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David Sirota
David Sirota
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Fear, Loathing and the Crisis of Confidence


Just a few weeks ago, Scripps Howard News Service and Ohio University released a little-noticed study showing that one-third of Americans now "believe in a broad smorgasbord of conspiracy theories" revolving around government complicity in everything from the 9/11 attacks to the Kennedy assassination. The same survey last year found that "anger against the federal government is at record levels."

It would be easy to chalk up these troubling findings to the unending propaganda of fear. America has been experiencing the searing blast of politicized terror warnings and breaking news graphics for the better part of six years now, and populations living under such constant government and media shock treatment can go a wee bit berserk.

But while many of these conspiracy theories are offensive and factually unsupported, the underlying paranoia and loathing are not surprising, and the feelings are not motivated merely by a fear of the next bogeyman around the corner. The sentiments are symptoms of a deep crisis of confidence in our public institutions — a crisis that is a predictable reaction to a government that now all but admits it breaks laws, hides information and disregards the public.

We have seen troops sent to war based on manipulated intelligence. We have discovered phones wiretapped without warrants. Just last week, we found out the CIA destroyed tapes of potentially illegal torture sessions. So many scandals now plague the government, it is hard to remember them all. And they have all happened with almost no consequences for the perpetrators.

Nonetheless, every era has its sensational scandals, and so it is probably the mundane that has heated the public's low-grade disgust into a simmering boil. After all, what we see our government and our representatives quietly do every day tells us far more than even the headline-grabbing controversies.

Industries essentially bribe politicians with campaign contributions. Government employees regularly move into six-figure jobs lobbying for the industries they once regulated. Presidential candidates of both parties take time off from their small-town stump speeches about the middle class to hold big corporate fundraisers in New York penthouses and D.C. law firms. All of it is legal and treated as ho-hum by the media.

Then there is the bureaucracy, the faceless monolith whose civil service protections and multiyear appointment terms were supposed to prevent it from becoming what it is today: an increasingly important cog in the corrupt machine.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) provides perhaps the most pristine example of all.

In October, the General Accounting Office (GAO) reported that this faceless alphabet-soup agency tasked with regulating the media business now regularly leaks secret information to lobbyists before that information is released to the public. The behavior undoubtedly feeds into the world of "political intelligence" — a burgeoning cottage industry in Washington whereby well-heeled lobbyists gather inside government information for their corporate clients.

A federal agency that even mildly cared about trying to serve the public or follow the law would react to the GAO's damning report by at least pretending to change. Instead, the FCC dug in.

When lobbyists recently pushed the government to relax ownership regulations and allow for further media consolidation, FCC chairman Kevin Martin provided just one week's notice for a required public hearing on the issue. Officially, the FCC held the hearing to consider public input about the proposed rule change. But Martin later told Congress that before the hearing ever happened he was already putting the finishing touches on his New York Times op-ed formally endorsing the media consolidation plan. And surprise! This week, the FCC officially ratified Martin's deregulation scheme, making it the law of the land.

Like so much of our government's behavior these days, it was kabuki theater at its most obscene — an obscure yet powerful agency getting caught leaking profit-making secrets to lobbyists, and then telling the public its hearings are all a put-on, taking place well after the corrupt deals have already been cut.

In Scripps Howard's report on its poll findings, some experts expressed astonishment at the anger being expressed by the country. But really, we should be baffled if public opinion were any different. Considering what's going on, is anyone actually stunned that America is enraged? Is anyone really confused about why so many believe the government conspires against the public?

David Sirota is the bestselling author of "Hostile Takeover" (Crown, 2006). He is a senior fellow at the Campaign for America's Future and a board member of the Progressive States Network — both nonpartisan research organizations. His daily blog can be found at To find out more about David Sirota and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



8 Comments | Post Comment
How many more so-called scandals, how much more deceipt and corruption, will Amerikans tolerate? It is way beyond time for a new system of government in the U.S. Continually "electing" the wealthy elite is nothing more than feeding the disease. 2008 and beyond will see nothing different if Clinton, Obama, Romney and the like are elected, or as is the case now, allowed to steal the election as those in 2000 and 2004 were. It's way past time to put this anger and rage to constructive ends.
Comment: #1
Posted by: william sweetling
Fri Dec 21, 2007 9:33 AM
Does anyone remember the 'Boston Tea Party'? Are we there yet? Somehow I think this nation needs a clean sweep of Washington - all new people in 2008 equally divided among all the currently registered parties. It is time for a major change in government - WAKE UP PEOPLE! Make your votes count in 2008 - replace everyone.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Dick
Fri Dec 21, 2007 9:41 AM
David, you just scratched the surface of the things to be angry about:

How about the privatization of the government? Lockheed is more in control of the government than anybody else because privatization by contract.

How about the dissolution of the United States as a sovereign nation - standing up the 'Free Trade Area of the Americas' which is just a different name for the North American Union - same concept as the European Union?

How about the NAFTA Superhighway (and yes... it does exist) and the police state technology that comes with it (GPS tracking, RFID, smart vehicle technology including remote control, data collection hubs, toll roads, etc.)

How about the illegal invasion of our country by foreign nationals - not exclusively from Mexico - but primarily? The invasion is being facilitated in furtherance of the North American Union.

How about the new federalism? "Market-based governance" which is just plain and dirty fascism.

How about the replacement of American professionals in our job market with imported cheap labor on visas? Consider how you might feel if you lost everything you worked for in life because they wanted to replace you with a cheap foreign imported work. How angry do you think that might make you? And adding insult to injury - to have to listen to the corporate propaganda of "shortages" which is code for cheap labor.

And of course.. the "conspiracy" of 9/11 not theory... fact. Inside job... fact. Government promotions for the guilty... nobody punished.

I could go on.... but I think that's enough. As Terry Anderson says, "if you ain't angry, you ain't paying attention'. In my case - it's beyond anger. It's rage.

Comment: #3
Posted by: eyeswideoopen
Fri Dec 21, 2007 10:18 AM
9/11 not an inside job? Let see if you can read these two papers and still think that?

We are being lied to; learn the truth:
Comment: #4
Posted by: Bret Hughes
Fri Dec 21, 2007 11:06 AM
The article hit the nail dead center. Maybe overwhelming the nations with crimes was a political strategy. It sure looks that way. The amazing thing is they still act as if they are highly principled and pious. Utterly in denial about how they've affected the nation's morale. Bush and the 2-parties could demoralize Charles Manson.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Area56
Fri Dec 21, 2007 2:59 PM
I realize that responsible journalists have to separate their own personal opinions -- even their convictions -- from their obligation to see and report all sides. Thank heaven that some are still capable of such.
But it's only too plain that truth and public accountability have gone entirely by the board, with this presidential administration. The crew in office is an offshoot of the Chicago School of Economic Jihad, and its imperial policies are designed to bring the world under the economic sway of our own home-grown Greed-as-God sharks.
Under such circumstances, Sirota of course must follow his own ethics of responsible reportage. But all should realise that the entire system of ethics the media employs is being used against it. Reporters are told which stories to cover, and largely how to cover them. Story submissions that don't make the page are not likely to be emulated. Most "reporting" viewed these days is done by party house organs like Faux.
Find your sources and guard them well if you can. It's almost too late to take advantage of your Second Amendment privilege to bear arms...
Comment: #6
Posted by: Dan Mortenson
Fri Dec 21, 2007 3:26 PM
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE---Can't someone start a movement to make lobbying and lobbyists ILLEGAL???? The average American doesn't stand a chance when up against the huge corporations! Since when is it O.K. for corporations to run a government? I think the time has come for something to be done--but HOW do we go about doing it? Writing your congressman does VERY little--if they even take the time to respond, it's like, "Thank you for your interest." I think our nation is in a sorry state right now!
Comment: #7
Posted by: judy pilarski
Sun Dec 23, 2007 9:10 AM
Here are just a few of the many distinguished individuals who believe in "conspiracy theories":
Paul Craig Roberts, known as the "Father of Reaganomics," was the assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration and an editor of the Wall Street Journal, among other prestigious titles.
John Lear, the son of Bill Lear, founder of the Lear Jet Corporation, who is the only pilot to hold every FAA airplane certificate, to include airplane transport rating, flight instructor, ground instructor, flight navigator, engineer, aircraft dispatcher, airframe powerplant mechanic, parachute rigger, and tower operator. He flew secret missions for the CIA in Central and Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa between 1966 and 1983. He has flown as Captain and check pilot for over 10 different airlines. John held 17 world records including speed around the world in a Lear Jet Model 24, set in 1966. He was presented with the PATCO award for outstanding airmanship in 1968, and the Symons Wave memorial. He was the youngest American to climb the Matterhorn in Switzerland in 1959 and in the 1970's owned and skippered the Americas Cup boat, the Soliloquy, out of Marina Del Rey. Here's what this fool had to say about 9/11: "Well, you know, five minutes after it happened, I knew that it was a scam. ... No Boeing 757 ever crashed into the Pentagon. No Boeing 757 ever crashed at Shanksville. ... And no Arab hijacker, ever in a million years, ever flew into the World Trade Center. And if you got 30 minutes I'll tell you exactly why he couldn't do it the first time. Now, I'd have trouble doing it the first time...Maybe if I had a couple tries to line up a few building, I could have done it. But certainly not the first time and certainly not at 500 or 600 miles an hour."
Capt. Russ Wittenberg, U.S. Air Force - Retired commercial pilot. Flew for Pan Am and United Airlines for 35 years. Aircraft flown: Boeing 707, 720, 727, 737, 747, 757, 767, and 777. 30,000+ total hours flown. Had previously flown the actual two United Airlines aircraft that were hijacked on 9/11 (Flight 93, which impacted in Pennsylvania, and Flight 175, the second plane to hit the WTC). Former U.S. Air Force fighter pilot with over 100 combat missions: "I flew the two actual aircraft which were involved in 9/11; the Fight number 175 and Flight 93, the 757 that allegedly went down in Shanksville and Flight 175 is the aircraft that's alleged to have hit the South Tower. I don't believe it's possible for, like I said, for a terrorist, a so-called terrorist to train on a [Cessna] 172, then jump in a cockpit of a 757-767 class cockpit, and vertical navigate the aircraft, lateral navigate the aircraft, and fly the airplane at speeds exceeding it's design limit speed by well over 100 knots, make high-speed high-banked turns, exceeding -- pulling probably 5, 6, 7 G's. And the aircraft would literally fall out of the sky. I couldn't do it and I'm absolutely positive they couldn't do it."
Dec. 13, 2007:
Seven Senior Federal Engineers and Scientists Call for New 9/11 Investigation - Official Account of 9/11 "Impossible", "Hogwash", "Fatally Flawed":
Dec. 4, 2007:
Eight Senior Republican Administration Appointees Challenge Official Account of 9/11 - "Not Possible", "a Whitewash", "False":
Sep. 23, 2007:
Seven CIA Veterans Challenge 9/11 Commission Report - Official Account of 9/11 a "Joke" and a "Cover-up":
That is just the tip of the iceberg. Here's the latest out of Italy from Ferdinando Imposimato - Honorary President of the Suprema Corte di Cassazione (Supreme Court of Italy). Former Senior Investigative Judge, Italy. Presided over several terrorism-related cases, including the kidnapping and ultimate assassination of President Aldo Moro (1978), the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II (1981), other political assassinations and kidnapping cases and several cases against the Mafia. Former Senator who served on the Anti-Mafia Commission in three administrations. Former legal consultant to the United Nations regarding institution of laws to control drug trafficking. Former President of TRIO (Transplant Recipient International Organization). Author of Un juge en Italie : pouvoir, corruption, terrorisme. Les dossiers noirs de la Mafia (2000), La Grande Menzogna (2006): "The basic thesis of my book (La Grande Menzogna, 2006), which is based on documents, declarations, testimonies, legal proceedings and the results of investigations by American commissions is simple: the War in Iraq was not the just and unavoidable answer of the United States and Great Britain to the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, which they blamed on the treachery and malice of Saddam Hussein and who they also claimed was guilty of attempting to obtain atomic weapons in order to destroy the unsuspecting and innocent America.
In reality, the War in Iraq, waged against the will of the overwhelming majority of world-wide public opinion, Pope John Paul II, and the United Nations, although it was launched 20 March 2003, had been planned for a long time before that. There were multiple objectives for the War: the conquest of the oil resources of the Middle East, the extension of the imperial dominion of the United States and the support to the war industry of America, which spends 450 billions of dollars each year (the same amount as all the rest of the world combined and it all goes to a single entity: the Pentagon).
In order to justify this unjust war and its deaths, that still today kills thousands of innocent victims in Iraq and all over the world, with unpredictable effects on international peace, a gigantic conspiracy came into being, that saw the participation of the CIA, the Mossad, M15 (the British service) and of the SISMI (Italy's Military Intelligence and Security Service), of some journalists of the Washington Post and the New York Times, and the main collaborators in the White House and the Pentagon. ...
The War in Iraq, in truth, was predicated on two false schemes prepared well before 9/11. The first was that Saddam had tried to import uranium ore [Yellowcake] from Niger, which was in the planning nine months before 9/11, the Joint British Committee Intelligence wrote in a its relationship: "confirmed sources do not say that the Iraqis are interested in acquiring uranium". The second one was that Saddam Hussein had ties with the the terrorists of 9/11." (Original in Italian)
In fact, if you outside the U.S. and aren't subject to the propaganda that we are constantly bombarded with by the mainstream media here, chances are it's a foregone conclusion that the 9/11 "terrorist attacks" were not committed by 19 Arabs, at least nine of whom are of course still alive. The rest of the world (with the possible exception of Israel, although the "Israeli art students" who were seen rejoicing as the towers fell did admit on television in Israel that they were here to videotape the event. How they knew in advance has not been adequately explained. I'll leave the research on that to you. Lord knows these fools who believe this idiocy are bound to come up with something.
Comment: #8
Posted by: Dan
Wed Jan 2, 2008 10:04 PM
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