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Truth or Consequences

April 3rd, 2010 · 1 Comment · energy, Health Care, jobs, Media, Politics, wars and militarism

In the great annals of our entertainment history, after radio became a staple of daily listening and then later television, there was a program many people have heard of called “Truth or Consequences.” The idea apparently was that if you didn’t answer a question properly there was some kind of consequence, undoubtedly something silly, something entertaining.

Failing to tell the truth, doing so repeatedly, and doing so for sinister purposes may have consequences grave enough to destroy a country. Hitler’s big lie was that Jews were ruining Germany and that other countries were depressing Germany’s economy, taking German lands and actually, in some cases, killing German babies living in other countries.

Jews were indeed a substantial part of Germany’s culture but not because of some malicious intent. Jews had always been excluded from the mainstream of European society. When they rose to some position of respect at a university or some acknowledgement of competency in government or even some wealth in business, it was normally only after having overcome huge odds against them, including actual quotas on how many Jews could be in certain positions.

When Hitler said that other nations were depressing and thwarting Germany’s advance, some of that was true. Some of it, however, was because of Germany’s militaristic posture over the previous several generations. Europeans wanted Germany to stop its belligerent international policies. They used the provisions of the Armistice of the First World War as a deterrent to further aggression but those provisions were too severe.

But it was not merely war reparations that hurt Germany so much as poor government. They were not prepared for a post-war domestic economy that would give them severe economic shocks. The country fell into anarchy and was ransacked by Communists and National Socialists and many other parties, running freely, with violence in the streets. Before he was even elected, Hitler had a private army of over 100,000 men.

Hitler’s lies finally persuaded enough people to allow him to take power tentatively…on a large vote but also with a political agreement between Parties. He quickly turned the authority he was granted into power and power into total, unquestioned control, and ultimately terror.

About 70 years later, George W. Bush won a large vote, but as with Hitler, not the largest popular vote. He was handed the Presidency by a Republican Supreme Court. (Only later would we learn that he had actually also lost electoral vote.) The Neoconservative Republicans quickly began to consolidate their power under Bush, appointing Federalist-Society approved judges, U.S. Attorneys and Justice Department officials from the Right Wing. And what did they plan from day one…just as Hitler had? A war. They went to war against Iraq…for oil.

There is no other reason. Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction. He had no air force to deliver weapons of mass destruction. It had been destroyed and any time any plane from the small remaining force that was left to him ventured out of where it was supposed to be, the allies were authorized to and often did shoot it down.

As far as Saddam himself, we could have killed him at almost any time. The idea that our country, with the most sophisticated intelligence satellite system in the world, with troops stationed in Kuwait and in other countries surrounding Iraq could not have taken him out or scared him so badly that he would have had to spend all his time staying alive…is not only wrong, not only very wrong, but to any intelligence officer…a laughably stupid concept.

Just as the idea that we supposedly did not know that the Soviet Union was collapsing economically during Reagan’s presidency. We knew it long before that. Only the U.S. military and the military-industrial complex kept that myth alive. The idea that we did not have spies—not only in Russia, but East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland and other Eastern European is categorically a flat-out lie. We did and we knew much more than the U.S. public was ever told.

Sounds like a lot of accusations doesn’t it? Conspiracy theories. If these guys, the Right Wing are so bad, then why didn’t they do more? Well, they did plenty. And they didn’t go to jail. They got rich…all the Bush clan…all the Cheney clan…and they made their friends rich. Cheney saw to it that a company that had been given no more than $350 million in government contracts before he got involved with them, eventually came away with $12.5 billion in government contracts. The KBR division of Halliburton killed 9 American soldiers through negligence. They cheated the government out of (a petty) $16 million more. They can’t seem to get enough. “Greed is good” seems to be their guiding principle.

Why would Cheney do such a thing…deliberately start a war to enrich a company? Well, how does $50 million in your pocket sound? That’s what they paid him…a non-oil man, someone who knew nothing about the oil business. But he did know and had been the boss of everyone in the Pentagon when he was Secretary of Defense under George Bush the First during the 1991 War against Iraq. He simply decided to do it again, and this time he would make millions on it, on the 4.300 dead American soldiers, the 35,000 wounded American soldiers and the (minimum of) 250,000 dead innocent Iraqi citizens.

If it is a conspiracy, who benefits? Those who benefit are a certain very wealthy segment of society. At one time, the wealthy were local. In New York and San Francisco and some in Denver and some in Pennsylvania and some in Illinois. Real estate and mining and meat packing and import-export and railroads. But oil for gasoline to propel vehicles was instant riches. Rockefeller did it first, even before autos became the dominant use for oil.

But then oil was discovered in Texas and Oklahoma. Anyone who wanted it and who had the persistence to potentially risk everything, could be rich. No brains. No talent. No education. Just a driving, fanatical desire to be rich. The problem was, for society, that some of those fanatics were also fanatically bigoted. H.L. Hunt, a Right Wing kook, who later called for the assassination of Jack Kennedy, was one. There were many, many others, people whose descendants are not the diamond-hard, totally committed empire builders that their fathers were.

These current oilmen do not find oil. For all practical purposes, all the oil that Americans are going to discover has already been discovered. Yes, there are large oil shale deposits that we can find and mine. If we decide, as Gale Norton of Colorado encourages, that it is more important to destroy all the beauty and recreational value of our Western states, in order to make William Mellon Scaife a few more billions, we could mine it. Basically today’s oilmen were handed billions by their racist parents and are now rich racists, not racists trying to get rich by finding oil.

Before Reagan came into office, the rich had traditionally paid about 74% in taxes when they got to a million bucks a year in income. By the time Reagan came to office, most of the old wildcatters were long gone and only the inheritors who were now merely racist and rich and anti-American government were left. When Reagan said he would dismantle the federal government, these people began to see a guy who thought as they did. Their idea was that they were rich so why did they need government and why should they be forced to pay taxes?

Reagan reduced the taxes on his new friends to 28%. The rich loved it and they began to see how politics could finally help make them richer. And this guy Reagan was nothing at all like LBJ. LBJ would help them in specific situations, like reducing business taxes and certain taxes on things to do with oil and gas. But on the other side, he was doing a lot of things that were going to cost us money down the line, like Social Security, Medicare, and worst of all…he was for affirmative action…aid to poor blacks.

But the problem with Reagan’s ideas was that it did not occur to him that it took money to run a government. Soon, there was no money. It is as if you cut your salary from $80,000 to $40,000 and then bought a more expensive home. Reagan’s budgets went up, not down. He quadrupled the military budget which had already been about a third of our total expenditures. Ever since Reagan, that military budget has stayed at that new, higher level…whether we needed it or not.

Bill Clinton came in, and did reduce the military budget a little, raised those taxes on the rich, which Reagan had actually been forced to raise up several times to keep the country from going completely broke. Even though Clinton raised taxes by about 1%, all the Right Wing screamed and cried and hollered that it would be disaster. It was. For the Republicans. Clinton created twenty-two million jobs, reduced unemployment in some areas to less than 2%. He reduced the budget deficit every year, finally creating a surplus in the last three years of his Presidency.

When George W. Bush came into office, he immediately gave away all that money and restored budget deficits of over $250 billion a year. He took the national debt from $5.16 trillion at the end of Clinton’s term to $12 trillion by the end of his term and leaving us with the modern day version of a Great Depression. We had to spend another $3 trillion to keep the banks from failing completely and to handle the unemployment, and stimulus and loss of tax revenue from the additional 8 million who lost their jobs. Now we had the two Bush wars and 15 million people unemployed.

Let’s assume for a minute that if you earned, and perhaps you do, $1,000,000 per year, you are not against paying $350,000 of it to the government, although it is more likely that you will pay about $260,000. Still, are you happy living on about $65,000 a month? You work very hard for that money, generally speaking, and it is very competitive. Nothing says that you will have it forever.

Once the oil men and the bigots…the people who may or may not love money but love to hate African-Americans, Hispanics and often Jews even more than they love money…found that they had a political party that was in favor of bigotry, the new Neoconservative Republican Party was born. So who else could attach itself to this Party? Many other anti-populist owners and heads of corporations. The CEOs of corporations like GE, Federal Express, Home Depot, Goldman Sachs or CEOs of any number of health insurance companies began to get behind the Right Wing. They wanted fewer taxes on the rich, more wars, fewer social services for the poor, less regulation on what they could do in business, control of information, higher pay for executives.

Wait a minute. This won’t work. If the rich are getting all the benefits, and if all they want is more money…the people, who still have the vote, are not going to put up with that. People don’t mind other people being rich. The tax system is set up, however, on the idea that the rich pay a higher amount at some point because they have more, benefit more from a stable society…good roads, airports, defense, etc. So the average person is not going to be happy when they find out that the cuts in social security or Medicare or sending only the poor off to fight wars or making health care only for the very wealthy who can afford it is being legislated in favor of the rich.

So how do you control that? Well, it is pretty simple, actually. You just buy up all the radio stations and television networks and channels. Then you let everyone who works for you know that, while you don’t want to stifle the news, you always want two opposing viewpoints. So how could that bad? Well, let’s take an extreme example.

Someone decides that America should go to war with Canada. There is nothing really going on in Canada that would make someone want to go to war with them, but someone makes up a number of blatant lies about Canada’s aggressive posture against the U.S. Now, on television, it goes like this. One side says that Canada is against the U.S., is creating a military force to attack us and unless we attack first, it may be too late to stop them. The opponents don’t come on and say…that’s stupid and there’s no evidence so let’s drop it and also, by the way, you need to apologize to Canadians.

The way our Right Wing owners of television networks and cable channels have it rigged is that someone on the opposite side comes on and says that “all indications are” that this is wrong, and that “little evidence is available to support” the ridiculous idea that Canada is going to invade the U.S. and that “the other side’s argument” that Canada is going to invade the U.S. is “flawed.” In other words, we give great credence to this preposterous idea by arguing against something that was made up out of whole cloth. Never happened. Never will happen. Totally foolish….but it creates doubt in the minds of some, and others believe it completely.

Obama is a Muslim. How many times have you heard that foolish statement? He is a Christian who has been attacked for going for 20 years to the church of a radical Christian preacher, whose sermons were played over and over again on television. And yet, a huge number of people at least say that they are sure Obama is a Muslim.

Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attacks. He never was. He had nothing to do with them and may have been as surprised as any New York fireman. But Fox News and other Right Wing radio hosts said that he was and that is how it remains for many people who simply never hear the truth of anything.

Glenn Beck tells us that the President is a Communist, a Socialist, and a Fascist…even though each of those basically contradicts the other two. He calls the President a racist and says that people should stay away from churches that do charitable work for the poor. He loses 60 sponsors who pay about $25,000 per spot, which means the Fox News Channel lost about $1.25 million a week in revenue, they keep him on. Why would they do that?

Because Glenn Beck makes a living by lying to the people in a persuasive way. He has learned how to take a small kernel of truth and create from it a casserole of lies. He appeals to the ignorant, the stupid and the racist in our society. When Nielsen does a television rating they do not ask the audience “are you stupid, ignorant or a racist?”

Because he is willing to do whatever it takes, he is a very reliable source for the hugely wealthy. The major corporations who canceled Glenn Beck are not the people who support him and obviously keep him on the air. The people who influence the Fox News Channel to keep him on the air are those individuals and organizations who can afford to support the entire panoply of NewsCorp’s publications, and of other media organizations so that Fox, which has one of most ardent Right Wing, Anti-American owners of all, Rupert Murdoch, can continue Beck on the air.

Make no mistake about it, the lies of the Right that encourage the rampant, reckless, foolish outrage of the ignorant mobs is helping the rich and hurting American Society. They continue to use their media ownership to promote horrible lies and misrepresentations of fact.

They say that health care reform all is a disaster when, in fact, it will provide security and immeasurably better health outcomes for citizens over time. It is only bad in one respect. It should go into effect immediately rather than over several years and it should have a public option. The longer it takes, the more the health care companies will continue to rape the American people.

The oligarchs push the lie that cap-and-trade is a job killer. It is without any question the biggest potential job creator and the best source of long-term, high income employment in this country today. (At the expense of the huge U.S. and Arab oil company profits.) We need alternative sources of energy. The more people we put on line with solar and wind technology, the more rapidly they will grow and become less costly and eventually will reduce energy costs while not being dependent at all on Arab oil.

The plutocrats want the War in Iraq to continue for as long as possible. Only the hugely wealthy and the Generals and Admirals in the military obtain anything from continuing the war over there. The American people could have 25% of the costs of health care reform, or a large part of Medicare costs covered by shutting down that war now. But the wealthy own companies like Halliburton and General Dynamics and other weapons manufacturing companies. They want the war to continue.

The hugely wealthy want to stop the legislation that will enable workers to organize unions more easily. Since Ronald Reagan came to office, union membership has steadily declined. Workers incomes have steadily declined. Whole industries have shut down and been moved abroad. And now the oligarchs, using their friends in the media have lobbied against any laws that would give unions a chance to enter new areas, organize, provide better jobs, retirement, health care and training.

Truth. People need the truth or they will continue to follow demagogues like the psychotic Glenn Beck, who will take them over a cliff…even worse that George Bush has treated them…no jobs, no savings, no 401K, no homes and no health care. This is what some of the very rich want for the average American family. The consequences are what we have now. No jobs. An economy in crisis. People in crisis, living in tents, homeless, using up savings, hoping for any sign of economic improvement.

But what do they hear on radio and television. Lies about the very legislators who are trying to help them. Lies against the President, against Nancy Pelosi who stood her ground and never wavered in her support of what she knew was best for American families. Lies about the Republican Senators, all of whom voted against health care reform because they are in the pockets of the health insurance companies, the pharmaceutical companies and all the health industry lobbying groups.

Who prevented the health reform bill from becoming an absolutely fantastic gift to the American people? The bill was watered down by some few scared Democrats who were bullied…not by Republican legislators…but by the Tea Party people who stupidly ranted and raved and foolishly worked against legislation that would have given them immediate and totally secure health care! These fools responded to polls, supporting the very policies of the rich racists running the Right Wing of the Republican Party.

Where did they get this mis-information? From the television networks and the owners of the cable television networks and the radio networks. The Right Wing media.

This bill and the cap-and-trade bill are only the first two of many, many that will be misrepresented to the point that Americans will lobby against measures that will hurt them and help these wealthy industrialists and the inheritors of great wealth who do not care if their fellow Americans live in poverty or die destitute.

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One Comment so far ↓

  • KenR

    Thanks, a good, hands-on summary of our political development. I am particularly interested in the Weimar Germany introduction. I sit here in Vienna as a US citizen and watch what is going on in the USA and am sore afraid for my country.
    The recent militia incidents and the upcoming open carry demos in or near DC are frightening.
    What can be done?