Jim Austin's Vermonter at Large
Jim Austin
Jim Austin
is a freelance writer from Putney, Vermont.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 05.05.03



U.S. troops are certainly making headway in their plan to "liberate" the Iraqi people. Last week Operation Iraqi Freedom soldiers permanently liberated fourteen Iraqi demonstrators into the hands of Allah.

I was surprised to see that this kind of reporting was allowed to surface. Lately I get the feeling that our news services are just another tentacle of the Bush government.

My uneasy feeling pretty much turned to despair when I heard General Tommy Franks say that he didn't really know much about civilian casualties because; "we don't do body counts." At this point his nose grew until it bumped into the FOX mic that he was speaking to. I started thinking about civilian casualties after General Franks (what a misnomer) made his incredible statement.

Why is it that with all those "embedded" newsmen we didn't hear much about the Iraqi noncombatants that were killed?

If you look at Newsworld International you might get a story about Iraqi hospitals filled to overflowing with civilians who lie in the dark with no medicine, as their limbs turn black from gangrene.

On MSNBC we get the story of the doe-eyed Iraqi boy who lost limbs from a Republican Guard killing spree and is being flown to California for treatment. How would you feel if you were the kid in the next bed with same injuries, only you had an overbite and a bad complexion. "No photo-ops at Disneyland for you, Abu,"

I discovered Newsworld International on a channel-surfing expedition the other day. It coordinates clips from around the globe including Canadian, British, Asian, and American news agencies. The correspondents that NBC trots out are definitely not ready for prime time.

Instead of blow-dried lantern-jawed baritones or surgically enhanced botox babes you get ordinary looking humans. How did they get these jobs? Could they be journalists?

Newsworld is part of a European conglomerate. They haven't figured out how to homogenize and spin the news for tax concessions yet. You even get world sports news on this show.

In UK rugby news, Bristol fell to the Saracens by a score of 17 16. Imagine keeping a name like the "Saracens" (an ancient tribe from Syria). If they happened to be from Rhode Island they would no doubt be renamed "The Freedoms."

One source that you can rely on to fill in the blanks is "The Nation." It is not owned by any multi-national and is supported by left-wing weirdoes like myself and assorted subversive book publishers that you have never heard of. They never fail to read between the lines of our government's pronouncements or get at the nub of a story before it is strained through the maggoty cheesecloth of FOX News.

The Nation's David Corn followed the story of our military's failure to find any Weapons of Mass Destruction. According to Mr. Corn. we haven't even tried to find any WMD. No specific teams of searchers have been sent out to scour the countryside. The secret intelligence proving WMD that Colin Powell said he couldn't reveal to the U.N. have not been in evidence.

Remember that? Powell and Rummy saying we can't reveal what we know because it will compromise our agents. So where are they? And even if they do find some six months down the line, will they ever know how much they missed and who has them now?

Sure jumped on those oil wells though didn't they. Didn't lose any of them.

It was Bush's elaborate "newspeak" that had us believing that Iraq was a serious threat to the world and us. Iraq has been revealed as a paper tiger, riddled with disease from years of sanctions and toothless but for a few short-range missiles that they hurriedly destroyed just as American forces were massing on its borders.

How pathetic. Like Orwell's Big Brother. our President is using high-tech media to manipulate us, his opine flock of unthinkers. Iraq was no more a threat to us than Monaco. Our war served to enrage an Arab world that hated us intensely before we started liberating Iraq. More terrorism will give us an excuse to target another Middle Eastern country.

And now that you mention it, Canada has been pretty damn uppity these days with their non-support of our Eastern ambitions. In fact, they may well be hiding Weapons of Mass Destruction. Nobody needs that many hockey arenas.

And that SARS virus outbreak in Toronto? Accident in a bio-weapons lab? Maybe we should bring back "Fifty-four Forty or Fight."*

*James Polk's campaign slogan threatening war on Canada if they didn't relinquish rights to the area north of the current Oregon border.