With 223 days left in his presidency, George W. Bush laid more flagstones along a path to war on Iran. There was the usual declaration that "all options are on the table" -- and, just as ominously, much talk of diplomacy. Three times on June 11, the Associated Press reports, Bush "called a diplomatic solution ‘my first choice,’ implying there are others. He said ‘we’ll give diplomacy a chance to work,’ meaning it might not." That’s how Bush talks when he’s grooving along in his Orwellian comfort zone, eager to order a military attack. "We seek peace," Bush said in [...]
Over the years, once in a great while, I’ve been surprised to cross paths with a journalist at a major TV outlet who actually seems willing and able to go outside the conventional boundaries of media discourse. That’s what happened one day in the fall of 2005 at the Boston headquarters of the CN8 television network, owned and operated by the corporate media giant Comcast. I showed up for an interview about my book "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death." My expectations weren’t very high. After all, I was setting foot in the studios [...]
In politics, as in so many other aspects of life, anger is a combustible fuel. Affirmed and titrated, it helps us move forward. Suppressed or self-indulged, it’s likely to blow up in our faces. With the race for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination coming to a close, there’s plenty of anger in the air. And the elements are distinctly flammable. As Bob Herbert wrote in the New York Times on June 3, "the Clinton and Obama partisans spent months fighting bitterly on the toxic terrain of misogyny, racism and religion." Herbert doesn’t spread the blame evenly. And, as an elected [...]
Gen. David Petraeus is the name. And if he didn’t exist, a media presence like him would have to be invented. Standing behind the general, of course, is a commander in chief whose highs and lows can be charted with press clippings. After mediocre reviews through most of 2001, he became the media’s genuine global-vision cowboy, guns about to blaze, atop the smoking ruins of the World Trade Center. Poll ratings spiked, and pundit accolades went into overdrive. Eight months into his presidency, George W. Bush was suddenly FDR without need of a wheelchair. He could read a Teleprompter adequately [...]
National Pentagon Radio?
While the Iraqi government continued its large-scale military assault in Basra, the NPR reporter’s voice from Iraq was unequivocal on the morning of March 27: "There is no doubt that this operation needed to happen." Such flat-out statements, uttered with journalistic tones and without attribution, are routine for the U.S. media establishment. In the "War Made Easy" documentary film, I put it this way: "If you’re pro-war, you’re objective. But if you’re anti-war, you’re biased. And often, a news anchor will get no flak at all for making statements that are supportive of a war and wouldn’t dream of making [...]
It’s kind of logical. In a pathological way. A country that devotes a vast array of resources to killing capabilities will steadily undermine its potential for healing. For social justice. For healthcare as a human right. Martin Luther King Jr. described the horrific trendline four decades ago: "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death." If a society keeps approaching spiritual death, it’s apt to arrive. Here’s an indicator: Nearly one in six Americans has no health insurance, and tens of millions of others [...]
Maybe it sounded good when politicians, pundits and online fundraisers talked about American deaths as though they were the deaths that mattered most. Maybe it sounded good to taunt the Bush administration as a bunch of screw-ups who didn’t know how to run a proper occupation. And maybe it sounded good to condemn Donald Rumsfeld and George Bush for ignoring predictions that several hundred thousand troops would be needed to effectively occupy Iraq after an invasion. But when a war based on lies is opposed because too many Americans are dying, the implication is that it can be made right [...]
The last time my mother was in a hospital, an essay by Thich Nhat Hanh moved in front of my eyes. "Our mother is the teacher who first teaches us love, the most important subject in life," he wrote. "Without my mother I could never have known how to love. Thanks to her I can love my neighbors. Thanks to her I can love all living beings."