Born in London and raised in County Cork, Andrew Cockburn moved to the U.S. in 1979. He is a journalist, an author and a filmmaker. He is also the Washington editor of Harper’s Magazine. His books include: Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the U.S.-Israeli Covert Relationship and The Threat: Inside the Soviet Military Machine. His most recent book is Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins. His latest articles include The New Red ScareReviving the art of threat inflation; and Acceptable LossesAiding and abetting the Saudi slaughter in Yemen. You can read his latest articles for Harper’s here.
Ed Kinane is cofounder of Upstate Drone Action in Syracuse. He has long been committed to nonviolence and social justice and has several times been jailed for opposing Hancock’s weaponized drone. Ed is a retired educator. He used to teach math and biology in a one-room Quaker school in rural Kenya and anthropology in a community college near Seattle. He is also a writer of letters to the editor, op-eds, articles and reviews. Off and on since the seventies he has been an editor of the Syracuse Peace Council’s Peace Newsletter. During the mid- and late-nineties Ed worked closely with School of the Americas Watch, a grassroots organization seeking to expose and close the U.S. Army’s notorious anti-insurgency training school at Fort Benning, Georgia. For his protests against the SOA Ed has twice served time in federal prisons. Upon his release, he served on the SOA Watch national board.
Mark Bebawi is still on the road and not easily able to put together the normal show with live interviews. By way of thanking all those who gave to generously during the pledge drive, this week’s show features more of Adam Curtis’ work: Part 1 of his 2002 documentary titled “The Century of the Self“.
This first part is called “Happiness Machines“. It is the story of the relationship between Sigmund Freud and his American nephew, Edward Bernays. Bernays invented the public relations profession in the 1920s and was the first person to take Freud’s ideas to manipulate the masses. He showed American corporations how they could make people want things they didn’t need by systematically linking mass-produced goods to their unconscious desires.
Bernays was one of the main architects of the modern techniques of mass-consumer persuasion, using every trick in the book, from celebrity endorsement and outrageous PR stunts, to eroticising the motorcar.
His most notorious coup was breaking the taboo on women smoking by persuading them that cigarettes were a symbol of independence and freedom. But Bernays was convinced that this was more than just a way of selling consumer goods. It was a new political idea of how to control the masses. By satisfying the inner irrational desires that his uncle had identified, people could be made happy and thus docile. Bernays wrote that
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. …In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” (Edward Bernays Propaganda (1928) p9–10.)
It was the start of the all-consuming self which has come to dominate today’s world.
KPFT is in Pledge Drive and this is your last chance to support The Monitor. The show has a goal of $880 for the hour. Please call 713.526.5738 during the show to pledge your support. You can also donate securely online at https://pledge.kpft.org/ Just select The Monitor from the list of shows and enter your details. Thank you!
KPFT has all the usual thank you gifts available at various pledge levels but this week’s show is going to offer copies of the documentary “HyperNormalisation” on DVD (more about the documentary below). This DVD is available at a pledge level of $90 if you call during the show.
More about HyperNormalisation:
This week’s show features excerpts from HyperNormalisation, a 2016 BBC documentary by British filmmaker Adam Curtis. The film was released on 16 October 2016. In the film, Curtis argues that since the 1970s, governments, financiers, and technological utopians have given up on the complex “real world” and built a simple “fake world” that is run by corporations and kept stable by politicians. The documentary runs for more than 2.5 hours and features some rare archival footage that starts in the 1970s and takes the viewer on a thought-provoking journey all the way up to the election of Donald Trump.
Starting in 1975 with the fiscal crisis in New York City and the emergence of the idea that financial systems could run society; Curtis brings in the shuttle diplomacy between then-US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Middle Eastern leaders in the Arab-Israeli dispute and the subsequent retreat by Hafez al-Assad of Syria and the onset of hypernormalisation in the Soviet Union. Then, following the United States’ involvement in the 1982 Lebanon War, a vengeful al-Assad made an alliance with Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran to February 1984, when the U.S. withdrew all its troops from Lebanon because, in the words of then-US Secretary of State George P. Shultz, “we became paralyzed by the complexity that we faced”. For the remaining 2 hours Curtis takes you on a journey, full of rare footage, that is sure to make you think.
Get a copy of this fascinating documentary with a pledge of $90 to KPFT during the show. You can do so only by calling 713.526.5738 during the show and telling the volunteers that you want a copy of HyperNormalisation. Once we have a final tally of listeners wanting a copy I will take care of the rest.
Don’t help me set the table
Cause now there’s one less place
I won’t lay mama’s silver
For a man who won’t say grace
If home is where the heart is
Then your home’s on the street
Me, I’ll read a good book
Turn out the lights and go to sleep
— ”Standing Room Only” from This Is Barbara Mandrell
Donald Trump nominates Betsy DeVos to be his Secretary of Education. We discuss the topic with Diane Ravitch.
News or Propaganda? What is happening to the news and what is the “Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act” about? We discuss the topic with Rick Sterling.
More about this week’s guests:
Diane Ravitch is an historian of education and Research Professor of Education at New York University. She was born in Houston, Texas, attended the Houston public schools from kindergarten through high school, and graduated from Wellesley College in 1960. She received her Ph.D. in the history of American education in 1975. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. Ravitch is author of many books, including Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools and The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education. She served as Assistant Secretary of Education and Counselor to the Secretary of Education from 1991-1993 under the George H. W. Bush administration. She now blogs at dianeravitch.net
Quote: “Betsy DeVos should not be approved by the Senate committee or confirmed by the Senate as U.S. Secretary of Education. She has no experience or qualifications for the job. She is a lobbyist for alternatives to public schools. Eighty-five percent of the students in the U.S. attend public schools. Her only plan is to weaken and destroy them by diverting public money to charter schools and vouchers for religious schools. DeVos is a billionaire who has never worked in a public school, never attended a public school, never sent her own children to public school. She has lived in a billionaire bubble of privilege. She has no understanding of the needs of our nation’s public schools, and she is in fact actively hostile to them. This is unacceptable. She is unacceptable. Our public schools are one of the cornerstones of our democracy. We have never had a Secretary of Education who was opposed to public schools. We should never have one.”
Rick Sterling is a retired electronics / aerospace engineer turned independent investigative journalist. He just wrote the piece “The War Against Alternative Information” for ConsortiumNews.com — which states: “The U.S. establishment is not content simply to have domination over the media narratives on critical foreign policy issues, such as Syria, Ukraine and Russia. It wants total domination. Thus we now have the ‘Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act’ that President Obama signed into law on Dec. 23 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2017, setting aside $160 million to combat any ‘propaganda’ that challenges Official Washington’s version of reality. The new law mandates the U.S. Secretary of State to collaborate with the Secretary of Defense, Director of National Intelligence and other federal agencies to create a Global Engagement Center ‘to lead, synchronize, and coordinate efforts of the Federal Government to recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United States national security interests.’ The law directs the Center to be formed in 180 days and to share expertise among agencies and to ‘coordinate with allied nations.’The new law is remarkable for a number of reasons, not the least because it merges a new McCarthyism about purported dissemination of Russian ‘propaganda’ on the Internet with a new Orwellianism by creating a kind of Ministry of Truth — or Global Engagement Center — to protect the American people from ‘foreign propaganda and disinformation.’ As part of the effort to detect and defeat these unwanted narratives, the law authorizes the Center to: ‘Facilitate the use of a wide range of technologies and techniques by sharing expertise among Federal departments and agencies, seeking expertise from external sources, and implementing best practices.’ (This section is an apparent reference to proposals that Google, Facebook and other technology companies find ways to block or brand certain Internet sites as purveyors of ‘Russian propaganda’ or ‘fake news.’) Justifying this new bureaucracy, the bill’s sponsors argued that the existing agencies for ‘strategic communications’ and ‘public diplomacy’ were not enough, that the information threat required ‘a whole-of-government approach leveraging all elements of national power.’ The law also is rife with irony since the U.S. government and related agencies are among the world’s biggest purveyors of propaganda and disinformation…”
This week’s show is a little different. It is a mix of audio clips edited together featuring: part of “Hypernormlization” by Adam Curtis, the voice of Carl Sagan, JFK’s “Peace” speech, a clip from “Mississippi Burning” and Charley Chaplin’s speech in “The Dictator“. I hope you enjoy the journey.
If you tuned in last week you would have heard Greg Palast‘s analysis of voter turnout vs voter repression in several states and how those factors helped determine the outcome of the election. This week we follow up on the recount effort with Bob Fitrakis.
The Monitor tends to cover serious news stories and this can perhaps make you feel like there is no good news out there. By way of correcting that impression, our second interview is with Justin Zimmerman of Bricker-Down Productions. He is the Director and Producer of a documentary called SMART (Specialized Mobile Animal Rescue Team).
During the show you will also hear a song called No More War Anymore by Eileen Kozloff. More about her at the end of this post and thank you to Hank Woji for giving me her CD to listen to.
More about this week’s guests:
Robert J. Fitrakis is Distinguished Full Professor of Political Science at Columbus State Community College, where he won the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1991. He was a Ford Foundation Fellow to the Michigan State legislature in 1975 and studied at the University of Sarajevo on scholarship in 1978. Fitrakis earned a J.D. from the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law in 2002. His Ph.D is in Political Science from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. He has also taught political theory at the University of Michigan-Dearborn and political science at Wayne State University and Oakland Community College. He holds the following degrees: B.S., Political Science and History, Grand Valley State College, 1978; M.A., Political Theory, Wayne State University, 1982; Ph.D., American Government, Wayne State University, 1990; J.D., The Ohio State University
He was the Democratic candidate for Congress in the 12th District, and in 1995 ran for election to the Columbus School Board. He has written extensively about political theory, co-published a scholarly article on health-care policy, and made presentations at academic conferences on political theory, electoral politics, and public policy. He also has a radio talk show called “Fight Back!” on talktainmentradio.com (Wednesdays at 7:00pm). He publishes and edits The Free Press, a quarterly journal of opinion and new analysis. It is on the web at www.freepress.org .
Justin Zimmerman of Bricker-Down Productions is the Director and Producer of SMART (Specialized Mobile Animal Rescue Team). He is a nationally recognized writer, filmmaker and professor. He has taught in multiple colleges and programs and his production company, Bricker-Down Productions®, has been the recipient of many grants, film festival honors and awards.
Since SMART’s formation in 2009, the self-trained team has saved nearly 1,000 animals (domestic, wild, and abused animals of all kinds), including 200 this year. Covering the entire city of Los Angeles, an area of over 400 square miles encompassing 4 million people and approximately 8 million domestic animals, the team of 12 Animal Control Officers, represent the cultural melting pot that is this city, and has a 100% save rate. Due to SMART’s distinctive training, it can respond to calls that other emergency responders and Animal Control Officers are not equipped to handle, as seen in the film when they are called in to help Pee-Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) after a buck gets trapped in his backyard.
“We will do anything and everything we can to rescue an animal. We’ll go buy whatever it is we need. It’s not unusual to go to the store and put down $500 on some equipment…out of our own pocket. We just really believe in what we are doing.” –Annette Ramirez, Animal Services Personnel, SMART team member
Since its inception, SMART has inspired the creation of two other similar teams in Riverside and San Diego, and have won the Higgins & Langley Award in 2012, the top accolades for swiftwater rescue teams globally. The team’s leader (Armando Navarrete) has received department commendations in 2013 and 2014. In addition, the team also makes school visits at least once a month and participates regularly in emergency preparedness fairs.
The team is currently made up of 5 women and 7 men (Team Leader Armando Navarrete, Ernesto Poblano, Annette Ramirez, Ramon Garcia, Yvette Smith, Hoang Dinh, Hugh Briefman, Glen Julian, Verna Riparip, Tam Shepphird, Felix Lopez and Gabby Lera) representing the ethnic multiculturality of Los Angeles. In the last seven years, team members have spent almost $80,000 dollars of their own money to assist with expenses not covered by the department’s budget.
Says Animal Services General Manager Brenda Barnette, SMART’s role is “to show people that the impossible is possible.”
Directed by Justin Zimmerman (“Fireland,” “The Titanic of Southampton”) and executive produced by Kimberly Zimmerman, the 74-minute film has been an Official Selection at 19 festivals, nominated for 12 awards and won 7 including Best Feature, Best Documentary, Audience Award and Best Photography:
BEST DOCUMENTARY – Artemis Film Festival, ’16
BEST FEATURE – Animal Film Festival / Grass Valley, ’16
AUDIENCE AWARD – Animal Film Festival / Grass Valley, ’16
BEST FEATURE DOCUMENTARY – Northern Virginia International Film Festival, ’16
BEST DOCUMENTARY – Intendence Film Festival, ’16
BEST DOCUMENTARY CINEMATOGRAPHY – Southampton International Film Festival, ’16
SPECIAL RECOGNITION – Global Cinema Film Festival of Boston, ’16
BEST DOCUMENTARY NOMINEE – Cayman Islands International Film Festival, ’16
BEST DOCUMENTARY & EDITING NOMINEE – Action on Film Festival, ’16
BEST DOCUMENTARY SOUND & EDITING NOMINEE – Southampton International Film Festival, ’16
Official Selection – University of Colorado, ’15
Official Selection – Lewis & Clark College, ’15
Official Selection – Gasparilla International Film Festival, ’16
Official Selection – Green Bay Film Festival, ’16
Official Selection – Los Angeles Independent Film Festival, ’16
Official Selection – Reel Cinerama, ’16
Official Selection – MCAS / Hollywood, ’16
Official Selection – FoF / Salem, ’16
Official Selection – OCHS / City Lights, ’16
Official Selection – Central City Comic / Film Con, ’16
Official Selection – Colorado Animal Welfare Conference, ’16
Official Selection – Animal Film Festival / Del Mar, ’16
Official Selection – StarDoc Fest, ’16
Official Selection – Black Hills Film Festival, ’16
Official Selection – New Hope Film Festival, ’16
Official Selection – SF DocFest, ’16
Official Selection – Cinema at the Edge Film Festival, ’16
Official Selection – Pickford Film Center / Doctober, ’16
Official Selection – International Women’s Film Festival, ’16
Official Selection – Downtown Film Festival LA, ’16
Official Selection – Wexner Center for the Arts, ’17
Eileen Kozloff is a multi-instrumentalist who has been actively involved in the autoharp world for over a quarter of a century! She is an award winning artist, for her singing, songwriting and instrumental work. She is best known for her uique “pick-less” style of diatonic autoharp and for her soaring vocals, stunning harmonies and commanding performances. Her ability to compose, play and sing in a wide range of genres has made her a versatile festival performer and workshop teacher. In addition to performing at festivals, concerts and dance venues, Eileen has appeared live on numerous radio and television broadcasts, and for several years she was a “Rostered Artist” with the Pennsylvania Council of the Ats Artist-in Residence program. In the winter of 2012, Eileen performed and taught workshops at two Australian Folk Festivals,: Cygnet (in Tasmania) and Illawara (in Wollongong). She has been invited to return to Oz and will be adding even more venues in 2017!