Questions to Ask the Candidates
During recent presidential debates, moderators have asked mostly predictable questions and - except for some notable gaffes - have elicited mostly talking-point answers. But ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern says it’s time for citizens to put politicians on the spot with some more pointed questions.
By Ray McGovern
Pity the pundits. It must be hard to pretend to be a journalist and live in constant fear of being one question or comment away from joining the jobless.
This Thanksgiving holiday weekend we can be thankful for the obscene transparency of the “mainstream” pundits’ efforts to avoid at all cost offending the corporations that own and use them.
Rather, media personalities who wish to be around for a while must do what they can to promote the notion of American exceptionalism and the need to sacrifice at home in order to defend and expand the Empire — “so that we don’t have to fight them here.”
From a global perspective looking back a few decades, it is hard to believe that major powers like China and Russia were fiercely competing with each other for improved relations with the U.S., and that we were able to play one off against the other to advance America’s interests.
They are now laughing at us — smiling at how far we have outreached ourselves in our attempts to project power and corner the world market.
It is, actually, hard to believe: Marines now stationed in Australia, which our national security experts apparently believe is near China (well, kind of near); U.S. troops now in Africa where there’s still a lot of untapped oil; U.S threats to use a “military option” against Iran.
And the coup de grace: the feckless effort to build anti-ballistic missile defense systems that can defeat all countermeasures — the U.S. defense-industrial project that has long been one of the most expensive and lucrative corporate welfare programs.
Check out the breaking story, which brings still more good news for the military-industrial complex: Russia is threatening to defeat American missile defense systems in Europe, absent a bilateral agreement regulating them. And so, it’s back to the drawing board and then the production line in the quixotic search for technical systems that cannot be countered. Is this a great country for weapons researchers and manufacturers, or what?
The pundits will explain, and our diplomats will try to convince others, particularly incredulous Europeans — that such defense systems are needed to defend against an eventual missile threat from Iran, which our national security gurus believe to be near Europe (well, kind of near).
All this at a time when one out of three children in America live in poverty. Our Fawning Corporate Media (FCM), substantially owned and operated by the arms makers, war profiteers and their friends, does what it can to disguise this, as well as other grim statistics.
Be thankful, say the One Percent. Relax already. After all, even poor children — or most of them, anyhow — can watch football on TV and be enticed by heroic advertisements to join the military or some other part of the national security apparatus. Thus, maybe they can qualify for a credit card that enables them to shop like crazy on Black Friday and on future Black Fridays.
To further buck up national morale, our TV networks can be counted on to carry the usual orgy of flag-waving “God-bless-America” renditions - accompanied by those explicit and implicit tutorials on American exceptionalism, expressed with jet-fighter flyovers and cutaways to U.S. troops “defending our freedoms” in Afghanistan and other faraway places.
The message from the One Percent - the ultra-wealthy whom Republican lawmakers are fond of lauding as the “job creators” - was that ALL of you must be grateful this Thanksgiving holiday, including the ungrateful Ninety-Nine Percent, some of whom are grumbling about inequities at “Occupy” protests around the country.
Ask Real Questions
Is there a medicine for this infection of militarism, consumerism and mindless politics? I think there is, but only if we all do our part. We need to find ways to raise the kinds of questions that FCM pundits and journalists avoid like the plague. Go to the rallies, the press conferences, the campaign speeches; press for cogent answers to the real questions.
That’s what I’m going to try to do in the coming weeks and months. Here are three lines of questioning I think we might try to pursue with the candidates themselves. You may wish to try them out yourselves and/or devise your own. I include below the three questions, supplemented by background and potential lead-ins: