Archive for greed

Expert on cultural production of ignorance "watches Fox News all the time"

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ignorance via Armando Lioss smallerPhoto via Armando Lioss

One of my favorite columnists, Michael Hiltzik (scroll), along with most sane people (read: not right wing extremists), does not think ignorance is bliss. In fact, he points out how the commercialization of ignorance has not only dumbed down America, it has endangered it. Hiltzik describes how industries thrive on disseminating public misinformation while they profit off of selling harmful concepts and products, exploit a willing media, all at the expense of increasingly oblivious consumers.

He cites the work of Robert Proctor, a professor of the history of science at Stanford and "one of the world's leading experts in agnotology, a neologism signifying the study of the cultural production of ignorance."

Hiltzik's piece in the Los Angeles Times is one that should be read in its entirety, but the highlights alone will make your hair stand on end. Alcoholic beverages and/or sedatives strongly recommended prior to reading:

Robert Proctor doesn't think ignorance is bliss. He thinks that what you don't know can hurt you. And that there's more ignorance around than there used to be, and that its purveyors have gotten much better at filling our heads with nonsense. [...]

The tobacco industry was a pioneer at this. Its goal was to erode public acceptance of the scientifically proven links between smoking and disease: In the words of an internal 1969 memo legal opponents extracted from Brown & Williamson's files, "Doubt is our product." Big Tobacco's method should not be to debunk the evidence, the memo's author wrote, but to establish a "controversy."

Yes, infuriatingly, they peddle doubt and go out of their way to create controversy in order to implant big question marks in the minds of an unsuspecting, undereducated public. By inducing the media to "present both sides" when, in fact, there may not be two legitimate sides (science, anyone?), they divert focus and evade facts. For example, we've seen how they "sow doubts about the safety of childhood immunizations" (coughBachmann!cough) and deny climate change. And don't get me started on the lies about the Affordable Care Act:

When this sort of manipulation of information is done for profit, or to confound the development of beneficial public policy, it becomes a threat to health and to democratic society. [...]

And all those fabricated Obamacare horror stories wholesaled by Republican and conservative opponents of the Affordable Care Act and their aiders and abetters in the right-wing press? Their purpose is to sow doubt about the entire project of healthcare reform; if the aim were to identify specific shortcomings of the act, they'd have to accompany every story with a proposal about how to fix it.

My head couldn't stop nodding in agreement when I caught this part:

"Nonsense is nonsense, but the history of nonsense is scholarship." As part of his scholarship, Proctor says he "watches Fox News all the time."... Citing the results of a 2012 Gallup poll, Proctor asks, "If half the country thinks the Earth is 6,000 years old, how can you really develop an effective environmental policy? This sort of traditional or inertial ignorance bars us from being able to act responsibly on large social issues."

He goes on to explain how Big Tobacco exploited the tea party's obsession with what they love to call "freedom" and "choice," which of course plays into their anti-government meme, a position that consequently benefits the cigarette industry. Hiltzik emphasizes the importance of educating Americans in order to renew their trust in science. Competent journalism wouldn't hurt in that regard, now would it? He ends with this quote:

The effort needs to begin at a young age, [Proctor] says. "You really need to be teaching third-, fourth-, fifth-, sixth-graders that some people lie. And why do they lie? Because some people are greedy."

in greed we trust

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Sidelining our football Heroe$ for life -- with Brain Injury, w/o Benefits

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Written by guest contributor, "hardybear" of the wonderful Free Range Talk site.

Sean Morey, ex-NFL and dedicated to the Brain Injury Field. Photo, NPR.

Sean Morey, ex-NFL and dedicated to the Brain Injury Field. Photo, NPR.

It's GAME DAY! Lots going on in Jersey, but this evening it's all about brawling and strong-arm attacks in the stadium rather than the State House. 

Anyone else secretly hope they pull dear ole' Keith Olbermann back in to Fox to call the Super Bowl, and he tweaks and goes into a full-on Christie Tirade? Please, sports gods. That dedicatedly bombastic man was about the best Politics Announcer liberals could have hoped for in the heyday!

[KO is apparently very disgruntled about The Media getting special transport into Jersey though - a psychiatrist couch might be needed to unpack that one.]

KOSuperbowlMediaORIG

While we are cheering the best tackles, glorifying in finger foods and being FANS - it's good to be an American. There is an issue that needs to be brought up right next to the foam fingers and stadium profits however - the epidemic of Brain Injury.
BrainInjuryw164h164These guys pretty much get hit in the head for a living!
And how many started in Pee Wee?

The NFL players have strong feelings, as you might imagine. NPR shared glimpses into the rough and tumble journey of Vince Lombardi trophy winner Sean Morey.

Morey is among dozens of retired NFL players who have agreed to donate their brains for medical research when they die. He hopes his brain might provide some answers.

Rocking graphic from BreakingMuscle dot com.

Rocking graphic from BreakingMuscle dot com.

The answers to the questions he wants sooner that that include why his daughters will have lifelong pictures burned in their minds of an enraged, often unrecognizable father ... who was not the man their mother married.

Cara Morey has watched her husband turn into someone she doesn't recognize. "He gets a look in his eyes that you're pretty sure you've never met this person before. ... It's very scary. It's a type of rage that I had never seen, and I don't think anyone should ever see, and I don't think my girls should ever have seen it."

Defensive lineman Mike Lodish, formerly a Bronc(!), has taken the field in more Super Bowls than any other player since we started charting -- seems like he might know from the career where getting hit in the head is in your job description. Deadspin shared his rawly honest ten cents.

People that I've talked to about me being on the list to sue the NFL say things to me like, "You knew what you were getting into." Let me explain something to you: The hell we did. The hell we did. I knew orthopedically that I would have issues. I didn't care. But no one ever told me if I get a concussion and I go back in and show my boys that I'm a tough son of a bitch that I'm going to mess myself up even more. No one ever told me that. No one ever told me that that could possibly lead to CTE that could possibly lead to suicide. No one ever said, "If you have multiple concussions, Mike, you could risk killing yourself at a much earlier age, because your mind is quirked."

This is no short term problem,  pardon the pun, yet the corporatist NFL has NO intention with being saddled with permanent doctors tabs for their used-up players ... an attitude so unappreciated by pigskin legend Vernon Davis that he publicly shamed the Suits during Gridiron High Holy Week.

See if you're as impressed as I was. Footage from Yahoo dot com.

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"If there's anything a member of Congress values more than democracy, it's his own financial security."

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wingnut alert

Today's Los Angeles Times letter to the editor, because our voices matter:

Re "GOP's unhealthy obsession," Editorial, Sept. 12

Your thoughtful editorial encourages compromise by House GOP members who want to shut down the government to defund the Affordable Care Act, or who propose defaulting on the national debt by refusing to raise the debt ceiling if any of the borrowed money funds the healthcare law.

Alas, the House GOP's lunatic tea party members owe their jobs to primary voters who chose them over more moderate Republican candidates. These wing-nuts created the great lie that the Affordable Care Act is a danger and an insult to democracy. Those who compromise risk losing their seats to activists even more extreme.

If there's anything a member of Congress values more than democracy, it's his own financial security. I doubt many tea party House members could find jobs that pay as well as the ones they have.

Marvin J. Wolf

Mar Vista Heights

in greed we trust

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The world Republicans live in: "Greed and selfishness and push for laws that benefit them"

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opposite world

Andy Marquis is our guest blogger of the day. He used to consider himself a Republican but not any more.  He changed his voter registration to Independent in 2011 and says that’s how it will remain.

Here’s his latest guest post:

The World They Live In

A young girl was raped by the star players of a high school football team someplace, somewhere. Nobody tried to stop it. A child, wondering whether he or she is attracted people of the same gender, has been bullied and harassed by others in his local middle school. Nobody tried to stop it and the child has killed himself. An honors student is not able to pursue her dream because she was brought here, illegally, by her parents when she was just a child herself. A mother and father are burying their child because a madman that had access to war weapons has gunned them down while they were sitting in their elementary school classroom. That’s the world we live in.

Republicans don’t live in that world. Their world is black and white, right and wrong. You’re either a friend or an enemy. There is no middle ground. They do not see the world in color. The girl who was raped isn’t responsible for her actions because she should’ve known that boys will be boys and she shouldn’t have taken that shot of vodka. The child who is bullied should be grateful to those who tear him down because it somehow makes him stronger. The honors student should be sent to Mexico to be gunned down by a drug kingpin because she should bear the burden of her parents’ decisions. Those children gunned down are merely collateral damage in a war in the streets of America. That’s the world Republicans live in.

When it comes to guns, they see an armed society, not as a fearful society or a society that will be embolden to confront others with violence, but as a polite society that will magically do the right thing. They see everyone who owns a gun legally and think they will be the one to stop the rape of a girl in an alley in Downtown Baltimore somewhere – not as someone who will sit back and do nothing. Those parents who bury their child shouldn’t mourn their loss and expect government to do anything to stop it from happening. They should think about the gun that was used to murder their child in cold blood and think about how it might save someone else’s life someplace somewhere. That’s the world they live in. And if you do not live in their world, you are the enemy of freedom.

The couple that has been together for 27 years and wants to get married shouldn’t be allowed to because it goes against someone else’s moral beliefs. If a criminal is in illegal possession of a firearm, we shouldn’t take that firearm away because the Second Amendment should be absolute. We shouldn’t limit the access to weapons of war to the public because it might eat in to the profits of an American industry. We shouldn’t do anything to promote cleaner, sustainable energy resources because BP cannot profit from it right now. That’s the world they live in.

If a man rapes a woman against her will, well, imagine what she could have done if she had access to a loaded firearm. Weapons of war should be available to the general public because they will have to shoot an army of seven intruders in their home one day or because they will need to take up arms against Barack Obama. That’s the world they live in.

Republicans live in a world where Americans do the right thing. They don’t see the rape culture that exists, or the gun culture. And they sure as hell don’t give a damn about the child who was brought here when she was a child. They believe that gay marriage will lead to the destruction of a society that is already beyond saving while ignoring the social destruction that comes from divorce and addictions to drugs, alcohol and pornography.

Our society is cruel and heartless. We don’t live in a society where others will split up the fight or stop the bullying. We live in a society where a girl being beaten up in the suburban streets of America is met, not with those who intervene, but instead those who pull out their smartphones to record the video for entertainment. The poor boy that is starving is greeted with those who tell him he should fend for himself and display their practice of their religious beliefs by eating at Chick-fil-A instead of donating to a food bank somewhere.

There are good people in America. I do believe in the compassion of those. But it’s become a minority since the start of the Bush Recession. Our society has become fearful, selfish and paranoid ever since Wall Street manufactured a recession.

No longer do “compassionate Conservatives” act out of compassion for others. Instead, they act out of greed and selfishness and push for laws that benefit them by saying other people will be generous. No longer do we invest in our infrastructure or our schools because it’s more important to Republicans that we cut taxes for Donald Trump instead. They see the world in simplistic black-and-white when the world is truly complicated and colorful.

I can only envision what would’ve come if this mentality had controlled the national conversation when I was a child. When two maniacs armed with war weapons were gunning down women and children at gas stations and high school parking lots in Washington, DC, what would they say? Would they have told me that we needed more guns in the streets? Would they have gone on television and stood up for John Allen Mohammed and Lee Boyd Malvo’s “Second Amendment” rights?

We need to quit blaming rape victims for the trauma that’s been forced on them by another human being. We need to feed our poor. We need to tell those who boost their egos by preying on the vulnerable that it is not okay. We need to tell our children that guns do kill people and that life is not a videogame. We need to give the college student who was brought here when she was just a child herself a break and a chance to pursue happiness. We need to protect our children (and yes, this includes putting armed police officers in schools – among other things). We need to care for the weak, the vulnerable and the poor – not blame them for the problems in our society.

Conservatives don’t believe in that America though. They think the woman who was raped in a dark alley should be forced to have her rapist’s child – only for her and her child to be cast out in to the cold. Education should be something that only those born in to privilege should achieve. The poor child who is starving should be left to die. That’s the world they live in.

The world we really live in really does prey on the vulnerable. The banks caused the recession, not poor minorities. Barack Obama was born in America. Sandy Hook really did happen. Bullying does cut people down, not make them stronger. Rape does happen and it does cause pregnancy. Guns don’t kill people but they sure make it a lot easier for people to kill people. That’s the world we live in.

Republicans don’t care that they are disconnected. They don’t give a damn. Their “principles” are more important to them. And their principles are simple: The government should leave me alone and do so by treading on the minorities and on the gays and the college students and anyone else who, realistically, don’t subscribe to their beliefs. As for the Constitution – they don’t give a damn about that either. Listening to the NRA push for a mental health database, the same type of database they oppose when it comes to guns, and listening to them push against the background checks that would enforce that database shows that Republicans truly only care about the Second Amendment.

A world where we scapegoat minorities, Muslims, gays and poor people and stand up only for the rights of gun owners and billionaires – that’s the world they live in. And it’s the world they will push for as they continue to rig elections and disenfranchise voters.

As they do so, our infrastructure will continue to fail. Our poor will become poorer. Our dependency on unsustainable fossil fuels will increase while other nations prosper with sustainable energy solutions. The poor will continue to starve while the rich become richer. Those college students won’t contribute to our country and we will rely on the spoiled sons of privilege who care only about themselves. And all this is because a segment of America sees only black and white.

The survivalists and the greedy, people like the NRA and the big bankers – they’re the bad guys. And we cannot sit back and do nothing and let them win.

Andy Marquis: www.race22.com; Twitter: @amarquis32 ; Facebook.com/amarquis

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Why Does the Cry for Gun Control Become Impassioned Only When White Kids Are Shot?

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Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images.

Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images.

Another L.A. Times letter to the editor, because our voices matter:

Re "'American Sniper' killed at gun range," Feb. 4

According to gun fanatics everywhere who want to put weapons in every school, the more guns and training you have, the safer you are.

Now we have Kyle, one of the best-trained experts on guns who, by the National Rifle Assn.'s logic, was at one of the safest possible places — a shooting range. And he is shot and killed by a gun. Oh, I mean by a person.

Maybe it's time to rethink that argument.

Marco Fuentes

Houston

Now your Daily Dose of BuzzFlash at Truthout, via my pal Mark Karlin, who asks the same question I've been asking, "Why Does the Cry for Gun Control Become Impassioned Only When White Kids Are Shot?"

The Sandy Hook massacre was a horrifying result of the collateral damage that results when a gun industry combines with psychologically paranoid white guys to dominate politics at the federal and state level.   Like almost all mass shootings that ignite the national indignation, the perpetrator in Newtown was white as well as the victims. [...]

Remember, it's not just the "crazies" or the "bad guys" that fire off their guns and kill people. [...]

More importantly, there is a side of the "the more guns, the safer we are" agenda that is generally ignored in terms of precipitating a call for taking on the gun lobby and gun industry, who value membership dues and profits over lives.

Because as the hometown of President Obama has evidenced over the last few decades, it is minority young people in urban areas who are caught in the crossfire and die or are wounded by gunfire in epidemic proportions ... It's both a by-product of the gun industry and gun store selling of hi-tech weapons to gang members without sufficient measures to stem the flow – and the social-political neglect that has left vast swaths of urban America economically decimated.  There's always violence in destitute areas that provide only two job opportunities of any significance: selling drugs and being a police officer patrolling the economic wastelands like an occupying military force. [...]

The recent slaying of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton who appeared as a member of a band featured at Obama's second inaugural, but was gunned down [...]

The highly respected "Chicago Reporter," an investigative newsletter on issues relating to urban affairs and minorities, recently ran an article headlined, "Chicago’s homicide epidemic is a youth homicide epidemic." [...]

Her death is one single tragedy, but it's part of a larger story about gun violence in Chicago. Young people are the No. 1 target when it comes to the city's sky-high homicide rate.

From 2008 through 2012, nearly half of Chicago’s 2,389 homicide victims were killed before their 25th birthday [...]

The grief of a black or Latino Mom or Dad or sister or brother or friend is no less devastating than it is for a white parent. [...]

The blood that flows is red, and as a country, we must feel the loss with one grieving heart.

Only then will we overcome the toxic, deadly legacy of a gun-crazed pathology among white males and a pernicious, greed driven gun industry.

Please read the rest here.

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Cartoon of the Day- The Real War On Christmas

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Via.

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Cartoons of the Day- Black Friday

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Via.

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