Outrage Fatigue Seems To Be Settling In As Chronic Condition

www.latimes.com

Mortgaged to the House of Saud

Robert Scheer

August 9, 2005

THE ONLY EVIDENCE you need that President Bush is losing the “war on terror” is this: On Sunday, the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia said that relations with the United States “couldn’t be better.”

Tell that to the parents of those who have died in two wars defending this corrupt spawning ground of violent extremism. Never mind the ugly facts: We are deeply entwined with Saudi Arabia even though it shares none of our values and supports our enemies.

Yet on Friday, Bush’s father and Vice President Dick Cheney made another in a long line of obsequious American pilgrimages to Riyadh to assure the Saudis that we continue to be grateful for the punishment they dish out.

“The relationship has tremendously improved with the United States,” Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al Faisal told a news conference in Riyadh. “With the government, of course, it is very harmonious, as it ever was. Whether it has returned to the same level as it was before in terms of public opinion [in both countries], that is debatable.”

Well, score one for public opinion. It makes sense to distrust the mercenary and distasteful alliance between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. We protect the repressive kingdom that spawned Osama bin Laden, and most of the 9/11 hijackers, in exchange for the Saudis keeping our fecklessly oil-addicted country lubricated.

Yes, it has stuck deep in the craw of many of us Americans that after 9/11, Washington squandered global goodwill and a huge percentage of our resources invading a country that had nothing to do with Al Qaeda, while continuing to pander to this dysfunctional dynasty. After all, Saudi Arabia is believed to have paid Bin Laden’s murderous gang millions in protection money in the years before 9/11, and it lavishly funds extremist religious schools throughout the region that preach and teach anti-Western jihad.

“Al Qaeda found fertile fundraising ground in the kingdom,” noted the 9/11 commission report in one of its many careful understatements. The fact is, without Saudi Arabia, there would be no Al Qaeda today.

Our president loves to use the word “evil” in his speeches, yet throughout his life he and his family have had deep personal, political and financial ties with a country that represents everything the American Revolution stood against: tyranny, religious intolerance, corrupt royalty and popular ignorance. This is a country where women aren’t allowed to drive and those who show “too much skin” can be beaten in the street by officially sanctioned mobs of fanatics. A medieval land where newspapers routinely publish the most outlandish anti-Semitic rants. A place where executions are held in public, torture is the norm in prison and the most extreme and expansionist version of Islam is the state religion.

It’s hard to see how Saddam Hussein’s brutal and secular Iraq was worse than the brutal theocracy run by the House of Saud. Yet one nation we raze and the other we fete. Is it any wonder that much of the world sees the United States as the planet’s biggest hypocrite?

As insider books by former White House terrorism advisor Richard Clarke, journalist Bob Woodward and others have recounted, punishing Saudi Arabia in any way for its long ideological and financial support of terrorism was not even on the table in the days after 9/11. Instead, within hours of the planes hitting the towers, the powerful neoconservatives in the White House rushed to use the tragedy as an excuse for a long-dreamed invasion of Iraq.

Meanwhile, after two wars to make the Middle East safe for the Saudis, wars that cost hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars and thousands of American lives, the price of oil is soaring — up 42% from just a year ago. Good thing we just passed a pork-laden energy bill that will do little to nothing to ease our crushing — and rising — dependence on imported oil. Federal officials project that by 2025, the U.S. will have to import 68% of its oil to meet demand, up from 58% today.

There are those who argue that the best rationale for invading Iraq was to ease our dependence on Saudi Arabia’s massive oil fields, which might allow for a more rational or moral relationship. Yet the dark irony is that with Iraq in chaos and its oil flow limited by insurgent attacks and a bungled reconstruction, Saudi Arabia is now more important to the United States than ever.

It’s scary, but these gaping contradictions don’t seem to trouble our president a whit.

As the drumbeat of devastating terrorist attacks in Baghdad, London and elsewhere continue, Bush prattles on — five times in a speech last Wednesday — about his pyrrhic victories in the “war on terror.” This is a sorry rhetorical device that disguises the fact that the forces of Islamic fanaticism in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the world are stronger than ever.

What is Patriotism?

In a recent column, Jonah Goldberg lectures Barack Obama on his “patriotism problem.” As he sees it Obama’s “problem” goes far deeper than lapel pins,

He sees an America in which the cup is half-empty. Is his America the same one most Americans think of as they wave flags and celebrate the Fourth of July?

But is that what patriotism really is, an unflagging, cup half full, optimism? I have nothing against optimism but what does that have to do with patriotism? To some, patriotism means the desire to make your country the best it can be but to Goldberg, beyond minor policy changes we needn’t concern ourselves with that,

Definitions of patriotism proliferate, but in the American context patriotism must involve not only devotion to American texts (something that distinguishes our patriotism from European nationalism) but also an abiding belief in the inherent and enduring goodness of the American nation. We might need to change this or that policy or law, fix this or that problem, but at the end of the day the patriotic American believes that America is fundamentally good as it is.

No doubt this sounds reasonable to many but what this really describes is group think or herd mentality. To Goldberg, patriotism means believing his country is superior to all others for no other reason than he was born in it. He doesn’t explicitly state America’s superiority in his article but is there any doubt to his opinion? If asked “are there any other countries in the world today that are better than America?” would you expect his answer to be “yes,” regardless of whatever the truth might be?

What if your country isn’t “fundamentally good” or what if your country has lost its way and no longer abides by the principles it once did? The definition Goldberg offers could be applied by the citizens of any country and no doubt is but what if it isn’t true? This is clearly the case with many nations around the world. How many women for example would like to live in Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan where women are second class citizens? Apparently Goldberg doesn’t realize that there are “patriots” just like him living in those countries who feel the same about their country as he does about his.

The problem with the Jonah Goldberg notion of patriotism is not only does he consider issues such as slavery, civil rights or women’s suffrage to be essentially minor issues that don’t actually reflect on the “inherent and enduring goodness of the American nation,” his kind only sees these as problems after the fact, if ever, but never while the nation is actually going through them. Years from now it’ll be common knowledge that we’re experiencing an extreme low point in this country, the Iraq war, suspension of habeas corpus, torture, warrantless spying on Americans, all of these, with the possible exception of the first, go completely counter to the ideals this country was founded on. There is simply no way the Founding Fathers would agree with any of it regardless of the justification because these were overarching principles that are just to important to ignore. But it’s “patriots” like Goldberg who do just that because their “abiding belief in the inherent and enduring goodness of the American nation” blinds them to the reality virtually every time.

Rather than “hating America” as many are so often accused, only those who are willing to face reality and demand that their country live up to its promise can consider themselves American patriots while the Goldbergs are merely members of the American herd.

–Paul Wilden

http://progressiveworldreview.com

Democracy and Public Opinion

Since democracy has been defined as, “the Government of the people, by the people and for the people,” the crucial role of public opinion cannot be underestimated. It is the public which gives its views about a government by exercising its franchise in the ballot box.

In theory yes, a democracy is a form of Government in which the people have a say in the day-to-day functioning of the Government through the representatives it sends to the Parliament. The very existence of such a Government is well-dependent on the people. So much so good, but, for the people to have some views on subjects of national importance, it is imperative that the public be of some standard of intelligence and knowledge.

Public opinion plays a decisive role in making or breaking a government but the public whose opinion is so very important for the very government but the public whose opinion is so very important for the very existence of the government has got to be of some level so as to be able to hold the reins of the government, to the advantage of the nation. If this is not so, as we see in India, public opinion can be held for a price, it can be bought for a gift, then does such a public opinion have any value or relevance? If a purchased public opinion is to form a government then, Only God may bless or save the fate of the country. It is also quite appropriately said that, a people get the Government they deserve. This is but natural in a democracy for, the people vote to power, types of their own liking and standards, so if the public is uneducated, ignorant and fickle, what result oriented Government can it provide to the country. In such a case, public opinion cannot be really trusted, for, its opinions have been bought by the politicians or political parties for a price. An opinion so made can hardly be expected to last for long, for, it was never a well thought of opinion, it was just a purchased one. Moreover, such an opinion has also the inherent danger of being re-purchased by a higher bidder.

Besides being bought, an uneducated public can also be very easily misguided or, emotionally worked up, in order to get votes at the ballot box. Now, votes got in this way have to be maintained also in the same way, and so this business of give and take goes on endlessly, and the poor illiterate public is taken for a ride. They vote for people for their face value, and taking their speeches as gospel truth but, as soon as the politicians take command of their gains, the voters are clearly and unfortunately forgotten. Thus, the politician only exploits the ignorant and uneducated voters, and make them act as per their own ends. This sort of a picture of democracy is so truly prevalent in India because, our masses are ignorant, uneducated and emotional. They get carried away by the high sounding words, patriotic speeches, and they achieve no goals. The picture is such that, no matter who wins in the fray, the poor common man, who is the backbone of the democracy, gets noting in the bargain. He continues to remain where he was, just to be satisfied with imaginary power in the set up of the Government, and to be remembered only after five years when, once again he will be the all important hand in the formation of the new Government. He will once again see rosy pictures of his future, and the politicians of the highest price will keep ruling. This misrule of our Indian democracy continues to persist because the backbone is very weak being misappropriated. How can a strong body stand straight and firm on a weak backbone?

However, today, after fifty years of misrule, the Indian electorate has somehow become a little alert and has started realizing that, he has been used and exploited by the politican for his own ends, but, since he is uneducated, the poor voter does not understand how he can get out of this rut of being misused. He does understand the misdeeds of the people in power, but he still does not have the insight of how to remedy the present ills of the country. The voter has at last realized that, he has been used as a pawn all these years, and has got no gain in the bargain. At times now, the common man also raises a voice but, again his being uneducated becomes a handicap, for, he usually raises a stir on irrelevant issues which just get brushed aside. He fights for non-issues, this again just because he does not know what to raise a stir for, and how to get about the tackling of issues like inefficiency corruption and other misdeeds of political big wigs.
In such a situation, it can be really said that, a democracy gets converted into a mobocracy, and, public opinion, the backbone of the democracy a mere sham. Getting public opinion has just become as style and eyewash for, what the politicians have been doing for so many years is only imposing there own opinion on the illiterate public.

For awareness and arousal of public opinion, the Television and the press can play a very dominant role. They can help in building public opinion and explaining problems to the masses. However, in India, the politician has managed to get such a tight grip on the media also that this is also mostly tainted, unbelievable and even wrong. With such an aura how will we ever have the correct public opinion built up, on any issue of national importance. This is just propped up by speeches of politicians and tainted media, and, when this works upon the uneducated masses, a messy decoction is the result, as is so evident in India.

Public opinion which is the very essence of a democracy is a hollow farce made up by tales workings on the illiterate masses. Thus, it is very clear that, democracy is meant for a highly educated country where the masses can understand, think, and view all issues and then give their consent. Besides, a democracy is meant for a highly disciplined country where, the masses know that, all rules and laws are meant to be followed and strictly obeyed. A country where the general public is highly illiterate indisciplined, and in a permanent readiness to break any law made, is, absolutely unfit for a democracy. The opinion of such a public can be of no use for the improvement and progress of the country. To cap it all, where, the highest rung of the ladder, the politician is corrupt and unmeaning, the face of the democracy is destroyed and public opinion is not more than just the view of a few selfish politicians, who only work up sentiments and get the desired opinion.

Thus, we can see that, India is the most unfit country for a democratic set up, and its public hardly fit enough to have any opinion. Above all, the politician here is the most corrupt class, and has intentionally kept the masses uneducated for five decades as, he can play merry hell only when, and till the masses are unaware. The democracy of India is in shambles as, the backbone is too weak to hold the system its full lease. To summarise, the democracy, in India, the twins of democracy and public opinion are both dead, or at least taking their life breaths from some internal strengths.

Arun K has been building websites for many years and runs a number of successful websites. He is the owner of Kerala Backwaters Further articles can be found on his website at SMS Jokes.

Sex and Politics

What went wrong, Eliot? The former governor from New York is the most recent contributor to a potent list of governors, mayors, members of Congress, and presidents, or at least our good friend Bill Clinton, who have complimented an ambitious political career with sex and scandal. Why? Why are our nation’s finest subsequently given to such rapacious habits?

Sex and power. Sex, the deep ceded desire to reproduce and endow the human race, and power, the natural drive for social ascension. Sex and power.

Perhaps your typical neo-Freudian would call it the id. Sex and power epitomize what is left after man is stripped of the conscious effort to keep himself and his guilty desires in check. Without a conscience, we are left with the basic human drives, or instincts, that we were born with. These drives are the subconscious motivation behind all of our actions.

Consider MacBeth. Shakespeare was a master of psychology and well aware of these subconscious drives. This is effectively portrayed in Act I, scene vii immediately before MacBeth murders Duncan.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the play, MacBeth is a Scottish general who is enticed by the prophecy of three witches, who tell MacBeth that he will one day become king. MacBeth acts on the prophecy and plots to kill Duncan, the standing king of Scotland.

MacBeth becomes unsure of himself and has second thoughts about murdering the king. Aware of this, Lady MacBeth begins questioning his masculinity:

“What best was’t, then,

That made you break this enterprise to me?

When you durst do it, then you were a man;

And to be more than what you were, you would

Be so much more the man.”

Confused? In essence, Lady MacBeth tapped those basic drives in MacBeth, questioning both his sexuality and desire for power. In doing so, she unleashed the beast in MacBeth, who went on to murder several others in his quest for power.

Consider also the famed BTK strangler Dennis Rader. Rader terrorized Kansas by binding his victims before performing sexual acts on them and eventually killing them. Perhaps most notable about Rader were his rabid sexual drives. Said of one victim in court: “I had some sexual fantasies. But that was after she was hung.” Rader also admitted to being sexually turned on by the act of murder.

How does this all tie in? Rader couldn’t have made his subconscious, instinctual drives more distinct from his conscious state of mind. He has said that during and after the murders took place, he felt “…possessed with demons.” Rader has made clear that he is a different person when he commits these acts, and “once this character takes over… it drives me.” Rader was possessed by his natural drive for sex and power.

Perhaps politicians are possessed by these same drives. Perhaps these drives are more apparent in men of authority. Regardless, it is undeniable that those who hold public office are more likely to be involved in such scandals. From Eliot Spitzer to Kwame Kilpatrick to Bill Clinton, it is not uncommon in politics. The real question is who’s next.

The Countdown – Political analysis and discussion

http://www.thecountdown.moonfruit.com

No Immigrants Please!

There is great national fervor throughout the U.S. about the subject of immigration. It is both an ongoing political football and it comes at a time of political races that exasperates the subject. It raises questions of extreme protectionism at the expense of certain of our own industries. The argument that Hispanics are taking the jobs of typical working Americans is mostly hysteria. The question that comes to mind is just what is it that we are all discussing? Are we really looking at the right problem?

In the early 1600’ds immigrants came here that did not speak the language(s) spoken here (Iroquois, Cherokee, etc). In the 1800’ds hordes of immigrants came here that spoke virtually hundreds of languages, and somehow it all worked. Now, we are faced with immigrants who come here and do not speak the language, and we suddenly want to close the doors.

I live in a town that exemplifies all of the related problems. Just 3,500 souls live in a couple of tiny communities twenty-two miles from the nearest town in one direction and forty-four miles in another. Palm Springs is actually only fifteen miles away, but crows don’t fly over the 11,000 mountain between us. Now that we are established here, there are those in my town that would put up gates on the roads at the foot of the mountain we live on, and not allow passage to any not already residents here.

I think we are forgetting something. We are all either immigrants or the children of immigrants (at some level). We indeed have a border security problem, but we do not have an immigrant problem. We don’t even really have a problem with illegal immigrants – there are very few who would do us harm. Therefore, almost everyone who comes here does so for a better life – does that sound familiar?

We probably should take action that would restrict the sheer numbers of people coming in from our southern borders, but there is an easy and solid way to do that – invest in the economy (not the corrupt politico’s) of Mexico.

Realistically, no one wants to leave home if home is a good place to be. But if there is a good reason, they will leave – and they should be able to. Cuba may soon be acceptable to the United States, and we would invest in the Cuban economy as we once did. Cubans and Mexicans in a better environment would not flock here as they now do.

The only real argument about the current flock of Hispanics is that the current group foolishly want to speak only their native languages as some kind of protection against losing their home environment. In the 1800’ds, most immigrants were happy to speak the new language while retaining their native language for family gatherings. My recommendation to new immigrants is to speak English during the work week and their native language on the weekend. Certainly, teach the home language to children. This way everyone retains their native language, yet they can get better jobs and improve the economies of both themselves and their adopted country.

Larry Kueneman

Why Most Americans Hate Their Job

I have a good friend who is an artist. He paints. His style I shall call Whimsical Realism. All his realistic masterpieces have some kooky whimsy that focuses his attitude about the Subject (Victim? Ha!) of his skill. He is generous to his subjects; he has heart.

He shows it in many facets in each painting he does. In one painting, deer hunters sit in front of a home theater, wearing fatigues, with heads of stuffed animals mounted above them – victims of their passion – looking down on them as they watch a deer hunter slowly bring his rifle to his shoulder on the DVD machine. In another painting, a baby, eyes wide with wonder, floats spread eagled about six feet above the fireplace mantle of a middle class living room, and we can imagine behind us it is only the ceiling keeping this baby from floating off with the weather balloons!! And in another painting, a pretty girl has been stopped by a policeman, leaning into her window to talk to her, while a strapping young man, in the seating position and the steering-wheel-grasping position of your midnight in-the-‘hood drag racer, looks on this scene, through the policeman’s car windows, with attraction and disdain. Yes, she is a knockout and were the policeman at HIS window, he would be signing a ticket by now.

Paul is an artist. Paul comes and goes as he wills. He invites us over every Friday night, and while he paints, we play sea shanties, folk songs, rockabilly songs, rock ‘n’ roll songs. It inspires Paul. Someday, I tell him, I am going to do a video of him bringing a painting into existence, and we will post it to video sharing sites!! Every month, on the FIRST Friday, all the downtown galleries open up for a night of hour’des vours and Art.

Paul had a fellowship in Provincetown two summers ago, and is represented by a gallery in Columbus. He makes money from his work. GOOD money. He doesn’t insult his public by sniffing at people confused by his work, and telling his friend behind their backs, “I am EDUCATING them!”

No. Paul paints what people want: he seeks to understand how to convey the feelings he knows his public want to FEEL when they encounter his work.

Paul is not free. He owns rental properties in order to have positive cash flow. He has renovated two commercial buildings and has business tenants in one of them. He answers his phone at midnight when a tenant’s toilet is hopelessly plugged. He walks to his tenants’ units the first of the month and collects rent. He pays bills. He writes checks and puts them in the mail. He lives on a farm and has restored an old summer kitchen along with the farmhouse.

According to our other friends, Paul works and works and works and works. Well, Paul doesn’t see it that way. He may not make enough to live simply by painting now, but look out in the future! He is in it for the long term.

Paul’s situation is a bit precarious. What if a couple of tenants don’t pay the rent? What if paintings simply don’t sell?

Maybe it is a precarious position, but Paul is following his CALLING. Everyone else in the work farce envies his liberty. But will they take risks for the sake of their OWN calling? That remains to be seen.

In today’s regimented office environments, in any building type, security is paramountt. In return for half a paycheck every other Friday.they are loyal to jobs they hate, and they come home to pour themselves into projects like model railroading, hang gliding,etc, k at hobbies they love, all the time having to quell the voice in their heads that they OUGHT to be doing what they LOVE. They OUGHT To be experiencing God’s Favour. They OUGHT to do it whether they are paid or not.

But instead they work to fulfill some other person’s goals, or to prop up another person’s ego all the while despising themselves for doing so. This makes the minutes tick by like HOURS. They had a vision when they were 10 years old that they would be an ATTRACTION snd would do something IMPORTANT..and instead, because they seek the total security with (of) their resources, they repel people. They repel increase…they repel the good life and their lives become pleas for more poverty and want. You don’t solve this problem by chasing money.

Americans hate their jobs because they hate themselves. They hate themselves because they are too cowardly to strike out and go hungry for a week, a month, finding the work that Needs Them, and that They Need. They are trapped in communities of negativity who simply tolerate them. Because of this, any new idea brewing might be stillborn it in someone’s mind.

It rots there.

Cosmo Dookelo… is a freelance writer and journalist. You can learn more about the financial state of the Free and the Brave at http://www.mmmcarlscout.com

Drug Detox and Rehab Alone Will Not Handle the Prescription Drug Problem

If one were to create a list of the prescription drugs most likely to cause addiction and dependency, OxyContin, morphine, and methadone would be right at the top. In fact, these drugs are also among those responsible for the alarming increase in ‘accidental poisoning deaths’ – 20,950 in 2004, up from 12,186 in 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and there’s no sign it letting up. Drug detox and drug rehab centers are also seeing an increasing number of people seeking help to get off these drugs. Why, then, did the DEA, on December 19th, relax the prescribing rules for these and other dangerous drugs?

On September 6, 2006, the DEA proposed to amend the regulation on prescribing Schedule II drugs – doctors used to be limited to giving 30-day prescriptions and these are now extended to 90 days. The ruling was motivated by over 600 comments from “physicians, pharmacists, nurses, patients, and advocates for pain treatment,” according to the DEA press release of the same date. DEA Administrator Karen P. Tandy said the proposed ruling “reiterates the DEA’s commitment to striking the proper balance to ensure that people who need pain relief get it, and those who abuse it, don’t.”

The DEA press release also included information about these drugs and said that prescription drug abuse is a growing epidemic that requires everyone’s vigilance. Here are the statistics they presented.

* Nearly 1 in 10 high school seniors admits to abusing powerful prescription painkillers.

* Today, more new drug users have begun abusing pain relievers (2.4 million) than marijuana (2.1 million) or cocaine (1.0 million).

* 6 million Americans are currently abusing controlled substance prescription drugs – that is more than the number abusing cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, and inhalants, combined.

* Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that opioid prescription painkillers now cause more drug overdose deaths than cocaine and heroin combined.

* Admissions to treatment (whether it was for drug detox, drug rehab or some other type of treatment was not specified) for prescription opiates swelled by a third in just two years (from 46,972 in 2002 to 63,243 in 2004).

September 6, 2006 also marked the beginning of the 60-day public comment period during which any member of the public is invited to support the ruling, protest it, and so on. Comments were made and reviewed, and the proposed ruling became final on December 19, 2007.

How, in light of the devastation caused by these drugs, could such a ruling ever have passed?

The answer lies in the public comments – not in the comments themselves, but in the number of comments that actually reached the DEA. According to the DEA release about the final ruling, there were 264 comments. That’s right, 264: Less than 1.3 percent of the number of people who died from ‘accidental poisoning deaths’ caused by prescription drugs in 2004 alone. And an infinitesimal percentage of those who have sought drug detox or rehab for themselves, a friend of a family member.

Why didn’t the mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, sons, daughters and friends of those who died from ‘accidental poisoning deaths’ speak up? Why didn’t the DEA hear from the 63,243 people who sought drug detox and rehab for prescription drug addiction and abuse in 2004? Why didn’t the DEA hear from the millions of people whose lives are negatively affected by prescription drug addiction and abuse?

I would bet that the underlying reason is simply that they didn’t know about it. The DEA advised vigilance, advice heeded by far too few, but now that the ruling has been finalized, individuals and groups are coming out of the woodwork to protest it and get it rescinded.

Lesson learned? With drug addiction and abuse, as with most other things in life, you can’t just sit back and wait, or hope that someone else will do the right thing. While getting someone into a drug detox program and rehab is vital, staying abreast of situations like the proposed DEA ruling and taking action is your only hope of real control. When opportunity knocks – open the door for crying out loud.

Gloria is a freelance writer who contributes articles on health contact:info@novusdetox.com

http://www.novusdetox.com/