Saturday, September 29, 2012

Progressive Music Classics. "Major Malfunction" by Keith LeBlanc



Welcome to another edition of Progressive Music Classics.

The tragic explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger inspired many touching speeches, books and works of art, which paid tribute to the lives of the astronauts who died in that disaster in 1986.

But one work of art that took a different approach to the tragedy was Major Malfunction by the great Keith LeBlanc, who has often been associated with Britain's experimental/sound collage/dub label On-U Sound.

"Major Malfunction" was released not long after the Challenger tragedy. A major theme of On-U Sound productions is the scary implications of rampant, out-of-control technology. And although I may be wrong, my interpretation of this piece is that LeBlanc saw something in the Challenger disaster that was very sinister and yet undefined at that early date.

As it turns out, LeBlanc was correct in following his instincts. There was something very sinister about the Challenger disaster. However, it took many more years for the truth to start to emerge.

Although there is still a great deal we don't know about the Challenger disaster, it has since emerged that the Reagan administration had pushed to militarize the space shuttle program, with the result that NASA began to downplay safety issues.

That was the startling conclusion reached in the 2007 book, Challenger Revealed: An Insider's Account of How the Reagan Administration Caused the Greatest Tragedy of the Space Age by Richard C. Cook.

In the book, Cook reveals the bombshell that Reagan wanted Challenger to be launched against the experts' recommendations so he could speak with teacher Christine McAuliffe live during his State of the Union speech.

And who is Cook, you might ask? Is he some left-wing, conspiracy-pushing author with an axe to grind? No, actually, he was a respected lead resource analyst for NASA.

To me, the Challenger disaster sums up a great deal of the problems with the extremist modern-day Republican party. The modern-day GOP after all, despises all government programs, with the exception of "military" spending. While they're not championing massive trillion-dollar budgets for fat, greedy "defense" contractors, they're busy slashing budgets elsewhere.

In short, if it's not part of "military" spending, the GOP has no use for it.

And, additionally, since the GOP has so much contempt for non-military spending, they seek to slash all non-Pentagon spending to the bone. Note that this approach means that most budget-starved government programs tend to perform poorly under GOP rule. And the GOP even reaps a bonus from all this, as it confirms their self-fulfilling philosophy that "government is inefficient."

It's a win-win situation for the GOP and it's a sad characteristic of the American empire in decline.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

GOP Exists in Alternate Universe at Bizarre, Lie-Filled Convention


Recently, I had a political discussion with a right-wing acquaintance. Sometimes I wonder why I bother. During the argument, my acquaintance called Obama an "idiot." When I asked for some proof of this, he replied, "Well, Obama said 'Internets' in an interview. He thinks it's called 'Internets.' That's really stupid."

Having grown weary of the discussion, I didn't even bother to challenge my acquaintance's contention. I did, though, think it was a bit odd. After all, the use of the term "Internets" was a well-known Bush blunder. Bush made the blunder during a debate with Al Gore, in 2000. Amazingly, Bush made the mistake again in 2004, during a debate with John Kerry. It was the second screwup that was widely ridiculed in the media.

"Was Rush now trying to somehow make the claim to his audience that this was in fact Obama's mistake?" I wondered.

Doing a little research on the Internet revealed that Obama once indeed did say "Internets." However, there was a big, big difference between the screwups made by Obama and Bush.

After all, when Obama said "Internets" he quickly corrected himself a few words later in the same sentence.

Obama is one of the most eloquent and intelligent speakers I've ever heard. But the fact is, like all modern U.S. presidents, he has an array of video cameras recording his words for hours every day. Given the grueling demands of his job and the stress that comes with it, it really shouldn't be surprising that he (or any president) might have an occasional verbal stumble. I mean, the only reason we don't have evidence of verbal stumbles by the likes of Washington and Jefferson is that there were no video cameras around in the 18th century.

Anyway, this whole episode got me to thinking. The Right-Wing in this country has built up such a formidable propaganda network that wingnuts can happily dwell within it and never be exposed to the Real World of actual facts, science, logic, reason and truth. It's clear that my right-wing acquaintance got his "Obama said 'Internets'" quote from the likes of Drudge and he has never even heard about Bush's far more famous (and uncorrected) blunder.

So Obama must be stupid, right? After all, Rush says so.

Such is the mind of the Right-Winger these days.

Which brings me to my main point. Politicians in America have historically never been the most honest class of people in the nation. But today's Republicans has set a new record for outrageous and blatant lies. It's gotten so bad that even the drowsy mainstream media has awoken from its usual slumber and started pointing out these outrageous lies.

For example, at the GOP convention, Paul Ryan trotted out his outrageous lie that Obama had supposedly promised to save a Wisconsin GM plant that later closed. Ryan no doubt thought that this latest lie wouldn't be scrutinized by a media that has allowed so many other GOP lies to pass unchallenged.

No doubt, Ryan was stunned when numerous mainstream media outlets across the nation picked apart his GM fable and exposed it for the lie that it was. (As it turns out, the Wisconsin GM plant closed before Obama even took office).

Other GOP convention lies were similarly exposed by the media ("Obama has slashed Medicare!" "Obama is responsible for the U.S. credit downgrade!")

I'm sure that the GOP is stunned by the recent fact-checking by a newly vigilant media. (And frankly, I'm as stunned as the GOP is, after watching the media let Republicans lie through their teeth for many years).

I guess the question now is this: why, in this election cycle, does the GOP have such contempt for the truth (especially when it can no longer get away with it?)

The answer to that question is simple. Because the GOP knows that, in fact, it can get away with it. This article's opening anecdote is proof positive of that. As that anecdote demonstrated, there are still many, many right-wingers out who get all of their news and info from the Fox/Drudge/Rush GOP Propaganda Network.

My right-wing acquaintance has never even heard that it was in fact Bush who made a fool of himself with his infamous "Internets" remarks. And my right-wing acquaintance will never even hear the mainstream media's debunking of Ryan's claims about the Wisconsin GM plant's closure. After all, he sure as hell isn't going to ever hear about it on Rush's show.

Such is the power of today's Great Right-Wing Propaganda Network. It is all-powerful, it is massive, it is everywhere, and it is 24 hours a day. If you are a wingnut getting your "news" from it, you'll never even feel the need to venture out in the Real World and expose yourself to any other news outlet. And you'll happily continue to live in an alternate universe, where Obama will always be a Socialist Muslim Kenyan whose birth certificate is a fraud.