Notes From The Overground

Progressive-minded weblog devoted heavily to politics and media with some music and popular culture sprinkled throughout working on the assumption that anything that comes out of Washington or the mass media is bogus propaganda unless proven otherwise.

Created by Tom

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Saturday, February 15, 2003
 


The Answer, My Friend...

Protesters out in New York's bitter cold. Beautiful. And to think, the war hasn't even started yet.


In cities across the country and around the world — many in the capitols of America's traditional allies — well over a million people came out Saturday in protest of U.S. military action against Iraq.

Numbers of protesters didn't reach this level during the Vietnam war until a few years in. "Call out the instigators/because there's something in the air..."

Today is a momentous day, and the first truly bright spot in what has been a very dark time. It is certainly a good day for those who believe in peace, those who seek truth, those who trust in logic and those who believe in love. Everyone who believes in these ideals should be proud of themselves, take this moment to reflect and prepare for what lies ahead. For the first time, we've actually seen what our numbers look like. The people who turned out today are only the tip of the iceberg. The more and more reason, logic and truth shines through the darkness of the mass-mediated Bush-fed rhetoric, the more people will realize that this war, this government, is wrong and unjust. This was definitely a good day.




 


Meanwhile Back at the UN

It appears that there was no love for Colin on Valentine's Day at the UN. The New York Times reports that amid news of progress from chief weapons inspectors, Colin Powell faced "deep resistance" to his call for UN support to war with Iraq:

The clash was frontal and impassioned as Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin of France spurned Mr. Powell's arguments, saying that the inspections had not failed and that there was no cause for armed action yet.
He proposed holding a new meeting of Security Council foreign ministers on March 14 to take stock of Iraq's cooperation.
Drawing a rare burst of applause from the audience in the Council chambers, Mr. de Villepin told Mr. Powell: "In this temple of the United Nations, we are the guardians of an ideal, the guardians of conscience. This onerous responsibility and immense honor we have must lead us to give priority to disarmament through peace."

Who would have thought that the French would be such a valuable ally for peace...




 


Hydro When?

Last week the AP reported: Hydrogen-fueled cars highlighted in new debate over Bush energy plan. Unfortunately, something that could be a truly wonderful breakthrough is mired in political sewage.

Bush's surprising allegiance to the hydrogen car is a red herring, an empty gesture. He's given no definitive answer, no timeline or promises other than "I don't know if you or I are going to be driving one of these cars, but our grandkids will." By then, most oil execs and their government whores (like Bush ,Cheney, their cabinet and most of congress) will have raked it in, reinvested, and passed on. Their mouths are still where the money is, and that's sucking on a big oil tanker. By the time a hydro car is ready, the energy companies or some other dastardly corporate conglomerates may have found a way to capitalize on the hydro car.

Most moneyed conservative capitalists and government operatives are so shortsighted in their take-the-money-now-and-run-with-it attitude that any forward looking plan that doesn't actually set a deadline is suspect. This is a group of people with a history of engaging in endeavors that worked for the moment yet left the future in turmoil. If you have any doubts on this just look at the blowback situation in the middle east. Look at all the people that the American hegemony has supported only to clash with later on when the support backfires (Hussein, Taliban, bin Laden, etc). Fiscal policy is the same with them. Tax cuts and trickle-down economics are an immediate benefit for the rich while the economy suffers from deficit and a widening gulf between the fewer rich and the ever greater poor. Any benefit from tax breaks only makes the rich wealthier as they squirrel it away or invest it amongst themselves.

Bush merely threw a bone into the festering "compassionate conservative" stew. It is nothing but a smokescreen to cover Bush's terrible record on the environment.

In the early 1960s JFK all but promised (with the Apollo program through NASA) that the U.S. would put a man on the moon within a finite amount of time. Bush's hydro promise is nothing but a hollow piece of disinformation.




Friday, February 14, 2003
 


Is This the IQ Level of the Hawks?

Oh, so classy



...and so begins the age of "Weasel Journalism."




 


A Dent in the SUV? Or is it Just PR?

Automakers claimed they would "take steps" toward "voluntary standards" to make SUVs safer for the general public. This is heartening news in that the auto industry claimed that SUVs pose a danger to cars and have claimed, for the first time, that they will do something about it. But other than that this seems like empty pandering -- a shot of PR damage control to assuage the growing anti-SUV movement. Rather than address the deeper problem (America's narcissistic fascination with giant, gas-guzzling behemoths) the intent here is partly to fortify the rest of the driving environment against the danger of SUVs. These "voluntary standards" will aim "to make cars safer when hit by larger vehicles and to make SUV's and pickups less dangerous." So, while they claim to intend to build safer SUVs, they have created an environment where the normal car must be modified as well. Better and safer cars is always a good thing; safety should be the foremost intent of the industry. However, self imposed "voluntary standards" are not as powerful as regulation and law. In addition, they ring about as hollow as Bush's hydrogen car plan when you look at the time frame:

The changes would appear on the 2005 models, coming next year, at the earliest; the more complicated changes in design could be at least several years away.


This appears to be a case of the auto companies wishing to have their cake and eat it too. It's a bandaid for a gaping wound in that it creates the illusion of a better safer driving environment with the SUV. What of the SUV's other offense against humanity? What of its conspicuous consumption of crude?



 


A Poll to Arms

A New York Times/CBS News poll found that a majority of Americans favor delaying a war on Iraq in favor of giving the UN inspectors more time. However, the same poll found that the majority of Americans, not to be labeled as peacenick wussies, still support a war to oust Hussein (wouldn't be 'merica if we didn't wanna kill some 'raqi dictator). Most discouraging is that most people believe in a tie between al Quaeda and Iraq despite the fact that the administration has no solid proof. I wonder what the poll numbers would say if Bush told America that Santa Claus moved his headquarters from the North Pole to Qatar....



Thursday, February 13, 2003
 


Place Head Between Legs, Kiss Ass Goodbye

From Reuters:
U.S.: Put Cloth on Mouth, Wash Hands if Attacked


Here's a more useful suggestion: how about all the fearmongers just duct tape the cloth over their mouths for a few months?



 


Wouldn't It Be Nice...

International answer, a non-profit anti-war group has begun a campaign to have Bush impeached (Votetoimpeach.org). They present the articles of impeachment as drawn up by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who served under president Lyndon Johnson. The group is in the process of collecting votes for the impeachment which will be hand delivered to the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and to the ranking Democrat on the Committee.

If they could impeach Clinton for Whitewater/Lewinsky-gate, anything is possible...



 


The Second Coming of George Bush

The Second Coming reads as though Yeats knew that Bush II would rise to power in the United States.

"The best lack all conviction/ while the worst are full of passionate intensity."

The Bushies and the hawks are full of passionate intensity, while their political opposition (the Democrats) "lack conviction." Except for a handful of courageous souls, even the best voices for peace and rationality have lacked the proper conviction until recently.

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold/ Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,/ The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere/ The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

September 11, 2001 -- the subsequent war on terror and rape of our civil liberties as well as the opportunistic manner in which Bush and co. used diversion to give more breaks to the rich and powerful.

"Surely the Second Coming is at hand"

The second coming of the Reagan/Bush dynasty.

..go on, read about the the image of Spiritus Mundi in the "sands of the desert."

The Second Coming

TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?


The Second Coming: George W. Bush's quest poem...



 


Fear Factor

This is getting sicker and more twisted by the minute. New York's WABC news reported that the city health department has issued a warning to police and hospitals that there is a high possibility of a cyanide gas attack.

The article also goes on to quote the CIA's newest claim that Saddam Hussein himself might have operatives in the U.S. poised for a preemptive assault ...

Also, the danger is not just Al-Qaeda. According to the CIA, Saddam Hussein may have operatives in the U.S. for a preemptive assault of his own.
Robert Gallucci, ABC News Analyst: "We should fully expect that he would use whatever capability he has to inflict harm on us or our allies if he can do it."


And the war drum beats louder and faster -- the propaganda flies -- the Bushies are pulling every effort out of their ass to convince the public that we must fight this war. Everyone's on edge. The cries are apocalyptic...



 


Top Gun



George W. Bush, the over-privilidged son of an aristocratic family who has been given everything he could ever ask for (from a Yale/Harvard education, to his own oil company to the presdency) challenged the UN to show "backbone" in opposing Iraq. Funny.



 


The Poor Media

Speaking of the media: Journalism is dead. The manner in which the "respectable" news agencies whoop it up and magnify the sensational aspects of fear and drama is so utterly disgusting that I will laugh in the face of anyone who claims to be a serious journalist. Dan Rather should start wearing a fright wig, red-ball nose and funny oversized shoes. The entire cast of "CNN" should just wear Halloween costumes while "Fox News Channel" can all just be damn truthful and come to work dressed as Hitler and his henchmen. Furthermore, all news correspondents should wear the sponsors' logos right on their outfits -- like Nascar. At least the source of the news would be explicitly apparent. The arbitrary category name, "news" should be changed to "things we want you to know" or "CorpProps" -- short for "Corporate Propaganda." The word "news" is so arbitrary and meaningless now anyway.

So earlier this week the New York Times, a supposed bastion of journalistic integrity, ran this "business" news piece:News Industry Plans for War and Worries About Lost Ads. The article is all about the "news" networks financial stake in the impending war. It (disturbingly) goes on to analyze the war coverage as if it were a prime-time special. It deals with questions of "how much money will it cost the networks" and "will advertisers want refunds on ads that run around news coverage." They also speculate on the effects of "news" coverage circumventing valued prime-time programming. As jaded as I am it still blows my mind that it has come to this discussion.

Yet some of the corporate behemoths are optimistic. Newscorp, the parent company to Fox claims that while Fox News costs would rise in the event of war, it would be manageable. Also, the ad execs at both Newscorp and Viacom expect the ad market to strengthen in the coming year despite the war. Phew, what a relief, huh? I hope that this allays the fears of the public, because I know it was foremost on my mind.

But seriously, the networks can whine about the costs until the cows come home to the Crawford Ranch. They live for this. They all jockey to out-scoop each other and it becomes a giant pissing contest between who has the better graphics, camera shots, slogans and ominous music bites. (SHOWDOWN IRAQ, THE WAR ON TERROR, IRAQ IN THE CROSSHAIRS...OH THE DRAMA!!!) They're like weeks-starved wolves fighting for a bone, or paparazzi nudging each other in the photo-pit outside the red carpet at the Oscars. The costs of the coverage are often compensated in prestige and network exposure. Besides, at least one network is set to benefit directly from all of this: GE/NBC. GE is a government defense contractor -- war footage works as a virtual advertisement for their product.

So buckle up. Because it's only going to get worse. Poignantly dramatic lead-in music, snazzy graphics, scud studs -- get ready, the shit-storm is about to pick up steam.



 


More News From the Fear Front

The Washington Times actually ran a good article on the media's contribution to the panic level. My favorite part:

"Are you ready?" asked ABC News yesterday, trotting out a "Good Morning America" home-improvement editor to demonstrate how to turn a laundry room into a fallout shelter with duct tape and plastic dropcloths.


I feel like I'm watching some terrible cross between Alduous Huxley, George Orwell, and a Michael Bay/Jerry Bruckheimer movie. It's like Brave New World in 1984 with melodramatically sappy dialogue and heroic posturing.



Wednesday, February 12, 2003
 


Duct and Cover

The government's recommendation that citizens stock up on duct tape and plastic to cover windows in the event of a chemical or biological attack are as humorous as the 1950s Nuclear air raid drills. But it also is an extremely well calculated propaganda move to work the public into a compliant mass of panicked fear -- a malleable citizenry who will quietly follow the leader while their civil liberties are stripped, their money is redistributed to the wealthy and their government engages in military folly.

I don't normally play the market, but knew I should have invested in 3M, or that company that sells "Duck Tape" style duct tape with the cute little waterfowl on the label.



 


A Modest Proposal

Being that the Bush administration is desperately trying to forge the slightest link between al-Quaeda and Iraq as a justification for war, perhaps they should add Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Egypt to their list of countries to bomb. Surely these countries have more solid ties to the terrorist group than little Iraq. Mohammed Atta, the supposed ringleader of our greatest national tragedy, was an Egyptian. Pakistan harbors numerous terrorist training camps and fundamentalist schools that teach hatred of the west. But perhaps our greatest enemy is the biggest of the bunch. Saudi Arabia, with its abundance of oil-drenched real estate would be a fine jewel in King George's crown.

For instance, at least 12 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, surely this American ally is more guilty than Hussein's country of clear and direct ties to al-Quaeda. Then there are all the tricky little money trails that lead right to the land of Mecca. Not to mention the fact that terrorist schools are funded by the SA monarchy with oil money. But therein lies the rub, we buy their oil and our money goes to the fundamentalist mosques, then to the terrorists and we reap the benefits in terror and fear. But these are lucrative business agreements that mustn't be tampered with, even in the name of national security. Bush, Cheney and all of their oily coffers depend on these Saudi ties to put "food on their families." Besides, so long as the Saudi's are friendly enough to our faces and willing to trade with us, we'll just ignore 'em.

Also, an interesting take on the Quaeda/Hussein link from Maureen Dowd. I agree with her on the fact that the link is as thin as dental floss, but she loses me when she claims that, "it is the Bushies' dream of a model kitchen [metaphor she uses for an experimental democracy] in Iraq, rather than a Saddam-Qaeda link, that makes this war seem noble to them." I think they have some other motives in store.



 


Found a great quote today from the first big-time Republican:

Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.

-Abraham Lincoln, in an 1864 letter


Man, he was better than Nostradamus...
Shame about them Republicans...

(Special thanks to my trusty Michael Moore Stupid White Men Day-by-day calendar...



 


Arguing With The Pigheaded Right

I've been reading a lot of the hawkish pro-war drivel on the internet and I still cannot believe that there are thinking people who support this war on Iraq.(Frankly, I find it hard to believe that most of this country is just meekly giving Bush et al the ability to turn this into the first North American Reich). So, I made the mistake of getting into an argument on some message board with someone who scathingly called me a "liberal" (gasp!!!) and claimed that if Clinton or Gore were in charge I wouldn't feel the way I do. Well, I am by no means a Clinton-lover (in fact, I have many grievances against the Democrats -- they're nothing but Republicans who are slightly more liberal on social topics), but I wonder if this Iraq situation would even exist if one of them were president. So I came up with something of a response...

Clinton almost single-handedly shifted the Democratic party to the right. He talked a good "liberal" game, but most of his policies (on energy and telecommunication) were as conservative as Reagan/Bush before him.

That said, I'd rather have a Clinton or Gore in power than Bush (but that's like choosing double amputation rather than die of infection -- it's not a great choice). Clinton/Gore were conservative when it came to business and basically in the pocket of special interests -- but they were nothing compared to the capitalist, corporate-friendly orgy that Bush is running. In addition, I don't think that we'd be in this Iraq mess. The amount of resistance to this proposed war is virtually unprecedented in U.S. history (the Vietnam anti-war movement didn't begin until years into the war when bodies started coming home en masse). The anti-war numbers are huge and will likely only grow as matters escalate. NATO is in crisis and frighteningly close to break-up, polls all over Europe express their anti-war feelings and illustrate that they are as fearful or more of Bush as they were of Hussein, 63 Local governments have passed anti-war resolutions as well as two states: Maine and Hawaii. This is a virtual clusterfuck of amazing proportions. All in the name of a government who is historically warhawkish and tied to the rich and powerful. Not a good scenario. Bush is a sociopath with no real mandate from the people running a government strictly for the rich and powerful. Furthermore, he's setting this country back about 40 years. At this point I'd want anybody but Bush II and Cheney.

Anyway, in some cases, maybe you could argue that some of this has to do with "limousine liberals" bashing a Republican in power. However, I think you will find that many people with intellect and open-minds feel just the way I do.

To put it another way... if Clinton (or Gore) were behaving like this, peaceful liberals wouldn't support him. Mindless sheep Democrats, "liberals" in name only, would follow him.



 


Poetic Justice


I found this floating on the 'net. It's a song, and you have to sing it like "If You're Happy And You Know It Clap Your Hands." Poetic and oh so to the point...

If You're Happy And You Know It Bomb Iraq
By: John Robbins

If you cannot find Osama, bomb Iraq.
If the markets are a drama, bomb Iraq.
If the terrorists are Saudi,
And your alibi is shoddy,
And your tastes remain quite gaudy,
Bomb Iraq.

If you never were elected, bomb Iraq.
If your mood is quite dejected, bomb Iraq.
If you think that SUVs,
Are the best thing since sliced cheese,
And your father you must please,
Bomb Iraq.

If the globe is quickly warming, bomb Iraq.
If the poor will soon be storming, bomb Iraq.
We assert that might makes right,
Burning oil is a delight,
For the empire we will fight,
Bomb Iraq.

If we have no allies with us, bomb Iraq.
If we think that someone's dissed us, bomb Iraq.
So to hell with the inspections,
Let's look tough for the elections,
Close your mind and take directions,
Bomb Iraq.

If corporate fraud is growin', bomb Iraq.
If your ties to it are showin', bomb Iraq.
If your politics are sleazy,
And hiding that ain’t easy,
And your manhood’s getting queasy,
Bomb Iraq.

Fall in line and follow orders, bomb Iraq.
For our might now knows no borders, bomb Iraq.
Disagree? We’ll call it treason,
It's the make war not love season,
Even if we have no reason,
Bomb Iraq.





 


Timing is Everything

From the NY Times: Senior U.S. Officials Tell Lawmakers of Iraq-Qaeda Ties

Why is this coming out now? Why is George Tenet, head of the CIA, suddenly claiming a link between al Quaeda and Iraq when he has contradicted that fact thus far? A statement like this is certain to sway at least a portion of the public to the hawks' side. The administration has still failed to make a plausible link between al Quaeda and Hussein.

The more chilling fact is that the government claims that there are hundreds of al Quaeda militants in the U.S., some organized into cells. If this is truly so (and not just some McCarthyist Justice Department propaganda), that seems like a more important problem to deal with than Iraq. Especially when an attack on Iraq could spring these cells into action.



Tuesday, February 11, 2003
 


The Voice of Evil, Right on Schedule

As reported earlier, a tape purported to be Osama bin Laden was broadcast over al-Jazeera. Although Secretary of State Colin Powell claimed that the comments illuminated a tie between bin Laden and Hussein's Iraq, the only clear bond that they have is a common enemy in the United States and other Western "crusaders." Beyond that there is no evidence of a direct tie. Allegations of a tie between bin Laden's al Quaeda and Hussein were further called into question when bin Laden condemned the Iraqi government as infidels:

Mr. bin Laden said he and Iraq had the same enemy: the United States. But the voice on the tape said Iraq's government was run by "infidels."
The statement said Iraq's rulers had "lost their credibility long ago" and that "socialists are infidels wherever they are," according to Reuters.
Mr. bin Laden has previously criticized Mr. Hussein, whose rule has been marked by purges of Islamists. Mr. Hussein has said he has no links with Al Qaeda, and American intelligence analysts are known to disagree among themselves on whether there are links. (NY Times)


What I find most intriguing are the pundits and talking heads on the cable news station who actually contend that bin Laden's statement illustrates a link. The Bush administration is insisting that Hussein is tied with al Quaeda and this does not in any way prove that -- this is by far, one of their weakest arguments yet. Bin Laden is more or less calling upon the people of Iraq to rise up against all "infidels"-- the outside "crusaders" and Hussein's Baathist regime.

Yet with the rumblings coming out of Washington already, I'm sure that the stupidity that is the Bush propaganda will cite a clear and present link. I have faith, however, that America is smarter,at least, than that.



 


On 1984's Goldstein and bin Laden

To borrow again from Orwell's 1984, the bin Laden situation rings very similar to the Emanuel Goldstein scenario. In the novel, Goldstein was a traitor who turned his back on his homeland (a terrorist?) to conspire with the enemy. He was so vilified to the point that an image of his face was displayed at rallies to invoke hatred in the citizenry for anyone who would harm their country. He was the perfect scapegoat and propagandistically ingenious for the more the people hated Goldstein, the more they loved Big Brother and their homeland, Oceania. It was never clear if Goldstein was a real man, as he was never seen in the flesh (like his counterpart Big Brother). Nonetheless, he was an image used as a container of hate -- a common enemy, a scapegoat, an effigy to burn with patriotic zeal. Ultimately, he was a propaganda tool used to whip the masses into an emotional frenzy of hatred -- a hatred that could be translated to a compliant love of country. Sound familiar?

Compare this now to Osama bin Laden. Nobody knows for sure if he is actually alive, all of his contact with the West is through secondary media, and his very image inspires patriotic hatred in even the semi-zealous. How interesting that today we find his name uttered again in connection with Iraq when public opinion and U.S. alliances are at a crisis point. But have no fear, for the disembodied voice or the hollow video image of bin Laden will lead us back to hate. And we will again love America.



 


God Bless The Onion

In times like this, humor is the best antidote. I remember the first Onion issue after September 11, 2001 entitled "Holy Fucking Shit: Attack on America" Between them and The Daily Show I was able to keep hold of what little sanity I had left. As they say, mock the devil and he will flee. Thank God for laughter...

The Onion has some great ones this week:


and this news brief:

Saddam Enrages Bush With Full Compliance
WASHINGTON, DC—President Bush expressed frustration and anger Monday over a U.N. report stating that Iraqi president Saddam Hussein is now fully complying with weapons inspections. "Enough is enough," a determined Bush told reporters. "We are not fooled by Saddam's devious attempts to sway world opinion by doing everything the U.N. asked him to do. We will not be intimidated into backing down and, if we have any say in the matter, neither will Saddam." Bush added that any further Iraqi attempt to meet the demands of the U.N. or U.S. will be regarded as "an act of war."


Funny... but too close to reality...



 


When in Doubt, Play the Invisible Menace Card

Colin Powell told the U.S. Senate earlier today that comments by bin Laden (or a man believed to be bin Laden) that will later be broadcast on Al-Jazeera illustrate his ties to Iraq. Powell simply said, "he speaks to the people of Iraq and talks about their struggle and how he is in partnership with Iraq." Hasn't bin Laden made similar comments before? Isn't it natural for bin Laden to take the side of an Arab nation against the Western menace? The mere fact that bin Laden (or a facsimile thereof) expresses solidarity with the Iraqi people does not mean he is tied to Hussein. By that logic, any peace-loving person against the war and on the complete other side of the spectrum from bin Laden is tied to Hussein. If anything, it's a devious propaganda message on the part of bin Laden, playing to the cause of the oppressed people of Islam and using a U.S. war with Iraq to stir the huddled masses against the West. (This is yet another reason why this war is such an act of idiocy on the part of Bush).

I must also comment on the impeccable timing of Powell's remarks and the bin Laden speech. Right at the point where key members of NATO are wreaking havoc on Bush's war plans, while the U.S. homeland is on a high terror alert, the ghost of terrorist past is going to pay a visit to the world. Sometimes coincidence is too coincidental... It all becomes rather suspect when every day brings yet another attempt at swaying public opinion toward war fury.



Monday, February 10, 2003
 


Ants Marching To War

Dave Matthews, singer and guitarist for the Dave Matthews Band, posted an anti-war statement on the band's web site that is stirring up its share of controversy outside of the music community. Nancies.org, a DMB fansite, reports that Matthews' statement is ranked high on a list of most-linked-to articles from weblogs. They point out that the article is most talked about on conservative war-hawk websites, but is also praised by anti-war sites as well.

While most popular musicians are scorned and ridiculed for speaking out on political matters it should be noted that Matthews is a peaceful Quaker who was raised in strife-ridden South Africa who has long spoken out (through music and prose) for peace and harmony. Matthews should be commended for using his place as a popular figure to make the world a better place. For as he has reached the highest points of popularity, he never compromised his values and his art. A true musical artist's function is to show us our world as processed through their insight. Why should that be criticized as "speaking out of turn"? (Could you imagine what would happen if clever conservative "artists" didn't speak out on politics? -- Ronald Reagan and Charlton Heston would just go down in history as second-rate actors instead of mentally unstable ultra-conservative wing-nuts).



 


The Disinformation is the Distraction


T.S. Eliot claimed that the content of a poem was like a piece of meat to distract the watchdog of the mind from the beauty and influence of the poetic form. Marshall McLuhan adapted that statement, claiming that in communication, the content of the mass media is the meat to distract the watchdog of the mind from the influence of the medium.

Now, let's take Eliot and McLuhan and apply them to the propaganda game being played by the Bush cabal. Perhaps the impending war on Iraq and the raising of the national terror level to orange really are just pieces of meat to distract the sleeping watchdogs of public attention from the truly troublesome domestic issues at hand. For instance, the Center for Public Integrity obtained a January 9, 2003 draft of legislation that would "give the government broad, sweeping new powers to increase domestic intelligence-gathering, surveillance and law enforcement prerogatives, and simultaneously decrease judicial review and public access to information." What is so chilling about this whole affair is that it has come this far without public knowledge. Orange color-coded distractions and the Iraqi menace are serving their propagandistic purpose of diverting attention while civil liberties are chipped away.

Furthermore, the fearmongering voracity of the war rhetoric itself serves to distract from the true issues that they are said to represent. Instead of engaging in forthright and honest debate about the war on Iraq, the Bush admin. lays on the propaganda. The persistent, frantic, and downright jingoistic war drum distracts from the very subject of the impending war. Therefore, the American discourse on the war on Iraq (as dictated by the ministry of truth, i.e. Washington) guarantees that the facts will not be widely scrutinized. This is all so alarming when Bush's justifications for war are so paper thin. How have they even held up this far? We are told to focus on Hussein's non-compliance, on his brutal history, while our attention is diverted from the fact that war is not the answer. "War is the answer" is the non-fact that slips through, unscrutinized, as "common sense." Meanwhile, uncomfortable truths about ulterior motives and other damning facts about the current American administration fall by the wayside. While this is a commonplace tactic in politics it seems to be a specialty of the conservative right. One needs only to look back at Whitewater, Ken Starr and Monica Lewinsky to see the power of political misdirection as perpetrated by Washington Republicans.

The saddening fact is that a more independently vigilant media structure would render the whole game transparent. However, since the so-called "liberal" media is in fact under the thumb of the corporate right, the idea of true journalism and real information is preposterous. Under the most cursory scrutiny it becomes clear that disinformation is the name of the game. Meat to distract the watchdog of the public mind while the house is robbed of its most precious jewels.



 


You Can't Always Get What You Want
(But If You Do, Bomb Them Anyway)


In some heartening breaks toward resolution without war, Iraq has agreed to allow the UN inspectors to use U.S.-made U-2 spy plains to aid in the inspection process. They also agreed to pass legislation that would outlaw the use of weapons of mass destruction. These signs that Iraq is finally beginning to comply more fully with the West's demands can only come as a crushing blow to the warmongering Bush administration.

Bush claimed Saddam would face war if Iraq failed to comply with the UN. Now Iraq is making gradual moves toward full compliance and Bush is still calling for war. This is getting more ridiculous by the day.

Thus, it is hardly a surprise that the pigheaded president dismissed Iraq's overtures and continued to persist in the "Hussein is evil" rhetoric that he's so fluent in. Doublethinkingly shifting his propaganda from "Hussein is a threat to the U.S.," Bush claimed that Saddam is the true enemy of the Iraqi people and would use his civilians as human shields. So again, not able to settle on if this is a war to liberate Iraq or protect America, Bush fell back on the old standby of usurping an evil dictator. Bush's rhetoric has the added bonus of keeping the blame on Saddam should any American strikes kill massive amounts of civilians (which they likely will if Baghdad becomes a key target). Bush now has a defacto justification for killing mass numbers of innocents, "Saddam put 'em there." Yet, if Bush alleges that Saddam is in fact using human shields, wouldn't it be morally incumbent upon him to find a way to save those people rather than sacrifice them to his war game? That's liberation! Why aren't these questions being asked by the pundits and the press corps?



 


There's a New Axis in Town

France, Germany and Belgium have proven to be a real nuisance to the Bushies (and lately, that can only be a good thing). This trio of countries blocked efforts for NATO to begin planning for possible Iraqi attacks against Turkey. According to AP, "the veto has deepened divisions in the alliance over the Iraq crisis, with American ambassador Nicholas Burns accusing the three of plunging NATO into crisis." In reality, these countries did not veto the protection of Turkey should a war break out (the move is viewed by many as a gesture of defiance that will eventually end in the trio allowing protection of Turkey). They vetoed based on the timing of the action. Building the NATO military presence in Turkey would signify a more solid move toward war, thus complicating any chances of peace. The vetoed plan would call for sending Turkey arms under the auspices of protection. However, knowing America's feelings toward this war it is not inconceivable that they would take advantage of the opportunity to undermine any prospects of peace.





 


Dude, You're Gettin' A Cell!!!

Steve, the Dell guy was busted for scoring a bag of weed on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Insert joke here ________



Sunday, February 09, 2003
 


Bad Day For Bushy



Looks like a bad news day for Dubya. There were a few small victories for the stable-minded who oppose Bush's Iraq folly: U.S. fails to sway security council on Iraq . Meanwhile, UN inspectors say that they're beginning to see a "change of heart" on the part of Iraq. Of course, the Bushies say this isn't enough.

Oh how, oh how, will Bush get his war?

Also contributing to Shrub's excedrine headache is the GOP and Democratic resistance to his proposed Medicare plan. Looks like it may not be as easy for the right as they thought it would be last November. One can only hope...





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