The most important moral and intellectual voices within a disintegrating society are slowly discredited when their nonviolent protests and calls for justice cannot alter intransigent and corrupt systems of power. The repeated acts of peaceful civil disobedience, efforts at electoral and political reform and the fight to protect the rule of law are dismissed as useless by an embittered, dispossessed and betrayed public. The demagogues and hatemongers, the purveyors of violence, easily seduce enraged and bewildered masses in the final stages of collapse with false promises of vengeance, new glory and moral renewal. And in the spiral downward the good among us are reviled as naive and ineffectual fools.
...whether by inclination, political calculation, or some mix of the two, our president has become a rhetorical idolator.
These days [Obama] can barely open his mouth without also bowing down before the U.S. military in ways that once would have struck Americans as embarrassing, if not incomprehensible. In addition, he regularly prostrates himself before this country’s special mission to the world and never ceases to emphasize that the United States is indeed an exception among nations. Finally, in a way once alien to American presidents, he invokes God’s blessing upon the military and the country as regularly as you brush your teeth.
Think of these as the triumvirate without which no Obama foreign-policy moment would be complete: greatest military, greatest nation, our God. And in this he follows directly, if awkwardly, in Bush's footsteps.
Teams of federal and Exxon Mobile workers are moving along the banks of Montana's legendary Yellowstone River in an effort to contain damage and gauge the impact from tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil that gushed from a ruptured pipe beneath the riverbed.
Caused by a fallen power line, the blaze — which spans more than 108 miles — has destroyed about 61,000 acres of the Santa Fe National Forest and forced the evacuation of the town of Los Alamos (population 11,000). Worse, the fire is creeping dangerously close to the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), one of the country's biggest nuclear research facilities. At risk are 20-30,000 drums of Cold War-era plutonium-contaminated waste Technical Area 54 in the Area G section that are sitting above ground in fabric tents.
A trend that has been noticed far too often here at Media Matters is this: if Fox News wants to spin a certain aspect of a story to fit their conservative agenda, they'll do it any way they know how. Their blog, Fox Nation, seems to exist solely to do just that.
On his Fox News show last night, Sean Hannity lashed out at former Department of Education official Kevin Jennings, launching into a series of discredited smears and anti-gay slurs.
Hannity was responding to an interview Jennings gave to Media Matters, in which Jennings had discussed the impact of his anti-bullying work and said that those (including Fox) who had engaged in a campaign of "defamation" against him had "completely failed."
[Republicans and the mainstream media have long tried to villainize the legal system, citing this incident as an example of "frivolous lawsuits". They have done this in order to protect the rich corporations from being held responsible for producing dangerous products or doing things that harm people].
Stella Liebeck, 79-years-old, was sitting in the passenger seat of her grandson’s car having purchased a cup of McDonald’s coffee. After the car stopped, she tried to hold the cup securely between her knees while removing the lid. However, the cup tipped over, pouring scalding hot coffee onto her lap. She received third-degree burns over 16 percent of her body, necessitating hospitalization for eight days, whirlpool treatment for debridement of her wounds, skin grafting, scarring, and disability for more than two years.
Despite these extensive injuries, she offered to settle with McDonald’s for $20,000. However, McDonald’s refused to settle for this small amount and, in fact, never offered more than $800.
The jury awarded Liebeck $200,000 in compensatory damages — reduced to $160,000 because the jury found her 20 percent at fault — and $2.7 million in punitive damages for McDonald’s callous conduct. (To put this in perspective, McDonald’s revenue from coffee sales alone was in excess of $1.3 million a day.) The trial judge reduced the punitive damages to $480,000, but did state that McDonald’s had engaged in “willful, wanton, and reckless” behavior. Mrs. Liebeck and McDonald’s eventually settled for a confidential amount. The jury heard the following evidence in the case:
It's been a little over a year since the University of Delaware's joint-venture wind turbine started spinning in Lewes.
And save for the first three months of operation in June, July and August 2010, power generated exceeded use at the Lewes Campus, said Jeremy Firestone, director of the Center for Carbon-free Power Integration and a professor at the College of Earth, Ocean and Environment.
In my view, the President of the United States of America needs to stand with the American people and say to the Republican leadership that enough is enough. No, we will not balance the budget on the backs of working families, the elderly, the sick, the children, and the poor, who have already sacrificed enough in terms of lost jobs, lost wages, lost homes, and lost pensions. Yes, we will demand that millionaires and billionaires and the largest corporations in America contribute to deficit reduction as a matter of shared sacrifice. Yes, we will reduce unnecessary and wasteful spending at the Pentagon. And, no we will not be blackmailed once again by the Republican leadership in Washington, who are threatening to destroy the full faith and credit of the United States government for the first time in our nation’s history unless they get everything they want.
The Obama administration appears to have given a green light to an Israeli attack on an unarmed flotilla carrying peace and human rights activists — including a vessel with 50 Americans on board — bound for the besieged Gaza Strip.
A co-founder of the right-wing blog RedState (and former Bush speechwriter) created a mini-controversy over the weekend when he issued a sociopathic endorsement of Israel's possible shooting of his fellow unarmed citizens on a flotilla currently sailing to Gaza; that flotilla is trying to deliver humanitarian supplies to Gazans and protest the ongoing Israeli blockade...
Consider Paul Allen, 55, a former mortgage CEO who defrauded lenders of over $3 billion. This week, prosecutors celebrated the fact they got him a 40-month prison sentence. Consider Roy Brown, 54, a hungry homeless man who robbed a Louisiana bank of $100 - the teller gave him more but he handed the rest back. He felt bad the next day and surrendered to police. He got 15 years. Justice in America has a ways to go.
One of the leading Republican presidential candidates, Michele Bachmann, has offered yet another interpretation of American history.
Following up on Chris Wallace's much-criticized line of questioning from FOX News Sunday this weekend (he called her a flake, and later apologized), ABC's George Stephanopoulos took the opportunity on Good Morning America this morning to give Bachmann a chance to correct some of her false statements.
Namely, her assertion that the Founding Fathers worked tirelessly to ban slavery.
Stephanopoulos pointed out that Constitution and Declaration of Independence were written about 80-100 years before slavery was banned, Bachmann defended herself. Slavery was a bad thing, she reiterated, and founding father John Quincy Adams was against it.
Stephanopolos pointed out that John Quincy Adams was not a founding father. Then he gave up.
Empathy -- the ability to immerse ourselves inside the world of another -- depends on us to consciously take the abstract, and make it real.You're confined. And the doors to the building? Locked. Fear fills you. You're beyond frustrated -- you're on the verge of madness.
You can see and sense and hear tens of thousands of others just like you. They're close, some crammed right against you. Some are dying; others are deformed. The stress of this place has sparked violence -- and in rare cases, even cannibalism. Thousands have already been suffocated in massive plastic bags; thousands more were sucked through iron pipes, then electrocuted.
And now for the frightening part.
Look down at your body. You see two dime-sized bruises on your right side, and blood streaks on your legs. Your eyes burn from ammonia. Parts of your body responsible for touch and taste have been, ah, removed. And why are your toes blackened?! Despite all of this, the potential for joy still lives in you, and maybe in some small way, you sense that. And that awareness makes this precise moment all the more jarring.
Today, Greenpeace is releasing the name of a man wanted for hijacking chemical security legislation: New York Republican Representative Peter King. King is part of group responsible for the delay in safeguarding our communities from disasters that could occur at the nation’s chemical plants.
Trace amounts of radioactive substances have been found in urine samples taken from children from Fukushima city, raising concerns that residents have been exposed internally to radiation from the stricken nuclear power plant 37 miles (60km) away.
As America's nuclear power plants have aged, the once-rural areas around them have become far more crowded and much more difficult to evacuate. Yet government and industry have paid little heed, even as plants are running at higher power and posing more danger in the event of an accident, an Associated Press investigation has found.
Nation, we are in crisis. Let us count the ways. Well, there are many. Lo, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has decided to come to our aid with a national call to prayer - and possible presidential run - to ask "God’s forgiveness, wisdom and provision" - even though, it's true, that praying for the fires to stop didn't work so good. Many seriously creepy people are asking too. Mercy.
Get Over Ourselves on July 4 by Matthew Rothschild Published on Monday, July 4, 2011 by The Progressive This July 4, I wish we, as a nation, would get over ourselves.
We are not God’s chosen people.
God did not make us a shining city on a hill.
There is no God, and we have no special right to lord ourselves over the planet.
“Manifest Destiny” and other narcissistic ideas have swollen our heads.
President Obama was way off the mark when he recently said, “We must embrace America’s singular role in the course of human events,” he said.
We don’t have a singular role, not now, much less over the long course of human events.
When you examine the actual role the United States has played, it’s not one that has showered us with glory: from slavery and the genocide against Native Americans early on to brutal imperial wars over the last century and more. Starting with the Spanish-American War and the subjugation of the Filipinos and then through dozens of invasions and usurpations in Latin America all the way to Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, U.S. foreign policy has piled the corpses high.
And the best aspects of the United States—not the fighter jets that fly over the celebrations today, nor the size of our economy, nor the “great American spirit,” nor our prowess in sports, nor any other excuse for the adolescent chanting of “USA, USA”—are the ones that are most in decay today: the promise of democracy, and the protection of our civil liberties.
With the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court last year, which enables corporations to spend unlimited funds to elect or defeat candidates for office, any hope for real political democracy has faded. It’s a decision that has made a joke of the cherished idea of one person, one vote. And the Supreme Court just added to the joke with its decision last month to outlaw Arizona’s clean election law and to scorn any attempts to “level the playing field.” Even before these decisions, our politicians were for sale, rent, or time-share, and the concerns of a majority of citizens—for a living wage, for universal health care—would routinely fall to the ax of corporate power.
And if you broaden the concept of democracy to include economic democracy or a fair economy, we, as a nation, have drifted back into the Gilded Age, where the top 1 percent owns an astronomical amount of the nation’s wealth and income and where economic policy is geared toward letting them grab more and more.
As far as our civil liberties go, the government has taken many of them away. The First Amendment is in shambles, as the FBI and other law enforcement have been infiltrating domestic nonviolent protest groups, and the FBI has just loosened its rules for doing so. The Fourth Amendment is all but deleted, as the Supreme Court, in one decision after another, has given police more leeway to barge into our homes without warrants. The USA Patriot Act and the revisions to the National Security Act legalize additional intrusions by the Executive Branch. And the Military Commissions Act gives the President the authority to declare any person in the United States an “enemy combatant” and then throw that person behind bars.
On this Independence Day and for many a year, we’ve lost any clue about what it means to be independent: to be self-governing, and free from repressive rule.
If we have forsaken the ideals of America, the least we could is not to destroy the Earth in the process.
That means, first and foremost, not to blow it up with nuclear weapons. We and the Russians have 95 percent of the nukes in the world, and we need to move quickly to global nuclear disarmament.
And secondly, that means not to destroy the planet by poisoning the atmosphere. Global climate change is real, it’s here, and we’ve got to deal with it. The United States has been the biggest culprit in creating this crisis, and now we are the biggest laggard in responding to it.
The atmosphere is not our dumping grounds.
And just because we fly the red, white, and blue doesn’t make us exempt from doing the right and the urgent thing.
London After Midnight / Sean Brennan