Thursday, July 26, 2012

The threat against the US and the failure of 'trusted voices'

Yesterday, Congress heard about the threat of al Qaeda in Iraq to the United States.  Brian Bennett (Los Angeles Times) reports that the House Homeland Security Commission held a hearing to assess the threat.  I have a huge problem with this section of the report:

On Sunday, the day before the latest wave of attacks in Iraq killed at least 110 people, the militant group released an audio recording to mark the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The message announced a new campaign of violence against the Iraqi government, praised Syria's uprising and made a call for new recruits to join the group. It also spoke directly to Americans.
"You will soon witness how attacks will resound in the heart of your land, because our war with you has now started," said a man that identified himself as Abu Bakr Baghdadi, the pseudonym used by the head of Al Qaeda in Iraq.

"al Qaeda in Iraq" did not issue that statement.  Abu Bakr Baghdadi leads the Islamic State of Iraq which is affiliated with al Qaeda in Iraq.  If some terrorist organization issues a threat on the US, the press has an obligation to name that group -- not hide an umbrella catch-all.  The public has the right to be informed.  This is not a minor point and the press seems bound and determined to prove that they are the most ignorant press in the world and intent upon misinforming the people. The Islamic State of Iraq and others affiliated with al Qaeda in Iraq may or may not be a threat to the US.  But the press owes it to the American people to get the facts right.  This is sloppy, pre-9/11 reporting that indicates no lessons were learned despite claims to the contrary.

Look at how the US press is failing.  There may be a threat to the US on domestic shores coming out of Iraq.  (There may not be.)  And the tape was released Sunday.  Where's the network television coverge.  At least Bennett and the Los Angeles Times covered the hearing. (And the Tribune is syndicating the story so you'll read it in various newspapers across the country.)   But where are the other news outlets doing their own coverage?

And where is their inernational news coverage?

Not the crap ass, Carrie Nations, rush to the scene of natural disaster and shed a few crocodile tears and wail "Oh, the humanity!" b.s. that the press specializes in but the real reporting that they were supposed to be doing, that they were supposed to return to, after 9/11.  Remember the 'never again' nonsense?  Remember how they were going to return to their roots?

Maybe they did, after all the roots of American journalism are tabloid journalism.

If there's another attack on US shores, the 'winners' are the conservatives in Iraq because, in their periodicals, they never forget the potential of another terrorist threat.  Should one be executed on US soil, they will have 'bragging rights' and be on the ground ready to discuss what happened, to explain how they had already been covering it and everyone else will largely be scrambling.  So who controls the narrative in that situation?

The right-wing.  And that is disgusting because it demonstrates that the left has not learned one damn thing from 9-11.  Who do we have that can speak as an authority if an attack happened at noon today?  Who at the opinion journals cover this?  No one.  The Nation can offer one useless piece of crap every two weeks but can't do a piece on safety and, as everyone should avhe realized after 9-11, a sense of safety is as important in the US as it is anywhere else.

The wallowing in fear after 9-11 allowed so much that is currently wrong with our country to take place.  That especially includes the PATRIOT Act and the rounding up of Muslims.  But there has been so much more.  And yet, on the left, we'd rather waste our space -- our limited space -- on some nonsense like lies about the death of a dog on a family vacation (I'm referring to the nonsense about Mitt Romney's dog -- nonsense that invaded the Senate yesterday) than address what matters.

The left really needs to grow the hell up and grasp that if terrorist attack in the US, the vast majority of Americans -- who don't fall into the left or right holding tanks -- are going to be in front of their TVs attempting to find out what's going on and they're not going to take seriously the musings of a 'Mad Professor' (to name one of many worthless Nation magazine columns) or the pith of the MSNBC no-stars.  In fact, they're going to remember all the stupid jokes the MSNBC 'anchors' (talk show hosts) have wasted everyone's time on when they could have been addressing reality.  I'm referring to the evening and prime time MSNBC shows.  I'm not talking about, for example, Andrea Mitchell's show.  Andrea is a news reporter and usually knows what's actually news as opposed to what's the hype of the week.  But the rest?

You discredit yourself daily by being unable or unwilling to do anything other than pose as the latest Comedy Central hire.

It appears Jon Stewart's real gift to America will be instilling the false belief in a lot of unfunny people that there's a stand-up inside everyone.  As they struggle to get in touch with their inner comic, they fail at journalism.  Repeatedly.

This isn't a minor point.  When this site started, I repeatedly stated that we needed to find voices who spoke to us in case there was another 9-11 so we'd know where to go online because they surely wouldn't be on our TVs since they weren't last time.

But those voices we trusted on the left?  They betrayed that trust.

We get it.  Whoring for an inept president takes a lot of time.  We actually got that watching the Republicans from 2001 to 2008.  But we now gets that there are just as many whores on the left as on the right.  But don't think you can advance the DNC talking point of the day every day and still be seen as a trusted voice.  I believe left periodicals have gotten that message via the plummeting circulation figures.

It's equally amazing that, during the Bush years, they were so eager to talk beyond the left and reach out and get the message out but the minute Barack got into office, they all suddenly morphed into Rita Moreno's Anita in West Side Story, singing, "One of your own kind, stick to your own kind."  Over and over.  And, please remember, Anita was grieving a loss (the death of Bernardo).  By contrast when Barack was sworn in was supposed to be a victory for the left.

There are serious issues and the left is failing.  If there is another terrorist attack, the left's done nothing to establish any credentials to speak to it with any authority and it's how many years since September 11th?

For me, the right-wing lives in fear.  I can understand the left not 'patrolling' the topic in the same obsessive manner as the right-wing.  I reject fear. I refuse to allow it to govern how I vote or how I behave.  But that doesn't mean I ignore the world around me.  The choices should not be live in fear or stick your head in the sand.  But that is how the left's allowed it to play out by repeatedly refusing to address the serious topics so that they could instead spend the last four years propping up one man who didn't do a damn thing for them and never was going to.  His insult about "Tom Hayden Democrats" before getting into office and his non-stop waxing over Ronald Reagan should have tipped everyone off to that.

But it didn't matter that he wasn't going to do anything, our 'trusted voices' on the left were still going to waste their time and ours making every day about him.  Guess what?  There are billions of people on this planet and he is only one.  He will be replaced as every US president before him has been.  A Cult of Personality is not a free press.

The Islamic State of Iraq has issued a threat against the United States -- not a veiled one, a direct threat.  Americans have a right to know that.  Look at your paper, look at your TV screen, turn on your radio and see who bothered to inform you of that.  Again, the choices are not live in fear or bury your head in the sand.

The following community sites -- plus Iraq Inquiry Digest, Pacifica Evening News,, The Diane Rehm Show and CSPAN --  updated last night and this morning:

Finally, David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award. We'll close with the opening of Bacon's "Mexican Farmers Up Against Canadian Mining Goliaths" (Truthout):

OAXACA, MEXICO (7/20/12) - For over two decades in many parts of Mexico, large corporations -- mostly foreign-owned but usually with wealthy Mexican partners - have developed huge projects in rural areas. Called mega-projects, the mines and resource extraction efforts take advantage of economic reforms and trade treaties like the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Emphasizing foreign investment, even at the cost of environmental destruction and the displacement of people, has been the development policy of Mexican administrations since the 1970s. When the National Action Party defeated the old governing Party of the Institutionalized Revolution in 2000, this economic development model did not change. In fact, the PAN simply took over the administration of this development policy, and even accelerated it, while in the Mexican Chamber of Deputies the two parties cooperated to advance its goals.
But while these projects enjoy official patronage at the top, they almost invariably incite local opposition over threatened or actual environmental disaster. Environmental destruction, along with accompanying economic changes, cause the dispacement of people. Families in communities affected by the impacts are uprooted, and often begin to migrate. Nevertheless, the projects enjoy official support, and are defended against rising protests from poor farmers and townspeople by the Federal government.
This economic model could have changed in Mexico's national elections at the beginning of July, had a party won that was committed instead to providing poor and indigenous communities with jobs and social services, to raising rural income, and to protecting labor and social rights. This was the program put forward by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the candidate of the leftwing Democratic Revolutionary Party.
The PRD did not win, however. Instead, the Mexican election campaign looked increasingly like those in the U.S., in which the two conservative parties, the PRI and PAN, were fueled by enormous corporate contributions. Heavy television coverage by two captive corporate networks excluded the left entirely, while "impartial polls" announced the inevitability of the PRI's return. And in the end, a wave of old-fashioned vote-buying backed up the media circus.
The return of the PRI to power does not change Mexico's social reality, especially not its corporate-dominated development policy. The cost of this policy has become most obvious, and the conflicts over it the sharpest, in rural communities faced with huge industrial mining projects. Under a new PRI administration, these conflicts will almost certainly spread, particularly given the party's history of using force against popular movements.
In Oaxaca and southern Mexico, growing anti-mining movements give a preview of what's on the horizon. Sharp conflicts have already broken out over mines in Oaxaca, where in one community indigenous leaders have been assassinated and the town deeply divided since the mine began operation. The companies and their defenders promise jobs and economic development. But affected communities charge that far more people lose jobs and their livelihoods because of their negative environmental and economic consequences.

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