Saturday, August 8, 2009

Serious Food For Thought On All Fronts!

Serious Food For Thought On All Fronts!

Be On The Look Out For This Film


Germany in the 1970s: Murderous bomb attacks, the threat of terrorism and the fear of the enemy inside are rocking the very foundations of the still fragile German democracy. The radicalised children of the Nazi generation led by Andreas Baader (Moritz Bleibtreu), Ulrike Meinhof (Martina Gedeck) and Gudrun Ensslin (Johanna Wokalek) are fighting a violent war against what they perceive as the new face of fascism: American imperialism supported by the German establishment, many of whom have a Nazi past. Their aim is to create a more human society but by employing inhuman means they not only spread terror and bloodshed, they also lose their own humanity. The man who understands them is also their hunter: the head of the German police force Horst Herold (Bruno Ganz). And while he succeeds in his relentless pursuit of the young terrorists, he knows he’s only dealing with the tip of the iceberg.

Producer and scriptwriter Bernd Eichinger (PERFUME - STORY OF A MURDERER, DOWNFALL) brings Stefan Aust’s standard work on RAF terrorism, THE BAADER MEINHOF COMPLEX to the big screen for Constantin Film. Director Uli Edel (LAST EXIT TO BROOKLYN, ZOO) presents the dramatic events that shook the democratic foundations of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1967 to the “German Autumn” of 1977.

Those of us who proposed the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney for violating his oath of office and engaging in a Nixon-on-steroids spree of high crimes and misdemeanors began to recognize the abusive nature of the previous administration when Cheney refused to release details of the industry insiders with whom he met to craft energy policies.

The refusal of the Bush-Cheney administration to permit public review of White House visitor logs detailing who was meeting with the vice president's energy task force during the very first weeks of their tenure was a deliberate decision made to cloak dirty dealing by officials who were determined to serve corporate rather than public interests.

It also provided an early indicator that darker and dirtier deeds would eventually be done by Cheney and his compatriots. And they were.

So what should we make of the news that the Obama administration is now refusing to release White House visitor logs that detail meetings between members of the new administration and health-care industry insiders?

As Sharon Theimer, of The Associated Press, notes:

(The) administration's multibillion-dollar deals with hospitals and pharmaceutical companies have been made in private, and the results were announced after the fact. Both industries promised Obama cost savings in return for an expanded base of insured patients; beyond that, the public is in the dark about details.

In some ways, it resembles what his party criticized President George W. Bush for doing with oil and gas companies as Vice President Dick Cheney wrote a national energy plan in the early days of the Bush administration.

As the Bush White House did, the Obama White House is refusing to release visitor logs that would let people see everyone going in and out during the thick of discussions over major national policies.

There is a lot of talk about the fact that Obama has broken a campaign promise.

That's serious.

But far more serious is the perpetuation of practices of official secrecy that characterized the Bush-Cheney den of iniquity.

When administrations begin to enjoy the benefits of operating in the dark, they become disinclined to end the practice. They also begin to buy into the fantasy that keeping details from Congress and the people is the only way to get things done, as did Obama White House spokesman Reid Cherlin when he tried to explain away a lack of transparency by saying: "Here's what's happening: Groups that have steadfastly opposed reform in the past are coming to the table and making concessions -- because they know we can't wait another year to pass health insurance reform."

Actually, bad players are embracing bad compromises because they have made bad deals with the White House.

And, make no mistake, more bad things will happen.

Only whack jobs who believe that Barack Obama was birthed in Jakarta could imagine that this administration might ever be as corrupt as its predecessor. Bush and Cheney achieved Warren Harding levels of official crookedness.

However, bad-but-not-quite-Cheney-bad is an unacceptable standard.

Official secrecy, especially when it involves meetings by White House aides and representatives of corporate interests that face government regulation, is corrosive. It warps the official agenda and undermines the system of checks and balances -- making the legislative branch a weak second to a unitary executive.

Barack Obama promised when he sought the presidency to usher in a new era of openness and transparency. "We'll have the negotiations televised on C-SPAN, so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents, and who are making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies," candidate Obama declared at a Pennsylvania campaign stop two months before the 2008 election.

Now, he is doing the opposite.

Worse yet, he is perpetuating the foul practices of the most corrupt administration in American history.

The shouters and shovers at recent town meetings being held to discuss health-care initiatives are "probably reacting less to what [President] Obama is doing, or even to what they've heard about what he's doing, than to who he is," writes N.Y. Times columnist Paul Krugman.

"That is, the driving force behind the town hall mobs is probably the same cultural and racial anxiety that's behind the 'birther' movement, which denies Mr. Obama's citizenship. Senator Dick Durbin has suggested that the birthers and the health care protesters are one and the same; we don't know how many of the protesters are birthers, but it wouldn't be surprising if it's a substantial fraction.

"And cynical political operators are exploiting that anxiety to further the economic interests of their backers.

"Does this sound familiar? It should: it's a strategy that has played a central role in American politics ever since Richard Nixon realized that he could advance Republican fortunes by appealing to the racial fears of working-class whites.

"Many people hoped that last year's election would mark the end of the 'angry white voter' era in America. Indeed, voters who can be swayed by appeals to cultural and racial fear are a declining share of the electorate.

"But right now Mr. Obama's backers seem to lack all conviction, perhaps because the prosaic reality of his administration isn't living up to their dreams of transformation. Meanwhile, the angry right is filled with a passionate intensity."


August 10, 2009 12:00 PM

Sen. Bernie Sanders will soon begin a weekly series of web-isodes on various topics with Robert Greenwald's Brave New Films. This program will be available on on Monday, Aug. 10 and regularly on Thursdays thereafter.

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