Does the USA Really Have Public Broadcasting?

pbs anchors
"Anchors," indeed!

One look at PBS or listen to NPR screams the answer.  There are corporate sponsors on which the “public” endeavors are made to rely.  These sponsors run ads in the “public” media they sponsor.  In a nation of immense class and race polarity, where illegal wars, the world’s highest incarceration rate, and mass unemployment never end, we get Antiques Road Show and Nightly Business Report and the stuffedest of stuffed shirts mimicking corporate TV news on the one and only “public” television network?

In any event, the obviousness doesn’t mean there aren’t reasons to analyze the beast’s behaviors.

Toward that end, take a look at this from FAIR.

ROFLMFAO of the Day

jessica sternThe New York Times today features a book review of Denial: A Memoir of Terror, by Jessica Stern, pictured at left, a faculty affiliate of the Belfer Center’s International Security Program and a Lecturer in Public Policy at the Kennedy School at Harvard University.

It isn’t directly related to big business marketing, but in this review, Ms. Stein utters one of the most remarkable lines I’ve read in a long time, a line that speaks volumes about the totalitarian, Big Brotherian nature of this society and its elite-training institutions.

After attributing terrorism against “us” to a string of psychological and cultural factors she apparently doesn’t connect to politics or history or the distribution of world power (such are the requirements of maintaining Harvard and NSC connections), here is Stern’s epic howler:

“Harvard is a humiliation factory, and yet we don’t produce a lot of terrorists.

OMFG. I mean, really? WOW! I almost fell out of my chair.  Seriously.

I won’t waste your electrons reciting the marathon list of torturers and war criminals trained and housed at Harvard. You can do that yourself with a bit of internetting.

But permit me two items, won’t you?

1) Neo-Harvard-Man poster-boy Barack Hussein Obama is presently commander-in-chief of two wars, both pointless, one patently illegal. He has substantially increased the rate of drone bombings and military assassinations in both these festivals of mass death.

2) From Wikipedia:

Henry Kissinger received his B.A. degree summa cum laude at Harvard College in 1950, where he studied under William Yandell Elliott. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees at Harvard University in 1952 and 1954, respectively. In 1952, while still at Harvard, he served as a consultant to the Director of the Psychological Strategy Board. His doctoral dissertation was titled “Peace, Legitimacy, and the Equilibrium (A Study of the Statesmanship of Castlereagh and Metternich).”

Kissinger remained at Harvard as a member of the faculty in the Department of Government and at the Center for International Affairs. He became Associate Director of the latter in 1957.

Kissinger played a key role in a secret bombing campaign in Cambodia to disrupt PAVN and Viet Cong units launching raids into South Vietnam from within Cambodia’s borders and resupplying their forces by using the Ho Chi Minh trail and other routes, as well as the 1970 Cambodian Incursion and subsequent widespread bombing of Cambodia. The bombing campaign contributed to the chaos of the Cambodian Civil War, which saw the forces of dictator Lon Nol unable to retain foreign support to combat the growing Khmer Rouge insurgency that would overthrow him in 1975.

The CIA provided education for the military officers directly involved in the coup against Allende,[33] and funding for the mass anti-government strikes in 1972 and 1973; during this period, Kissinger made several controversial statements regarding Chile’s government, stating that “the issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves” and “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go Communist due to the irresponsibility of its people.”

On September 11, 1973, Allende [was overthrown in a US-backed coup led by] Army Commander-in-Chief Augusto Pinochet, who [appointed himself] President. A document released by the CIA in 2000 titled “CIA Activities in Chile” revealed that the CIA actively supported the military junta after the overthrow of Allende and that it made many of Pinochet’s officers into paid contacts of the CIA or US military, even though many were known to be involved in notorious human rights abuses.

On September 16, 1973, five days after Pinochet had assumed power, the following exchange about the coup took place between Kissinger and President Nixon:

Nixon: Nothing new of any importance or is there?
Kissinger: Nothing of very great consequence. The Chilean thing is getting consolidated and of course the newspapers are bleeding because a pro-Communist government has been overthrown.
Nixon: Isn’t that something. Isn’t that something.
Kissinger: I mean instead of celebrating – in the Eisenhower period we would be heroes.
Nixon: Well we didn’t – as you know – our hand doesn’t show on this one though.
Kissinger: We didn’t do it. I mean we helped them.

Kissinger took a similar line as he had toward Chile when the Argentine military, led by Jorge Videla, toppled the democratic government of Isabel Perón in 1976 and consolidated power, launching brutal reprisals and “disappearances” against political opponents.

During the Angolan Civil War (1975–2002). Kissinger supported FNLA, led by Holden Roberto, and UNITA, led by Jonas Savimbi, the Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO) insurgencies, as well as the CIA-supported invasion of Angola by South African troops.

The Portuguese decolonization process brought US attention to the former Portuguese colony of East Timor, which lies within the Indonesian archipelago and declared its independence in 1975. Indonesian president Suharto was a strong US ally in Southeast Asia and began to mobilize the Indonesian army, preparing to annex the nascent state, which had become increasingly dominated by the popular leftist FRETILIN party. In December 1975, Suharto discussed the invasion plans during a meeting with Kissinger and President Ford in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta. Both Ford and Kissinger made clear that US relations with Indonesia would remain strong and that it would not object to the proposed annexation. US arms sales to Indonesia continued, and Suharto went ahead with the annexation plan.

In an April 3, 2008 interview by Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institution, Kissinger re-iterated that even though he supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq he thought that the Bush administration rested too much of the case for war on Saddam’s supposed weapons of mass destruction.

Insofar as it produces historic personages, Harvard produces almost nothing but terrorists.

Items from the Ad Age Annual

Advertising Age has just published its annual review of the basic size and scope of the advertising industry in the year 2009.  As always, it includes some (though certainly not full) information about the size and scope of big business marketing, the wider managerial discipline of which advertising is but a part.

Some key pieces of information from this December 28, 2009 issue:

→Ad Age labels the economic conditions of the past year or so “the worst recession of your life,” and pronounces that “it is over.”  (See cover at left.)

From being sick and watching lots of TV this past week, I can assure you that this “it is over” mantra is now de rigeuer in corporate communications.  We shall see whether that’s accurate, or a rather major case of whistling in the graveyard.

→”Ad spending in 2009 suffered its sharpest drop since the Great Depression: -12.9%.  This recession also marked the first time since the 1930s that U.S. ad spending declined for two consecutive years.”

For what it’s worth, much of this historic decline reflected what Ad Age calls “a freefall in local advertising” due mostly to the decline of automobile dealership advertising.  This speaks to the continuing centrality of the auto-industrial complex within the corporate capitalist order.

→2009 saw “the first decline [in the overall revenue of the Top 100 media corporations] since Ad Age began ranking media firms in 1981.”

This fact is very powerful evidence of the ever-increasing penetration of commercial image-projection within everyday life in the United States.  No wonder TV addiction continues to worsen, despite the appalling awfulness, narrowness, and fourth-rate derivateness of the vast majority of commercial-media content.  (Spongebob, “Squid on Strike,” being a major exception!)

→Overall, marketing continues to grow faster (and decline later and less) than its advertising sub-component.   Ad Age reports that, while ad agency revenues shrank by 9.7 percent in 2009, those of “marketing services” firms fell by only 2.4 percent.

→Jobs in ad agencies are subject to the usual corporate capitalist logic:  While ad agency revenues fell by 9.7 percent in 2009, ad agency employment shrank by 14%!

Can you say “Investors first, last, and always!”?

→In 2009, employment in “marketing consulting” and public relations was 202,200, while it was only 161,500 in advertising agencies.

Again, this confirms that marketing tends to grow faster than advertising, which itself tends to grow faster than the overall economy.

→For 2009, Ad Age estimates total U.S. advertising spending by the Top 100 advertisers was $102.6 billion.  That is more than two-thirds of total ad spending in the U.S., which Ad Age pegs at just under $150 billion.

A TCT Non-News Update

roflmfao And on Monday night, Democratic senators emerged from a tense 90-minute closed-door session and suggested that they were on the verge of bowing to Mr. Lieberman’s main demands: that they scrap a plan to let people buy into Medicare beginning at age 55, and scotch even a fallback version of a new government-run health insurance plan, or public option.

ROFLMAO x a million.  Bye, bye, liberalism.

Cultural Consequences


Since they lost the ability to appeal to racism, rightists have appealed to culture to explain why blatant unfairness isn’t really unfair.

Now, to be sure, the concept of culture they use is hardly different than the old racial saws: When you press a reactionary for his/her definition of “culture,” it turns out to be “the way people are,” i.e., the allegedly native, pre-social qualities of specific groups.

This, though, doesn’t mean that there isn’t a cultural dimension to human affairs. People do absorb sticky habits from extended collective experiences, and those habits can and do turn around and affect what people do next.

Thursday, the Pew Charitable Trust released a study that provides a paint-peeling proof of the real power of accumulated experience. In “Findings from a National Survey & Focus Groups on Economic Mobility,” Pew reported that, despite the times, ordinary people in the United States continue to mis-frame and mis-understand their chances for “economic mobility”:

Nearly eight in ten (79 percent) believe it is still possible for people to get ahead in the current economy. This remains true even among lower-income, less-educated and unemployed Americans. Such consensus is striking given that a near-unanimous 94 percent of Americans describe the current economic condition of the country negatively.

Americans remain optimistic about the future—a 72 percent majority believes their economic circumstances will be better in the next ten years. This optimism crosses party lines and demographic groups. African Americans are the most optimistic (85 percent) compared to whites and Hispanics (71 percent and 77 percent, respectively).

Seventy-four percent of Americans believe they have at least some control over their own economic situation, while only 43 percent think that other people are in control. By a 71 to 21 percent margin, Americans believe that personal attributes, like hard work and drive, are more important to economic mobility than external conditions, like the economy and economic circumstances growing up.

Personal attributes such as poor life choices and too much debt were the top explanations given for downward mobility.

Although previous research by the Economic Mobility Project has found considerable differences in economic mobility by race and gender, respondents ascribed relatively little importance to their impact on mobility (15 percent and 16 percent, respectively). Further, the Economic Mobility Project’s research found that there is a strong relationship between parents’ income and children’s adult income. However, coming from a wealthy family was among the least important factors that respondents cited (28 percent).

By a 71 to 21 percent margin, Americans believe it is more important to give people a fair chance to succeed than it is to reduce inequality in this country. Each demographic subgroup, including those at the lowest end of the economic spectrum, concurs with the majority on this issue.

It’s no surprise, of course, that this familiar ideological package still holds sway. After all, this is the core topic — the dynamics of class inside the domestic “homeland” — on which the commoners simply must remain addled, in this, the flagship nation of market totalitarianism, the most heavily indoctrinated, commercialism-and-TV-penetrated society in human history.

How many times, even in recent months, have you heard the basic facts about class?

The real sources of wealth?

The deep imperatives and limits of corporate capitalism?

Now compare those zeroes to the number of times you’ve experienced the “anything is possible in America” diversion?

It’s still no contest out there, folks…

More Than A Third of US Energy Spent on Transportation

carflip This chart from the 2009 Statistical Abstract of the United States shows that 28.6 percent of use happens in transportation.  That figure, of course, includes only the fuels we burn while operating our transportation equipment.

What about the energy it takes to manufacture and maintain both that equipment and the spaces and surfaces over which it gets operated?

That further energy burn has to be counted against transportation, too.  Undoubtedly, some serious chunk of the 31.8 percent of total annual energy use that gets spent in what remains of the U.S. industrial sector goes into making and servicing cars and roads.

Hence, it is very safe to say we are now spending well over a third of our total energy use — which is itself over a fifth of total world energy use, and double the per capita amount spent in all other OECD countries except Canada — on transportation alone.

And, of course, automobiles account for the lion’s share of that.

If this arrangement isn’t unsustainable, nothing is.