Monday, August 28, 2006

It's News to Me

It’s News to Me is Edward Kosner’s memoir of his career as editor at Newsweek, New York magazine, Esquire and New York Daily News.

I haven’t read the book, not now; I’m actually not familiar with Mr. Kosner or his works and I have yet to start leafing any of the three paperbacks gathering dust on the shelf, my wife’s present for my last birthday. But Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Peter Kann did and his review (of his colleague’s “memoir-episodes loosely stitched together”), which appeared on the Book section of the August 26-27, 2006 issue of Wall Street Journal, while not scathing is certainly unflattering. Why should I be blogging about it anyway?

I feel I should. I’m still being hung up, first twitched in Newsstand, on the Nicholas Lemann’s smug, if romanticist, wistfulness. While recommending realistic strategy (move to the Internet) to protect the endangered tribe (of “traditional” journalists) in the face of certain real challenges from some paradigmatic medium now called blogging, Lemann, the Dean of Columbia University’s School of Journalism, took the bully pulpit in the August 7 and 14, 2006 issue of New Yorker:
The quality of Internet journalism is bound to improve over time, especially if more of the virtues of traditional journalism migrate to the Internet. But, although the medium has great capabilities, especially the way it opens out and speeds up the discourse, it is not quite as different from what has gone before as its advocates are saying. (Underscoring mine)
Lemann’s lecture amounts to self-righteousness if vetted over against these journalistic vices observed by Kann:
Meanwhile, other problems go unaddressed (by Kosner). What of the mixing of news and entertainment into an unsavory content stew, the kind of fare that demeans real journalism? It is a trend that Mr. Kosner pushed along and exploited in at least his later magazine-editor incarnations. What of the mix of news and opinion, a recipe perfected at the news magazines by Kosner and other heirs of Henry Luce? What of pack journalism and the virus of political correctness, rampant across the media?
Kann goes on to question Kosner’s seeming forthrightness: he “fears that ‘fallibility and folly’ are a ‘deep in the bones of journalism’ and worries about the drift to “religious considerations and free-market theology.’”

The present-day indictment of American journalists by Peter Kann is not only a reminder of the yellow journalism practiced by America’s pioneering news sensationalists like William Hearst, and Joseph Pulitzer who endowed the Pulitzer Prize (today regarded as America’s highest honor in print journalism), it also parallels the castigation by Dante Ang of their Filipino counterparts:
They use their pens not to build, but to destroy – AC-DC (attack and collect, defend and collect), you call them. If there are terrorists in robes, there are also terrorists in the media. Both are scums of the earth. Both contribute in no small measure to the continuing instability and the worsening poverty in our country today.
Dante Ang, a laundrywoman’s son who obtained a degree in Journalism at age 59 is now the new owner of Manila Times, the crusading daily of the pre-martial law days that has yet to reclaim its stature. Mr. Ang is a political spinmeister known to have been in the paysheet of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the “Hello Garci” fame; he founded The Manila Times School of Journalism four years ago and the Dr. Jose P. Rizal Awards for Excellence.

Peter Kann, the award-winning foreign correspondent who rose from the ranks, is now the autocratic Chairman of Dow Jones & Co., which publishes the zealously rightwing Wall Street Journal (at least that’s how the editorial page of WSJ defines itself). Kann once incensed employees by seeking to cut benefits while augmenting his own and that of his wife, who is a senior vice president.

That’s News to Me.

But, says Slate: “It’s the sort of story that the Wall Street Journal would splash on its front page. But it wont, because this one is taking place at Dow Jones, which owns the Journal.”

Now this. On August 25, 2006, Nepomuceno A. Malaluan, economist, lawyer and trustee for Action for Economic Reforms reported on The Crisis of Income and Employment in the Philippines partly in reaction to the optimism of President Arrroyo’s SONA (State of the Nation Address) of 2005 and 2006. In 2005, Arroyo’s message: the Philippine economy is on the verge of take off; this year she claims she now has the funds to meet the government’s expenditure needs.

Malaluan’s analysis provides a different scenario: “The domestic problem in income and employment is of crisis proportions. Recognizing it is a crucial first step in addressing this crisis, similar to our experience with the fiscal crisis. The next step is to identify its root causes, and address them head on with emergency measures that are doable and can provide immediate and dramatic.”

Why is the banner about Charter change and not this crisis?

To begin with, the Malaluan study also finds that “as much as 52.5% of total market capitalization is controlled by the country’s top 10 families” whose lackadaisical competitiveness is at the heart of the crisis. Isn’t the same handful of families also in control of the media ownership in the Philippines today?

Now we know why the trapos (traditional politicians) as well as the Constitution get the beatings all the time. They don’t own newspapers and televisions.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

A matter of substance?

(Note: I posted earlier today the following comments in mlq3 but apparently his site has been inaccessible, so I have decided to repost it here.)

The official announcement of the House’s P-R Group (quoted in full by RG Cruz here) reads in part:
The House vote upheld Committee Report 1886 of the Justice Committee, chaired by Chairman Simeon Datumanong which declared the eighth of the series of impeachment complaints filed against the President as insufficient in substance.

x x x

Under Section 4, Rule III of the Rules of Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings of the House of Representatives of the Thirteenth Congress, Datumanong said the requirement of substance “is met if there is a recital of facts constituting the offense charged and determinative of the jurisdiction of the Committee.”

(Rep. Antonino) Roman, who earlier quoted some of Datumanong’s procedural references, said that “without a proper recitation of facts, how can the accused, the President, defend herself?”

x x x

“What is required are averments of ultimate facts which ensnare the respondent to the commission of the offense charged, not by mere inference, which is a conclusion, but by statements of actual acts of inculpatory participation,” (Rep. Edcel) Lagman said.
What I have learned from the best Remedial Law experts in the country is that the theory behind the “ultimate facts” requirement in civil action provides that the complaint shall contain a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the complainant is entitled to relief sought for. Likewise, the defendant in his answer shall state in short and plain language the defenses to the complaint.

However, in actual practice and from my years of experience as a trial lawyer in the Philippines, courts often depart from the strict observance of the ultimate facts requirement in the main pleadings and complaints are not killed (dismissed) on that ground specially where the statements of more than the ultimate facts in the complaint are intended to establish in advance what the complainant proposes to prove at the trial so that the defendant will be prepared to meet those allegation of facts.

In my last entry, I have cited two specific allegations in the impeachment complaint, as follows:

1) That President Arroyo “appointed Virgilio Garcillano as COMELEC Commissioner and interfered with and manipulated the official election duties of the latter to orchestrate and implement electoral fraud” and that “During the 2004 election period, [Arroyo] engaged in unlawful correspondence with Commissioner Garcillano . . . wherein she directed/countenanced/abetted the commission” of various “electoral frauds”;

2) That President Arroyo “has allowed, abetted and countenanced the assassination and summary executions of 690 political dissenters and 42 media practitioners, the involuntary disappearance of some 176 persons, the torture of 320 persons in the hands of government authorities.”

I dare say that only practicing Philippine lawyer not worth his title would claim that the above recital of facts violates the ultimate facts requirement in a pleading.

Can President Arroyo properly prepare to defend herself if the impeachment complaint only stated:

1) That President Arroyo “cheated during the 2004 presidential elections”; and
2) That President Arroyo “allowed extra-judicial killings”?

You be the judge.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Extra-judicial killing, LIVE

The Philippine Constitution prescribes certain modes to prepare an impeachment case. The preparation process is referred to as the impeachment proceedings. Basically, there are two modes provided.

The FIRST MODE is covered by paragraphs (1), (2) and (3) of Sec. 3 of Article XI which is somehow the equivalent of the preliminary investigation stage of a criminal prosecution in the Philippines (or the grand jury trial in the US) where the object is to reach the prosecutorial decision to charge or not to charge, what acts to charge, and whether a case can be won based on the verified complaint and certain evidentiary matters that might be gathered in support thereof.

The SECOND MODE of initiating impeachment proceedings is covered by paragraph (4), Sec. 3 of Article XI. All that is required under this mode is that the verified complaint or resolution of impeachment be filed by at least one-third of all the Members of the House; then the complaint or resolution shall constitute the Articles of Impeachment. This is rather an abbreviated procedure.

The first mode requires the determination of what could be the equivalent of “probable cause.” When the prosecutor is confident that the evidence at hand shows a convincing picture of the respondent’s guilt, then he has determined the existence of probable cause to file the necessary complaint in court.

Now, in the instant impeachment case, is there, for example, a probable cause of betrayal of public trust (the specific accusation: that President Arroyo “appointed Virgilio Garcillano as COMELEC Commissioner and interfered with and manipulated the official election duties of the latter to orchestrate and implement electoral fraud” and that “During the 2004 election period, [Arroyo] engaged in unlawful correspondence with Commissioner Garcillano . . . wherein she directed/countenanced/abetted the commission” of various “electoral frauds”) when at or about the “election period” Arroyo actually called Garciliano and then she subsequently admitted to such “lapse in judgment”? Or do the killing and torture of hundreds of civilians under the watch of the President as the nation’s chief law enforcer (the specific charge is that “she has allowed, abetted and countenanced the assassination and summary executions of 690 political dissenters and 42 media practitioners, the involuntary disappearance of some 176 persons, the torture of 320 persons in the hands of government authorities”) a probable cause of “a national failure of justice”? This is the stage of the proceeding the House is currently at and at which it is supposed to determine: Is President Arroyo probably guilty of the offenses enumerated in the complaint such as the two causes of action aforesaid?

The second mode dispenses with the quantum of probability required in the first mode to charge (impeach) a public official as the determination of probable cause (in the former) of the commission of an impeachable offense is presumed from the immediate attainment of the required number to charge. It is under this procedure Estrada has been indicted.

Just to reiterate, in an impeachment, the House serves as the prosecutor (the fiscal) and the Senate as the Impeachment Court with the Chief Justice of the SC as the non-voting presider when the President of the Philippines is on trial.

It is at the Senate trial that formal presentation, offer, objection and admission of evidence take place; and upon weighing the evidence admitted, the Senate, as the Impeachment Court, shall give the verdict of guilt or innocence of the impeached (charged) public official.

The House Rules on impeachment, it should be underscored, are supposed to be remedies intended “to effectively carry out the purposes” of the constitutional provisions. Needless to say, to use the House Rules for purposes of impeding the effective operation of the provisions of the constitution is to trifle with the rule of law.

Momentarily, the whole nation will be witness to another extra-judicial killing.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Done by color of justice

Just as the “Garci tapes” sufficiently constitute a prima facie case of the impeachable offense of betrayal of public trust on the part of President Arroyo that the House could only ignore at the expense of its constitutionally mandated checks and balances function, so do the homophobic harangues engaged in by former SC justice Isagani Cruz a sufficient case of civil right infringement that Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) could only take blithely (in apparent efforts of getting along to get along) at the expense of its avowal to be a “respected and influential Philippine media organization” and “a catalyst for social progress.”

If neither Arroyo nor Cruz is held accountable to their “lapse in judgment,” then trust by the voting public in the electoral process in the case of Arroyo or by the reading public in the PDI’s pursuit of the “highest standards in journalism” in the matter of Cruz is greatly imperiled.

In Arroyo’s case, there is a clear-cut remedy when a leading public official is charged with an impeachable offense. And when such remedy is short-circuited by the very agency constitutionally charged to enforce the same, the violated public has the fallback to activate its reserved power of removal of the recalcitrant representatives. This is one of One Voice’s goals, I recall.

It is not so, as in Cruz’ situation, when it comes to the agency we call the fourth estate. (The people as we know have accepted the agency of the media to keep an eye on the powers that be because they - the people - are too busy with other pursuits.) But readers do not vote, although they could exercise the so-called right or power of exit (as in a refusal to patronize a product). That would have been enough in a free market of ideas.

The rub is: media outlets like PDI are one-stop shopping centers for news, opinions, punditries and other forms of discourses (and also the place to look for jobs, prices of used cars or to advertise a business, post obituaries, etc.), and in the case of online editions, access to information is oftentimes free. Hence, the exercise of exit could be effectively rendered nugatory. This is where the commitment of media owners to the highest standards of journalism comes into play. Whenever called for under the premises, media outfits must be uncompromising and fastidious in policing their ranks of incompetents, hacks, charlatans, or purveyors of mendacities and prejudices. In clear cases of bigotry, the capital punishment of dismissal or retirement must be exercised by media employers with great dispatch if only to simplify the process of accountability.

Breaches of public trust range from the vulgar and crude to the scheming and insidious. For instance, Erap’s juetengate was easily graspable even by the uninitiated among us. But harder slogging has been needed to decipher the electoral fraud of the type GMA is accused of. As we are learning unlawful singling out of a designated group (specifically, “the vulgar members of the gay community”) could be committed while making it to look like what’s consummated is just a sharp critique of unseemly or indecorous behavior in the guise of free speech.

The history of bloodletting is well-documented as a result of the Great Yellow Peril peddled by out of control scaremongers. Today, stirrings against the green peril (as well as the Red Scare in the Philippine countryside) are costing so many lives in the name of the metaphoric War on Terror. Should PDI tolerate a former Supreme Court justice to self-indulge in his cultural blues and launch a crusade against the “invasion” of the pink peril in the Philippines despite acknowledging one “study made in Sweden in 2005 (showing) that homosexuals all over the world are to a large extent subjected to violence, insecurity, isolation and exclusion”?

My thesis: If Justice Cruz wrote his tirades before his appointment to the highest court of the land that would have been a reason for outright rejection; a judicial opinion of the same nature if given by him to resolve an actual case during his SC tenure should be a ground for impeachment; in other jurisdictions, Justice Cruz’ diatribes are prima facie hate crimes.

“It is the worst oppression,” according to Sir Edward Coke, “that is done by color of justice.”

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Oh by God!

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language has an interesting etymological explanation of a bigot:
Bigots may have more in common with God than one might think. Legend has it that Rollo, the first duke of Normandy, refused to kiss the foot of the French king Charles III, uttering the phrase bi got, his borrowing of the assumed Old English equivalent of our expression by God. Although this story is almost surely apocryphal, it is true that bigot was used by the French as a term of abuse for the Normans, but not in a religious sense. Later, however, the word, or very possibly a homonym, was used abusively in French for the Beguines, members of a Roman Catholic lay sisterhood. From the 15th century on Old French bigot meant “an excessively devoted or hypocritical person.” Bigot is first recorded in English in 1598 with the sense “a superstitious hypocrite.”
By Webster’s definition, a bigot is “a person who is utterly intolerant of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from his own.”

If a religious bigot is one who is so partial to his religion and intolerant of those who differ, what makes him different from a religious fundamentalist?

One fundamental Christian dogma for example is the inerrancy of the Scripture. Therefore, to the extent that science challenges the biblical account of creation, secular modernity poses a threat to Christian fundamentalism. Literal meaning of the Scriptural text sometimes struggles against common sense and science, and when strong religious beliefs discount plain rationality, bigotry can be said to come into play.

In at least two instances, St. Paul has touched on the issue of homosexuals. One was in his Letter to the Romans, and another in his Letter to the Corinthians, in both occasions to preach to the small communities of early Christians in those ancient places.

The New American Bible (NAB) version, a Roman Catholic translation, of Romans 1:26-27, reads:
Therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversion.
Whereas 1Corinthians 6:9-10 is translated by NAB in this way:
Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor practicing homosexuals nor thieves nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.
One may argue that Paul is preaching that homosexual acts are sinful. But many Christians today have interpreted Paul’s teachings and other biblical texts in such a way as, for example, to accord women their rightful personhood. Present-day Christians have also come to accept new meanings and understanding of individual rights and equality. And based on advances in science and technology that obviously were not available to the ancients, attempts are being made to place traditional beliefs in proper perspectives so as to avoid undue prejudices against the so-called third sex. Hence, Romans and Corinthians may accurately reflect traditional values of the old but shouldn’t continued oppression of women and gays be considered as un-Christian today as tyranny and slavery have now been?

Note should likewise be taken that the NAB translates arsenokoitai as “practicing homosexuals” not as “effeminate” as in the King James Version of Paul’s Letter. Such translation might imply that homosexual orientation per se is not a sin but being a sexual offender is.

NAB footnote explains further: “The Greek word translated as boy prostitutes designated catamites, i.e. boys or young men who were kept for purposes of prostitution, a practice not uncommon in the Greco-Roman world. The term translated ‘practicing homosexuals’ refers to adult males who indulged in homosexual practices with such boys.”

Bi got, being a homosexual is neither a crime nor a sin, to say the very least.

This is how I blogged when mlq3 had outed himself in his website to the astonishment of many:
His (voluntary) outing therefore, given the stature he has achieved - at least in our blogosphere (his famous initials and other journalistic and writing repertoire discounted) - has the effect of de-privatizing the problem of cultural bias against adopted children, former drug addicts and gays, of which he has confessed being all.

Following the revelation, the readers or admirers of Manolo have reacted so positively as to keep and acclaim him soundly as an authoritative “insider” in his chosen profession (political analysis, speech writing and propagating agitprops, among other passions or calling) and, in the process, elevate his minorities group as proper political subjects deserving of co-equal status with the “general population.” What in a nutshell I have heard from the reactions is the following: manhood, or womanhood, (without kindness, self-respect and compassion for others) is no longer a secure and strong self-identity.

x x x

Yet again, hasn’t the lack of purposeful, vigilant and holistic thinking chained up gay persons, reformed drug addicts or adopted children to the long-held norm of being cultural or moral negatives, the world over?
I was also thinking of Manolo and others similarly sitauted when I’ve tried to tackle what I thought were certain symbolisms in V for Vendetta:
The second symbolism that caught my fantasy is Evey Hammond [a fictional character in the movie and the novel]. She is the politics of the transformational process. Effectively she purges herself from a long-running denial (that she had been exposed to militancy early in life) to become liberated from her negative self concepts which are manifestations of previous hurts and deliberate conditioning. As in anarchism or libertarianism, the role of the individual in Evey has been given prominence in the change process. She is able to retrieve her own essential self as V, his moral ambiguity notwithstanding, was able to assert his being authentically (he said to Evey “I love you,” didn’t he) in a therapeutic relationship of sort. Together they realize the extension of the self to the interpersonal, relational and ultimately societal sphere.
Now, I’m not sure if Isagani Cruz, a retired justice of the Philippine Supreme Court, is a religious fundamentalist, but here’s the manner he treated homosexuals in his Philippine Daily Inquirer column of Aug. 12, 2006:
The change in the popular attitude toward homosexuals is not particular to the Philippines. It has become an international trend even in the so-called sophisticated regions with more liberal concepts than in our comparatively conservative society. Gay marriages have been legally recognized in a number of European countries and in some parts of the United States. Queer people -- that’s the sarcastic term for them -- have come out of the closet where before they carefully concealed their condition. The permissive belief now is that homosexuals belong to a separate third sex with equal rights as male and female persons instead of just an illicit in-between gender that is neither here nor there.
Justice Cruz does not only share the “permissive belief now” and the “popular attitude” toward homosexuals: to him, this “new sense of values . . . have rejected our religious people’s traditional ideas of propriety and morality on the pretext of being ‘modern’ and ‘broad-minded’” and that these religious traditions and ideas demand the identity of homosexuals be deemed as no more than “just an illicit in-between gender.” Already stretched but this level of discourse may still be tolerable at this point.

However, Cruz became utterly intolerant in religious terms when he went on accusing “an association of homos (of having) dirtied the beautiful tradition of the Santa Cruz de Mayo by parading their kind” and when he was dismayed as the public was not “outraged by the blasphemy.” And then he casually resorted to fear-mongering: “Now homosexuals are everywhere, coming at first in timorous and eventually alarming and audacious number” and “the schools are now fertile ground for the gay invasion.”

Cruz, who also professes to be a constitutionalist, was dangerously cruising on lynch-mode when he suggested “That pansy would have been mauled in the school where my five sons (all machos) studied during the ’70s when all the students were certifiably masculine.”

The coup de grâce to a civil discourse came upon a cheap and uncouth appeal to patriotism: “Be alert lest the Philippine flag be made of delicate lace and adorned with embroidered frills.”

My immediate reaction to Cruz in Ricky Carandag’s blogsite was possibly equally intolerant (but still not utterly, hopefully):
To discourage senile onanism of the sort that Mr. Justice Cruz has publicly indulged in, PDI should seriously consider retiring his Separate Opinion. It’s sounding more as it is - an “insipid mix of . . . diluted virtues.”

Shame on you, Isagani.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Ah, those America idols

Wall Street Journal derides Muslim “value system” by editorializing (Aug.3, 2006) about Hudood , under which, the editorial claims, Muslim women can be stoned for reporting her rape.

Meanwhile, America takes pleasure at the relentless public pillory of a powerful Hollywood icon (a fundamentalist Christian some say after producing The Passion of the Christ) for grousing under the influence (GUI): Fuck the Jews. Talk about disempowerment the modernized way.

Lest we forget, “Fuck the Draft” is a protected speech per Cohen v. California (1971).

Should one be willing to slaughter the innocents for Tony Blair’s jihad, the “global fight about global values”?

And a two-state solution? When President Truman got exasperated by the Zionist lobby in Washington during the creation of the state of Israel, he blurted out: “Jesus Christ couldn’t please them when he was here on earth, so how could one expect that I would have any luck?” He didn’t. Truman buckled to the dismay of the British whose project was a binational state. That was sixty years ago.

Didn’t you notice Israel literally went ballistic when Hamas was democratically elected? Well, it seems that a democracy is not a democracy if someone’s government is not pro-US. Ask Hugo Chavez. Or look what’s happening to Hezbollah after gaining some seats in the Lebanese parliament.

When will we be ever nice, respectful and humble with rest of the world if and when things don’t usually go our way? Or walk the talk of letting others go and be as best as they can be because that’s the value system we believe in as worth fighting for?

btw, the latest I heard is that Tony is learning some Cha-Cha steps from Arnold while in California. America you know loves “American Idol” (and what’s the new one about America’s favorite dancers?) . . . those obnoxious and cute Brits, I mean.

I’m off to go fishing this weekend. It’s emotionally draining watching those talking heads.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

'The other superpower'

Dan Gillerman is the Israel’s Ambassador to the UN who has made his account of the “Qana massacre” - in which an airstike by Israeli forces buried alive innocent civilians and children while they slept - this manner: “When you sleep with a missile sometimes you don’t wake up in the morning.” He was not blushing but stoic as he went on with his speech at the emergency session of the UN Security Council and made his case. “Those children may have been killed by Israeli fire, but they were the victims of Hezbollah.”

The day after, or on July 31, Mr. Gillerman appeared as guest at MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, a political talk show. As expected, the ambassador during the interview was very eloquent in defense of his country’s cause before a cheering crowd serving as a backdrop of Mathew’s show held that night outside New York’s Rockefeller Center.

But there was something amiss with the sets: the crowd was waving American flags and Israeli flags. For what? The close-up turned out the other small placard being wagged by the happily hooting New Yorkers was in the shape of the MSNBC peacock logo - sans the distinctive peacock colors. With the blue and white hues of the logo merrily juxtaposed with the red, white and blue US flag, America looks like wholeheartedly endorsing Gillerman’s agitprop.

The images through which we are exposed to perceive people and events around us affect the way we behave or make judgment.

For example, at the turn of the last century, the yellow journalism of Randolph Heart’s Journal and Joseph Pulitzer’s World exploited the Cuban crisis and inflamed public opinion by blaming the explosion of the US battleship Maine to “Spanish mine.” The gung-ho sensationalism led to the outbreak of the Spanish-American War. The untold agenda among corporate elites however was expansionism, which they thought would translate to overseas market.

Post-WW I, the mood was different: keep America out of future wars. A series of books about the so-called merchants of death were published and congressional investigations conducted about the activities and lobbying of Big Business for American intervention in the world war to protect banking and corporate interests in loans and weapon sales to England and France. The publications and inquiries descended the public mind. Thus, the initial response in America to developments leading to the Axis of Germany, Italy and Japan in the run-up to WW II was revulsion to yet another war. FDR, owing to anti-war sentiment, at first only urged negotiation to handle growing Hitlerism or did little against the Japanese aggression in China. Also, bowing to anti-Semitism, a joint bill in 1939 to admit on humanitarian grounds German refugees, mostly Jewish children, was opposed overwhelmingly by the Americans.

Only recently, during the last presidential election, the infamous “Swift boat” campaign ad may have changed the political behavior of some voters that affected the outcome of the closely contested election. Although quite sophisticated, the Bush propaganda may still be blatantly dirty compared to the subtlety of the mendacious images of the MSNBC logo. The images were insidiously intended to rouse public approval of the continued bombardment of Lebanon if not furtively to produce some pro-Israeli bias in America.

The art of the “power of suggestion” is continually being perfected. Were Chris Matthew, the cagey hardball-playing political pundit, and his adulating props even aware they were being used?

Award-winning novelist Arundhati Roy provides us some insight:
[I]t is almost axiomatic for thousands, possibly millions, of us that public opinion in “free market” democracies is manufactured just like any other mass market product - soap, switches, or sliced bread. We know that while, legally and constitutionally, speech may be free, the space in which that freedom can be exercised has been snatched from us and auctioned to the highest bidders.
Who are the highest bidders? Who controls the media? The public mind? Your guess is as good as mine. Google it.

What’s coming to light however is that the countervailing force to managed public opinion is the collective strength of people-powered opinion. Public outcry, not the combined force of state powers, has compelled the suspension of the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon for at least 48 hours. The lessons of the Vietnam War tell us that could be improved on.