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The 4400 500,000+

Posted by Rick · October 1st, 2005 · 1 Comment

If you’ve never seen the USA Network series about the 4400 people who were supposedly abducted by people from the future, modified and then returned to the “present” time, you won’t get the title of this blog entry.

In that show, 4400 people, over decades of time, disappeared from the face of the Earth. There was rampant speculation that they had been abducted by aliens and, of course, there were even more people who felt that those who believed such stories were fruitcakes.

In our own time, however, we have seen that it actually is possible to make people — and other things — disappear.

For example, under the Bush administration, the short-but-interesting lists of things which have disappeared are these:


It started from the git-go, when the Supreme Court of the United States decided that Florida election officials did not have to account for all the votes cast in the 2000 presidential election. From there, the Supreme Court ducked (pun intended) the issue of whether the Bush Administration had to account to the American people for allowing oil and other energy executives to craft a secret United States’ Energy Policy which, near as anyone can tell, called for pushing gasoline prices to $7/gallon before Bush finally has to leave office. The case was returned to the Court of Appeal, which ruled that the government of the Administration, by the Administration and for the Administration could keep this secret away from the People. The latest episode, of course, was graphically — and tragically — demonstrated by Hurricane Katrina.


This one is more complex, because the Bush Administration has done a phenomenal job of convincing Americans not only that this ex-coke-addict who routinely chastises his staff for telling the truth is a man of integrity, but that he’s God’s right-hand man.

It’s scary to read things like this quote from a Newsweek story about the man at the top:

It’s a standing joke among the president’s top aides: who gets to deliver the bad news? Warm and hearty in public, Bush can be cold and snappish in private, and aides sometimes cringe before the displeasure of the president of the United States, or, as he is known in West Wing jargon, POTUS. — Evan Thomas, “How Bush Blew It” (September 19, 2005) Newsweek.

These indications of Bush’s failure in the area of integrity are bad enough. But if you take into consideration that he could not have “accidentally” told lies about the Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq, that alone should convince you. Here is a man who not only deliberately mislead the American people, but worked behind the scenes to get other countries to lie, as well. It’s not enough that his lies have sent thousands of Americans to their graves; when government officials have told the truth, he has offered to kill their wives.


The Bush Administration has repeatedly denied — or tried to re-make — reality. Their efforts frankly The newest border on the delusional. Bush Administration joke concerning lightbulbs would be funny, if it weren’t for the fact that it clearly reflects this new “reality.” Just today, Jennifer Loven reports over at ABC News that President Bush said “he is encouraged by the increasing size and capability of the Iraqi security forces.” As Loven notes,

The sunny presentation of the situation in Iraq is part of a renewed push by the administration to win support for the war effort from an increasingly reluctant American public. — Jennifer Loven, “Bush: Iraqi Military Showing Progress” (October 1, 2005) ABC News.

Unfortunately, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, General George Casey, says it’s just flat out not true. This is the second time this week that Casey has tried to force a reality check. But the Bush Administration won’t hear it. Expect Casey to be silenced or transferred any day now.


Huh? What? Christianity disappearing? It’s important to note what we’re talking about here. I’m discussing Christianity-with-capital-C, the sort of Christianity where people actually live their beliefs. Today’s christianity (lowercase c) exemplifies comments made by Isaiah several thousand years ago:

The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men. (Isaiah 29:13 (NIV).)

Jesus himself is reported to have quoted Isaiah, adding, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you.” (Matthew 15:7 (NIV).) It’s hard to refute this when you consider this recent item from the Los Angeles Times online:

Of the nations studied, the U.S. — which has by far the largest percentage of people who take the Bible literally and express absolute belief in God (and the lowest percentage of atheists and agnostics) — also has by far the highest levels of homicide, abortion, teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. — Rosa Brooks, “The dark side of faith” (October 1, 2005) Los Angeles Times.

Truthful Reporting

But one thing which has gone missing cannot be totally blamed on the President.

We depend upon reporters to deliver information to us about what is happening in the world. Only an informed citizenry can make appropriate choices at the polls. Only people who know and understand what is happening in the world can work to change it.

But, increasingly, the news has focused on getting people excited about…The News. Not only do we no longer even get some stories, but more and more the stories upon which the news organizations dwell are stories about which not much can be done. And, even there, we’re receiving more opinion than reportage.

So it is that the main story on the CBS News website today is about a bombing of a shopping center in Indonesia. The average American can do nothing about this. But it sure gets us stirred up. We can’t safely navigate past an accident without our heads spinning like Linda Blair in the Exorcist. How could we possibly not tune in to see the carnage on CBS?

If you press through the muck that is their front page, you might eventually find a link to stories of political corruption and the recent indictment of Tom DeLay, arguably at least one of the most powerful Republicans in the United States.

Visit CNN and the main story there is — well, I’ll be damned! — it’s a bombing of a shopping center in Indonesia!

ABC? Indonesian shopping center bombing. MSNBC? Oh! Look! Someone bombed a shopping center in Indonesia!

Hey, at least MSNBC gave us some good news, too! President Bush’s popularity slide is tapering off. Even though Tom DeLay was recently indicted, Bush’s current level of support is holding steady.

But that feeling that everything at home is okay is at least partly manufactured by the New Media. After all, as I said above, an uninformed citizenry cannot effectively mobilize in order to change and improve our society. And when 500,000 people trying to get the rest of the nation’s attention and focus us on the need for change can simply disappear, there’s no doubt The News will be good.

In a world like that, it’s only reality that will suffer.

Perhaps Bush isn’t such a bad President after all; in the end, he’s setting a shining example for how to handle reality when it turns out to be not what you wanted.

Special thanks to Bunny Chafowitz, Bob Marcotte & Steve Malm for links to stories used in this blog entry.


Categories: News Reporting


1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Sean // Oct 8, 2005 at 8:52 pm

    Increasingly, the news has focused on getting people excited about…The News.

    In twelve words, there, you’ve pinned the whole news of the day. I’m surprised at it — clearly put, succinctly put, they’re trying to get people excited about the news (and for what ends?)

    For what it’s worth, some news shows on PBS may still be worth some salt — the News Hour (daily and on weekends) and NOW, namely.

    In documentaries, furthermore, there are the series: Wide Angle; Frontline; (and the classic) NOVA.

    (I have no cable TV and no dish system; it’s broadcast or — generally — nothing, here)

    For distinct perspectives on world/Arabia news, also, there are the excerpts carried of LinkTV Mosaic. (Sometimes, they’ve even carried excerpts from “Al Hurra”, I think — a famed expenditure of taxpayer dollars, on the part of the US gov’s “diplomacy of westernization” missions in Iraq)

    Regarding Iraq:

    You’d mentioned one mil. general, and FYI there’s another, surely whom you’ve heard of, appealing to consideration: Gen. (ret) Wesley Clark. He has a good eye on it (ref 1: Meet the Press) (ref 2: Before It’s Too Late in Iraq)

    Then, there is the UN — e.g UNDP Iraq.

    Despite how the present US executives may want to try to remake the UN in the US image, yet the UN still still should have a measure of independent sway — on its part, and on the parts of the regional diplomats to the UN — no?

    (Those are the two most certain measures of hope that I can find, of what I know of, about that nation named — in ISO-standardized shorthand — IQ. There is General Clark and there is the UN.)

    Regarding the US and Iraq, just some thoughts:

    Beside the oil production, the fiscal profits about oil, and the dependence of our nation’s (most conventional, most wide-area, and most prevalent) operations upon oil: Iraq may be a “strategic hot-point” to this administration — for the Iraq’s “geopolitical” location, and (perhaps) for that the US execs may be afraid if the oil-wells would fall into the hands of whomever they conjecture it would, were they not “on top of it”.

    For that, I am afraid that it will be terribly difficult to cull their intentions about Iraq, and will be just as difficult, to convince them to pull our troops back.

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