Satan Sandwich; Boeing; Meteorologists

by Chris Sturr | August 02, 2011

Budget Cuts

Budget Cuts

(1) Debt Deal as a “Satan Sandwich”: As Vishay Prashad reports in a good article on the debt “crisis” and deal in Counterpunch, Emanuel Cleaver, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, called the deal to lift the debt-ceiling a “sugar-coated Satan Sandwich.”  Indeed. (We know what he really wanted to call it.)

We just posted an article by our own Alejandro Reuss, Fiscal Austerity: The Wrong Medicine, which goes into one of the reasons this deal is so dismal. (This was a sidebar to the feature article by journalist Dan Read in our July/August issue on the austerity measures being imposed on Ireland by the EU and the IMF. If you want to read that one you’ll have to order a back issue, or subscribe and I’ll send it to you for free.)

And hat-tip to Linda P. for recommending Keith Olberman’s rant on the debt-ceiling deal.

(2) Right-wing Apoplexy about NLRB Boeing Decision: Our Sept/Oct annual labor issue, now in production, will include a great feature article by journalist and union organizer Josh Eidelson giving background about the strikes that the NLRB recently ruled Boeing was retaliating against when it located production of its new Dreamliner aircraft in right-to-work South Carolina.   Josh asks members of the Machinists’ union what the strikes meant to them–and how their lives were made better by what they gained.

The right wing in South Carolina and across the country are apoplectic about the fact that the NLRB is actually following the law in taking Boeing to task for practically bragging that they were moving production to South Carolina as payback for too many strikes.  Over at Working In These Times they have reported that Darrell Issa is trying to subpoena all the documents related to the case.  And the House Committee on Education and the workforce passed H.R. 2587, “Protecting Jobs From Government Interference Act,” in direct response to the NLRB’s ruling.  To sign Interfaith Worker Justice’s “people of faith” petition against the bill, click here.

(3) Meteorologists as heroes–or denialists? The New York Times had an odd story, As Weather Becomes Big Story, TV Forecasters Play the Hero, lionizing meteorologists in this spring and summer of extreme weather. There was nary a mention of climate change.  The real story, of course, is that meteorologists manage to talk about all the extreme weather while themselves rarely if ever mentioning climate change as even a potential explanation.

The Times‘ omission reminded me of  remarks Joel Kovel made in the interview with him we ran in our March/April 2010 issue (again, if you want to read the whole thing, you need to order a back issue or subscribe):

Watch the Weather Channel or the robotic weather correspondents on news programs. Will they ever, in reporting the increasingly bizzare weather patterns that accompany climate change, suggest that these correspond to an ever-gathering crisis, much less suggest that there might be a structural dynamic driving that crisis?

Virtually every sane adult (and many more children than one would suspect) knows that something very fishy is going on in the sphere of climate. People tend to be understandably worried about this. Imagine what a threat to the system would result if they became at all enlightened, which is to say, able to recognize just how profound is the threat to their future and even more, to the future of their children–and also that there is a coherent explanation as to why this is happening, one implicating the very centers of capitalist power.

To secure capital’s rule, it is necessary to keep people in the dark, or to be more exact, confused, distracted, and vaguely reassured. The media tends, therefore, to meet people halfway, then move them in the wrong direction.  False prophets like Al Gore are praised for calling attention to the threat posed by the carbon economy, and the fact that Gore does not attend to the role played by the accumulation of capital is never brought forward. At the same time, the corporate image machine is geared for greenwashing.

Unhappily, the job of mass deception is relatively easy, since with the stakes so high and given the inherent complexities and level of fear, it takes only a little uncertainty to slow down necessary action. The media system is very effective in doing this.

The underplaying of climate change in mainstream media coverage of extreme weather is the topic of the excellent cover story of the current issue of Extra! magazine.  (If you don’t subscribe to Extra!, you should do so right now. I read it cover to cover as soon as I get it.)

–Chris Sturr

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