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by spocko

FTC Busts Company for Using Dr. Oz To Sell Products — Is Halliburton Next?

6:00 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

Last month the Federal Trade Commission sued Pure Green Coffee for using footage from “The Dr. Oz Show” to sell a weight lost supplement on their websites. 

The sites featured footage from The Dr. Oz Show, supposed consumer endorsements, and purported clinical proof that dieters could lose weight rapidly without changing their diet or exercise regimens. The defendants also ran paid banner and text ads that appeared on search engines and contained phony weight loss claims.

The defendants set up websites to look like legitimate news sites or blogs.  

The fake news sites featured mastheads of fictitious news organizations such as Women’s Health Journal and Healthy Living Reviewed, as well as logos they appropriated from actual news organizations, like CNN and MSNBC.

This week Dr. Oz went before the Senate subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance to examine protecting consumers from false and deceptive advertising of weight-loss products. Dr. Oz admitted there is no medical evidence verifying the efficacy of many supplements he promotes, including green coffee beans. 

‘Not only did these defendants trick consumers with their phony weight loss claims, they also compounded the deception by advertising on pretend news sites, making it impossible for people to know whether they were seeing news or an ad,’ said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

Now let’s do some parallel construction here folks (I learned this from watching a lot of TV).

In 2003 retired generals went on TV using bogus claims plus false and deceptive information to sell a war. Many worked for military contractors, which would make money in a war selling weapons and other goods and services. Their relationships with their contractors were not made public at the time.

The generals’ information, as well as other deceptive information from the White House went onto the “fake news” sites like Fox News. Actual news organizations, like the New York Times, CNN and MSNBC also used this information. Years later participants admitted there was no evidence verifying weapons of mass destruction.

The actual story of how the war was sold to us is worse.  In his Pulitzer Prize winning story, Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand David Barston describes how it was done, who did it and how the media cooperated. 

False info spread:

In turn, members of this group have echoed administration talking points, sometimes even when they suspected the information was false or inflated. Some analysts acknowledge they suppressed doubts because they feared jeopardizing their access.

Unlike Dr. Oz, who didn’t profit from the companies using his image, for many of the military analysts financial gain and conflicts of interests were clear.

The group was heavily represented by men involved in the business of helping companies win military contracts. Several held senior positions with contractors that gave them direct responsibility for winning new Pentagon business.

Now everyone is pointing to Paul Wolfowitz or Bill Kristol getting another bite at the war apple. I wonder if the media is going to look at all these military analysts they had on at the time. Will some of them be back? Will they look at their business interests this time? Will they mention the business interests they had at the time of the war?

The Bush/Cheney/Rumsfield White House people understood just how powerful military analysts were to the sale. Torie Clarke, assistant secretary of defense for public affairs and a former public relations executive, oversaw the Pentagon’s dealings with the analysts. She believed in our current spin-saturated news culture opinion is swayed most by voices perceived as authoritative and utterly independent.

That is why the retired generals didn’t talk about their business relationships and the networks either didn’t ask or blamed the analysts:

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by spocko

If I’m Right, China Will Step In and Stabilize Iraq

5:59 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

This time around with the Iraq war I want to be on the “winning side” I don’t mean being right, I mean getting paid to be wrong. What good is being right if you can’t monetize it? My contract work at one of the Big 8 peace firms is up, so I’ve been shopping around for new clients.

I can’t reveal who they are but this client wants a stable Middle East. They aren’t as concerned with Iraqis as they are with keeping the spice (I mean oil) flowing. They also believe war is the answer. I can’t dissuade them of this, and as I said, it’s not profitable being right, so I came up with a solution.

Get China to step in and stabilize Iraq.
War Is A Racket

It’s their turn to be muscle for Big Business.

As Old Gimlet Eye, Smedley Butler, told us back in the 1930′s. US troops are used to protect industry players and their assets around the world. Why do people in the US have to do all the dying, spending all the money and still not have any control? It is especially annoying if we aren’t getting the benefits anymore. Let some other country throw a couple of trillion down that bloody sand hole.

Now some of these companies have a sentimental attachment to using the US military because that is where they started. They aren’t so attached to the US that they pay full taxes here, but their wives tell them that “American boys” dying in a war is a bad thing. 

So I’m getting the idea out there now, let China fix the problem. It will be like we are the French leaving Vietnam and they are the US coming in later.

Think about how many ways that this will work for us (and by us I mean me and my new client.)

The Chinese are sitting on tons of money from making crap for the people in the US. They can send pallets of 20 billion Yen to Iraq and not even notice it unless someone starts talking about raising taxes. If they do, imprison them.

They have a surplus of men. They can can balance their whole population gender problem with a couple of poorly thought out ground deployments against the well-armed ISIS groups.

Now of course this isn’t how I will sell it to the Chinese. I would first work up some historic grudge between Iraq and China. Then I would find some kind of story about how Iraq was behind supporting Falun Gong or the Tienanmen Square riots or something. Oh, I know, I’ll plant the story that “Iraq is where Tank Man went to hide!” finally I would leak though the Great Firewall of China that Iraq used all those US pallets of cash to buy some nukes, but it’s not Israel that should be afraid–it’s China. China is getting too big and their desire for resources is too much. Tank Guy has been telling everyone in Iraq how terrible China is–they are worse than the US! They all know how bad we are plus China has human rights violations! Also, ocean’s can’t protect them!

What is great about this plan is that the state controlled media will love this, it is a drama they can show on TV that is not about attacking their own countrymen! Besides, if everyone is going to get cars, they need more oil. If people complain about picking up a war they didn’t start they can be ignored, locked up or conscripted. In fact conscription might be better than working at a Foxconn plant, if they want to commit suicide they just have to walk into enemy gun fire trying to “rescue” someone and they die a hero. Win Win!

Speaking of winning, as a capitalistic country their weapons manufacturers will have a chance to make some real money. They will have to maintain the same level of technology that the US had. Since they are already making most of the parts for the drones, they will just hack into our computers, get the few extra bits of code, change the location of the deliveries and it’s off to the races!

I’m working on some of the backing documents now. Look for my Project for a New Chinese Century coming out soon. Read the rest of this entry →

by spocko

Will Your Son Grow Up to be a Winner like Zimmerman or a Loser like Trayvon?

7:30 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

On the heels of the “Zimmerman destroys wife’s iPad in a fit of rage,” story I got this letter from the founder of the United States Concealed Carry Association. What I really love about this letter is the way the author correlates what his son did with the SYG concept. He also uses the whole father/son pride/disappointment and bully/victim construct to pluck at the heart strings and open the wallets.

The formatting and bolding are his own.

It starts:

I’m a proud parent…

When my son was in 4th grade, the 5th grade bully started picking
on him at recess.

So he took matters into his own hands…

Now, most parents these days would hear that my son defended himself rather than “telling the teacher,” and they would likely

But THIS is why I’m proud:

Since the boy didn’t tell the teachers the whole story comes from the 4th grader. I wonder what the school had to say about this “bully” and his son? How do we know that the 5th grader was the bully and not his son? We can’t verify any of this. But we do know what Dad’s first positive message was to his son, “I’m glad you didn’t tell your teacher.” Unsaid is a dislike of talking vs. hitting.

Next line:

He evaded the bully. He told the bully to stop.

He went so far as to swallow his pride and try to run away.

Note how he starts with the “retreating/evading” part and then the “I asked him to stop” part. He dismisses as ineffective the “duty to retreat” and/or discussing the issue rationally–like the teachers would probably make him do. But the critical line here is, “He swallowed his pride.” Tim Schmitz Sr.’s message to his readers is, “If you are armed, you won’t ever have to “swallow your pride” especially in the face of bullies.”

For people who feel like they are under siege all the time, or who think they are the victim or who believe that the world is a dangerous place (both in reality and in their imagination) this concept, “Don’t swallow your pride” resonates. It’s all about “honor” and “manhood” because winning by talking doesn’t count. He follows up with the perfunctory, “Hey, my son even did the wimpy “run away” thing and tried to retreat, but he just couldn’t…”

Next line:

But when the bully pushed him to his limit, and Tim Jr. couldn’t
escape, he struck back as ferociously as necessary to ensure the
bully would never mess with him again.

Hulk smash! Note his emphasis, he struck back as ferociously as necessary. Now who decides how much force is necessary to ensure the bully would never mess with him again? What level of damage would it take? A black eye? Broken nose? Unconsciousness? Death? Heck, if the bully is living he could mess with him again. But as an adult you don’t have to guess what it will take. Do you want someone to stop messing with you? Shoot ‘em! Take ‘em out! Let ‘em take a dirt nap. It’s legal! Here’s the wording from Florida’s SYG law. Emphasis mine:

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by spocko

Post 9/11 Humor

3:04 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

Knock Knock!

Who’s there?


9/11 who?


Remember after 9/11 the big deal when political comedy shows like the Daily Show came back?

“Is it safe to joke again?” people asked. Jon Stewart spent the first show back justifying being entertaining.

Of course the “very serious people” (™ Atrios) in the news said, “We are going to stop goofing around with silly stuff and get serious about foreign news!” How’s that working out today? Are any of the TV networks or newspapers funding more full-time foreign bureaus? Or is the money being spent on shows recycling the same “experts” as before?

Speaking of experts, TV show producers who got duped by former Pentagon people working for military contractors didn’t learn their lesson. Syrian analyst, Elizabeth O’Bagy, got fired from the Institute for the Study of War. Not because of conflict of interest, but for faked credentials. Keep this firing reason in mind people, there will be a suggested use for it below!

I didn’t get serious about “politics” right after 9/11, but I did during the run up to the Iraq War. Because I work in PR and marketing, I understood the concept quoted by Bush White House chief of staff Andrew H. Card Jr: ”From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.”

I saw how serious disagreement with a war position was treated on TV and in the news. Our comedians were/are one of the few groups who challenged the “very serious people” who wanted a war. They were attacked and dismissed as “just comedians.” They were people who had “no credentials.” We were/are the dirty hippies who were/are not to be taken seriously. Who gets taken seriously? The people who make money on war. What of the people who make money on peace? Where are they in this discussion?

The reason Janeane Garofalo could be one of the voices against the War in Iraq was because the producers felt they could marginalize her as, “comedian/actress” yet she was a still celebrity which is great for TV. I pulled this clip of her talking about the run up to the war in Iraq.

Look at how knowledgeable she is and how disgusting they are in trying to position her. “Saddam must love you.”

I don’t watch the TV shows now, but for those who do, were there “very serious people” on TV this time pushing against bombing Syria? Were CEOs from the multibillion dollar Institute for the Study of Peace and the Gandhi Institute on? Were there three people to one against bombing people? Did the non-bombers get the same treatment as Garofalo? Were they “crazy”, “pink” or “weak” people selected by the producers so they could get dismissed?

I’m watching the fantasy show The Newsroom right now. Dan Rather says that it’s pretty accurate about what goes on in real TV newsrooms, with the exception of the whole “standing by your reporters” part. I notice who they call to get as “experts” and why they call them. They have a bias. Not necessarily a liberal or conservative bias, but a bias for TV friendly or Expert or an Authority on The Subject. They are in the, “We have their phone number” database. They are on the “can be camera ready in 2 hours” list.

Did the producers ask themselves, “Did these people get the last war wrong?” No. It’s a benefit because now they can compare and contrast! They ask, “Are they in prison?” No? Great, then they can be on camera. They check, “Were they busted for plagiarism?” Yes? Oops, hold off on them for a while.

When Doug Feith got a Georgetown University teaching position people squawked. Some did the grudging, “academic freedom” bit. I pointed out to people that there are multiple ways to get someone like Feith out of his Georgetown University position. I suggested people look at his expense accounts, see if he has plagiarized, find out if he has side deals that, though allowable, he didn’t get permission for from the dean. That is how you bust “experts” in our media world. Rumsfeld isn’t going to be brought up on war crimes, but we can bust him for something else. Use your imagination people! Give the producers a reason NOT to call him. The producers hated not having Doris Kerns Goodwin on, but in their world the taint of plagiarism is stronger than war crimes.

The other way to bust these people is with humor. Did Tina Fay and the writers of SNL help defeat Sarah Palin? I think so, but what do I know? It’s not like I have a Ph.D in political humor, I just see what works.

There is nothing funny about buildings blowing up and people dying. It’s news. Bombs dropping is news. Finding a diplomatic solution? That’s news too, but not the kind of news the very serious people can get interesting footage out of. It’s boring! But it is also less deadly. (Here’s a great video clip of a President that couldn’t wait for a diplomatic solution.)

I started watching M.A.S.H for the jokes, but I absorbed more about the tragedy of war from that show than from all the documentaries or newscasts that I ever watched. Especially the ones I never watched.

Want to stop bombing? Let’s look at how to make money in the non-bombs industry. Let’s look at making more comedy and entertainment, after all, it’s still one of our biggest exports. How many funny movies could you make for the price of a bunch of Tomahawk missiles? I’m not about making fun of death, but I am for looking for alternatives to death as a first response to death.

Poking fun of the absurdity of war is important because The Powers That Be on TV and DC certainly aren’t listening to serious people. That’s the funny thing I learned, post 9/11.