The uprising in Burma-Myanmar reached a fevered pitch this week and reminded us of how important blogging can be. Citizen journalists on the ground reported on skirmishes and posted graphic pictures of death and bloodshed as photographers were cut down by gunfire and monks were killed, beaten, corralled and confined. We may choose not to react, or we may find ourselves impotent against a far off military regime, but we cannot claim ignorance. When the junta cut Internet access I really felt their pain. I am tethered to the Internet at least six hours a day and life without it seems inconceivable. When Myanmar blogs went black it was a cruel reminder that there are still places in the world that can enslave its people and prevent the rest of humanity from peering in.
As of today the people of Myanmar are finding a way to break through the digital iron curtain. Reports and images are coming through an adept London-based blogger, Ko Htike, who is feeding news to CNN and other mainstream media for wider distribution. Burmamyanmargenocide is a good central site that is aggregating news from inside the country. Bloggers inside Burna-Myanmar are risking their jobs, businesses, families, even their lives to get the word out. We have an obligation to pass the news to the widest possible audience.
The President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, zipped through my neighborhood on the upper west side of Manhattan last week, with a quick stop at Columbia. What seemed like a tailor made PR opportunity for the nuke-loving, genocide-denying, great-Satan-hating dictator turned into a humiliating turn as the President of Columbia, Lee Bollinger, excoriated his “petty tyrant” guest. Bollinger was playing to an American audience, but Ahmadinejad was playing to his constituency. The Arab world was sympathetic to the Iranian’s slight by the Great Satan and the Iranian government was emboldened enough to label the CIA and the U.S. military “terrorist organizations.” The rationale is the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, Abu Ghraib, and secret jails in other countries. So, there, after the ‘dialogue’ in the U.S. we are more polarized than ever. So when do we stop talking and start shooting?
Burson blows it big time
While Strumpette was lashing Ogilvy to the whipping post for pimping online gambling, and once again belittling Ronn Torossian for flacking Girls Gone Wild, Burson-Marsteller, supposedly a blue chip PR firm, was really mucking in the sleaze. Burson has been fronting a bogus organization on behalf of Microsoft to try to stop Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick. The organization was PRing for a “more transparent and competitive Internet,” but failed to tell reporters and organizations that Burson was on this mission at the behest of Microsoft. Burson was busted by The Guardian and then The Wall Street Journal followed with an in-depth piece. The organization, Initiative for Competitive Online Marketplaces (ICOMP) now says right up front on its website that this is a Burson-Microsoft scheme. The pathetic list of “signatories” to this initiative underscores its utter failure.
It seems that PR firms will always push the ethical envelope but it is up to individual account people to take responsibility for their actions. I have a simple rule in contacting the media. Within 15 seconds of the call the reporter will know: a) who I am b) who I represent c) why I am calling. No bull, no schemes, no lies. Simple. Burson’s actions here are reprehensible. I would think they know better but obviously they don’t. Let’s see if Harold Burson addresses this sad episode on his blog.
Posted by Bruce Pilgrim Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Talking to My Cats: 9-25-07
Recently, some of the inestimable wit and wisdom of Baghdad Bob was highlighted in this space. This week, class, we'll get better acquainted with misdirection, which Bob called an art. "Disagree with scientists and other so-called 'experts,'" he said. "What the hell do they know? Say it was an accident, a weather balloon, an earthquake, or swamp gas."
Got a program designed to weaken controls on mercury and nitrogen oxide pollution? Call it the "Clear Skies Initiative."
Hope to justify warrantless wiretaps on American citizens? Call it the "Terrorist Surveillance Program."
Want to open up more Federal lands to logging? Call it the "Healthy Forests Initiative."
Somehow this reminds me of the sign at the entrance to Auschwitz: "Arbeit Macht Frei," which roughly translates as "Work Makes One Free."
A great example of this whole euphemism-as-policy gambit is what used to be known as "global warming," which has recently devolved into "climate change." (Sounds so much better, doesn't it? Change can be good, after all.) Despite a preponderance (one might even say a flood) of scientific evidence, right wingnuts such as Senator Jim Imhofe still insist this is a hoax perpetrated by those evil environmentalists.
Baghdad Bob would applaud such efforts, especially when they trot out the argument that global climate warming is "only a theory," as in, "I have a theory that drivers of Humvees are trying to make up for the fact that they have such tiny penises."
Misdirection was also a guiding principle for Bob Murray of Murray Energy Corporation, during the recent disaster at the Crandall Canyon mine in Utah. Another blustering critic of the global warming theory, Murray continued to insist that the mine collapse was caused by an earthquake long after seismologists weighed in to the contrary. Science, schmience, Murray argued. Then he promised to prove the seismologists wrong, and then he didn't, ranting instead about the media and helicopters.
If you don't like, but can't refute, Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, attack Al Gore. He drives a big car and sets out two (TWO!) garbage cans at the end of his driveway every week, the stinking hypocrite! This totally negates everything that environazi says.
My favorite example of applied misdirection is the deliciously insipid notion of the Bible-beating set that evolution is only a theory and that creationism, (excuse me, I meant to say Intelligent Design), is an equally valid theory, and that both theories should discussed side-by-side. These moronic designers try to cast doubt on evolution and instead focus the debate on whether we're descended from chimps – or Presbyterians.
Let's just gloss over the fact that scientific theories are supported by verifiable experimental evidence and are therefore predictive, logical, and testable. If the Very Reverend Rationalization says intelligent design is absolute fact, that's good enough for me. Call it "The Flintstones Hypothesis."
We're constantly being directed to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. This verbal sleight of hand is at once a very slimy and very effective technique, obfuscating the truth with a veneer of "rebuttal," and then either changing the subject or finely mincing words, such as what the actual meaning of the word "is" is. (Or even, as they say in sports, it is what it is.)
Misdirection is the favorite defensive stratagem of used car salesmen. When you point out to the guy in the checkered suit that the car in question has no tires or wheels, he smiles and says "You know, you're right. But just look at this interior."
And if your wrongheaded war continues to get worse year after bloody year and criticism is getting louder and more pointed, and you have no credible defense against these arguments, pretend instead to be outraged by these "disgusting attacks on our troops and the integrity of the general."
Support the troops means putting a magnet on your car and never questioning any presidential decision. Doesn't support the troops also mean providing the finest possible medical and psychological care for those wounded in battle? Not so much. We need those funds for bullets, not bandages. Do you disagree? Then, you must hate freedom.
The calculated "outrage" over Moveon.org's recent "Betray Us" ad is the height of misdirection. It's of a piece with the uproar over Dan Rather's piece on George W. Bush phoning in his National Guard service. By diverting attention to the dubious proof, they avoided discussion as to whether the charges were actually true. Besides, didn’t you see how heroic George looks in a flight suit?
Who was it that put up the “Mission Accomplished” banner? Somewhere Baghdad Bob is smiling.
On Thursday, March 8, 2007 at 7:41 AM, Ronn Torossian, President and CEO of 5WPR, emphatically promised that he was going to sue us. No real reason, he was just irritated by our teasing him about getting in bed with pornographer Joe Francis. Anyway, Ronn gave his obscenity-laced word that we'd see the complaint in 72 hours. It's now late by
Kathleen Durazo about A Measly $2.8 Million Goes Missing, Lawsuit Results Fri, Jul 31, 10:58:34 AM Ray Durazo (the founder) sold the company to Dan in 1999. He was not involved in any of this. He (and I) found out about the lawsuit in the LA Times. In addition to embezzling this m [...]