“The reality is, what options do we have?”

gaza child

Poor, pitiful, helpless United States of America.  It really has no options in this latest terrible Israeli war crime, you see.  So says the sponsored alibi manufacturer, Aaron David Miller, in a New York Times article explaining the roots of Barack Obama’s endorsement of the ongoing Israeli re-enactment of the Nazi bombing of Guernica.  “The reality is, what options do we have?,” asks the “scholar” Miller.

Even in this market-totalitarian empire of untruths, you don’t often find more brazen deceptions than this.

See these tanks here?:

I’m no expert, but I’d wager very heavily they’re US-made M60s, given that the USA has gifted 700 of them to Israel.  The above photo is from today’s New York Times.  These M60s are lining up for an impending Israeli land invasion of Gaza.

And the warplanes dropping all those bombs and missiles, blowing up markets and schools?  F-16s, of which Israel has received 226, gratis.

The United States provides Israel with not just free military hardware, but also $3 billion a year in military aid money.  (Israel’s per capita GDP, by the way, is $23,578.)

“The reality is, what options do we have?”

With leadership like this, I’d say the answer is getting rather clearer every day…

Hank Paulson Plays Elmer Fudd

In big business marketing, they call selling the system (a.k.a. lobbying, a.k.a. ideological training of the public) “macro-marketing.” It’s a distinctly minor part of the overall corporate marketing juggernaut, yet an important one.

Sometimes, circumstances compel the politicians, those eager puppets of “the shadow cast on society by big business,” to perform the macro-marketing themselves, at no charge to the major corporations.

Witness, then, the latest thespian efforts of Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr., as reported in today’s edition of The New York Times:

“The needs of our economy require that our financial institutions not take this new capital to hoard it, but to deploy it,” Mr. Paulson said.

Capitalist wabbits everywhere are rolling on the floor laughing their asses off at this one. As if you lecture the heroin addict about how to spend the $100 bill after you hand over the cash! “I just hope you won’t buy drugs with that money I gave you last week…” As if capitalists would or even could put something other than their shareholders’ short-term profitability at the top of any agenda!

“He don’t know me vewy well, do he?”

Gaming the Greens

Here comes the next wave of the overclass’s assault on the public mind…

The Chevron Corporation, in partnership with the relentlessly dreadful British magazine The Economist, has promulgated “Energyville,” a cutesy online computer game that touts itself as

an interactive online game that challenges players to meet the energy needs of their own city. Energyville, developed using data and content provided by the Economist Intelligence Unit, The Economist Group’s research arm, examines the economic, environmental and security trade-offs and opportunities associated with different energy sources.

The “game” (it’s a game, indeed, but not the innocent type), wraps itself in the flag of education:

Energyville was designed to show the complexities and the tough choices that have to be made to meet the energy needs of a growing, modern city. Given the importance of energy in everyone’s lives, Energyville is an opportunity to stimulate and inform the debate and help create awareness around our energy choices.

Energyville represents an average industrialized global city of almost four million people. Population growth and energy demands, impacts and costs, are based on projected socio economic and energy usage data from the Economist Intelligence Unit and other organizations such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Energy Information Administration.

As players move through the game’s phases, they learn about the characteristics of the different energy sources and understand how different events affect their choices. The economical, environmental and security impacts of their chosen energy portfolio are calculated using an energy-management points system. Players can compare their scores with other players, challenge a friend and debate the results on www.willyoujoinus.com.

But there’s one very huge unmentioned catch: In Energyville, all “your” city’s sources of energy demand (as opposed to energy supply) are fixed by Chevron and The Economist! You have no choices about transportation or urban layout or housing density or any other kind of commodity production!

That, of course, is because corporate capitalism has zero capacity to withstand any substantial alteration in those all-important factors. Shrinking demand to save humanity and the planet would spell doom for our overclass. Ergo, no demand-side choices will be tolerated or even mentioned.

The extra scary part of this little propaganda “game” is that the green activist-intelligentsia seems to be naively gobbliing the candy and bounding right into the witch’s house.

We are in very deep trouble…

Empire of the Uninformed: Market Totalitarianism’s Real Basis

Under the dual assault of big business marketing and the pro-business psy-ops that have long passed for “politics” here, ordinary Americans are the most deeply, intensively propagandized people in human history.

The extremely long list of basic things we don’t know is mostly inscribed by the ever-expanding dominance of marketing-friendly televisual media and televisual mental habits over print media and print literacy skills.

But we also have our own very extensive “Black Book of Corporate Capitalism.” Unless we somehow overthrow our corporate overclass — which, despite the times, remains the richest and most powerful in human history — we will never get to see the full version of that book.

Nonetheless, if you keep your eyes peeled, every so often a page slips out.

One just has. For those disgusted by the huge gulf between reality and the continuing ability of the system’s overseers and mouthpieces to paint the United States as some exceptional angel of goodness, here’s the story:

AP IMPACT: At least 100,000 said executed by US’s Korean ally in 1950 summer of terror

CHARLES J. HANLEY and JAE-SOON CHANG

AP News May 18, 2008 12:17 EST

Grave by mass grave, South Korea is unearthing the skeletons and buried truths of a cold-blooded slaughter from early in the Korean War, when this nation’s U.S.-backed regime killed untold thousands of leftists and hapless peasants in a summer of terror in 1950.

With U.S. military officers sometimes present, and as North Korean invaders pushed down the peninsula, the southern army and police emptied South Korean prisons, lined up detainees and shot them in the head, dumping the bodies into hastily dug trenches. Others were thrown into abandoned mines or into the sea. Women and children were among those killed. Many victims never faced charges or trial.

The mass executions — intended to keep possible southern leftists from reinforcing the northerners — were carried out over mere weeks and were largely hidden from history for a half-century. They were “the most tragic and brutal chapter of the Korean War,” said historian Kim Dong-choon, a member of a 2-year-old government commission investigating the killings.

Hundreds of sets of remains have been uncovered so far, but researchers say they are only a tiny fraction of the deaths. The commission estimates at least 100,000 people were executed, in a South Korean population of 20 million.

That estimate is based on projections from local surveys and is “very conservative,” said Kim. The true toll may be twice that or more, he told The Associated Press.

Through the postwar decades of South Korean right-wing dictatorships, victims’ fearful families kept silent about that blood-soaked summer. American military reports of the South Korean slaughter were stamped “secret” and filed away in Washington. Communist accounts were dismissed as lies.

Only since the 1990s, and South Korea’s democratization, has the truth begun to seep out.

In 2002, a typhoon’s fury uncovered one mass grave. Another was found by a television news team that broke into a sealed mine. Further corroboration comes from a trickle of declassified U.S. military documents, including U.S. Army photographs of a mass killing outside this central South Korean city.

Now Kim’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has added government authority to the work of scattered researchers, family members and journalists trying to peel away the long-running cover-up. The commissioners have the help of a handful of remorseful old men.

“Even now, I feel guilty that I pulled the trigger,” said Lee Joon-young, 83, one of the executioners in a secluded valley near Daejeon in early July 1950.

Making Munichs for Marketers: The Limits of “Consumer” Activism

Remember the much-ballyhooed tobacco lawsuits of the 1990s, the ones that were supposed to cripple Big Tobacco and then slowly starve it of new smokers?

Guess what?

1. Since the end of the publicity blitz surrounding the lawsuits, the U.S. teen smoking rate, the key to the industry’s future domestic profits, has stopped falling, and stayed steady at a substantially high level.

2. The U.S.-based tobacco corporations are about finished restructuring themselves to shield their extremely profitable global operations from U.S.-based penalties.

This is what happens when “consumer” activists do what they normally do, which is struggle mightily to summon the courage to offer their opponents what Neville Chamberlain offered Hitler. Afraid of connecting the dots between the three c-words — class, capitalism, and “consumers” — the aspiring anti-powers-that-be invariably fail to acknowledge that the weeds they are trying to pluck have roots. As a result, they invariably yield mere appeasements, rather than adequate, lasting changes.

Consider the similar case of “consumer” activists’ efforts to draw corporate food marketers to meet them in Munich about eroding childhood nutrition. A couple years back, the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood threatened to sue the Kellogg Company over its unyielding peddling of a wide variety of marketing-friendly (high flavor, low nutrition) foods to the increasingly obese U.S. population of children.

The threat extracted a settlement.

Q: How much better has this settlement proven to be than Chamberlain’s famous piece of paper?

A: None.

The document itself begins by permitting Kellogg to promulgate extreme falsehoods about itself:

“We remain first and foremost committed,” its opening paragraph reads, “to meeting our consumers’ changing needs.”

This massive lie begs two questions:

1. If “consumer” needs are king, why is it necessary for “watchdogs” to police Kellogg’s behavior?

2. If putting “our consumers'” (note the possessive formulation) needs ahead of Kellogg investors’ interests were ever actually adopted as actual company policy, how many minutes it would take Kellogg shareholders to eject their derelict board of directors?

In reality, as any glance at kids’ TV will confirm, all the settlement did was tweak Kellogg’s advertising strategies slightly. Most often, they simply tack on some unrealistic pep-talk about “getting outside” for 15 minutes, as if that will either work or compensate for their shameful promotion of junk foods.

One other effect of the Kellogg/CSPI/CCFC settlement has been voluntary adoption of similar marketing “guidelines” by other corporations.

The meaningfulness of such progress can be gleaned from one of the products that Kraft Foods’ Post Cereal division now sells as part of its “Sensible Solutions” program. Here you go, health food enthusiasts:

Part of a “balanced” society? Go ask Adolf…

Here Comes RFID Spying…

The Washington State Legislature was the site this week of yet another major corporate victory. State Rep. Jeff Morris (D) had introduced HB 1031, which proposed to require businesses wishing to track people’s movements via the RFID (radio frequency identification) chips embedded in places like cell phones and store “loyalty” cards to first obtain “opt-in” permission.

Such RFID “skimming” — which is already being practiced, by the way — allows corporate marketers not only to track and time a person’s precise movements through retail (and other) environments, but also, via the data associated with RFID chips, to connect the knowledge of movements with large amounts of detailed, individually-identifiable demographic and financial information.

This kind of knowledge is immensely valuable in the big business marketing process, which is neither more nor less than the extension of Frederick Winslow Taylor’s “scientific management” principles into the effort to profitably control “consumer behavior.”

Well friends, guess what happened when Rep. Morris’ bill hit the floor in Olympia?

That’s right: The big boys came out to deliver their message. The bill passed, but, as passed, it only pertains to “skimming” by individual identity thieves. The new law “makes it a Class C felony [in Washington state] to intentionally scan another person’s identification remotely without his or her knowledge and consent, for the purpose of fraud, identity theft, or some other illegal purpose” — but leaves business skimming unregulated. The reason? Corporate capitalists got their way and had the bill’s proposed “opt-in” rule stripped out.

As reported by PR Web:

Images are conjured up of scenes from sci-fi movies like Minority Report. For instance, a shopper walking into a store could unknowingly transmit their identity and whereabouts via a membership card, while they pick out items and make their final purchases. That information then goes into a database for further analysis and targeted marketing schemes.

Morris admits it’s been an uphill battle to win even this small yet commonsense protection for consumers. After years of advocating for stronger protections, including an opt-in requirement for retailers to abide by that was included in the original version of Morris’ bill, corporate lobbyists have fought to kill it every step of the way. These business interests have remained steadfastly intent on allowing the spy chips to remain unregulated as they quickly move to embed them in any or all products imaginable.

Morris does not intend to give up the fight, however. “This is just one small step to stake out some boundaries around our individual consumer rights before it’s too late. The battle now that criminal acts are covered is deciding whether or not spying on consumers for marketing purposes without their consent is criminal.”

One bit of good news: Rep. Morris has agreed to do a short interview with me via the internet about all this. I’ll be posting his report here on TCT as soon as I get it.