What is a Taboo Question and How Does Someone Know What is Taboo and What is Acceptable?
I have been a professor of economics and geography (and have taught other subjects like statistics, logic, critical thinking, genocide, international law–that are all part of a totality that we carve up and stuff into little boxes that little minds can handle and find comfort, pleasure, power,status, wealth rather than fear, risk, uncertainty or challenge in-that is mainstream economics.) for over 30 years. In my classes I give for extra credit the following assignment: With respect to any culture, any period of history, any person with life and death power over people and careers, construct a scenario of a journalist asking this person of power a question guaranteed to get him or her killed and/or their careeers totally wiped out.
This exercise has several dimensions and purposes. First of all, it teaches some critical thinking by doing; not as abstract principles or a list of logical fallacies, but as a system for posing and attacking certain questions as well as for rank-ordering which wquestions are more vital than others in need of answers.
This also does not put the student in a bind in terms of favored questions or ideological perspectives of say me, the professor, the person giving the extra-credit. They can pick any person, from any period of history, without fear or favor. One student set up a press conference in Germany, 1935 in the Reichschancellory with Hitler and asked him: “Mein Fuhrer, you celebrate the “Aryan Ideal” in human physique, blond, tall, muscular, blue-eyed, but you sir, are short, brown-haired, brown-eyed and non-muscular; does this not suggest that you are “non-Aryan” and a candidate for any special measures you have planned for non-Aryans such as those you mentioned in Mein Kampf?
This exercise also shows that the “Mainstream” news media, that is about profits, market share, market power, competitiveness, accumulation of power and access to movers-and-shakeers, and those who work for these organizations, the Ken and Barbie dolls who read teleprompters and wax so eloquent and serious, know the game of ACCESS. They know without having to be told, what is a TABOO and career, if not even life, ending question.
Anyone remember when Helen Thomas, the “Dean of the White House Press Corps” was frozen out by GW Bush for over two years because of some question he did not like? Remember the press conferences where Bush actually taunted her and made a point that she was no longer getting the first or any question previously given as deference to her many years in the White House press corps.
So in this Blog within a Blog, we solicit questions to pose at the press conferences of Obama and Romney. Let these types of questions get posed as well as some from history never posed that should have been to illustrate what TABOO QUESTIONS look like:
OK. Try This. QUESTIONS FOR BILL CLINTON:
White House press conference. Your are a journalist over thirty years. It is 1999 and not only is the Lewinsky scandal yielding all sorts of juicy details about “presidue” on blue dresses, phone sex at 2 am (on an unsecure line–Lewinsky’s–which made Bill’s unsecure also and was bugged by a “foreign power” Israel according to the “Porn Classic” made into many movies “The Star Report” and according to “Gideon’s Spies” by Gordon Thomas) but you just got word you have terminal illness; your life is a waste and your colleagues would cut your throat in a minute for your ACCESS (the “Coin of the Realm” in MSM land) in he White House; and you are going through this whole “Willy Loman Moment” (Death of a Salesman) and say “Screw it” Sort of a “Howard Beale Moment” as in Network by Paddy Chayevsky.
Bill: “Yes, Yes, no, not you Fox, Walter, Walter, MSBS Network, (Mainstream BS Network) did you have a question? By the way Walter, and we go way back (Bill’s schmooz-a-thon is getting warmed up) congratulations on that Pulitzer on your coverage of the role of faith and compassion in the life of Lyndon Johnson; what is your question Walter?”
Walter: “Mr. President, thank you for your kind words. This will be my last press conference as I just found out I will die soon, so this is a special momement for me.
Mr President, with the revelation that your dna was matched with the infamous “presidue” found on Ms Lewinsky’s blue dress, that suggests that you were not practicing safe sex, or safe whatever depending it was upon what the meaning of is is, or yes, perhaps the condom leaked, in any case, did you have an HIV test and suggest the same for Ms. Lewinsky, and did you advise Hillary to have a test for HIV assuming you have marital relations? Do you not have a responsibility to set an example for the youth on the issue of safe sex?
And if I could have a follow up Mr. President?”
Bill: With a cross between pure shock and horror (seeing that future Nobel Peace Prize turn into maybe a Nobel Piece Prize,) on the one hand and the look of a Mafia Don about to order a whole ton of paper down on someone, or maybe worse…
Walter: “Mr President, as a follow-up, is there really such a thing as “safe sex” (or safe conversations on phones of mistresses outside of the white house and near foreign embassies or near forces with evil intent and very good at blackmail) or consensual sex or “private business”, any time in the White House, given what is at stake? What if you are “copping a Lewinsky” while the missles are coming in or worse when Hillary is coming in?
Walter: Mr. President, the Bible you carry so prominently for the tv cameras these days to Church, speaks of the Golden rule and my question, sir, is What if the situation were say your daughter Chelsea being asked or oferring to improve her GPA at Stanford via the same kind of “consensual”, “private”, “adult” relationship that you have been exposed as having had with Ms Lewinsky, against your open denials on tv, with that wagging crooked finger, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms Lewinsky… “, relations that many of your supporters are saying is no big deal? In that case would it also be “no big deal” and have all those aspects of private and consensual behavior not a public issue” often attributed by your supporters to your own situation?
Walter: Mr. President, your foundation the Clinton Global Initiative has done some fine work with and for victims of HIV-AIDS in the world. As a result of your contact with those suffering HIV and AIDS infection, did this give you some insight as to just how reckless, self-indulgent and dangerous on so many levels, was your own obvious unprotected sexual relations, or whatever you call them, with Ms Lewinsky and others?
How is that? Are those not legitimate questions on critical issues of national security, fitness for office, potential blackmail, compromise of political institutions with lower approval ratings than Congress or Ted Bundy.
or, on the direct issue of “National Security”:
Walter: Mr President, the Irish author of over 40 books many on intelligence, Gordon Thomas, in his book “Gideon’s Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad” Thomas Dunne Books, Updated for 2009, pp. 102-104 alleges that Israel had a high-level mole co-named “Mega” for which there had been an ongoing mole hunt by FBI and CIA since the end of the George H.W. Bush Adminsitration. Thomas claims that the Mossad had Lewinsky’s phone bugged, which would circumvent your own security inside the White House when calling to a private outside number, and that they knew and taped all that was going on in your phohe-sex conversations with Ms Lewinsky. Thomas also claims that your pardon at the end of your term of office, of wanted fugitive Marc Rich, an alleged Israeli asset, was also driven by blackmail from Israel, as well as was the alleged suspension of the mole hunt on your orders, in late 1998 according to Thomas. What is so troubling sir, is that Thomas’ book on the Mossad, now in the 6th edition, was praised by the former Director General of the Mossad, Meir Amit who said of this book: “Tells it like it was–and is.”
Walter: So my question sir is is it not true that the Lewinksy business, or that kind of stuff by any sitting president, is not simply “time off” or “down time” and nobody’s business; are there not and were there not serious national security implications in your philandering and cover-ups that made you subject to blackmail?
OK, now one without the humor and frills attached?
QUESTIONS FOR G.W. BUSH
The scene is the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. and George W. Bush has just made a very public and tearful visit, right before an election where the Jewish vote in Florida is critical, and he makes a speech and gives a press conference on what he saw and how we was moved. Our “Dean of Journalism”, a 30-year veteran reporter, going through one of these Willy Loman moments with nothing to lose asks:
Walter: Mr. President, as you saw the exhibits in the Holocaust Museum, what were your thoughts given that your family wealth was mostly built on your grandfather Prescott Bush and your great grandfather George Herbert Walker after whom you are named, being principal financiers of Hitler and the Nazis from 1924 onward; their trading with the enemy during wartime which resulted in the assets of their bank the Union Banking Corporation being seized in November 18, 1942 under Vesting order 248 for Trading with the Enemy during Wartime; and of course there is the Synfuel plant at Auschwitz that used slave labor in which your grandfather and great grandfather were co-investors with Fritz Thyssen, and that yielded a trust of $1.5 million dollars when liquidated in 1946 for a trust fund for your father George H.W. Bush after the war. So how did the Holocaust Museum exhibit move you given your family history and wealth and how it was really built?
This time Barack Obama:
QUESTIONS FOR OBAMA
OK, another one, this time Barack Obama and again our veteran and burned-out Reporter Walter is on the job and having one of his moments of courage and candor as he considers the sweep of his life, how many Faustian Bargains he made over the years for that ACCESS, that not only brought him the SCOOPS, that gave him EXPOSURE, that brought him RATINGS, that brought him CELEBRITY, AWARDS, SPEAKING GIGS, PROMOTIONS, all that then brought him even more and EXPANDED ACCESS to the Big Boys. In fact, Walter, like Dan Rather (who later found out how DENIAL OF ACCESS works when you do not play the game and get into TABOO SUBJECTS like George Bush AWOL during Wartime from the Champaign Squadron of the Texas Air Guard and the Alabama Air Guard that had no airplanes) and Tom Brokaw, Charlie Rose, George Stephanopoulas, and other big names, all started out as Stenographers to the “Masters of the Universe”, and now are fringe parts or elements of the “Masters of the Universe” themselves; they now go to Bilderberg, Bohemian Grove, Trilateral Commission, Council on Foreign Relations, Davos, and other venues where the few gather under extreme secrecy, just to chat a bit about policy but not make it they claim, where they all take an oath not to reveal or report on what was said, and never by whom, was anything in specific said. And they call themselves reporters.
Walter: Mr President, in his biography of you, “The Bridge” The Life and Rise of Barack Obama” David Remnick recounts how you got your first real job as a community organizer before going into politics. He notes that it was a full-time job registering African-American voters, of whom some 340,000 were not registered thus a desperate need for a full-time organizer. But according to Remnick, you tried to make it only part-time gig, carried your work on the book everywhere, as you were very concerned, even obsessed about getting your first book out “Dreams From My Father” in which you admitted to regular use of marijuana and “blow” as you put it, or cocaine, which was then and remains a major felony.
My questions are two-fold Mr. President: First, were you obsessed with getting your book out and revealing your drug use prior to running for political office in a calculated move so that you could get the issue of your drug use (especially with many witnesses to your drug use still alive) out and so that you could deal with it and get politically inoculated from the issue prior to running for office?
And also, Mr. President, since some 700,000 persons are in prison for simple possession and not even trafficking of marijuana and cocaine, and the only differences between them and you is they got caught and you did not, and they did not have the connections and privileges you have had (prep schools, elite universities, networking connections, patronage of rich Chicago liberals and remnants of the old Daley Machine?–“Vote early vote often and vote dead”) Why not pardon all of them turn them lose which would also help to reduce deficits and debt as well as prison overcrowding?
ON THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF THE COMMODIFIED CAPITALIST MASS MAINSTREAM MEDIA
For the MSM journalists, each story, no matter how tragic, is simply a “piece”, a commodity that is produced for sale, profit, power, access and the other “coins of the realm” of MSM journalism. For the individual reporter it is about which “piece” will get him or her noticed by management and the public, which piece will get him or her better ACCESS to bigger stories, and celebrities; which will get him or her ACCESS to the next and even bigger SCOOP; that will then translate into greater EXPOSURE; that leads to higher RATINGS; that leads to CELEBRITY in journalism and other venues; that translates into an expanded rolodex and greater ACCESS…
We have all seen reporters, with misery and pain all around them, people starving at their feet, and they can only thrust a microphone and camera into the faces and pain of those at the feet, while they look well-fed even obese in some cases, and come up with “Well, how do you FEEL about the loss of four of your five children?” Do you think it would be any better under those terrorists that America is trying to liberate you from?” And by the way, thanks for the “piece” and of course, “Have a Nice Day”… Yeah,right…
These are the CORE AND INTERRELATED IMPERATIVES in the SPIRAL OF SUCCESS in MSM Journalism. But the SPIRAL OF SUCCESS works in a downward trajectory as well–as Dan Rather and others that ventured into TABOO territory found out. DENIAL OF ACCESS leads to LOSS OF EXPOSURE; which leads to DOWNWARD RATINGS; which leads to LOSS OF CELEBRITY; which leads to LOSS OF ACCESS…This is understood by all in MSM and the lessons from the likes of Dan Rather, once an attendee with the big boys in the places of power, now is on the margins of MSM at best.<
This works the same in Entertainment and Academia. They both also require ACCESS to the BIG GRANTS, PREFERRED COURSES AND RESEARCH LOADS, PRESTIGIOUS UNIVERSITIES AND THINK TANKS and for those in Entertainment, it is ACCESS to the BIG STUDIOS, PICTURES, MUSIC HITS, SPEAKING VENUES, AGENTS, ETC.
In MSE (Mainstream Capitalist-based) Entertainment the SPIRAL OF SUCCESS goes like this:
The SPIRAL OF SUCCESS IN MSA (Mainstream Academia)
And in MSA (Mainstream Academia where I have been for many years) The Faustian Deals, The Whoring, the naked Patronage, networking and the like give rise to a Spiral of SUCCESS in Academia that looks like this:
CORE IMPERATIVES OF ALL ENTITES AND ORGANIZATIONS OPERATING UNDER CAPITALIST SYSTEMS, RULES AND STRUCTURES
Imperatives and Terms:
COMPETITIVENESS (means in terms of lower prices, better quality and service, insider contacts, ETC.) and ability to MAXIMIZE PRODUCED (YET UNREALIZED) MAXIMUM POSSIBLE SURPLUS VALUE.
While those that fail to ACCUMULATE CAPITAL and INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY as necessary but not sufficient conditions of INCREASED COMPETITIVENESS, they fail relative to competitors, in the PRODUCTION OF MAXIMUM POSSIBLE (BUT YET UNREALIZED) POTENTIAL SURPLUS VALUE- and EFFECTIVE COMPETITION against the others (Market Shares, Capital Shares, Access to Government and Lawmakers) and enter a downward spiral.
Why MUST each competitor continually focus on EFFECTIVE COMPETITION? Because if one’s competitor is more able in EFFECTIVE COMPETITION, it is able to widen and deepen market shares, shares of total assets of all corporations, forge contacts and ACCESS to the lawmakers and newsmakers, have ACCESS to the latest technologies and the biggest celebrities. They are more productive and competitive in getting and marketing big money SCOOPS, that lead to EXPOSURE, RATINGS, that lead to CELEBRITY (for oganizations as well as individuals) that leads to more ACCESS…
Those who fail to widen and deepen and enhance their overall capabilities in EFFECTIVE COMPETITION, absolutely and in relative terms to competitors, they are not able to REALIZE MAXIMUM POSSIBLE SURPLUS VALUE (relative to competitors and their own survival imperatives) and lack the retained earnings or creditworthiness to ACCUMULATE CAPITAL and so one; then for those who fail. in relative terms always, then the SPIRAL PROCESS AND “LOGIC” of Capitalism governing all enties (individuals, businesses and whole nations in global competition) goes on in a downward spiral.
So each story is not only a potential commodity for sale, but also, a potential time bomb, for the individual journalist, entertainer, academic or organization, if it turns out to step on the toes of those whose asses need to be kissed and whose interests cannot be threatened for ACCESS to the next “piece” that can turn a nobody reporter into a Woodward or Bernstein or Brian Williams or whomever. It is about ACCESS that can turn the next club singer into an American Idol; ACCESS that can turn the next new PhD and Assistant Professor into a tenured professor, “expert” in some field interviewed on talk shows, or advisor to the president; ACCESS that can turn a small paper or radio or tv station into an XM or ClearChannel or a newspaper into a Boston Globe etc; in the Star System of celebrities covering and interviewing fellow celebrities.
And big fish swallow small and medium-sized fish, (individuals, organizations and whole systems globally) and economic concentration (fewer and fewer entities command larger and larger market shares) and economic centralization (fewer and fewer interlocked entites or power blocs command larger and larger interlinked shares of total assets) go on and feed each other. When Ben Baghdakian, Dean of Journalism at UC Berkeley wrote his first edition of “The Media Monopoly”, he identified 50 large MSM corporatons that controlled over 80% of market revenues and assets in radio,tv, daily newspapers, and journals in America. By his 3rd edition of this book, the number was down to 26 big MSM corporations; by his 5th edition, the number of big MSM corporations was down to 10; by his sixth edition, the number of Big MSM corporations controlling over 80% of market revenues and assets was down to 6.
OK Back to the People’s Press Conference:
For Mr. Romney
Walter: Mr Romney, you have made a point of your religous faith on several occasions but have been reluctant to discuss, or even defend as your faith mandates, and as you take a “Temple Recommend Oath” to do, the Doctrine of your faith. Why is that? Why not admit that your faith mandates “Blood Atonement” or death for interracial marriage, homosexuality, adultery and apostasy? Why not defend the Doctrine that says that dark skin is a “Curse of Ham or Caine” and that white skin is “pure and delightsome” according to your Book of Mormon? Why not admit that as a faithful Mormon male, you one day will get your own planet and will populate it with your “sealed plural wives”? And finally, please address the issue of the White Horse Prophecy of Joseph Smith, who, like your own father, who believed in this prophecy when he ran for president in 1968, believed he was in the “End Times” which said:
“You will see the constitution of the United States almost destroyed. It will hang like a thread…A terrible revolution will take place in the land of America…[T]he land will be left without a Supreme Government…[Mormonism] will have gathered strength, sending out Elders to gather the honest in heart…to stand by the Constitution of the United States…In these days…God will set up a Kingdom, never to be thrown down…[T]he whole of America will be made the Zion of God.” (Joseph Smith, May, 6, 1843, founder of Mormonism, quoted in “One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church” by Richard Abanes, Four Walls Eight Windows Press, NY. 2002, p xvi)
Walter: How sir is a “Mormon Theocracy” consistent with the U.S. Constitution let alone able to “save”it. And does your “Temple Recommend Oath” to build a “New Zion” in America not both contradict and yet trump the oath to serve, protect and defend the U.S. Constitution?