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Elmo Will Not Save You

by RUSSELL MOKHIBER And ROBERT WEISSMAN

Just returned from a run around the
National Mall.

Party tents are going up.

Getting ready for the National
Book Festival on Saturday.

Hosted by the Library of Congress.

Sponsored by Target and AT&T.

And starring Laura Bush.

You will be seeing a lot of
Laura Bush in the next couple of days.

Talking with authors.

Reading.

Hanging out with kids.

It’s just a nice cover for
the killing.

We wanted to know more about
the National Book Festival.

So, we went to the Library
of Congress web site.

And we registered in the press
area.

And we got a call back from

Susie Schoenberger.

She’s not with the Library
of Congress.

She’s with the public relations
firm — Fleishman Hillard.

Since when is the Library of
Congress outsourcing press duties?

Anyway, we want to know —
whose paying for this?

How much is Target putting
up?

How much is AT&T?

Can’t answer that, Schoenberger
says.

You’ll have to speak with Sheryl
Cannady.

She’s with the Library of Congress.

So, we call Cannady.

And she sends us an e-mail
saying that the one-day National Book Festival costs $1.5 million.

But we can’t tell you who pays
for it.

Great.

In any event, you get the message.

The web site is the Library
of Congress.

But the book festival itself
is a corporate/Laura Bush affair.

And no doubt the 70 authors
who will appear at the book festival are wonderful people —
people like Kai Bird, Douglas Brinkley and Andrew Carroll —
and on the whole a book festival is a much better deal for the
country than a military festival.

But we also have little doubt
that the corporate funding — and Laura Bush’s presence — helped
define the types of authors who appear at the Festival.

Please don’t tell us that it’s
just about getting kids to read.

The question is not only reading
— but reading what?

So, this year there has been
a slew of books written about the war in Iraq and corporate power
and the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower
warned us against.

But the authors of these books
will not appear at the National Book Festival on the Mall sponsored
by Target and AT&T — and hosted by Mrs. Laura Bush.

Will Cindy Sheehan appear to
read from her new book — Peace
Mom
?

No.

Will Elizabeth Holtzman appear
to read from her new book — The
Impeachment of George W. Bush
?

No.

Will Thom Hartmann appear to
read from Screwed: The
Undeclared War Against the Middle Class
?

No.

Will Diane Wilson appear to
read from her new book — An
Unreasonable Woman?

No. (She’d probably be unreasonable
enough to confront our First Lady of Bloodshed.)

Will Edwin Black appear to
read from his new book — Internal
Combustion: How Corporations and Governments Addicted the World
to Oil and Derailed The Alternatives
?

No.

Will Dr. Helen Caldicott appear
to read from her new book — Nuclear
Power is Not the Answer
?

No.

Will Noam Chomsky appear to
read from his bestseller — Hegemony
or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Domination
?

No.

Will Amy and David Goodman
appear to read from their new book — Static:
Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and the People Who Fight
Back
?

No.

Will Jeff Goodell appear to
read from his new book Big
Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future
?

No.

Will David Callahan appear
to read from The
Moral Center: How We Can Reclaim Our Country from Die-Hard Extremists,
Rogue Corporations, Hollywood Hacks and Pretend Patriot
s?

No.

Will Gore Vidal appear to read
from Imperial
America: Reflections on the United States of Amnesia
?

No.

Will Stephen Kinzer appear
to read from his most recent book, Overthrow:
America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq
, or
from his previous classic — All
the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East
Terror
?

No.

Will David Cortright appear
to read from his masterful Gandhi
And Beyond: Nonviolence for an Age of Terrorism
?

No.

You get the idea.

The National Book Festival
is a public/private partnership — read — corporate controlled.

And therefore, none of these
authors will appear.

Laura Bush will appear with
kids and NBA players and community relations representatives
from Target.

She’ll spend time with the
Kevin Clash, an African-American man who is the voice of Elmo,
and who has written a book titled My Life As a Furry Red Monster.

Meanwhile, open today’s Washington
Post and go to pages A16 to A19.

See the faces of the fallen.

2,693 Americans dead in Iraq.

So far.

Hanging out with Elmo will
not absolve you, Mrs. Laura Bush.

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based
Corporate Crime
Reporter
.

Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based
Multinational
Monitor
, and co-director of Essential Action, a corporate
accountability group. They are co-authors of Corporate Predators:
The Hunt for MegaProfits and the Attack on Democracy (Monroe,
Maine: Common Courage Press; http://www.corporatepredators.org).

(c) Russell Mokhiber and Robert
Weissman

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CounterPunch Magazine

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