Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

March 31, 2008

The Folly of De-Regulation Confirmed or, "The Bloated Buffoon", Redux

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 7:44 pm

From my friend Gil Roth, proprietor of the “Virtual Memories” blog comes a tip-off to a damning AP report to be found on wall street journal online (free for a week only) that re-ignites my outrage against de-regulation, an outrage triggered last summer by the fatal Utah coal mining disaster.

You’ll recall that the mine in question had hundreds of uncorrected safety violations, used risky mining methods and failed to protect its workers with precautions against collapse. In this AP report on the Mining Health and Safety Agency’s dismal performance, one sees that the deregulatory climate has so radically shifted the balance against attempted regulation of greedy and careless mining operators that the greedheads might as well be inspecting themselves. Indeed the Inspector General concludes the Mining Safety Agency had not proven itself free of “undue influence” by the mine it was supposed to regulate.

Since the wsj version of the AP report will become unavailable after a week I’ll reprint it’s first few paragraphs:

Inspector General Says Regulators
‘Negligent’ in Utah Mine Collapse
By KRIS MAHER

The Labor Department’s internal-inspection arm said the Mine Safety and Health Administration was negligent in protecting miners at a Utah coal mine where nine people died last summer.

The 80-page report by the office of the inspector general faults MSHA with failing to show that it made the right decision in approving a plan to ensure the safety of the mine’s roof. It also failed to show “that the process was free from undue influence” from the mine’s operator, Cleveland-based Murray Energy Corp., the report said. The report also noted that the mine had a history of collapses and that the Utah MSHA office didn’t adequately weigh unstable geological conditions at the mine. (See the full text of the report.)

In August, six miners were killed at the Crandall Canyon mine in a roof collapse more than 2,000 feet underground, following seismic activity. An additional three rescue workers were killed trying to find the trapped miners. The precise cause of the initial accident remains unknown, and the bodies of the six miners haven’t been recovered.

When the initial accident occurred, the mine was engaged in a mining technique called retreat mining, or pillar extraction, in which pillars of coal that had been supporting the roof of the mine are removed to maximize production as miners work their way toward the mine entrance.…”

I remember some commenters felt I was going over the top, beyond civility, when in my rage against the whole corrupt set up I called the Crandall Mine’s owner a “bloated buffoon” in several posts last summer as I watched him pull a phony Wilmer Brimley act for the tv cameras, pretending compassion for the workers his mine had killed, yet opposing any further regulation which might prevent it.

I have no apologies. Now that the truth is out–or more of it– I hope the bloated buffoon goes to jail for criminal negligence.

March 30, 2008

The Olympic Boycott Momentum Grows as Germany's Angela Merkel Takes a Brave Stand

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 8:57 pm

This is noo longer a marginal movement by human rights activists. It makes ironic, but good sense, that Germany should take a leadership position against the Chinese government’s murderous crackdown on Tibet. Tibetans are China’s Jews and the Chinese Olympics are Munich, 1936. And now German Prime Minister Angela Merkel has laid down a challenge to the rest of the world’s leaders by announcing she will refuse to attend the opening propaganda circus ceremony of the tainted games.

The leaders of Poland and Czechoslovakia have already announced their refusal to attend. Their stirring moral clarity is a challenge to the leaders of the rest of the world that the call for a boycott is no mere empty threat. It’s time for those leaders to join it or forever be remembered as enablers of the shameful carnage, not just in Tibet, but in Darfur where, more than anything else, Chinese opposition is sabotaging efforts to end the genocide there.

Angela Merkel’s declaration (and all those who join her NOW before it’s too late to have any effect) could be seen as a reflection of the way memory of the German past can be made meaningful in the present.

But still, she’s only talking about leaders refusing to attend the opening ceremonies, exposing them for the empty Nuremberg rally they really are. A good first step, not the refusal to attend entirely that would be a more-than-symbolic gesture.

Meanwhile ordinary citizens have a responsibility–and a power–to take things further: it’s time to hold American tv networks and advertisers responsible. Roger L. Simon has asked for comments about this blog’s suggestion (see March 21 post) that Pajamas Media take a leadership role in organizing some kind of “I will not watch Olympics broadcasts or buy Olympics advertiser’s products” online position. It would be the kind of human rights activism that do the site proud. It’s something right and left can join in supporting. I hope readers of this post will make their feelings known to him in comments to his post on the subject.

For those who have any doubt about the torture, forced sterilization and murder the Chinese authorities are perpetrating in Tibet, I suggest you check out this report on a first hand British tv documentary. After Abu Ghraib Americans should be particularly sensitive to torture. How about some YouTubes matching a soundtrack of Olympic advertisers’ jingles with visuals of Tibetan victims (and Chinese dissidents) whose beating torture, jailing and murder the jingle-makers are enabling with their Olympic boosterism?

It’s important to expose the whole obscene Olympics marketing machine to be the bloodstained mechanism it is. A massive online petition protest by citizens/consumers can convince advertisers and broadcasters there will be no profit in playing games with torturers and–in addition to a legacy of shame–more persuasively, significantly lower profits from those who don’t withdraw their advertising. It can show the victims their suffering is not being ignored. And it can demonstrate to the police state hardliners in the Chinese regime that their methods can have cost and consequences. Will it change their ways?

There’s only one way to find out: do it now before it’s too late to have any effect.

March 26, 2008

The Biggest, Dumbest Most Effective P.R Scam of the Past Half Century

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 3:33 pm

It’s the astronauts “wake up” music. Lazy radio and tv networks play this as “news” every tedious day one of the useless deathtrap space shuttles is in orbit.

They’re doing nothing up there but minor league junior high science experiments (and wasting billions of our dollars doing science fair stunts). face it there’s no news unless (with distressing frequency) NASA screws up and risks burning some to death.

But the one thing NASA is good at is p.r. Keeping the pathetically wasteful shuttle project afloat for a quarter century is monument to sleight of hand p.r. And at the core of it is the way they get air time for utter non-newsworthy flights by feeding the uncurious networks (uncurious about what a waste the whole thing is) the various pop songs they play to wake the astronauts up. (or maybe keep them awake from the drowsy boredom of their useless tasks.

Wow! They were sleeping in space! Hey, networks, radio “news” producers: Been there, done that. NASA has been a shameful enterprise ever since they rushed a launch of “Challenger”, one of their many defective vehicles, to milk the publicity that would accrue if they got it up there in time to allow Reagan to refer to it in his State of the Union address. The schoolteacher in space! Result of crass p.r. running the show: one dead schoolteacher in space. (Along with everyone else on board).

The whole place should have been shut down and salt sown in its testing grounds at that point. But the space bureaucrats and their p.r. apparatus has managed to keep the fraud going nigh unto forever. And one of their key assets in keeping the public lulled into thinking something is actually going on is the wake up song.

I just don’t get the appeal, in fact I find it gratingly offensive to have to listen to announcers speak of it with phony awe and wonder. Gee, space is (relatively) unfamiliar. they’re playing a pop songs. Pop is familiar. What a frisson. What a way to create the illusion of news. They woke up in space. To music. Awesome!

Whoever thought this incredibly annoying gimmick up is a p.r. genius. If only their engineers were as good at their job we’d have a few less junior high science projects and a few more astronauts alive.

March 21, 2008

A Practical Plan to Implement a Citzens' Boycott of the Chinese Olympics

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 1:22 pm

It can be done! It could make a difference! I don’t know that the tech specs would be or how to set it up, but first things first.

Consider this proposal my friend, the writer David Samuels, sent me in response to my call to boycott the Chinese Olympics in order to refuse to enable their murderous crackdown on dissidents and on Tibetan demonstrators, not to mention the regime’s long history of shameless repression of human rights:

Dear Ron,

I can’t help but feel that watching the Beijing Olympics on NBC this summer has clear parallels with buying a ticket to the 1936 Munich Olympic games that helped Adolph Hitler cement his murderous rule.

While a campaign for an American GOVERNMENT
boycott of the Olympics is clearly futile at this point, we should
start a public campaign for a widespread CITIZEN boycott of
Olympics.

We could launch a global internet petition which would bind
signatories to not watch the Olympics and to put pressure on NBC to
give equal time to the Dalai Lama, the student leaders who fled China
after the Tienamen Square killings, and other victims of rampant Chinese government abuses.

While holding the Olympics in Beijing is obscene, there is no contractual reason why NBC has to acquiesce in producing a month-long television commercial for the biggest tyranny on the planet. NBC should stand up and do what’s right or risk being labeled an accessory to murder. The writers and actors who produce shows on NBC should stand up in public for the people that their network is condemning to death in forced labor camps and in Tibet.

We could also appeal to US athletes not to go and push for companies with some moral sense to offer endorsement deals for “clean” athletes — the ones who are willing to put their personal honor and the purity of their skill above the lure of receiving applause from the handpicked elite of the Chinese communist party.

I think it’s a brilliant plan. Forget governments. Use the net to mobilize the citizens of the world against these torturers and murderers–and their media enablers.

I’m curious, are there those reading this who would sign such a petition? Perhaps there would be a way for Pajamas Media to host it or to scope out the tech possibilities. Possibly you techies have some advice for how best it could be done.

It’s not too late to show the Chinese government there’s a price to be paid for its contempt for human rights.

March 18, 2008

Boycott the Chinese Olympics: Now is the Time

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 10:33 am

I’m back and I’m in a bad mood. But really, it’s not just me, has anyone examined the value-added for the billion dollar fascist spectacles that are the Olympics? “International goodwill”? How’s that working out for us?

Nineteen peoole murdered in Tibet–so far–for peaceful protests against Chinese rule and it’s attemt to exterminate Tibetan culture. Will they feature in the dimwit sappy “human interest” stories of the over-privileged Olympic athletes that TV considers “Olympic coverage”? How many more need to be killed before “carry on with the games” becomes an accessory to murder. How long must the Chinese government block attempts to curb genocide in Darfur before nations start to drop out.

And then I read on Breitbart today about the trials of two Chinese human rights advocates, one just concluded, one just begun, no verdicts yet, it suddenly dawned on me that it’s time to call for an Olympic boycott before the verdicts are handed down.

Because there’s always the danger the whole thing is a p.r. fraud: that putting them on trial and then “magnanimously” acquitting them would be the ultimate in trickery. The Chinese government will be able to say, see, we don’t persecute dissidents–as if putting dissidents on trial at all was legitimate. And the world will have its fig leaf for its naked enabling of an ugly torture and murder regime. Of course I want them acquitted,but make them do more than acquit these two, show them that Darfur, the Tibetan murders and the dissident trials have real consequence. Demonstrate the fallacy of the belief that the Olympics somehow promote “good behavior” in police state regimes. We don’t want to promote “good behavior” from police state regimes in the sense of giving them a seal of approval for slightly cleaned-up-for-the-Olympics behavior.

And please no sob stories about the poor spoiled juiced-up athletes who trained so hard for this corrupt spectacle. Boo-hoo. Tell them to thank their lucky stars they’re not in a Chinese jail and, if the “challenge of the sport itself”, really is so important to them, hold their meaningless contests elsewhere, without all the tv coverage.Frankly I douibt many would show up without the cameras.
.
Really is a single medal worth a single soul who puts his or her life on the line for human rights. One commenter to my earlier Olympics post asked what could be done. One thing is to tell prospective advertisers (who will soon be announcing they’re “official dog food of the Oymmpics” etc) that you’ll boycott their products if they don’t boycott the broadcasts. Make the tv networks pay for enabling ignominious tyranny.

March 11, 2008

Lost in Translation

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 5:08 am

I’ll be going on a secret foreign assignment this week, mostly out of e mail contact, so blogging and posting comments will have to wait til I get back.

Please be patient. I ‘ll miss you.

March 9, 2008

Saturday Night Live: Ignorant Political Airheads

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 11:46 am

The real scandal of he Dem primary campaign is that it may well be decided by the utterly fraudulent notion–perpetrated by Saturday Night Live–that the press has been tough on Hillary and not on Obama.

Give me a break! Bill is prostituting the dignity of the office we elected him to to swindle corrupt millions from every uranium hustler and corrupt influence peddler he can glom onto and laundering it through his “charitable” foundations. Hillary suddenly comes up with 5 million bucks lying around to resuscitate her campaign. She can’t seem to get around to xeroxing her tax returns for months now (“too busy”); it would take 15 minutes, the press doesn’t ask why. And the press gives the known corrupt pardon-peddling past of the Clintons a pass.

And the airheads on Saturday Night Live manage to convince their naive audiences that Obama is getting pillow soft treatment. Which probably helped swing the the Texas Ohio primaries to the money grubbing Clinton couple. And might just succeed in giving us 8 more years of the Clinton kleptocrats.

SNL stopped being funny or legitmately “satirical” ages ago. now they’re just being ignorant and destructive. What’s really laughable is that so many media pundits somehow think SNL is “hip” and that this faux hipness will rub off on them.

Sickening! Chinese Olympic Cat Slaughter:It's Symbolic

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 7:49 am

I’ve always found the Olympics brings out the worst jingoistic characteristics of every nation that participates, particularly of course those who host it. Need I mention 1936? While supposedly about excellence and courage and the human spirit the repellant media coverage makes it all about who won the most gold.

This coming Olympics has been shaping up as a “normalization” and propaganda vindication of China’s ugly record of repression and torture of dissidents and horrific human rights violations, revolting in itself. (And please don’t give me the argument that “the Olympic spirit” will “encourage liberalization”. Yes maybe for about 5 minutes after the torch departs. Need I mention 1936 again? Need I mention the obliviousness to mass murder–“Let the games go on!”– after the Munich massacre?).

This shocking and revolting article is, then, not just about cats, in fact it doesn’t matter whether you care about cats, it’s about the totalitarian lust for “cleansing”. A particularly moronic and misguided notion of cleansing, since slaughtering cats will bring on a plague of rats which I hope will infest the stands at the Games. If you’re planning on going I hope you get your rabies and Hanta virus shots.

But this pathetic notion of “cleansing” the most benign creatures from their Potemkin Village Olympics land can serve as a metaphor for the way they’ve “cleansed” peaceful dissidents such as Falon Gong, their hasty attempt at cleansing their shameful record of torture and murder, the savage nature of the regime beneath the smooth, fraudulent Olympic-friendly facade you’re going to be sucking up to by attending–or even watching– this fascist spectacle. I hope consumers will hold all advertisers who shill for these repressive thugs responsible.

Calling all rats: you now know where your human equivalents have made it safe for you.

And cat-haters: don’t even dream I’ll post your rat-like remarks.

March 7, 2008

Why Would Samantha Power use That Word About Hillary? Hint…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 5:57 pm

…I’ve come to believe it had nothing with her distortion of Obama’s NAFTA position.

I admit I’d been caught up in the minutiae of journalistic protocol, the retroactive off the record. I’ve actually shifted my opposition somewhat on this issue influenced by the writing students I taught at Columbia, NYU and The University of Chicago. A vocal faction of them rejected gotcha journalistic techniques .Hurting someone unnecessarily just because they could, according to oh so pure “journalistic rules”. The precise off-the-record rules were not laid out so the reporter went with her big scoop. And I can see her justification. Those are the ground rules. Power was in public life. She should have known. But she slipped.

There’s a case to be made that the interviewer could for instance have said “Powers can’t stand Hillary” for x, y and z reasons, rather than use the word “monster”, which Power clearly wanted back. But that doesn’t mean she didn’t believe it.

But then why? Why the extreme choice of that word.

I can think of one theory. Samantha Power wrote an important book about the evolution of 20th century genocide–A Problem From Hell— and the attempts to stop it.

Hillary has been boasting that she”s been in on all the big foreign policy decisions of the Clinton era.

One of the big decisions was to fail to make a serious effort, much less a humanitarian intervention to stop the genocide in Rwanda in which upward of 700,000 were slaughtered. While the Clintons stood by. Maybe intervention would have backfired. But there are certainly 700,000 who will never know.

Maybe Hillary argued forcefully for intervention and lost. Then we should hear from her about it. On the other hand maybe Samantha Power believes something different about Hillary’s role. Maybe Hillary argued for inaction for standing by while 700.000 were slaughtered. Or maybe she said nothing at all. Samantha Power should let us know what she feels, whether that’s behind “monster.”

That’s what we should be talking about. that’s what reporters should be digging into: what is Hillary’s attitude toward the “Problem From Hell”. What did she do then? What would she do now?

Obama’s campaign shouldn’t have fired Samantha Power. They should have said she was an expert on genocide, and that actions count for more than words and that calling someone a “monster” is not the same as allowing bloodthirsty monsters to have their way. Ask Hillary to spell out just what powerful “experience” she got from that particular genocide. And how she’d react in future. Then she’d know what so-called “tough” questions from the press are like.

March 6, 2008

World War III Dreams, Nightmares, Fictions, Films

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 4:39 pm

For a project I’m working on I’d like to hear from people who have had or are having World War III dreams and nightmares. Recently and during the Cold War. Have they increased lately.?. What scenarios, what outcomes?

And what works of fiction and film– On the Beach, The Road Strangelove–have figured most powerfully in shaping your waking and dreaming visions?

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