Sunday, September 28, 2008

AIPAC gets told

So the Israel Lobby goes down like a Boeing 747 in flames with screaming tourists. It was the Democratic leadership of the House of Representatives (with the help of Iranian-American, Jewish-American, peace, and church groups) that handed an unusual defeat to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) by preventing the House Congressional Resolution (HR) 362 from going through. This is a resolution that was designed to lay the groundwork for the Bush administration or any successor administration to take military action against Iran.

AIPAC's New York Democrat Rep. Gary Ackerman stated ''We'll resubmit it when Congress comes back, and we'll have even more signatures,''

What we don't see in the resolution however is that in one clause it stated that 'nothing in this resolution shall be construed as an authorization of the use of force against Iran'. This seems to be a form of justification to go ahead with a blockade against Iran, which is deemed an act of war under international law.

It costs a lot of money to run a blockade, especially when you don't even have it....

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Trendy in Tehran

In a nation governed by the Islamic hand that promotes veiling and covering of the body for women, it is wonderful to see how the people have found an answer to make the ugly restriction beautiful. The bright side of life is always a pleasant feeling, although the removal of the restriction as a whole would be even better.

CNN VIDEO

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

RFID tags implanted in physical objects or human beings

If incorporating personal details into an RFID (radio-frequency identification) chip implanted into a passport or driver's license may sound like a "smart" alternative to endless lines at the airport and intrusive questioning by securocrats, think again.

Since the late 1990s, corporate grifters have touted the "benefits" of the devilish transmitters as a "convenient" and "cheap" way to tag individual commodities, one that would "revolutionize" inventory management and theft prevention. Indeed, everything from paper towels to shoes, pets to underwear have been "tagged" with the chips. "Savings" would be "passed on" to the consumer. Call it the Wal-Martization of everyday life.

RFID tags are small computer chips connected to miniature antennae that can be fixed to or implanted within physical objects, including human beings. The RFID chip itself contains an Electronic Product Code that can be "read" when a RFID reader emits a radio signal. The chips are divided into two categories, passive or active. A "passive" tag doesn't contain a battery and its "read" range is variable, from less than an inch to twenty or thirty feet. An "active" tag on the other hand, is self-powered and has a much longer range. The data from an "active" tag can be sent directly to a computer system involved in inventory control--or surveillance.

More...

But as Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering (CASPIAN), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) state in a joint position paper, "RFID has the potential to jeopardize consumer privacy, reduce or eliminate purchasing anonymity, and threaten civil liberties." As these organizations noted:

While there are beneficial uses of RFID, some attributes of the technology could be deployed in ways that threaten privacy and civil liberties:

* Hidden placement of tags. RFID tags can be embedded into/onto objects and documents without the knowledge of the individual who obtains those items. As radio waves travel easily and silently through fabric, plastic, and other materials, it is possible to read RFID tags sewn into clothing or affixed to objects contained in purses, shopping bags, suitcases, and more.

* Unique identifiers for all objects worldwide. The Electronic Product Code potentially enables every object on earth to have its own unique ID. The use of unique ID numbers could lead to the creation of a global item registration system in which every physical object is identified and linked to its purchaser or owner at the point of sale or transfer.

* Massive data aggregation. RFID deployment requires the creation of massive databases containing unique tag data. These records could be linked with personal identifying data, especially as computer memory and processing capacities expand.

* Hidden readers. Tags can be read from a distance, not restricted to line of sight, by readers that can be incorporated invisibly into nearly any environment where human beings or items congregate. RFID readers have already been experimentally embedded into floor tiles, woven into carpeting and floor mats, hidden in doorways, and seamlessly incorporated into retail shelving and counters, making it virtually impossible for a consumer to know when or if he or she was being "scanned."

* Individual tracking and profiling. If personal identity were linked with unique RFID tag numbers, individuals could be profiled and tracked without their knowledge or consent. For example, a tag embedded in a shoe could serve as a de facto identifier for the person wearing it. Even if item-level information remains generic, identifying items people wear or carry could associate them with, for example, particular events like political rallies. ("Position Statement on the Use of RFID on Consumer Products," Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, November 14, 2003)


RFID under the skin

As the corporatist police state unfurls its murderous tentacles here in the United States, it should come as no surprise that securocrats breathlessly tout the "benefits" of RFID in the area of "homeland security." When linked to massive commercial databases as well as those compiled by the 16 separate agencies of the "intelligence community," such as the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) that feeds the federal government's surveillance Leviathan with the names of suspected "terrorists," it doesn't take a genius to conclude that the architecture for a vast totalitarian enterprise is off the drawing board and onto the streets.

As last week's mass repression of peaceful protest at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul amply demonstrated, the Bush regime's "preemptive war" strategy has been rolled out in the heimat. As the World Socialist Web Site reports,

On Wednesday eight members of the anarchist protest group the Republican National Convention Welcoming Committee (RNCWC) were charged under provisions of the Minnesota state version of the Patriot Act with "Conspiracy to Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism."

The eight charged are all young, and could face up to seven-and-a-half years in prison under a provision that allows the enhancement of charges related to terrorism by 50 percent. ...

Among other things, the youth, who were arrested last weekend even prior to the start of the convention, are charged with plotting to kidnap delegates to the RNC, assault police officers and attack airports. Almost all of the charges listed are based upon the testimony of police infiltrators, one an officer, the other a paid informant. (Tom Eley, "RNC in Twin Cities: Eight protesters charged with terrorism under Patriot Act," World Socialist Web Site, 6 September 2008)

As the ACLU pointed out, "These charges are an effort to equate publicly stated plans to blockade traffic and disrupt the RNC as being the same as acts of terrorism. This both trivializes real violence and attempts to place the stated political views of the defendants on trial," said Bruce Nestor, president of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. "The charges represent an abuse of the criminal justice system and seek to intimidate any person organizing large scale public demonstrations potentially involving civil disobedience," he said.

An affidavit filed by the cops in order to allow the preemptive police raid and subsequent arrests declared that the RNCWC is a "criminal enterprise" strongly implying that the group of anarchist youth were members of a "terrorist organization."

Which, as we have learned over these last seven and a half years of darkness, is precisely the point: keep 'em scared and passive. And when they're neither scared nor passive, resort to police state tactics of mass repression. While the cops beat and arrested demonstrators and journalists outside the Xcel Energy Center, neanderthal-like Republican mobs chanted "USA! USA!" while the execrable theocratic fascist, Sarah Palin, basked in the limelight. But I digress...


Likened to barcodes that scan items at the grocery store check-out line, what industry flacks such as the Association for Automatic Identification and Mobility (AIM) fail to mention in their propaganda about RFID is that the information stored on a passport or driver's license is readily stolen by anyone with a reader device--marketers, security agents, criminals or stalkers--without the card holder even being remotely aware that they are being tracked and their allegedly "secure" information plundered. According to a blurb on the AIM website,

Automatic Identification and Mobility (AIM) technologies are a diverse family of technologies that share the common purpose of identifying, tracking, recording, storing and communicating essential business, personal, or product data. In most cases, AIM technologies serve as the front end of enterprise software systems, providing fast and accurate collection and entry of data. ("Technologies," Association for Automatic Identification and Mobility, no date)

Among the "diverse family of technologies" touted by AIM, many are rife with "dual-use" potential, that is, the same technology that can keep track of a pallet of soft drinks can also keep track of human beings.

Indeed, the Association touts biometric identification as "an automated method of recognizing a person based on a physiological or behavioral characteristic." This is especially important since "the need" for biometrics "can be found in federal, state and local governments, in the military, and in commercial applications." When used as a stand-alone or in conjunction with RFID-chipped "smart cards" biometrics, according to the industry "are set to pervade nearly all aspects of the economy and our daily lives."

Some "revolution."

The industry received a powerful incentive from the state when the Government Services Administration (GSA), a Bushist satrapy, issued a 2004 memo that urged the heads of all federal agencies "to consider action that can be taken to advance the [RFID] industry."

An example of capitalist "ingenuity" or another insidious invasion of our right to privacy? In 2006, IBM obtained a patent that will be used for tracking and profiling consumers as they move around a store, even if access to commercial databases are strictly limited.

And when it comes tracking and profiling human beings, say for mass extermination at the behest of crazed Nazi ideologues, IBM stands alone. In his groundbreaking 2001 exploration of the enabling technologies for the mass murder of Jews, communists, Roma and gays and lesbians, investigative journalist Edwin Black described in IBM and the Holocaust how, beginning in 1933, IBM and their subsidiaries created technological "solutions" that streamlined the identification of "undesirables" for quick and efficient asset confiscation, deportation, slave labor and eventual annihilation.

In an eerie echo of polices being enacted today against Muslims and left-wing "extremists" by the corrupt Bush regime in their quixotic quest to "keep America safe" in furtherance of capitalist and imperialist goals of global domination, Black writes:

In the upside-down world of the Holocaust, dignified professionals were Hitler's advance troops. Police officials disregarded their duty in favor of protecting villains and persecuting victims. Lawyers perverted concepts of justice to create anti-Jewish laws. Doctors defiled the art of medicine to perpetrate ghastly experiments and even choose who was healthy enough to be worked to death--and who could be cost-effectively sent to the gas chamber. Scientists and engineers debased their higher calling to devise the instruments and rationales of destruction. And statisticians used their little known but powerful discipline to identify the victims, project and rationalize the benefits of their destruction, organize their persecution, and even audit the efficiency of genocide. Enter IBM and its overseas subsidiaries. (IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance Between Nazi Germany and America's Most Powerful Corporation, New York: Crown Publishers, 2001, pp. 7-8)

As security and privacy analyst Katherine Albrecht writes describing IBM's patented "Identification and Tracking of Persons Using RFID-Tagged Items in Store Environments,"

...chillingly details RFID's potential for surveillance in a world where networked RFID readers called "person tracking units" would be incorporated virtually everywhere people go--in "shopping malls, airports, train stations, bus stations, elevators, trains, airplanes, restrooms, sports arenas, libraries, theaters, [and] museums"--to closely monitor people's movements. ("How RFID Tags Could Be Used to Track Unsuspecting People," Scientific American, August 21, 2008)

According to the patent cited by Albrecht, as an individual moves around a store, or a city center, an "RFID tag scanner located [in the desired tracking location]... scans the RFID tags on [a] person.... As that person moves around the store, different RFID tag scanners located throughout the store can pick up radio signals from the RFID tags carried on that person and the movement of that person is tracked based on these detections.... The person tracking unit may keep records of different locations where the person has visited, as well as the visitation times."

Even if no personal data are stored in the RFID tag, this doesn't present a problem IBM explains, because "the personal information will be obtained when the person uses his or her credit card, bank card, shopper card or the like." As Albrecht avers, the link between the unique RFID number and a person's identity "needs to be made only once for the card to serve as a proxy for the person thereafter." With the wholesale introduction of RFID chipped passports and driver's licenses, the capitalist panoptic state is quickly--and quietly--falling into place.

If America's main trading partner and sometime geopolitical rival in the looting of world resources, China, is any indication of the direction near future surveillance technologies are being driven by the "miracle of the market," the curtain on privacy and individual rights is rapidly drawing to a close. Albrecht writes,

China's national ID cards, for instance, are encoded with what most people would consider a shocking amount of personal information, including health and reproductive history, employment status, religion, ethnicity and even the name and phone number of each cardholder's landlord. More ominous still, the cards are part of a larger project to blanket Chinese cities with state-of-the-art surveillance technologies. Michael Lin, a vice president for China Public Security Technology, a private company providing the RFID cards for the program, unflinchingly described them to the New York Times as "a way for the government to control the population in the future." And even if other governments do not take advantage of the surveillance potential inherent in the new ID cards, ample evidence suggests that data-hungry corporations will.

I would disagree with Albrecht on one salient point: governments, particularly the crazed, corporate-controlled grifters holding down the fort in Washington, most certainly will take advantage of RFID's surveillance potential.

In 2005 for example, the Senate Republican High Tech Task force praised RFID applications as "exciting new technologies" with "tremendous promise for our economy." In this spirit, they vowed to "protect" RFID from regulation and legislation. Needless to say, the track record of timid Democrats is hardly any better when it comes to defending privacy rights or something as "quaint" as the Constitution.

Under conditions of a looming economic meltdown, rising unemployment, staggering debt, the collapse of financial markets and continuing wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. imperialism, in order to shore up its crumbling empire, will continue to import totalitarian methods of rule employed in its "global war on terror" onto the home front.

The introduction of RFID-chipped passports and driver's licenses for the mass surveillance and political repression of the American people arises within this context.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Right Dictates MSNBC's Programming Decisions

MSNBC's announcement that it is replacing Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews with David Gregory as anchors for its main political events (the upcoming presidential debates and election) vividly illustrates several long-obvious facts. First, nothing changes the behavior of our media corporations more easily than vocal demands and complaints from the Right, which petrify media executives and cause them to snap into line. From today's New York Times article identifying some of the causes for MSNBC's decision:

The change -- which comes in the home stretch of the long election cycle -- is a direct result of tensions associated with the channel's perceived shift to the political left. . . . When the vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin lamented media bias during her speech, attendees of the Republican convention loudly chanted "NBC" . . . . Mr. Olbermann, a 49-year-old former sportscaster, has become the face of the more aggressive MSNBC, and the lightning rod for much of the criticism. . . . The McCain campaign has filed letters of complaint to the news division about its coverage and openly tied MSNBC to it. . . . Al Hunt, the executive Washington bureau chief of Bloomberg News, said that the entire news division was being singled out by Republicans because of the work of partisans like Mr. Olbermann.

More...This was preceded by an episode in May in which White House Counselor Ed Gillespie "sent a scathing letter to NBC News, accusing the news network of 'deceptively' editing an interview with President Bush on the issue of appeasement and Iran." Gillespie warned NBC as follows:

I'm sure you don't want people to conclude that there is really no distinction between the "news" as reported on NBC and the "opinion" as reported on MSNBC, despite the increasing blurring of those lines. I welcome your response to this letter, and hope it is one that reassures your broadcast network's viewers that blatantly partisan talk show hosts like Christopher Matthews and Keith Olbermann at MSNBC don't hold editorial sway over the NBC network news division.

Yesterday, Gillespie got exactly the "response" that he demanded from a super-compliant MSBNC. There is no question whatsoever that the Bush administration, the McCain campaign, and the Right generally have recently made it a top priority to force MSNBC to remove Olbermann (and Chris Matthews) from playing a prominent role in its election coverage, and MSNBC has now complied with the Right's demands. Does it need to be explained why it is disturbing in the extreme that the White House and the McCain campaign can so transparently dictate MSNBC's programming choices?

Second, in response to media criticism that the press is insufficiently substantive and adversarial to political power, the claim is frequently made that media outlets are simply driven by the profit motive, and that their programming choices are nothing more than a by-product of ratings. But in MSNBC's case, that is plainly untrue. Back in 2003, they actually canceled their highest-rated program, Phil Donahue's show, for purely ideological reasons -- because, at a time when the establishment "liberal media" were systematically amplifying the Government's pro-war views and excluding anti-war views, that short-lived MSNBC show was one of the only venues in America where one could hear anti-war viewpoints, and NBC's fear of angering the Government and the Right clearly caused them, first, to impose extreme and unusual restrictions on the show's content, and then to cancel it altogether.

And now here is MSNBC publicly removing (and therefore diminishing) the person who is, by far, its most valuable asset: Keith Olbermann. The NYT article noted:

As Mr. Olbermann raised his voice, his ratings rose as well, and he now reaches more than one million viewers a night, a higher television rating than any other show in the troubled 12-year history of the network. As a result, his identity largely defines MSNBC. "They have banked the entirety of the network on Keith Olbermann," one employee said. . . . At an anniversary party for Mr. Olbermann in April, [NBC CEO Jeff] Zucker called "Countdown" "one of the signature brands of the entire company."

The irrefutable fact is that nothing attracts ratings for MSNBC -- and nothing has attracted ratings in the entire history of that channel -- the way that Olbermann does. Yet here is MSNBC removing him from the anchor position, reducing his role in its political coverage, and clearly diminishing his stature (and implicitly criticizing his coverage). That is extraordinary for a media company to publicly embarrass, diminish and tarnish its own principal asset. It is plainly doing so for ideological, not ratings-based, reasons: namely, it fears doing anything to anger the White House, the McCain campaign and the Right in this country.

Third, this episode demonstrates what Eric Alterman documented several years ago: that the greatest and most transparent myth in American politics is that the U.S. has a "liberal media." That is a myth that is maintained, first and foremost, by defining anyone who isn't Rush Limbaugh as a "liberal." Hence, people such as the wife of Bush official Dan Senor (Campbell Brown) is a "liberal," as is Alan Greenspan's wife (Andrea Mitchell), along with establishment-worshipers such as Rush-Limbaugh-admirer Brian Williams, right-wing-talking-points-
spouting Charlie Gibson, and anyone who writes for the war-enabling New York Times and Washington Post.

Perhaps nothing demonstrates this absurd dynamic more than the painfully inane perception that Chris Matthews -- for years a prime target of liberal media critics -- is some sort of "liberal." That's the same "liberal" Chris Matthews who, over the years, has said things like this:

I like [George Bush]. Everybody sort of likes the president, except for the real whack-jobs, maybe on the left . . . We're proud of our president. Americans love having a guy as president, a guy who has a little swagger, who's physical, who's not a complicated guy like Clinton or even like Dukakis or Mondale, all those guys, McGovern. They want a guy who's president. Women like a guy who's president. Check it out. The women like this war. I think we like having a hero as our president. . . . Why don't the damn Democrats give the president his day? He won today. He did well today. . . . Thank you very much. James Jeffrey, assistant to Condoleezza Rice. We're huge fans [of Rice] -- bring her back with you next time.

Or see the "liberal" Matthews fawning over Fred Thompson's attractive manliness and Rudy Giuliani's powerful authority and the charming masculinity of Republicans versus the "geekier, nerdier" Democrats. That is who is deemed to be a "liberal" in our political culture because the reality, as Atrios frequently puts it, is that the only hard and fast rule is: "Your liberal media: no liberals allowed."

This has been going on for years. As I wrote in response to the uproar generated at places like The New Republic over the fact that MSNBC has now given an actual liberal, Rachel Maddow, her own show and is thereby jeopardizing non-partisan, objective, high-minded journalism:

Over the past seven years, the following people have hosted prime-time cable news shows: Joe Scarborough (MSNBC), Michael Savage (MSNBC), Glenn Beck (CNN), Tucker Carlson (MSNBC), Nancy Grace (CNN), Bill O'Reilly (Fox) and Sean Hannity (Fox). None of that seemed to bother the likes of [TNR's Sacha] Zimmerman. None of that was depicted as the downfall of objective journalism or the destruction of civil, elevated, high-minded discourse.

Several of those hosts had and continue to have atrocious ratings (Carlson, Beck, Scarborough), yet were kept for years.

Beyond that, network and cable shows routinely convene panels filled with right-wing views and devoid of anything remotely approaching liberalism, and that creates no controversy. Just this past weekend, I subjected myself while traveling to ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, and the panel discussing Sarah Palin was composed of right-wing ideologue George Will, establishment-spokesperson Cokie Roberts, and reporter Sam Donaldson. That is typical for television panels: right-wing partisans such as Will are "balanced" not by any liberals but by allegedly "neutral journalists" such as Roberts or Donaldson. That's because the Right has created a reality where anyone who isn't explicitly Rush Limbaugh is deemed to be a "liberal" (hence, Donaldson likely qualifies) and no actual liberal ever needs to be included. That's how we have a "liberal media" where the principal rule is that actual liberals are systematically excluded, and it's why the ascent of Olbermann (who is, in fact, far more of a Bush critic than a doctrinaire liberal) has created such turmoil -- because it violates that central rule prohibiting liberals from appearing in the Liberal Media.

Finally, and perhaps most notably of all, Olbermann's role as anchor somehow destroys the journalistic brand of both MSNBC and NBC, while Fox News continues to be deemed a legitimate news outlet by our political and media establishment. Fox does this despite (more accurately: due to) its employing Brit Hume as its main anchor -- someone who is every bit as partisan and ideological as Keith Olbermannn is (at least), who regularly spews the nastiest and most vicious right-wing talking points, yet because he's not a liberal, is deemed to be a legitimate news anchor.

The Washington Post's Howie Kurtz -- while repeatedly lamenting the ascent of Olbermann (and Maddow) as a threat to objective journalism -- proclaims that "Hume is no partisan brawler" while Charlie Gibson gushes: "He has a wonderful style which makes you want to hear what Brit has to say, in an age when so many people are in your face." The Associated Press recently declared that Fox News has never gone as far as MSNBC in producing partisan news coverage, asserting that "Olbermann's popularity and evolving image as an idealogue (sic) has led NBC News to stretch traditional notions of journalistic objectivity" and that "Fox has never done that, perhaps mindful of the immediate controversy that would result." Even the NYT article this morning echoed this view of Fox, noting:

While some critics argued that [Olbermann's] assignment was akin to having the Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly anchor on election night -- something that has never happened -- MSNBC insisted that Mr. Olbermann knew the difference between news and commentary.

The proper analogy to Olbermann as anchor is not O'Reilly as anchor, but Brit Hume as anchor. Hume explicitly acknowledges his political conservatism. His entire show relentlessly promotes a right-wing narrative. Every night, he convenes panels composed of right-wing partisans such as Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, Fred Barnes, and Mort Kondracke, and -- at most -- sometimes "balances" that with one of those allegedly neutral journalists such as Mara Liasson. Everything Brit Hume touches is designed to promote a right-wing perspective, yet he continues to be held out as some sort of legitimate news anchor -- he actually hosted a Democratic Party presidential debate in 2004 -- while MSNBC's promotion of Keith Olbermann is some unique threat to the profession of journalism.

The single dumbest claim in our political culture is that the huge corporations which own our establishment media outlets promote a "liberal" ideology. Why would General Electric ever use NBC and its other media assets to promote political liberalism? They lavishly benefit from the whole panoply of right-wing policies -- from endlessly expanding defense spending to deregulation. Their multiple businesses depend upon maintaining good relations with the right-wing ideologues who run our Government. Even ignoring all of the above-documented empirical facts, the very idea that a corporation like GE -- or Viacom (CBS), Disney (ABC) and Time Warner (CNN) -- would actively promote a left-wing agenda in its news divisions and undermine the very Government power centers on which they rely has been the most self-evidently moronic premise one can imagine. As Viacom CEO Sumner Redstone confessed in 2004:

Senator Kerry is a good man. I've known him for many years. But it happens that I vote for Viacom. Viacom is my life, and I do believe that a Republican Administration is better for media companies than a Democratic one.

And yet the myth of the large-corporation-owned "Liberal Media" persists, and even intensifies.

This decision by MSNBC is as alarming as it is illustrative. They just implicitly chided and overtly demoted their most popular and valuable news personality because the White House, the McCain campaign and the Right demanded that they do so. It's fine for Brit Hume to host a "news program" and for hard-core right-wing ideologues to dominate cable news. The fact that Dick Cheney (understandably) viewed Tim Russert's Meet the Press as the ideal forum to allow the White House to "control the message" bothered nobody outside of a few online critics, and didn't remotely impede the perception of Russert as the Beacon of Tough and Objective Journalism. But MSNBC's ratings-based decision to feature Keith Olbermann is a grave threat to modern journalism and must be stopped. So decrees the White House and the McCain campaign, and so the GE-owned MSNBC complies.

UPDATE: There's one other point really worth making here. Throughout the primary season, Clinton supporters were furious at what they endlessly complained was MSBNC's biased coverage in favor of Obama and, more so, its intensely hostile coverage of Hillary Clinton. Whatever one's views on the primary war were, there is no question that Olbermann and Matthews in particular were extremely hostile to Clinton and supportive of Obama. But MSNBC executives ignored those complaints, even derided and mocked them, with MSNBC executive Phil belittling angry Clinton supporters in The New Yorker as nothing more than abused, disillusioned girlfriends with nowhere else to go:

Just as Obama must work to win Clinton supporters for the fall campaign, Phil Griffin has to repair a fractured audience base, a portion of which saw sexism in his network's Clinton coverage and vowed to boycott MSNBC. Griffin knows that some of that anger is aimed at his star anchor. "It was, like, you meet a guy and you fall in love with him, and he's funny and he's clever and he's witty, and he's all these great things," Griffin said of the relationship between Olbermann and the Clinton supporters among his viewers. "And then you commit yourself to him, and he turns out to be a jerk and difficult and brutal. And that is how the Hillary viewers see him. It's true. But I do think they're going to come back. There's nowhere else to go."

Again, regardless of what one thought of the primary wars or even MSNBC's coverage of the Clinton/Obama race, the contrast between (a) MSNBC's dismissive reaction to complaints of bias from Clinton supporters and (b) its obedience to similar complaints from the Right is stark and revealing. The overriding attribute of the Liberal Media is a deep and abiding fear of angering the Right.

Monday, September 8, 2008

10 Reasons Why We Need a New (Cold?) War

1. Russia is too damned uppity. After Georgian “peace-keepers” turned their guns on genuine Russian peace-keepers in South Ossetia, after Georgia bombed and killed 1500 South Ossetians, Russia had the nerve to counter-attack!

2. Russia is too big for its britches. It still possess a sizeable chunk of the planet’s real estate—twice as much as the U.S. (not counting our foreign bases and various client states). They’ve less than half as many people as we have (and they’re mostly Slavs, anyway). Obviously, a lot of the land conquered under the Tsars ought to be up for grabs in the New World Order. The West needs those resources. It’s our planet too!

3. Russia doesn’t play fair. When we get our apparatchiks in Poland to install missile interceptors on Polish land—the Russkies balk and claim Poland is now a legit target for Russky missiles. What’s this? Diplomacy through intimidation? Just because we do it, does that mean they should? Monkey see, monkey does? Russkovia is full of monkeys with nuclear warhead missiles!

4. Russmonkeya has been howling ever since we broke the ABM treaties. Don’t they realize we have the “freedom” to break treaties at will? Didn’t they ever hear about our “Indians,” with whom we broke all our treaties?

5. Russia has too many good writers whom they take seriously! Solzhenitsyn, for example. He was critical of the Soviet system, found it “soul-less,” etc. and the Russkies listened intently, put the heat on him, and he up and exiles himself to bucolic Vermont, where, fast as a fast-food, deep-fried chicken burger will bring on heartburn, he gets jaundice-eyed about America—calls us “decadent,” “consumerist,” “materialistic,” “immature” and yada yada yada. We, of course, ignore him—which is death to serious writers. So he up-ends himself again, returns to Russkovia, is critical of Mother Russiasky again and this time the Russkies burnish the samovars and conscientiously reflect on what he’s saying. … Naturally, we continue to ignore him.

6. Haven’t the Putin reforms gone far enough? Wouldn’t we rather have a good-ole-boy vodka-boozer like Yeltsin in place, selling off the state’s resources to well-placed Russkie frat-boy-like oligarchs close to Western frat-boy-like oligarchs? Putin is too popular in Leninslavia! With a New Cold War, he’s bound to rein in the reforms, wrest more power to himself and bring on uprisings against him—uprisings our National Endowment for Democracy can shape and mold. Obviously, we need a guy like Brezhnev in there—a somnambulistic status-quo man who will keep a New Cold War simmering.

7. A New Cold War is good for the dollar. The War on Terrorism is getting a bit frayed. Americans are starting to bawl: What’s in this for me? (Typical!) They’re whining about no health care or homes foreclosed or lousy schools, and the memory of 9/11 is already fading, in spite of our best rhetorical efforts. (Can you believe it? There are 6-year olds who weren’t even alive then?) Also, Americans don’t see progress in our War on Terror. Are we any safer now? they ask. We need to ratchet up the fear with a formidable enemy like Russia-Slavia. We need to put people to work making more bombs, missiles, aircraft carriers, etc.

8. If we don’t have a New Cold War with Russia, we’re going to face other problems from uppity nations like China and Iran. The ‘08 Olympics proved to the world the Chinese are just as good as we at presenting a “really good shew.” Better! (Anyone remember the Atlanta Olympics? It was much smaller; people got killed; there was police repression, and besides all that, it was boring!) The Chinese are feeling their oats now and they’re bound to get more assertive as they seek the same oil we’ve been drilling in the Middle East since John McCain wore knickers. They’ve got all those jobs our corporations outsourced to them and in a couple of decades they’ll have a bigger GNP than us, and in a couple beyond that, a bigger per capita! Weren’t they a nation of “coolies” just 100 years ago, and dyed in their wool Mao-jackets just 30 yrs ago? We’ve got to stand up to Russostan now so China, Inc. doesn’t stand up to us later! We’ve got to show these Socialistas who’s the boss cause force is all people like that can understand! As for Iran—it’s a nation of towell-heads and terrorists who hate us for our freedom! If we don’t have a New Cold War now, those Iranians will go on developing their nukes and they’ll join forces with the Russoviks and the noodle-slurpers and we and Israel can kiss our tuchus dasvidanya!

9. A New Cold War is good for our politicians and our media. Our politicians are already humming the tunes. Pretty soon they’ll be “dancing with the stars.” They won’t be able to deliver on 10% of what they’re promising because the corporations and the lobbyists and the media ain’t gonna tie the ribbons until they get their greasy palms greased. And the way to over-grease the palms is to enforce “war taxes.” Which means taking middle class taxes and forking them over to industries and institutions that thrive on death and chaos. It means more of the likes of Jack Bauer on TV making the world safe for democracy by torturing Russkies who mean the farm boys in Kansas and the mothers in Alaska bodily harm. (Isn’t it better to torture one Russkie suspect who might have info to save a million American lives? And if we once in a while waterboard the wrong Yuri or Lara—isn’t that better than little Johnny down the street getting anthraxed even though he still can’t read?)

10. Russian novels are too long and depressing; no American bothers to finish them. A New Cold War, on the other hand, will accelerate Armageddon. We already know that ends in the triumph of Good over Evil. So, in the immortal words of G.W.B., “Bring it on!”