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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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
"Fog facts" are facts that are out in the open, but "invisible" in the sense that no one acts on them. The stolen Florida election--30,000 plus disenfranchised blacks *and* "overcount" votes where Al Gore was both checked and written, rejected as invalid instead of returned for verification--the specious claims against Iraq; the 9-11 Commission apologia; the list goes on. For myself, the most interesting fog facts dealt with the number of terrorists caught and jailed by France and other nations, as a tiny fraction of the cost of invading Afghanistan and Iraq, and with little to show for it excepts casualties, including significant numbers of US amputations being concealed from the public.
The author "outs" Judith Miller as an agent of Karl Rove in the run-up to the war in Iraq, earnestly selling the Administration's line on weapons of mass destruction, and perhaps one reason she was both favored by Rove in the current Valerie Plume case, and also sought to protect Rove.
THe author gets the jump on the current scandal of the disappearing billions in Iraq--not just the billions for Halliburton in sole source contracts, but the outright theft and squandering of the $19 billion in Iraqi bank credits that Paul Bremer managed to fritter away--and they still do not have running water or electricity.
THe author quotes several times from Mein Kamph in discussing the extremist Republican use of "the big lie" and the comparisons are disconcertingly clear. He weaves a tale of draft-dodging hypocrisy among the Bush Junior and Cheney gang that is all too distasteful when combined with their corruption in favoring Halliburton--his listing of Cheney's ignominious failures as CEO of HAlliburton are fun--and also a sign that Halliburton knew what it was doing in suffering the fool that would deliver the people's treasure. His accounting of Bush Juniors many failures in business, each time living on his father's name and getting bailed out by the forgiving rich that he has repaid many times over with tax cuts and exemptions from asbestos claims, among other loopholes, is dismaying in the extreme. We "know" these things, but we do not act.
On page 82 he repeats what is now perhaps the most famous quote to come out of the Bush Junior White House, where an arrogant aide dismisses a "reality-based" person and says that the U.S. is an empire now, and makes its own reality. That the reality we are making is one of our own destruction escapes this witless aide to the President, so full of himself is he.
The books adds to my understanding of the current Social Security arrangements as a pass through system (each generation funds the next) as opposed to the Administration's proposal for privatization, which converts it to a pension fund that dies with each generation. I am persuaded that we must defend Social Security, it is present form, to the death, and that we must remove the caps and make the wealthy contribute for every dollar, not just up to $90,000.
The author concludes that there is a war today, not between civilizations, but between faith-based and reality-based communities.
I put the book down reflecting to myself that it is time for the American labor union pension funds to lead a revolution. It is time for the people to form their own bank, their own credit card company, their own intelligence agency, and their own media. Although this is happening in fits and starts with the Internet, it is disjointed. We need to marry up money, willpower, and honest information, and we need to out these carpetbaggers and regain control of the commonwealth.
Truth and morality are here to be found, but the question that remains is: will the people act? This is a very fine book for anyone who cares about future generations and resents being robbed.
Ten Other Recommended Books (Five Bad News, Five Good News):
Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency
Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It
The Global Class War: How America's Bipartisan Elite Lost Our Future - and What It Will Take to Win It Back
The Working Poor: Invisible in America
American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America
A Power Governments Cannot Suppress
The Tao of Democracy: Using Co-Intelligence to Create a World That Works for All
Society's Breakthrough!: Releasing Essential Wisdom and Virtue in All the People
Escaping the Matrix: How We the People can change the world
The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom
The subtitle that Beinhart gives his website is "Known Facts That Have Been Lost in the Fog," and by the fog he means to indicate, as described in his book, the onslaught of abundant facts and information about unimportant stories: Monica Lewinski and O.J. Simpson are two examples Beinhart gives. But Beinhart suggests at least one other force that helps keep some fog facts in the fog: people's reluctance to believe a really big lie. This, Beinhart writes, is "why it was easy to believe that Bill Clinton lied about having sex with that woman and hard to believe that Bush and his entire cabinet were telling bald faced lies about Saddam's connection to Al Qaeda and his weapons of mass destruction."
In fact, one of the fog facts Beinhart discusses is the Downing Street Minutes.