Just As I Thought

Step by step

Lawrence Lessig brings up an interesting and potentially very important point about copyrights:

The US president owns neither his words nor his image – at least not when he speaks in public on important matters. Anyone is free to use what he says, and the way he says it, to criticize or to praise. The president, in this sense, is “free.” But what happens when the commander in chief uses private venues to deliver public messages, holding fewer press conferences and making more talk-show appearances? Who controls his words and images then?

Though Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 has grabbed the headlines, another documentary is at the center of this debate. In August, Robert Greenwald will release an updated version of his award-winning film, Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War. Greenwald has added a clip of President George W. Bush’s February interview with Tim Russert on Meet the Press, NBC’s Sunday morning talk show. In the clip, the president defends his decision to go to war – astonishingly unconvincingly.

Greenwald asked NBC for permission to run the one-minute clip – offering to pay for the right, as he had done for every other clip that appears in the film. NBC said no. The network explained to his agent that the clip is “not very flattering to the president.”

In view of the total control of the Bush message by his “team”, this wrinkle is hardly surprising.
If you add up all these tiny little pieces of information, doesn’t it really seem as if the Bush administration is the most fascist in U.S. history? I swear, every one of these tidbits brings to mind the totalitarian tactics of the Soviets, the Nazis, the Fascists, and Chinese Communists, Big Brother…


  • Whoa there, back up a second and take a deep breath.
    Although I highly understand your statement about Bush’s tactics (and somewhat even agree with you) they are NOTHING like the Soviets, Nazis, Fascist and Chinese, that’s a whole ‘nother ballgame.
    I always find it upsetting when someone throws around words like ‘Nazi’ to describe something that they deem to be unfair or a little harsh. Please bear in mind the real crimes of the above and impact they had on the people involved. In summation I guess I’d say it’s a molehill to Mt. Everest.
    Also, on the subject of copyrights (and I know this is apples and oranges to the subject of the blockquote) wasn’t there some sort of debate when the makers of the movie ‘Contact’ used Clinton’s image without his permission? I think there might have been but I don’t recall the details or outcome.

  • Okay, first off: I’m not saying that Bush is on par with those despots. I’m pointing out that they used precisely the same tactics to cement power before they became what they were. I don’t think that anyone can argue with that, the weight of historical evidence is clear. The question is, to what end is the Bush administration using these tactics of quashing dissent, free discourse, and public information? If you can truly, without reservation say that limiting the public’s right to question their leaders, allowing only party loyalists who sign an oath into public campaign events, keeping public policy debate a secret, keeping the minority voiceless and out of the governing process, politically demonizing minority groups with the populace in order to create a “common enemy”–and many more examples of a fascist clampdown–are all for altruistic purposes, well then, you are a victim of the poor history curriculum in our schools — again, designed by the right wing, it focuses on dead white men but ignores the actual lessons of the past. Like how to recognize the beginnings of something bad. What’s happening now in this country is not simply “unfair” or “a little harsh.” It’s the tip of an enormous iceberg. I’m sure people thought, through the rise of the aforementioned regimes, that at first they were just “unfair.” Every Mt. Everest begins with a molehill, which grows fast if unchecked by a watchful and vigilant citizenry.
    The Bush administration is obviously not the same as the Nazis or other groups as we remember them — but that’s because we remember them at the height of their horror. Step back in time and look at the way these groups began to cement their power. Then tell me if you don’t see history repeating.

    As for the copyright issue, the movie “Contact” took Clinton’s speeches out of context and made him appear to say something other than what he was saying. His image was digitally manipulated to make him do things he never did.
    The example given was using Bush’s comments in context, as he spoke them.

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