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Elmo will not Absolve You


Just returned from a run around the National Mall.

Party tents are going up.

Getting ready for the National Book Festival on Saturday.

Hosted by the Library of Congress.

Sponsored by Target and AT&T.

And starring Laura Bush.

You will be seeing a lot of Laura Bush in the next couple of days.

Talking with authors.

Reading.

Hanging out with kids.

It’s just a nice cover for the killing.

We wanted to know more about the National Book Festival.

So, we went to the Library of Congress web site.

And we registered in the press area.

And we got a call back from –

Susie Schoenberger.

She’s not with the Library of Congress.

She’s with the public relations firm — Fleishman Hillard.

Since when is the Library of Congress outsourcing press duties?

Anyway, we want to know — whose paying for this?

How much is Target putting up?

How much is AT&T?

Can’t answer that, Schoenberger says.

You’ll have to speak with Sheryl Cannady.

She’s with the Library of Congress.

So, we call Cannady.

And she sends us an e-mail saying that the one-day National Book Festival costs $1.5 million.

But we can’t tell you who pays for it.

Great.

In any event, you get the message.

The web site is the Library of Congress.

But the book festival itself is a corporate/Laura Bush affair.

And no doubt the 70 authors who will appear at the book festival are wonderful people — people like Kai Bird, Douglas Brinkley and Andrew Carroll — and on the whole a book festival is a much better deal for the country than a military festival.

But we also have little doubt that the corporate funding — and Laura Bush’s presence — helped define the types of authors who appear at the Festival.

Please don’t tell us that it’s just about getting kids to read.

The question is not only reading — but reading what?

So, this year there has been a slew of books written about the war in Iraq and corporate power and the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us against.

But the authors of these books will not appear at the National Book Festival on the Mall sponsored by Target and AT&T — and hosted by Mrs. Laura Bush.

Will Cindy Sheehan appear to read from her new book — Peace Mom?

No.

Will Elizabeth Holtzman appear to read from her new book — The Impeachment of George W. Bush?

No.

Will Thom Hartmann appear to read from Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class?

No.

Will Diane Wilson appear to read from her new book — An Unreasonable Woman?

No. (She’d probably be unreasonable enough to confront our First Lady of Bloodshed.)

Will Edwin Black appear to read from his new book — Internal
Combustion: How Corporations and Governments Addicted the World to Oil and Derailed The Alternatives?

No.

Will Dr. Helen Caldicott appear to read from her new book — Nuclear Power is Not the Answer?

No.

Will Noam Chomsky appear to read from his bestseller — Hegemony or
Survival: America’s Quest for Global Domination?

No.

Will Amy and David Goodman appear to read from their new book — Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and the People Who Fight Back?

No.

Will Jeff Goodell appear to read from his new book Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future?

No.

Will David Callahan appear to read from The Moral Center: How We Can Reclaim Our Country from Die-Hard Extremists, Rogue Corporations, Hollywood Hacks and Pretend Patriots?

No.

Will Gore Vidal appear to read from Imperial America: Reflections on the United States of Amnesia?

No.

Will Stephen Kinzer appear to read from his most recent book, Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq, or from his previous classic — All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror?

No.

Will David Cortright appear to read from his masterful Gandhi And
Beyond: Nonviolence for an Age of Terrorism?

No.

You get the idea.

The National Book Festival is a public/private partnership — read — corporate controlled.

And therefore, none of these authors will appear.

Laura Bush will appear with kids and NBA players and community relations representatives from Target.

She’ll spend time with the Kevin Clash, an African-American man who is the voice of Elmo, and who has written a book titled My Life As a Furry Red Monster.

Meanwhile, open today’s Washington Post and go to pages A16 to A19.

See the faces of the fallen.

2,693 Americans dead in Iraq.

So far.

Hanging out with Elmo will not absolve you, Mrs. Laura Bush.

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter, <http://www.corporatecrimereporter.com>. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor, <http://www.multinationalmonitor.org>. Mokhiber and Weissman are co-authors of On the Rampage: Corporate Predators and the Destruction of Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press).

(c) Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

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