NETWORK was made; but its commercial success was more about the message that it brought than it was about the caliber of its cinematic excellence. From that film several video clips have survived on the web, but since they may not continue to survive as videos I have made partial transcripts of them for this article.


What the film dealt with then, was nothing less than what far too many people now still seem to have virtually no idea about. That was, and still is about the power of television, and the inherent corruption of the host society, that is continuing by way of subliminal messaging coupled with the Orwellian power of Big Brother; enhanced by the New World Order that has combined to surpass anything that might have been even remotely possible forty years ago when NETWORK was made.


Yesterday Chris Hedges wrote: “America the Illiterate,” in which he said:


“There are over 42 million American adults, 20 percent of whom hold high school diplomas, who cannot read, as well as the 50 million who read at a fourth- or fifth-grade level. Nearly a third of the nation’s population is illiterate or barely literate. And their numbers are growing by an estimated 2 million a year. But even those who are supposedly literate retreat in huge numbers into this image-based existence. A third of high school graduates, along with 42 percent of college graduates, never read a book after they finish school. Eighty percent of the families in the United States last year did not buy a book. 

The illiterate rarely vote, and when they do vote they do so without the ability to make decisions based on textual information.


American political campaigns, which have learned to speak in the comforting epistemology of images, eschew real ideas and policy for cheap slogans and reassuring personal narratives.


Political propaganda now masquerades as ideology. Political campaigns have become an experience.


They do not require cognitive or self-critical skills. They are designed to ignite pseudo-religious feelings of euphoria, empowerment and collective salvation.


Campaigns that succeed are carefully constructed psychological instruments that manipulate fickle public moods, emotions and impulses, many of which are subliminal.


They create a public ecstasy that annuls individuality and fosters a state of mindlessness.


They thrust us into an eternal present. They cater to a nation that now lives in a state of permanent amnesia.


It is style and story, not content or history or reality, which inform our politics and our lives. We prefer happy illusions. And it works because so much of the American electorate, including those who should know better, blindly cast ballots for slogans, smiles, the cheerful family tableaux, narratives and the perceived sincerity and the attractiveness of candidates.


We confuse how we feel with knowledge.” (1)


Kirwan: In NETWORK, Howard Beale had this to say to these people, many of whom had not even yet been born. The video clip is "Network – We’re in a lot of trouble."

“Edward George Ruddy died today. Edward George Ruddy was the Chairman of the Board of the Union Broadcast System and he died this morning at eleven o’clock of a heart condition, woe is us—we’re in a lot of trouble!


So; a rich little man with white hair died - what has that got to do with the price of rice - right! And why is that ‘Woe to us.’ Because you people and sixty-two million other Americans are listening to me right now: Because less than three percent of you people read books! Because less than fifteen percent of you read newspapers! Because the only truth you know is what you get over this tube. Right now there is a whole, an entire generation that never knew anything that didn’t come out of this tube!


This tube is the gospel, the ultimate revelation. This tube can make or break presidents, popes or Prime Ministers; this tube is the most awesome god-damned force in the whole godless world!


Woe is us if it ever falls into the hands of the wrong people, and that’s why ‘Woe is us’ when Edward George Ruddy died: Because this company is now in the hands of CCA, the Communications Corporation of America.


There’s a new Chairman of the Board called Frank Hacket sitting in Mr. Ruddy’s office on the twentieth floor and when the twelfth largest company in the world controls the most awesome god-damned  propaganda force in the whole godless world: Who knows what shit will be peddled for ‘truth’ on this network!


So you listen to me! Listen to me: television is not the truth—television’s a god-damned amusement park. Television is a circus, a carnival a traveling troupe of acrobats, story tellers, dancers, singers, side-show freaks, lion-tamers, and football players. We’re in the boredom killing business!


So if you want the truth go to God, go to your guru’s—go to yourselves—because that’s the only place you’re going to find any real truth!  Ha-ha – because man - you know you’re never going to get any truth from us.


We’ll tell you anything you want to hear. We’ll lie like hell: we’ll tell you that Kojack always gets the killer and that nobody ever gets cancer at Archie Bunker’s house. And no matter how much trouble the hero is in don’t worry  just look at your watch at the end of the hour he’s going to win – we’ll give you any shit you want to hear!


We deal in Illusions man, none of it is true! But you people sit there day after day and night after night; all ages, colors, creeds: We’re all you know! You’re beginning to believe the illusions we’re spinning here! You’re beginning to think that the tube is reality- and that your own lives are unreal! 


You DO whatever the tube tells you, you dress like the tube you eat like the tube, you raise your children like the tube, you even think like the tube!


This is mass madness you maniacs! In God’s name you people are the real thing—We are the illusion! So turn off you television sets, turn it off now, turn them off right now: turn them off and leave them off—turn them off right in the middle of the sentence I’m speaking now – Turn them OFF!


Chris Hedges: “The illiterate and semi-literate, once the campaigns are over, remain powerless.


They still cannot protect their children from dysfunctional public schools. They still cannot understand predatory loan deals, the intricacies of mortgage papers, credit card agreements and equity lines of credit that drive them into foreclosures and bankruptcies.


They still struggle with the most basic chores of daily life from reading instructions on medicine bottles to filling out bank forms, car loan documents and unemployment benefit and insurance papers.


They watch helplessly and without comprehension as hundreds of thousands of jobs are shed. They are hostages to brands. Brands come with images and slogans. Images and slogans are all they understand.


Many eat at fast food restaurants not only because it is cheap but because they can order from pictures rather than menus. And those who serve them, also semi-literate or illiterate, punch in orders on cash registers whose keys are marked with symbols and pictures. This is our brave new world. 

Political leaders in our post-literate society no longer need to be competent, sincere or honest.


 They only need to appear to have these qualities.


Most of all they need a story, a narrative. The reality of the narrative is irrelevant. It can be completely at odds with the facts. The consistency and emotional appeal of the story are paramount.


The most essential skill in political theater and the consumer culture is artifice. Those who are best at artifice succeed. Those who have not mastered the art of artifice fail.


In an age of images and entertainment, in an age of instant emotional gratification, we do not seek or want honesty. We ask to be indulged and entertained by clichés, stereotypes and mythic narratives that tell us we can be whomever we want to be, that we live in the greatest country on Earth, that we are endowed with superior moral and physical qualities and that our glorious future is preordained, either because of our attributes as Americans or because we are blessed by God or both.”


Network – Money Speech: “You have meddled with the primal forces of nature Mr. Beale and I won’t have it—is that clear! You think you’ve merely stopped a business deal - that is not the case! The Arabs have taken millions of dollars out of this country and now they must put it back! It is ebb and flow,~ gravity, it is ecological balance.


You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and people’s – there are no nations – there are no people’s – there are no Russians – there are no Arabs there are no third world’s there is no West!


 There is only one holistic System of Systems: One vast and ~ interwoven, interactive and multi-variant, multi-national dominion of dollars. Petrol-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, Reich marks ~ rubles, pounds, and shekels. It is the international system of currency, which determines the totality of life on this planet!


That is the natural order of things today! That is the atomic, and sub-atomic, and galactic structure of things today! And YOU have meddled with the primal forces of NATURE- AND YOU WILL ATONE!


Am I getting through to you Mr. Beale? You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen and howl about America and Democracy: There is no America, there is no Democracy—there is only IBM and ITT and AT&T and DuPont, DOW, Union Carbide, and Exxon: those ARE the nations of the world today!


What do you think the Russians talk about in their counsels of state—Karl Marx?


They get out their linear programming charts, their statistical decision theories, mini ~ solutions and compute the price-cost probabilities of their investments and transactions, just like we do. We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies Mr. Beale.


The world is a college of corporations; inexorably determined by the immutable by-laws of business the world is a business Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of slime. And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that perfect world in which there’s no war or famine, oppression or brutality.


One vast and ecumenical holding company for whom all men will work to serve the common good: In which all men will hold a share of stock: All necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom – amused.” 


Chris Hedges: “As we descend into a devastating economic crisis, one that Barack Obama cannot halt, there will be tens of millions of Americans who will be ruthlessly thrust aside. As their houses are foreclosed, as their jobs are lost, as they are forced to declare bankruptcy and watch their communities collapse, they will retreat even further into irrational fantasy.


They will be led toward glittering and self-destructive illusions by our modern Pied Pipers—our corporate advertisers, our charlatan preachers, our television news celebrities, our self-help gurus, our entertainment industry and our political demagogues—who will offer increasingly absurd forms of escapism.

The core values of our open society, the ability to think for oneself, to draw independent conclusions, to express dissent when judgment and common sense indicate something is wrong, to be self-critical, to challenge authority, to understand historical facts, to separate truth from lies, to advocate for change and to acknowledge that there are other views, different ways of being, that are morally and socially acceptable, are dying.


Obama used hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign funds to appeal to and manipulate this illiteracy and irrationalism to his advantage, but these forces will prove to be his most deadly nemesis once they collide with the awful reality that awaits us.” (1)


Kirwan: There can be only one pre-requisite for this ever-deepening cauldron of destruction.; and that is for each of us to follow Howard Beale’s example, each in our own way, as his now infamous call that prompted the foregoing two outbursts. That speech is abbreviated here:


Network- I’m Mad as Hell: “I don’t have to tell you things are bad – everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression, everybody’s out of work, or scarred of losing their jobs. The dollar buys a nickels worth: Banks are going bust; shop-keepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there’s nobody anywhere seems to know what to do and there’s no end to it!


We know the air is unfit to breathe, the food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TV’s while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be! We know things are bad, worse than bad—they’re crazy—it’s like everything everywhere is going crazy. So we don’t go out anymore, we sit in the house and slowly the world we’re living in is getting smaller and all we say is PLEASE at least leave us alone in our living room, let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials, and we won’t say anything—just leave us alone!


Well I’m not going to leave you alone! I want you to GET MAD!


I don’t want you to protest, I don’t want you to write to your congressman; I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write.


 I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation or the Russians or the crime-in-the-streets.


All I know is that first YOU’VE GOT TO GET MAD!


You’ve got to say “I’m a human being—DAMNIT—my life has value! So I want you to get up now, I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, stick your head out and yell: “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” Things have got to Change! 


Kirwan: We are just over two-weeks into the twilight zone that is the period between the election and the swearing-in ceremonies.


This is the last chance we shall have to weigh-in on all the shit that’s coming down, in the process that is defining just how much more of this we’re going to have to put up with in the extension of Cheney-Bush that will be overseen by a different face, but by the same controllers that have been running this show since 1838: “The Rise of the House of Rothschild  “Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its law.” Mayer Amschel Rothschild, 1838     


That last statement was made 230 years ago, and just look at what it has brought us to: Last chance people – GET MAD and then DO something!


The Impeachinator
The Phoenix - Boston,MA,USA
Bush impeachment is now moot, of course, as a new president prepares to assume office in January. But impeachment was never to be, notes Fein, ...


Darth Cheney, Torquemada Gonzales Indicted; A Pardon Would Save ...
By Milt Shook 
The only way to have at least some control over who gets pardoned, and for what, is to impeach Bush, and name the principles in his administration as witnesses. Guerra himself was under indictment for more than a year and half until a ...
Please Cut the Crap! - http://pleasecutthecrap.typepad.com/main/


COLUMN: Who’s on the pardon menu?
Marblehead Reporter - Marblehead,MA,USA
What if President Bush died tomorrow and then new president Dick Cheney or a White House aide found in a vault a signed, sworn and witnessed statement by ...


Altercation, by Eric Alterman


We've got a new Think Again column -- the first in a series actually -- called "The Bush War on the Press: Its Legacy" and you can find it here.


Yesterday in Washington, the CEOs of the big three automakers made their case to Congress for an industry bailout -- and they flew private jets! The mainstream media was all over this: CNNFox NewsABC NewsThe Washington Post's Dana Milbank, and many others headlined stories about the CEOs' extravagant mode of transportation. ABC News' headline read "First class not good enough for Auto Execs" before it was changed online; Diane Sawyer actually made an ABC News investigation package, which she led off thusly: "This morning, begging for money, while flying high. ABC News cameras catch the CEOs of big auto asking for a bailout, while flying on private jets."


Well, it was dumb, to be sure, but let's ask a question: Is Diane Sawyer really surprised to learn that CEOs travel in private jets? What does the head of ABC travel in? Hell, how about Diane, Charlie, George and all the rest of them. Ever see any of them in coach? These are people -- and I've heard it over and over -- who complain about having to "fly commercial." The talking heads on cable -- like Greta Van Susteren, who said "those CEOs must be out of their minds" -- are indignant only over the imagery. It's surely poor public relations, not to mention arrogant, at a time when the industry needs billions of dollars in public funds to stay afloat.


But are these journalists really angry about excessive executive compensation? I wish. Remember some of these stats I employed in Why We're Liberals?


According to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, the only taxpayers whose share of taxes declined in 2001 and 2002 were those in the top 0.1 percent, or Americans who earn more than $10 million a year. The following year their tax share declined by another million. These same lucky folks now pay a lesser share of their income in taxes than those making $100,000 to $200,000.


Meanwhile, the average hourly wage of a U.S. worker, according to the 2006 Economic Report of the President, fell, in constant 1982 dollars, from $8.21 in 1967 to $8.17 in 2005. This gap grew so large that a Fortune 500 CEO could expect to earn, in his first hour of his first day on the job, more than a minimum wage worker would make that entire year. (The CEOs of America's largest corporations [the Fortune 100] make an average of $17.6 million per year. That is $67,692 per day, or approximately $8,461 per hour. The federal minimum wage was, until 2007, $5.15 per hour or $10,712 per year for a 40-hour work week. It takes the average CEO 2 hours and 2 minutes to earn $10,712. The CEOs of Fortune 100 companies can earn $10,712 in an average of 1 hour and 16 minutes. See "Research Report: The Minimum Wage, CEO Pay and the Gap in Achieving the American Dream," Americans United for Change, January 2, 2007; David Cay Johnston, "Income Gap Is Widening, Data Shows," New York Times, March 29, 2007.)


Meanwhile, the Bush economic policies were deliberately designed to redistribute even more money to the extremely rich from the rest of us. Recall Vice President Cheney's response to Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill when the latter complained that new tax cuts would bust the budget: "We won the midterms. It's our due." By "our" Cheney was clearly referring to the wealthiest swath of American society, particularly its corporate elite, who financed the political careers of the president, the vice president, and their political allies, including those who sat in the CEOs' offices of Detroit's Big Three.


Sure, we'd love to see more stories on the earnings of the Big Three CEOs and their top underlings vs. both skilled and unskilled workers, the rate at which each has grown (or not) over the past 10 years, and so on. I'd like to see that for executive vs. worker compensation nationwide. But Greta Van Susteren hasn't done that story, nor have many of the rest. But this cheap outrage from the network's own million-dollar babies, well, forgive us if we pass.


We wrote a Think Again in April about network news -- we've all had problems with coverage on the three networks, for sure, but it still provides some of the best television journalism we have in terms of range and quality of reporting. The networks prepare taped, edited correspondent packages, which afford more precision and depth than the manic coverage of the 24-hour cable networks. Well, it wasn't just the recent sit-down with the Obamas. Jacques Steinberg has a piece in today's New York Times about the recent success of 60 Minutes, the CBS newsmagazine that was the most-watched television program in the country over the past two weeks. Steinberg writes that the show has stepped up its hard news coverage, reporting regularly from Iraq and Afghanistan, doing 20-minute packages on unsexy but important topics like credit-default swaps. Steinberg says CBS has protected the program from the staff cuts common at virtually every other news organization. If the president-elect was deciding to reward such investment and initiative, well, then, bully for him.


To be fair, 60 Minutes is also benefiting from a lack of competition; NBC isn't running its newsmagazine, Dateline, nearly as much as it used to, and "To Catch a Predator" packages aren't exactly hard news anyhow. ABC is still doing 20/20, but this week, for example, thefeatured interview is with Eliot Spitzer's former high-priced call girl, which the network advertises as "a continuation of [Diane] Sawyer's recent and exclusive reporting on prostitution." (Exclusive?)


So, imagine that -- a news program doesn't cut back staff position, takes on serious topics, and gets high ratings. Who'da thunk it


One of the more popular talking points these days is that the average auto worker makes $70 an hour, which is the fault of the big bad unions, who, by the way, are also at fault for the crisis in the automotive sector.


Trouble is, as any auto worker is surely and painfully aware, they don't make $70 an hour, or anything close to it. Felix Salmon has the fact-check here. What's more, in every other Western industrialized nation, they can expect government-provided health care, while, here, it is part of their compensation package and an awful -- actually unbearable -- drag on these companies' ability to earn a profit against their unburdened foreign rivals


George Zornick writes: From the New York Observer, a great piece:


"How Did Hillary Clinton Get Reported Into the State Department? It Exploded -- From NBC's Andrea Mitchell to Huffington Post, But Did Reports Precipitate Reality? 'It's Confusing,' Says Ben Smith"


It's here


We were going to write about the two-part wet kiss The Washington Post is giving Henry Paulson -- the first installment, "A Conversion in 'This Storm' " features probing quotes from Paulson like "[I]f you take charge, people will follow...Someone has to pull it all together" -- but Dean Baker says it best:


The point is extremely simple. There was a huge housing bubble that should have been visible to any competent economic analyst. The bubble was fueled by an enormous chain of highly leveraged finance. (As head of Goldman Sachs, Mr. Paulson personally made hundreds of millions of dollars from this bubble.)


It was entirely predictable that the housing bubble would burst and that its collapse would have a huge impact on the financial system and the economy as a whole. There is zero excuse for Paulson being caught by surprise by a "storm" that he helped create. The Post should not be in the business of covering up for Paulson's massive failure.


What are the chances Deborah Howell addresses this in her ombudsman column?


From TomDispatch:


"It's the ultimate argument," Tom Engelhardt begins, "the final bastion against withdrawal, and over these last years, the Bush administration has made sure it would have plenty of heft. Ironically, its strength lies in the fact that it has nothing to do with the vicissitudes of Iraqi politics, the relative power of Shiites or Sunnis, the influence of Iran, or even the riptides of war. It really doesn't matter what Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki or oppositional cleric Muqtada al-Sadr think about it. In fact, it's an argument that has nothing to do with Iraq and everything to do with us, with the American way of war (and life), which makes it almost unassailable."


He continues: "In a nutshell, the Pentagon's argument couldn't be simpler or more red-bloodedly American: We have too much stuff to leave Iraq any time soon. In war, as in peace, we're trapped by our own profligacy. We are the Neiman Marcus and the Wal-Mart of combat." Think of us not as the Spartans of 21st century war, but as Athenians abroad on steroids. And this is the argument that, this very week, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen -- the man President-elect Obama plans to call into the Oval Office as soon as he arrives -- wheeled into place and launched like a missile aimed at the heart of Obama's 16-month withdrawal plan for U.S. combat troops in Iraq.


In the rest of his most recent post at TomDispatch.com, Engelhardt explores the way in which former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's Military Lite became a Military Heavy in Iraq and what key top military officials claim it will take to get all our troops and all our stuff, from helicopters and Humvees to ice-cream making machines and Porta Johns, out of that country. This argument has been the equivalent of a background hum in the withdrawal debate for the last two years. Now, it is sure to be a key part of what Barack Obama will hear when he meets his key military commanders and top Pentagon officials just after January 20, 2009.


Engelhardt concludes: "As Donald Rumsfeld so classically said, in reference to the looting of Baghdad in April 2003 after American troops entered the city, 'stuff happens.' How true that turns out to be. When it comes to withdrawal, the most militarily profligate administration in memory has seemingly ensured that the highest military priority in 2009 will be frugality -- that is, saving all American 'stuff' in Iraq. Irony hardly covers this one. The Bush administration may have succeeded in little else, but it did embed the U.S. so deeply in that country that leaving can now be portrayed as the profligate thing to do."


This week on Moyers: The Bill Moyers Journal and Exposé: America's Investigative Reports present an investigative story into tragic accidents resulting from natural gas explosions. The report is part of Blueprint America, a PBS-wide series on the nation's infrastructure. "Beneath the North Texas Dirt" follows Brett Shipp, a television reporter from WFAA in Dallas, who discovered that aging equipment connecting homeowners' gas lines to their gas meters was failing, causing horrific explosions. Shipp found evidence suggesting that for decades state regulators and local power companies ignored this fatal problem in the vital infrastructure that brings natural gas into hundreds of thousands of Dallas area homes


All This Kind Of News Can Turn One Cynic Satirist; Or Is It Satire?







If You Can’t Laugh You’ll Go Crazy Right Now!  I Know It’s Poor Taste To Laugh At Stupid Folks, But In The Case Of Our Congress, I Make An Exception.


My God How The Money Rolls In!