Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Earthquake

Japan is reeling from another disaster, certainly the biggest one since WWII, and one that threatens nuclear “catastrophe” -- as was just reported on NPR -- that will affect far more than Northern Japan.

As I have often said, I don’t have access to broadcast television while I’m in New Mexico, nor do I have cable television here (or in California), and as of 03/12/11, I don’t even have a dial-up internet connection, as the ancient laptop I was using for dial-up access here finally gave up the ghost and probably will not be restored.

I haven’t been out to get a Sunday paper yet -- the Albuquerque Journal is pretty thorough -- so the only real news I have about The Earthquake and its many hideous aftermaths is from NPR on the radio, and one of the things I’ve noticed is that the… reporting is… halting. At best.

When things are going on that defy the Narrative of Events, reporters in the field -- not just on NPR, but generally in the media -- flail. Because they don’t know what the story is supposed to be and events are (to say the least) fluid, they hesitate and stammer and choose their words very carefully rather than use their journalistic skills (assuming they have any) to tell what they know -- and what they don’t know -- about what is going on.

It should be a fairly simple matter to do that: “here’s what we know, here’s what we don’t know; here’s what we need to find out; here’s what we’re doing to find it out.”

But they don’t do that. Instead, they repeat what they’ve been told by Official/Government Sources (usually unnamed), and if they have any other information, they couch it very carefully so as not to directly contradict Official Sources (Unnamed). Their stammering and hesitation is a good clue that they’re hiding something important that they can’t say because the Official Media Narrative either hasn’t been coagulated yet, or they’re afraid of losing All Important Access to Unnamed Official Sources -- who will, of course, Help Make Sense of What Is Going On. Thus forming the Official Narrative which then becomes the Standard Media Narrative. Without those Official Sources, the Narrative cannot be formed.

This gets very dicey because it is not just Government Sources the media rely on. No, they also rely on High Powered Corporate Sources and Their Interests, often intimately linked with Government Sources, but not always. The Narrative is formed by the interplay between Corporate Interest (which includes the major media of course) and Official Government Information.

In the case of The Earthquake and the nuclear dangers, the issue is fraught mightily. Corporate Interest is found in the denial of any serious problem that cannot be dealt with adequately by application of appropriate procedures. Corporate Interest favors expansion of Nuclear Power. The Earthquake -- much like the Chernobyl Disaster and Three Mile Island -- has made it potentially very difficult to proceed with the expansion of Nuclear Power facilities.

So how to describe what’s going on?

Until the Japanese Government stated directly that one of the nuclear plants damaged in The Earthquake “may be partially melted down” there wasn’t even a hint in NPR’s reporting that there could be more than a minor problem at the nuclear facilities in question. Exactly what that problem might be, they couldn’t or wouldn’t say. But you knew from their hesitations and stammers that they knew… something. We were not privileged to know what.

This is so dreadful and so aggravating.

On the other hand, the NPR reporting on the Wisconsin Thing was outright atrocious, deceptive, and fit the Corporate Narrative seamlessly. As far as their Narrative is concerned, Scott Walker and his sponsors and supporters are simply doing What Has To Be Done and they are all being perfectly honest and reasonable about it, whereas their opponents and the dozens of protesters in the streets are at best a distraction from the Important Business of State, at worst, violent vandals with no civic consciousness at all. There is no hesitation or stammering: this is the NPR Line on the Wisconsin Thing, and that, as they say, is that.

Then there is the NPR O’Keefe Sting Thing.

Today NPR’s Weekend Edition reports that Glenn Beck’s “The Blaze” site is reporting (ah, steps removed, you see, and “The Blaze” is all Conservative And Shit, so it’s OK) that the O’Keefe Tape that resulted in the Firings of NPR’s CEO and Chief Fundraiser was doctored (much as other O’Keefe Stings and their clones have been doctored) to deceive. Hm. Who’d a thunk?

The institutional damage -- which was the whole point of the sting -- has already been done, and there is very little that can be done now to restore whatever has been lost. That is the point of these things. The fact that NPR instantly fell for it (much as the Dept of Agriculture did in the case of Shirley Sherrod) is appalling.

But it says something about how remarkably frail our Institutions are to the predations of the likes of O’Keefe and Breitbart and the rest.

These institutions seem impervious to Reason, but they are brittle and easily shattered -- or stampeded into doing stupid things -- by predators bent on taking them down.

Of which there are plenty.

Pointing out the situation, unfortunately, doesn’t provide a solution.

For example, I’m in something of a quandary about What To Do. Providing government services requires more revenue which should by rights come from the predator class that’s been benefiting mightily from an abundance of tax cuts all these years. The problem is that any advance in revenue -- no matter where it comes from, but the only source allowed to be discussed is the working class and poor -- will go to finance more Imperial Wars of Aggression which have been working out so well.

That’s how the Captive Government works. Everything for the bloodthirsty predators who own and control the Government. Nothing -- or rather, less -- for the “Lesser People.”

So why provide any more money for this Government when you know it will be used to pad the bank accounts of the already obscenely well off and to kill and maim brown people and destroy their houses abroad. That’s all. We’ve seen abundant evidence that there is nothing the People can do to change that. Certainly elections can’t do it.

Therefore, I’m not in favor of taxing the rich on behalf of this Government. We need a different Government, and in my view a different kind of Government, before taxing the rich will make any sense.

And we’re not there yet. Very far from being there, too.

I wish the people of Japan every possible blessing in this time of horror and immense trial for them. What’s happened is almost inconceivable -- except that we’ve seen so many repeated incidents of horror formerly unimaginable in the last few years. Events are in control. Not our petty fretting and concerns.

How petty can I be? Well, I discovered there were several other plumbing issues around the house that needed attention. So I’ve spent most of the morning attending to them. I think I’ve got them fixed, but it remains to be seen. Yes, that’s what I needed to do right now, but all the time I was doing it, I kept thinking how lucky I was compared to so many people who are suffering much worse than me. At least I was able to do these things. They don’t have water. Electricity. Food. Or in many cases homes to putter around in.

My petty concerns are nothing compared to the increasing suffering of the Growing Multitude.

Change must come. But how.

Back to studying my Rousseau, I guess…

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