Another view of Black Friday…
Another view of Black Friday…
Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels
“Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.”
The propaganda nation has ascended, and Americans remain profoundly ignorant of what it is their empire does around the world. They largely believe what they are told by authority figures, even if what they are told makes no logical sense. Even if what they are told contradicts the evidence in front of their faces. Even if the liars have clear motives for lying to them. Even if similar situations floated right past the liars in the past without comment, clear hypocrisy.
I have called such pathetic ignorance criminal, naming a new category of misdemeanor, criminal ignorance. In a democracy the citizens are responsible for informing themselves about critically-important situations, and not relying on one side’s baseless claims. Sitting back and being told what to think by the government or by the profit-driven media is not informing one’s self. The responsibility of citizens, in a democratic republic, is to sort the liars from the truth tellers. When citizens shirk this responsibility they are derelict in their civic duties, as they cannot make sound, rational decisions. Thus the decisions they do make: giving support, voting, influencing others, are negligent, reckless, unsound and should be called out. That is criminal ignorance.
In America far too much of the public is criminally ignorant about most important issues, including war and peace. So they are ripe for the Big Lie, the technique of Hitler, which is now routinely executed by US politicians.
One such Big Lie is the Obama Jihad against Bashar al Assad, claiming that Assad used chemical weapons on August 21 and a whole lot of other times previously. No evidence has ever come out to connect the Syrian military to any gas attack, and yet every single instance is blamed on Assad by the propaganda wing of the insurgents, and then these accusations are dutifully repeated by Western media and Western government officials.
What evidence has emerged is that the Al Nusra terrorist groups in Syria have used Sarin gas, repeatedly. Quite a different narrative.
The Big Lie depends also on censoring out the other side. So when UN Investigator Carla del Ponte tells the world that it was the opposition rebels and not the Syrian government this cannot be mentioned by the Big Liars. This evidence is not permitted to be relayed to the masses. This crucial evidence – if one is actually concerned about civilian deaths – passes by as if it never happened. The Big Liars are exposed by what they will not say, as well as what they do say.
“…[T]hus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.”
- Mein Kampf, vol. I, ch. X
An immoral foreign policy depends upon deception. Citizens cannot know that they are responsible for atrocities half a world away, or else they might act on this knowledge. As the masses are so willingly ignorant, this is not difficult to achieve as long as the press agrees to limit its sources and revelations.
This is academic. It is a fait accompli, and has been the status quo for the entire modern age. See Manufacturing Consent if you’re unfamiliar with the way corporate media churns out one-sided foreign policy “news.”
The game is set. Only the players and the skirmishes change. The goal of empire is to expand empire and to take more profit from outside, thus enabling it to maintain its position of global domination and to reward those who are favorable to its agenda. It is a self-perpetuating juggernaut that grows out of control and eventually destroys itself by overreaching. That’s how history has shown the evolution to be. Destruction can be slow or rapid. In the nuclear age, it can come in minutes. It’s a high-stakes game this war and peace. Those who see themselves as invincible will overreach faster and in more spectacular fashion. While Hitler lied himself into a massive empire and built a military never before witnessed on earth, even his five-year plans were cut short.
Published at OpEdNews
by Joe Giambrone
Ideology is the modern plague, because ideologues have all the answers already. Every event, every situation fits the mold of their beliefs, and contrary evidence is discarded in the service of bolstering said ideology. This is easily seen in the people one disagrees with on a regular basis, but nearly never acknowledged in one’s own determinations.
I have been wrong (as has the NY Times), and have occasionally written based on assumptions rather than on cold hard analysis. That is the obvious danger of having partial information. I’ve also corrected these assertions and moved on. I have no problem being mistaken if I am proved wrong – the key word being proved.
Many people simply do not understand the concept of unproved or unknown issues. This occurs when several competing explanations can hold true, but the actual truth is unknown, as in the case of classified state secrets, or hidden criminal conspiracies (often the same thing). The public simply cannot know based on available information. In that case multiple explanations may exist, but it is impossible to determine which – if any – is the correct one. What we have are ever growing bodies of evidence to analyze.
These are Donald Rumsfeld’s “known unknowns.” It is a perfectly valid analysis and probably more fitting much of the time than many of the snap rushed judgments of ideologues on the left, right and particularly the centrists, who are a breed unto themselves. Unknowns are unthinkable to the ideologue, quite literally; these cannot be thought of in that manner. Ideologues know, just like Tom Cruise “knows.” They know. Their leaders know, and usually the factions fall in line without a second thought. A different reality would crush them, or would force them to think, rather than to place events into easily managed ideological boxes.
“Everybody’s talkin’ about Bagism, Shagism, dragism, Madism, Ragism, Tagism, This-ism, That-ism, ism, ism, ism.” – John Lennon , Give Peace a Chance
This psychological reality motivates those with the power to classify events as secret. Withholding information from citizens is a very useful strategy indeed. If the truth cannot be determined, then the people will continue to scramble to make sense of the events, usually by contorting the few known facts into an acceptable ideological narrative. Secrecy prompts the common people to stay busy. By following false leads and misinformation people waste valuable time and resources attempting to comprehend the secret event and resolve the conflicting evidence. Even insider whistleblowers with partial knowledge of the actual event are sidelined, as they usually cannot explain the full extent of the hidden state secret, nor name the names, dates, contacts and all the related evidence required to fully expose the wrongdoing. This is the “compartmentalization” organizational model, which is the gold standard in covert operations, and is well known and employed by intelligence services. Whistleblowers are also routinely censored by the mainstream news, and most citizens simply never hear what they have to say.
The next option, if one’s strategy is to distract the population, is disinformation. Deliberately false information, those “conspiracy theories” we hear so much about in the corporate media, are valuable to those seeking to keep secrets hidden. As more false leads are provided for people to pursue, less time and effort is spent pursuing the true leads. The more outlandish the disinformation, the better it can discredit those who choose to investigate it. By simply discrediting people and discouraging them from investigating secret events, those who create the secrets are empowered and shielded from public accounting. That is the game. How have you been playing it?
Needless to say, this has not been an academic discussion. These observations are the result of firsthand observations over many years. The events in question are easily named, but this paper concerns the strategies behind the flows of information. A strategy can apply to many events. A strategy is employed because it works. This strategy is proven, and it has a long track record.
Media censorship is a critical factor in keeping the population misinformed and distracted. This may sound counterintuitive to some, as the media, your TV news, newspapers and magazines, present themselves as the informers of public awareness, the leaders of investigation. But what aren’t they telling you? What is not permitted to appear in these sources?
It’s not hard to find that out, actually. Media censorship is a well-studied phenomenon in the United States. The Project Censored group is perhaps the best known clearinghouse of censored critical information here. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) is also a notable media watchdog, as is PR Watch, Medialens and others. To understand what is not permissible on public airwaves is to understand the reality of our governing system. Washington, with its financiers from Wall Street, its Military-Industrial-Complex and its multinational corporate sector, rule through deception and not through honesty and full disclosure. Deception is the default position, not an anomaly.
Case in point, when the United States military drops bombs in one of its many war theaters, the initial story told by the military is almost always that the enemy was killed; those killed are described as “militants” or “terrorists” or “high value targets” or some other euphemism for bad guys. When independent sources investigate these incidents later the truth tends to come out. Children, innocent families, weddings, funerals, first responders, these are the actual victims of many US bombings. But the US public has already been told that they were “enemy combatants.” The likelihood that the domestic public will ever hear about the correction from the US wall of media noise is very slim indeed. Thus a false overall impression of US military operations is maintained and believed by a large percentage of the population. This is a mechanism for promoting a global empire to the common people.
Occam, The Misunderstood
When someone mentions “Occam’s Razor,” it is usually a telltale sign that they wish to avoid actual investigation and settle for the obvious or simple explanation. Thus all complicated crimes are rejected outright as many cling to this false faith-based argument instead of investigating the facts fully. Highly complicated crimes are therefore abandoned to “the experts” perhaps rightly so considering the labor commitment required to understand them. But one cannot simply trust the experts, particularly when these experts are challenged by factual, evidence-based refutation.
The scientific method relies upon disproving the impossible: if x, then y cannot be true. As new evidence emerges, old assumptions are tossed out. Occam’s full meaning aligns with this search for evidence and with the elimination of assumptions.
Whenever anyone makes a claim, be they the President of the United States, the Deputy Director of the CIA, or your mother, but they are unable or unwilling to prove the truth of their claim with evidence, then the choice to believe what they say is clearly an assumption. Governments rely upon this tendency of the majority to assume that leaders are telling the truth.
Ronald Reagan went on television to tell glaring falsehoods to the nation during the Iran Contra Scandal revelations in the press, but he was soon forced to return to the airwaves and to apologize for it.
“A few months ago I told the American people ‘I did not trade arms for hostages.’ My heart and my best intentions still tell me that’s true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not.”
–President Ronald Reagan, March 4, 1987
So what is an investigator to do?
Personally, I follow leads and weigh their veracity against known patterns. It’s a natural process. Most people lack the time and knowledge to investigate more fully. Professionals dig far more deeply than I could, leaving me somewhere in the middle. It’s telling to note which incontrovertible facts are censored by the self-aggrandizing “free press.” Censorship is like a bright flashing beacon that lures us to pick up the slack. While it takes no coordination or collusion to investigate an obvious lead, the practice of censoring the truth across a wide swath of the media, numerous entities, numerous newsrooms, numerous channels, must be more deliberate and intentional. Pay attention to the verboten. Pay close scrutiny to what those who are handsomely paid to inform the public will never admit to “on the record.” To manipulate a society as large and as varied as ours is a feat indeed. But it’s happening, every single day 24/7. The publicly accepted term for this is “spin.” Spinning the news works because only 5 or 6 media oligarchies control what the overwhelming majority of the public exposes themselves to daily. Be aware.
A Central Intelligence Agency honcho named Frank Wisner once bragged that he could play the American media like a “Mighty Wurlitzer,” one of those ghastly carnival organs. The CIA’s Operation Mockingbird had already infiltrated “friendly” US media sources, the owners and the talking heads entrusted to inform the nation. An historical track record of what the CIA did exists and reveals what they wanted to accomplish. Within 6 years of the CIA’s founding, already President Eisenhower was setting up a “Special Group” (5412) to keep the rogue CIA covert operations in check. How can anyone assume that things have somehow changed in the bowels of secret state power? If anything it has gotten more sophisticated with the advent of computers and globalization, not less. The advantage is clearly with those who understand these matters, and not with the primarily ignorant worker class.
Crucial information about the state of the world today flows from top to bottom, and that is by design. An air of distrust surrounds all grassroots journalism, those “bloggers” and worse whom the public is fearmongered into rejecting. Without official blessing, be it governmental or corporate, the public mind is by and large not free to think for itself. As unreliable as both government and corporate media have proven to be, countless times in the past, it is these sources that maintain a strict hold on the public information channels. If it didn’t happen on shiny corporate TV News then it didn’t happen.
“Information is Power”
So what is the rational response to selective censorship? Clearly what we have is not total censorship, as some facts slip through from time to time. Not all newsrooms are so easily intimidated, particularly at the local level. Foreign desks often report what the entire United States media self-censors across the nation. Some alternative websites collate these news stories, but their reliability and thoroughness are spotty. A variety of sources is recommended, a hedging of bets, a diversification of the information portfolio.
Paul Thompson noted this treasure trove of foreign reporting and uncensored local reports, and so he founded the History Commons website to keep track of the many thousands of reports streaming in concerning this alleged “War on Terrorism.” His approach was to use only actual newspaper reports, dated, verified and summarized for ease of research. Slogging through the History Commons site is like diving down Alice’s rabbit hole, and can consume a reader for hours. Topics are searchable by names as well as by specific dates.
And so we research, we learn and we use what we have learned to try and understand the things that the current military empire does not want us to know. This can be an ideological affair, or it can be evidence-based, but it can’t be both. The ideologue tosses out all contrary facts, no matter how true they may be, as they are inconvenient to maintaining the integrity of his ideology. Thus, ideology is the enemy of truth, the enemy of understanding, and the enemy of reality. That is why I call it a modern plague, for fundamentalist ideology lies at the root of most world problems. The other major underlying root problem is apathy, mass apathy and ignorance.
Beside the smug ideologist and the somnambulant apathetic couch potato is the realist, the evidence-based thinker. In my view that is the only tenable position.
by Jennifer Epps
Charles Darwin turned 204 this year, but his birthday didn’t make as big of a splash as Abe Lincoln’s (both were born February 12, 1809) because Darwin didn’t have a giant Hollywood epic movie playing in theatres. But those who champion what Darwin revealed, or who care about great apes and their intelligence, might want to look into the DVDs of several movies from recent years in honor of Earth Week.
All four great apes suffer when confined in captivity (over 3000 great apes are held in captivity in the U.S.); at the same time, they are disappearing from the wild due to poaching and habitat loss. Things are pretty serious for all of our great ape cousins, but it is our closest relatives, the chimpanzees, who have arguably had it the worst because in addition to other evils, they have been subjected to brutal experimentation in labs, abused by the entertainment industry, exploited by the pet trade, and even been sacrificed in space.
Fortunately, after many decades of struggle by their advocates, things are starting to look up for the chimpanzee, or Pan Troglodyte. At least it seems so judging by their gains in federal policy and public support, and the enlightened ways they have been depicted in several notable recent movies – an indicator of an improvement in how filmmakers think we see apes.
The U.S., the only developed country still using this species in invasive medical experiments, has now taken significant strides toward cutting down their use by labs. First, a December 2011 Institute of Medicine report commissioned by the National Institute of Health (NIH) concluded that ‘most current use of chimpanzees for biomedical research is unnecessary’. A committee of experts then set about scrutinizing all NIH-funded projects making use of chimps. Within 9 months, the NIH authorized the retirement of 113 government-owned chimpanzees, and began transferring them to sanctuaries. Moreover, in January of this year a NIH task force of scientists, the Health Working Group, deemed laboratories unable to meet the needs of chimpanzees and called for a halt to the breeding of chimpanzees and a gradual end to existing biomedical research grants for projects with chimps. They recommended the government retire 300 other chimps from its labs, suggesting just 50 chimps be retained for possible future experiments.
This is long-overdue progress and will have a real practical effect on the quality of life of these chimps. This is clearly evident from footage this spring of freshly released NIH research chimps seeing sunlight and the outdoors for the first time after decades of incarceration. However, if invasive research and the keeping of chimpanzees in laboratory facilities is inhumane, then it’s just as inhumane for the unfortunate 50 chimps who have to stay behind. And Stephen Rene Tello, the executive director of Texas-based sanctuary Primarily Primates, has other concerns, since the government is maintaining ownership of all the chimps. “What happens if someone decides they suddenly need chimpanzees for research again?” Tello fears: “they’ll send them right back to the labs.”
Meanwhile, research on chimps continues in the private sector. While the efforts of animal protection agencies have raised awareness, and a string of pharmaceutical companies such as Idenix Pharmaceuticals, GlaxoSmithKline, Novo Nordisk and Gilead Sciences, Inc. have promised not to use chimps in their research, there are still 950 chimps in labs in the U.S. being used as industrial test subjects.
Thankfully, a strong movement exists to persuade Congress to pass the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act, a bill to ban the use of chimpanzees in invasive research (and save the Treasury $250 million dollars in a decade).
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a group that both opposes vivisection and advocates for human health (and whose legislative leader is Dennis Kucinich’s wife Elizabeth), is one of the organizations passionately campaigning for this bill, which has been introduced by allies in session after session. PCRM reports the encouraging news that the bill garnered record support in the 112th congress, with close to 200 co-sponsors in the House and Senate. Its supporters will be back to try again. The film world and Washington politics meet here, as James Franco, the headliner of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, also endorsed the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act in this PCRM video.
The world of entertainment and policy intersect in another way where great apes are concerned. An international campaign is afoot to end the use of great apes as performers in entertainment (chimps and orangutans being the ones generally used) and it is spearheaded by tireless chimpanzee champion Jane Goodall, as well as by national animal advocacy groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). The opposition stems in part from the fact that there is no way to police how the animals are trained – though the American Humane Association (AHA) monitors the treatment of animal performers while they’re on set, no-one assesses the techniques the trainers use in private to condition the animals to obey their commands. (And moreover, there are numerous criticisms of the integrity of the AHA’s monitoring operations, which have very limited authority and which are financed by the studios themselves.)
Plenty of incidents have been recorded of routine brutality toward ape actors, who begin their careers at very young ages, while they can still be dominated by human beings. The allegations of chimp abuse on the set of 2008’s Speed Racer are just the tip of the iceberg.
Primatologist Sarah Baeckler, who witnessed a culture of beatings of young performing chimps as a volunteer at Amazing Animal Actors ranch in Malibu, points out: “Healthy, young chimpanzees are playful, curious, energetic, and mischievous, but these traits don’t serve them well when training begins, so one of the things that chimpanzees in the entertainment industry have to endure is an initial ‘breaking of the spirit.’ In other words, they have to learn how NOT to act like normal chimpanzees.” Baeckler goes on to state that “abuse and physical violence are seemingly commonplace in this industry, and it’s not even a secret. In fact, it’s taught in a training school [Moorpark College’s Exotic Animal Training and Management program] that is currently producing many future animal trainers and zoo workers.” One indicator of how prevalent the abuse may be is the ubiquitousness of chimp performers ‘grin’ — far from being gleeful, that grimace on chimpanzees is an expression of fear.
When apes get older they are no longer manageable even by brutes (typically, an 8 year-old chimp is already too dangerous to keep), and so they are sent to live somewhere else, often a sub-par roadside zoo where their housing and care are inadequate and they are isolated and bored. (Decent, accredited zoos won’t accept them because apes in such zoos now live in group installations, and chimps reared among humans are at sea in the complicated dynamics of chimp society; they can’t protect themselves from the aggression of dominant chimps.)
If they are lucky enough to end up at an enlightened ape sanctuary, this places the burden for their care on the philanthropic animal-charity community. The trainers who profited off of them (and traumatized them) just go on to acquire other young chimps.
And there are even more far-reaching reasons to ban the use of ape actors.
A 2008 survey found that the public is less likely to think that chimpanzees are endangered compared to other great apes. This may well be partly because chimps are so familiar to viewers from their use in commercials, circuses, and on greeting cards. (The truth is all four types of great apes are endangered.)
A 2011 study by Ross et al. has shown the power of even simple imagery: participants who were shown photos of a chimp standing next to a human were 35.5% less likely to deem chimpanzees as endangered or declining than those who saw photos of chimps alone.
These images can also boost the pet trade: participants who viewed these photos of chimps coexisting with humans were 30% more likely to believe that a chimp would make a good pet. (Charla Nash, the Connecticut woman who was attacked by former-performer Travis in 2009, would beg to differ, since her encounter with the 200-pound male chimp resulted in her face and hands being ripped off; she is now blind, has had a full face transplant, and now has to live in a nursing home at age 57). )
Some celebrities have taken a stand against the use of ape actors in entertainment, like Angelica Huston, Alec Baldwin, Cameron Diaz, and Bob Barker. And public pressure campaigns have convinced numerous companies – including Capital One, Dodge, Pizza Factory, and Pfizer — to can chimp ads for good.
However, Career Builder has been for several years one of the most prolific employers of chimpanzee performers through its series of humorous, office-based, TV ads.
Even though the trainer of the chimps used in the ads has been excoriated for cruelty by animal activists –- and his first round of chimps has already been shuffled off to sanctuaries — Career Builder has taken a defiant stand for several years when faced with complaints against its ads. For example, Stephen Ross of Lincoln Park Zoo’s Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes in Chicago has submitted his objections to Career Builder every year since 2005 without receiving a reply. (This is in spite of the fact that a Duke University study found that the ads were not even very effective.)
But there may be some good news: in 2013 Career Builder refrained from buying air time during the Super Bowl, as they had so often done. It is still too early to tell whether they will stop using chimp performers.
And there is yet more good news, especially for those who care about film and its social impact. Listed below are five recent movies, straddling a range of genres, which depict chimps in enlightened ways which communicate that our evolutionary siblings are highly social, intelligent, and sensitive animals. Two of these movies are strong indictments against conducting medical research on chimpanzees, and none of these films utilize trained chimpanzees as performers. Instead they used performance capture, puppet animatronics, documentary file footage, patient nature photography, and claymation.
The filmmakers here often employ a shorthand which suggests that they believe the audience already has a high level of respect for chimpanzees, and that it is ready to believe in quite sophisticated simian abilities. This is very encouraging because it is surely an inevitable step from that belief to a conviction that chimpanzees deserve far better treatment from us.
Ohio Romney Rally – Interviews with Supporters
(May induce nausea and fits of hysterical, nervous laughter.)
The ballot initiative to give the public the “right to know” if their food is genetically altered in a laboratory (Prop 37) has failed by 53/47%. The Monsanto and partners disinformation blitz, to the tune of $44 Million or more, succeeded in confusing citizens and convincing them to directly vote against their own interests. It helped the corporate gang that their slush fund was able to sway several large newspapers into siding with them and to tell their readers to oppose their own basic rights.
The blame, however, ultimately rests upon the people themselves. Ignorance can be combatted with education, yet often that’s not the case. People are far too willing to believe well-told lies rather than expend the energy to investigate the truth for themselves. They are molded from childhood to be passive receptacles of information rather than curious seekers of knowledge. This style of factory-worker programming is widespread and a relic from the recent past industrial age. Workers were not expected to question, but to passively obey, thus the non-thinking majority.
Another facet of the disinformation on Proposition 37 is the myth of technocratic solutions to all problems. If science can do it, then it must be good. The scientists know more than the couch potatoes, and so these naturally defer to the so-called experts, or any paid PR flak posing as an expert.
The Monsanto, Dupont, Dow, Bayer crowd’s “expert” du jour was one Dr. Henry I. Miller, who was one of the monkey wrenchers at the Food and Drug Administration in 1992, when their policy of allowing any and all corporate experiments in genetics to be sold as “food” was first codified. Miller wrote a book that could serve as Monsanto’s bible on GMOs:
“The products of the new biotechnology often were regarded as though they were mysterious and alien substances transported here from another galaxy, instead of the result of precise and well-understood scientific processes.”
Mr. Miller has a problem understanding that the results of eating these products over the long term are an imprecise and completely non-understood experiment that has not been completed. The experiments are currently ongoing, but have no controls, no limitations and no mechanisms for stopping them. The guinea pigs and rats are the human beings populating America and other nations, and with no “precise” method of predicting harm to vital organs and systems, Mr. Miller’s efforts will likely result in catastrophic harm to millions. Or is it billions?
While inserting genes may be a “precise” and “well-understood” process, what the genes actually do to the organism after being inserted is not precise or well-understood at all. Those are the actual findings of the FDA scientists who directly contradicted their political/industrial masters like Miller at the time. Honest scientists have been contradicting these rosy estimates ever since. Peer-reviewed animal studies with GMO foods regularly show tumors, organ failures and even death.
Mr. Miller has quite a history with these issues, and during the recent “No on Proposition 37” campaign, he was repeatedly caught misrepresenting organizations: first Stanford University and then the FDA itself. He may be under FBI investigation for fraudulently using the FDA’s seal in his mailings to voters. Stanford forced him to reshoot his television commercial and to not show their campus in the background nor claim to speak for the university.
Miller has spoken for a number of other interesting issues over his career. In addition to ramming genetic experiments down the throats of the nation, Miller has had prior love affairs with tobacco, DDT pesticides, the pharmaceutical industry – again concerning the need to get rid of all that pesky safety-testing – as well as with Exxon and even with radiation, claiming that the Japanese people “”could actually have benefited” from the Fukushima meltdown!
Oh yes. This is the man who led the forces of deceit and disinformation to victory this week in California. Voters would rather not know what they are feeding their children than to have to think about any such matters again. One wonders if 53% of the population has ever read a nutrition label in their lives. One may even notice the shape, the literal bulbous round shape of their co-citizens as they hobble about or ride the electric carts through the supermarkets. These people will be protected from having to read yet another label or having to make a choice about it. Thank God for that. We have too much choice, you see, and too much knowledge at our disposals. It’s all too much, and we really need saviors like Dr. Miller to sort it all out for us and tell us what to do.
Those who look at numbers might be interested to know that only 52.3% of registered voters showed up, and it’s difficult to know how many don’t even bother to register. As 8.7 million registered California voters didn’t even bother to cast a ballot for anything, perhaps we are really at the limits of democracy. The cracks have widened and the integrity of the system is crumbling. There are many ways to look at the fact of low voter turnout, and many will spin it this way or that. Some will champion the non-voter as some kind of hero. One thing is certain: when they don’t show up, they affect nothing. Those who assume power don’t care a bit about them. Their influence is nothing. Their prospects are slim for gaining anything in the political processes that will scrape on without them. They have failed to even make a statement in favor of a third-party opposition candidate. They have abdicated their responsibilities as citizens.
Will GMO labeling be back?
Count on it. Count on it passing next time, too. The gloves come off. Now we show the deformed rats, the bulging tumors busting out of the bodies of Monsanto corn fed test animals. Now we get in your face and show the birth defects and the dead litters of rats fed Monsanto Round-Up Ready soy – the same stuff you’re feeding your own children. Now we step up our game and directly challenge your ignorance when you worry about the profit potential of the Genetic Engineering industry.
The GMO lobby’s scare tactics involved telling California completely unfounded rumors of food prices skyrocketing if they were forced to disclose to the consumers what they are actually buying. Is that the way economics actually works however?
What is the economics 101 analysis of this situation? The GMO food producer places a mandatory label on his stuff. The consumer sees this label and notes how this GMO altered variety is less desirable than the non-GMO variety sitting next to it. The consumer uses his free will and free choice to choose the non-GMO natural variety to feed her family. How does this affect the price of the GMO foods in the real world? Will they go up? Rubbish. They will be less desired. In the parlance of the economists, the “demand” is reduced. With less “demand” comes less price. The price goes down, not up.
The only people concerned about GMO labeling affecting food prices are the corporations who produce them, who have voluntarily spent tens of millions of dollars to mislead California. They didn’t spend these millions on behalf of consumers in order to keep prices down. Quite the opposite. They sell their defective, experimental “food like substances” which masquerade as the real thing, the natural product. If they were no longer allowed to hide under the cover of the natural product’s name and image, the prices of these Frankenfoods would plummet! They would be quite difficult to sell, compared to real, natural, unadulterated crops. Their seeds would be rejected, as the crops produced with them would fetch less money than crops produced naturally. Monsanto et. al. would lose money and lots of it.
That’s why they lie to you. That’s their interest and motivation. What’s yours?
This is an interesting guerrilla journalism video, finding people who easily believe the sins of Romney, but are astounded to learn that these are Barack Obama’s actual policies. The level of ignorance out there is frightening, and the responses to learning about the reality equally as frightening. People blindly support the Democrat as the lesser of two evils without a second thought. They are ignorant of third parties, and they are ignorant of ongoing criminal behavior by the US government. This is what the wholesale collapse of democracy looks like.
by Jeff Sparrow
In the late sixties and early seventies, the Swiss quack Erich von Daniken made a fortune peddling a hundred different iterations of his ‘Chariots of the Gods’ thesis, asserting that sundry unusual artifacts from prehistory provided proof of extraterrestrial intervention.
As everyone knows, the von Daniken hokum plays a central role in Prometheus, the dire new Ridley Scott movie. But what’s interesting is how Scott wrenches this ‘ancient astronauts’ hooey from its original context and re-articulates it for the epoch of the Tea Party.
Chariots of the Gods recognizably stems from the same milieu as Carlos Castanedas’ equally preposterous The Teachings of Don Juan, both of which appeared in 1968. The sixties radicalization fostered a surge of interest in Third World cultures and alternative spiritualties, and in his own demented way, von Daniken presented his research as a quest for truths ignored or suppressed by the mainstream of which the New Left had become understandably suspicious.
In Prometheus, by contrast, it’s not the establishment that’s dangerous – it’s knowledge itself.
Thus the specialistschosen to explore the mysteries of human origins react to their mission like frat boys interrupted on the way to a kegger. But it’s not simply that they’re so disinterested in the prospect of scientific discovery that, once inside the alien monument, you expect them to leave off surveying in order to light their own farts. It’s also that they’re shown as perfectly correct to jeer at the high-falutin’ theories that have spurred the mission: in this movie, curiosity inevitably results in a swift and grisly death.
In Scott’s version of the Greek myth, Prometheus got what was coming to him: the secret of fire belonged to our betters and man had no business messing with it. The film portrays inquiry as inherently suspect, with the most admirable characters openly refusing to learn anything about the new world around them.
‘I just fly the ship,’ says the captain, as if he’s driving a school bus rather than piloting an expedition into uncharted space. His subsequent self-sacrifice accords with the peculiar notion of heroism that has evolved over the last decade – the hero as a taciturn blue-collar everyman, intuitively hostile to the nonsense spouted by an overeducated elite. One thinks of Peggy Noonan’s infamous explanation of how, in the wake of 9/11, intellectualism departed, giving way to ‘masculine men, men who push things and pull things and haul things and build things.’
And then there’s the film’s treatment of religion.
Von Daniken’s thesis, at least in its early incarnation, expressed a sixties’ skepticism about traditional Christianity, since the attribution of ancient cave paintings and Biblical scriptures to the same alien source provided an obvious challenge to conventional dogma.
In Prometheus, on the other hand, the ancient astronauts actually confirm the faith of the central character, Elizabeth, largely, it seems, on the basis that the extraterrestrial role in shaping humanity discredits Darwinism, the eternal bête noire of the fundamentalist right. When her drippy boyfriend suggests that proof of interstellar beings manufacturing humanity poses a teensy problem for believers (ya think?), Elizabeth shoots back, like Sarah Palin sassing the New York Times: ‘Well, who made them?’
As James Bradley points out, the religiosity that runs throughout the movie is immediately identifiable as the pop Christianity associated with conservative megachurches, a creed that can assimilate any kind of woo hoo into its theology. For many Americans, religion now entails less a coherent set of doctrines than a homemade assemblage scrabbled together from TV evangelists and the Left Behind books and Hallmark cards about angels and whatever else comes to hand, and so there’s no reason why identifying God as a cosmic astronaut should pose any particular dilemma.
‘It’s what I choose to believe,’ says Elizabeth, neatly voicing the contemporary sense that sincerity matters more than truth. ‘True for me’ is, of course, a notion entirely at odds with 2000 years of Christianity, and thus an illustration of the paradoxical secularism now embedded in so much contemporary religion. As we learned during the Bush years, even (or perhaps especially) for fundamentalists, truth has given way for what Stephen Colbert calls ‘truthiness’, a knowledge that resides in the gut rather in the brain, a way of understanding the world that depends more on emotion than intellect.
That’s the spirit suffusing Scott’s movie, a vapidity that means it’s unable to invest profound questions about human origins with any excitement whatsoever. Symptomatically, the aliens aren’t in any way alien – they’re just muscled-up white people, an advanced culture demonstrating its superiority via more effective Nautilus machines.
In place of any intellectual wonder, the elaborate CGI effects deliver only bombast, in headache-inducing 3D. Nora Ephron once compared reading Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls to ‘masturbating while eating M&Ms’. The high-tech eye candy of Prometheus produces the same kind of onanistic stupor, without the inconvenience of having to turn pages.
All of this makes a depressing contrast with Scott’s Alien (and even James Cameron’s Aliens). Those films introduced Sigourney Weaver as a new kind of female protagonist – a woman who was smart, cynical and tough. Prometheus reverts to a much more familiar treatment of a woman in charge, with Charlize Theron’s Meredith Vickers rehearsing the old trope of the castrating bitch with daddy issues. The earlier paranoia about the faceless corporations controlling the ship has also vanished, replaced by a backstory about succession in a family business, like something you’d hear in a small claims court.
The sad truth is that this is not a movie about another planet so much as a representation of where our world’s at. The Engineers have their enormous stone temple; we have Prometheus, an expensive monument to a culture enmeshed in self-regarding idiocy.