Friday, December 16, 2005

Moyers on freedom of information and its foes.

I first knew Bill Moyers as the journalist who ran a series of filmed interviews on "the power of myth" with one of my heroes, Joseph Campbell, the outstanding mythographer of the modern era. Here he was talking about myth as a positive part of the human story. There are everlasting truths in myth. Sadly, myth is more often understood as mere lying, or at best false stories.

In a post-modern world we are inclined to say there is no truth, only perspectives on truth. That justifies people in power spinning their Madison Avenue dreams so we stay asleep, seeing the world only as they want us to see it.

My favourite play, "The balcony," by Jean Genet, is a wonderful exploration of the relationship between mythic reality, as in the roles played out by punters in a city brothel, and political reality, where the state is saved from revolution by those same role-playing punters appearing as the real generals and bishops before the public on the city balcony.

The play eerily anticipated the way in which actors like Reagan and Schwarzeneger have moved almost seemlessly from fantasy power to real political power.

We have almost reached the point where the Roman Republic turned into a Roman Empire. Calligula made his horse consul. Now we have almost reached the point where the American Republic has become an American Empire where Emperor Bush can appoint his dog to the supreme court. (No particular disrespect to the woman who was recently rejected. I am thinking more of the White House Christmas movie, starring Bush's dogs.)

I am still puzzled. I would really like to understand how pathetic monkey-like men such as Hitler and the younger George Bush were able to become dictators. Will somebody please explain it to me. Maybe Bush is like the emperor Claudius, made emperor as a puppet so Cheney can run the show from behind the podium.

Only from this article below I now realise Moyers was a major player in American Government before returning to journalism. He was no mere journalist but an important player giving Campbell a big audience.

Now Moyers has become the champion of freedom of the press of the Bush era, when freedom of the press has become not so much a myth but a sick joke.

Truth may be the first victim of war. But Bushco killed it off well before they even went to war. See below.


AlterNet: MediaCulture: In the Kingdom of the Half-Blind: "And this is the administration that has paid over one hundred million dollars to plant stories in Iraqi newspapers and disguise the source, while banning TV cameras at the return of caskets from Iraq as well as prohibiting the publication of photographs of those caskets -- a restriction that was lifted only following a request through the Freedom of Information Act.

Ah, FOIA. Obsessed with secrecy, Bush and Cheney have made the Freedom of Information Act their number one target, more fervently pursued for elimination than Osama Bin Laden. No sooner had he come to office than George W. Bush set out to eviscerate both FOIA and the Presidential Records Act. He has been determined to protect his father's secrets when the first Bush was Vice President and then President -- as well as his own. Call it Bush Omerta.

This enmity toward FOIA springs from deep roots in their extended official family. Just read your own National Security Archive briefing book #142, edited by Dan Lopez, Tom Blanton, Meredith Fuchs, and Barbara Elias. It is a compelling story of how in 1974 President Gerald Ford's chief of staff -- one Donald Rumsfeld -- and his deputy chief of staff -- one Dick Cheney -- talked the President out of signing amendments that would have put stronger teeth in the Freedom of Information Act. "

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