Tuesday, 26 August 2014

A Truly Surreal Maddow Segment

I’m just catching up on some of my news programs, and I came across this segment from The Rachel Maddow Show’s August 21st segment. It begins with the story about the man shot in Missouri, after apparently stealing two sodas from a convenience store, placing them on the side of the curb, and then waiting for the cops to arrive. As Maddow mentions – and is clearly visible on the video – “The officers have their guns drawn from the get-go”, and one can just hear the man shout something along the lines of “shoot me!” at the cops; and, within 23 seconds of their arrival, they do just that (nine times).

This whole segment is disturbing and frightening on a number of levels – irrespective of the fact that a fair number of people seemed to know something was about to go down and just watched. The police exited their vehicles, guns-drawn, and the police report/press conference after the fact is not confirmed by this video. I can’t help but echo John Oliver’s sentiment of, “What the f*ck is wrong with your cops?”

Coupled with everything else going on in Missouri (and the States in general, really), the USA is becoming an ever-more frightening, broken state. The militarization of the country has been escalating for years, moving on overdrive since 9/11. It’s becoming dystopian.

It’s very difficult to put into words the impression this video had. Confusion, anger, stunned disbelief (which is probably na├»ve)…

Speaking of John Oliver, I thought I’d share his brilliant – acerbic, intelligent, spot-on segment from his August 17th episode of Last Week Tonight:

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

International Media: A Most Relevant Image

This is a panel from an (early) issue of Hawkeye, written by Rick Remender. The artwork is by David Aja, and it’s never been more relevant considering today’s international, political, and media environments…

News-EverythingAwfulSomeoneDoSomething(DavidAja)

Friday, 8 August 2014

Upcoming: 935 LIES by Charles Lewis (Public Affairs)

LewisC-935LiesMuch is written and talked about the apparent death of truth in American politics. In his new book, journalist Charles Lewis looks at the ways in which truth has been manipulated and distorted by governments, corporations and individuals; and also how truth is often distorted or diminished by delay. Here’s the publisher’s synopsis:

Facts are and must be the coin of the realm in a democracy, for government “of the people, by the people and for the people,” requires and assumes to some extent an informed citizenry. Unfortunately, for citizens in the United States and throughout the world, distinguishing between fact and fiction has always been a formidable challenge, often with real life and death consequences. But now it is more difficult and confusing than ever. The Internet Age makes comment indistinguishable from fact, and erodes authority. It is liberating but annihilating at the same time.

For those wielding power, whether in the private or the public sector, the increasingly sophisticated control of information is regarded as utterly essential to achieving success. Internal information is severely limited, including calendars, memoranda, phone logs and emails. History is sculpted by its absence.

Often those in power strictly control the flow of information, corroding and corrupting its content, of course, using newspapers, radio, television and other mass means of communication to carefully consolidate their authority and cover their crimes in a thick veneer of fervent racialism or nationalism. And always with the specter of some kind of imminent public threat, what Hannah Arendt called ‘objective enemies.’”

An epiphanic, public comment about the Bush “war on terror” years was made by an unidentified White House official revealing how information is managed and how the news media and the public itself are regarded by those in power: “[You journalists live] “in what we call the reality-based community. [But] that’s not the way the world really works anymore. We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality… we’re history’s actors… and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” And yet, as aggressive as the Republican Bush administration was in attempting to define reality, the subsequent, Democratic Obama administration may be more so.

Upcoming: TO MAKE MEN FREE by Heather Cox Richardson (Basic Books)

RichardsonHC-ToMakeMenFreeA History of the Republican Party

Richardson, a professor of history at Boston College, takes a look at the paradoxical evolution of the Republican Party in the US, and how it was founded on the principle of equal opportunity, and yet has been hijacked by elite agendas. This sounds like an interesting book. It’s due to be published by Basic Books in September 2014.

When Abraham Lincoln helped create the Republican Party on the eve of the Civil War, his goal was to promote economic opportunity for all Americans, not just the slaveholding Southern planters who steered national politics. Yet while visionary Republicans like Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson shared Lincoln’s egalitarian dream, their attempts to use government to guard against the concentration of wealth have repeatedly been undone by the country’s moneyed interests and by members of their own party.

In To Make Men Free, celebrated historian Heather Cox Richardson traces the shifting ideology of the Grand Old Party from the antebellum era to the Great Recession and details the terrible repercussions of these vacillations for minorities, the middle class, and America at large. Expansive and authoritative, To Make Men Free explains how a relatively young party became America’s greatest political hope – and time and time again, its greatest disappointment.