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Fog Facts : Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin (Nation Books) Hardcover – August 31, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Beinhart scored satirical points last fall with his novel The Librarian, about an archivist whose talent for digging up damaging truths frightens a vast right-wing conspiracy with more than a passing resemblance to the current administration. The novel introduced the concept of the "fog fact": published information that remains unnoticed by the public. This slim volume promises to gather various fog facts about George W. Bush's presidency, but offers much more opinion than fact—specifically, amazement that reporting on subjects like the allegations that Bush pulled strings to avoid going to Vietnam or committed insider trading while his father was president didn't cost him either the 2000 or 2004 election. Beinhart sees the media's failure to call more prominent attention to political lies as the source of many Americans' "delusional" worldview, which he says led to war in Iraq. But his explanation of the "Soft Machine"—the media-industrial complex he says distorts our perception of reality and is the "enforcement arm of capitalism"—asserts rather than explains. Beinhart's freely associative tract could have used a more nuanced argument and suffers from digressions, like a lengthy exegesis on Horatio Alger's pedophilia, that, however entertaining, stick out awkwardly in a discussion of Dick Cheney's finances.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Top Customer Reviews
He casts a critical eye at the M.O. of the Bush administration.
Bushenomics is one of the topics. Bushenomics= taking tax dollars and giving it to the rich. Remind anyone else of the Bush plan to bail out Wall Street last week?
He examines the work of White House attorneys like John Yoo and Alberto Gonzalez who accomplished the feat of creating two classes of people: those beneath the law and those above the law. Of course George W. Bush is in the last category.
Larry Beinhart delved into Bush's business history as well as Cheney's less than stellar record at Halliburton.
I found Cheney's draft deferment record more than a little interesting!
There are two quotes that I thought really stood out in "Fog Facts":
On Page 30 "What if someday, somebody who was not a neoconservative Republican loyalist stumbled into a position of authority at the Justice Department and begin to prosecute people under section 18 of the United States Code 2441, the War Crimes Act?"
An intriguing idea that I'm sure would receive wide support!
The other is the "Random Stupididity Theory"
"The most brilliant person in the world will make a stupid decision occasionally. If that person is in charge of the entire economy, then the whole economy goes in a stupid direction. If that person has stupid subordinates, and they follow his directions stupidly, then the economy will go wrong too."
I found "Fog Facts" to be a quick and entertaining read.
"Fog Facts" stands in the tradition of Noam Chomsky's poignant analyses "Necessary Illusions" and "Manufacturing Consent" as it shows by example how large scale indoctrination and the selling of obviously wrong, irrational and detrimental policies can succeed in a democratic society with a nominally free media system.
As a slow reader I appreciate how Beinhart focusses on a well selected sample of cases without getting lost in minutiae, how he keeps the writing crisp and entertaining, and the book short (187p). An index and footnotes throughout make it a valuable reference tool, and the associated website offers further material and invites readers to share their own fog facts.
So what's a citizen to do against the evils described? The book itself is an analysis, not a manual. As such it provides case studies of the major issues of recent years and provides excellent ammunition to bring reason into the discussion. But while not given explicitely, answers to the "what to do?" questions are easy to infer: Start with skepticism towards power, read watchdog sites that monitor the players and the political PR industry, and make your voice heard when politicians and the media start obscuring the issues.
Professor Douglas Rushkoff recently published that the best way to help the masses see the Truth is to speak plainly. Game on. Beinhart has filled this bill.
In Wag The Dog Beinhart taught me more about propaganda than I had learned from multiple other texts. Fog Facts reveals the path that lead to our modern state of mass delusion. So long as most Americans keep seeing "the other side" as responsible for corruption, our current media system is secure. The greatest trick our media has pulled is the illusion of the two-party system. Both sides are ignoring fundamental lies and unprecedented changes to our constitution. The two-sides is two-faces of the same machine. When humans are two-faced we don't trust them.
Harry Blackstone used to walk a live elephant on stage and nobody would see him do that. It appeared as magic. Beinhart explains how crucial facts are lead on to the main stage of mass media without anybody seeming to notice. Presto, the world has changed. Media is not the magic by misdirection I was envisioning, it is a mass willingness to suspend disbelief.
Thank you Larry for helping me better understand the mechanism. However, I don't think you have gone far enough. Heads of media should be fired for misrepresenting the facts. Those that forged data should be charged with treason. Those that ordered the data be forged should be charged with crimes against humanity. But, as you point out, they changed the courts to preclude this possibility.
If this book disappears without debate, it will simply be one more bit of evidence to show the fix is in.