Published: Sunday 21 October 2012
Published: Thursday 20 September 2012
How American Democracy Became the Property of a Commercial Oligarchy

 

[A longer version of this essay appears in "Politics," the Fall 2012 issue of Lapham's Quarterlythis slightly shortened version is posted at TomDispatch.com with the kind permission of that magazine.]

 

All power corrupts but some must govern. -- John le Carré

The ritual performance of the legend of democracy in the autumn of 2012 promises the conspicuous consumption of $5.8 billion, enough money, thank God, to prove that our flag is still there. Forbidden the use of words apt to depress a Q Score or disturb a Gallup poll, the candidates stand as product placements meant to be seen instead of heard, their quality to be inferred from the cost of their manufacture. The sponsors of the event, generous to a fault but careful to remain anonymous, dress it up with the bursting in air of star-spangled photo ops, abundant assortments of multiflavored sound bites, and the candidates so well-contrived that they can be played for jokes, presented as game-show contestants, or posed as noble knights-at-arms setting forth on vision quests, enduring the trials by klieg light, until on election night they come to judgment before the throne of cameras by whom and for whom they were produced.

Best of all, at least from the point of view of the commercial oligarchy paying for both the politicians and the press coverage, the issue is never about the why of who owes what to whom, only about the how much and when, or if, the check is in the mail. No loose talk about what is meant by the word democracy or in what ways it ...

Published: Thursday 3 May 2012
“In reality, climate change is actually the biggest thing that’s going on every single day. If we could only see that pattern we’d have a fighting chance.”

The Williams River was so languid and lovely last Saturday morning that it was almost impossible to imagine the violence with which it must have been running on August 28, 2011. And yet the evidence was all around: sand piled high on its banks, trees still scattered as if by a giant’s fist, and most obvious of all, a utilitarian temporary bridge where for 140 years a graceful covered bridge had spanned the water.The YouTube video of that bridge crashing into the raging river was Vermont’s iconic image from its worst disaster in memory, the record flooding that followed Hurricane Irene’s rampage through the state in August 2011. It claimed dozens of lives, as it cut more than a billion-dollar swath of destruction across the eastern United States.

I watched it on TV in Washington just after emerging from jail, having been arrested at the White House during mass protests of the Keystone XL pipeline. Since Vermont’s my home, it took the theoretical -- the ever more turbulent, erratic, and dangerous weather that the tar sands pipeline from Canada would help ensure -- and made it all too concrete. It shook me bad.

And I’m not the only one.

New data released last month by researchers at Yale and George Mason universities show that a lot of Americans are growing far more concerned about climate change, precisely because they’re drawing the links between freaky weather, a climate kicked off-kilter by a fossil-fuel guzzling civilization, and their own lives. After a year with a record number of ...

Published: Wednesday 9 November 2011
The Wall Street Journal avoided reporting on new Koch Brothers funded research which supports global warming before downplaying it.

After ignoring for weeks a new study confirming the accuracy of previous global temperature records, the U.S. print edition of the Wall Street Journal covered the study in an article focusing on the "uncertain nature" of the temperature records.

 

WSJ  Eventually Prints Article About Study -- Only To Downplay It

Journal Published Op-Ed Announcing Results Of Study In Its European Paper. The Wall Street Journal only published an op-ed by American physicist Richard Muller, who conducted the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, in its European edition and on its website. The op-ed was published on the same day the preliminary reports from the BEST study were released and stated that "Our results turned out to be close to those published by prior groups. We think that means that those groups had truly been very careful in their work, despite their inability to convince some skeptics of that." [Wall Street Journal

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