“American policy making needs to be taken away from military planners and military-minded civilians, including those in the White House.” 1 Chalmers Johnson Professor Emeritus, U.C. San Diego author of Blowback
The term “blowback”, invented by the Central Intelligence Agency, is the "unintended consequences of covert operations." 2 The first use of the word appears in classified documents after the CIA overthrow of the Iranian government in 1953, whereupon, the United State put in place its puppet dictator, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. That covert operation was to become the blueprint for toppling governments in other parts of the world. 3
Meet The Press began airing on television on November 6, 1947. The program was an opportunity for members of the national press to ask questions of social and political leaders in a formal, professional question and answer setting. In 1984, Tim Russert, a northeastern, urban Catholic, went to work for NBC News, having spent his prior career as a political operative for United States Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and later for Governor Cuomo of New York. Russert got the NBC News job through friends of Moynihan. At the time, he was told that the pace of managing news was similar to issues he dealt with in Washington. NBC hired him for a management position. As an executive, with no prior management or journalism experience, he spent four years learning the business.1 Russert is a graduate of the Catholic college, John Carroll University, as well as a graduate of Cleveland-Marshall law school, though he has never practiced law.2 In 1991, NBC News president, Larry Grossman, asked Russert to compile a list of new hosts, because the host at the time, Garrick Utley, was leaving the program. Needless to say, Russert became host.3
Pity the theory which sets itself in opposition to the mind! It cannot repair this contradiction by any humility, and the humbler it is so much the sooner will ridicule and contempt drive it out of real life. Carl Von Clausewitz On War1
Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, had grand plans for his invasion of Iraq: there would be flowers adorned to the "liberators"; the war would be short, casualties few. Liberation, freedom and democracy would sprout like fields of daisies throughout the Middle East. It would all be like a World War II movie: America would save the day, the world would be a better, safer, freer place. Perhaps one of the main obstacles to the nostalgic movie ending was the fact that the United States military was conducting a war based on nineteenth century thinking. U.S. Military doctrine is based on the writings of a nineteenth century Prussian general, Carl Von Clausewitz. Clausewitz entered military service at the age of twelve (1792), and rose through ranks after receiving a military education in Berlin in 1803. He served on various command staff in both the Prussian and Russian armies during the Napoleonic wars. After his death in 1831, his nine volumes of writings on military matters were published, three of which were a treatise on war, titled, Vom Kriege (On War), published in 1832 by his wife.2
Bring 'em On: Dover AFB 2004. Acrylic on canvas, 48 x 60"
In July 2003, President Bush, when asked by a reporter about insurgents attacking U.S. military personnel in Iraq, said, "Bring them on." It was tough talk, boastful and self-confident, for a person thousands of miles from the danger; protected daily by armed security and bullet-proof vehicles. The President's response was an irresponsible invitation to confront American soldiers in a combat zone. How many have died?
White House Press Corps: The Eunuchs 2004. Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 48"
In Imperial China, there was a group of servants who played a major role in the royal palace, as personal attendants to the emperor and his court. They were the eunuchs; castrated men who were deemed non-threatening to the emperor's masculinity, intellect, and overall rule. The eunuchs promoted and nurtured the image of the ruler, often participating in the secrecy within the imperial walls. Because of their desire for favorable standing in the palace, as well as being dependant upon it for their very living, the eunuchs knew to be silent when they were witness to the ruler's personal weaknesses, corruption, or incompetence. A loyalty that could advance a eunuch's position within the emperor’s court and the eunuch ranks. Might this type of loyal service also be characteristic of the modern White House Press Corps? Has the press corps become an institution of eunuchs for the same reasons - career ambition, collegial acceptance, favorable treatment, and in the modern sense, celebrity? Is it not true that reporters jockey for good standing with the President and his entourage so as not to be left out of the "loop" for stories or "scoops"? And isn't it those very stories that help reporters become "rising stars" within their own ranks? To achieve their ambitious goals do reporters emphasize only the positive aspects of a story on their subject, so as not to offend the ruling household? Do reporters also "go along with the program" in support of the White House, to not alienate other reporters, to keep a harmonious atmosphere of loyalty and trustworthiness toward their subject, a supportive role, part of the camaraderie in the press corps? Isn't the goal of the ambitious reporter to have "exclusive" face-time with the President? To achieve that, does not that reporter have to show a type of loyalty to his subject, be accepted by the press secretary and the President? In 2003, perhaps as a reward to the television networks for their devotion to loyalty, the White House designed a set location for the broadcast reporters to stand before the cameras. It is a pleasant view of the White House in the background, where the reporters can recite, without question or skepticism, the stories that the household has provided. Is the White House Press Corps an independent source of truthful, accurate information or merely a collection of spokespersons for the White House – eunuchs within the palace walls?
Which Is The Real Obscenity? 2004. Acrylic on canvas, 30 x 48"
"We train young men to drop fire on people, but their commanders won't allow them to write fuck on their airplane because it's obscene." Colonel Kurtz Apocalypse Now
On January 28, 2004, the same day that David Kay was before a Senate panel to announce that there were no weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq, the Republican-dominated House of Representatives' Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications was holding hearings on obscenity, specifically concerned with an incident that occurred an entire year earlier, in January 2003.
At the Golden Globe Awards in 2003, broadcast on the television network NBC, Bono, a singer for the band U-2, upon receiving his award, said, excitedly, in the form of an adjective, "This is really, really [fucking] brilliant."*
House members were critical of the Federal Communications Commission because the network was not penalized for allowing the word to be broadcast.
The politicians were further "outraged" by a Super Bowl half-time show in January 2004 where a costume of the singer Janet Jackson malfunctioned, exposing her nipple-covered breast for mere seconds. At the time, Americans continued to be at war and were occupying the country of Iraq, knowing full well that the war was based on false and misleading information.
In February 2004, the NBA suspended basketball player Shaquille O'Neal for saying, in the form of an adjective, to describe the conduct of referees during a game, "They try to take over the [fucking] game." When told he was on television, O'Neal responded, out of frustration, with a meaningless intensive, "I don't give a [fuck]."**
In March 2004, humorist commentator Sandra Tsing Loh, who performed a three minute radio essay on Southern California public radio station KCRW, was fired by General Manager Ruth Seymour for saying, in the form of a verb, referring to her husband, "...so I guess I have to [fuck] him." However, the word was suppose to be replaced with an on-air bleep, but was not done so due to sound engineer error. Yet, the general manager, fearing FCC reprisal, fired the humorist without knowing the facts surrounding the incident, and later apologized and offered to reinstate Loh as a commentator. Loh declined the offer and sought a position elsewhere in the Southern California public radio market. ***
While American politicians and the Bush administration continue to obsess about obscenity, calling for more laws and regulations to sanction broadcasters and performers, hundreds of Americans and thousands of Iraqis have been killed in the Iraq war and occupation; a war that was orchestrated through false information.
* White House Backs Stiffer Fines for Indecent TV, Radio: The move comes as a House hearing criticizes broadcasters for coarsening the airwaves, Los Angeles Times, latimes.com, January 29, 2004 by Jube Shriver and Lynn Smith; House OKs Higher Fines for Indecency, Los Angeles Times, latimes.com, March 11, 2004 by Richard Simon.
** NBA Suspends O'Neal for On-Air Outburst, Los Angeles Times, latimes.com, February 2, 2004 by Daryl Strickland.
*** The Bleep That Never Was: Public radio is turning beige as it caves in under the stress of fearful times, Los Angeles Times, latimes.com, March 7, 2004 by Sandra Tsing Loh, Commentary; Loh Turns Down Offer to Return to KCRW: Station had apologized for firing humorist over unbleeped obscenity, Los Angeles Times, latimes.com, March 15, 2004 by Greg Braxton