|By Clyde Lewis
"Whenever the government of the United States shall break up, it will probably be in consequence of a false direction having been given to public opinion. This is the weak point of our defenses, and the part to which the enemies of the system will direct all their attacks. Opinion can be so perverted as to cause the false to seem the true; the enemy, a friend, and the friend, an enemy; the best interests of the nation to appear insignificant, and trifles of moment; in a word, the right the wrong, and the wrong the right."óJames Fenimore Cooper
When I was in high school I was into football until I injured my leg and was laid up at home. My High school football career was ruined and my chance to date some hot cheerleader went with it. So I decided to focus on acting and television journalism.
I went from jock to nerd overnight but I didnít mind.
I was enjoying the things I was learning in these classes and I was especially interested in investigative journalism.
Our school was one of the districtís test schools for television and radio production classes as electives in the curriculum. The television journalism program provided camera equipment and switcher, video tape, audio patching and full studio. Every morning instead of the typical school announcements a closed circuit television system was used to beam the morning news to classrooms promptly at 9:AM.
The school chose anchors from an audition that was held the year before. As an anchor it was not required to take a television production class. I was chosen to anchor the morning news Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridayís.
I shared anchor duties with a very pretty girl named Cynthia Hess. I also took an elective class in television production and used my television production skills to create what I thought at the time was the ultimate investigative report.
My television production teacher asked us to come up with something that needed to be investigated. We had to select a crew of fellow classmates and do a report.
While other class teams got together to investigate how the school lunchroom cuts corners by grinding old meat into sloppy joes, I set out to do a story that looking back in hindsight may have been the first story that defined what I do now.
Usually around "spirit week," a time where the school tries to generate "school spirit" before the homecoming game, the cheerleaders and the school leaders would make commercials asking for donations for something called the "hill fund."
If you didnít donate to the hill fund your school spirit would be placed into question. There were also spirit points given where your class would have a special party thrown for them if they had the most points. Points were tallied at certain events and some of the points were taken from how much money was taken per class for the hill.
It was always "Show your school sprit by donating money to the hill fund."
What was the hill?
Our High School was built on a hill that many people considered an eye sore.
The school itself was built on a precipice of an old gravel pit.
Surrounding the school was grass, trees and a parking lot, but below the school on the hill and near an underpass were rocks, weeds and sagebrush. Graffiti would be scrawled all over the concrete slabs beneath the railroad tracks that crossed the busy highway below.
The tracks would wind their way behind our football field, which at times disturbed the football games.
Every once in a while a train would kick out a spark and start a brush fire. Occasionally the school had to be evacuated if the fire got too close. Someone decided that the hill needed to be landscaped and cleaned up.
However the project would take money. Also I learned that it was taking a lot of time.
About 20 years.
I was offended that my school spirit was questioned because I opted not to donate money to the hill fund when I was a senior.
For two years I donated money and for two years I saw no improvements being made on the hill. The school would raise thousands of dollars a year for the hill fund.
We would have cake auctions where cakes were sold for 200 dollars and we would have local promotions where hamburger stands near the school would donate money if you purchased and Ice cream or fruit pie.
We would create Christmas trees to auction and we even made a huge hoagie sandwich that spanned the entire school.
We sold slices of it for the hill fund.
My investigative report began with the showing of the commercials questioning loyalty and then I put my camera on the school president asking people to donate money and putting it in a huge jar. The student body candidates would always promise in their campaigns to make sure that the hill would be beautified. None of them ever kept the promise.
Hoagies and spirit parades would not change my mind about what I felt was a huge deception. Students were already paying for all kinds of things because of budget cuts and they were asked to shell out more money for some lie.
I focused on the publicity that the local news gave us when we built the giant hoagie. How it would wind around the halls and how we all had to slap down the meat and the lettuce and the cheese.
All for the glorious hill.
The hill that would be plush with green grass, and shrubs, and vegetation of all kinds. All of that money going to create a vision only comparable to the Garden of Eden, with fruit trees and furry bunny rabbits copulating amongst the buttercups and morning glory.
With all of the money they were getting they could have opened a carousel with wooden horses and calliope. With that money they could hire an old man who sells balloons and cotton candy.
I then turned my camera on the Vice Principal and asked him where the money for the hill fund goes.
He explained to me that the money was going to pay for a back hoe driver to come in and remove the concrete slabs that were on the hill. A backhoe was going to remove the gravel, and weeds, The beer bottles, and the rats.
The backhoe was going to remove the dead cat carcasses the old tires and decomposing Slurpee cups left behind as teenagers scramble up the hill to get to science class.
I asked him to give me a report on what improvements were made on the hill and he said that these things donít happen over night.
I said that I understood.
I then contacted my aunt who had attended my high school in 1962.
I asked her about the hill and whether or not they were asked to pay for the hill fund. She said on camera that the pressure to pay for hill improvements had gone back to when she was in high school.
That of course was 20 years ago.
Surely in 20 years there could have been some improvement.
Even Fred Flintstone had dinosaurs that lifted rocks.
I then called the chamber of commerce and asked who I could talk to about the hill and how I could spearhead a hill improvement project for the boy scouts.
The chamber of commerce informed me that I could do nothing to the hill because it was private property. I then asked if the school district owned the property. The woman on the phone said no.
She said that the hill was property of the Rio Grande railroad.
I was stunned.
The Rio Grande Railroad owned the hill. Not the school or the school district.
The hill fund was a sham.
But where was the money going?
I was just a high school kid and my ability to get such top-secret information was limited. However I noticed that after the homecoming football game the high school gym was shut down temporarily.
To install a brand new scoreboard.
I connected the dots and found myself sneaking into the gym to roll camera on the men installing the scoreboard.
I finished up the segment by asking "did our hill fund money go to buying a new scoreboard?"
I thought it was a good report.
However the school administration did not.
The investigative report aired on the schoolís morning news on a day that I didnít anchor. There was no introduction. I watched the report while in my business machines class.
Everyone was excited to see my report and they all thought it was great. Until I revealed that with the administrations permission the student government extorted money from students in order to purchase a new scoreboard for the basketball team. It was as if the whole school had died. An eerie silence fell over the entire school until the bell rang.
The Vice Principalís secretary paged the television teacher over the intercom asking him to pick up the telephone.
The teacher was asked to pick up line one. It was the Vice-principal. He wanted to know who was responsible for the report that was on the air.
The teacher explained who was responsible and immediately I was sent to the vice-principalís office.
I waited outside, frightened because I knew why I was called in the door opened to the Vice-principalís office. He stepped out and walked toward me. He was damn near 7 feet tall and looked like he was mad as hell.
He motioned for me to come inside and without a word pointed to the chair across from his desk.
Along the wall were trophies. I hadnít realized that he was a basketball coach before he became Vice-Principal. Near the trophies were six packs of beer.
I figured that they were trophies too. Beer that he had confiscated at sports events.
He looked at me and then told me that what I had done was irresponsible.
I said that what I did was protected by the constitution. You know, freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
He looked at me and he said that those things only work in a democracy and that school policy was not constitutional or part of a democracy.
I didnít understand what he meant.
He explained to me that the school has rules and that there is a chain of command. He explained that I had no respect for authority and that in order to avoid expulsion I had to go on the morning news and apologize to the student body.
Begrudgingly I felt that in order to save my education I had to knuckle under to school authority and say that my findings were exaggerated and that my reporting was erroneous and that I apologized to those whom I have hurt or otherwise maligned.
Two weeks later I was walking to school and noticed that a Backhoe was parked on the hill and there were palettes of sod waiting to be laid on the hill. The sod stayed on the palettes and remained there the rest of the year, The sod went yellow and dried out over the summer.
It has been another 20 years and now the hill is looking good in my hometown. Not because of the schoolís efforts to improve it but because the Utah Olympics committee said it was an eye sore and the Utah taxpayers had to foot the bill for the hill.
The Olympic Speed skating oval is now across the street.
I guess I learned at an early age how elected administrations can use television as a tool of manipulation and how they can make anything look believable. They used school spirit then, and now I see that country spirit is used as a tool of manipulation.
The biggest insult to me was when they actually brought in a backhoe.
I thought I could escape the insult in my adulthood, but things seldom change and I do believe that God gave me my wild childhood to teach me a few things.
My childhood was there to prepare me for what I am doing now.
Itís been a little over 20 years since my high school days.
I have worked in newsrooms and I have produced all kinds of irreverent commentary and I have been a watchdog for manipulations and lies from Reagan, to Bush, to Clinton, to Bush again.
I look at the marionette that is disguised as the president of the United States and I realize that I am looking at the Hill conspiracy all over again. I supplant school spirit with patriotism, the Hill with the impending war, and the backhoe with the empty warheads that conveniently turned up to get people to change their minds about the question of proof.
While in school I learned about how certain angles and lighting can change the way we look at things. We learned that advertising and manipulation is there to set the agenda for what you, as the consumer should care about.
I recall that one of the effective commercials that we were subjected to was the antiwar commercial that was released in the 1960ís. The commercial featured a young girl in a daisy field.
I cracked open a beer one night sat on my bed and clicked on the television. I was flipping through the channels and somewhere sandwiched between the lame talk shows and infomercials was a young girl in a daisy field.
I thought that I was watching Saturday night live or Mad TV. I was waiting for the punch line and realized that they were recreating the commercial. I felt like I was reliving some moment in my life and wondered if this was my imagination.
I dropped everything and ran through search engine after search engine curious as to why I was re living this moment in television history. I was curious as to why it was replaying and then I realized what the original commercial did.
Tony Schwartz was the man responsible for the original "daisy ad", It was used by the Johnson campaign in 1964 to illustrate his position on the use of nuclear weapons. The ad has been talked about and was the subject of classes and now remade.
It is interesting to note that the ad only ran one time.
In 1984 another effective ad campaign appeared during the third quarter of the Superbowl.
A television commercial that was black and white.
That was odd.
Bald cowed people staring at a screen, futuristic tubes and buildings that look like something from Fritz Langís Metropolis. The drones all sit looking at a pontificating Big Brother figure. Suddenly there is an alarm and a door opens showing a muscular woman carrying a hammer. She is being chased by storm troopers. She hurls a huge hammer at the screen destroying the picture and a bright light appears on the screen.
As the screen explodes, bathing the stunned drones and liberating them a voice-over announces, "On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce the Macintosh. And you'll see why 1984 won't be like "1984."
That commercial only ran once.
It was effective. So much so that many people still remember it vividly.
The internet was well on itís way to facing itís group of fear mongers and PR spinners. More on that later.
In August of 1990 the United States was in full on war mode as we were hearing about the atrocities that were happening as the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was invading Kuwait. There were wars and rumors of war and the stories were becoming more and more frightening. Every horrible act of a madman was put on the television screen.
Iraqi troops stormed into Kuwait threw some 312 babies out of incubators at a Kuwait City hospital and left them on the floor to die. This story was a key piece in the campaign to paint Iraq as totally evil--and to portray the U.S. war against Iraq as a mission to "rescue" Kuwait and "restore democracy."
It only aired once.
It was very effective so much so that people still believe it today.
It was a lie.
The incubator story was part of a pro-Kuwait campaign that was created by Hill & Knowlton. Back then, they were considered one of the largest PR firms in the world.
H&K did much of their business with some of the most powerful men in world government. In the Washington both Republican and Democrat paid top dollar for their services.
Craig Fuller ran the Washington office. He was a close friend and political adviser to George H.W. Bush.
Lauri Fitz-Pegado, the head of H&K's Kuwait campaign of lies, had worked for Ron Brown, who became the Secretary of Commerce in the Clinton administration.
This is the same Ron Brown who died in a plane crash in Coatia back in 1996.
The same Ron Brown who was targeted for investigation and threatened to expose corruption in Washington.
The same Ron Brown that had fragments of a bullet in his skull when an autopsy was performed on his body.
His story is grist for the conspiracy mill.
It was initially reported that "the worst storm in a decade was raging" when Brown's plane was looking to land at the Dubrovnik airport when, in fact, an Air Force investigation concluded that the weather was not a substantially contributing factor to the crash.
However ask any American about what happened. They will tell you it was an accident in a horrible storm.
In the minutes before Brown's plane crashed, five other planes landed without difficulty at the same airport. Brown's plane was piloted by seasoned pilots with many hours of flying time in such an aircraft.
So we could determine that there were problems with ground navigational radar.
But we will never know.
The airport maintenance chief at the Croatian airport died from gunshot wounds just three days later. Officials said his death was a suicide.
Especially when people like Paul Wellstone say bad things about Bush. Then ends up flattened in a plane crash. Itís interesting that bad things happen to people like Al Sharpton who say bad things about Bush, announce their presidential bid and wind up looking at a burned down headquarters.
Itís coincidental that Scott Ritter, the weapons inspector that said that Saddam Hussein was no threat to America in contrary to George Bush ends up being the victim of a character assassination tying him to a sex sting and a 16 year old girl in a sex chat room.
Clandestine conspiracy theories, suspicious death and manipulation have been around for a long time. I always get irritated when I hear bumbling Republican buffoons whining about conspiracy theorists who pin Bush to all sorts of bad things. They say that it is anti-American and disrespects the President.
Itís not just Bush who manipulates. Manipulation created by the powerful has existed for a long time. The art of manipulation goes back millennia. Take a look at the cruciform. A dead man hangs on a cross.
He is bleeding and the image is one of sadness. Yet we are told that a symbol of death and sadness is a symbol of eternal life and happiness.
Today manipulation has gone from subtle to blatant and still the majority are not paying attention for fear that they will come off looking unpatriotic.
Everyday I have to thumb through news reports and see the fickle polls, the reactionary America, and the Pavlovian principle demonstrating how the conditioning process grooms people into thinking that everything is simply put in a box.
Saddam Hussein is evil; he is a fascist dictator. He has weapons of mass destruction.
The words are said enough in the media.
The purpose is to get you to parrot the idea and eventually socially engineer people into believing that he is evil when some of the original evil that was reported back in 1990 was all a part of a huge advertising campaign.
I hear all the time "We know that he is evil, but there is no proof that he has weapons."
When people say this I wonder "Do they know that he is evil?" How much of his evil has been orchestrated by a huge PR firm?
Even news stories are suspect when you realize that most news is generated by PR firms with bottomless budgets to send out press releases made to shape and engineer the war on terror.
A soldier that was heading to Iraq for the impending war was asked on alet night talk show if he in good conscience go and attack Iraq when there is no proof that he has weapons of mass destruction.
He stated that the reason for going into Iraq was not to disarm Saddam, or regime change. He stated that going into Iraq was for the people who died on "Nine Ėone Ėone."
It seems only appropriate that this is the attitude of a lot of Americans.
Recently there have been increases in commercials that attempt social engineering and are meant to preach to us about how the events of 9-11 changed America.
While these commercials give you a feel good message they also remind us of the fear, guilt and resentment that exists below the surface of all Americans that watched in horror as their world came tumbling down in clouds of pulverized concrete and steel.
Social engineering is often subliminal, and very complex.
It has been abused by lobbyists and groups who use lying PR firms to inaccurately express reality. Once again it sets the agenda for what should be cared about.
If there was a lobbying group who created commercials that give some true statistics then perhaps we would be thinking differently.
You are twice as likely to be hit by a car while walking down the street than being killed by a terrorist. You are more than ten times as likely to trip and fall at home than being killed by a terrorist. You are 35 times more likely to die in a car crash while driving than being killed by a terrorist.
When you go out of the house, do you worry about dying from driving, being hit by a car, tripping over and falling to your death, or being hit by lightning?
Of course not.
But do most Americans fear that a terrorist will kill them? How about a sniper? Are you still afraid of being shot by a sniper? Well back in the days of the Washington Sniper everyone was afraid, now the snipers have been caught. Has this done anything to stop the possibility of another sniper? The herd is scared and bewildered.
Lobbyists and fear mongers who want you to be afraid of the new menace are shaping your fears and your attitudes.
The competitive clutter of attention-getting television commercials that attempt to get noticed in areas as critical as "Life and Death" and "Terrorism" are buffered with propaganda that comes directly from our Government officials.
PR firms are responsible for all kinds of stories and people with axes to grind often give us our prejudices, and our attitudes. That is if you are a sheep you will follow.
Let me take you back to the mid 1990's when the Internet was starting to force it's way into mainstream popularity. When people saw it's potential they began looking for all kinds of information. Like children looking up the word Fuck in a library dictionary, and giggling our natural tendency would be to look up the word SEX.
On July 3rd,1993 TIME magazine ran a Cyber Porn cover story. It was based loosely on a college paper written by a College undergraduate named Martin Rimm. Rimm stated in the article that the Internet was nothing but a hive of indecency.
He scared parents into believing that if their children were playing with a keyboard that they could easily access a candy store of erotic and deviant sexual activity.
Anything from Pedophilia, Sado Masochism and bestiality. When he was pressed for questions about his findings, he refused to answer. He signed an exclusive deal with TIME. TIME magazine's Phillip Elmer Dewitt wrote that what was written on the net might be bogus, error-ridden, or just plain wrong. As if TIME magazine wasn't lying to the American people about the Cyberporn scare.
As if it were meant to be, The Time Magazine was waved around by Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley with the warning "That our Children need to be protected from this filth." Scholars came forward to say that what Rimm reported was false and exaggerated. But the damage was done. Rimm's Big Lie was widely broadcast.
By the time more sober observers got around to taking the story apart, millions of people around the country realized that this new toy had dangerous side effects. This from a Magazine that was saying that Gangsta Rap is a great influence and fun music, Just to sell a few records. After all Warner Brothers records needed to make a buck.
It turned out that Rimm was an author of the Pornographers hand book. It was then Time magazine ran a retraction criticizing the Rimm story. However Politicians have found their hook for the virtual cleansing of the net, and the elimination of your right to free speech.
In 1996 Senator Orrin Hatch from Utah, another ignorant conservative, was hot on this issue. Many Senators probably never knew the difference between a mouse, and a penis in their hand, but still told us the Internet was evil. So Congress passed the 1996 Communications Decency act Regulating online Indecency.
There was a piece of worthless propaganda released to make inroads into curbing freedom of Speech.
This from the Clinton administration and supported by Clinton. Another example of a Democrat leader knuckling to pressure from conservative dupes who look for a demon under the bed, or in this case on the net.
Oh but let the Bush sycophants attack me for pointing out all of the flaws of their fearless fascist and I am a liberal. I am anti American, and pro Hussein.
Mass media scares of the past have a funny way of coming back and biting us in our easily duped ass. But sometimes we see subtler and more insidious forms that have the blessing of our leaders who delight in deceiving us.
Take the case of the Clinton administration's drug war propaganda project.
In 1997, the Clinton administration launched a subtle campaign to put in popular television programs anti-drug messages. It was exposed in the year 2000.
It can be considered to be low involvement suggestion or blatant disinformation when television shows are paid off to put anti-drug messages in their scripts.
It is the sneak pitch. It is somewhat subliminal, but not entirely. It is effective manipulation.
This form of government intervention in pop culture is so clandestine that it crosses the line into unacceptable propagandizing by the government.
It moved slowly and subtly and now it seems to be common place as the current puppet government plays hob with the mind and completely generates a overreacting populace.
This is subterfuge from the most powerful.
Where does it end? It most certainly does not end with the drug war. It is now a part of the war on terror and the prospect sickens and contributes to myopic and distorted views and attitudes about the human experience.
The President had made use of subtle hinting and subliminal manipulation in his state of the Union address.
"Imagine those 19 hijackers with other weapons and other plans, this time armed by Saddam Hussein. Take one vial, one canister, one crate, slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known. We will do everything in our power to make sure that that day never comes."-- President Bush
That is the idea isnít it?
To try and change the public opinion with hyperbole and speculation that places Saddam Hussein as the trigger man as well as his evil counter part Osama Bin laden in the horrible events of 911.
Bush also has borrowed a few tricks from the old days where dear old dad quoted as truth the stories concocted from PR companies about the horrible atrocities that Iraqiís under the mesmerizing control of Saddam commit with gay abandon.
"This dictator, who is assembling the world's most dangerous weapons, has already used them on whole villages Ė leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind, or disfigured. Iraqi refugees tell us how forced confessions are obtained Ė by torturing children while their parents are made to watch. International human rights groups have catalogued other methods used in the torture chambers of Iraq: electric shock, burning with hot irons, dripping acid on the skin, mutilation with electric drills, cutting out tongues, and rape. If this is not evil, then evil has no meaning. ĖPresident Bush
We are not at all quick to mention that depleted Uranium warheads dropped on Iraq and other countries by our own military have already disfigured many babies and have left them with no mouths, hydranencephaly, and other disfigurements.
Bush wonít cop to how he continues to manipulate his audiences by placing low impact slogans or slogans of low involvement thought on backdrops where he speaks.
He neglects to demonstrate that in St. Louis he aimed to deceive his audience and may have even broke the law.
He wanted to make a stop and talk about economics. So he loaded up a group of supporters, put them in a warehouse, which guarantees that no one will question him or protest or otherwise embarrass him while he hangs a backdrop behind that shows boxes with "made in USA" on them.
He paints a big slogan within camera range that says "Strengthening America's Economy," this of course is the low involvement idea placement that eventually becomes the buzzword in St. Louis.
Now comes the secret that leaked out.
Millions of Americans saw it on their television sets. Bush stood in a factory warehouse in St. Louis, surrounded by shelves full of boxes stamped "Made In U.S.A". Many were unaware that the whole exercise was made up.
At First the Whitehouse denied that they were involved in the manipulation. Then they finally admitted to it.
It's no wonder that the White House tried to lie about its role in the fraudulent photo-opportunity. The efforts of the White House to use journalists to spread deceptive images has been pointed out in previous Ground Zero Shows and articles.
But I have been told that the manipulation that I see is only my paranoid delusions.
Now the whole "Boxgate" scam has been downplayed as an act of an overzealous volunteer.
However it is in violation of the law.
Title 19, Chapter 4, Subtitle II, Part 1, Sec. 134.11, "Every article of foreign origin (or its container) imported into the United States shall be marked in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly and permanently" as possible, "in such manner as to indicate to an ultimate purchaser . . . [the] name of the country of origin of the article. . . any person who, with intent to conceal the information . . . defaces, destroys, removes, alters, covers, obscures, or obliterates any mark required under the provisions of this chapter shall -- (1) upon conviction for the first violation . . . be fined not more than $100,000 or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both."
The biggest laugh of all is that this is enforced by Customs, now part of the Department of Homeland Security.
This is the legacy of the Bush presidency, they are making it up as they go, and they are making it up in the USA.
When Bush spoke to the United Nations he said this
"The dictator of Iraq is not disarming To the contrary, he is deceiving."óPresident Bush
I receive all kinds of letters everyday telling me that I am ignorant, that I am blind and that I have been deceived.
I am told that I am anti American and that the President is a good man.
I am told that Saddam Hussein is a mad man and that he needs to be eliminated.
I say that all of those people, while being sincere have been manipulated, by stories that have been made up in America.
Stories made up in order to make up the minds of Americans.
The question is; who makes up your mind?
Copyright 1998-2007 Ground Zero Media, Clyde Lewis, and John Hart. All Rights Reserved.