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June 20, 2009

Persian coral
On the Street in Tehran

There are tectonic plates shifting in the global balance of power. There is media manipulation, whether on the television, from the corporate press, from the tweets and videos and blogs. It all seems too well orchestrated, too programed to maximize Western viewer participation. The stories are toying with heartstrings, inspiring mass fomentation, to what end and for whom?

And yet she died in the street, an innocent. The horror, the horror.

Or did she? Given this day and age of digital manipulation, was her bloody expiration really a wagging of the tail of a dog? Could it be? It looks so real?

After 8 yrs of Bush and the Iraq War, I have no trust in any government, in any source of information anymore.

Today in Iraq 26 innocents were blown up by a suicide bomber, adding to the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of innocents slaughtered there, just like Marjan.

Where are the twitters, tweets and youtubes for those sweet souls? Why don’t Americans care anymore when the Iraqis and Afghanis civilians are killed?

Marjan, beautiful Persian Coral, your death becomes porn on CNN, your face pixillated. They’ve shown it twice as I’ve written this. Your death becomes a snuff film for a Multinational Corporate Power struggle.

She was only 16 years old. Her name was Neda. The voice.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. cometman permalink*
    June 20, 2009 7:59 pm

    Really beautiful post.

    So far I’ve only seen the 30 second clip of this with no context but I can’t help but be suspicious too. Reminds me of that picture from the Vietnam era of that little girl running down the street wailing – a very sympathetic and tragic figure. But that was a picture we weren’t supposed to see. This one is an image the media evidently wants everybody to see. And you must always ask the inconvenient and often impertinent question “Why?”. Why this one while at the same time the US Senate overwhelmingly passes legislation to block the release of photos and videos that show US soldiers committing atrocities? Why this one and never any photos of the slaughter in Iraq that resulted from our illegal invasion and occupation? Why this one and never an image of the Palestinians who are murdered by Israeli weapons bought with billions of dollars of US aid?

    I turned on CNN after reading your post to see if they were discussing this. I saw what passes for a news anchor encouraging everyone to become i-reporters and describing just how easy it is. Type a couple sentences and with the click of the mouse and you too could be making world news.

    But as always it’s the jester who shows that the king is walking around with the family jewels flapping in the breeze. Last week Jon Stewart showed a clip of one of the corporate media channels claiming that they wouldn’t normally do this type of reporting but they must report on this story using youtube clips and emails and tweets because they aren’t allowed near the action. He followed that up with clip after clip from recent weeks of the same corporate media using email snippets from anonymous people chiming in on all kinds of different stories, well before any of the events in Iran had happened.

    There is a long history of people using pseudonyms to get their opinions out and reporters using anonymous sources and it is one that should continue. However in the past that technique has been used to speak the truth to the powers that be and get out news that people weren’t supposed to see, from the pamphleteers of the Revolutionary era to the exposure of the Pentagon papers. Now it seems that the powerful are co-opting those techniques and have learned that they can produce “news” even more cheaply by putting some make up on a pretty face and having them read whatever they find on the internet over the air.

    How the events in Iran play out is anybody’s guess at this point. But my fear is that after all is said and done, the biggest story to come out of all this may be that the way news is reported has permanently changed, and that change may very well be for the worse.

    • Stemella permalink*
      June 20, 2009 10:40 pm

      Thank you and your comment is beautifully said, perfectly complimentary to what semi poetic trance I was in when I wrote this post earlier. We are definitely witnessing something transformative, perhaps not what the powers that be intend. As you say, it may be the media that is the biggest story and that would be a tragedy, because what they are doing and selling is pure myopia. They are now giving us only an ant’s eyes view without any context, veracity, or background. Without the bird’s eye view across geography, history and perspective the images and so called facts are ephemeral and useless. It is all part of the great dumbing down and it is all too sadly cost effective and intentional.

  2. cometman permalink*
    June 20, 2009 8:33 pm

    A good example of the corporate media not wanting to hear from those who speak the truth to power is the fact that the WAPO fired Dan Froomkin this week. He was very critical of the Bushies and has been just as critical of the Obama administration and now he’s put of a job.

    Glenn Greenwald has been all over this and you can read his posts about it here, here, and here. Here are a couple of excerpts.

    From the first link:

    One of the rarest commodities in the establishment media is someone who was a vehement critic of George Bush and who now, applying their principles consistently, has become a regular critic of Barack Obama — i.e., someone who criticizes Obama from what is perceived as “the Left” rather than for being a Terrorist-Loving Socialist Muslim. It just got a lot rarer, as The Washington Post — at least according to Politico’s Patrick Gavin — just fired columnist, long-time Bush critic and Obama watchdog (i.e., a real journalist) Dan Froomkin.

    What makes this firing so bizarre and worthy of inquiry is that, as Gavin notes, Froomkin was easily one of the most linked-to and cited Post columnists. At a time when newspapers are relying more and more on online traffic, the Post just fired the person who, in 2007, wrote 3 out of the top 10 most-trafficked columns. In publishing that data, Media Bistro used this headline: “The Post’s Most Popular Opinions (Read: Froomkin).” Isn’t that an odd person to choose to get rid of?

    And from the second which invokes another of the jesters:

    The Washington Post’s firing of Dan Froomkin reveals much about the modern establishment media. Froomkin was one of the very few journalists working for an establishment outlet who understood and practiced the function of journalism. That is why he had a history of tension with the Post. Froomkin is everything that a political journalist is supposed to be — and everything that most of them are not. That’s why he was an aberration — and, to them, an unpleasant one. Just look at the record.

    The first public controversy erupted when then-Post Political Editor John Harris — now, appropriately, the Editor-in-Chief of the consummately wretched Politico — demanded that the name of Froomkin’s column (“White House Briefing”) be changed because Froomkin was too liberal to be presented as a real reporter. The Post’s Ombudsman Deborah Howell defended that decision, noting that “Political reporters at The Post don’t like WPNI columnist Dan Froomkin’s ‘White House Briefing,’ which is highly opinionated and liberal.” She quoted Harris as saying that Froomkin’s column “dilutes our only asset — our credibility” and he “writes the kind of column ‘that we would never allow a White House reporter to write.'”

    Why was Froomkin deemed “liberal,” inappropriate and biased? Because he pointed out that the Bush administration’s claims were false and their policies radical — i.e., he wrote what was factually true. But that — writing what is factually true and pointing out false statements from those in political power — is the number one sin in establishment journalism. As David Gregory said, that’s not their role. In the Bush era, pointing out the lies of Bush officials was all that was necessary to be deemed a leftist. Stephen Colbert explained why: “reality has a well-known liberal bias.”

    Brad Friedman also has a good post about this:

    Ironically, folks like Howard Kurtz and Dana Milbank remain employed by WaPo in the meantime. So do unapologetic wingnut liars and tools such as Charles Krauthammer, William Kristol, George Will and a bevy of others. And in more irony, despite the paper’s purge of just about anyone who might have been described as “liberal” or “progressive” (and yes, Froomkin held Obama feet to the same fire he held Bush’s), the still-employed wingnuts will continue to label the hard-right charging WaPo as “the liberal media,” even as the editors and publishers of the paper run out of money, wonder what happened to them, and blame “the Internet” for their own failures in falling for the bait.

    • Stemella permalink*
      June 20, 2009 10:44 pm

      I’ll delve into these in the morning. I’d read about Froomkin’s firing but I’d be interested to read Greenwald’s take.

      By the way, Happy Fathers Day to you (your first?!!) and to any other Dad’s out there reading this. :)

    • Stemella permalink*
      June 21, 2009 8:46 am

      And this from an update Greenwand makes today:

      There are many reasons why establishment media discussions of our political conflicts are so incomplete, distorted, vapid and unsatisfying. But one significant reason is that one of the most important causes of our decayed political culture is a topic which is excluded almost completely from those discussions: namely, the central role the establishment media itself — with its uncritical and loyal subservience to political power — plays in enabling and protecting that decay.

      Bingo. They enable and protect the decay even as they all swirl down the toilet bowl together. It is irrational, but obviously profitable for a minority. What else could explain it?

  3. Stemella permalink*
    June 21, 2009 7:24 am

    Off with their heads!

    Tony Blair pushed Gordon Brown to hold Iraq war inquiry in private

    Tony Blair urged Gordon Brown to hold the independent inquiry into the Iraq war in secret because he feared that he would be subjected to a “show trial” if it were opened to the public, the Observer can reveal.

    The revelation that the former prime minister – who led Britain to war in March 2003 – had intervened will fuel the anger of MPs, peers, military leaders and former civil servants, who were appalled by Brown’s decision last week to order the investigation to be conducted behind closed doors.

    Blair, who resisted pressure for a full public inquiry while he was prime minister, appears to have taken a deliberate decision not to express his view in person to Brown because he feared it might leak out.

    Instead, messages on the issue were relayed through others to Sir Gus O’Donnell, the cabinet secretary, who conveyed them to the prime minister in the days leading up to the announcement of the inquiry last week.

    The poodle man fears a showtrial and seeks to squelch any sort of trial. Blair, the supposed liberal – really a neo-liberal, could easily be more the precursor to Squobama than even Clinton. So sauve, so well spoken, so well educated, and just as much of a snake when it came to taking a country to war on lies as the American version of BushCheney.

    I hope that inquiry is done openly and reveals plenty and does expose Blair’s crimes, shaming the American President and DOJ for keeping so many of its own secrets about the former Administration.

    • cometman permalink*
      June 21, 2009 9:16 pm

      They may try to do the inquiry in secret but it looks like there are some Brits who want to make sure what was done is brought to light. We’ve already seen the Downing Street memo and I just ran across this article from the Observer talking about another leaked memo from 2003.

      A confidential record of a meeting between President Bush and Tony Blair before the invasion of Iraq, outlining their intention to go to war without a second United Nations resolution, will be an explosive issue for the official inquiry into the UK’s role in toppling Saddam Hussein.

      The memo, written on 31 January 2003, almost two months before the invasion and seen by the Observer, confirms that as the two men became increasingly aware UN inspectors would fail to find weapons of mass destruction (WMD) they had to contemplate alternative scenarios that might trigger a second resolution legitimising military action.


      The five-page document, written by Blair’s foreign policy adviser, Sir David Manning, and copied to Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the UK ambassador to the UN, Jonathan Powell, Blair’s chief of staff, the chief of the defence staff, Admiral Lord Boyce, and the UK’s ambassador to Washington, Sir Christopher Meyer, outlines how Bush told Blair he had decided on a start date for the war.

      Paraphrasing Bush’s comments at the meeting, Manning, noted: “The start date for the military campaign was now pencilled in for 10 March. This was when the bombing would begin.”

      Last night an expert on international law who is familar with the memo’s contents said it provided vital evidence into the two men’s frames of mind as they considered the invasion and its aftermath and must be presented to the Chilcott inquiry established by Gordon Brown to examine the causes, conduct and consequences of the Iraq war.

      Looks like it’s going to be difficult to keep things secret. And at this point I’d really like to know why more investigations are necessary. It’s pretty clear to anyone who’s been paying attention who the architects of this fiasco were, that they were intent on going to war whether they could find any credible justification for it or not, and what the consequences of those decisions have been. These “investigations” we see called for on both sides of the pond are not meant to bring wrongdoing to light – we already know what’s been done and who ordered it – they are meant to whitewash everything and attempt to convince the credulous that really it was all just a big misunderstanding and nobody was really acting in bad faith or responsible for the atrocities that have occurred.

      It’s time to drop the charade and start rounding these sons of bitches up to answer for their all too evident crimes.

  4. cometman permalink*
    June 21, 2009 5:43 pm

    So I went out and got some new CDs today. Picked up the righteous buttrock Red Fang album which made me long for the days when coming home with a moshpit boot print across your piss drunk face meant you had a great night.

    Also grabbed the CD from Elizabeth and the Catapult which has the Taller Children song I linked to here before. She has a really beautiful voice and I liked the whole album much more than I thought I would. She also has a cover of the Leonard Cohen tune “Everybody Knows” on it which reminded me I’ve been meaning to pick up one of his albums for years now. Here’s the original from Cohen with some added political commentary:

    That reminded me of another Cohen song which is pretty timely right now.


    Not sure if Cohen is being ironic or what with that song but judging by this essay it isn’t just me.

    I also got one on a whim because I liked the name of the band – The Airborne Toxic Event. I’m thinking they must have taken the name ominous presence in Don Delillo’s book “White Noise”. Most of the songs are about boy/girl relationship crap but they do have some clever lyrics and the songs are pretty catchy. Here’s an acoustic version of one of the songs:

    • Stemella permalink*
      June 21, 2009 7:22 pm

      Excellent! I’m thinking I might have to get the Elizabeth and the Catapult CD too one of these days. I was really taken with their music and her voice, especially. I will have to pass on the buttrock though. I’m getting too old for that stuff. I’ve never known so many people enamored of bootprints on faces as I’ve met through these blogs. Weirdos! :)

      Those Leonard vids were great. Though I must say, watching the first one was a bit like reliving the last decade and was a reminder of all the wrongness. It will take decades more to correct all those mistakes if ever they are corrected, that is.

      Enjoy your tunes!

  5. cometman permalink*
    June 21, 2009 9:26 pm

    Speaking of whitewashes which attempt to claim that nobody was really responsible for anything, here’s a great article from Wiliam Greider at The Nation ripping into to Squobama’s plans for financial reform.

    The most disturbing thing about Barack Obama’s call for financial reform was the way in which the president falsified our predicament. He tried to make it sound as though everyone was implicated in the financial breakdown and therefore no one was really to blame. “A culture of irresponsibility took root from Wall Street to Washington to Main Street,” Obama explained. “And a regulatory system basically crafted in the wake of a 20th century economic crisis–the Great Depression–was overwhelmed by the speed, scope and sophistication of a 21st century global economy.”

    That is not what happened, to put it charitably. Unlike some other presidents, Obama is much too intelligent not to know this. The regulatory system was not overwhelmed by historic forces. It was systematically gutted and dismantled by the government in Washington at the behest of the banking interests. If Obama wants details, he can consult his economic advisors–Summers-Geithner–who participated directly as accomplices in unwinding the prudential rules and regulations. Cheers were led by the Federal Reserve with heavy lifting by both political parties.

    The president’s benign version of events reminds me of what compliant politicians and opinion leaders said after the war in Iraq they had endorsed turned disastrous. “Hey, we were all fooled.” If Obama were to tell the truth now about what went wrong in the financial system, he would face a far larger political problem trying to clean up the mess. Instead, he has opted for smooth talk and some fuzzy reforms that effectively evade the nasty complexities of our situation. He might get away with this in the short run. Congress doesn’t much want to face the music either. But Obama’s so-called reform is literally “kicking the can down the road,” as he likes to say about other problems. In the long run, it will haunt the country because it fails to confront the true nature of the disorders.


    Outrage is good. As someone who has been around this subject for three decades, I came to understand that the power of financial titans and their friends at the Fed depends crucially on public ignorance. Most elected representatives and senators are just as clueless as their constituents. This is not entirely their fault. The system is designed to encourage deference to murky power. In our present crisis, people and politicians are naturally bewildered by the complexities. If they knew more about how the system works, they might be able to see that most of Obama’s reforms are insubstantial gestures, not actual remedies.

    He goes on to mention that about the only bright spot is the possibility that Elizabeth Warren might be put in some position of authority, but since she has been a harsh critic of the financial fraudsters and would likely start kicking ass and taking names, she is someone the bankers would fight tooth and nail against.

  6. cometman permalink*
    June 22, 2009 8:06 am

    Lots of links and videos on the situation in Iran at this Rawstory post including this weirdness – a letter from Mousavi to Obama taking him to task for some of his statements posted at neocon asshole Michael Ledeen’s site.

  7. cometman permalink*
    June 22, 2009 8:14 am

    Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. GoldmanSux set to pay record bonuses this year according to the Guardian:

    Staff at Goldman Sachs staff can look forward to the biggest bonus payouts in the firm’s 140-year history after a spectacular first half of the year, sparking concern that the big investment banks which survived the credit crunch will derail financial regulation reforms.

    A lack of competition and a surge in revenues from trading foreign currency, bonds and fixed-income products has sent profits at Goldman Sachs soaring, according to insiders at the firm.

    Of course that lack of competition is directly related to the fact that the Goldies were calling the shots on who got bailed out and who didn’t and they allowed their competition to go under while funneling cash to themselves. But they propped up AIG which then paid off billions in what where basically gambling debts back to Goldman which if not repaid, may have well sunk Goldman too. IIRC correctly it was reported months ago that Goldman had around $20 fucking billion in exposure to AIG.

    I can’t think of any punishment to severe for these assholes at this point. Draw and quarter them and feed ’em to to the dogs.

  8. cometman permalink*
    June 22, 2009 8:48 am

    Michael Hudson talks: Obama’s (Latest) Surrender to Wall Street – How the Financial Reform Plan Protects the Status Quo .

    Will anybody listen?

    • Stemella permalink*
      June 22, 2009 5:57 pm

      I read somewhere recently a comparison between Squobama and Gorbachev, that he was simply here to play usher to the soft landing of the end of our Empire. More often than not, I can see that comparison as valid, and it explains nicely if not accurately why the jerk won’t enact any fundamental change.

      The one most telling to me is 2. Failure to give meaningful teeth to fraud reduction. Without repairing damage from past fraud and preventing as much as possible future fraud, the banksters and pirates still roam free to steal.

      I figure as long as Canetoad is around, Warren will always be third fiddle. Summers doesn’t care for women with any authority.

  9. cometman permalink*
    June 22, 2009 9:08 am

    Chris Hedges breathes more fire on the US role in Iran and the Middle East.

    The fundamental problem in the Middle East is not a degenerate and corrupt Islam. The fundamental problem is a degenerate and corrupt Christendom. We have not brought freedom and democracy and enlightenment to the Muslim world. We have brought the opposite. We have used the iron fist of the American military to implant our oil companies in Iraq, occupy Afghanistan and ensure that the region is submissive and cowed. We have supported a government in Israel that has carried out egregious war crimes in Lebanon and Gaza and is daily stealing ever greater portions of Palestinian land. We have established a network of military bases, some the size of small cities, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Kuwait, and we have secured basing rights in the Gulf states of Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. We have expanded our military operations to Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Egypt, Algeria and Yemen. And no one naively believes, except perhaps us, that we have any intention of leaving.

    We are the biggest problem in the Middle East. We have through our cruelty and violence created and legitimized the Mahmoud Ahmadinejads and the Osama bin Ladens. The longer we lurch around the region dropping iron fragmentation bombs and seizing Muslim land the more these monsters, reflections of our own distorted image, will proliferate. The theologian Reinhold Niebuhr wrote that “the most significant moral characteristic of a nation is its hypocrisy.” But our hypocrisy no longer fools anyone but ourselves. It will ensure our imperial and economic collapse.

    • Stemella permalink*
      June 22, 2009 5:49 pm

      Great article. He has the long view of our role there in the region, a view that must not be forgotten with all the narrow views provided by twittering. I suppose the next phase is the Strikes, which hopefully will have a strong effect on the mullahs with a reduction of violence in the streets.

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