The Gross National Debt

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A few things from a fevered mind on a Tuesday night

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If this is more disjointed that usual, well, I dunno exactly what's ailing me, but I know my asthma is kicking my butt. May be a virus on top of that. Anyway

Didja see the headlines today?

What is most ominous to me is what happened in New York and London.

Al Jazeera, a state controlled media outlet for the Middle East is trying to launch a news network in the US. Meanwhile under the Queen in Great Britain, the police went into the offices of The Guardian and destroy harddrives in the basement which held information from Edward Snowden.

As The Guardian's editor said, there was little he could do. In his position, yes.

Al Jazeera, according to the people who work for the outfit in the ME, is the same. The Emir (dictator) of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa owns the outfit. While Al Jazeera earned some serious street cred in reporting in some places, when it got close to home, the plug was pulled along with Al Jazeera's rep.

The United States is rare - nope, unique, in that we have the First Amendment which allows us to say pretty much anything we want. I'm old enough to remember the British government telling its media that it could not report on a subject. I recall the Canadian government doing the same to the media up there. The media had no recourse. It could not report. Elsewhere around the world media toes the line or runs the risk of being bodyslammed into submission.

About here someone is going to say the US media writes what it is told and also toes the government line and is owned by corporations. Think about that statement. What do corporations want? Profit. How do corporations make a profit? By delivering what people are willing to pay for.

The most profitable media outlet today? ESPN (owned by Walt Disney). People want sports. The least profitable? Direct live coverage of Congress from CSPAN. People do not want government coverage. People want celebrity news because it's easy to digest. The fault in the US rests not with the media but with the consumers of media. Corporations will chase the dollar.

Having said that, didja see about the Australian college student shot as he jogged down the road? Didja see a nutjob was caught in Atlanta in a school with a rifle? Didja see the Aussie government is calling for a tourism boycott of the US because of our gun laws? Australia, by the way, puts some tight controls on the media compared to the US.
George would have packed this had it been available.

Back in January I joined a fraternity against my will, one which is rare in the US but counts members in just about every nation. My brothers and sisters in this fraternity share a bond. We've been physically attacked because of our reporting. At a journalism seminar in July, I was called upon to recount my experience.

I have also not stopped what I do.

As I look at the two assaults on people and the assaults on the media, I am reminded that our government is increasingly trying to evade media scrutiny of its activities. So much for "open government" as the president promised. His administration is actually quite terrible when it comes to open government.

As I sit typing this tonight, I worry. A lot. I can see the signs. Our government, which is presently spying on every American, is consolidating power. Only a government intent on silencing dissent goes to this extreme. OK, show me a government which has gone this far which was not a dictatorship and a totalitarian regime that shut down opposition. You can't.

Considering the history of abuse which our government has, dating back to just after the founding and the Revolutionary War, I am compelled to ask some people, "why do you trust government?"

So, I worry. The sheep do not worry. The goats worry. I hope the day never comes, but I fear it may.

I ask you, what protections do you have that government will not abuse you? The courts? Think again. The only protection you have, really is you. The litany of government abuses approved by the court system is massive. Slavery. Japanese internment camps. Within my lifetime, the Tuskegee STD experiment. There are so many more, I wonder how many have yet to be revealed.
I'm going to continue to support the First Amendment and the Second Amendment, using both to support the rest of the Constitution. In the meantime, I worry. I hope the day never comes, but if it does, well, Thomas Jefferson said the tree of liberty must be watered occasionally with the blood of patriots. Only a few of you will read that entire letter. So be it. I've done my job and it it comes down to it, I'll do the final job as well.

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