“How sweet it is!” was the cry of Jackie Gleason as his stage personas wended their way through the trials of life.
Kellogg Company, the cereal sweeties, tried the same thing and got spanked by the Federal Trade Commission for false advertising.
Some tidbits from the story from Bloomberg in today’s Globe:
The Federal Trade Commission said the settlement bars Kellogg, based in Battle Creek, Mich., from making unsubstantiated health claims about Frosted-Mini Wheats or other products.
The company agreed not to misrepresent the results of scientific tests, the FTC said.
The FTC said that in ads and on packaging Kellogg asserted the attentiveness of children who ate Frosted Mini-Wheats at breakfast increased by almost 20 percent. The FTC said the clinical study Kellogg cited in the ads found that only half the children who ate the cereal showed any improvement in their attentiveness.
"It’s especially important that America’s leading companies are more attentive to the truthfulness of their ads and don’t exaggerate the results of tests or research," FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz said in a statement.
"We stand behind the validity of our clinical study, yet have adjusted our communication to incorporate FTC’s guidance," Kellogg said in a statement.
Summing up, Kellogg lied in the commercials they put before the public. They lied to increase their sales and profits. They obviously did not care what harm might have been done.
And they got caught.
But look at what the FTC said in the next-to-last paragraph. Go ahead, read it.
Talk about mealy mouth spankings. Talk about going all around the forest to avoid calling a tree a tree. Wassamatta, Leibowitz, afraid you might cost some politician some corporate donations?
And Kellogg’s reply? Beneath the corporatese, it sounds like this:
“We lied and got caught, but we will never admit it. We still claim the study we lied about was legitimate in the way we said it was, despite the proven evidence that it was not what we said it was. So we’re not gonna say we did anything wrong, but we’ll change our misleading ads because those psychos at the FTC caught us lying and cheating.”
Rest assured, America, Kellogg Company will find another way to lie to you about its products, and your faithful government watchdog will find another way to let them off the hook and to let them lie about that. That’s what corporations do, and that’s what the government lets them do, especially governments run by Republicans and Conservatives.
That torturous bit of legerdemain by the FTC and Kellogg is the tip of the iceberg for the reason why the United States tortured people these last several years and why the torturers, their enablers in the medical and psychological and legal professions, and the bosses, including the President of the United States, are getting away with it.
How many times have you read in the papers, or heard on the news that Corporation X lost a legal action, and then proudly proclaimed that although they paid a fine they admitted no wrongdoing? Time and time again the corporations get away with screwing the public, indeed killing any number of people in some cases (tires, cigarettes, what have you), get caught, and get to shout that they did nothing wrong.
Cozy little deals get worked out between the judges and the opposing lawyers, and the deals are sealed, and the public gets reamed.
The torture debate sounds a lot like that in Washington these days.
Let’s not get confused. Torture is a crime under American law and international law. There is no question of that. And there is no question that agents of the United States government, acting on orders of the people running that government, tortured people. Lots of people. Killed a bunch of them in custody, too.
The people involved in the American torture program are depraved. They had a moral choice to make, they were free to make that choice, and they chose to torture.
There is no question that the acts they performed were torture. There can be no question that they knew they were torturing, unless they were, each and every one, incredibly stupid and virulently mentally defective. By their own admission, the torturers waterboarded one man 183 times in a month. That’s six times a day for a month. To paraphrase Rachel Maddow on the claimed effectiveness of this particular torture, it apparently didn’t work the first 182 times.
And the depravity extended, indeed could be said to have begun and been generated from the President and Vice-President of the United States, and was covered up by an ethically and morally corrupt, and depraved, Department of Justice. It extended down through the bureaucracy of the Central Intelligence Agency and the military.
All of these people should be prosecuted. All should stand public trial. And every one found guilty should be locked away from the public until they are too feeble to bother anyone except the nurses who would clean up their drool in cheap nursing homes.
But now our latest President and his henchmen have decided to apply the Kellogg treatment. Despite the clarity of the law, despite the clarity of the obligation to prosecute, Obama will not countenance it. He will not even consider it. Not for the bloody-handed agents, not for the bloody-minded officials. Obama would allow them to walk away and claim that they did nothing wrong, that they acted on orders (tell it to the Nazis the Americans hung for making the same claim to cover their evils), that they did it for God and Country.
Those who carried out the most depraved and morally reprehensible acts that any government or institution can command will get to keep their jobs, their salaries, their pensions, their government perks. They get to walk around free in your neighborhood and talk to your children.
The American hypocrisy continues, under the banner of hope and change.
No country should, in any matter, trust the United States or the word of its top officers until the American house has been cleansed of the foul stench of torture, and purged of the people who sanctioned torture and the people who committed the acts of torture.
Until that cleaning is done the United States must be considered a nation that tortures people, no matter what its officials claim. Without an official accounting, without prosecutions and unbiased justice being meted out, the United States must be considered a rogue nation, a pariah, a mecca, if you will, of government sanctioned evil.
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