Mark these words: within about three hours, the "Birther" faction around America will be asking for Osama Bin Laden's driver's license. What I'd like to know is how come he was "buried at sea," when the operation took place at least a thousand miles from the sea. Did the US Navy Seals transfer his remains from a helicopter to a boat? Or to an airplane? And did they just drop him over the night-darkened Indian Ocean like a sack of lentils? By the time you read this, the whole world will be clamoring for photos of the deceased. Maybe our guys will produce some. Quien Sabe?
I didn't intend to write about Bin Laden this morning, but rather the nutrient medium of untruth that has come to surround all the tissue of everyday life in the USA. Until the Bin Laden operation went down Sunday, the big news of the week was the release of President Obama's "long-form" birth certificate. A substantial number of Republicans still claim to believe that Obama is not a real American citizen. You may be sure they will persist, no matter what. Goebbels, too, knew the power of sheer repetition. One of the Birther leaders, Orly Taitz, immediately made the claim that the term "African" describing Obama's father's nationality on the document must be a latter-day PC dodge because back then the term-du-jour was "Negro."
When historians gather around their campfires a half century from now, they will marvel at our idiocy. Among the vital matters we failed to reckon was the diminishing returns of technology as applied to news and information. The slicker our electronic media got, the less sense the public could make of the information stream that they drowned in. How many iPhones and Blackberries are jangling this morning, I wonder, with "news" that Bin Laden was buried at sea because he is Obama's real father? To the Birthers, I'm sure Bin Laden qualified as some sort of "Negro." The story will be on Fox News by suppertime in Atlanta, just watch.
You had to love the way Donald Trump pretended to be the hero of the Obama birth certificate story. Has anyone asked for a birth certificate for the creature that is living on Donald Trump's head. I suspect it is a wolverine. Did it come from Michigan or Wisconsin, or possibly Canada? Is it a protected or endangered species? And was it obtained by legal means? (Perhaps he found it in a taxidermy shop.) Is there some way the Navy Seals can drop Donald Trump over the Bermuda Triangle. It would make me proud to be American again.
Against the background of what comes to look like a thirty-three ring circus in America's affairs is the remarkable stream of lying that emanates even from places previously thought to be mentally normal. I listen to the radio when I linger around the kitchen at suppertime and on Friday evening a NASA official came over the airwaves extolling all the future space exploits of the agency. Mining asteroids for high grade metals! Journeys to Mars and beyond! I thought: is this jaboney out of his skull? We'll be lucky if anyone can drive a powered vehicle from Hackensack to Paramus in ten years. An aerospace scientist ought to know that. If these guys are clueless about the future of travel, imagine how deranged a Tea Party official from Chugwater, Wyoming, must be.
NPR's Market Place show, about economic and financial matters, is every bit as dishonest as CNBC or Fox. Every night, Market Place issues cheers for a stock market that is rising strictly on the basis of a concerted, wide-open stock pumping scheme operated by the Federal Reserve in partnership with five Wall Street banks and the US Treasury Department. (Why? To maintain an illusion that the economy is in wonderful condition.) As far as I know, not a single on-air economics reporter understands that we are in a contraction phase of history, not a growth phase. Nor that "growth," as commonly defined, is impossible given the primary energy resource constrictions now underway. Something has gone terribly wrong in an education system that produces journalists this badly-informed.
Has the USA been hijacked by corporations, as some observers allege? Yes, I begin to believe in a stealth takeover - though I still imagine Mr. Obama is something less than a pure stooge and more of a hostage. But the odor of desperation all through our culture and economy is becoming a necrotic stench as we enter the warm seasons and the roadkill turns. Something tragic is going down in this land of ours and powerful people want to pretend powerfully that everything is okay. The public is not off the hook, either. They desperately wish to be gulled, snookered, distracted, played.
We do not talk, for instance, about the pressing need to discipline the corporations, and the place to start is by re-defining the practical "personhood" of corporations. It was lately expanded by the US Supreme Court to mean that corporations have the right to apply as much money as they like to the election process under the first amendment right to free speech. Interesting proposition they slipped in there: that money is the equivalent of speech. (Well, money does talk.) Of course, it is well-understood that the corporations owe their allegiance not to the country they operate in (you can't say pay taxes in, of course, because many don't), but strictly to their boards of directors representing the shareholders. In other words, corporation have no duties, obligations, or responsibilities to society, unlike human citizens. They are, by nature, sociopathic operations. Therefore, the remedy is a constitutional amendment re-defining corporate personhood as something less than, and apart from, citizenship. Who is the elected official out there who might take up this proposal?
Notice, by the way, the interesting and important news put out by the government on Friday (the time most favorable for "burying" news due to the TGIF syndrome), that the US Department of Energy's Energy Information Agency (EIA) has de-funded the office that collects data on oil production outside the USA - that is, in places like Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Venezuela, Mexico, et. al., in short, the places where the USA gets more than two-thirds of the oil we use every single day. And the reason for this would be? (choose one): 1.) We don't want to know; 2.) We don't give a shit; 3.) There's four Saudi Arabia's worth of oil under Zap, North Dakota; 4.) We've "innovated" a new technique for making oil out of lawn clippings.
De-funding the EIA is about the closest thing I've heard so far to the US cutting off its nose to spite its face. Meanwhile, every evening during the news hours, US coal companies are running completely dishonest advertisements - skillfully created like Valentines to the American people - to put over the totally false idea that burning coal can be done cleanly. The truth is that we have no idea yet how to successfully sequester carbon dioxide. Likewise, the gas companies are running warm and cuddly ads to reassure the public that we have a hundred years of methane gas to rely on. Both the coal and gas companies are wholesale liars playing a credulous public like a ten-cent kazoo for the sole purpose of pimping their share prices among the desperate retirees who make up the bulk of the TV news show watchers.
This morning, Bloomberg is putting out a story that the price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil dropped - from $113 to 112 - because Bin Laden was tossed into the sea. How long will that state of affairs last, I wonder. Through eleven o'clock in the morning, Eastern time? Lying is the new normal. Ignorance is one thing, lying to ourselves all the time, about absolutely everything, is something else. The least you can say about it is that it does not help us prepare for the very different everyday reality that we are moving into: a world made by hand.