Now Everybody Do the Propaganda – Seen any of those propaganda packages? They really do look like news reports, and sound like news reports. They end with “this is xx, reporting from Washington…” etc too – just as though it were a news report. But they aren’t news reports. They are propaganda. Governmental agencies spanning from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of State have produced and distributed news segments that were picked up and run on local television news shows with no indication that they were not produced by a news agency. When the Government Accountability Office released a decision that the practice violates covert propaganda laws, the administration’s reponse was to say – um, nah, we don’t think so. See The Washington Post, “Administration Rejects Ruling on PR Videos”, Christopher Lee, March 15, 2005; The New York Times, “Under Bush, a New Age of Prepackaged News”, David Barstow and Robin Stein, March 13, 2005, and lots of others.
People are debating whether the news outlets should be responsible for alerting the consumer to the source of the propaganda. What a worthless argument! If it’s an ad, it’s an ad – they want to spread propanda? Then let them pay for air time like any other advertiser and say “this message funded by XXX.”
It’s Good to Be the the King
Even a news scanner like myself somehow missed this one. Bush nominated Philip J. Perry, Vice President Cheney’s son-in-law, to be the General Counsel for the Department of Homeland Security. Recently, Perry has been a registered lobbyist for Lockheed Martin Corp. The Washington Post, “President Nominates Cheney’s Son-in-Law”, John Mintz, April, 1, 2005.
Watchdogs – really? The Environmental Protection Agency … well, where to start? Maybe we should just start calling it the EDA it would be more accurately named now if we replaced “Protection” with “Destruction.” These days it’s all about slash and burn for corporate. Here’s just the latest issue – we’re basically done without clean water right? Well… The EPA has proposed another of these Orwellian antonym games – a “Clean Water Act,” which would “blend” or discharge inadequately treated sewage into waterways. The new policy would allow sewage (with no biological treatment!) into our lakes, rivers, streams and coastal waters. Besides just being disgusting, untreated sewage is full of pathogens, toxic chemical, and other “pollutants.” Think about what you flush down the toilet and pour down the drain. By the way, try to minimize that! You can protest via email here.
US Ranks only 11th for Moms. Where mothers survive and thrive, children survive and thrive. Where is the best place in the world to be a mom? Not the USA! We’re ranked 11th in the yearly Mother’s Index by Save the Children. 110 countries were compared on six indicators of women’s well-being (lifetime risk of maternal mortality, percent of women using modern contraception, percent of births attended by trained personnel, percent of pregnant women with anemia, adult female literacy rate, and participation of women in national government) and four indicators of children’s well-being (infant mortality rate, gross primary enrollment rate, percent of population with access to safe water, and percent of children under age 5 suffering from moderate or severe nutritional wasting).
10. United Kingdom
(Afghanistan ranked last)
And Then They’ll Do It to Our Troops
Amnesty International has released a new report (Guantánamo and beyond: The continuing pursuit of unchecked executive power) about the continuing disregard for internation law by the US. Our current policies and practices have led to serious human rights violations and have set dangerous international precedents. The report is quite detailed, and worth a read. But just one small nugget – any idea how many people are being detained? Approximately 70,000 as of April.
USA: Naval Brig, Charleston, South Carolina: 2 “enemy combatants”
Cuba: Guantánamo Bay naval base: 520 (234 releases/transfers)
Afghanistan: Bagram air base: 300
Afghanistan: Kandahar air base: 250
Afghanistan: other US facilities (forward operating bases): Unknown: estimated scores of detainees
Iraq: Camp Bucca: 6,300
Iraq: Abu Ghraib prison: 3,500
Iraq: Camp Cropper: 110
Iraq: Other US facilities: 1,300
Worldwide: CIA facilities, undisclosed locations: Unknown: estimated at 40 detainees
Worldwide: In custody of other governments at behest of USA: Unknown: estimated at several thousand detainees
Worldwide: Secret transfers of detainees to third countries: Unknown: estimated at 100 to 150 detainees
Foreign nationals held outside the USA and charged for trial: 4
Trials of foreign nationals held in US custody outside the USA: 0
Total number of detainees held outside the USA by the US during “war on terror”: 70,000
I never even heard of Camp Bucca in Iraq – almost twice as many as at Abu Ghraib!
What’s going on?
The use of “No Child Left Behind” to destroy public education, plans to “save” Social Security by bankrupting it and diverting funds to Wall Street, tax cuts to large corporations and the rich, gas prices up, grocery prices up, massive cuts in Medicare, a deficit and a national debt large enough to pose a threat to the global economy, “Town Hall Meetings” with restricted attendence, a record number of approvals for domestic spying….. on and on it goes. Way way too many Americans are still, still, still not understanding that the agenda isn’t about values, or religion, or democracy, or anything like that at all.
It’s about power. It’s about money. It’s about control of the masses.
Too many of you are still polishing your black boots, not even realizing that you hail and worship the bad guys. The USA: Germany, part 2. You are even scapegoating! You blame gays and welfare mothers and intellectuals (what few may be left here in America) and scientists. You blame anyone who don’t listen to country music, who doesn’t share the redneck interpretation of scripture and religion, you hate anyone who is “different.” We are all different. Look to the unconventional families in your congregations. Look who relies on healthcare and medicare and social security and what remains of public education.
I try to believe that you are not so much stupid as in denial – that because of rapid changes you have strong psychologal needs to find comfort in an authoritarian form of belonging. I’m a former Jehovah’s Witness and I certainly understand the lure. We can perhaps get past hysteria… the Germans did, eventually.
If you’re just idiots, what can anybody do, really? If you really believe (more than just “need to believe”) that these suits are looking out for you, that an Ivy-League cowboy with no cattle but you, and an administration full of people that pumped up Saddam, trained Bin Laden, and gave nuclear materials to Iraq and Iran, are somehow about values and God – then I’m running out of ideas. Studies have shown that information is lacking in these populations. I have thought that knowledge and accurate information would make the difference. I’m an educator and I believe in that. Doesn’t it ever occur to you that the good guys, such as they ever are, would not have to rely on bringing out the worst in people?
Maybe that’s wrong… maybe you’re just not that “into” information. Clearly knowledge doesn’t matter that much to you (a source of much rejoicing in China and India). Maybe something less rational, less reliant on ethical argument, would be a better path.
I still have hopes for music – we need a lot more of it. Maybe some liberal country singers?