"NOUN: A secret agreement between two or more parties for a fraudulent, illegal, or deceitful purpose."
Oh, good article by Bill Moyers on how the American media is acting together with Corporate America to hasten the end of democracy. And people wonder why I'm such a skeptic when it comes to democracy:
Our media institutions, deeply embedded in the power structures of society, are not providing the information that we need to make our democracy work. To put it another way, corporate media consolidation is a corrosive social force. It robs people of their voice in public affairs and pollutes the political culture. And it turns the debates about profound issues into a shouting match of polarized views promulgated by partisan apologists who trivialize democracy while refusing to speak the truth about how our country is being plundered.
Our dominant media are ultimately accountable only to corporate boards whose mission is not life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for the whole body of our republic, but the aggrandizement of corporate executives and shareholders.
These organizations’ self-styled mandate is not to hold public and private power accountable, but to aggregate their interlocking interests. Their reward is not to help fulfill the social compact embodied in the notion of “We, the people,” but to manufacture news and information as profitable consumer commodities.
Democracy without honest information creates the illusion of popular consent at the same time that it enhances the power of the state and the privileged interests that the state protects. And nothing characterizes corporate media today more than its disdain toward the fragile nature of modern life and its indifference toward the complex social debate required of a free and self-governing people.
[ . . . ]
The new owner of the Tribune Company, real estate mogul Sam Zell, recently toured his new property Los Angeles Times, telling employees in the newsroom that the challenge is this: How do we get somebody 126 years old to get it up? “Well,” said Zell, “I’m your Viagra.”
He told his journalists that he didn’t have an editorial agenda or a perspective about newspapers’ roles as civic institutions. “I’m a businessman,” he said. “All what matters in the end is the bottom line.”
The viagra analogy is so appropriate because obviously Zell is a dick.
The dominant media remains in denial about their role in passing on the government’s unverified claims as facts. That’s the great danger. It’s not simply that they dominate the story we tell ourselves publicly every day. It’s that they don’t allow other alternative competing narratives to emerge, against which the people could measure the veracity of all the claims.
[ . . . ]
Sadly, in many respects, the Fourth Estate has become the fifth column of democracy, colluding with the powers that be in a culture of deception that subverts the thing most necessary to freedom, and that is the truth.
To be fair, it's not only the worthless American media that colludes with "the powers that be"; the same happens in other countries, too, although I don't think it's reached the same level as it has in the good, old corporatist USA. I can think of any number of stories that should have been allowed "alternative competing naratives" in public, such as the Ralston conflict of interest, or Sibel Edmonds' story. But as Sibel Edmonds proved, when she offered to spill her guts to the media last October, there is serious collusion between the media, the corporate world, and that "official" source of information, the State.
In other news, Colombia screwed the International Red Cross (IRC) big time by authorizing one of their military intelligence teams to use the logo of the IRC in a military operation to rescue war criminals from the FARC. From CNN:
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe admitted Wednesday that the symbol of the neutral Red Cross organization was used in a hostage rescue mission that freed 15 people from leftist rebels two weeks ago.
Uribe made the admission after CNN reported on unpublished photographs and videos that clearly showed a man wearing a Red Cross bib. Wrongly using the Red Cross logo is prohibited by the Geneva Conventions.
The man was a member of the Colombian military intelligence team involved in the daring rescue, Uribe said in an address carried on national TV and radio.
[ . . . ]
Such a use of the Red Cross emblem could constitute a "war crime" under the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law and could endanger humanitarian workers in the future, according to international legal expert Mark Ellis, executive director of the International Bar Association.
Nice work, jackasses. Kiss your credibility goodbye, IRC. On the other hand, maybe the IRC deserves it in a karmic sort of way because it hasn't released the information it collected on the CIA's " highly coercive interrogation regime". Human rights lawyer Scott Horton, writing in Harper's, interviews Jane Mayer, author of The Dark Side, on the matter:
In a series of gripping articles, Jane Mayer has chronicled the Bush Administration’s grim and furtive dealings with torture and has exposed both the individuals within the administration who “made it happen” (a group that starts with Vice President Cheney and his chief of staff, David Addington), the team of psychologists who put together the palette of techniques, and the Fox television program “24,” which was developed to help sell it to the American public. In a new book, The Dark Side, Mayer puts together the major conclusions from her articles and fills in a number of important gaps. Most significantly, we learn the details on the torture techniques and the drama behind the fierce and lingering struggle within the administration over torture, and we learn that many within the administration recognized the potential criminal accountability they faced over these torture tactics and moved frantically to protect themselves from possible future prosecution. I put six questions to Jane Mayer on the subject of her book, The Dark Side.
The Torture Administration couldn't exist without the collusion of the criminal Democrats. Glenn Greenwald, constitutional lawyer and civil rights litigator, rips the Democrats, specifically Congress Creatures Nancy Pelosi, Jane Harman, and Jay Rockefeller for their complicity in torture.
As for the icing on the cake, let's note that the Imperial President now has the power to put anyone in the US into military detention. Do not pass "Go"; do not collect $200, from the NYTimes:
President Bush has the legal power to order the indefinite military detentions of civilians captured in the United States, the federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., ruled on Tuesday in a fractured 5-to-4 decision.
[ . . . ]
The decision was a victory for the Bush administration, which had maintained that a 2001 Congressional authorization to use military force after the Sept. 11 attacks granted the president the power to detain people living in the United States.
[ . . . ]
Jonathan L. Hafetz, a lawyer for Mr. Marri with the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, called the Fourth Circuit’s decision deeply disturbing.
“This decision means the president can pick up any person in the country — citizen or legal resident — and lock them up for years without the most basic safeguard in the Constitution, the right to a criminal trial,” Mr. Hafetz said.
Is anyone out there still deluded enough to think their vote in November will make any little bit of difference? Go on, take the blue pill. There's nothing to see here. Move along, move along.