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Having just returned from Washington, DC, I was shocked by the insularity of the "inside the beltway" crowd that runs America today. I had been there from 1980 through 1995, and had seen an insularity then, but nothing like that of today. This insularity, and closed situation is complimented these days by armed troops, police and plain clothes operatives near every major landmark, barricades, street closings and the general gloom of a police state under siege. In fact, it reminded me more of a Third World country than the D.C. I lived in; also, a little like Tel Aviv or Jerusalem–with all the trappings of patriotism and power, guarded by security because the alleged democracy had failed.
At this time, I feel our democracy has failed and is going to go even further into the tank. As of today, all the bricks of the wall will be in place for total domination of the American public–and even, perhaps much of the world. I say the "world" because these news allowances for an oligopoly in media will allow Rupert "Faux News" Murdoch, control over all the satellite news and sports transmissions in the world with the other "major networks" getting the chance to gobble up all other competition that still exists in TV and radio. This will all be courtesy of the FCC, which is led by Michael Powell and two other very right wing commissioners who have tried to keep their work secret–though it was supposed to be open with major public hearings throughout the USA.
Today, the Bush controlled FCC is going to put the final brick in place for fascistic control of the American people. Up to now, it has been Bush, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and their war policies and their endless wars against "terrorism", with Ashcroft and his minions attacking civil and human rights unseen since the days of the Nazi’s in Germany, and now Michael Powell, the son of the servile Colin Powell, is handing unlimited media power to a small few who will continue supporting the Bush fascistic causes.
The sad thing about all of this is that at this point, Murdock, Clear Channel, Eisner, Faux, GM, CNN and the NY Times, the Washington Post are all on the same page–supporting everything and anything Bush does. Many felt the NY Times might continue to be a more objective paper; unfortunately, with the recent writings of Judith Miller and her scurrilous stories about WMD and other matters in the Middle East and Iraq, plus the stories that have come from Rick Bragg and Jayson Blair about the inside workings of the Times, it appears that it has gone the way of other former bastions of the Fourth Estate–into the same trash pit as the major TV and radio outlets. What is important is that most of the news is now controlled by a few–now even those few independent outposts are going to have a harder time surviving in the commercial realm because the FCC will allow the giants to gobble up more of the media outlets as of today’s ruling. Few realize that Murdoch already controls all but one major satellite information system–for the entire WORLD, not just for the U.S. And yet, this politicized FCC in the US, will affect the entire world with its decision today.
As it is, the American people have been put to sleep about the truth by the constant barrage of "stories" about Bush’s war on terrorism, so too will other nations suffer the same fate. The nightly, showing of pseudo-events by Bush or other "leaders", his speech to a group in St. Louis, his speech here or there, or Rumsfeld speaking here or there–not making policy, but using the speaking situations for photo ops, and the media pretending like it is really news and not just a furtherance of the Bush propaganda machine! Now, the sleeping masses, will believe in these falsehoods even more, and when they get bored with that there will always be another "major sporting" event to watch, a tournament of college or professional teams, or another X Man or sit com or reality TV show they just "can’t miss"–or another form of "must see" TV.
The publics will do this until they are so bored by the lack of quality they have come to expect, that they nod off and lumber off to bed so they can sleep before getting up in the morning to get into the traffic jam on the way to a job that is paying less and less and where the benefits (like insurance, leave time, etc.) are being cut on a daily basis as their real costs of living (taxes, insurance, utilities) are soaring, not just in America, but in th4 world.
But back to America itself. At this time, according to polls (which I question), Bush continues being hugely popular–even while people’s rights, salaries, jobs, sanity are being taken, inch by inch, moment by moment, with a totally weird Supreme Court allowing these abuses of rights, working conditions and all else to deteriorate. Of course, the Congress, both houses, are no better. They seem to be in another country. They have lost touch, whether by design or by carelessness, with the people they allegedly represent.
But another factor, which is even more pernicious, is that many of these alleged "people’s representatives" , who are primarily looking for re-election rather than helping their constituents, may be taken in by the media and these false polls, and thus follow and allow the Bush team to do what it wants because they falsely believe that the public loves what Bush and his team are doing.
So, as of today, though you will not notice it with a jolt, the news walls that wall in fortress America will be higher and harder to see over, to see outside for other news of and from the world. Also, in the world, the control of the satellite transmissions will shift according to the whims of the Murdoch team, with no international body to protest to.
We shall all be the poorer for these developments, but there will be little we can do about it unless we turn off our TV sets and radios–but most people can’t live in that vacuum because we’ve all been conditioned to have that hit of TV every night or day and to have that radio on in our cars as we wait in the traffic jams or even cross the country on interstates, or even with the news flashes furnished by NBC for aircraft as they ply the heavens.
As I said, we shall all be losers, not only in terms of media, but in terms of our humanity, our civil and human rights that will be even more controlled by a regime whose fascism has already been evident over the past two years. What the future may hold, only God and the devil know.
SAM HAMOD is an expert on world affairs, especially the Arab and Muslim worlds, former editor of THIRD WORLD NEWS (in Wash, DC), a former professor at Princeton University, former Director of The National Islamic Center of Washington, DC, an advisor to the US State Department and author of ISLAM IN THE WORLD TODAY. He is the editor of www.todaysalternativenews.com, and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org