A clear majority of Americans voted for “change” in the 2008 presidential election; why haven't we gotten it yet? The wars/occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan are still going, military spending has increased, “Gitmo” has not been shut down, the criminals who created the financial crisis/recession are not being prosecuted. Perhaps it is related to an idea put forth by Deborah Tannen (author of The Argument Culture) in the run-up to the 2004 presidential election, in “We Need Higher Quality Outrage.” Indeed, we do; however, the examples she gave in her piece were weak, and sometimes even examples of what she was criticizing. I will now correct that error.
Tannen opines “one can decry the fact that many of the contracts for rebuilding Iraq were awarded to Halliburton without claiming that the war was undertaken in order to enrich the company the vice president once led.” Well, sort of. Claiming that is the reason for the war may be unjustified, but criticizing (then V.P.) Dick Cheney for profiting from rebuilding a country he oversaw the destruction of is valid. Her statement that “one can argue that having received medals for heroic deeds in the Vietnam war does not equip John Kerry to execute the war in Iraq without seeking to discredit not only his, but all, Purple Hearts” is unarguably true. However, Tannen then fantasizes that “one can validly defend the way the war was conducted without accusing one's critics of undermining the war efforts.” No. Criticizing the way the Iraq war was conducted does undermine the war effort, and it should.
She really fails to engage in “higher quality outrage” with regard to 9/11, saying “one can argue that the president [then-president Bush] is using the Sept. 11 attacks to bolster his public profile without going so far as to claim (as does a message circulating on the internet) that he played a role in authorizing those attacks.” Well, even in 2004 there was a whole lot more than “a message” on the internet about that. In fact, even a cursory investigation makes it blindingly obvious that 9/11 could not have happened – the way it did actually happen – without top-level U.S. Government foreknowledge and co-operation. If you need a jump to get you going, try “Did 9/11 Justify the War in Afghanistan? Using the McChrystal Moment to Raise a Forbidden Question” by David Ray Griffin, and “Revealing new aerial photos of 9/11 attack released” by James Fetzer (be sure to watch the five-minute video by Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth at the end of the article). Then, after you're done “being sick,” go to the website of Partnership for a New American Century. This NPO was created by the aforementioned Dick Cheney along with Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Judith Miller (then a reporter for the New York Times) and some others. They released a White Paper (“Rebuilding America's Defenses”) describing their plan for world domination via the U.S. Military controlling the global oil supply. Acknowledging that this would require a huge increase in military spending and that the American people had no appetite for that, they said they would need “a new Pearl Harbor” (p. 51); and, regarding invading Iraq and establishing permanent military bases there to use as a staging area for conducting attacks throughout the Middle East and Asia, they said Saddam Hussein's regime “provides the immediate justification” (p.14). They put these things in writing one year before 9/11.
On the issue of journalistic balance, Tannen also fails to achieve the desired quality in her outrage. The balanced approach in news coverage comes from our legal system, called the “adversarial system,” in which two opposing sides each state their case, presided over by a judge. This goes back to medieval times, which used “trial by combat” with the winner assumed to have been picked by God (
Tannen then calls for “peaceful yet passionate outrage.” Why that magical combination? “The challenges we face are monumental. Among them are the spread of nuclear weapons, the burgeoning number of individuals and groups who see the United States as a threat, and the question of how far to compromise our liberties and protections in the interest of security.” Again, no. There are monumental challenges we face, but those aren't them.
The first elephant in the room is the subject of the psychopaths: people whose brain defect makes them unable to feel they've done anything wrong. They know what society considers wrong, but they feel that's an unjust limit on their freedom. According to Canadian Ph.D. Psychologist Robert Hare, who has spent over three decades studying them, although psychopaths make up only one percent of the population, they are responsible for 50% of all crime. The complete failure of the mainstream media to acknowledge this huge factor in our society means most people know nothing about the great science that's been done on the subject. This allows the psychopaths to have an influence far outside their numbers, leading to a “culture of lying”; every year there are more stories of widespread cheating in schools, and the exposure of yet more fraud in both business and science.
The other elephant in the room is another one percent of the population: the richest one percent. In “Power in America: Wealth, Income, and Power,” hosted on the web by the sociology department of the University of California, Santa Cruz, William Domhoff reports that the share of the nation's wealth owned by the richest one percent has increased from 30% ten years ago to 35% today. Also, the top ten percent have 70% of the wealth and the top 20% have 85% of the wealth. To look at that from the other side, it means the bottom 80% have only 15% of the nation's wealth spread out among them, and even the bottom 90% have only 30% of the nation's wealth. So, when you are told we have a “representative system of government,” whose interests do you think they're going to represent? The president, senators, and governors have carte blanche to ignore 90% of the citizens (and maybe even 99%), because there are zero consequences for them when they do.
So, what can you do? Well, you have three options: one, mindless obedience while the government protects the right of the corporations to profit from poisoning you and your children; two, try to change the world – but you can't because the richest one percent have all the power and they are not going to let you change the world, so you will just waste your energy; or three, follow the clues and connect the dots with a willingness to find out what the truth is no matter what it turns out to be (and a willingness to allow that discovery to transform you into who you really are) which will grow your awareness like unto a shield, thereby significantly reducing the effect of the attack so you can recover from the attack even while still under attack. Then, if an opportunity generated from outside the system should occur in your lifetime, you will be able to take advantage of it by acting in favor of a better, more human, world.