Sunday, July 31, 2011



By Jerry Okungu

Atlanta, Georgia

July 15, 2011

The events in the USA this week reminded me of a news story back home in Kenya in which Kenyan MPs threatened to repeal laws that provide for the President, Prime Minister and Vice President’s salaries, allowances and retirement benefits if the trio did not stop the taxman from encroaching on the MPs’ incomes.

Here in the USA and especially in Washington, there is a standoff between the world’s most powerful man and probably the world’s most influential parliament. As this standoff takes its toll, already states that cannot afford it are closing shop. Dakota has gone down while California is in the process of laying off public servants it cannot afford to pay.

Mid this week, Barack Obama lost his cool and walked out on legislators negotiating taxation and debt ceiling issues. According to Barack Obama, Congress must learn to either eat its cake or keep it but not both. The same congressmen, mostly Republicans who are against raising taxes for the rich are the same ones opposed to raising debt ceilings. They don’t want the Obama administration to borrow to finance government operations while at the same time denying him the ability to tax the wealthy Americans- mostly conservative Republicans.

Now Obama has warned them that if by August 2, 2011 there is still a deadlock between the White House and Congress, America will surely close shop. Federal and state operations will stall and public offices will shut down.

In equal measure, President Obama has sent alarm bells that if Congress passes a bill to control his borrowing without allowing him to raise taxes, he will veto it because the constitution gives him the mandate to defy an irrational Congress. More alarming, he has warned fellow Americans that if Congress fails to agree in the coming two weeks, there will be no cash for senior citizens whose only income are their pensions to pay their bills. And he has told them that should the great America come to that, they should know who to blame- Republican Congressmen.

The tragedy of the American economic crisis is that if it does occur, its impact will be felt beyond the borders of the United States of America.

The American economy is today so intertwined with the rest of the World Economy that it will be impossible not to feel the heat in Beijing, Berlin, Maputo, Moscow, Nairobi, Karachi, Timbuktu, London, and Paris in equal measure. The global nature of the present society, where just a few hard currencies control world economies has made us all vulnerable. Today when the dollar or the euro coughs, we all sneeze. It is the reason the American Congress must come to its senses before the giant goes down with all of us.

Looking at the American politics today, one can easily see that the standoff between Republicans and Democrats currently occupying the White House after eight years of Republican reign is not devoid of other players outside Congress. There is the so called Tea Party caucus whose business is to see nothing good in Obama’s administration. Coupled with the fact that Obama is the first African American to occupy the White House in the nation’s 250 year history, many conservative Americans cannot wait to see his administration come tumbling down.

In this game of pull- down- and- burn the house by any means necessary, the Republicans have not been alone. Rupert Murdoch, the beleaguered owner of FOX News Corporation has been at the heart of anti- Obama- anti-Democrats government ever since Murdoch set foot on American soil.

Now, this billionaire media mogul who for decades played king maker to all politicians across the Atlantic, more specifically in British and American politics is facing the test of his time. Both House of Commons and Congress are baying for his blood with the first casualty being the 12billion BP bid to take over SKY NEWS. That deal is now off the table not to mention the $ 6 billion loss in share prices on Wall Street when the telephone hacking scandal by Murdoch’s boys first emerged.

Murdoch may have been a very successful multi-billion media operator with massive influence in two of the most powerful nations on earth but now, it would appear like the chickens are coming home to roost for a man who for decades played God with leaders’ lives. If it is true that his media network bribed and paid off the police and criminals to hack telephones of the dead and the depressed in the USA and Britain, then his goose has been cooked.

What this means is that as he prepares to testify in Congressional and House of Commons hearings, notwithstanding the resignation of his British CEO, Rebekah Brooks, no politician from either house across the Atlantic will defend Murdoch in such an explosive issue. Murdoch must begin to realize that he is now alone and must bear his own cross and face the music.

The flip side of this event is that after it is all over, he will have no moral authority to attack Democrats with impunity as he has done in the past.

More importantly, he has reignited a whole new debate about media’s self-regulation and press freedom not just in the free world but in third world states such as ours. The question is; can the current crop of media managers and journalists maintain the dignity of the industry without resorting to criminal activities such as the type Rupert Murdoch’s staff are accused of? Was he aware that such criminal activities were taking place in his companies? How long have these clandestine activities been going on?