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Sep 29, 2007 6:48 pm

Political Misdirection

Astute observers of the political scene recognized immediately that the Bush-led Republican attacks on MoveOn for its September 10 antiwar ad "General Petraeus or General Betray Us?" was an attempt to distract the public's attention from the president's and the party's failed stay-the-course policy in Iraq, as well as the smoke-and-mirrors charade of Bush having hidden behind Petraeus and Petraeus having cooperated in the charade under the guise of civilian supremacy. Mainstream and right-wing media pundits cooperated, of course, in condemning MoveOn, as did some spineless Democrats in the House and Senate who voted for Republican resolutions to censure MoveOn. (Unsurprisingly, the president and the Republican Party have been reluctant to criticize"The American Conservative" magazine for publishing a story about Petraeus in its October 8 issue by historian and war veteran Andrew J. Bacevich entitled "Sycophant Savior.")

But this episode is only one example of various forms of intentional or accidental misdirection: red herrings, smokescreens, bait-and-switch, bread and circuses, the trivialization of mainstream news, and so on. Willy nilly, the Iraq War crisis itself serves as a distraction from the failing war in Afghanistan and perhaps the real possibility that the Bush-Cheney administration will bring on a catastrophe even greater than that in Iraq by attacking Iran before the 2008 elections (see Scott Ritter's warning about this). Even the much touted threat of terror attack distracts us from greater looming catastrophes.

I'll just mention two: human-accelerated climate change (aka global warming—surely we all know about the reality of this process by now) and the gathering economic crisis. The United States is in debt to the rest of the world, with China holding a large part of that debt; the exchange rate for the U.S. dollar is down (even compared to the formerly maligned Canadian dollar!); the middle class is disappearing; the housing bubble has burst; the unproductive finance-capital sector of the economy is larger than others; etc. John Bogle, a capitalist himself, addressed these and other issues on the PBS TV program"Bill Moyers Journal" last night (September 28).

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