Kellogg’s Sweet Lies And Why America Tortures

“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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8 Responses

  1. I think at a minimum, those involved in these deals should have to abide by a gag order, meaning they can’t pay their fine and then continue to assert they weren’t wrong. Personally, I’d rather they waive the fine and demand an admission of guilt. That, of course, would hurt Kellogs far more than the fine.

    I don’t understand the pussy-ass nature of the Democrats. They have all the power, yet I think they’re not going after the torturers for fear of negative PR and the possibility that some of Obama’s ambitious initiatives won’t go through. That’s something the Republicans would never do. With the slimmest of majorities they’d swagger and do whatever the fuck they’d want to, without a care in the world about how it might look.

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  2. pc –

    I wouldn’t put a gag order on them, but I would insist that they admit, in open court and for the record, their guilt and declare the substantive actions of their crime. And the records should never be sealed from the public.

    Then these asswipes can go out and say whatever they want, but the record will be right there to impeach their claims.

    As for the Rethuglicans, they are doing whatever the fuck they want and they don’t care how it looks, except to their shrinking, frothing-at-the-mouth base.

    And the Democraps are suffering from Obamaism. You know, the Pollyanna nonsense about let’s all get together, put aside our differences, and save the country and world. The Right doesn’t give a flying fuck about the country or the world, they never did, they never will, and trying to get them to be helpful and constructive differs little from dragging a rabid dog into your home to play with your children. Obama doesn’t get that, and he’s poisoning the well every time he opens his mouth and says ‘bipartisan’.

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  3. Well, I am glad to see that he’s opened the door to prosecution but I won’t start cheering until the first convict goes to jail – for a LONG time.

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  4. Opened the door? Hell, he barely put his hand on the knob. He’s weaseling. He lacks the courage to face the facts full on and deal with them honestly. There’s no middle ground here, there’s no room for compromise. Evil was done in our name, and may still be occurring.

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  5. Yes. HE is being sadly weak and not the leader we had hoped. But… he could have continued resisting possible prosecutions. By at least standing a little to the side, it is possible the men and women of integrity will step into the breach and do what is right in the name of our country – and us. So, I’m heartened that he didn’t succumb to pressures to a) not release the torture memos and b) not prevent possible prosecutions = both of which he COULD HAVE done in the name of political expediency and his own personal agenda.

    Look, I’m not saying everything is rosy. And he still pisses me off.

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  6. I’m not sure he could have prevented the release of the memos, at least not without doing further damage to himself. The ACLU fought for five years to get them released under FOIA. As I understand it, the ACLU action is what got them released, not a willing act of Obama’s.

    And I would never accuse you of saying everything is rosy. 🙂

    BTW Jeff Jacoby wrote in his column today that he has always been against torture and agrees that it is wrong, but in this case it was ‘understandable’ because everybody was so upset by 9/11 and so we shouldn’t hold anyone accountable. If that’s the case, then we could easily have justified killing every Muslim in America in the months after 9/11, and every Jew in America after the Israelis attacked one of our ships in the Mediterranean some years ago. It would have been wrong, of course, but being upset and afraid would have been sufficient justification. How is it that Conservatives like JJ get to call what they say ‘thinking’?

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  7. Understandable doesn’t equal excusable.

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  8. I voted for Obama knowing full well that he is a politician extraordinaire. Still, I hoped that he meant at least a little bit of what he said on the campaign trail. Philly’s right, the fact that one can understand, perhaps even empathize with, another’s motives, does not render the consequent behavior excusable.

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