I directed readers’ attention to King’s assessment that our obsession with war and occupation was but a symptom of “a far deeper malady within the American spirit;" that our presence in Afghanistan and so many other conflicts over the past 60 years was not the product of a desire to insure our safety; that it was the product of a military-industrial complex and a U.S.-led, corporate Empire whose core purpose is to feed the insatiable greed of the privileged few.
In the short time since I wrote “Beyond Afghanistan,” we have witnessed an expansion of the absurd...
"Somehow this madness must cease."
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "Beyond Vietnam" April 4, 1967.
On Jan. 18, 2010 our nation will observe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, commemorating the extraordinary life of an intellectual and moral giant. The corporate media will fill the airwaves with excerpts of his uplifting August 28, 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech in which Dr. King called upon us to judge one another by the content of our character and not by the color of our skin. And, during that same holiday, the corporate media can be counted upon to ignore his April 4, 1967 "Beyond Vietnam" speech just as they have every year since the first Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in 1986.
Why? Because the egalitarian principles enunciated in "I Have a Dream" challenged only the now (largely) defunct Jim Crow regime.
While de facto, race-based economic inequality stubbornly remains as a vestige of slavery and Jim Crow, the elimination of de jure segregation posed no threat to the stark economic inequality created by an increasingly brutal form of U.S. capitalism and imperialism. It was the brutal reality of corporate Empire which led Dr. King, in "Beyond Vietnam," to describe his own government as "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today" --- a point which exposes the hypocrisy in that same government's celebration of the life of a man singularly devoted to non-violence.
If you have not read "Beyond Vietnam" in its entirety, you should. If you have, you should read it again, for Dr. King's message is as applicable today as it was then.
Particularly, as we deconstruct the empty words used by our Harvard-educated President to justify an escalation of what Robert Scheer aptly describes as a "War of Absurdity," and as we look "Beyond Afghanistan"...
As we related in yesterday's 'Green News Report,' the federal auto-stimulus program Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) --- popularly nicknamed 'Cash for Clunkers' --- launched this week in earnest. The program is intended to help spur consumers to trade in old gas guzzlers with a virtual cash rebate of up to $4500, in exchange for purchasing a car, truck, or SUV with better (even just slightly better) mileage. After compromising on an initially proposed $4 billion program, Congress approved $1 billion in funding for the program, to be paid directly to car dealers, with a deadline of November 1st to file the paperwork.
Well, not long after airtime yesterday, and just four days after the program began in full, 'Cash for Clunkers' appears to have been so wildly popular that it had already run out of money.
According to the New York Times, the Transportation Department had asked car dealers around the country to stop offering the rebate program while officials determine the next course of action. By late this morning, however, they report, the White House has issued a statement that the program will continue at least through this weekend. "There's apparently too many clunkers and not enough cash," the Times' Richard Change notes.
As of yesterday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had said the program was not suspended, as had initially been reported, and that the administration was "assessing the situation." He added, "all valid CARS transactions that have taken place to date will be honored." Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood is said to be working with Congress to discuss ways to increase funding to extend the wildly popular program.
With the rebates ranging from $3,500 to $4,500 --- dependent on the miles per gallon of the trade-in compared to the new car purchased --- the $1 billion in funding was intended to cover about 250,000 new cars. Dealers have been collecting applications for the rebates since July 1st, in advance of the publication of the final rules and qualifying vehicles on Monday. Although the Department of Transportation reports a backlog of applications waiting to be processed, they reported they had already received approximately a quarter million applications as of Thursday night.
UPDATE: The U.S. House passed a bill late Friday to provide an additional $2 billion in funding for the CARS program, by diverting funds from a Department of Energy loan guarantee program. The Senate is expected to act next week, although CNN.com reports the "bill will face tough opposition in the Senate."
Tesla Motors revealed its all-electric Model S sedan last week in Los Angeles. At half the price of its Roadster model, which was $109,000, the Model S will be priced at $49,900 after tax credits ($57,400 before such credits). "After factoring in savings on gas," Tesla points out, that's "comparable to a $35,000 Ford sedan," the New York Times reports. A blog item from the Timesdescribes the Model S as "sleek, sporty and sexy."
Tesla hopes the price tag will come down to "less than $30,000," as the price "will presumably go down as the technology improves." They plan the manufactured version to get 300 miles to a single charge, with a 45-minute recharge time.
While the company has raised millions from private investors, they need still more to be able to set up a production plant, which they plan to do in Southern California. But, for the moment, they are waiting on federal loan programs, as the credit market has otherwise locked up, according to the Times.
In the meantime, Detroit's big three automakers are also asking for federal funds and, in advance of President Obama's announcement of plans for the auto-industry, he has reportedly demanded that GM's CEO step down. So let's add one plus one here...
I guess I'm just in the minority here, but I'm having a bit of trouble getting exercised about $165 million (just to put that into perspective, the movie sequel The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian had a budget of $200 million) in bonuses to AIG employees.
Yeah, it's a shame that approximately one-tenth of one-percent of the $144 billion made available to the company by the federal government in bailout monies went to such bonuses, but where is all the furor from public officials, media outlets and bloggers --- from both Right and Left --- over the 12 billions of dollars (with a "b") sent over to Iraq as pallets of cash (literally, shrink-wrapped $100 bills), which then simply disappeared into that trillion (with a "t") dollar rat hole without accounting or explanation?
Where is the outrage and accountability there? Nowhere.
How about the $4 billion (with a "b") that went to the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 to purchase privately made electronic voting systems which don't work and don't meet the federal standards it was claimed that they did?
It's curious, but not particularly surprising by now, the stuff that folks in Congress get selectively pissed off about, the stuff that media (both mainstream and blogosphere) go selectively wall-to-wall over, versus the stuff they don't.
You'll pardon me if I'm not particularly moved much at all by the latest round of AIG sturm-und-drang, hand-wringing, navel-gazing, finger-pointing and speechifying. Oh, and about the still-free bin Laden, and the still-free anthrax killer...well, don't get me started. Guess those things don't much matter.
Wow, does the dishonesty never end at Fox "News"? Well, we all know the answer to that one, but as Ben Dimiero at Media Matters noted in email, "this is ridiculous, even by Fox News standards".
In a package with Martha MacCallum on Fox's Live Desk today, suggesting that Administration officials who once criticized John McCain's assertion that "the fundamentals of the economy are strong" have now changed their tune, they played some clips purported to be from "recent interviews this weekend." Included in those clips, is Joe Biden declaring "the fundamentals of the economy are strong." (Video at bottom of this article.)
Trouble is a) Biden's statement was six months ago, when he was on the campaign trail and b) it was taken completely out of context, as Biden was quoting McCain's statement which he was in the process of criticizing!
Biden's actual in-context statement to a campaign rally in September 2008 was...
This was the most remarkable, and enlightening conversation I've seen on television in lord knows how long. Probably since Stewart's last landmark take-down of corporate broadcast media failure in 2004. The conversation here with CNBC's Jim Cramer --- unprecedented over three segments of last night's The Daily Show --- was simply remarkable.
Please take the time to watch this in full, and wonder again why it is that it's a "comic" on a satirical news show who has become America's most out-spoken, most articulate leader on these crucial issues of survival for our nation...
My take-way, though it was never spoken to directly, is that business news and business journalism --- right now more than ever --- must be about real reporting, and real accountability on behalf of the people, as opposed to simply cheerleading on behalf of the business community, as it has been for so long now
Stewart is also owed a great thanks here, in that I believe this may be (or should be) a landmark moment in discussion of this issue. Just as his remarkable October 2004 take-down of Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala on CNN's Crossfire (taken out of our misery shortly thereafter), essentially for the same reason --- using valuable broadcast time to perpetuate blood-sport and/or cheerleading, instead of actual news reporting in the public's interest --- I hope his no-holds-barred conversation with Cramer will lead to a similar re-thinking of the role of broadcast business journalism.
* * *
Stewart's similarly stunning October 15th, 2004 appearance on CNN's Crossfire is re-posted below for your convenience, the video, and highlights from the text transcript were originally posted here...
According to Media Matters, 'liberal', 'Obama-loving' MSNBC has now shown the following misleading graphic at least twice to support stories suggesting that Barack Obama is somehow responsible for the alarming drop in the Dow-Jones industrial average...
And here is the graphic they are not showing, making it quite clear that the plummet has little to do with Obama's Presidency...
The "Liberal Media" strikes again!
(For the record, Media Matters also notes that it's not just "liberal" MSNBC, of course. The wingnut propagandists at Bloomberg and WSJ, along with Fox "News'" Chris Wallace, are also banging the same misinformative drum. So, naturally, MSNBC finds it necessary to not miss a beat.)
Al Sharpton has described Sean Delonas' outrageous editorial cartoon, published in Rupert Murdoch's New York Post, as "stunning". We'd have to agree.
UPDATE 2/19/09: Protests grow outside of Murdoch's NY Post building in NYC. Details...
LATE UPDATE 2/19/09:NYPost issues unusual apology (they usually do no such thing), and it's also an unusual non-apology apology. And a fairly obnoxious one at that. We post it here in full so you don't need to give your clickage to that particular rag:
Posted: 8:00 pm
February 19, 2009
Wednesday's Page Six cartoon - caricaturing Monday's police shooting of a chimpanzee in Connecticut - has created considerable controversy.
It shows two police officers standing over the chimp's body: "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill," one officer says.
It was meant to mock an ineptly written federal stimulus bill.
But it has been taken as something else - as a depiction of President Obama, as a thinly veiled expression of racism.
This most certainly was not its intent; to those who were offended by the image, we apologize.
However, there are some in the media and in public life who have had differences with The Post in the past - and they see the incident as an opportunity for payback.
To them, no apology is due.
Sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon - even as the opportunists seek to make it something else.
UPDATE 2/24/09: And now Rupert Murdoch himself, issues his own personal apology. RAW has it...
At Monday night's prime-time press conference (transcript) at the White House, President Obama was asked by NPR's Mara Liasson what he'd learned from his "experience with the stimulus" package, in regard to "future challenges" he will face, legislatively.
The key part of his answer: "I suppose what I could have done is started off with no tax cuts, knowing that I was going to want some, and then let them take credit for all of them. And maybe that's the lesson I learned."
Uh, ya think? Yeah, giving away the store, by negotiating with oneself --- by handing billions of dollars in tax cuts to Republicans, before they'd even asked for it --- is something we long ago learned in Negotiations 101. Apparently Obama skipped class that day.
While we do hope he's learned from it, we coulda seen the disaster coming for miles. In fact, we did --- way back in the early part of 2007 when he did something similar, causing us to post serious reservations about his negotiation and decision making skills at the time.
We were even quoted on it, at the time, by Brit Hume on Fox "News"...
Via Media Matters...During Fox "News'" Happening Now show this morning, host Jon Scott claimed "the Senate is expected to pass the $838 billion stimulus plan --- its version of it, anyway. We thought we'd take a look back at the bill, how it was born, and how it grew, and grew, and grew..."
Trouble is, the "we" Scott mentions wasn't Fox. It was the Senate Republican Communications Center (SRCC), and the resultant "news" analysis, was virtually an exact repetition of a news release the SRCC issued earlier today.
In addition to turning the exact quotes from the press releases into graphics, Fox even replicated a typo from one of them, on the final graphic, as referring to a Wall Street Journal report from "12/9/09." (That's almost a year from now, for those not paying too close attention.)
Video of the Fox "News" "report" is at right, and you may compare it to the SRCC's press release --- including the typo --- here. (We've taken the liberty of archiving the original version here, just in case they decide to change it.)
Other than that, the outfit is completely legitimate, like totally fair and balanced, and not associated with the Republican Party in any way.
UPDATE 2/11/09: After a day of getting pounded by the media for the above, Fox News issues an apology...for the typo.
President-elect Barack Obama said today that there is "no pride of authorship" on his economic stimulus package. For good or bad, in regard to that particular initiative, this seems to me what a President should sound like. Let's hope he means it, and that this m.o. extends to all aspects of his Presidency. (appx 3 mins)...
As I've recently been consulted by Obama's team overseeing transition review of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), and have offered what I believe to be some good ideas about serious reform for the so-far dreadfully-failed commission, I'll hope he means what he says in the above about accepting such ideas and putting them into practice. We shall see, but the words said above sound very good to my ears.
I suspect GM's stock price would shoot back up upon such an announcement, and there would be unprecedented anticipation for how Apple's co-founder, the visionary Steve Jobs, might bring the same type of innovation to the American automobile industry that he brought to the computer and communications and music industry.
Would it be enough and in time to save them? That I couldn't tell ya, but it'd be just about the best chance they'd have, I'd venture.
While I'm focused on this point, allow me to link back to my recent article asking why Congress hasn't asked GM about their popular, fully-electric car, the EV1, before trying to give them billions of dollars.
The company introduced the EV1 in California in 1996, before killing it inexplicably three years later and, literally, shredding every last one of the much-sought-after vehicles. Several excellent comments left by readers on that article, also look into the related mystery of Texaco having purchased the patent for the second generation battery for the car. The purchase occurred at nearly the same time as the EV1 was taken off the market. The new battery technology is said to have had a superbly long life on a single charge. The purchase effectively took the battery off the market --- has it been heard from since?
Texaco itself was purchased by Chevron just days after they'd bought the rights to the battery in 2000. At the time of the purchase, as coincidence would have it, Condoleeza Rice was on Chevron's board, and Andy Card was GM's VP of Government Relations, according to Wikipedia, where he served until he was selected as George W. Bush's Chief of Staff. Prior to that, from '93 to '98, Card had been President and CEO of the American Automobile Manufacturers Assoc. (AAMA), representing GM, Ford and Chrysler. All just coincidences, of course.
But back to the main point of this item...If Steve Jobs is disinclined to leave Apple, the company he co-founded, in order to take the reins as CEO of the floundering GM, then I suppose I could revise the headline of this piece to read instead:
How to Save the American Automobile Industry in Three Words:
'The Apple iCar'
UPDATE 12/11/08: Looks like a few others were having the same idea just about the time that I was, and in a bit more detail...
I haven't been able to watch all of the Capitol Hill hearings with the Big 3 automaker CEOs, but caught a fair portion. I've yet to hear anybody ask GM CEO Rick Wagoner why the hell his company killed their perfectly good, and rather popular, fully electric car which was introduced in CA in 1996.
The EV1 was much beloved by its owners (leasers, actually, since they were not allowed to buy them). There were waiting lists to be able to get one, before finally, three years later, with little or no explanation, GM announced they would not be renewing any of the leases on those cars and those who used them would have no recourse but to give them back.
Customers were outraged, heartbroken even. Many had tried to buy them outright --- and even sign contracts that they'd not hold GM accountable for any future problems or repairs --- but they were all turned down. When the devoted customers learned the planned fate of the cars --- and discovered, by helicopter, that they were all being rounded up in the desert --- they took up a round-the-clock, 24/7 vigil in an effort to block what GM had planned for them.
Incredibly, not only had GM taken back the cars, they were actually sending them, in perfectly good working order, to be shredded --- yes, literally shredded. As EV1 supporters tried to physically block the movement of cars to the shredder, they were threatened with arrest if they didn't get out of the way to allow the perfectly usable, and almost brand new cars to be taken out by trucks to be completely destroyed.
Why? That was never really made clear, at least not in the excellent 2006 documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? which detailed the entire heartbreaking tale of the cars which ran quickly and quietly, and without a drop of gasoline. Here's a short teaser for the film...
So, as promises of the Chevy Volt for 2010 have been well advertised, has Wagoner been publicly asked about the shameful EV1 chapter, and why his company can't just start making them again --- like tomorrow? Surely they didn't shred the blueprints for the cars as well, did they? If anyone has asked him, even about why the hell they destroyed them in the first place, I've not seen it. But with everything that's going on right now, and with GM's hat-in-hand, threatening "bankruptcy within the month" if they don't get billions of dollars pronto, it sure seems like someone oughta bring up the still unanswered questions of the EV1.