This week, we're going in-depth with a massive media failure that quite literally determines the fate of nations—and we note how we've been there before with the same ol' recurring and usually covert theme of Big Money and Big Oil. We look at what it ultimately costs us to fall for this stuff, again and again.
Then, we extend the discussion for the introduction of our new feature. Starting this week, we recommend a video. It'll always be from one of the many diverse and credible sources that you might otherwise miss, about something vital that you'd almost surely miss. Our recommended video will examine an omission, a snow job, or an outright failure by the corporate mainstream media. Some will be as serious as a heart attack. Others will use satirical barbs. We inaugurate the series with a scathing treatise, a laugh-instead-of-cry indictment of how we're being deluded by the corporatization of the Fourth Estate. We begin with our case study.
Why Brexit is about... (wait for it)... oil
A new undersea field, the biggest yet in the North Sea, with a thousand BILLION barrels, has just been found off the Shetland Islands. That was announced Monday in the publication "Scottish Energy News."
US corporate mainstream media, in its never-ending obsession with the Clinton-Trump Clump and how the Russians are responsible for everything from tooth decay to B.O., have predictably failed to detangle any of the implications in this. The standard question—whether that's through willful corporate deception or willful corporate distraction, is for you to decide. But it requires that we enter this topic with an overview—the very telling background—since cutting to the chase leaves room for too many hasty and false conclusions that would look like what mainstream media does. When it goes there at all.
Is a second Scottish independence referendum vote ahead because the Scots—for an assortment of reasons that lack a prominent point, as was represented the first time—just don't want to Brexit?
There are plenty of questions to keep in mind as we proceed. We'll start with this one: is a second Scottish independence referendum vote ahead because the Scots—for an assortment of reasons that lack a prominent point, as was represented the first time—just don't want to Brexit?
On Tuesday, the Scottish parliament passed a measure to put the independence question before Scottish voters for a second time. Tuesday's measure passed with a 69-59 vote in favor. Now it needs approval from Westminster, from the entire UK parliament, before it can go farther. Of course, British Prime Minister Theresa May strongly opposes it.
So. Will she obstruct the will of the Scottish parliament or take her chances with the vote of the Scottish people who:
✔ voted 55-45% in September, 2014, after a rancorous, fear-filled campaign, to remain in the UK.
✔ clearly wanted to be part of the EU and voted decisively to "stay"—against Brexit—in June, 2016.
✔ reaffirmed it in a Scottish Parliament vote of 90-34 this February to oppose the UK government starting the Brexit process.
One might reasonably conclude that Scots just like stability and are not interested in change. Or that they see themselves as British. Either would be dismissive, and wrong.
Because the real stakes have been so incompletely presented on our side of the pond, we need an overview of some more distant but indispensible history. The essential point being that the Scots were forcibly drafted into Britain centuries ago, and it's never been a settled issue in the Scottish mind. Everyone has seen the 1995 film "Braveheart," Mel Gibson's heroic fictionalization of late 13th century Scottish patriot William Wallace's effort to gain Scottish independence from brutal English dominion. Wallace's end was as horrifically ignominious as anything the Middle Ages could deliver.
But it didn't end there. There was the result of the Jacobite retreat from Derby after the 1745 Scottish rebellion, followed by the Battle of Culloden on April 16, 1746. It's a date every Scot, every Celt, knows. That Scottish defeat cemented English subjugation of all the peoples and cultures of the British isles into the hegemonistic singularity of Great Britain.
Indeed, historian Murray Pittock argues in his 2016 book that the battle, though it lasted only an hour and engaged only 15,000 troops, propelled Great Britain into becoming the dominant world power for 150 years. A key period of technological advances, during which Britain built an empire so vast that the sun never set on it.
Scottish history is therefore integral with British history, whether or not ethnocentric America—beyond alternately fawning over and reviling its cinematic heroes—sees any need to know that. Just as Americans intransigent narcissism rarely considers much about anyone else's background. Even to the parallel that, a century and a half later, Imperial Japan, having consolidated from its previous shogunates, would briefly become a Pacific Island nation version of Britain's island seat of conquest for empire. Or that the Spanish-American War began America's road to ruling a global empire whose presence played a large part in Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor.
We will stick with Scotland here. We digressed because even the brief background we surveyed, exclusive of the connections, is hard to find. At least, in any US corporate mainstream media presentation of why Brexit and Scottish independence and the last gasp of the British empire are related. And if, by chance, you do find any background in mainstream media, it's unlikely it will be meaningfully connected to now, or to economics.
The few sources outside the UK that have served-up a blue plate special of the issues of Brexit -- economic or cultural -- offer a cursory citation of many reasons why pollsters were surprised by the 2016 Brexit vote. As if things are "simply" explainable because no one can grasp their complexity -- which is too complex to explain, so our mainstream media doesn't.
You don't see discussions of the eclipsed role of British banks, and the fact they don't like it that it befell them. The Brits former global dominance of finance is now reduced to your variable home mortgage rate being tied to LIBOR -- the London Interbank Overnight Rate. That's what the banksters charge each other for moving money around. It's a sideshow. The big parade -- dominance of international finance -- shifted to the Frankfurt banksters who seized control when the European Central Bank was established by the EU and everyone's currency vanished into the Euro, a new fiat currency issued and controlled by the bank. (If you want to understand what happened to Greece, it's where you start.)
The cursory reasons given for Brexit don't go anywhere near there. Instead, they pertain to things like a strong unwillingness to admit desperate Middle Eastern migrants into a culturally homogeneous land. Essentially, that's the argument attributed to England -- the central part of a country that once ruled much of the world while regarding indigenous populations as serfs and their lands as integral parts of the mighty British Empire.
No surprise, really. Because it's a useful idea to project the need for being dominated onto a population. Especially useful in today's world, since, by extension, it justifies whatever cultural entrenchment needs justifying. Race. Religion. Language. Blaming the rich. And things like, uh, Americans not wanting to allow refugees into the US, even though most refugees are fleeing death as a result of all the endless wars that America has started "to protect us" over the past decade and a half.
Drone that guy. Bomb that city. Because it can't be over, over there: it's too profitable. Make America a great no-fly zone inside the Great Wall with infallible cybersurveillance that only spies on the bad guys. To protect us. From dangerous ferners.
War radicalizes people whose family members are killed, and radicalized people are dangerous and must be feared. Just leave-out the first half of that and it's the news that's fit to print. As always. Because obfuscation and distraction and stacking the deck for partially-revealed truthiness aren't just propaganda techniques anymore. Field-tested in Britain and ready for use.
Back to Britain. Scotland and Wales are Celtic. But not like Irish Celtic, because that's Catholic. Between being a glutton and beheading wives, Henry VIII saw to it that the entire isle of Britain adopted a religion where the Crown replaced the Pope -- or else.
He co-opted Northern Ireland, too. It's not Catholic like the Republic of Ireland, but has a majority of Church of England parishioners. Who, like Scotland, also voted against Brexit.
Which is why Manfred Weber, leader of the biggest political grouping in the European Parliament and a close ally of Angela Merkel, has said that Northern Ireland and Scotland -- as a new, ad hoc, de facto semi-nation -- would be welcome to stay in the EU without Scottish independence.
Cultural similarity. Common Celtic roots. Play the Turtles' "Happy Together" on the bagpipes.
Just hope no one looks beyond the haggis and pints of warm Guinness to see a close parallel to all the divisiveness used in the US. Like how intractable "social issues" and religious fears are used to keep people divided. And fearfully distrustful of one another. And easy to herd into tribes. And oblivious to issues like central bank's banksters financing ever more oil and gas exploitation for the enrichment of the same ol' few.
Why does the same mass distraction happen in both US and UK societies? For the same reason it's happening in France and the Netherlands and half a dozen other European nations whose politicians are targets for no-holds-barred vilification. Because they want national sovereignty instead of multinational corporate hegemony. Because they reject globalist subjugation of the will of the people of their culturally cohesive nations. And that makes them dangerous. Because those politicians defy the paradigm. They dare to advocate their own Brexits with the idea that their nation should determine its own economic policies. And the presumably unwashed masses -- who are, more likely, the underemployed and economically exploited -- are up for grabs to embrace either argument, because, as always, fear-based emotions so easily displace reason.
Elect a politician who will assure tax dollars support an American madrasa charter school that teaches creationism. Keep out those Muslims because they might set-up a madrasa. Tribalism, based on lunatic ideas. Social issues will keep 'em divided every time.
That keeps all of us from noticing who is laughing all the way to the bank. When economics do creep into the picture, a sidebar to the narrative always appears to redirect attention back to the point to be emphasized to the exclusion of any distraction that's not in the narrative. All it takes is a "Yes, but..."
"Yes, but... that would be nice, but we must have austerity so our grandkids don't inherit our debt."
"Yes, but... the Russians corrupt everything! And China is our enemy! And how dare that fat little squirt in North Korea! And those Iranians who are misleading everybody by upholding the treaty we need them to violate! We'll show 'em, we'll show 'em all! With that 10% increase in military spending and one-third cut of the State Department! We'll show 'em a no-fly zone over our own country, surrounded by a beautiful wall that Mexico will pay for!"
Our use of the scenic route has arrived back where we started. With oil. (Hell, what DOESN'T bring us to oil? When we drill deeply enough into anything global that stinks, it's ALWAYS about oil.)
The UK makes a fortune from its North Sea oil and gas fields. Has for decades. In the half-century since the first licenses were issued in 1964 for North Sea oil and gas extraction, the fields have yielded 42 billion barrels of oil, with an estimated 24 billion still beneath the seabed. But, whoa, that ain't all -- there's this week's revelation that more oil and gas has just been discovered beneath Scottish territorial waters than has ever been found before.
With Scotland again threatening to go it alone? Well, "alone" long enough to tuck itself under the wing of the EU and its banksters?
The Brit's narrative this time was a pants-around-the-ankles moment. The British press had just began running stories that the North Sea fields were drying-up, and could be gone by 2035. Any question that was an effort to influence the Scottish parliament's vote that came on Tuesday? Before anybody knew the giant new oilfield would be announced Monday?
Since Scotland would take with it the UK's long-exploited North Sea oil and gas riches? Except, OH!, there's all these vast new fields that would all be part of the territory of an independent Scotland! In 2014, the alarmist rhetoric over control of oil worked in what the media did and said to determine the outcome of the first Scottish independence referendum. Same sh*t, different day, way too much more oil.
More oil. More banksters revealed as crooks. More refugees with no end in sight. More nations openly contemplating leaving the EU. A lot has happened since last year's Brexit vote -- when Britain had its head spun like Linda Blair in "The Exorcist" -- and in terms of money and power, the King Kong in the room is the incalculable wealth of that fresh oil news from the Scottish Shetland Islands.
If a vote by the Scottish people is allowed by the UK parliament, the future of North Sea oil will be the key campaign battleground -- whether overt or covert. Allow that referendum and it's center stage. But block the referendum and Scottish self-determination nationalists can thrust it onto the world stage as an even more explosive issue.
The UK parliament is between Scylla and Charybdis.
The petroleum industry employs 450,000 people across the UK, and in 2012-13, it paid £6.5 billion in taxes to the UK government. Production peaked in 1999, with 30-40 years of production remaining from the old, known fields, before the new discovery.
It's easy to see why the toxic carbon game-playing was intense in both the first vote for Scottish independence and the Brexit vote. On the basis of just the old reality, £57 billion in tax revenues were predicted by the Scottish Government by 2018. Yet the UK Office for Budget Responsibility was predicting a 38% fall in oil revenue y by 2017-18. You can't leave. You'll be broke. You need, as Shakespeare said,
"This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,—
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England."
He left out the BP station.
North Sea oil supplied 67% of the UK's oil demand in 2012 and 53% of the country's gas requirements. Obviously, a central factor in the economy of a country that abandoned its Welsh coal mines decades ago.
If oil revenues are included in GDP figures, Scotland generates more, per individual citizen, than the UK as a whole. That's countered by UK adherents with scare tactics, built on the fear that Scotland would be exploited and face inevitable collapse because manipulators of the world oil market would make prices unpredictably volatile. Meaning that investment in infrastructure to exploit the massive new discoveries would leave Scottish investors, and ultimately citizens, holding the bag with unpayable debts.
Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond insists an independent Scotland could withstand the volatility of the oil market.
"He wants to set up a Norwegian-style sovereign wealth fund -- setting aside a tenth of oil and gas revenue each year -- to help offset some of the problems caused by the price fluctuations," reported the BBC.
Detailing Salmond's long-held position, they continue, "The Norwegian fund -- or Government Pension Fund Global -- was worth an estimated $785 billion (£471 billion) in September 2013, and is one of the largest in the world. It was set up in 1990, initially to help cope with the rising costs of pensions for a population that was living longer, and also accommodate changes in oil prices."
Imagine that. Oil and gas revenues used to help ordinary people. Not just banksters. So everyone can get a share of transitory wealth before all the cities on coastal plains and low-lying river valleys go underwater. Shared wealth while combustion makes enough greenhouse gases to do-in the already record low Arctic icepack, and break off another piece of Antarctica the size of Delaware (2,491 sq. miles). Or maybe we can go for a Massachusetts of icebergs this time (10,554 sq. miles). Or a Scotland (30,265 sq. miles, about the size of South Carolina). Before all the ice goes like the polar bear and penguins and all the whales and dolphins, not with a bang, but a whimper.
Brexit with or without Scotland only determines who gets the revenues from the massive new North Sea oil and gas field, and whether Frankfurt banksters or London banksters or Wall Street banksters or some newly prominent class of Edinburgh banksters or somebody else's central bank banksters get to play casino with the money. It has nothing to do with whether greenhouse gas-producing combustibles are kept in the ground. Because they won't be. And after America's abandonment this week of global leadership in the already longshot effort to arrest climate change before devastation reaches runaway irreversibility? America as the land of the neonicotinoid pesticide from sea to oil-sheen shining sea? This nation has no credibility to tell anyone to keep anything in the ground that releases toxins of any kind.
So, hell. With all the coal miners going back to work and the patriotic thing being to make America great by supporting all-things that masquerade for the tax-dodging corporatocracy as flag-wavers, just shut off your solar panels. You know they were made in China after Saint Ronnie was the first to abandon America's supremacy in development of that technology, and then oilman Shrub did it again.
Buy American coal. Buy a potbelly stove (don't look, but it probably comes from China). Cook your GMO-fed, antibiotic-infested feedlot beef steaks over a coal fire. Hey, when their train was stuck in the yard, crews of steam locomotives used to do that through the firebox door. The aroma of anthracite cinder-burned steak was always amazing. No need for A-1. It drew the hoboes for miles. (Hoboes were what we used to call homeless people with no jobs, but they were never as numerous as all the traumatized war veterans we have now.)
Buy the T-shirt: "Go coal!" and take another bit of retro-technology from the railroads. Steam from the boiler was used to power turbines under each passenger car and operate air conditioners when it was hot outside. Since it'll soon be hot outside all the time, everywhere, let's all install smoke-belching coal-fired boilers to spin-up the AC. Added bonuses: mosquitoes hate smoke. And, we can cancel the monthly trash collection bill and burn all the garbage. including all that excessive packaging that encapsulates everything we buy in our stampede to support consumerism. Except the plastic. Can't burn that, since it melts into a gooey mess and the gases can kill you.
Forget about recycling it, though. An Executive Action banning that is probably next. Deal with it. In the name of King Coal. Like the South had to deal with King Cotton before things got... ugly. Nothing can interfere with the supremacy of King Coal in America! Except King Oil and the empires that vie to rule it.
It may be the 21st century, but we never got our "2001." We ain't likely to get it, or another '60s-style space odyssey. Unless somebody finds oil on Mars. Then there'd be an international space race.
Because it's oil. It's always oil. Whether it's Native Americans having their treaty rights violated under color of law in North Dakota, or a fear campaign to keep Scotland's oceanic oil fields in the hands of a Britain that won't be allowed to Brexit from the EU's banksters.
Except , uh, oh yeah. When it's gold. Which is useless except in tiny quantities for microelectronics. But don't tell Glenn Beck that. Or any of the superior-acting investment gurus who keep haranguing everyone to buy it. Because even more than fracking or refinery outgassing, it's something produced through horribly toxic means that poison the planet and exploit the hell out of the people who are unfortunate enough to live anywhere near where it's found. So get a class ring made from coin metals. Get married with a drilled-out nickel. You avoided those "blood diamonds," right? The toxicity of cyanide processes and exploitation of land, water, and people caused by the few profiting from gold? It's far more widespread than diamonds ever were.
The failure of corporate mainstream media is structural
The foregoing case study is one example. We encourage you to watch the video for the broad indictment that justifies our sub-headline.
This stuff goes on and on. Yesterday, we learned that Josh Earnest is the latest in a long line of ex-presidential press secretaries, both Republican and Democrat, to land a cushy job as an overpaid talking head for corporate mainstream media. Another one of those "political analysts" with a predictably pre-loaded orientation: "They're wrong. We're right." Blah, blah, blah. He'll be justifying things on NBC and MSNBC.
We do celebrate the deserving, when we can find it. In fact, we were, literally, just in time with last week's endorsements of a number of TV shows. The day after the column appeared, the 2017 Daytime Emmy Awards nominations were released. Two of the shows we recommended on Wednesday were among those honored on Thursday -- "On Contact with Chris Hedges," of which we had said, "not-to-be-missed... excellent by any standard," and "Larry King Now," hosted by THE veteran television interviewer. Both those shows air on RT. The same RT that mainstream media and every war-oriented political figure goes out of his or her way to vilify.
Finally, we bring you our link for this week. It is last Friday's opening segment of "Redacted Tonight," another of those RT shows that we enthusiastically acclaimed last Wednesday. The show's producer-host Lee Camp wrote to say, "There is something our media simply is not allowed to talk about -- and unfortunately it impacts all of our lives and the future of humanity."
He's right, and we're glad he is really pushing this one. It deserves consideration from a wide audience. In fact, before his message, we had already chosen it as this week's recommended video link, below.
See you next week. Meantime, don't get tangled in "the narrative."