Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Randomly Ranting Edition

Wending my way through the various "progressive" news sites and blogs over the past day or so, I have been struck by the dearth of criticism of President Obama's latest foray over to the dark side -- to wit, his decision to embrace Citizens United, and accept unlimited and anonymous campaign donations via his SuperPac.

Maybe I've been looking for outrage in all the wrong places, or maybe the usual polemicists are still working on their material. But so far, I can count on the fingers of one hand the severe condemnations of the latest Barry flip-flop. The New York Times ran an editorial accusing the president of selling out democracy to the highest bidder. It even came close to accusing the president of criminal behavior for now allowing and encouraging members of his Cabinet to shill for corporate cash for the aptly named "Priorities First USA" SuperPac. (It is against the law for cabinet members to actively campaign and solicit money).

 Ditto for Robert Reich, who blogged about the "sad spectacle" that is the Obama re-election campaign:

The sad truth is Obama has never really occupied the high ground on campaign finance. He refused public financing in 2008. Once president, he didn’t go to bat for a system of public financing that would have made it possible for candidates to raise enough money from small donors and matching public funds they wouldn’t need to rely on a few billionaires pumping unlimited sums into super PACS. He hasn’t even fought for public disclosure of super PAC donations.
And now he’s made a total mockery of the Court’s naïve belief that super PACs would remain separate from individual campaigns, by officially endorsing his own super PAC and allowing campaign manager Jim Messina and even cabinet officers to speak at his super PAC events. Obama will not appear at such events but he, Michelle Obama, and Vice President Joe Biden will encourage support of the Obama super PAC.

 Former Sen. Russ Feingold also professed to be appalled and shocked, but ended his tirade by saying he still supports the president even though he is "dancing with the devil". So as far as I am concerned, he cancelled himself out. His purported disgust is full of baloney and shouldn't even count. He was among those "pragmatists" who helped quash talk for a primary challenger while there was still time.

The Times piece was greeted with scathing reviews by the Readers Who Comment. It is just so naive of the editorial board to think our pragmatic president wouldn't level the playing field, they cried. One reader huffed that the public at large simply does not mind that money rules politics. My own comment, meant as a tongue in cheek pre-emptive litany of Obama apologist talking points, seems to have been taken at face value by at least a few 'bots. I thought my irony was fairly obvious; for example, "you have to fight Evil with Evil."  One person responded "Totally agree! About time he took a gun to a gunfight!"

 Even the erstwhile renegade Keith Olbermann seems to have given the president a pass on this one. He has been out on an extended sick leave, and I can only surmise that his medical treatment included an IV cocktail with Obama kool aid mixed in with an MSNBC antibiotic. He has failed to mention Occupy and the mass evictions  even once this week, but is falling into the familiar and lazy pattern of guffawing at the latest GOP loathesomeness and waxing indignant at Susan G. Komen. Yeah, I get that Susan G. Komen for the Cure is full of horseshit. But it has always been a corporate gimmick, so why are we surprised about the Planned Parenthood de-funding? What about the Drone attacks, the media drumbeat for an Iranian War, the continuing Long Depression that is so bad that people have stopped getting married?

And do you know who Keith had on as his very special guest last night? Jerry Springer! These guys are apparently buddies from way back. Springer was celebrated on Countdown because he had told Fox and Friends they were not fair and balanced, to their faces. So apparently, you can exploit poor people on a TV show all you want, as long as you later insult the talking heads who are politically dishonest while performing their own brand of poor people-exploitation.

*****************************************************************

I admit it. I watched the Super Bowl on Sunday night, but just to see the commercials and the halftime show. Seriously! I kept the sound muted for the actual game, and read some of George Orwell's essays to pass the time. His Notes on Nationalism hit me like a ton of bricks. If you just substitute "partisanship" for "nationalism", he could be talking about the divisive and corrupt political cesspool threatening to drown us in this election year. Early in the essay is this trenchant observation:
By ‘nationalism’ I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled ‘good’ or ‘bad’(1). But secondly — and this is much more important — I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognising no other duty than that of advancing its interests. Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.
Once citizens have allowed their own rational thought processes to be subsumed, whether by mindless allegiance to an authoritarian, attractive symbol of power, or by fear of "the other" -- be it nonexistent homegrown terrorists, or right-wing lunatics who want to crush the birth control pills of every woman in America, or whatever -- Democracy is doomed. Otherwise sane people literally lose touch with reality in their desperate quest to normalize the abnormal. Obama apologists now trying to justify legalized bribery fall into this  category. Orwell calls such rationalizing an "indifference" to reality. The same good, intelligent people who condemned the Bush War crimes, secrecy, and civil rights abuses, are turning a blind eye to the Obama crimes:
 All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side.
Should we even bother fighting back against this awfulness? Absolutely, says Orwell. Half the battle, he says, is to recognize the cognitive dissonance that is part of modern politics and life in general, to recognize that we all have biases, but never to allow these emotional defense mechanisms to trump rational thought. In other words, giving up at this point is just not an option, even though fighting back seems like crying out alone in the wilderness in these crazy times. 

Fight on. Resist. Occupy.

Update: Speak of dancing with the devil. Glenn Greenwald blasts the repulsive hypocrisy of so-called progressives who are just fine with Gitmo, warrantless wiretapping and assassinations. We knew Orwell was prescient. We just didn't how pin-pointy accurate he would turn out to be. As Greenwald says, the liberal pundits who blasted the war crimes of Bush, Cheney & Rumsfeld now owe them a huge apology.  


Occupy Your Inner Orwell


22 comments:

Anne Lavoie said...

Here is a piece from the Guardian today. Substitute Obama for Putin, and it could explain the New York Times commenters these days.

"Polishing Putin: Hacked Emails Suggest Dirty Tricks By Russian Youth Group
Exclusive: Nashi runs web of online trolls and bloggers paid to praise Vladimir Putin and denigrate enemies, group claims."

"Apparently sent between November 2010 and December 2011, the emails appear to confirm critics' longstanding suspicions that the group uses sinister methods, funded by the Kremlin, to attack perceived enemies and pay for favourable reports while claiming that Putin's popularity is unassailable."

"They provide particular insight into the group's strategy to boost pro-Putin coverage on the internet, which in contrast to television is seen as being ruled by the opposition. Several emails sent from activists to Potupchik include price lists for pro-Putin bloggers and commenters, indicating that some are paid as much as 600,000 roubles (£12,694) for leaving hundreds of comments on negative press articles on the internet."

"...spends huge sums of money to create the illusion of Putin's unfailing popularity.

Ok, I'm going back into hibernation now.

Denis Neville said...

Five difficulties writing the truth and the divisive and the corrupt political cesspool threatening to drown us…

George Orwell’s essay, “Politics and the English Language,” concludes with this observation: “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

Bertolt Brecht also explored the abuses of language in an essay entitled, “Writing the Truth: Five Difficulties.”

"Nowadays, anyone who wishes to combat lies and ignorance and to write the truth must overcome at least five difficulties. He must have the courage to write the truth when truth is everywhere opposed; the keenness to recognize it, although it is everywhere concealed; the skill to manipulate it as a weapon; the judgment to select those in whose hands it will be effective; and the cunning to spread the truth among such persons. These are formidable problems for writers living under Fascism, but they exist also for those writers who have fled or been exiled; they exist even for writers working in countries where civil liberty prevails." - Bertolt Brecht, Galileo

http://ricardo.ecn.wfu.edu/~cottrell/ope/archive/
0903/att-0196/fiveDifficulties_brecht.pdf

“All these five difficulties must be overcome at one and the same time…and at the same time we must do it so cunningly that the enemy will not discover and hinder our offer of the truth.”

Both Orwell and Brecht recognized that language shapes and limits our thoughts. Without the deceitful manipulation of words, the misdirection and misleading of public opinion by our government would be far more difficult. Our main stream media participates in the misinformation and deception by restricting the range of permissible opinion and thereby limiting the level and depth of critical thought. In addition to the big lies, more subtle methods of propaganda, less easily noticed than the big lies, half-truths, omissions, deceptions, and innuendos, are as equally potent.

There are two ways in which people are controlled. First, fear. Second, demoralization. An educated, healthy and confident nation is harder to govern.

Without truth-seekers and truth-tellers, our oppressors (the 1 %) and their minions in Washington will continue to rule by way of fear and ensure silence and acquiescence.

James F Traynor said...

The thing that makes this real for me is the sight of a wildlife biologist strapped to a lie detector because he reported seeing polar bears swimming long distances to reach ice. He works for the federal government and had to endure this indignity because of politics. The poor bastard. He thought he was a professional, a scientist but he works for the feds, Obama's feds, and was being taught a lesson in political expediency.

Denis Neville said...

Greg Sargent on new Washington Post poll, “Liberals, Dems approve of drone strikes on American citizens abroad”

“Depressingly, Democrats approve of the drone strikes on American citizens by 58-33, and even liberals approve of them, 55-35."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/post/liberals-dems-approve-of-drone-strikes-on-american-citizens-abroad/2012/02/08

Do they know that “One-Third of Americans Known to Have Been Killed in Drone Strikes Were US Servicemen?”

http://www.emptywheel.net/2012/02/08/one-third-of-americans-known-to-have-been-killed-in-drone-strikes-were-us-servicemen/

“The first time it was reported that our friends were being butchered there was a cry of horror. Then a hundred were butchered. But when a thousand were butchered and there was no end to the butchery, a blanket of silence spread.

When evil-doing comes like falling rain, nobody calls out "stop!"

When crimes begin to pile up they become invisible. When sufferings become unendurable the cries are no longer heard. The cries, too, fall like rain in summer.”

― Bertolt Brecht, Selected Poems

Valerie said...

These are depressing times for sure. I am very demoralised by the fact that so many Democrats have resigned themselves to Obama and are making themselves feel better by buying into the lies that the Obama machine disseminates (like settling with the banks for a fraction of the profits they reaped while destroying our economy and giving them a legal slap on the wrist is some kind of accomplishment that benefits the rest of us – or that signing the NDAA is a good thing) the MSM is helps spread. That despite a proven record of turning on the Middle and Working Classes in this country they are optimistically believing Obama's campaign rhetoric and his - what would you call them - attempts to sell something that is a giveaway to his corporate donors as something good for the country – like his giveaway to the health care industry and leaving Iraq.

We have a country full of people who are either oblivious (bought off by cheap stuff and the belief that nothing bad will ever happen to them personally) or as Denis wrote, afraid or demoralised. Count me in on that last two. I am terribly afraid that we are past the point of no return and very demoralised. The only thing keeping me going is the small hope that Occupy will continue (despite the black bloc) to be a light that won't be extinguished and that we can still find the truth in the blogosphere.

@James – that is a horrible story! Is there a link where I can read the whole sorry tale? These fundamentalist churches encourage ignorance and have thus been the tool of powerful corporate interests. We should be ashamed of embracing ignorance over science yet it appears that there is no shame. These poor scientists who are standing their ground are to be lauded for their integrity.

Jay - Ottawa said...

I once had hope -- and maybe I should still have hope -- that Occupy was the unexpected spark, the new truth teller on the scene. Its message was simple, clear and began to go viral. Some of its spokespersons from Zuccotti were so winning on serious TV. Some brilliant tactics in the streets, like mic check and that projector show against a skyscraper. Chalk one up for truth. A good start.

We were worried initially that self-serving politicians and limp liberals would co-opt OWS. But other leeches, not from the establishment, have begun to eat away OWS's promise. At too many Occupy sites lately, campers have exchanged the discipline of nonviolence for the release of insults, chest beating and violent acts. Excellent tactics for losing the argument for justice.

Look at videos of recent expulsions, like that of DC last weekend. Pick any of the score available on Youtube, most taken by the OWS itself. The police, some on pretty horses, press on -- tight-lipped without pepper or clubs. OWS DC responds with no ideas, no preparation, no tactics, no real theater, no persuasion other than inchoate shouting and salvos of the "F" word. Not so brilliant. Will that win over police, bystanders and the uncommitted?

The second worm in the rose is "the black block," mentioned earlier by Valerie. See Hedges at Truthdig for the details on the black block, part agent provocateur, part dirt-stupid nihilists setting the new tone for OWS. Before OWS can raise any consciousness across the land, it must first figure out how to confront and distance itself from the jerks, agents and especially the black block within its own ranks.

OWS will regain authority to teach truth to the many when it learns the 101 of nonviolent resistance. In its current mode of mindless confrontation OWS makes the police -- and the authorities behind the police -- look good.

Nothing like betting on a horse that turns around half way through the race to run in the wrong direction.

Curtis J. Evans said...

I was among those who took your words too literally and did not notice the sarcasm. In my defense, your comments followed so many other defenses of Obama's abominable abdication of principles that I though it was simply another string of indefensible defenses. This is such a sad development. It is not so much because I had any extraordinarily high hopes for the president, but rather because this would have been such a grand and daring moment for someone to show public disgust with our corrupted system, whatever the consequences might be to reelection. But such did not happen. Alas political expediency wins again.

Denis Neville said...

"I don't know" flies on mighty wings

Wislawa Szymborska, Nobel Prize in Literature 1996, Nobel Lecture, December 7, 1996 Excerpts:

“Inspiration is not the exclusive privilege of poets or artists generally. There is, has been, and will always be a certain group of people whom inspiration visits. It's made up of all those who've consciously chosen their calling and do their job with love and imagination…Their work becomes one continuous adventure as long as they manage to keep discovering new challenges in it. Difficulties and setbacks never quell their curiosity. A swarm of new questions emerges from every problem they solve. Whatever inspiration is, it's born from a continuous "I don't know."

“There aren't many such people. Most of the earth's inhabitants work to get by. They work because they have to. They didn't pick this or that kind of job out of passion; the circumstances of their lives did the choosing for them. Loveless work, boring work, work valued only because others haven't got even that much, however loveless and boring - this is one of the harshest human miseries. And there's no sign that coming centuries will produce any changes for the better as far as this goes…

“All sorts of torturers, dictators, fanatics, and demagogues struggling for power by way of a few loudly shouted slogans also enjoy their jobs, and they too perform their duties with inventive fervor. Well, yes, but they "know." They know, and whatever they know is enough for them once and for all. They don't want to find out about anything else, since that might diminish their arguments' force. And any knowledge that doesn't lead to new questions quickly dies out: it fails to maintain the temperature required for sustaining life. In the most extreme cases, cases well known from ancient and modern history, it even poses a lethal threat to society.

“This is why I value that little phrase "I don't know" so highly. It's small, but it flies on mighty wings. It expands our lives to include the spaces within us as well as those outer expanses in which our tiny Earth hangs suspended…

“The world - whatever we might think when terrified by its vastness and our own impotence, or embittered by its indifference to individual suffering, of people, animals, and perhaps even plants, for why are we so sure that plants feel no pain; whatever we might think of its expanses pierced by the rays of stars surrounded by planets we've just begun to discover, planets already dead? still dead? we just don't know; whatever we might think of this measureless theater to which we've got reserved tickets, but tickets whose lifespan is laughably short, bounded as it is by two arbitrary dates; whatever else we might think of this world - it is astonishing.”

Szymborska countered a totalitarian government with poems that praise the commonplace miracle; that so many common miracles take place; read her “MIRACLE FAIR” here:

http://www.panhala.net/Archive/Miracle_Fair.html

Wisława Szymborska, poet, born 2 July 1923; died 1 February 2012

EPITAPH
“Here lies, oldfashioned as parentheses,
the authoress of verse. Eternal rest
was granted her by earth, although the corpse
had failed to join the avant-garde, of course.
The plain grave? There's poetic justice in it,
this ditty-dirge, the owl, the meek cornflower
Passerby, take your PC out, press "POWER",
think on Szymborska's fate for half a minute.”
- Wisława Szymborska

Zee said...

Hi, Valerie--

Here's a link to get you started on the “Polarbeargate” incident. It includes some additional links on the same subject.

http://environmentaleducationuk.
wordpress.com/2011/10/29/climate-change-update-scientist-faces-lie-detector-test/

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find any information more recent than late 2011 on what has been happening with this inquisition.

And “inquisition” is just what it is. If there are questions about the validity of what wildlife researchers Jeffrey Gleason and Charles Monnett did in their investigation into drowning polar bears, then the answers are (1) the peer review process and (2) subsequent investigations by any doubting scientists. NOT polygraph tests by a government organization.

While I have my own doubts about the accuracy of dire predictions regarding the extent to which anthropegenic global warming threatens the very existence of life on this planet, witch hunts by “climate change deniers” are simply wrong.

The answer is to let the scientific process work itself out, as it inevitably does. Just ask Galileo.

@James F. Traynor, thanks for calling this to my attention, as I was unaware of it.

Denis Neville said...

“Repulsive progressive hypocrisy,” Glenn Greenwald

“Blind leader loyalty one of the worst toxins in our political culture: it’s the very antithesis of what a healthy political system requires (and what a healthy mind would produce). One of the reasons I’ve written so much about the complete reversal of progressives on these issues (from pretending to be horrified by them when done under Bush to tolerating them or even supporting them when done by Obama) is precisely because it’s so remarkable to see these authoritarian follower traits manifest so vibrantly in the very same political movement — sophisticated, independent-minded, reality-based progressives — that believes it is above that, and that only primitive conservatives are plagued by such follower-mindlessness.”

http://www.salon.com/2012/02/08/repulsive
_progressive_hypocrisy/singleton/

Truth falls on Obamabots deaf ears, but Obama’s lies prick them up.

Ignorance is Strength

“Once policy becomes the hallmark of both political parties, then public opinion becomes robust in support of it. That’s because people assume that if both political parties support a certain policy that it must be wise, and because policies that enjoy the status of bipartisan consensus are removed from the realm of mainstream challenge.”

From the Advocacy Center for Equality and Democracy:

“Polling data suggests that a significant number of people who identify as belonging to a political party (a) change their values to conform to the policies of their party, and/or (b) change their values to oppose the leader of the other party. Either is totally inconsistent with a citizen’s role in a democracy.”

http://equalityanddemocracy.org/?p=89

“As a citizen and a voter in our democracy, is your role to blindly follow your leader, or to use your political power (your vote) to promote and protect your values? Are your values your own, or do you let your political party define them for you?”

“If you have real values, and if you hope to have any real impact with your vote; if you don’t want be a mere automaton predictably picking red or blue over and over again without regard to policy, you have to think for yourself and stand up for your values.”

“Every day, to earn my daily bread I go to the market where lies are bought. Hopefully I take up my place among the sellers.” - Bertolt Brech

John in Lafayette said...

Brilliant response to Gail Collins today, Karen.

Karen Garcia said...

Thanks John.
@Readers,
Gail wrote about the Catholic bishops v. White House birth control pill kerfuffle. My response:

If the bishops were as Christian as they like to profess, they would be lobbying Congress for Medicare for All and urging the Pope to issue a proclamation declaring for-profit health insurance to be an occasion of mortal sin. They should be demanding universal health care and eradicating poverty instead of nitpicking over chemicals and latex.

That is not going to happen. So how about this: if the bishops so despise the United States government dictating health care policy to them, they should just stage a revolt. Maybe they could throw tons of birth control pills into Boston Harbor and declare "No taxation without representation!"

What? They don't pay any taxes? Well then, let's pressure the President and Congress and get that changed, shall we? I think the going corporate rate would be more than fair. And no loopholes allowed, or plenary indulgences either! All the money collected from the world's richest institution can then go into a special women's health care collective, or even Planned Parenthood, and the bishops will never again have to worry their pretty little red-capped heads about women's uteri.

James F Traynor said...

Valerie,
This was the last report I could dig up.
http://www.npr.org/2011/10/14/141365935/polar-bear-researcher-to-be-re-interviewed-by-feds?ps=rs
Everyone seems to be clamming up. Now the story is that the polygraph was only suggested by federal investigators but no statement as to whether or not it was actually given. I distinctly remember seeing a picture purporting to be the occasion.

Denis Neville said...

World of hypocrisy…Obama’s dancing to the arrogance of Catholic bishops (women don't count, and never have) and their dimwitted birth control stance

Willing to compromise? Compromise the health, well-being, human rights, and economic security of women because Obama is afraid to stand up to a minority of old, hypocritical white men who believe that women have no rights or role in society?

"Hawaii” solution?

Catholic backlash?

Contraceptives are used by 98 percent of sexually-active women in the United States; including 98 percent of Catholic women.

As Charlie Pierce said, “These bastards needed to be broken, publicly, and into a thousand pieces that were scattered to the winds.”

http://www.rte.ie/news/2011/0720/cloyne1.html

Cardinal Josef Ratzinger said: 'Standards of conduct appropriate to civil society or the workings of a democracy cannot be purely and simply applied to the Church.'

“I am making it absolutely clear, that when it comes to the protection of the children of this State, the standards of conduct which the Church deems appropriate to itself, cannot and will not, be applied to the workings of democracy and civil society in this republic. Not purely, or simply or otherwise. CHILDREN.... FIRST.”

Instead, they are "voices of conscience" again.

Cardinal Egan retracts apology on sexual abuse crisis.

“I never should have said that, I don’t think we did anything wrong.”

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/07/cardinal-egan-criticized-for-retracting-apology-on-sex-abuse-crisis/

This is the "moral leadership" that now demands the government deny affordable access to birth control?

“Although every organized patriarchal religion works overtime to contribute its own brand of misogyny to the myth of woman-hate, woman-fear, and woman-evil, the Roman Catholic Church also carries the immense power of very directly affecting women's lives everywhere by its stand against birth control and abortion, and by its use of skillful and wealthy lobbies to prevent legislative change. It is an obscenity -- an all-male hierarchy, celibate or not, that presumes to rule on the lives and bodies of millions of women.” - Robin Morgan

Kat said...

Kids-- Time to go shopping!

http://store.barackobama.com/

DreamsAmelia said...

I understand the religious impulse to want to be "reborn." Some days I feel I have never even started embarking on my education until this day, so startling is a revelation that had seemingly been withheld from me my whole life.

Finding Jack London's anthology of 5 novels--_The People of the Abyss_, _The Road_, _The Iron Heel_, Martin Eden, and _John Barleycorn_, it now makes perfect sense why London's name in school begins and ends with "Call of the Wild" and "To Build a Fire." His real meat and soul is just so radical and revolutionary the best recourse is to try to emphasize the least controversial at the expense of the most vivid.
In these 4 novels he expresses so many themes brought up by Orwell, and shows how the flourishing Socialist Party of the era (of which he was nominated as candidate for Oakland, CA in 1905) was a hope for a viable 3rd party alternative to the conniving RepubaDems, as OWS is but a shadow of today.
The themes of austerity, blaming the poor, smugness, insularity, myopia, nationalism, partisanship-- hit with every bit as sharp and pointy tips as Orwell. I am now halfway through _Martin Eden_, London's stunning autobiography which is Horatio Alger and Liza Doolittle("My Fair Lady"?) rolled into one.

All the comments and clips and themes so engagingly expressed in this blog, even the black block of the agent provocateurs at OWS,are fully alive in each of these first 4 novels. It is as if the myth of Sisyphus is true, and though we think our days and times are all new, we, as a species, have been running in the same political tracks, inequalities, and visions of reform and revolution as our ancestors, virtually unchanged.

Kat said...

Oh, and of course they're offering yoga pants.

The swag is made in the USA, but I would like to know just where in the USA-- a prison? Northern Mariana Islands? Lowell, MA?(well, we can safley rule that one out).

Denis Neville said...

@ James F Traynor – re: polar bear scientist encountering the “Ministry of Love” for being a “thought criminal;” currently, no doubt (haven't seen any recent news), undergoing the infliction of misery, fear, and suffering so as to instill love of Big Brother.

I remember this from last summer. I think I even posted a rant here about it as just another example of my ongoing disillusionment with the Obama administration (Gulf Oil spill fiasco + opening the Artic for drilling)

Briefly, Dr. Charles Monnett, PhD, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEM), which placed him on "administrative leave", citing "integrity issues."

The Interior Dept. Inspector General is apparently investigating (being conducted by criminal investigators with no scientific training or background) the 2006 paper of Dr. Monnett’s published in the journal Polar Biology, which reported sightings of drowned polar bears in open waters. His paper galvanized scientific and public appreciation for the profound effects that climate change may already be having in the Arctic. Although the IG probe had been going on for months, Dr. Monnett was suddenly suspended on July 18, 2011, due to the IG’s “on-going inquiry.” He was not informed of any specific charge or question relating to the scientific integrity of his work, nor has it been clear why the IG has mounted a multi-month investigation of a five-year-old journal article.

Supporting Dr. Monnett is The Centre for Biological Diversity, which has submitted a formal request for an independent investigation of Interior and a Freedom of Information Act request in order to get to the bottom of the story…Archive for Center for Biological Diversity @

http://my.firedoglake.com/edwardteller/tag/center-for-biological-diversity/

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, which defends workers in the environmental field against what it regards as abuses, has filed a complaint accusing the ocean energy bureau of scientific misconduct., which defends workers in the environmental field against what it regards as abuses, has filed a complaint accusing the ocean energy bureau of scientific misconduct.

http://www.peer.org/news/news_id.php?row_id=1503

Totalitarianism is alive and well!

James F Traynor said...

Zee,
Science and politics do not mix well and science and organized religion actually repel each other. But, given a choice, I'd sooner attract the ire of, say, a Falwell than a Koch. Government scientists are particularly conscious of this. It has been my experience that, generally speaking, scientists (though not as much so as engineers) tend to be conservative to begin with and government employment makes them even more so. That's why this bit with the polar bears interested me. Why would a biologist stick out his neck like this? The answer is that he really didn't know that he (they) was (were) doing so. He just thought he was performing his job.

Global warming has become a political litmus test to such an extent that mere data is not enough to justify a statement. Anything that supports or questions it is met with a barrage of uninformed invective. And sometimes informed invective; scientists are often at each others throats. And anthropogenic responsibility? Perish the thought. Particularly when it attracts the animosity of the energy business.

Denis Neville said...

@ Zee – I missed your earlier comment on the “Polarbeargate” incident

Yes, The answer is to let the scientific process work itself out, as it inevitably does. Just ask Galileo.

“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.” - Galileo Galilei

Sadly, many are not heeding Galileo’s wise counsel.

“Who’s More Anti-Science: Republicans or Democrats?” Comparing the applied ignorance of our two major political parties

http://reason.com/archives/2011/12/27/whos-more-anti-science-republicans-or-de

“GOP might be anti-science, but so are Democrats,” Alex Berezow, who argued that “for every anti-science Republican, there is at least one anti-science Democrat. Neither party has a monopoly on scientific illiteracy. Indeed, ignorance has reached epidemic proportions inside the Beltway.”

http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/story/2011-09-20/gop-democrats-science-evolution-vaccine/50482856/1

Chris Mooney, responding to Berezow, “This is a truly mind-boggling statement. What is this numerical claim based on?”

“Political conservatives in the U.S. today have overwhelming problems with science. They reject, in large numbers, mainstream and accepted knowledge on fundamental things about humans and the planet–evolution, global warming, to name a few."

http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/09/22/326556/classic-false-equivalence-on-political-abuse-of-science/

“There are those who reason well, but they are greatly outnumbered by those who reason badly.” - Galileo Galilei

Denis Neville said...

On this Bankster Bailout Day, All Hail Obama! “The Great Vaccinator”

Major crimes are met not with justice, but with immunity!

Neopopulist Obama?

“Democracy is the worship of jackals by jackasses.” - H.L. Mencken

Per Jane Hamsher, the banksters are “released from liability for out-right defrauding millions of homeowners. In exchange, families defrauded by the banks can apply for what amounts to 2 months rent ($1,800-$2,000) compensation for losing their homes.”

“At a time when America needs leaders to fight for justice and accountability, they chose to advance their own careers by protecting the corporations and bankers of the oligarch class — hoping that a few press releases filled with platitudes echoed through an expensive propaganda machine will fool a credulous public.”

http://fdlaction.firedoglake.com/2012/02/09/
schneiderman-victims-share-your-thoughts-on-the-settlement/

“The court system will be permanently corrupted by forged and perjurious documents…This settlement is an incredible breach of the social contract between the government and the governed.” - former Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia Kouril

“Obama’s Guiding Principle: Leave No One Accountable,” Scarecrow:

“The Obama Administration has followed a predictable pattern we now recognize. It has consistently functioned like criminal defense counsel, whose mission is to get their criminal clients, the major corporations and executives who fund their elections, off with no admission of guilt, no forced resignations, and as little harm to their reputation, or that of the counsel, as possible. To do this, they neutralize anyone with an ounce of public purpose in their veins.”

http://my.firedoglake.com/scarecrow/2012/02/09/obamas-guiding-principle-leave-no-one-accountable/

Matt Taibii is feeling pretty queasy, “Why the Foreclosure Deal May Not Be So Hot After All”

“Shame on me for ever thinking that might be a good thing.”

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/why-the-foreclosure-deal-may-not-be-so-hot-after-all-20120209

Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism:

“We'll now have to listen to banks and their sycophant defenders declaring victory despite being wrong on the law and the facts. They will proceed to marginalize and write off criticisms of the servicing practices that hurt homeowners and investors and are devastating communities. But the problems will fester and the housing market will continue to suffer. Investors in mortgage-backed securities, who know that services have been screwing them for years, will be hung out to dry and will likely never return to a private MBS market, since the problems won't ever be fixed. This settlement has not only revealed the residential mortgage market to be too big to fail, but puts it on long term, perhaps permanent, government life support.”

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/02/the-top-twelve-reasons-why-you-should-hate-the-mortgage-settlement.html

Told you so.

How can anyone vote to retain this man in power?

Jay - Ottawa said...

If Orwell were still around, not only would he be approaching 110 years, he would probably be working on a sequel to "1984" called "2012." Today, as in the Thirties, western societies are slipping one by one into the same old ruts.

'Baby Doc' Duvalier, the accursed spawn of 'Papa Doc,' is settling back comfortably with old associates in accursed Haiti with the new government's blessing. In Europe Viktor Orbán is taking Hungary into full-bore fascism. And the US -- you're not going to believe this -- ah, but I see you already know.

Quite natural that we should take turns channeling Orwell. Here's my take on how Orwell might define the word 'purist' for Obama as the latter stands on his steaming mound of PAC money:

Purist: Someone who repeatedly criticizes me for repeatedly endorsing policies I repeatedly castigated, with eloquence, in key pronouncements before and after my first inauguration.