On Thursday, I had a doctor's appointment. My physician is so popular that her patients are willing to wait hours to see her--or at least put up with waits that are often hours long. I've been happy the last few times I've been there that the television has not been tuned to Fox News. I'd rather hear the noise of the soap opera that was on that day than the lies and misinformation spewed forth on "Faux News,” as has happened other times, with my blood pressure rising by the minute.
I quickly lost myself in Smithsonian Magazine's article on the Taj Mahal--a majestic structure I have seen with my own eyes and walked around with my shoeless feet and, ever since, a fascination, as is India itself. (The book by Amina Okada and Mohan C. Joshi, by the way, is a well-researched and well-written account of the reign of the Moghuls in India and Shah Jahan*, who built the tomb for his favorite wife who died giving birth to their fourteenth child. I highly recommend it!)
When I was about halfway through the article, a man stood and fiddled with the TV, then asked the receptionist if he could change the channel. She handed him the remote, while I silently beseeched the gods to keep him away from Fox News.
I live in a conservative area in north-central Appalachia. Though this region used to vote Democrat because of its exploitation by non-resident coal companies, most folks around here have since turned thoroughly to the Right, thanks to the culture wars and Fox News's exploitation of common fear and ignorance--and, by that, I mean only a lack of knowledge of the facts, not stupidity. I do not think all Fox watchers are stupid--but quite of few of them, I'm afraid, are brainwashed.
What these same people can’t see is that the Very, Very, Very Rich Men are still exploiting them. By playing to their sense of disenfranchisement in this country, Fox News furthers its agenda with a blatantly hypocritical claim of journalistic integrity while purposely skewing history and language to promote paranoia and false beliefs. What agenda? Well, to elect politcians who will practice laissez-faire government while those Very, Very, Very Rich Men run financial roughshod over the rest of us. But an unfortunate number of Americans cannot see the wool being pulled over their eyes by the Fox. Nearly anywhere I go in this town that has a TV-equipped waiting room, the TV is tuned right in.
This galls me, but I try not to get into public altercations about such things. To me, having a highly biased television show on in a public place is bad taste, bad business, and just plain bad. I was tempted to stand up and say, "Please, I cannot watch Fox News" and ask for a more neutral channel or, simply, to have the TV turned off. But public confrontations are generally not my thing (even though I would have been fully justified to express my view on the matter). Politics are turning distressingly confrontational in this country, and I didn't think my doc would appreciate a battle in her waiting room.
So I kept quiet, and I turned back to my reading, trying to ignore the strident voice coming out of the box. But then the man who'd changed the channel decided to talk to a woman sitting on the other side of the room. (With my head buried in the magazine, no one bothered talking to me, and it's probably good for all of us that they didn't.) Thursday was the day Qaddafi's death was announced, so there was some talk about that, not too offensive. Qaddafi was a bad guy, and while I think the bloodshed that accompanied his death is awful, I just hope that region can begin to heal.
The man asked the woman who she would vote for in the election.
"Oh, I don't really follow that stuff at all. But I wanted that woman--what's her name? I kind of like her."
So here is a young woman who does not follow the news, as she admitted, and can't even name the candidate she is voting for. That, my friends, sums up at least half of America--the America that is gullible enough to take what Fox News gives them as truth and, dare I say, are too frightened, indifferent, or lazy to check facts or seek other sources. This, of course, is the ideal audience for the Very, Very, Very, Rich men (and perhaps a few women) who run this country with far too little interference by the government we elect to protect us—because these Very, Very, Very Rich Men make sure, or try to, that candidates who will protect their interests gain power.
And Fox News is their spokeschannel. Of course, Americans who are cognizant of historical truth, or as close as we can get to it given the sources we have, figure this out after watching "Farce News" for a few minutes at most. Its talking -head puppets' interpretations of history and current events would be laughable if the effect weren't so diabolical.
The young woman went on: "I like Sarah Palin." (Big surprise there.) "I was disappointed she's not running. Oh, Michele Bachmann, that was her name."
Good job! Now, can you tell me how she hopes to fix America's problems? And even if you can answer that question, can you think through the ramifications of those ideas to their inevitable conclusion--i.e., average Americans, working Americans, the working poor (and an ever-diminishing middle class keeps falling into that category) will LOSE, and the Very, Very, Very Rich Men who are running the country and hoarding 85 percent of the country's wealth will thank us for ushering in our own misery. (Figure from Domhoff, URL below.)
In other words, Man and Woman in the Waiting Room, we, the Average Joes, will suffer if you vote in candidates such as Palin or Bachmann ... or nearly any other Republican (as well as a disheartening number of Democrats, I'm afraid.) I repeat, sadly, these politicians are "owned" by the Very, Very, Very Rich Men who also own Fox News.
"Obama has ruined this country," the man said, not content to let the probing conversation drop.
Again, I wanted to jump up. How has he ruined the country? Seems to me the country was in a pretty bleak state when Obama took office from your once-anointed one, George W. Bush. Now, I'm not happy with a lot that Obama has done, especially caving to the rich with that whole Bush-tax-relief program he re-ratified, but I'm glad to see that he has since tried to go after the same people with another tax, saying it's simple math. No kidding! Glad you caught on, Barack--your base is none too happy with how you've kowtowed to the Very, Very, Very Rich. But I digress.
"Oh, yes," the woman said. "Everything is terrible now. And the worst thing is, I don't think he cares about this country."
"All he cares about is being on TV and being in charge. He doesn't care about America."
Okay--how about some evidence to back that up, Lady, I wanted to cry out. I'd wager Obama cares a hell of a lot more about it than you do, since he's got his name on it right now. For example, I'll bet he knows the names of everyone running for office and their platforms--
But Fox News probably suggested that idea to you, that Obama doesn't care about America. Why else would someone who doesn't normally "think about those things" voice that opinion? Oh, they're good. They're very, very good, those propagandists at Fox News.
Okay, here's how it works:
Very, Very, Very Rich Men own Fox News. We know the lineage. Very, Very, Very Rich Men want government policies that do not force them to subject their companies to regulations of any kind. Now, "regulation" does have a bad ring to it. Sounds official, a little scary. None of us want the government intruding in our personal lives (such as telling us where we can smoke) and "regulation" definitely has something to do with that.
But, Man and Woman in the Waiting Room, think this through--do you want to eat non-regulated meat? Do you want to fly on an unregulated airplane? Do you want lead in your children's toys? Don't be naive enough to think companies run by Very, Very, Very Rich Men will care much about those things for the average American. For their own meat, airplanes, and toys, you bet. But they are the special, the anointed ones. The Galts. The Masters of the Universe.
Most Very, Very, Very Rich Men believe they are far above the masses, i.e., the average Joe such as you and me, Man and Woman in the Waiting Room. As self-appointed anointed super-humans, they deserve special privileges, including the perogative to weaken the fabric of the United States by ripping holes in its tenets of fairness, respect, free speech, and equality. Why? So they can reap ever-greater returns from the system. Because they don't care that much about us, they want to be sure they and theirs get as much as they can, even if they already have way more just about anything than we'll ever see if our lifetimes, even if all those fancy meals, personal airplanes, and expensive toys, homes, wives, and mistresses come painfully out of our hides. If you worry about a big conspiracy in this country, that's it, for heaven's sake. The rich of this country are doing a number on you, Fox News watchers.
This is supposed to be a nation of equality. Equality requires those who have more to give to those who do not. This reeks of socialism, of course. But it also sounds a bit like the teachings of Jesus Christ, whom most Very, Very, Very Rich Men at least claim to revere. Fox News argues our nation was founded on Christianity. Well, this equality idea also sounds like our founding fathers, who declared, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
Don’t most Right wingers believe us to be a Christian nation? Why, then, are they so against Christian practices such as taking care of one another?
The principle of equity, which is supposed to underpin American policy, is why tax rates are based on our incomes. Why shouldn't the Very, Very, Very Rich of this country pay a fair percentage of their income to the public coffers? According to AFL-CIO Executive PayWatch, "While 25 million unemployed and underemployed U.S. workers are drowning, CEO pay skyrocketed by 23 percent, for an average salary of $11.4 million in 2010" (Connell). That's the average. Imagine what the top "earners" are getting, and, hey, do these numbers include their obscene bonuses? I doubt it. And who doubts that the super-rich find loopholes to keep from paying their fair share of taxes?
Meanwhile, we, The Average Joes, the U.S. workers, are drowning. And so are our pension funds, having been funneled directly into the Very, Very, Very Rich Men’s banking accounts (offshore, of course).
According to a recent article in The Huffington Post, most millionaires DO pay earned income taxes at the same rate, or even higher rates, than the working poor. However, their income from investments is taxed at a much lower rate. This does not make sense. Investments take nothing but money to increase in value--no sweat of the brow. Only those who have money to begin with can invest. Shouldn’t investments then be taxed at an equal amount to the hard-scrabble income of this nation’s working men and women?
But, no! Investment income has a much lower tax rate—and, guess what, sports fans? The Very, Very, Very Rich make most of their money by investments, not by working, like we do, Man and Woman in the Waiting Room. In 2008, for instance, "only 19 percent of the income reported by the 13,480 individuals or families making over $10 million came from wages and salaries" (Domhoff). Since a substantial amount of the rich's wealth comes from their investments, higher taxes need to be levied against those monies as well to make the tax code remotely fair. The Wall Street protesters are accused for having no real message--well, there's one they can take to the bank. Hey, if we average Joes want to ensure our retirement funds aren’t taxed at that high a level, offer a million dollar reprieve before the higher taxes go into effect. We'll stil get lots of cash to pay down the deficit.
And don't give me that ridiculous line that the rich DESERVE to keep their money because of some special talent or ingenuity on their part. Very few average Joes these days rise into the income brackets of the Very, Very, Very Rich (Steve Jobs not being average). Most of the persons in those circles got there because of daddy's (or mommy's) money, period. And they are clutching it now with the selfishness of a two-year-old crying "Mine!"
Very, Very, Very Rich Men will do everything in their power to keep their money for their own extravagant uses, and they want even more than the 85 percent they have. They do not care if poor or working poor folks or the middle class, for that matter, can't get health care. They would just as soon "let them die and reduce the surplus population." Of course, even Jesus told us that the poor will always be with us; but the Very, Very, Very Rich Men in this country would like to see that number reduced, not by programs that would help these fellow humans get jobs and educations (and thus, begin earning a share of the pie now hoarded by the rich--"Mine!"), but by killing them off with little or no health care and even less hope.
Sound melodramatic? It doesn't really matter whether this is the conscious aim of the Very, Very, Very Rich; this will be the result of the policies they espouse. And, let's face it. These are not stupid men and women. They know this, whether they will admit it to themselves or not, and they can live with it. Because they believe they are entitled.
The Very, Very, Very Rich use Fox News to rile up Fox watchers to distract them from the true cause of their misery. Example: Though they have their Fox News puppet-pundits suggest we build walls and find other ways to keep illegal aliens out of this country, Very, Very, Very Rich Men are actually fine and dandy with illegal immigrants coming into the U.S. They know Americans won't do the jobs these often desperate men and women will, and undocumented workers can be paid far less than the minimum wage and are not subject to other employee protections. Men in the Republican debates had to admit they hired illegal aliens in their homes—oh, gee, how embarrassing to have one’s hypocrisy revealed in such a public manner! Undoubtedly, these men's businesses hire many, many more. This practice puts more ker-ching in their own pockets and that, Man and Woman in the Waiting Room, is all that matters to them.
Yet, these same Very, Very, Very Rich Men will give their newscasters, or their unreasonable facsimiles thereof at Fox News, scripts that suggest illegal immigrants need to be forced off our land.
Why would the very same Very, Very, Very Rich Men have their news shows drum up fear and anger against immigrants, the same group of people they exploit for their own gain? The fact is, they know they'll have a steady supply of ever more desperate workers no matter what happens. But getting white Americans mad about Mexicans coming into "their" country and taking "their" jobs and spending "their" tax dollars means these same white Americans will pay less attention to the true culprit behind the loss of their jobs, wages, and homes, and who is really stealing them blind--the Very, Very, Very Rich Men!
By dehumanizing illegal immigrants via their oh-so-attractive Talking Heads (okay, Bill O'Reilly and Rush excepted from that description), the Very, Very, Very Rich Men can go right ahead and continue to treat human begins like animals and reap greater profits on their backs. I don't know about you, but I don't think that is how Jesus Christ wanted us to treat our fellow beings. I don't think that's how our Founding Fathers wanted us to treat our fellow beings. But these Very, Very, Very Rich Men use hate and fear to rally the Fox News audience, half of the residents of this country, to emotions that demonize the poor and undocumented among us. And, lately, you can throw the Wall Street protesters into Fox News's defamation machine.
Plenty of folks on the fringe today believe historians have always been liberals and, thus, the history books have everything wrong (because, of course, liberals are BAD). True, none of us can know firsthand what we haven't lived through, so historical "fact" is a relative term. Nevertheless, the great body of historical work includes liberal and conservative, unpopular and alternative theories on all major historical events. Fox News is masterful at doublespeak, finding some cockamamie theory or concocting its own to rewrite history. They've seen how Holocaust deniers have been able to hijack the minds of many, many disgruntled and angry people, and hijacking minds is their stock in trade.
Often, the more accepted view of the historical incident at hand is in high contrast to what the word manipulators at Fox News have invented and put forth as truth.
Examples? you ask. Well, we’ve got the whole “Liberal media is using Nazi techniques” exercise in irony that Fox News tried. Of course, plenty of its watchers still believe its absurd version of things and would never watch Stewart’s refutation of the charge, which is available below, and makes ever so clear who is manipulating whom in today's media. Oh, just watch Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert on any given night. The examples will flow. (I'll add a few more below just to prove my point.)
And here's a "small" example. Somehow, the wise ones at Fox News have managed to change, or at least make murky, the meaning of "Fascist," a recognized "bad" word in this country. Fox News has, by manipulation of accepted facts, equated "Fascist" with "Liberal." But so what? Why should it matter if Fascists were, well, actually Right wing nuts in Italy? The only important point to take away, Trusting Public, is that liberals are BAD.
Fox News will paint liberals as BAD in every way they can, because the Very, Very, Very Rich Men don't want liberals interfering with their rape-and-pillage business tactics, but they can't say that to you, Trusting Public, so they''ll blame liberals for everything, absolutely everything, even those things liberals don't stand for! Fox News and the Very, Very, Very Rich Men know that Fox watchers will take their word as gospel and won't bother investigating the pseudo-theories the channel propagates.
You know Upton Sinclair's book, The Jungle? The one you probably read in high school, the one where the guy worked for Chicago meat packers and saw atrocities that were wrapped up and sold as meat? That's what our meat industry was and will become again without regulation. And that is just one simple example of why government is needed to protect the rights of the little guy. And, hey, Man and Woman in the Waiting Room, I hate to tell you this, but the little guy is us.
Just think about the recent deaths due to eating cantaloupe and multiply those by a gazillion.
Wouldn't we all prefer to savor our toxic chemicals and rodent droppings without government interference? Fox News certainly suggests we would. It's the government that's bad, you see, which, of course, is filled with liberals hell-bent on taking away the Average Joe's last shred of dignity. How sad that these viewers can't figure out that the Very, Very, Very Rich Men will not have as much to hoard away if we insist on eating safe meat or riding in safe airplanes or implementing other policies liberals espouse. And that is what you want, isn't it, Man and Woman in the Waiting Room? You want the rich to have a greater share of the money at your expense and mine, don't you? If not, I can't understand why you'd support a Palin or a Bachmann or other Tea-Partier (and most Republicans), when tainted meat--and horrors in every other venue of American life--will be the result of their being in power.
Only when the ramifications of voting these Republicans and Tea-Partiers in are felt in every household--and, believe me, they will be, most painfully so, if it happens--will the Fox News-watching half of America finally figure out they were the dupes of the Very, Very, Very Rich Men all along.
Examples of How Fox News Uses Propaganda
The Daily Show
“Bill O’Reilly explains that he had a good reason for comparing Arianna Huffington to Nazis. http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-january-27-2011/bill-o-reilly-defends-his-nazi-analogies
“24-Hour Nazi Party People. Jon challenges his staff to find someone on Megyn Kelly’s show making a Nazi comparison before he finishes a home perm kit. http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-january-24-2011/24-hour-nazi-party-people
Stephen Colbert Show
How Fox News skews accepted scientific fact on global warming:
“I’s on Edjikashun—Textbooks, AmeriCorps & Strip-Search; Fox News exposes liberal textbooks, AmeriCorps increases its mind control, and a girl is strip-searched for ibuprofen.” http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/226151/april-29-2009/i-s-on-edjukashun---textbooks--americorps---strip-search
Connell, Tula. "2011 PayWatch: Average CEO Salary--$11.4 Million." AFI-CIO Now Blog. 19 Apr. 2011. http://blog.aflcio.org/2011/04/19/2011-paywatch-average-ceo-salary-11-4-million/.
Domhoff, G. William. "Wealth, Income and Power." Who Rules America? Updated July 2011. http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html
"Obama Buffett Rule Comments: Are Rich Actually Taxed at Higher Rate than Middle Class?" Huffington Post Politics. 23 Oct. 2011. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/20/obama-buffett-rich-taxes_n_971388.html