THIS FEATURE, Unspinning the News, WHICH BEGINS TODAY, August
22 2008, AN ANALYSIS,
PHILOSOPHICAL CLARIFICATION, AND HONEST RECONSTRUCTION OF THE
NEWS REGULARLY DISTORTED BY EMBEDDED MAIN STREAM RADIO, TV, NEWSPAPER,
AND INTERNET NEWS SOURCES, WILL CONTINUE, CERTAINLY
NOT DAILY (I'M GETTING TOO OLD FOR THAT) BUT AS REGULARLY AS I
Unspinning Official Stories 2008
France's new president will be an insider
22 2008, BBC's carefully official and repeated reference
to a "French resolution" on the Georgian conflict serves to remind
us that, since the election of Nicolas Sarkozy as president of
France, the U.S. insiders and their corporations have a new puppet
in the UN.
That's interesting, but this website is
and will be more interested in how obviously BBC, AP, and all
the mainstream media so smoothly and loyally pander to the insiders
political economic games and to their version of history and reality.
Today's BBC story is as much a part of the game as George Bush
whispering in Sarkozy's ear.
Free speech isn't for everyone, after all
20 2008, Back in 1982, Americans proud of their own fabled
free speech were smugly critical when Margaret Thatcher blasted
UK news media for covering the Falklands war objectively, but
if Thatcher were in the White House, she'd be happy with U.S.
media treatment of North Korea, which is so seamlessly slanted,
you may be too used to it to notice.
For instance, a Chronicle headline
today (Saturday) - North Korea backing out
of nuclear deal - is followed by an AP story that, instead
of calling the North Koreans bad guys just assumes you know that.
But, in fact, the placement of North Korea's side of the story
in paragraph #9, which, if this were on the front page, would
be past the jump and probably go unread, violates textbook journalism
rules, though it certainly fulfills the apparent rules of normal
Associated Press coverage of communist countries.
So the propaganda in the lead, on which
the headline is based (as if the Chronicle needed any help being
anti-communist, too), unbalanced by the distant paragraph #9,
saturates the readers' view. Re-read the headline Hi-lighted in
red above and then read the beginning of the story below, paying
careful attention to how coy but relentless anti-communist propaganda
A rare foreign policy success for
the Bush administration is imploding as North Korea backs away
from pledges to abandon nuclear weapons pretty much as the president's
critics on the right had warned.
Distracted by an economic crisis at
home and a series of diplomatic setbacks abroad, President Bush
and his top aides are watching the collapse of a painstakingly
negotiated process that just months ago seemed on track to produce
a major international success and perhaps bring a final end to
the Korean War before they leave office.
Maybe you ARE so used to the pitch
you don't see what's wrong with that lead. But I hope you can
at least gasp without my help at the inept pretense that George
Bush who's clearly trying to start a Korean war is trying to end
the old Korean War The 1945-50 Korean war!?! Holy cow! In the
first place, the supposed failure of an official war-ending peace
treaty way back then (because of South Korea's probably US inspired
refusal to sign) to end a war that, after all, was never officially
started is old, old, old meaningless hat, and second, it's irrelevant
to the current situation. The excessive length of this graph makes
me wonder if an old Chronicle editor inserted the 14 words after
international success to keep an old pot of his own boiling.
Maybe it's better not to dwell on whatever the point is.
But before that, just in the first
graph, repetition of the editorial word success is meant
not to inform but to teach readers what they think. Negative words
like imploding, abandoned and warned subtly support
the lesson. The lie that North Korea "pledge(d)" to surrender
without their own conditions being met reiterates previous lessons
about North Korea you've been relentlessly handed. The reference
only to unnamed critics on the right (who, I guess, "warned" Bush
he couldn't trust those rats) legitimizes the rightists' narrow
view, while robbing you of the less rabid views of other critics.
The second graph is worse, because
it's not the graph that, according to the rules of journalism,
belongs here, and because it's not news - it's just propaganda.
First AP provides Bush an alibi - that he was distracted
by his other failures. Then AP itself (nobody's being quoted)
praises what it calls a "painstakingly negotiated process," i.e.
relentless stonewalling and name calling (on both sides but with
less honesty on the Bush side), which readers are told by AP was
"on track to produce a major international success." That's what
AP says, which would be OK if you didn't think this was a news
story and if AP wasn't such a shameless lap dog.
But if my journalism students had printed
it, besides posting this story on the wall covered with red ink,
I'd have reminded them that they'd been taught that the second
graph of a story citing a serious accusation should cite the response
of the party being accused. And, the lesson being an important
one, I'd have posted a typed example on the wall beside it, including
an appropriately rewritten version of the buried paragraph #9
as the second graph.
What's been touted as a rare foreign
policy success for the Bush administration seemed to collapse
Thursday when North Korea apparently backed away from pledges
to abandon their nuclear weapons ambitions in response to what
they called Washington's continued failure to fulfill its side
of the deal.
While White House national security
adviser Stephen Hadley called the North Koreans "obstructionists,"
Pyongyang spokespersons declared the DPRK had given up on Washington
and will "go its own way." North Korea has long demanded that
the U.S. take them off it's terrorist blacklist, but the State
Department has not complied.
This was a prominent 13-graph media story with only
one brief and buried nod to objectivity, preceded by numerous
stories just like it, some of which strenuously painted North
Korea as a pretty sordid place. I've never been there, and I don't
pretend to know. Maybe North Korea is sordid. but I'm sceptical
because the same kind of slander has been regularly heaped on
places that I do know don't deserve it. That is, I have no reason
to trust AP or any other mainstream western media, and neither
do you, and the example I'm deconstructing here should at least
make you wonder.
Understand that I'm not making a case
here for North Korea. I'm judging western media, especially but
not only AP, because there are a lot of sordid places in the world,
including parts of Texas, that they don't so strenuously slander.
So their current display of vitriol toward North Korea is contrived
and even trumped up to support George Bush, whom I certainly don't
trust, and also to reinforce their eternal and eternally regressive
and philosophically contemptible anti-communist stance.
You should recall and take notice that
AP never reminds you that the confrontation with North Korea,
including the constant unjustified presence of U.S. troops in
their faces, has been going on for over 60 years, ever since the
Korean War, which was started by the US and Russia, not by the
Koreans, fizzled out; and that it also includes dealings with
Bill Clinton who failed to fulfill his promises to North Korea;
the fact that George Bush very belligerently called North Korea
part of an "axis of evil" and then gratuitously attacked another
country on that supposed "axis" and seems bent on attacking another;
and the fact that Bush has never threatened Pakistan, a very unstable
muslim country guilty of many state approved human rights abuses,
with a population that mostly doesn't like us, and prone to wage
war against its neighbor, India. Since Pakistan's free pass is
clearly that they have nuclear weapons, North Korea's wish for
nuclear retaliatory capability makes sense. Doesn't it? Remember,
my POINT isn't that it DOES make sense, though I think it does,
but that AP makes a point of never acknowledging that it does.
Bridge jumpers who donate their shoes
28 2008, The estimated 1300 people who've killed themselves
by jumping off the Golden Gate, according to my calculator, are
not quite 1/4 as many people as have killed themselves by joining
the U.S. military and going to Iraq and Afghanistan. But if you
take the time period into account and divide 4600 dead soldiers
by 7 years and l300 jumpers by the 71 years the bridge has been
there, nearly 700 U.S. troops a year have jumped off Afghanistan
and Iraq, while only 18 people a year have jumped off the bridge.
Now, considering that the actual human death rate is 100%, meaning
that of the well over 6 billion people alive today, assuming an
average life expectancy of 65 years, even figuring an extremely
bottom heavy age distribution, loosely a million people die every
year, not only is it apparent that only 1 out of 55555 of them
jump off the Golden Gate, it's also apparent that the entire 1/55555
would have died anyway if they hadn't made that jump.
If anyone thinks I'm being too frivolous
about such a serious subject, I remind you that, just like minorities
who claim the right to joke about racism, as a human getting close
to death, I have the right (and so do you) to be frivolous about
death, especially in response to a mass media which constantly
fakes a laughably pious attitude toward the subject, and especially
when the SF Chronicle prints a headline and picture that probably
unconsciously invite a realistically frivolous response, especially
when that response has important implications society's insiders
want to keep covered up.
Seeing the headline in the local section
today, Shoes memorialize bridge jumpers, over a picture of a whole
lot of shoes, I had to ask myself, "Did they all take off their
shoes before they jumped and are these their shoes?" Then, reacting
rationally to the pious but incoherent read-out, "Research shows
that if you can break that cycle, only for a moment, they might
not do it." my second question (and I hope yours, too) had to
be, "So What?" And then, seeing the cunningly misleading subhead,
Support for the barrier, I had to get pissed and ask another question,
"What support?" And you've gotta be unconscious if you can't guess
my 4th question, in response to the insidious unquoted nonsense
clearly representing the Chronicle's own fractured (at the comma
- look close) editorial view:
Though a recent unscientific online
poll by the district found that 75 percent of 1,600 respondents
opposed any changes to the bridge, the net (a stupid steel net
to catch people) seemed to be the most attractive alternative.
My own unscientific ongoing poll has so
far failed to turn up anyone who even opposes suicide or, get
this, anyone who doesn't admire and defend Dr. Kervorkian. So
my fifth question could be "What world does the Chronicle editorial
staff live in?" But it isn't. I know the answer. I also know the
defense for this story is that it's about a media event staged
by the supporters of a suicide barrier on the bridge. But that's
no defense for the spectacular absence of a large philosophical
feature explaining why no really rational person sees any reason
to spend a fortune disfiguring the bridge. And it's no defense
for the Chronicle's refusal to print ANY really realistic comment
on the issue of suicide, like, for instance, the following, my
own brief clear and unprintable letter to the editor:
July 9 2008: It was going
to cost $2 million to study how to waste another $2 million to
disfigure the bridge so people fed up with life can't exercise
their existential right to jump off. Now it's $40 to $50 million.
Of course this isn't a secular state, but why should the people
of a supposedly secular state spend millions to enforce a religious
Come on! Here's a message from the real
world. If you don't want anyone jumping off the Golden Gate because
it's a costly and bothersome nuisance to try to drag their bodies
out, then put up signs on the bridge rail telling them the unreligious
Put up a sign every 50 yards explaining
that, "Hey! Hitting the water doesn't kill you. It just smashes
your bones and adds a lot of pain and the panic of being a helpless
cripple to the smothering horror of drowning in rude and icy saltwater!"
And at the bottom of each sign put a number
they can call to get suggestions and instructions for better ways
to kill themselves.
Better yet, pretend we really are both
secular and civilized here and sell 2-pill suicide kits without
a prescription in every drugstore, consisting of a sleeping pill
guaranteed to put you quickly and gently into a deep enough sleep
for surgery and a time-release cyanide capsule guaranteed to kill
you in 3 seconds while you're sound asleep "in the privacy of
your own room."
Oops! Did I go off nearly everybody else's
screen there? Sorry. I can never get used to living in a whole
world of cruel and dopy mystics, intellectual cowards, and piously
Remember my last question that I already
know the answer to was,"What world does the Chronicle editorial
staff live in?" and another question I already know the answer
to (which means it's ALL the Chronicle's OTHER readers who should
be asking these questions) is, "Why does the Chronicle strain
so hard to convince us we share their 19th century religious prejudice
Since the Chronicle won't tell you, I
will. It's because death postponement is big business. Population
growth and development are big business. Selling life-prolonging
products to lots and lots and lots more people through their youth,
adulthood, middle age, and old age is big business. Religion is
big busines. Denial is big business. And, not only are the Chronicle
publishers and (probably) editors businessmen, their major advertisers
are big businessmen. And even if it directly causes the rapidly
nearing total collapse of the eco-system, big business depends
on SUSTAINED growth. And to hell with all the losers who'd at
least like to pick up their useless marbles and abstain from further
participation in growth sustainment. Their forcibly sustained
life, failure and exploitable misery are big business.
More specifically, some insider wants
the contract to build the unneeded suicide barrier. And he doesn't
HAVE TO have a friend in City Government or on the Chronicle staff
(though he may). The 1/10 of 1% insiders who own and run this
country are all in the same general business. Whether their conspiracy
is tacit or explicit, "good" business is good for all of them.
So all of them (including media chiefs) try to be "good" for "good"
But since you probably aren't in the club,
why is the Chronicle trying so hard to convince YOU a money-making
scam like the suicide barrier is something you know in your heart
is needed? Come on. That's how big businessmen talk to suckers. Compare it to the way the same Chronicle
talks to you about the importance of bailing out big business.
Have you been exasperating the editor?
30 September 2008, "NOW WHAT?" the Chronicle screams angrily
in their biggest font at their naughty readers today. Just yesterday,
after all, the Chronicle told all you guys flatly, "Make no mistake,"
clearly meaning, "Don't make the mistake of thinking for yourselves;
think what we tell you to," which was quickly clarified as that
"only a quick and immense response from the federal government
can prevent a historic breakdown of the financial system, one
that would have ..."
What did they mean "would have"? They meant
they were trying to conjure up a win for the insiders by reporting
it as a done deal, so you guys wouldn't waste time calling Congress.
A left top headline above that, cunningly labeled NEWS ANALYSIS,
claimed the "need" for the bill already "sways" (in present tense)
even former skeptics, and another head on the right top declared,
again in present tense, "Many believe they must support the bill."
Trying to sound like Roosevelt or Churchill,
not as objective press but as editorial corporate media, the Chronicle
itself warned you against fear while trying to scare you into
believing that giving away $700 billion dollars quickly to insiders
without thinking about it was the only way to go. But they failed.
A flood of Americans who weren't suckered e-mailed and wrote and
called Congress and said, "Hell no, we won't go for it." Congress
got scared for their cushy jobs and voted down the bail-out. And
the shocked Chronicle reacted with today's huge headline, a doomsday
alarm trying to scare you again, trying again to tell you what
you think, trying to soften you up, actually, so you won't resist
the second bail-out bill, which will be a lame compromise coming
For a whole two days now, maybe for another
day or two (I won't expect more than that), this all reminds me
of when the Chronicle ran equally huge headlines screaming that
Americans had finally had enough of Bill Clinton's disgraceful
tom-catting and weren't going to take it anymore. But it didn't
work, and then, like now (for a few days now, anyway), their readers
refused to be told what they thought. It was the biggest story
never reported, not the Bill and Monica story, the U.S. media
and their readers story, which was never reported by the media
(though it certainly prompted extension of routine pre-election
public brainwashing from one year to two).
Americans were bombarded all that year,
every hour of every day, with puritan propaganda until finally
the media and Congress had to turn it off and surrender their
impeachment dream, because the people, who may have been stupid
enough to be fooled about politics and economics, at least knew
ALL about sex and COULDN'T be fooled about that.
Too bad this isn't about sex or sports
or pop stars. It's about politics and economics. And a new bill
faked up to look more acceptable is already on the table and being
hyped to the people with Cheshire smiles. So I'll be amazed if
the people's momentary good sense doesn't wash off.
But I was already pleasantly amazed when
the BBC blog board responded to THEIR bail out propaganda piece,
not with the usual lumpen blather but with numerous articulate
comments accurately nailing the bail out, the Republicans and
Democrats, Nancy Pelosi, and even capitalism. Some writers even
understood that the big bad debt was - IS - a fantasy, that the
crooks were to get real money to replace the dream loot they never
actually had in their hands to lose.
It would be something if Congress, pretending
to intelligently ponder an inadequately amended compromise bill
to reduce the ransom, were once again flooded with e-mails and
calls telling them, "Hell no! We STILL won't go for it!" I'm not
expecting that, but I'll do a little for the cause here - at least
for the cause of clarity - by explaining to my one or two readers
how an illusion has become a real mess that's really scary but
should be boldly used as a painful way to finally bring down the
jungle system of capitalism. Oh yeah. I bet.
Day before (or before that) yesterday,
the media explained to you (taught you) for the umpteenth time
that the crisis stems from lenders being merely "complicit in
the stupid decisions to offer mortgages to home buyers who couldn't
afford them." Sure. What really happened was that home buyers
who rightfully wanted homes were conned into agreeing to pay 5
times what the homes were worth by crooks trying to make a killing
and intending to foreclose on the first wave of suckers and then
re-sell at an even more criminal price to a second wave of suckers.
But once the first suckers had been screwed,
no second wave came, and prices started dropping (they haven't
stopped dropping yet and shouldn't until they get back down to
earth). So the crooks, in their minds, got screwed, too. But they
didn't lose $700 billion actual dollars. They failed to GET 80%
of the loot they wanted - a fantasy - dream loot. Their victims
couldn't pay it.
At that point, the government should have
stepped in, given the homes to the buyers, and locked up the crooks.
But it was the crooks who had friends who looked the other way
as they used the dream loot on their books like unhatched chickens
to reinvest in other ventures, and those ventures also used the
fantasy loot to pay for labor, materials, etc. So the fantasy
loot was transmuted into a real mess. That's normal capitalist
jungle chaos. But it got too big and obvious, so the foxy chicken
guards who let it happen decided to save us all by replacing the
dream loot with real money (that they're busy printing).
Some other countries the mess has slopped
into are nationalizing some of their banks. That makes sense.
That's what we should be doing, just for a start, because it's
past time to deep 6 capitalism, which never worked for anyone
but the winners, anyway. But it's more likely the losers WILL
finally be fooled again into voting against themselves again.
Why not buy all the banks?
No. Wait. Why not nationalize all the banks?
11 October 2008, If I had proposed a month ago that the
feds start buying the banks, I'd have been dismissed as a crank.
So now that just such useless half
measures are being taken, if I propose that, instead of buying
bank stocks, they nationalize the banks, close the stock market,
roll back and freeze all prices at the 2000 level subject only
to fair adjustment to keep them sensibly inter-related, and set
a permanent minimum and maximum annual income scale from $30,000
to $50,000, I'd be dismissed as a crank. So what? Obviously, the
crank dismissers have a propensity for being wrong.
In spite of the religious belief of
philosophically challenged Americans that socialism is
a naughty word, someday they'll have to finally abandon the failed
capitalist game and progress maybe kicking and screaming to socialism.
The solution: stop kicking and screaming
and go for it - not in jerks and jolts but with dignity,with a
plan, carefully and logically.
And while you're at it, start solving
the world's even more important problems by dissolving NATO and
other counter-productive extra cogs in the wheel, by joining the
UN not as a bully but as a member, and by promoting world-wide,
Cuban style population control (they just peacefully teach everyone,
without coercion, that one child is enough and two is maximum,
and it works) and by moving pro-actively, as a world, away from
this savage dog-eat-dog economic non-system that Americans only
think they're trapped in toward civilization. As long as it's
finally being admitted that "urgent and exceptional action" is
called for, why not finally do the exceptional things that have
been really urgently needed for a long time?
I'm not crusading, by the way. I personally
gave up the world in 1970 as beyond salvation. This is in second
person for a reason. I'm saying that if YOU think the world can
still be saved, then you ought to finally start demanding that
your so-called leaders (obviously your misleaders) start doing
the things that need to be done to save it.
Wanna buy some godly democracy?"
October 2008, Americans not well trained by their media
might wonder why the Chronicle has been pushing the primitive
Proposition 8 for three days, even providing a front page boxed
display of Biblical quotations. Of course, the hysterical right's
weird idea of a liberal press is wrong. The media are certainly
owned and edited by and for the rich. But PC liberal conspiracy
theorists are just as far off target. The media isn't above reminding
readers they believe in gods and absurd godly morality. But this
time the Chronicle isn't pushing religion or even straight sex.
It's pushing democracy, a pill readers are so well trained to
love to swallow whole, they're far beyond noticing it's daily
inclusion in the lesson plan anymore. They'd feel deprived without
Presenting Obama's nearly conscious
though timid ideas as equal to McCain's idiot Bushisms is part
of the same lesson plan. So's presenting Sara Palin's popularity among
the dumb as if popularity could validate her dumbness. And so's
seriously headlining GOP uneasiness about the "peril" of a Congress
dominated by one party. The thrust of the Proposition 8 story
isn't that there are two significant views of an issue (and certainly
not that intellectual progress might again be bogged down in primitive
superstition). It's that one side's 14 point lead has gone down
to an 8 point lead. The myth of democracy that has to be taught
daily because it is so obviously wrong that it might easily be
forgotten is that you can count up the truth - that you can elect
logic. (see Democracy under definitions on the front page).
I witnessed the tragic foisting of
this insidious nonsense on revolutionary Nicaragua in 1996. The
Nicas were still in some respects behind the times. American liberals
had abandoned their own revolutionary integrity and embraced the
"pro-democracy" cop-out six years earlier. But the Nicaraguans
had bowed their heads and betrayed their pledge (here, nobody
sells out or surrenders)in 1990 from weariness of war and
death and injury and loss of friends and family and continuous
fear of a George Bush I invasion. But by the '96 election, a modern
TV extravaganza, the CIA, the US funded press, the opportunistic
big shots in the FSLN, and, yeah, Jimmy Carter, had sold Nicaraguans
the creed. So the pleading of honest militants that what mattered
was NOT democracy but the revolution fell on enough deaf ears
so that, by the numbers, falsehood, capitalism, and poverty were
counted the winners again.
You should know what I'm talking about
if you noticed the media didn't tell you yesterday that home prices
are almost sane again. They told you how many people are suddenly
buying homes again (so you should, too - get it?). And today they
don't tell you about death and pain in Iraq. They reported more
body counts, the higher the count, the more significant the incident.
One writer thinks a higher death count in one incident was the
"most fatal" in a 365-day period. On the business page yesterday,
they didn't discuss the actual need for a new downtown SF skyscraper.
They told you how many feet tall it will be and how many dollars
the lot cost. I know somewhere in today's paper you're told why
you should watch a TV show or see a movie. Why? Because a winning
number of other Americans are doing it. And again today, as yesterday
and the day before, you've learned why you should consider changing
your vote to McCain - because more people say they'll do that
today than said so yesterday.
The Chronicle lobbies for God and other nonsense
November 2008, With elections pending, I had to
search to find the Chronicle's low-key one-line opposition to
putting another religious taboo into the California state constitution
on a grey page near the end of a throw-away tabloid insert. On
page ONE, however, I was slapped in the face by another in a series
of topside photo-flashy big-headed celebrations of an anti-intellectual
minority having a DEMOCRATIC impact - quite a story. One that's
become a regular reminder to every red-neck American Jihadist
that he isn't alone and CAN secretly vote against secular government,
civilization and social progress.
This kind of stuff challenges my previous claim
that the Chronicle is pushing democracy not religion. But I'm
sticking to it. After all, the insiders can HAVE convenient religion,
war, ecological destruction, oppression and privilege WITH and
THROUGH democracy, without revealing their fleshless grinning
skulls. The Chronicle is just being spectacularly clumsy because
they're over-excited by what looks like another of the kind of
dumb-people's backlashes that got them Ronald Reagan.
A better story (that they'll never
do) would be about how Americans who scorn the religious governments
of the middle east yearn for a religious government of their own
(Tom Jefferson will never know).
But the best propaganda isn't always what the
media say. It's just as often what they don't say. The biggest
unreported story of them all, which, just by being totally unreported,
conveniently convinces the public it doesn't matter, remains the
story of the now happening collapse of the eco-system due to excess
human population growth and the corollary (always profitable,
which is all the media care about) growth of the human encampment.
I invite you to search today's paper, yesterday's paper, all last
week's and last month's papers, and all next month's papers, cover
to cover. You'll find many virgin sidebar stories. But you can
count on it that, in the mass media, at least, too many cars will
never be driven by too many drivers, too many fish caught will
never be caught by too many fishermen, too much global warming
will never be caused by too many global warmers, etc. I can't
help wondering how too many readers can keep swallowing the hook,
the line, and the sinker with no apparent suspicion of what they're
Maybe they don't. The only intelligent
reference to overpopulation I ever see is in an occasional letter
to the editor. But I'd guess no more than one out of hundreds
of such letters are printed. I "guess" that because I started
writing such always unpublished letters (always exactly 350 words
or less, always in perfect journalistic style, I'm a retired journalism
prof, remember) to the Chronicle in 1959 when I first moved to
the bay area to study journalism at San Jose State. The media
can't stand too many anti-sustained-growth pitches. They like
Al Gore because, in their very own style, he's an insider conveniently
covering up the main story with a sidebar story that, guess what,
never mentions overpopulation, actually promoting a myth that
a problem that's not the problem can be solved by MORE business
- "green" business that will advertise in the Chronicle, WHILE
the unmentioned real problem keeps outgrowing all the phony but
The next best propaganda to flagrant
omissions are sneaky insertions. Flipping past today's front
page celebration of religious homo-phobics, I'm taught that those
trials "in Cuba" are coming to an end. I wonder how many politically
and geographically challenged readers are continually confused
by Cuba's editorially apparent connection to Guantanamo. A lot,
I'd guess. They're certainly always given the chance. The AP writer
further slanders the island with references to iguanas, large
rodents, and "turkey" vultures which he associates with the same
Cuba where those awful trials are found. As a frequent traveler
in Cuba, I found an iguana under my pillow once in a beautiful
colonial house in Gibara, but large rodents and "turkey" vultures
don't ring a bell (though of course ugly wildlife exists everywhere
- including Texas). Maybe they came to Guantanamo, which (it's
stupid to say it but I have to) is NOT politically part of Cuba,
with the Marines.
Mentioned in passing, along with the
few journalists enduring Cuba's supposedly rodent and vulture
infested terrain along with the on-dragging extra-judicial charades,
are the trial of "an alleged communications specialist" (use of
the word alleged keeps him from suing them for calling
him a communications specialist, you see) and the "relatively
minor case" (if you can conceive of a war criminal less innocuous
than a communication specialist) of a 16-year-old boy whose confession
was tortured out of him.
But AP's main interest is in how many
journalists aren't covering "America's 6-year attempt to try what
it called 'the worst of the worst' for crimes of war." America's
attempt? I thought this was just the War Department's hypocritical
project. But AP calls it "America's...attempt," to convince Americans
that they are all part of the war effort, which they absolutely
are not. They're left out of the loop and ignorant with the help
Way down, almost lost in the story's
dregs, is this: "Only months ago, the military periodically flew
dozens of print reporters, TV crews, pool photographers and sketch
artists to Guantanamo Bay from Andrews Air Force Base near Washington."
As my own reporter going always to Cuba alone, with no permission
or assistance from AP or the Air Force, I may be the only one
noticing this reminder that King George I's idea of selecting
and conducting approved reporters to and around military scenes
is still in effect. Of course, most readers are now OK with the
concept of "embedded reporters." Aren't they? And Why? Because
their news/propaganda media constantly glorify the concept, proactively
discouraging them from ever thinking they might not be OK with
A few pages further on, a killer smog
that happened in a Pennsylvania factory town in 1948 is treated
as an historical oddity, from back in the olden days when U.S.
Steel was still (understandably?) naive enough to call it "an
act of God." Some awful leftists proved they were wrong and "it
was the first time," we are falsely told, "that people really
understood..." Not any more, you're supposed to think. In fact,
there's a story on BBC's Latest Headlines right now about
a catastrophic mud volcano that's been inundating whole towns
in Indonesia for two years, obviously caused by a gas drilling
outfit that denies it and blames a small earthquake, "an act of
On the next page, readers who are kept
from ever suspecting that most informed people in the world consider
Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, and Evo Morales as the good guys are
treated to a tear jerking tale of how ONE woman who earns a living
ironing gringo shirts may lose her job because Morales is kicking
the US out of Bolivia. Of course, Bolivia suffers from historic
poverty, but US media don't or won't grasp or don't want readers
to ever suspect that Morales' socialist agenda may eventually
eliminate poverty, while sustaining their own beloved status quo
will not. In fact, this story, like all others on Bolivia, simply
leaves that factor out. Instead, the reporter easily finds local
capitalists to criticize Morales, measuring Bolivia's problems
against their own discredited capitalist yardstick.
Two pages further on, a headline indites
"rebels (who) tighten grip over swaths of eastern Congo." WHAT
they are rebelling against, WHY there is a war, WHO are the socialists,
WHO are the capitalists, or IF it's in fact just tribal rivalry,
WHY UN "peace keepers" are taking sides, readers will not find
out. Strife in Africa, as in most of the barely reported world,
is just strife - with refugees, individual suffering, all the
regular stuff, but NO ISSUES. It regularly drives me nuts reading
paragraph after paragraph of stories like this, looking for some
reference to the issues and almost never finding any. Once in
a while a sentence, but almost nothing.
In today's Iraq story, US troop withdrawal,
for about the fourth time in a week, is tied to the year 2011.
Rat-tat-tat. 2011 2011 2011. When you've read that enough, you'll
forget you were ever hearing 2009 2009 2009. Try to remember with
little help from the media that Obama's stated target at one point was also 2010
On a lighter but still relevant note,
today's TraVel section, with the V printed in red, ac-cen-tu-ates
the positive and ee-lim-i-nates the negative about a place that
comes across as an almost funky Peru. There's even a picture of
an Inca flag. Did you know the Inca's had a flag? I didn't either.
Maybe I saw it and didn't notice it. I know that, in Peru, I saw
some of the worst poverty I've ever seen anywhere (see From The Andes). But poverty isn't to be
stressed on a newspaper travel page. Pictures of Inca women selling
their wares show them clean, colorful, and happy.
I talked to the Indians a lot in Peru,
because, just as in Guatemala, I found their second-language Spanish
a lot like mine. Usually, the people I talked to were wearing
frayed and (excuse me) dirty clothing. Except for the beggars,
who aren't mentioned in today's happy story, I didn't find them
bitter. But I sure as hell knew they could be dangerous and never
talked to other travelers who didn't have some at least second
hand mugging stories to tell.
But this TraVel story's purpose is to promote
business, even foreign business, who cares, as long as it's business.
To encourage readers to part with dollars, all U.S. media regularly
declare high priced restaurants cheap and $500,000 houses at last
affordable again. As a practical, down-scale political tourist,
I'm always amazed to read about good hotel deals in places like
Cuzco for from $60 to $114 (single). I think maybe once in all
my Latin American travels, in a moment of weakness, I paid $60,
for a palacial colonial hotel in Antigua. I didn't record all
my bills in Peru, so I don't know what I paid, but partly because
I'd just come from one of the best hotels on Lake Titicaca covered
with flea bites, in Cuzco I treated myself to one of the most
beautiful rooms I've ever stayed in, virtually a turret, with
big windows overlooking all of tile topped downtown, clean, atmospheric,
gracious, for maybe $35, but I think I'd remember $35, so it probably
wasn't that much.
the Chronicle screams at you in 60 point type
December 2008, The Chronicle screams in big type
a lot these days. But it's not just to tell you what's going on,
as in "INSIDERS STRIKE AGAIN." RUSH may not be intended as a pushy
third person verb here. Maybe it's a noun. Maybe. But it looks
like the command form of the verb rush to me. Besides selling
ads, the Chronicle is selling home loans.
"Talk about economic stimulus," the "story"
excitedly begins its sales pitch, while leaving out the kind of
truly revolutionary counter advice this country needs. Hey! Ignore
the editor's cunning excitement. Do your own thinking and Don't
fall for it again!
Already over-squeezed borrowers are being urged
to put themselves back into the hands of the same cowboys who
just milked them dry. In the dictated context, which reflects
a situation 8 years ago, the reduced 4.5% interest rate that excites
the Chronicle may have been good. But in the current context of
home "owners" saddled with houses that cost 5 times what they
were worth due to an era of historically unregulated greed, it's
not. What's called for now and what the unfortunately suckered
American home "owners" should be demanding is historic CHANGE.
Not mild mannered Obama change. Really historic change.
The Chronicle talks about $300,000, $400,000,
and $600,000 houses as if those figures made sense. They don't,
except as historic price gouging. The profiteers aren't the majority
your vaunted democracy is supposed to represent. They're a piggish
minority, and they shouldn't be bailed out. They should be brought
down to earth.
In the year 2000, I was looking for a nice house my mother could buy in San Luis Obispo when she sold her mountain property, and I found the perfect house for her for just under $200,000. Somebody else bought it while I was making up my mind. The next time I looked at it, a year or two later, it was on sale for a million $. Come on! That doesn't make sense!
FIRST, all the overpriced houses should be devalued
to their 2000 price plus a logical 8-year increase of about 2
percent a year, the same amount my pension went up each of those
years and, if you're lucky, your salary went up. THEN, people
who have really already paid enough for their houses should be
given their titles, while people who haven't are given lower interest
rates on what's left of their reduced home prices.
Would that be messy? Sure it would. Because
it's not enough. We need socialism. But, compared to the cow we
have now, which is being milked by the same crooks anticipating
more bail-outs in the future, at least that much would be neat
enough, easy to understand, and unprecedentedly honest.
BACK TO THE FRONT
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