Saturday, November 20, 2004

From Florida to Fallujah: What the News Coverage Covers Up

One minute, we are still debating election returns in Ohio and Florida. And then, in a flash, the story largely disappears and the subject changes. Quickly, we have moved on as the news media converges on Fallujah to report on, and in the view of many, support what may be the bloodiest chapter to date of the Iraq war.

Media coverage lurches from event to event, and from spectacle to spectacle as a substance deficit disorder hyperactively drives the news agenda. No sooner are we focused on one major story, than another intrudes to change the subject and insures that there is no time for follow-up, much less thoughtful processing.

In some cases, this is the natural disorder of news, but in many others, there are hidden hands shifting the agenda in a conscious effort not simply to influence what we think, but control what we think about.

The Administration wants to refocus us on the elections to come in Iraq, not likely flaws in the elections that just occurred in America.

The coverage of the fight for Fallujah is a case in point, as the US military makes clear that "information control" is its first priority. When US troops seized a hospital there the goal was said to insure that news about civilian casualties in Iraq not infiltrate the news agenda.

As I document in my film WMD, US war strategy in Iraq has been run like a political campaign with key message points and "message of the day" perception management techniques underlying a strategy of "information dominance."

This invariably relies on deception as a key component of war fighting. There are five elements of this strategy currently in play:

1. Shape a Narrative

In Fallujah the US narrative and key talking point is making Iraq safe for democracy and elections. To achieve this -- or so the storyline goes -- the US must restore "local control," end the insurgency and kill or otherwise neutralize "foreign fighters" from whose ranks the US forces exempt themselves and their "coalition" partners.

Little attention is paid to warnings by the UN's Kofi Annan or the head of the EU that this ferocious attack on Fallujah makes fair elections unlikely.

And what of the "foreign fighters?" Most journalists and Iraq specialists argue that what the townspeople of Fallujah want is local control, but in their own hands. They insist that much of the "insurgency" that the locals call the resistance or Mujahadeen is home grown, not foreign or origin or direction. But why let the facts get in the way of a misleading if marketable narrative?

2. Control Media Access

The US military plays the press as a "fourth front," not a traditionally autonomous fourth estate. Suddenly, the embedding program is back in place, with journalists dependent on US forces for their information and protection. As Madeleine Bunting explains in the Guardian: "It's long since been too dangerous for journalists to move around unless they are embedded with the US forces. There is almost no contact left with civilians still in Fallujah, the only information is from those who have left."

The result: largely one-sided coverage.

3. Spin the Theme of Iraqi Control

To undercut any suggestion of a foreign occupation running things, the official story line has it that it is the Iraqis under the Allawi government -- actually (but rarely mentioned) a temporary, un-elected and unstable entity -- that are in charge with the US troops merely supporting them.

Julian Manion of Britain's ITV put the lie to this assertion on the first day of fighting, reporting: "We've had now, this morning, the formality -- some would call it, I'm afraid, the fiction -- that Iyad Allawi, the prime minister of Iraq, has given the official order to commence the operation against Fallujah. Of course in reality it is an American operation." On that same day, November 8, CNN was reporting that the Allawi government was calling the shots.

4. Avoid Historical Parallels

While media critics were invoking parallels of towns in Vietnam that were destroyed in order to be saved, there was little perspective offered on the realities of that parallel even as US soldiers invoked it directly. AP reported: "Sgt. Maj. Carlton W. Kent told an assembled group of 2,500 Marines in a 'pep-talk' on November 7: 'You're all in the process of making history. This is another Hue city in the making. I have no doubt, if we do get the word, that each and every one of you is going to do what you have always done -- kick some butt.'" (AP, November 7 2004)

Analysts reminded audiences that after US soldiers reoccupied Hue after Vietnamese forces overran it in the Tet Offensive of 1968. Then Under Secretary of the Air Force, Townsend Hoopes, described the results as leaving "a devastated and prostrate city. Eighty percent of the buildings had been reduced to rubble, and in the smashed ruins lay 2,000 dead civilians... "

One reason for the lack of analysis like this is not simply media amnesia. Most TV news reporting follows templates, driving action-oriented and picture driven "breaking news" with little time and fewer resources allocated for background and context.

5. Its All About US

The US media focuses on "our boys" and US government agendas, not Iraqi civilians, religious leaders or political representatives. It is always all about us, not Iraq. The death toll is always rationalized afterwards as necessary and unintentional

This is a point made with eloquence by The Guardian's Madeleine Bunting, with a perspective conspicuous by its absence in most US reporting:

"Assaults on cities serve symbolic purposes: they are set showpieces to demonstrate resolve and inculcate fear," she writes.

"To that end, large numbers of casualties are required: they are not an accidental byproduct but the aim. That was the thinking behind 9/11, and Fallujah risks becoming a horrible mirror-image of that atrocity. Only by the shores of that dusty lake in Dreamland would it be possible to believe that the ruination of this city will do anything to enhance the legitimacy of the US occupation and of the Iraqi government it appointed."

And so here we are after a debate about the policy and intelligence failures in Iraq repeating them again. And alongside those flaws, a larger media failure is all too tragically on display once again.

Thursday, November 18, 2004


Incase you Haven't Heard

There's a Florida woman who is auctioning off a 10-year-old grilled cheese sandwich on eBay this week that, she thinks, bears the image of the Virgin Mary.

No, really. See it yourself by searching for item No. 5535890757 at As of press time, there were eight bids, with the highest bid being $16,600.

I always thought the apocalypse would involve more locusts.

Some Random Bush Quotes

Colin Powell has cobbled together one of the great coalitions ever, a coalition determined to fight terror wherever we find it.
-- Making it sound like Colin Powell did a slipshod, hapahzard job in finding a coalition, but I'm guessing it was meant to be a compliment, El Paso, Texas, Mar. 21, 2002

The invisible part of everything that you thought you could see, you can't see.
-- Offering his appraisal of the Palestinian/Israeli situation, Interview with ITN, Crawford, Texas, Apr. 5, 2002

As I said in my State of the Union address, liberty is not America's gift to the world. Liberty is God's gift to human -- to the human -- mankind.
-- Looking for and failing to find "humanity", Washington, D.C., Feb. 26, 2003

Border relations between Canada and Mexico have never been better.

Sometimes when I sleep at night I think of "Hop on Pop"

The benefits of helping somebody is beneficial.

I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully.

Look Familiar?

a few pictures of bush, cheney, and laura.. enjoy

bush -

laura -

cheney -

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Eminem's Mosh - the New Ending

Eminem's Mosh - the New Ending

Director’s note: All across the country, people are experiencing the fallout of one of the toughest losses of their lives. Like one giant communal hangover, our hearts and minds are filled with regret, despair and dismay. Over the past few months scores of us were actively working towards and anxiously anticipating the outcome of the hotly contested presidential election. From voter registration drives and GOTV (Get Out the Vote) campaigns, young people in particular mobilized and fought hard in hopes of new leadership for our country. We poured ourselves into the fight, yet only to suffer a devastating defeat.

But now is not the time to give up or become disheartened. We fought a good fight and despite early misleading reports, the Youth Vote did show up on Election Day. According to CIRCLE, 20.9 million Americans under the age of 30 voted in the election. That’s 4.6 million more than cast ballots in 2000. This turnout represents a 9.3% increase nationwide and in the Battleground states turnout was even higher, up 13% over 2000. So how did we loose? Well, we weren’t the only ones to show up on Tuesday. Voters of all ages also showed up in record numbers and the 18-29 demographic was the only group to favor the Democratic ticket (54% – 44%) in the presidential race. So while the Democratic ticket may have lost, young people all over America showed up in record numbers and decisively voted for a change in government.

The initial success of original Mosh video was driven by messaging and timing that connected with people in ‘our final hour’. It was this generation’s call to arms in the lead up to the fiercely competitive presidential election. But, even though the election’s outcome was beyond our reach we must not let it stop our momentum or undermine how we perceive the effectiveness of our collective voice. An alternative ending for the video provides the opportunity to remind all those who were inspired by the first version to not give up the fight. So if you are still searching for answers, know that our opinions still matter. We here at the GNN bunker have kept our chins up and heads down these past two weeks and have come back at you with a brand new ending. Our hope is that it will show our battered teammates and the rest of the world that we are not here to say sorry but instead, the fight continues and we will be heard.

You can watch the video here

Story and Video from Guerrilla News Network

What has happened to our country?

What has happened to our country?
The new Big Brother is watching you!

LOS ANGELES, November 9, 2004 - At 7:50 PM two armored tanks showed up at an anti-war protest in front of the federal building in Westwood. The tanks circled the block twice, the second time parking themselves in the street and directly in front of the area where most of the protesters were gathered. Enraged, some of the people attempted to block the tanks, but police quickly cleared the street. The people continued to protest the presence of the tanks, but about ten minutes the tanks drove off. It is unclear as to why the tanks were deployed to this location.

watch the video *here*

Welcome to Bush's America

Welcome to Bush's America - The place where performing a Bob Dylan song gets you a visit from the Secret Service. Who was it that hated our freedom?

School Talent Show Draws Secret Service

Colorado Band Singing Dylan Song Seen as Threatening

President Bush

BOULDER, Colo., Nov. 12, 2004 -Parents and students say they are outraged and offended by a proposed band name and song scheduled for a high school talent show in Boulder this evening, but members of the band, named Coalition of the Willing, said the whole thing is being blown out of proportion.

The students told ABC News affiliate KMGH-TV in Denver they are performing Bob Dylan's song "Masters of War" during the Boulder High School Talent Expos ébecause they are Dylan fans. They said they want to express their views and show off their musical abilities.

Threatening the president is a federal crime, so the Secret Service was called to the school to investigate. Students in the band said they're just singing the lyrics and not inciting anyone to do anything.

The 1963 song ends with the lyrics: "You might say that I'm young. You might
say I'm unlearned, but there's one thing I know, though I'm younger than
you, even Jesus would never forgive what you do .And I hope that you die and
your death'll come soon. I will follow your casket in the pale afternoon.
And I'll watch while you're lowered down to your deathbed. And I'll stand
o'er your grave 'til I'm sure that you're dead."

'We Were Just Singing' The students told KMGH they never threatened the president and never changed the lyrics to the song.

"It's just Bob Dylan's song. We were just singing Bob Dylan's song .If you think it has to do with Bush that's because you're drawing your own conclusions. We never conveyed that Bush was the person we were talking about," said Allysse Wojtanek-Watson, a singer for the band.

"She never said anything about killing Bush .It's crazy, it's chaos. We have nothing in there it says about killing Bush," band leader Forest Engstrom told KMGH. The principal of the school said he stands behind the students.



Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build all the bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks.

You that never done nothin'
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it's your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly.

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain.

You fasten all the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion'
As young people's blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud.

You've thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain't worth the blood
That runs in your veins.

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I'm young
You might say I'm unlearned
But there's one thing I know
Though I'm younger than you
That even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do.

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul.

And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand over your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead.

random fact

Why I've Created This Blog

I've created this blog mainly to dispense thoughts from my wonderful and beautiful mind. I am a United States Citizen .... and a strong and hardheaded liberal (very rare species in the U.S. now)... I have my own website which I hardly update because i am just too lazy... and after the election i have had to take a break from my website but i still need somewhere to stash my thoughts..... and that is how this blog came to be... so let the blogging begin!