Getting Focused

Expanded from the 8-14-2005 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune
Updated 11-19-2006

Are you angry over gas prices? Don't know what or whom to blame? Allow me to help get everyone further focused.

As they have done for decades, the blackguards of BigOil are pillaging us at the pump. Last week, the commie-liberal New York Times reported a widespread public reaction which should warm the cockles of any monopolist's heart: "The more common response, expressed in dozens of interviews around the nation, owed much more to Rodney Dangerfield — an eye-rolling shrug of what-can-you-do resignation." (1)


    "We need to remember that slack isn't always waste: a manufacturing company with a large inventory may lose some money on warehousing, but it can keep running even if its suppliers are temporarily out of action...These ideas fly in the face of the conventional wisdom that we should strive for ever-greater economic efficiency. And perhaps that's why politicians rarely acknowledge the importance of resilience. The evidence that they don't is as close as the nearest gas pump: today's high gasoline prices include a stiff risk premium because there's virtually no slack in the world's tightly coupled oil economy."

— Thomas Homer Dixon
University of Toronto
New York Times op-ed; 8-13-2005


There's plenty we could be doing if we had a government that gave a tinker's dam about us. The military-industrial complex has proven masterful at getting Americans to direct their anger everywhere but where it belongs.

Author Thomas Frank masterfully illustrated the disease in his 2004 bestseller "What's the Matter with Kansas?" Frank marveled that his home state had been successfully propagandized into voting for politicians totally supportive of the Wall Street practices and government policies which have impoverished the Great Plains.

By one conservative estimate, the corporate right has spent about $3 billion over the past three decades manufacturing public opinion to suit corporate goals. (3) Trashing documented scientific fact is now mainstream. (When Dubya adds the teaching of "creation science" to the next installment of his disastrous "No Child Left" campaign, I plan to lobby for equal time to study the stork as the cause of babies.)

We're at war, so let's act like it. A strong president could use his almost limitless war powers to reduce prices in a New York minute, just as Presidents Roosevelt and Truman did in World War II.

The public favored maintaining the wartime controls until supplies loosened up.

"Right after the end of the war, big business in this country set out to destroy the laws that were protecting the consumer against exploitation," Truman stated.

Before the National Association of Manufacturers spent $3 million on a campaign to turn public opinion around, "a survey showed that 85 percent of the people believed the Office of Price Administration was absolutely necessary," Truman said. "After the campaign, only 26 percent of the people believed OPA was vital," he added.

Three million in today's dollars is $29,723,076.92, a cheap PR investment with a big return: inflation hit 30 percent, led by a 28 percent jump in food prices from June to December of 1946. (2)

Everyone living in this country is getting pickpocketed in a completely rigged con game. In the early 1980s, the major oil companies began a campaign against independent retailers. Almost all have now either folded or signed up to sell for the big boys. The results are draining our economy at the rate of $5 billion a week in oilogopolistic overcharges.

It is the official policy of King George the Lesser that the big bad USA stands helpless at the mercy of "the market." Poppycock. We control, create, manage and manipulate that market. A bad attitude by the world's only superpower could cause gas prices to plummet.

Alas, everybody's bought, including the media, and nobody gets mad at anybody. Meanwhile, churches raise money to help people pay for transportation when they should tell their leaders to pressure the gung ho Christian they installed in office to do something.

I've been compiling the facts on this con for a decade. None but this newspaper would print it. Go the Barbwire Oilogopoly Archive at and read it yourself.

The solutions are simple but we lack unbought leaders –- Democrat or Republican — to make them happen.

CABLE CORPORATE WELFARE UPDATE. TV consumers have mounted a national campaign against Nevada Republican Sen. John Ensign's bill for outrageous giveaways to the cable industry, already a deregulated monopoly. On July 27, Sens. Ensign and John McCain, R-Ariz., introduced S. 1504 with the doublespeak name of "The Ensign/McCain Broadband Investment and Consumer Choice Act."

Among other things, it abolishes cable franchising and with it any local government authority. It reduces or eliminates cable franchise fees, abolishes requirements that cable service be provided wherever there is sufficient population density to make it economically viable, as is the case with telephone and power. It will allow cable companies to "redline" and deny service on the basis of race, sex, senior citizen status or just about anything else. Should ratepayers oppose action by their provider, the cable outfit can deny service even though customers have paid on time. It grants video providers the right to use public rights of way in perpetuity and apparently abolishes all zoning of cellular towers. It also appears to abolish telephone franchises and fees and attempts to prevent governments from providing the public with communications service (just like Nevada cable law).

You will find a fuller description along with a sample letter to lawmakers at

POT & KETTLE DEPT. -- Defending Dubya's supreme court nomination of John "Little Scalia" Roberts, Republican National Chairman Ken Mehlman last week warned "there may be no end to the lengths they will go in attempting to smear a good man." After all is said and done, we'll compare the Roberts opposition with the gold standard for smears: what the president and political thug Karl Rove did last year to John Kerry via the Smear Boat Veterans Forsooth.

BLAST FROM THE PAST – On Monday, the Ides of August, former ace Sparks Tribune reporter Husein Steve Mashni will talk to Sam Shad and Ray Hagar from his current residence: war-torn Gaza. As I recall, he originally bylined himself as Steve, then moved to Husein as King George the First moved American public opinion from "Saddam Hussein freedom fighter against Iran" to "bastard who invaded Kuwait" (with Bush administration permission). It took some courage for Steve to revert to another handle when the name was the subject of a huge propaganda campaign to whip up hatred to start Gulf War I. (Sound familiar?)

I'm very interested in what Husein/Steve is doing these days as a resident of the Khan Younis Refugee Camp, where a 60-year civil war has made life cheap for militarists and civilians alike. (Sound familiar?)

Sam Shad's "Nevada Newsmakers" originates Monday through Thursday on KRNV TV-4 (NBC) at 12:30 p.m. Those like me cursed with "we need more deregulation" Charter cable can view a same-day rerun at roughly 9:30 p.m. on channel 12 in Washoe-Carson-Douglas. The statewide TV/radio/webcast rerun slate will be linked to the expanded edition of this column at

I'll sit in on Thursday's program when Shad will interview former Assemblywoman Dawn Gibbons, R-Reno, a potential candidate for her dunderheaded husband's statewide congressional seat should he seek the governorship and thereby concurrently run his wife for first lady. Nevada has known stranger politics, let alone bedfellows.

PERSONAL TO FORMER COLLEAGUE HUSEIN STEVE MASHNI: Keep your hopes up and your head down.

Be well. Raise hell.


     1. Johnson, Kirk; "At the Pumps and on the Web, Drivers Check for Lowest Prices"; New York Times, 8-13-2005.

     2. Carey, Alex; "Taking the Risk Out of Democracy: Corporate Propaganda Versus Freedom and Liberty"; University of Illinois Press, 1997; page 34; from Schnapper, M.B., ed. (1948) "The Truman Programme"; Bureau of Public Affairs; Washington, DC.

BARBWIRE ON CAREY, 1994: People vs. Corporate Con Job

Review of Alex Carey's "Taking the Risk out of Democracy:
Propaganda in the US and Australia"

The Orwell Diversion by Alex Carey
Book excerpt

ORDER "Taking the Risk Out of Democracy"
Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty
By Alex Carey
Edited by Andrew Lohrey
Foreword by Noam Chomsky
University of Illinois Press

     3. Lapham, Lewis H.; Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, A Brief History; Harper's Magazine cover article; September, 2004, page 32.

Lapham's number covered the early 1970's to the present day. Carey noted that by 1948, anti- New Deal corporate propaganda expenditures had already reached $100 million per year, not adjusted for inflation, for advertising alone. (Carey, ibid; page 79)

Adjusted for inflation, that 1948 $100 million becomes $801,659,751.04 in 2005 dollars.

... and more ammo

      Rinfret, Pierre A.; "Peace is Bullish"; Look Magazine, 5-31-1966

      BARBWIRE: Lemming Cliff Notes, 6-5-2005

      BARBWIRE: We have met the enemy and he is us, 5-29-2005

      BARBWIRE: Payback Time, 8-7-2005 | U-News | Bulletins
Casinos Out of Politics (COP) | Sen. Joe Neal
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Copyright © 2005, 2006 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 36-year Nevadan and editor of Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.

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