Controversial, Not Controversial (Brennan v. Hagel, Big Oil v. Solar & other Media Hypocrisies)

Not controversial: John Brennan: Served in CIA during the torture program, designed the current US drone program that has extra-judicially killed hundreds, including children and including at least 2 American citizens.

Controversial: Chuck Hagel: Thinks war should be a last resort, doesn’t think an air strike on Iran would be effective, wants to do diplomacy with all major factions of the State of Palestine, including Hamas.

Not controversial: Wealthy Americans use government tax loopholes and subsidies to avoid $3 trillion a year in taxes.

Controversial: American workers who paid into Social Security all their lives and want their money back when they retire are accused of being ‘takers,’ ‘moochers’ and seeking ‘entitlements.’

Not controversial: Despite an alleged need to raise government revenue and cut spending, the ‘fiscal cliff’ deal awarded Big Oil billions of dollars in subsidies at a time when the US has the highest per person carbon emissions of any advanced industrial country and those emissions are threatening human welfare via climate change.

Controversial: Despite the large numbers of successful solar companies, the impressive increase in electricity supplied by solar in the US, the investment of $2 bn. in the solar industry by financier Warren Buffett— nevertheless, the press narrative is still dominated by the allegation that modest Federal support for green energy is a boondoggle (inaccurately instancing Solyndra).

Controversial: Sen Tom Harkin has met resistance to his proposal to raise the minimum wage, even though many full-time minimum wage workers fall below the poverty line.

Not controversial: The banks and investment firms that caused the 2008 crash and mortgage crisis have avoided any real accountability save for slap on the wrist fines, and could well plunge us into another such crisis. The vast numbers of Americans who lost their mortgages to bank fraud have not seen nearly the help promised.

Posted in Uncategorized | 18 Responses | Print |

18 Responses

  1. Israeli regime is not happy with Obama’s chioce of anti-war Hagel to head Pentagon but is quite happy with Brennan, a kosher Christian to head CIA. Iran on the other hand, has called Hagel as one of the few “rational voices” among US lawmakers. John Brennan is well-known for campaigning a “soft revolution” among the anti-Zionist regime groups (Hizballah, Hamas, Iran and Syria).

    link to

  2. The big and the powerful just want it all. And they will obviously will acquire it by any and all corrupt means.
    If you have been left in the dark, read Matt Taibbi’s new article in Rolling Stone. More eye openings.
    The haves leave no stone unturned. Beware that tomorrow you will awaken to more of the same with a slightly different twist.
    We need to learn how to produce a different type of change something that is more akin to human nature.

    I love your article Juan, its so current America, sadly.

  3. Very good Juan…..

    I find the “non controversial” aspect of the John Brennan nomination especially striking, since it’s pretty fresh on the scene, and the contrast between Brennan and Hagel is stark.

    The condonence of torture v. sane diplomacy.

  4. So far, the case for Brennan’s complicity in torture looks thin and circumstantial. “Served in CIA during the torture program” sounds about right, from what I’ve seen so far: he worked for the agency, which is a sprawling bureaucracy with many arms, and one of them was torturing people at the direction of the White House. I haven’t seen any direct evidence of his involvement, but then, the CIA isn’t the most transparent bureaucracy in the world, so we can’t really say at this point whether he was involved. This is concerning, but in the sense of requiring more information, as opposed to ruling him out.

    • I agree that the case for Brennan being deeply involved in the torture stuff is circumstantial, which is why I used that wording. For all we know, as Amy Davidson pointed out, he advocated against while he was serving there.

      The drone stuff is more troubling to me.

      • Oh, but Professor, it is so obvious that the Drone Program (DP) is both Effective and Functional. And in no way counter-productive. Any more than the Phoenix Program or the overthrow and dictatorization of national and even local governments “unfriendly to ‘US interests,'” which we are all supposed to just accept as a postulate that drives Our Policy.

        And such a perfect fit with the neatly circumscribed notion, or whatchacallit, “doctrine?” that now justifies endless and endlessly larger dumps of cubic dollars into what we are so dishonestly sold as being “necessary to our security,” and even on a more grandiose claim, to “international security.” The (Other) War That Can Never End.

        I’m told by these smarter people that I’m obviously uninformed if I don’t see the wisdom in trying to kill every “terrorist” out there before they can do anything bad to us. (Forget that the most effective tool in the War on Terrorists has apparently been plain old gumshoe law enforcement.”) Great, if that’s what the DP was capable of doing or directed to. I wonder if Hagel sees it that way. That kind of logic wold I guess support going into East LA and killing by Hellfire any potential gang-banger who might be or become involved in the importation and sale of Schedule I drugs, or how about we set the CIA to kill off-script military personnel or to kill those of its employees who do stuff that’s, er, “against the national interest?” We got “pre-emptive war,” which usually proves stupid for most of us — why not other kinds of pre-emption?

        • I’m told by these smarter people that I’m obviously uninformed if I don’t see the wisdom in trying to kill every “terrorist” out there before they can do anything bad to us.

          Rule of thumb: in any debate, the person who makes an argument to assign to the other side is losing.

          “…trying to kill every ‘terrorist’ out there”

          “…don’t think Iraqis are capable of democracy…”

          “…hate the traditional family…”


        • Speaking of “losing in a debate:” Hey, Joe, you ought to examine your own thumb. I said nothing about Iraqis being capable or not of “democracy,” though while I’m at it, would you care to grade the US citizenry on its ability to conduct “democracy,” however you define it? Same with that thing about “hate the traditional family.” Where the heck did you pull that out of? And as to a slight exaggeration of the “mission” of the War on Terror, very slight given all I read, the whole idea is exactly to kill or otherwise render harmless any current, potential or future “terrorist” as our rulers broadly define that term. Otherwise, why the “bases” all over the planet, why the growing fleets of drones, why all the “littoral combat” apparatus, why the procurements of more advanced drones with longer loiter times and more weaponry, and of course the whole Black Ops set of clans that are off doing I-bet-you-know-what? Why an open-ended, impossible-to-win, circular, self-generating set of activities that are claimed to “create security” for those of us who create the wealth that funds all that scurrying and killing and bureacratic mumbo-jumbo that we are regularly dosed with?

          Is that the best you got today, by way of impeachment?

  5. It just shows where we’ve been for a long time, and continue to be. The press, and the serious-people have been bought off for some time. And most people’s opinions are formed from what they see on TV, so Drone’s and torture and Iran as the next holocast-maker are only controversial among a handful “out of touch” leftists.

  6. Anti-Defamation League Executive Director Abraham Foxman had an op-ed piece published today in the liberal Israeli daily Haaretz in which he labeled Chuck Hagel “not our choice” but not as bad as he seems. He conceded Hagel was likely to be confirmed.

    J-Street has given its support to Hagel as well.

    The concept of direct negotiations with Hamas is nothing new among mainstream Israeli political leaders. Former Defense Minister Amir Peretz advocates a direct dialogue between Israel and Hamas.

    Former Shin Bet Director Yuval Diskin has been openly critical recently of Netanyahu’s positions. The resignation of Defense Minister Ehud Barak immediately after the Gaza conflict this November signalled an apparent indication of more internal backlash against the PM. Barak later announced he welcomed the U.N.General Assembly approval upgrading the status of Palestine to a non-member observer state.

  7. Controversial: after the terrorist threat that caused a 100% increase in national security spending has been eliminated, the defense budget should be cut accordingly.

    • But Bob, don’tcha see that “the terrorist threat” can never be eliminated? That’s the circumlocutory beauty of the structure the Security State has sold us: No Way Out, and if killing a few “wogs” just encourages other “wogs” to “disrespect our Exceptional Hegemoniacal Sovereignty Over Everything,” well there you are!

      To pull out one of my favorite 3×5 cards:

      A guy is walking through Times Square with an elephant gun under his arm. A cop says “What the heck do you think you are doing, carrying that thing around here?” The guy answers, “I’m keeping the Wild Elephants away!” Cop says, “Buster, there isn’t a wild elephant within 8,000 miles of here, and poachers with AKs and RPGS are killing them off to the point of extinction where they do exist!” Says they guy, “See?” says the guy. “My policy is working!”

  8. The core issue with solar is cost. The latest “Levelized Cost of New Generation Resources in the Annual Energy Outlook 2012” from the U.S. Energy Information Administration link to shows that advanced natural gas technologies are far far cheaper than solar. Which, of course, does not justify subsidizing oil companies. Or subsidizing solar companies, either.

    • if you count the damage done by climate change into the cost of natural gas, it is 1000 times more expensive than solar. Solar is coming down toward grid parity anyway.

      That said, natural gas is better than coal and closing down the coal plants is urgent.

      • Longer term nat gas isn’t an option, either from a carbon or from a resource standpoint. It may be a good bridging option, as it is lower carbon than coal, and peaker plants which can ramp on/off quickly to make up for the variability of wind/solar, are reasonably affordable. Some recent studies question whether the leakage rate of natural gas wells is low enough that its global warming potential may not actually be lower than coal.

    • advanced natural gas technologies are far far cheaper than solar.

      At the moment. Natural gas is unlikely to stay at this low level over the long-term, especially as demand keeps increasing, while solar prices continue to drop.

      • This is true, and in fact we know what happens when a commodity bubble goes too far:

        1. The cost of the commodity falls so low that the producers can no longer meet their operating costs

        2. They either cut back production to force the price up, or they go out of business and the same thing eventually happens

        The thing that never changes is the growing up-front cost of ever-more exotic means of extracting the last dregs of oil and gas from the earth. Eventually, it will take almost as much enery to do this as the amount of energy extracted. How can that be profitable, unless we ironically have a cheaper energy source to power the operation?

        Shale oil and gas was sold to the public as a long-lasting resource, and none of us pay any attention to how fast the wells dry up and have to be replaced at considerable expense. According to, the early indications are not good.

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