The Null Device

Overhyped/underreported stories of 2002

A list of overhyped and underreported news stories for 2002. Overhyped are things like Iraq's weapons of mass destruction/speculative terrorist links; and the list of underreported stories is telling:
White House Propaganda:
Majority of Americans Are Not Fooled:
Revitalized U.S. and World Peace Movement:
Afghanistan: And if we're to instigate "regime change" and democracy in Iraq, how about looking at the country where we promised exactly the same thing only a year ago? Afghan democracy American-style has been a disaster, with a puppet regime in Kabul and new U.N. offices sucking up the foreign aid, while women suffer just as much and Afghanistan remains impoverished and terrorized by many of the same warlords, who are committing many of the same crimes that turned the wretched country into the killing fields during the Northern Alliance's first reign of terror. And those warlords are being funded with U.S. dollars, via the Pentagon, who's been paying them to hunt the Taliban. Oh, and it was a record harvest for poppies this year.
White House Power Grab: Occasional flurries, like Dick Cheney's noisy refusal to release information on who wrote his energy policy, made the news. But on endless fronts, this White House and its Congressional allies have reserved for themselves an unthinkable array of powers -- everything from keeping details of legislation secret until the last moment to imprisoning Americans without charges or counsel on nothing more than the President's say. A full list of the ways in which our unelected president is becoming emperor would be useful. We're still waiting.

(Meme of the day: Bush Jr. as the second Emperor of the United States, only 120 years late.)

Bush's Foxes, Our Henhouses: Turns out our emperor put a stop to the revolving door between corporate America and the White House -- by appointing people who never used the door, and never stopped working for the industries they came from. Particularly at the Undersecretary level, almost every conceivable segment of America's corporate economy now has a friend on the inside looking for ways to maximize its profits. Food safety, media ownership, land use, bankruptcy law, tort reform, pollution, tax law, anti-trust protection, and on, and on. Any one of these is a scandal. Three are a trend. Several dozen and you've got a looting spree of historic proportions.

(African-style kleptocracy, here we come. When it's over, will we be seeing money-laundering chain letters from the various former participants or their cronies?)

There are 11 comments on "Overhyped/underreported stories of 2002":

Posted by: mitch http:// Fri Jan 3 02:49:49 2003

I await the appearance (a few years from now, when the US Reich still hasn't materialized) of the definitive self-analysis by one of today's legions of Bush=CorporateHitler pundits, explaining exactly what was in their heads when they wrote all that stuff. Did they really believe that cutting taxes (i.e. government taking less!) is a "looting spree", that it's better for government and business to have a broadly adversarial relationship, that post-Taliban Afghanistan one year on is a "disaster", that Bush was not elected, that "nobody ... believes" Iraq to have resumed its WMD programs, that Iraq and Iran have never bought North Korean missiles or praised that country's anti-American stand, that the USA is going to use *its* arsenal to "wipe out life on Earth", that Bush environmental policy has anything to do with the Spanish oil spill, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera? Did they *actually* fear that a dictatorship was coming, or think that they were living in one? If not, what were the socio-psychological roo

Posted by: mitch http:// Fri Jan 3 02:50:54 2003

... ts of the hysteria?

Posted by: Ritchie Fri Jan 3 05:57:31 2003

I hope, Mitch, that you turn out to be right, although I'm reminded of a Simpsons episode in which the silver-haired news anchor Kent Brockman announces "this reporter promises to be a little more trusting and a little less vigilant in the future".

Posted by: acb Fri Jan 3 07:09:30 2003

Nice line of straw men, Mitch.

Posted by: mitch http:// Fri Jan 3 11:37:11 2003

I actually can't tell if you mean that those are my straw-men (i.e. I'm evading Parrish's real message) or that they are Parrish's (i.e. half his facts are wrong)!

Posted by: acb Fri Jan 3 14:12:35 2003

I mean yours. Let's see... the "US Reich" thing, other than falling foul of Godwin's Law, is an outrageous exaggeration of the article's position. And if you check, you'll find that Bush was not elected; the election was rigged by Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris, among others. (The way that unreliable voting machines were allocated to predominantly black electorates, the predominantly Jewish retirement community who ended up voting for Pat Buchanan because of the badly designed ballot paper, all the people falsely disqualified from voting because their names were too similar to those of convicted felons, etc.) There is no way that the 2000 US Presidential election can be said to have been fair.

As for wanting government and business to be in an "adversarial" relationship, surely that is not the only alternative to putting tobacco lobbyists in charge of the Health portfolio (i.e., Tommy Thompson), to name but one example. As for Afghanistan, it's a mess, where "anyone with a gun is the government", and not

Posted by: acb Fri Jan 3 14:13:03 2003

...As for Afghanistan, it's a mess, where "anyone with a gun is the government", and not the shining triumph of democracy it's made out to be.

You're an intelligent person, Mitch. Surely your faith in the Bush administration isn't so great as to occlude these disturbing facts.

Posted by: mitch http:// Sat Jan 4 11:55:06 2003

The Jews-for-Buchanan "butterfly ballot" was the responsibility of a Democrat. It was bad design, period. The main source of insinuations that Florida state officials had conspired to disenfranchise black voters seems to be a report widely trashed as partisan and factually unfounded (see for the criticisms). I don't know about these felon lists but I daresay that if you want to find out the facts, the place to start is with the USCCR report *and* the dissenting minority opinion.

Posted by: mitch http:// Sat Jan 4 12:02:44 2003

I think the "stolen election" myth is mostly founded on the recollection of the Supreme Court stopping a recount. The story of the legal struggle over whether recounts would occur is a turgid one, which to Democrat partisans looks like Republicans trying to hang onto their win regardless of the truth, but which to Republican partisans looks like Democrats angling for a "second chance" under advantageous circumstances (recount the counties where Gore lost, but not the ones where Bush lost).

Posted by: mitch http:// Sat Jan 4 12:30:20 2003

I happen to know a few details of what went on Florida because I became interested in all things Palm Beach County when studying the anthrax letters. That takes a few hours of digging around, and I can see it would take even longer to get an informed opinion about Tommy Thompson and Big Tobacco, or the governance of the new Afghanistan. Okay, Tommy Thompson is on the Philip Morris payroll. But do they have legitimate grievances against state-sponsored anti-smoking zealotry? Are they even getting their money's worth, or is he just pocketing the change and playing expedient politics, rather than being their faithful Man on the Inside? That's the sort of stuff I'd try to find out.

Posted by: mitch http:// Sat Jan 4 12:51:18 2003

My immediate problem is that a lot of the "disturbing facts" in circulation turn out to be non-facts. A month or two after September 11, Geov Parrish (who you linked to above) wrote a widely circulated article, "The Coming Apocalypse", on how millions of Afghan people were at risk of starving to death unless the USA immediately stopped bombing. Well, the bombing didn't stop, the millions didn't starve, and Parrish didn't examine why, at least nowhere that I can discover. He just moved on to fight the next good fight.

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