An blog by a member of the Catholic peace movement, Pax Christi, to explore the nexus between contemplation and resistance. "The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Silence of the Lambs




We should seriously ask ourselves the question, "Why are Americans so passive in the face of massive economic violence perpetrated on themselves and their children?"

It appears to me to be the result of one of the most successful social conditioning campaigns in history. Whatever relates to commodities and productivity has become supremely real; whatever relates to political obligations has become supremely unreal. Social bodies such as governments have become simply targets for exploitation to which no loyalty or even elementary moral consideration is required. On the other hand, corporations can be permitted even the most invasive destruction of privacy because of the commodities they control.

Having given their loyalty to the corporate system, Americans become deeply conflicted at stories of corporate robbery. Since they usually share the same values as the corporations that have robbed them, they are often half-tempted to celebrate the successful heists, heists they themselves would have gladly participated in, despite what they tell themselves. The government and the values it represents have become an abstraction (inspiring or otherwise) to them, the representative of a power that is alien to their lives, while the values of the corporate world are ever present and pressing.

It is critical to understand the outside and inside of the crisis from their perspective. They see themselves as inside the corporate system, but view the government from the outside. They also see the “financial crisis” as a phenomena external to the system they are a part of. It is largely an abstraction to them, something that pundits talk about, but which doesn’t directly affect their world, even if they lose their job or house. This “externalizing” attitude applies to the crisis as a whole. Since they are actually an intimate part of the system and what they do is by definition the result of worthy motives, the crisis must be caused by abuses of the system which are external to the system’s normal operations. Therefore, the crisis is the result of a fortuitous combination of circumstances that threatens the smooth operation of the system, but is not part of the system itself.

Their ability to see this crisis as the inevitable result of the ordinary operation of profit system has been systematically deleted. This is one reason why the corporate media so easily runs diversionary maneuvers that distract attention from the primary theft – the robbery of trillions of dollars by those who caused the crisis. That robbery is an abstraction to most Americans, but when culprits are found to be receiving bonuses from the tax money, their outrage swells because the crime has become personal at that point. In other words, they have a strong affinity toward private profit, but public obligations have become unreal, which demonstrates why such crises are inevitable. The witnesses of the crime cannot see it as a crime because their attitudes have been shaped by the same causes as the crimes themselves.

So strongly have they internalized the profit system that they see the system as a victim in the same way as they feel their own victimization. The dominant analysis of the crisis as the fault of various malefactors - reckless speculators, greedy and overpaid executives, and the self-indulgent American consumer — allows the evil to be personalized and externalized at the same time. The cause is always external to the system itself, just as the system that they participate in is not part of the “financial crisis” which the system generated. The key theme of media coverage of the crisis is to reinforce its personal and subjective aspects, to focus microscopically on personal faults and moral failings so as to isolate causes away from the nature of the system itself. The mortgage crisis is explained as the result of unregulated personal greed, as if this evil could be separated from the nature of the profit system, which obviously depends on it as the primary motivating force behind all economic activity.

What we must see is that by internalizing the profit system so profoundly, Americans have no vantage point outside the system to criticize it without condemning themselves. Until they can face their own moral visage in the mirror, they will remain easily manipulated victims of their own victimization.

Friday, March 27, 2009

What They Won't Tell You




You won't hear the hate. You won't hear the weeping of the mothers. You will be smothered in "concern". But the Israelis will pay in their souls for what they have done to the people of Gaza. Watch them fall apart over the next few years, eaten from the inside out by what they have done, by the violation of their own soul, no other.

"Tell her, tell her about the army, tell her to be proud of the army. Tell her about the family of dead girls, tell her their names why not, tell her the whole world knows why shouldn’t she know? tell her there’s dead babies, did she see babies? tell her she’s got nothing to be ashamed of. Tell her they did it to themselves. Tell her they want their children killed to make people sorry for them, tell her I’m not sorry for them, tell her not to be sorry for them, tell her we’re the ones to be sorry for, tell her they can’t talk suffering to us. Tell her we’re the iron fist now, tell her it’s the fog of war, tell her we won’t stop killing them till we’re safe, tell her I laughed when I saw the dead policemen, tell her they’re animals living in rubble now, tell her I wouldn’t care if we wiped them out, the world would hate us is the only thing, tell her I don’t care if the world hates us, tell her we’re better haters, tell her we’re chosen people, tell her I look at one of their children covered in blood and what do I feel? tell her all I feel is happy it’s not her.

Don’t tell her that.

Tell her we love her.

Don’t frighten her."

- Seven Jewish Children, Caryl Churchill.

Obotomy




Obama's vision is timid and conventional and fails to challenge the ruling assumptions that have resulted in the current crisis.

"Aside of the immense injustice and irony of this, the main macroeconomic consequence of these bailouts then is that the upper crust will emerge from this crisis even richer relative to everybody else, and literally by extorting hard cash from everybody else." - comment on Paul Krugman's New York Times column "The Market Mystique", March 27, 2009.

The system is working normally. The fact that those who made themselves wealthy by exploiting unregulated holes in the system are now about to become much wealthier means that the system is doing what it was designed to do. An informed citizenry will not be able to influence Obama because he owes no loyalty to them. His election was financed directly by Wall Street and he is serving his masters well. Nothing is less important to Washington today than public opinion.

erplus is exactly correct that "the real scandal is that we are all being taxed in order to pay for the resurgence of a self-anointed neo-feudal upper crust" - that was the point of the banking crisis. Read Matt Taibbi's "The Big Takeover: How Wall Street Insiders are Using the Bailout to Stage a Revolution" if you want the inside story. Obama wants to return to the status quo before the financial crash which began two years. He and his team can't imagine that there may be something fundamentally wrong with what was happening two years ago.

We need to get over the illusion that citizen pressure counts for anything in Washington. We need to question the entire system and awaken the imagination that lies latent within us - to imagine another type of economic system altogether. What so many commentators on the crisis fail to recognize is that we are not "all in this together". There are some who are making a massive profit out of this crisis and we know exactly who they are. The rest of us will be taxed in various ways to pay for those profits and we know who we are. Warfare is being waged against us and we are too cowed to respond effectively. And that too means the system is operating according to plan.

"In the world of high finance, the rules are a little different. When you lose, the federal government steps in to cover your losses. You get to keep paying yourself a nice bonus, more in a year than most people will see in a lifetime of work. And you--along with colleagues who've changed job descriptions and now work for the government--get to plan the 'rescue' to your collective advantage." - Alan Maass,
"How the great AIG heist was pulled off"

The ruling elite see the present crisis as a prime opportunity to consolidate their wealth and the imaginationless Obama plays fiddle for them with gusto. Obama says we are all in this together, which means you get to plan your 'rescue' with the full endorsement of the Treasury. Not so fortunate those who have to work for a living.

"Now, the hedge funds are among the firms that AIG is preparing to pay off with money from the federal bailout. In other words, taxpayer dollars will end up in the pockets of financial speculators who bet on millions of homeowners' lives being ruined by a downturn in the housing market." - Alan Maass, "How the great AIG heist was pulled off"

Bet on ruin and you will be rewarded. Sorry, but Obama has the imagination of a gnat. His bailout will ensure the profits of the majors for decades to come.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Anger is not Enough




Is the president really trapped? Is popular anger even worth noticing?

Populist outrage can only be a force in American politics if it is possessed of a critique that cannot be easily undermined by the corporate media. In order words, popular outrage can only act as a force for change if it is informed outrage – anger that includes an alternative vision of how financial power could be organized and administered.

What we are currently experiencing is quite different. The media campaign over AIG bonuses is a classic diversionary maneuver. It focuses public anger on a tiny 165 million in bonuses while the 200 billion dollar transfer takes place without objection. After some ritual legislation, the outrage over bonuses will be vindicated and the massive transfer can take place unnoticed.

As Greider accurately portrays it, “many people have thrown off sullen passivity and are trying to reclaim their role as citizens.” Yet his very characterization betrays the progressive removal of that role from the citizenry over a period of many decades. Most have long since succumbed to a purely private vision of their role in society and have no model for the role of a public citizen. As David Michael Green put it recently, “Just as in Orwell's ‘1984’, the most powerful effect you can have on people is not by physically limiting their behavior, per se, but instead by getting them to limit themselves in terms of the concepts they are even capable of entertaining.” - David Michael Green, “Barack Obama and the Altar of Greed”, March 20, 2009.

Anger is not enough because anger can be quickly redirected toward new targets when it is convenient. Greider perpetuates the fantasy of citizen action in declarations such as “Timely intervention by the people could save the country from some truly bad ideas now circulating in Washington and on Wall Street.” But how, exactly, can the people intervene? Writing forceful letters to their congressional representatives? Do they even notice such campaigns anymore?

The Obama campaign is a perfect illustration of the realities of American democracy today. He was elected in one of most successful political advertising campaigns in recent memory, largely paid for with Wall Street money. To invoke Obama’s “independent base of support” as a possible counterweight to his Wall Street sponsorship is to confuse cause and effect. The advertising campaign had a deep understanding of the dissatisfaction of the public and used that to garner mass public support. The size of his “independent base of support” demonstrates outstanding marketing effectiveness. This doesn’t mean that those targeted by the campaign are not sincere in their admiration for Obama.

But unfortunately it does mean that they cannot act as a coherent political force. Obama understands this and his efforts are focused, as he says, on redirecting that anger: "I don't want to quell anger. People are right to be angry. I'm angry," he told reporters on Wednesday. Then he pivoted: "What I want us to do is channel our anger in a constructive way." This is precisely the role of the Democratic Party – to act as a lightning rod for those social forces that could push for fundamental social change and redirect them into safe channels where they can help prop up the current order.

Greider accurately characterizes the objective sought by the Obama administration: “Whatever the intentions, this ‘reform’ would effectively legitimize the existence of a corporate state. This concentrated power would be neither socialism nor capitalism, but a grotesque hybrid that combines the worst qualities of both systems. Government and politics would become even more responsive to big money, but also able to tamper intimately with private enterprise, picking winners and losers based on political loyalties, not on performance. Capitalism with its inherent tendency toward monopoly would have the means to monopolize democracy.” Obama’s actions indicate his true loyalties.

Mobilized citizens are indeed the answer, but who will do the mobilizing?

Informed Outrage

Is the president really trapped? Is popular anger even worth noticing?

Populist outrage can only be a force in American politics if it is possessed of a critique that cannot be easily undermined by the corporate media. In order words, popular outrage can only act as a force for change if it is informed outrage – anger that includes an alternative vision of how financial power could be organized and administered.

What we are currently experiencing is quite different. The media campaign over AIG bonuses is a classic diversionary maneuver. It focuses public anger on a tiny 165 million in bonuses while the 200 billion dollar transfer takes place without objection. After some ritual legislation, the outrage over bonuses will be vindicated and the massive transfer can take place unnoticed.

As Greider accurately portrays it, “many people have thrown off sullen passivity and are trying to reclaim their role as citizens.” Yet his very characterization betrays the progressive removal of that role from the citizenry over a period of many decades. Most have long since succumbed to a purely private vision of their role in society and have no model for the role of a public citizen. As David Michael Green put it recently, “Just as in Orwell's ‘1984’, the most powerful effect you can have on people is not by physically limiting their behavior, per se, but instead by getting them to limit themselves in terms of the concepts they are even capable of entertaining.” - David Michael Green, “Barack Obama and the Altar of Greed”, March 20, 2009.

Anger is not enough because anger can be quickly redirected toward new targets when it is convenient. Greider perpetuates the fantasy of citizen action in declarations such as “Timely intervention by the people could save the country from some truly bad ideas now circulating in Washington and on Wall Street.” But how, exactly, can the people intervene? Writing forceful letters to their congressional representatives? Do they even notice such campaigns anymore?

The Obama campaign is a perfect illustration of the realities of American democracy today. He was elected in one of most successful political advertising campaigns in recent memory, largely paid for with Wall Street money. To invoke Obama’s “independent base of support” as a possible counterweight to his Wall Street sponsorship is to confuse cause and effect. The advertising campaign had a deep understanding of the dissatisfaction of the public and used that to garner mass public support. The size of his “independent base of support” demonstrates outstanding marketing effectiveness. This doesn’t mean that those targeted by the campaign are not sincere in their admiration for Obama.

But unfortunately it does mean that they cannot act as a coherent political force. Obama understands this and his efforts are focused, as he says, on redirecting that anger: "I don't want to quell anger. People are right to be angry. I'm angry," he told reporters on Wednesday. Then he pivoted: "What I want us to do is channel our anger in a constructive way." This is precisely the role of the Democratic Party – to act as a lightning rod for those social forces that could push for fundamental social change and redirect them into safe channels where they can help prop up the current order.

Greider accurately characterizes the objective sought by the Obama administration: “Whatever the intentions, this ‘reform’ would effectively legitimize the existence of a corporate state. This concentrated power would be neither socialism nor capitalism, but a grotesque hybrid that combines the worst qualities of both systems. Government and politics would become even more responsive to big money, but also able to tamper intimately with private enterprise, picking winners and losers based on political loyalties, not on performance. Capitalism with its inherent tendency toward monopoly would have the means to monopolize democracy.” Obama’s actions indicate his true loyalties.

Mobilized citizens are indeed the answer, but who will do the mobilizing?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Cognitive Regulatory Capture




While some may think that that Obama is dumb as a bag of hammers for serving the interests of the Wall Street elite, there is another way of viewing the matter. In this view, Obama has his role to play and, frankly, he is playing it brilliantly.

One way to characterize Obama’s political decisions is this: “But if you're willing to risk the entirety of a potentially great presidency on making sure that a handful of already wealthy sociopaths who got rich destroying the global economy are not denied massive taxpayer-funded bonuses to keep them in jobs they've already completely mishandled, despite the fact that many of them took the money and left the job anyhow - if that's you, and you're the new president of the United States with a load of challenges and lots of public good will solidly behind you - well, then, you're dumber than a bag of hammers.” - David Michael Green, “Barack Obama and the Altar of Greed”, March 20, 2009.

The definition of stupidity depends on what the real goal is. If the goal of Barack Obama is to “fix the economy”, meaning to restore it to its previous state before the cascading effects of loss of trust in the subprime mortgage-based securities, then what he is doing makes perfect sense. He is pumping massive amounts of equity into the failed system in order to reinflate the bubble economy and thus restore it to its previous state. Bonuses make sense in this context because they are the primary motivating factors for those who created the bubble economy. He can only be considered stupid if his goal is truly to transform the current banking system. But nothing in his rhetoric or practice indicates that it is – his goal is preservation of the status quo, nothing more, nothing less.

Aiding corporate pirates is no sign of stupidity, but more like his assigned concept of operations. He was elected in one of most successful political advertising campaigns in recent memory, largely paid for with Wall Street money, precisely so that the transfer of wealth to the banking elite could take place under the covers of a pragmatic and moral administration. His popular credit is being spent wisely by Wall Street metrics. It is being used to cover the transfer of hundreds of billions of Treasury dollars from government programs into the coffers of hedge fund managers and investment bankers. So far Wall Street is extremely pleased with his efforts on their behalf – hardly evidence of stupidity.

David Michael Green assumes that eventually public outrage will undermine Obama’s efforts to ensure the smooth transfer of wealth to the ruling elite, but he is probably mistaken in this regard. The current “outrage” over AIG bonuses is a classic diversionary maneuver. It focuses public interest on a tiny 165 million in bonuses while the 200 billion dollar transfer takes place without objection. After some ritual legislation, the “outrage” over bonuses will be vindicated and the massive transfer can take place unnoticed.

To invoke Obama’s “independent base of support” as a possible counterweight to his Wall Street sponsorship is to confuse cause and effect. The advertising campaign had a deep understanding of the dissatisfaction of the public and used that to garner mass public support. The purpose of his campaign was to divert social unrest into safe channels that would not challenge Wall Street interests. The “independent base of support” is a measure of marketing effectiveness. It in no way represents an alternative to the Wall Street base, but is the result of the brilliant marketing made possible by that support.

Green is on target in his concept of “mind capture”: “Just as in Orwell's ‘1984’, the most powerful effect you can have on people is not by physically limiting their behavior, per se, but instead by getting them to limit themselves in terms of the concepts they are even capable of entertaining.” - David Michael Green, “Barack Obama and the Altar of Greed”, March 20, 2009.

Obama is no more capable of entertaining an alternative to the present financial system than a modern teenager can imagine reading a book for the sheer pleasure of the ideas to be found in it. Our creative notions have been catastrophically constrained and our politicians can no longer imagine a world not controlled by current financial powers. Obama has a decisive motivation to sell out those who voted for him – selling them out will motivate the stock market like nothing else.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Prison of Obama's Perception




Obama team decisions need to be placed in a broader context. They appear to have made decisions at the beginning of the crisis that have locked them into automatic behavior. Their first decision, perhaps implicit, was to commit to the banking system as it currently exists. They decided that there was no fundamental problem with investment banks, hedge funds, or the shadow banking system that has grown up in the past 8 years. Once this decision was made, their tactics follow inevitably. Since the system is fundamentally sound, problems must be due to technical factors that can be corrected through methods such as monetary policy. If these tactics aren't working, it can only be because they haven't been applied forcefully enough. The advisers Obama chose are incapable of perceiving the fundamental flaws of the system they are desperately attempting to prop up. Until they do, the hole will keep getting deeper.

What basis do we have for assuming that they are not owned by financial interests? All of their behavior so far indicates that their decisions are dictated by the desire to preserve the financial system as it has existed for the past 8 years. No break with Bush policy is detectable in that regard. So it seems to me that the burden of proof is on those who do not believe that the primary motivating factor of the Obama economic team is to preserve the financial interests of those whose speculations have resulted in the current crisis.

These tactics are of a piece with Obama's endorsement of the Bush war policy, as it was well put by the Wall Street Journal, "But more important than Mr. Obama's implicit repudiation of his own positions as a candidate (and the implicit vindication of Mr. Bush's position, to say nothing of John McCain's) is his decision to maintain a sizable U.S. military presence in Iraq -- in the range of 35,000 to 50,000 troops -- past the August 2010 'withdrawal' date. That 'transitional force' is roughly the size of the U.S. military presence in South Korea through the Cold War. And its mission, involving training of Iraqi forces, U.S. force protection and 'targeted counter terrorism missions,' largely describes what the U.S. is already doing in Iraq." - Obama's Bush Vindication, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 28, 2009

Blinded by ideology, the Obama administration can't see outside the economic and military terms of reference which have been bequeathed to them. The ruling elite needs to secure access to the energy resources of the Middle East and they intend to rely on military force. In addition, they wish to keep open a secondary energy access option in Afghanistan with regard to the upcoming pipeline which will snake its way to the Persian Gulf in case there is disruption by Iran of the Gulf of Hormuz. Those are the primary motivating factors in Obama's Mideast policy.

A pattern is emerging in Obama's definition of "change". To his administration, "change" apparently means redefinition of terms. As Anthony Arnove describe the Iraq withdrawal deception, "Obama calls the troops who will stay in Iraq through the end of 2011 'residual forces' and non-combat troops, but this is just doublespeak. Combat troops are simply being renamed non-combat troops through a verbal sleight of hand, but will certainly be able to use lethal force and will find themselves in combat situations." - Moved On from the Struggle, Anthony Arnove, March 20, 2009.

All of these deceptions flow from the fundamental decision to preserve the financial and military system as it existed at the time of Obama's election. Unless and until that system is challenged, all decisions will be calibrated according to the need to preserve that system, as Edward Liddy's testimony so forcefully declared. Those who doubt this analysis should listen carefully to Liddy's testimony on the Real News: http://therealnews.com/t/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=3435&updaterx=2009-03-20+06%3A35%3A56

The fundamental theme of the Obama administration is "preservation" - slavish continuity with the current financial and military system. They are clearly operating from a playbook that originated before the current financial meltdown. Their war policy is also operating from a similar playbook. Consider Jeremy Scahill's recent findings about the massive payments made to Blackwater mercenaries: "The Obama administration has paid the mercenary firm formerly known as Blackwater nearly $70 million to operate in Iraq and, according to The Washington Times, may keep the company on the payroll months past the official expiration of its Iraq contract in May" - President Obama, Why Did You Pay Blackwater $70 Million in February?, Alternet, March 17, 2009.

A good example of Obama's "change" is the change of mercenary corporations contracted to carry out the subjugation of the Iraqi people, "Earlier this week, The Washington Post reported that some of Blackwater's armed operatives may simply be rehired by two other US mercenary firms that are expected to take over Blackwater's work in Iraq under the Obama administration: Triple Canopy and DynCorp. Now, The Washington Times reports that the State Department has signed contracts with Blackwater that appear to extend the company's presence in Iraq at least until September 2009." - President Obama, Why Did You Pay Blackwater $70 Million in February?, Alternet, March 17, 2009.

Change we can believe in, indeed.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Power Consolidated



“The only way around this problem is to seize power from the elite, such that the people themselves become the power structure. The elite *as a class* must be destroyed.”

This is the goal toward which we must aim and short-term strategies must never lose focus on the ultimate aim. A number of forces are converging in the present crisis. David Harvey’s analysis of the bailout strategy highlights one element (from Is This Really the End of Neoliberalism? 3/14/2009 (http://www.counterpunch.org/harvey03132009.html): “…the banks are using the money not to lend to anybody but to buy other banks. They are consolidating their class power.”

In other words, the bailout is part of a new power consolidation by the ruling elite who understand that the current class division is insufficient to maintain their dominance in the face of ecological crisis and resource wars. Therefore, we explain the crisis as “a class event in which a certain structure of exploitation broke down and is about to be displaced by an even deeper structure of exploitation.” as David Harvey puts it.

The fact that bailout money is being redirected to troop buildups demonstrates that the elite is placing its faith in military force as the guarantee of continued dominance. The recent Gaza massacre in which new DIME weapons were tested on a captive population is indicative of the repression strategy likely to be pursued in case of civil unrest.

The Obama phenomena has managed to absorb and divert most of the progressive political forces that might have been able to work for fundamental change, as was Wall Street’s intention in promoting him. The “Obama strategy” has turned out to be a brilliant move so far. It has allowed them to cover the renewed centralization of their financial power through the transfer of Treasury funds to their coffers. This accomplishes two key purposes: 1) It weakens the financial power and capacity for independent action of the majority; 2) It allows them to consolidate bank ownership into a few major players.

I would also like to add an obligatory denunciation of conspiracy theories. They are counterproductive and unnecessary. The motivations behind this “conspiracy” are not hidden. They are summarized in a recent blog post on this blog: “It is very doubtful that the elite gather together in secret to plan world domination. It is simply the case that those who control political and economic power instinctively understand the best ways to continue their dominance and act on that understanding both individually and as a class. They are not “evil”, but are usually acting in good conscience, though with a conscience formed in a peculiar way. Their conscience is formed by their experiences of economic success, which they generalize into working tools for the formation of mass economic policy. They do not speculate on the roots or final ends of their policy, but they are certain that obedience to their policy will maintain their control and their success. And for them that is only goal worth achieving.”

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Empire Rebranded




"...we assume it to be a makeover, a brand alteration, an attempt precisely to +reduce+ pressure on the system to change." Precisely. The ruling elite knew that pressure from below would start to mount from many easily identifiable forces, so they turned to their staunch allies in such times. The role of the Democratic party in the U.S. has always been to act as a lightning rod for social discontent. Soaring rhetoric diverts dissident forces into safe channels where the potentially disruptive energy can be safely drained off. The rising energy of change becomes enervated through its redirection toward party structures that use it to prop up a failing system.

A recent posting on this blog helps clarify the issue: "The gushing enthusiasm over Obama has been manufactured in order to evoke the illusion of change. This illusion is extremely useful for many purposes, but primarily because it allows the same policies to be pursued with different apparent justifications. The masses by necessity live on hope. Nurturing this hope is a key factor in the continuing dominance of the command and control system of which Obama is now the visible symbol. Decent people will endure hardship as long as they believe that those at the top truly have their best interests at heart. Obama symbolizes the intelligence, compassion, and unruffled endurance that are required to realize this drama."

The troops will not be withdrawn from Iraq until the system consolidates its control - it's that simple. The urgency of controlling the resources in this region becomes more pressing by the day, so what is unpopular, particularly during the economic crisis will be relabeled. In the immortal words of Chomsky, "The basic principle, rarely violated, is that what conflicts with the requirements of power and privilege does not exist.”

Therefore the war in Iraq will soon cease to exist. Reporting will decline to a fraction of a percent of news coverage and Iraq will be forgotten. Rather than complain about the lies in the news media, I prefer to approach them in the way John Pilger suggests. If studied intently, their pronouncements are an excellent barometer of where elite sentiment is trending at the moment. In the case of Iraq, the trend is toward silent domination.