Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Palin: McCain campaign's end-run around media

Joe Garofoli, Chronicle Staff Writer
September 30, 2008

(09-29) 18:44 PDT -- The McCain campaign is attempting to do something unheard of in the modern political era. It is not just running against the mainstream media, it is running around it.

This strategy is not so much expressed in McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt's declaration last week that the New York Times is "150 percent in the tank" for Democratic Sen. Barack Obama or the media-bashing by several speakers at this month's Republican National Convention. It's more about the GOP's continued sheltering of its vice presidential nominee, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

She has yet to hold a major press conference 32 days after McCain announced her as his running mate - and that's not changing anytime soon. McCain spokesman Michael Goldfarb said Palin will do at least one news conference before election day. That could mean that the person who could potentially lead the free world will have done one national press conference before being sworn into office.

The Democratic vice presidential nominee, Joe Biden, has given more than 89 national and local interviews over roughly the same period of time.

Other than TV interviews with CBS anchor Katie Couric, ABC anchor Charlie Gibson and conservative Fox News commentator Sean Hannity, Palin hasn't engaged the press. The effort to shield her is so intense that when she met with foreign leaders in New York last week, the campaign initially would only allow photographers near her.

No favors

"I don't think the campaign is doing her any favors by not letting her answer any questions," said PBS political editor Judy Woodruff, who has covered politics for 30 years for CNN and PBS. "If she's elected vice president of the United States and were she to succeed to the presidency, she needs that interchange with journalists. The American people have a right to know what does she know and how does she think."

"The media needs to continue to say, every day, until she has a news conference, 'When is she going to have a news conference? Why isn't she having one?' I just find it astounding," Woodruff said. "I think the media has a responsibility to continue to point out that this is unlike any presidential or vice presidential candidate in memory. She has been more bottled up."

When television news outlets threatened not to run any images of her meeting with Afghan president Hamid Karzai on Tuesday unless reporters were allowed in as well, the campaign allowed CNN - which was providing the pool report for the event - inside. Briefly. According to the network, "CNN's producer and other photographers were allowed in the room for just 29 seconds."

'Free Sarah Palin'

Last week, The Chronicle began a "Free Sarah Palin" campaign on its Politics blog, documenting the continuing lack of access to the candidate. The effort was echoed by CNN host Campbell Brown, who called on "the McCain campaign to stop treating Sarah Palin like she is a delicate flower that will wilt at any moment."

"This woman is from Alaska, for crying out loud. She is strong. She is tough. She is confident. And you claim she is ready to be one heartbeat away from the presidency. If that is the case, then end this chauvinistic treatment of her now. Allow her to show her stuff," Brown said. "Free Sarah Palin."

The real loser in this game of hide-the-candidate: voters. Palin was not well-known outside of conservative circles before the campaign chose her. Polls, including one taken by the Pew Research Center, taken over the past few days show that Palin's approval rating has dropped since she was nominated.

"The lack of access is potentially damaging in the eyes of the voter, because they are trying to get to know the candidate," said Paul Dimock, associate director of the nonpartisan Pew Research Center for People and the Press. Palin is especially vulnerable because voters know McCain, Obama and Biden better, he said.

"The McCain campaign has discovered it has a major problem," said Sally Jenkins, president of the Women's Media Center. "Increasingly, it has become clear that she doesn't have a grasp of the issues. If I were John McCain, I'd be doing the same thing with her."

No incentive

But Jenkins said the campaign doesn't have an incentive to give the media more Palin face time. "If there is anybody more despised than Congress, it's the media."

So what can the media do? Jenkins said they shouldn't have given in to the campaign's demands last week during Palin's New York visit. "At some point, the media has to stop cooperating with the campaign."

Friday, syndicated conservative columnist Kathleen Parker had seen enough of Palin - and called on her to withdraw.

"Palin's recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League," Parker wrote at the National Review Online.

"Palin filibusters. She repeats words, filling space with deadwood. Cut the verbiage and there's not much content there," Parker wrote. "If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself."

But other news executives say what the McCain campaign is doing is not that unusual.

"All politicians go through a stage where they want to minimize how much they are exposed to the media," said Paul Friedman, vice president of news at CBS, the network that scored one of the three major Palin interviews. He shrugged at what could be learned in a news conference that couldn't in a one-on-one interview. "I just don't think it is that cosmic of an issue. We'll see more of the candidates soon. Just wait for the debates."

E-mail Joe Garofoli at jgarofoli@sfchronicle.com.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Feds Use Phone Bills to Get Journo's Sources on NSA Spy Program

Caveat: James Risen, the NYT reporter, is a CIA "Mockingbird" with little credibility, but does on occasion file a real report on the intelligence community to maintain his cover. However, he has never, in the span of his career, revealed as much, say, as this blog on a dialy basis. - AC

By Ryan Singel
April 14, 2008

Federal investigators are using phone records to figure out which federal officials talked with New York Times reporters about the government's secret wiretapping of Americans without court orders.

The feds are using phone records to find out who told Times reporter James Risen about warrantless eavesdropping on American citizens.
Vincent Serrano
In the leak investigation, Justice Department officials are using phone records in an Arlington, Va. federal grand jury proceeding to ferret out James Risen's sources, according to the New York Times.
One presumes the government is using subpoenas or National Security Letters to get Risen or his suspected sources' phone records, then hauling former government officials in front of the grand jury.

But given that this Administration operates on the belief that the Fourth Amendment does not apply during wartime, that the Justice Department is not pursuing criminal charges against officials involved in wiretapping Americans without court approval and that the Administration claims to have King-like powers in the Time of Terror, the presumption that legal process was involved might be quaint.

Risen, the author of State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration, was subpoenaed by the Justice Department in 2006, but is fighting the subpoena.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

FOX News Is Ignoring Reports About Palin's Extramarital Affair

Reported by Ellen
September 26, 2008

When the National Enquirer broke the news a few months ago about John Edwards' extramarital affair with Rielle Hunter, there was a steady stream of stories and discussions about it on FOX News although Edwards was no longer a candidate by then. Yet FOX News has been ignoring the same tabloid's report about an extramarital affair between current vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her husband's former business partner, Brad Hanson.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, the McCain campaign has threatened legal action against the Enquirer. But the Enquirer says it has three sources from Hanson's family, including one who signed a sworn affidavit, and has published the story.

Pretty juicy stuff, eh? Just the kind of thing that FOX News couldn't get enough of when it involved Democrat John Edwards. Hannity & Colmes even devoted a full show to his scandal (plus more segments in other shows). On August 8, 2008, Sean Hannity said, “I applaud the Enquirer” for investigating Edwards because “He's running for president... He's a contender for vice president or was.” But here we have an actual vice presidential candidate and... silence.

It's not just Hannity. A search just now of “Palin Hanson” on FOXNews.com turned up no stories. But a search of "Edwards Hunter" turned up “about” 205. There are 44 more entries when you search video.


Video - Palin On Foreign Policy: The Katie Couric Interview

Sarah "Piggy" Palin on why Russia is important. And the bailout is about healthcare.

Conservative Parker calls for Palin to go

September 26, 200

A conservative columnist who welcomed Sarah Palin's entry in national politics says she's proved to be a dud and should step aside as John McCain's running mate.

Kathleen Parker, writing in National Review Online, says her "cringe reflex is exhausted" after watching the Alaska governor stumble through TV interviews and it's become clear to her that Palin is out of her league.

"No one hates saying that more than I do," Parker writes. "Like so many women, I've been pulling for Palin, wishing her the best, hoping she will perform brilliantly. I've also noticed that I watch her interviews with the held breath of an anxious parent, my finger poised over the mute button in case it gets too painful. Unfortunately, it often does."


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Letter to the Editor: "Yes, We are Worried"


Well, now that I have been quoted by Jack King ("The Demos are worried," Sept. 7), I guess I'm officially a crackpot that writes too many letters to the Times-Herald. No dignity to lose now.

Yes, the Democrats are scared. They got scared when the Supreme Court stopped the recount in Florida and handed the Presidency to George W. Bush. Can this happen in America? Apparently, it can. The GOP, hijacked by extreme, right-wing fanatics like Newt Gingrich, Grover Norquist, Dick Cheney and the like, were now running all three branches of the federal government. Well there are still safeguards in place - how much harm can they do?

They can slash revenue, spend and borrow like there's no tomorrow. Deregulate everything, put the foxes in charge of the hen house and loot the national coffers with both hands. Have lobbyists write their own laws and power them through a Republican-dominated legislature. Buy huge pieces of the media and establish their own propaganda network that attacks anyone who questions anything they do. Rewrite voting districts to corral Democrats and over-represent Republicans. Privatize every facet of government possible, especially the military. Huge no-bid contracts to Haliburton, CACI , Blackwater and God knows who else to perform military functions at unbelievable profits. Divide and inflame the American people while an enormous transfer of wealth is shifted to the top 1.5 percent of the population. Then, when the country is honest-to-God attacked on 9/11, exploit it like a pedophile with a child's trust. Take the worst national security mess in American history and use it to invade a sovereign country with the second largest oil deposits in the world. Instead of firing the national security advisor , promote her to Secretary of State! It goes on and on and on.

Yes, the Democrats are scared to death of people whose loyalty to the GOP, no matter who's in charge of it, is far stronger than any loyalty to America itself. People who belligerently and adamantly supported anything Bush did, no matter what it was, people who will cheer America being driven off a cliff as long as they get to kick a few hippie's on the way over. Yes, we believe there are people fully capable of putting a man in the Oval Office who was tortured for years and who whose main regret about the Vietnam war seems to be that he wasn't able to bomb Russian supply ships and start World War III.

Yes, we believe there are people capable of being galvanized by a really pretty, gutsy, good public speaker who also happens to be an evangelical nut ball who wants prayer in the schools, guns for everyone, no taxes and no obstacles to the oil companies.

Adrian Davis, Vallejo


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

McCain “The Deregulation King” and Media Propaganda

By Colin Benjamin
September 24th, 2008

McCain, a notorious deregulation advocate, helped create the permissiveness that led to the current meltdown; how can he be solution when he was part of the problem, columnist argues....

In a real democracy its leaders are elected by a people properly informed by its press.

But in the United States, that ideal has been corrupted and abrogated by a compromised, propagandist press that has misled this nation into the disaster of the last eight years. Media are at it again.

As Friday's presidential debate draws near, amid the backdrop of last week's Wall Street meltdown, the American people's collective ignorance on why this disaster occurred, and the politicians who caused it, is chilling.

At the end of last week, after stumbling and mumbling for days incoherently trying to find a tone of authenticity during this financial catastrophe, John McCain stated: "People like Senator Obama have been too busy gaming the system and haven't ever done a thing to actually challenge the system. We've heard a lot of words from Senator Obama over the course of the campaign. But maybe just this once he could spare us the lectures, and admit to his poor judgment in contributing to these problems. The crisis on Wall Street started in the Washington culture of lobbying and influence peddling, and he was square in the middle of it."

That Senator McCain has, largely, gotten away with these blatant, bold-face lies is evidence of journalistic malpractice of the highest order. How is it that this increasingly senile sounding, serial liar is allowed to get away with misrepresenting Senator Barack Obama’s record, while concealing his sordid dossier of graft and corruption?

Only yesterday it was reported that McCain’s campaign manager Rick Davis had been receiving $15,000 in secret payments to his firm per month from Freddie Mac until last month; this contradicts McCain’s lie Sunday that Davis has had no association with Freddie Mac for years. What makes it even more odious is that apparently Davis has been getting paid though he hasn’t been performing any work for Freddie Mac. Let’s see how McCain explains this and how it escapes investigation.

For weeks now, I have written about Senator McCain's involvement in the Reagan Era deregulation movement, which is the stepping stone that led us into this financial quicksand. McCain’s involvement as a congressional "lobbyist" and "influence peddler" for Charles Keating, the man who defrauded so many, including the elderly, of their life savings is clear. Senator McCain was one of the "Keating Five" senators who all received slaps on the wrist reprimands from the Senate Ethics Committee. Senator McCain was chided for exercising "poor judgment" when he interceded to "influence" federal regulators on Keating's behalf, in a failed attempt to give congressional cover to his friend and benefactor.

All of these unprincipled political prostitutes sold their services to Keating, in an attempt to shield him from federal regulators investigating him as a major figure in the larger infamous Savings and Loan Scandals. The Savings and Loan Scandals cost the country $160.1 billion.

$124.6 billion was taken from the pockets of American taxpayers. If history is any indication, the taxpayers are about to get the shaft again. Especially, since the media has been derelict in contextually informing the public of these abuses and the involvement of impostors like Senator McCain.

These violations of the public trust are a direct result of the deregulation movement that Senator McCain championed alongside the GOP's favorite B- movie actor and pseudo-cowboy: Ronald Reagan. Make no mistake about it—Wall Street's current crisis is part and parcel of that same ideological perversion: the illogical idea that the markets should be free of any regulation and oversight. The reason behind this failed financial philosophy is now abundantly clear: with no policing of these markets, speculators and swindlers were given a free pass at "gaming the system."

Question: given Senator McCain's record of schmoozing lobbyists—he has 83 of them on his campaign staff—and corporate crooks like Charles Keating why isn't media informing the public of these relevant facts? Could it be because of the "he's a 'war hero' narrative" that the propaganda press has spoon-fed the public? In a future column, we'll explore whether Senator McCain is really a "war hero."

In the last two presidential elections, the press misinformed the public into voting for these "conservative" neo-con artists who have taken this country to the brink of insolvency. During the 2000 Presidential Election the most flagrant violation in any democracy was allowed to stand when the vote of Black Floridians was stolen by Republicans like Kathleen Harris, with the help of Bush's minions and his brother Governor Jeb Bush.

Where was the insightful in-depth investigation of this suppression of democracy? Why didn't the media look into the evidence of vote-fixing by companies like Diebold in the 2004 Presidential Elections?

In the 2004 Presidential Elections, the media facilitated the "Swift-Boating" of Senator John Kerry. Here is a man who received five medals, three Purple Hearts, a Silver Star and a Bronze Star. Yet, he was made to look like an emasculated sissy, unlike the chicken hawks—Cheney alone received five deferments—who reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. If media had properly educated the public about Kerry’s military honors the American people wouldn't have been fooled by the "Swift-Boaters."

Much of the catastrophe of the last eight years can be traced to the thievery in 2000. America's propaganda press is largely to blame for the docile and complacent reaction of the public. History will judge America harshly for media's mis-education of the America people during this period.

Unfortunately, media is still betraying the American people, by allowing Senator McCain to cover-up his congressional history of fraud.

It's time to challenge Senator McCain's deceptions and media's misguided manipulations.

Benjamin is a member of The Black Star News’s Editorial Board

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Meet the Religious Right Duo Behind "Obama Waffles"

By Adele M. Stan, The Media Consortium

At the annual Washington gathering of the Christian right sponsored by the political arm of the Family Research Council, the Republican Party's emissaries have come in past years to bow before some 2000 right-wing foot-soldiers and the leaders who command them. However, this year's Values Voter Summit, a bit light on GOP dignitaries, made less news for its speaker line-up than it did for the sale of a breakfast food.

In the far corner of the exhibit hall at the conference, two entrepreneurs hawked "Obama Waffles," a product they described as "political satire." On sale for $10 apiece, the boxes of waffle mix were emblazoned with a cartoon image of a bug-eyed, toothy, dark-lipped Barack Obama eying a plate of waffles. A pat of butter on the waffles is stamped "2008." On the top flap, the Obama cartoon appears in a turban, next to an arrow printed with the text: "Point box toward Mecca for tastier waffles."

In a statement David Nammo, the executive director of Family Research Council Action, said that his organization demanded the exhibitors dismantle their display "when the content of the materials was brought to the attention of FRC Action senior officials" on Saturday. But by the time Obama Waffles creators W. Mark Whitlock and Bob DeMoss began breaking down their display, the conference was winding down and most exhibitors had already left. While Nammo condemned the display as "an attempt at parody that crosses the line into coarseness and bias," the truth is that Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a spin-off of James Dobson's Focus on the Family empire, has on at least one occasion hobnobbed with white supremacists. And if the conference organizers were unaware of what Whitlock and DeMoss were selling for two and a half days before the exhibit was shuttered, as they claim, then they were certainly well acquainted with the men behind Obama Waffles, both of whom have long ties to the leaders of the religious right.

According to a letter of reference written by DeMoss on behalf of Whitlock, the two men met while working for Focus on the Family, where Whitlock served as a producer on Dobson's "Focus on the Family" daily radio program from 1991 to 1992, according his resume.

Some years later the two worked together again at FamilyLife Publishing, a branch of the Campus Crusade for Christ--one of the very first religious-right organizations. According to Whitlock's resume, he worked for the organization in various capacities from 1992 to 2004. During that time he served one year on the event team putting together the religious right's Congress on the Urban Family, which perhaps explains where Whitlock developed an apparent affection for hip-hop music, as evidenced by the bonus "recipe rap" that appears on the side of the Obama's Waffles box:
Barry's Bling Bling Waffle Ring

Yo, B-rock here droppin' waffle knowledge
Spellin' it out, 'cause I graduated college
Some say I waffle so fast, Barry's causin' whiplash
Just doin' my part, made wafflin' a fine art
For a waffle wit style, like Chicago's Magnificent Mile
Spray whipped cream around the edge
Shake it first like Sister Sledge
Then say wit me, I can be as waffly as I wanna be!
(That goes out to my Ludacris posse)

DeMoss, Whitlock's partner in the waffle venture, also has some friends in high places within the religious right, having served as the co-author of books with Tim LaHaye, best known as the author of the Left Behind book series. With LaHaye, DeMoss penned four novels targeted at young adults that include a cautionary tale about an evil abortion doctor. The story centers on a missing teen whose absence is only noticed days after he vanished because his household is headed by a single mom who spends long hours at work.

LaHaye, DeMoss' co-author, is one of the top leaders of the religious right and a co-founder of the Council for National Policy, the super-secret umbrella group that reportedly vetted GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin on the eve of the Republican National Convention.

In some ways it's not terribly surprising that Whitlock and DeMoss' racist parody failed to set off alarm bells among Family Research Council and FRC Action leaders until reporters began inquiring about the Obama Waffles stand. FRC President Tony Perkins spoke in 2001 before the Council of Conservative Citizens, a notorious white supremacist group (according to the organization's statement of principles, it opposes "all efforts to mix the races of mankind" and "to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called 'affirmative action'"). He also directed the 1996 Senate campaign of former Rep. Woody Jenkins (R-La.) using the campaign lists of former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke. Perkins paid Duke $82,500 for the lists. (Jenkins served as the first executive director of the Council for National Policy.)

More recently, while reporting for Church & State magazine, I saw Perkins address a crowd of Christian right believers in 2007 at the Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church of the late Rev. D. James Kennedy. Delivering a speech in the church sanctuary at the "Reclaiming America for Christ" conference, Perkins referenced the biblical story of Phinehas, oft-cited by white supremacists to justify their beliefs. In this instance, Perkins invoked the story while making the case against Muslims, urging the assembled Christians to "take action" in the way Phinehas did.

"I am here advocating for Christian citizenship,” Perkins said.
Lest any of the assembled miss the point, Perkins offered up the story of Phinehas, grandson of Moses' brother Aaron, from Numbers 25. Phinehas was rewarded by God with an "everlasting priesthood" for killing an Israelite and his Midian lover because God had forbidden the mixing of the men of Israel with the women of that tribe.


"We read that Phinehas arose and he took action…," Perkins said.

"Not only is prayer required…," Perkins continued. "I warn you that if you begin to pray for our nation that, at some point in time, you’re gonna be prayin’ and you’re gonna feel a tap on your shoulder and hear, 'Son, daughter, I’ve heard your prayer; now I want you to do something about it.'"

Just in case his message should be misconstrued, however, Perkins offered this caveat: "Now, let me be clear, in case the media’s here," he said, "I’m not advocating you go home and get a pitchfork out of your storage shed and run into your neighbor’s house." Phinehas, the Bible tells us, used a javelin.

Maybe the organizers of the Values Voter Summit, as David Nammo's statement suggests, did simply get sloppy and failed to block a product that sold like hot cakes before they intervened. But, as it turned out, racist supply met racist demand at the conference. Perhaps the FRC honchos should wonder why that was.

Ever Hawkish, McCain Campaign Declares War on Press

New York Magazine

The McCain campaign's ongoing war against what it sees as the liberal, biased media has been ratcheted up yet another notch. Speaking on a conference call yesterday, McCain operations chief Steve Schmidt railed against the New York Times after it ran a story on campaign manager Rick Davis's ties to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, claiming the paper is "totally 150 percent in the tank for the Democratic candidate" and had "cast aside its journalistic integrity." Schmidt complained that the press was unfairly labeling McCain a "liar," and wasn't running as many negative stories about Obama. He suggested they investigate Hunter Biden's connections to the banking industry or Obama's relationship with William Ayers, for example. Unfortunately for Schmidt, the call itself was rife with distortions, and when Politico reporter Ben Smith pointed them out, he, too, was accused of being "in the tank." No doubt the McCain campaign really does hate the media with the burning passion of a thousand suns. But what cynical, political motives are really behind the latest outburst?

• Chuck Todd and friends think McCain's attempts to "change the subject" won't work this time, because the "economy and the current Wall Street crisis have become THE story, and nothing right now is going to stop that." [First Read/MSNBC]

• Joe Klein thinks Schmidt "jumped the shark," but he's doing it for a reason: first, to "work the refs" for more favorable coverage, and second, to distract from "the real issues in this campaign." [Swampland/Time]

• Andrew Sullivan says "lies" and the "demonization of anyone asking questions" are "all these people have left." [Atlantic]

• Steve Benen says "You are in the tank" is the "McCain campaign worldview summarized in just five words." If "you care about reality" or "you notice McCain's campaign straying from the truth," then you're biased, and the enemy. [Political Animal/Washington Monthly]

• Marc Ambinder goes out of his way to mention the good things the McCain campaign has done for the press, like helping reporters understand policy or "get in touch with a campaign official." In other words, they're generally competent. So he's "hoping that today's outburst was an aberration and not a sign that the campaign will be shutting down its press shop for good." [Atlantic]

• Michael Crowley finds the timing of the complaints "interesting," as the last time the McCain campaign lashed out at the press was in "early-mid summer" when "Obama had all the momentum in the race and McCain was looking for a way to change the dynamic." [Stump/New Republic]

• Andrew Romano sympathizes with the McCain campaign's complaints, but Schmidt's rant "may have crossed that line." The Times has reported negatively on Obama plenty of times. Schmidt "wants to distract the press from reporting on McCain's economic struggles by dangling a shiny object in front of their faces." If it weren't so effective, "I'd tell him to stop whining." [Stumper/Newsweek]

• Matt Lewis contends that the Times would rather "claim McCain has changed" than admit "that their coverage has changed because he now poses a threat to their favorite liberal candidate." [Town Hall]

• Chris Cillizza believes that few voters would be swayed by the strategy of attacking the media. Instead, Schmidt seeks to work the refs by "laying a layer of guilt on the media for what he believes is an unfair approach to the coverage of the two candidates to date." [Fix/WP]

• Sam Stein writes that while "[u]sually, going to war with the press produces fantastic results for Republican candidates ... this campaign has proven a bit different." The press has remained "confident" as it continues to call out McCain "for his distortions." [HuffPo]

• Michael Shear notes that it's been about 40 days since McCain has held a news conference and over 24 days since Sarah Palin has held one. [Trail/WP]


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Video: RFK, Jr. on Conservative Media

Kennedy:" ... The Pew Foundation recently did a survey that shows that 30% of Americans now say their primary news source is talk radio, which is 90% controlled by the right. 22% said cable news, mainly FOX news, 10% said Sinclair Network, which is the largest, most right-wing network in our country, and it is run by a former pornographer who requires all 75 of his local affiliate stations to take a pledge that they will not report critically about this president, about the war in Iraq or a number of other issues. ... "


Denver Post Defends Palin's Quoting of Fascist Westbrook Pegler/Reader Responses

“By the 1950s, however, Pegler was showing some nostalgia for the Third Reich. His proposal for 'smashing' the AF of L and the CIO was for the state to take them over. 'Yes, that would be fascism,” he wrote. “But I, who detest fascism, see advantages in such fascism.' ... ”

See: "Palin Quotes Domestic Nazi Westbrook Pegler"

Again with the Pegler?
by David Harsanyi
September 16, 2008

Andrew Sullivan links to Robert Kennedy who repeats the smear that columnist Westbrook Pegler, a writer Sarah Palin quoted in her acceptance speech, was an “avowed racist” and a “fascist writer.” Neither is really true. Yes, Pegler went batty with old age and wrote some odious stuff (apparently about RFK) but he was also the first columnist to win a Pulitzer Prize for reporting (on union corruption, which is one reason the left hates him so) and, as I’ve noted before, wrote about the plight of European Jews as early as 1936. He was avowed anti-Nazi, actually, not an avowed fascist. His strident columns assailing the New Deal seem to be the main reason he elicits such contempt from certain folks. He was, without a doubt, controversial and went off the deep end, but to tag any nefarious significance to Sarah Palin quoting him in regards small towns, is a stretch.

[CIA "Mockingbird" propagandist] Bill Buckley wrote about him in the New Yorker here.

Comments »

An anti-semitic apologist. How original.

Comment by Cascadian — September 16, 2008 @ 4:20 pm

Considering, I’m Jewish – ingredients include Yeshiva, Israel, Holocaust family decimation, etc … — that’s quite a stretch, Cascadian.

Comment by David Harsanyi — September 16, 2008 @ 6:24 pm

Here is a response to Bill Buckley’s Pelger article on made in March 2004;

“By the 1950s, however, Pegler was showing some nostalgia for the Third Reich. His proposal for “smashing” the AF of L and the CIO was for the state to take them over. “Yes, that would be fascism,” he wrote. “But I, who detest fascism, see advantages in such fascism.”

I think you only read Buckley’s article in forming the opinion expressed in your post, or do you have other references on Pegler?

Comment by Kevin — September 16, 2008 @ 8:37 pm

Methinks Harsanyi doth protest too much. Anyone researching Pegler will find many examples of racism and anti-semitism, as well as direct wishes for RFK’s assassination that would have him imprisoned today, and should have then. While his writing and career were not all the same, any more than any other writer, in sum he was a repugnant individual, and the choice of his writings for a quotation is reason for repulsion.

“When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” - Sinclair Lewis

Mr. Lewis apparently foresaw Bush, Palin, the religious wrong and their handmaidens like Harsanyi.

Comment by Lawrence Better — September 17, 2008 @ 12:28 am

“I told Congress thanks but no thanks for that bridge to nowhere. If the state wanted to build a bridge we would built it ourselves.”

Judge for yourself what she said:


Sarah Palin is a liar. That is all you need to know about her.

Comment by John — September 17, 2008 @ 6:48 am

Pegler was, in fact, anti-Semitic and his writings plainly show it. He was a scurrilous and libelous columnist and he lost a highly publicized libel trial because of columns that he wrote, and Hearst newpapers ran, about war correspondent Quintin Reynolds. (Read an account of the trial in “My Life In Court,” by Louis Nizer.) Pegler was publicly humiliated as a result and never regained his reputation.

Anyone quoting, or defending anyone quoting, Pegler should seek therapy as soon as possible.

Comment by reporter1 — September 17, 2008 @ 10:10 pm
True to his state propaganda role, the Post's David Harsanyi condescendingly bad-mouthed protestors at last month's DNC convention:

Seattle it’s not
August 25, 2008

The threat of violent protests at the Democratic National Convention was a topic of endless discussion here in Denver leading up to the DNC. There were city council meetings, lawsuits, hand wringing and secret detentions centers (otherwise known as Gitmo on the Platte). Yet, up to this point, it seems, all of it was an overreaction to a clever public relations campaign waged by a handful of “anarchist” groups.

Protestors have numbered in the hundreds — at the largest demonstrations — rather than the anticipated tens of thousands. And protestors have generally been peaceful and predictably incoherent.

Good fortune for me, though. On my way to the Pepsi Center — a compound protestors can’t see much less yell at — I happen to run into some real live Communists. They had temporarily shut down the shuttle on 16th street (the pedestrian tourist mall downtown) until cops showed up on horseback to lead them away from the fragile psyches of the delegates. This harmless demonstration was indicative of others, with a potpourri of causes to choose from: Cures not Wars, free the Cuban Five and don’t lay a finger on Mumia Abu-Jamal (”Fire in the Sky if Mumia dies”.) ...


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fort Wayne Paper Finds White House Aide Plagiarized 20 Columns

"Conservative principles" at work. - AC

By E&P Staff
March 01, 2008

NEW YORK White House aide Timothy S. Goeglein, E&P reported earlier, resigned late Friday after news emerged that he had plagiarized articles or columns he had written for his hometown paper, the Fort Wayne (Indiana) News-Sentinel. Four examples of plagiarism had been quickly discovered with sources including The Washington Post and New York Sun.

The News-Sentinel said his days of writing for the paper -- which he had done for many years -- were also at an end. It also revealed in today's edition that it had already found that more than half of his guest columns since 2000, 20 of 38, included plagiarism.

It published a list of them in today's paper. The full account is at www.fortwayne.com. Here is a sample.

♦“Hoagy Carmichael's songs reflect his deep roots in Bloomington, Indiana” - Nov. 5, 2007; “Hoagy Carmichael's Memories, Straight from the Heartland,” by Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post, Sept. 3, 2007.

♦“As Americans, we should give thanks for good fortune daily,” Nov. 23, 2006; “Piano to Flip Your Wig,” by Tim Page, Washington Post, Oct. 23, 2006.

♦“The divine spark in us all still illuminates weathered cemetery stones” - Nov. 8, 2006; “A Gem of Purest Ray Serene,” by Eric Ormsby, The New York Sun, Aug. 9, 2006

♦“Foster Park preserves transcendent ideas of beauty that are coming back” - July 5, 2006; “A Wish Came True: An L.A. Museum Displays Klimt Paintings Taken by Nazis and Restored to Family,” by William Booth, Washington Post, April 5, 2006

♦“Mark Christmas Eve with elegant sacred texts” - Dec. 23, 2005; “A season to remember the transforming power of sacred language,” by Michael Dirda, The Washington Post, Dec. 4, 2005

♦“Mao Zedong's hideous butchery eclipses the toll of every other tyrant in history” - Dec. 6, 2005; “China's Monster, Second to None,” by Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times, Oct. 21, 2005

♦“Rediscovering the past's foundation” - Oct. 18, 2005; multiple plagiarized sources, including “The Polish Seminary Student and the Jewish Girl He Saved,” by Roger Cohen, The New York Times, April 6, 2005, and “Light in a New Dark Age,” by George Weigel, The Wall Street Journal, April 21, 2005

♦“Christmas Eve's divine mystery creeps in softly” - Dec. 24, 2004; “No, It's Not Only In the Eye of the Beholder,” by Roger Kimball, The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 1, 2004

♦“Let's keep language off the ‘endangered' list,” June 19, 2000; “The Inarticulate Society: Eloquence and Culture in America,” by Tracy Lee Simmons, National Review, Feb. 12, 1996

♦“Great Music has power to take us Bach to God” - May 4, 2000; “A Lot Has Changed Since 1000, but Not Everything,” by George Melloan, The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 21, 1999

♦ “There's poetry in snow, and so much more” - Feb. 15, 2000; “Arts in America: A ‘Brave Thing,' Writing Verse, Especially at Poetry Camp,” by James Sterngold, The New York Times, Aug. 12, 1999.


The Ledeen Move

by Jim Lobe
August 25, 2008

I was really surprised by the news, first reported by Laura Rozen on her blog on Mother Jones, that Michael Ledeen, who had been under Richard Perle’s wing at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) for some 20 years, has moved to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy (FDD) and taken his “Freedom” chair with him. I have no inside information on the reasons for the move (I was declared persona non grata at AEI five years ago and told I shouldn’t try to attend any of its events) , and don’t buy his own explanation, although his reference to a “rising” FDD suggests his association there might be more lucrative, particularly as FDD, which earlier this year suffered major Democratic defections, is competing strongly for Sheldon Adelson’s largess. (And I have no doubt at all that Ledeen’s obsession with Iran would definitely appeal to the multi-billionaire casino magnate who reportedly shares that obsession).

One possible explanation is that the AEI’s incoming president (as of Jan. 1), Syracuse University Prof. Arthur Brooks, is hoping that AEI’s public image on foreign policy — dominated as it has been for so long by hard-line neo-cons like Perle — might be softened somewhat. But, while Ledeen clearly belongs on the radical fringe (just read his latest article in the National Review Online (NRO) on how Russia has joined the “terror masters” in Tehran and Damascus and how China is about to invade Taiwan), he’s certainly not nearly as visible as someone like former UN Amb. John Bolton, a bona fide extremist (albeit more nationalist than neo-con). On the other hand, Bolton’s frequent op-eds in the Wall Street Journal and the Telegraph, if not his cachet as a Bush alumnus willing to denounce his former boss as an appeaser to the mainstream press, no doubt raises a lot more money for AEI. By contrast, Ledeen’s relative obscurity probably attracts only a few grateful donors.

Indeed, apart from National Review Online, on which he appears to be publishing less and less, Ledeen has become lincreasingly invisible over the last couple of years, rarely participating even in AEI forums, so his departure may be due to the fact that he’s simply not producing enough. (I understand that his colleague, Joshua Muravchik, has recently been complaining worryingly to friends that AEI management has been pressing him to publish more.) In fact, a quick review of Nexis over the past three years shows that his annual article output for NRO has fallen quite sharply from more than 40 in the Aug 2005-06 period to just 18 in the last Aug 2007-08 period, which is particularly remarkable given all the speculation over the past year about attacking Iran. His television appearances also declined over the past two years, while his latest book, The Iranian Time Bomb (Sept 2007), was all but ignored by the major newspapers (with the exception of the New York Times which predictably panned it).

I would think that FDD, while certainly part of the same Likudist network as AEI’s Middle East cadre, marks a major comedown in prestige and power for Ledeen, and I have a hard time believing that he would go there willingly unless he were offered significantly more money than he is able to earn from his AEI perch. In Time Bomb, Ledeen stressed what a “singular blessing” it has been to work at AEI “where I can find out most anything I need to know by walking down the hall and asking some brilliant and collegial person.” And he singled out for praise the outgoing DeMuth who, he noted, has “always supported my work…” So, was he pushed, or did he jump? Either way, it’s an intriguing development.


Friday, September 19, 2008

Princeton: Former CIA Admin Talks Technology

" ... Lee said that the government must engage in data-mining — the practice of searching for records of suspicious purchases and online activity kept by some businesses — because 'we, as a country, ... have a responsibility to catch bad people.' ... ”

September 19th, 2008

New approaches to information technology can better balance individual privacy and the interests of businesses, government, national security and technology, former CIA Chief of Staff Ron Lee ’80 said Thursday afternoon in a lecture in the new ORFE Building.

In addition to serving as CIA Chief of Staff, Lee is a former associate deputy U.S. Attorney General and a former General Counsel to the National Security Agency. He is currently a partner at the law firm Arnold & Porter LLP in Washington, D.C., which he joined in 1987.

Though he received his University degree in history, attended Yale Law School and has had a long legal career, Lee focused his talk on the technical aspects of national security.

Speaking before a small audience, Lee said that the government must engage in data-mining — the practice of searching for records of suspicious purchases and online activity kept by some businesses — because “we, as a country, ... have a responsibility to catch bad people.”

But he quickly added, “At what price [we maintain national security] is another question,” explaining that while data mining is necessary, there was a need for “legal and appropriate” ways to access and analyze personal data.

Lee also emphasized that legislation aiming to stop government data mining will not be a solution to the data mining issue. “That’s not going to happen. It’s like trying to prevent the inevitable.”

No matter how data mining is defined and legislated against, “water goes around an obstacle,” Lee added.

He was, however, hopeful about the legal future of data mining. “There’s a framework, you use technology ... There’s a way to improve the system, [so] that there is accountability and oversight,” he said.

Lee specifically mentioned identity management systems (IDMs) as a promising framework for data mining. IDMs, Lee said, have the idea of selective self-disclosure built into them.

These schemes allow individuals to “reveal only enough information to complete the transaction,” he explained.

IDMs guarantee individual privacy starting when clients give firms their personal data, Lee said. By limiting the data individuals release to each business, it becomes harder to piece together a complete individual profile from different sources of data.

At the same time, this promise of greater privacy makes clients more willing to reveal slightly more information about themselves. This allows IDMs to tell customers, “I’ll give you a little bit more privacy if you cangive me a little bit more info,” Lee noted.

In contrast to these IDMs, “back-end solutions” that “build in the privacy [only] after all this data has been entered into this database” are unwieldy. Lee said that these back-end solutions include allowing the private sector to control how government can use their stored data. This practice also empowers businesses to deny government access whenever they desire.

Lee fondly recalled his time at Princeton, saying that he had learned a lot from his friends during his Princeton days, explaining that he was one of the few non-engineers in Charter Club in 1980.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Conspiracy Theory Encephalopods are Deranged and Really have the Bollocks (Parody)

By Donald "Ho" Constantine

Last night, my ten-year-old daughter was sitting at the kitchen table, fixated on the Internet. I sat quietly by reading my Bible. She turned to me and asked, "Daddy, did commie awiens from the Dawg Star shoot Pwesident Kennedy with a Qwewben-made pawtikel accewewator?"

"Why do you ask, Caroline?" I asked, somewhat lost in moral reflection. "What on earth are you read ... " I peered over her shoulder - you know what I saw - one of those crazy, lunatic, moonbat conspiracy web sites that claims the CIA spies on people.

"That's just a silly conspiracy theory, sweetheart," I said. "It's an immutable stricture of our dual sensate nature that there exists in this chaotic, madcap world a few sad, pathetic, wrong-headed cranks who simply won't accept the government's explanation for human events because they hate George Washington and the American Anthem - like the murder of the promiscuous commie symp John Kennedy."

"Not Castwo cwones with Mafia affiwiations in the Ukwaine?"

"No, sweetheart. According to Mr. Vincent Bugliosi, who knows all about it, the shootist was an employee at the Dallas school book depository. His name was Lee Harvey Oswald."

Caroline asked, "Where was Oswald when the Pwesident was shot?"

He was having a Coke.


"It's a little-known fact that the commie dink Lee Harvey Oswald was an Olympic sprinter. He ran the mile in approximately 32 seconds. That bad man Oswald shot Kennedy with a cheap Soviet rifle from the sixth floor, and high-tailed it down the the third floor for a Coke in a blur. He was a bad bad man - and pretty thirsty after killing the president and darting around like the Road Runner."

"Daddy, you're sooooooooo intewewigent!"

"Oswald was gifted man, too. He hit Kennedy with a magic bullet that reversed direction inside Kennedy's body, ricocheted off his collar-bone, shot out his left shoulder, then changed its mind about about hurtling away and headed down to rip through Governor Connally's wrist ... "

"Did he know Hawwy Potter?" Caroline said. "What happened to the Magic buwwet?"

I had obviously struck a trigger. She was all ears.

"Well, it laid right down with president Kennedy on his stretcher because it was very tired ... "

My daughter is naive, even retarded, but even with her fine European, upper-class genes, she was vulnerable to the seduction of the conspiracy theory. You know what I mean - those silly, lame, naive, ridiculous fairy tales woven in psycho-nutcase factories by paid agents of Osama bin Laden.

I try to laugh them off, but they're really aggravating. Like the one that claims the IRS does tax audits. I've been paying taxes for 30 years and have never been audited. The IRS has THREATENED to audit me - sure, many times - but a call to Orrin Hatch took care of that. I told him he'd NEVER be on my show again if he didn't intercede, and sure enough, the bastards backed off. So if a simple phone call to your local Senator can gutter an audit, how intimidating can the IRS be?

Obsequious pussies, the lot of them.

But I've heard it all - break-in at the Watergate: routine wire-tap. Iran-contra ... heroes. Martin Luther King? Oversexed - the salacious civil rights leader fell right over from fungus inhalation, but government liberals said it was James Earl Ray to protect his reputation and discredit the South in the Civil War at the same time.

Socialist Canada too.

Conspiracy lunatics have an answer for everything. So many examples ...

"Daddy," my girl said. She was gazing at a photo of Robert Kennedy, laid out prostrate by Sirhan's bullet. Here we go again ...

"This man from the Navy says tha' Salvador Awenday and Castwo conspired to shoot Wobet Kennedy."

"Oh, fer Christ ... will you get off ... crazy. What will the next juvenile fixation be, pray tell? Beastiality? I told you, honey, that's a conspiracy theory. Crazy bunk."

"What's beastiawi ... "

"Carnal knowledge of hirsute quadrapeds."

"Oh ... "

"Speaking of which, I've about had it with your insipid conspiracy hallucinations." I handed her copies of of Immanuel Kant's Prolegemana to any Future Dialectic and Pure Reason.

"Here. Enough wading through speculative, drooly sanitariums of fantasy political intrigue. Read these."

She switched off the computer and turned to Kant.

What was my reward for saving this child from a life of arbitrary confabulations?

More questions ... Some people insist on asking questions, but I never thought I'd give birth to one.

A few minutes later, I looked up from Revelations to find my daughter pieing me.

"What is it?" I sighed.

"If evewy event must have a cause, as Kant's empiwical weasonging insists,
then it is a twanscendental argwewment - pwoving a synthetic a pwiowi claim - that the Wowood Twade Center collapsed 'cawding to the official expwanation."

"Ohhhh ... " Kids - heh - rank amateurs in the abstract thought department.
Know what I mean? "Honey, a transcendental argument sets out to prove an a priori conclusion about the necessary structure of knowledge on the basis of an incontrovertible mental act - 'there are objects that exist in space and time outside of me,' he observes - but these don't live out your stupid CONSPIRACY THEORIES! We exist - they don't!"

Caroline looked at me for a second, scratched her belly and quietly turned back to her Kant.

More like it. With enough discipline and rational role models in her life, she'll come out just fine!

- Signing out with a smile and a song from the Big Isle,

A Birch Society Fascist Reminisces about the Late Right-Wing L.A. Radio Propagandist George Putnam

Far-right L.A. talk show crank George Putnam

Also see: The CIA propaganda front Human Events rhapsodizes on the passing of the ultra-conservative bunkmeister, as well.

George Putnam, Broadcasting Legend, Dies at 94
By Bill Hahn
16 September 2008 15:35

The Los Angeles Times reports that George Putnam, broadcasting legend, has died at 94.

Anyone who ever heard George Putnam’s voice would instantly recognize it. His flowing and booming voice was always rich with enthusiastic passion. It was impossible to correctly guess his age judging from his voice alone. When broadcasting, it seemed the airwaves quivered and trembled from the amount of bass in George’s voice.

My limited interaction with the George Putnam show came not long after I was hired by The John Birch Society in mid-2007. After having received a call from George’s long-time producer Chuck Wilder inquiring about a guest for the show, I spent some time asking a few key JBS staff about George and his radio program. The overwhelming opinion was that George was top-notch and well worth the time to set-up a guest.

I confirmed JBS President John McManus as a guest, informed staff of the upcoming show and set-up a reminder to myself to listen to the program. The day of, I dialed into the broadcast through the Internet and found myself mesmerized by his style and compassion for the truth. Opening the show was a a quick clip from a song by Harry Nilsson (Everybody’s Talkin’) made popular through its exposure in the movie “Midnight Cowboy.” Having liked the song growing up and not having heard it in a long time, it grabbed my attention right away.

George’s style was always one of a gentleman. Always courteous and fair to his guests and callers. During that interview, he touched on a number of issues, as well as asking about the Society, its mission and recent activities. During this interview and several thereafter, he always asked about the Society, giving us a chance to share with listeners. He or Chuck must have been subscribers to our news magazine,The New American. Many times I would get a call or email from Chuck after a new issue of the magazine was published asking for a guest for the cover story.

On one occasion, no one here was available, and not wanting to turn down an opportunity, I agreed to be on. We discussed illegal immigration and the half hour flew by. George made my short time on his show very comfortable. He didn’t take calls during this time, but I learned later on that he didn’t screen his on-air calls, which is standard for today’s talk shows. But it does make for interesting radio!

George was in broadcasting for more than 70 years, spending more than 30 years with producer Chuck Wilder. You can listen to the memorial show played on Friday, September 12, just hours after he passed away.

Fighting health problems, he had given his last regular show in May of this year, but came back in July for a show celebrating his 94th birthday. I feel highly privileged to be one of his last guests.

The lyrics in the show’s opening song describe a person going on a journey:

“I'm going where the sun keeps shining
Thru' the pouring rain
Going where the weather suits my clothes
Backing off of the North East wind
Sailing on summer breeze
And skipping over the ocean like a stone”

I can’t help but think of the journey George must be on. If there is a radio frequency in Heaven, I’m sure George is on it at high Noon, his preferred time.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Palin Quotes Domestic Nazi Westbrook Pegler

Westbrook Pegler

" ... In her convention speech ... Sarah Palin quoted an unidentified “writer” who extolled the virtues of small-town America: “We grow good people in our small towns, with honesty and sincerity and dignity.” (9/3/08) The unidentified writer was Westbrook Pegler (1894-1969), the ultraconservative newspaper columnist whose widely syndicated columns (at its peak, 200 newspapers and 12 million readers) targeted the New Deal establishment, labor leaders, intellectuals, homosexuals, Jews, and poets. ... "

Matthew ScullyNOTE: Palin's convention speech - laced with a quote from American fascist Westbrook Pegler - was penned by Matthew Scully, a senior speech writer for G.W. Bush. - AC

Palin and Pegler

Among the trite bromides delivered by Sarah Palin to the Republican National Convention was this: "We grow good people in our small towns, with honest and sincerity and dignity." Wow, these sure are powerful words, certainly not the verbiage of ordinary people or even ordinary speech writers. Palin certainly didn't write her speech, and even her distinctly dismal assembly of words in her ABC interview with Charles Gibson were probably not hers. Apropos the wisdom about small towns, her staff also did not trust themselves to do a sentence approximating the thought. So they went to... well, not a treasury of great quotations. It is, after all, a rather banal thought, banally expressed. They went to Westbrook Pegler.

You have to be pretty old to know that Pegler would be a treasure house of right-wing populist jargon. The fact is--and I've been checking this all day--no one under 65 with whom I spoke had the slightest idea who he was. So who, then, would know to breeze through the writing of Westbrook Pegler, of all people, in search of what is, after all, just a cliche? Surely only someone knowledgeable (and sympathetic to?) native American fascism.

There were many native American fascists around during the thirties: Father Coughlin, Senator Bilbo, Charles Linndbergh, just to mention a few. And, of course, Pegler himself. A popular journalist, he was syndicated by the Hearst chain, which in those days shared the kind of patriotism articulated by fascists. I knew Pegler as a child from my mother's curses, although she did not read the Journal American which was the Hearst outlet in New York. He was also published by The Washington Post. (For liberals and for Jews "Pegler" was a symbol of everything truly hateful, a not inappropriate approximation.) Pegler was so bad that, when already in his dotage, even the John Birch Society refused to be embarrassed by his writing and pushed him out the door.

Some of you may be thinking that what I have written here is hyperbole. So comes to the rescue Sahil Mahtani, one of the new crop of reporter-researchers at TNR, with an a la carte menu of quotations from the wisdom of Westbrook Pegler--ugly stuff, truly ugly:

In her convention speech a fortnight ago, Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin quoted an unidentified “writer” who extolled the virtues of small-town America: “We grow good people in our small towns, with honesty and sincerity and dignity.” (9/3/08) The unidentified writer was Westbrook Pegler (1894-1969), the ultraconservative newspaper columnist whose widely syndicated columns (at its peak, 200 newspapers and 12 million readers) targeted the New Deal establishment, labor leaders, intellectuals, homosexuals, Jews, and poets.

On Robert Kennedy:

He wished in 1965 that “some white patriot of the Southern tier will spatter his spoonful of brains in public premises before the snow flies.” (J. Sharlet, “Paradise Shot to Hell: The Westbrook Pegler Story”, in Boob Jubilee, Ed. T. Frank & D. Mulcahey, W.W. Norton & Company, 2003, p. 358)

On the Jewish community:

Jews, he said, could not be the victims of persecution because persecution “connotes injustice…They are, instead, enduring retaliation, or punishment.” (D. Levitas, The Terrorist Next Door: The Militia Movement and the Radical Right, Macmillan, 2002, p. 71.)

He advanced the theory that American Jews of Eastern European descent were “instinctively sympathetic to Communism, however outwardly respectable they appeared.” (The New York Times, Obituary: “Free-Swinging Critic,” June 25, 1969, p. 43).

He had a habit of calling Jews “geese” because they, in his words, hiss when they talk, gulp down everything before them, and foul everything in their wake. (Diane McWhorter, “Revisiting the controversial career of Westbrook Pegler,” Slate, March 4 2004).

March 12 1945; In response to the Fair Employment Practices bill of New York State, which forbade Jews and other minorities from being restricted by quota in New York City medical establishments, Pegler attacked the new law as “pernicious heresy against the ancient privilege of human beings to hate.” (R. Kahn, The Era, 1947-1957, University of Nebraska Press, 2002, p. 44)

On the Civil Rights movement:

In 1963, less than 3 months after Martin Luther King Jr., delivered his famous “I Have a Dream Speech,” he wrote in a column, “[It is] clearly the bounden duty of all intelligent Americans to proclaim and practice bigotry.” (D. Levitas, The Terrorist Next Door: The Militia Movement and the Radical Right, Macmillan, 2002, p. 71)

In 1936, he wrote his famous lines, “I am a member of the rabble in good standing.” Yet that column was written in praise of a California lynch mob that killed two (white) men charged with a kidnapping-murder. (Diane McWhorter, “Revisiting the controversial career of Westbrook Pegler,” Slate, March 4 2004).

On the labor movement:

He once exhorted citizens to join strikebreakers “in the praiseworthy pastime of batting the brains out of pickets.” (J. Sharlet, “Paradise Shot to Hell: The Westbrook Pegler Story”, in Boob Jubilee, Ed. T. Frank & D. Mulcahey, W.W. Norton & Company, 2003, p. 358)

On Homosexuals:

In the spring of 1950, piling on the McCarthy era attacks on the state department, Pegler attacked the State Department for being too friendly to homosexuals. Five of these columns were addressed to Dean Acheson, offering suggestions for changes to make the department reflect “the distinctive spirit and character of so many of the personnel.” He suggested Acheson rename the street adjoining departmental headquarters Grimm Street after the author of the fairy tales; that he rename the smoking room the “Fag room”; and that he replace the standard handshake greeting with a curtsy and the standard mode of address from “your Excellency” to “precious.” Courses in interior decorating, he mused, might provide better preparation for entry into the foreign service than history or political science.” (D. K. Johnson, The Lavender Scare, The University of Chicago Press, 2004, 68-69, quoting W. Pegler, Washington Times-Herald, March 31, 1950, 14).

In 1950, this verse:

“How could [Truman] help it if parties
both unusual and queer
Got into the State Department
which true patriots hold dear?
To hear the dastards tell it
they are true to Uncle Joey
And call each other female
names like Bessie, Maud, and Chloe.
And write each other poetry
and confidential notes so tender
Lke they was not he-men at all
but belonged to the opposing gender.”
(from D. K. Johnson, The Lavender Scare, The University of Chicago Press, 2004, 65)

On Roosevelt:

He wrote that “It [was] regrettable that Giuseppe Zangara hit the wrong man when he shot at Roosevelt in Miami.” (W. E. Leuchtenburg, The FDR Years, Columbia University Press, 1997, p. 316).

On the WWII Japanese Internment:

“[T]o hell with habeas corpus,” (G. Stone, Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime, W.W. Norton & Company, 2004, p. 294).

http://blogs.tnr.com/tnr/blogs/the_spine/archive/2008/09/13/palin-and-pegler.aspxTimes: Free Speech in Wartime, W.W. Norton & Company, 2004, p. 294).

Broadcasters Sue Redlasso over Copyright Infringement

JULY 25, 2008

You may not know the company called Redlasso Inc. , but if you read blogs that have video posted on them, you’ve seen its handiwork. The nifty service makes it easy for bloggers to find an interview on a TV show like The View or Countdown with Keith Olbermann, make a clip and add it to a commentary.

But the King of Prussia technology company has angered the broadcasters that it’s been mining for that content. You see, Redlasso has no licenses or permission to record and disseminate their copyrighted gabfests.

After a “cease-and-desist” letter sent in mid-May had no effect, the broadcast community has obviously seen enough.

On Wednesday, NBC Universal Inc. and two Fox units of News Corp. sued Redlasso in federal court in New York. Bloomberg News quotes the complaint as saying, “Redlasso is attempting to build a business by stealing the networks’ programming.”

As I’ve been told many times, a copyright or a patent is worth only what you’re willing to spend to defend it. Both NBC’s parent, General Electric Co., and News Corp. have deep pockets to defend their programming.

Tiny Redlasso has what they call a disruptive technology. Its service isn’t available directly to the general public, but obviously you and I can watch these clips on some of the Web’s most popular blogs.

What Redlasso also has is Michael H. Jordan, the former CEO of CBS, who was retained at the end of May to be its liaison to the networks.

As formidable a figure as Jordan is, whatever discussions may have taken place over the last few weeks weren’t fruitful enough to keep the dispute out of court.

So once again, we’ll have another showdown over intellectual property rights. We’ve seen it in music and movies and now talk shows.

A spokesman for Redlasso Thursday said it had no comment on the lawsuit. An NBC Universal spokeswoman did not return a phone call.


McCain campaign clamps down on questions in Alaska


JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is effectively turning over questions about her record as Alaska's governor to John McCain's political campaign, part of an ambitious Republican strategy to limit any embarrassing disclosures and carefully shape her image for voters in the rest of the country.

Republican efforts include dispatching a former top U.S. terrorism prosecutor from New York, Ed O'Callaghan, to assist Palin's personal lawyer working to derail or delay a pending ethics investigation in Alaska. The probe, known as "Troopergate," is examining whether the governor abused her power by trying to remove her former brother-in-law as a state trooper.

O'Callaghan is just part of a cadre of high-powered operatives patrolling Alaska as reporters and Democrats scrutinize every detail of Palin's tenure in government, plus her family and friends. One strategy: Carefully coordinate any information that's released. The McCain campaign is demanding that it becomes the de facto source for answers about the operations of Alaska's government during the past 20 months.

Palin's normal press secretary, for example, now turns away inquiries from any reporter who isn't permanently based in Alaska, referring questions to the presidential campaign. Trouble is, some of McCain operatives only recently have arrived in Alaska and struggle to explain Palin's positions on arcane state issues.

When a reporter for The Associated Press asked the state's Department of Health and Social Services about lawsuits involving state health policies, he was directed to call Meg Stapleton, a former spokeswoman for Palin now working for McCain.

"In general the state is sending media inquiries this way because we're just inundated with hundreds and hundreds of phone calls," Stapleton said. "It provides for the most expeditious channel to get stuff out there."

O'Callaghan, who helped prosecute terrorism and national security cases for the Justice Department until a few weeks ago, was sent to Alaska to handle "legal issues that are affecting the political dynamic of the campaign," said Taylor Griffin, a former Treasury Department spokesman in the Bush administration. O'Callaghan is expected to leave after this week.
Translation: O'Callaghan is helping ratchet up the heat on the Troopergate investigation, a probe with which Palin once promised to cooperate.

O'Callaghan was the one who threw down the gauntlet during a news conference this week: Palin herself was unlikely to talk to the Alaska Legislature's investigator.

McCain's campaign has sent at least one dozen researchers and lawyers to Alaska to pore over Palin's background, ready to respond to questions about her tenure as governor and mayor of Wasilla, a small town outside Anchorage. Griffin has been leading the team in Alaska, which includes operatives of the Republican National Committee.

Republicans are rebutting what they describe as smears against Palin. Last week, McCain's campaign formed a "truth squad," which includes current and former GOP politicians who agree to speak with reporters. Heading up the effort from Arlington, Va., are Mark Paoletta and O'Callaghan, both Republican lawyers, and Brian Jones, a former communications director for McCain.

Democrats, meanwhile, are relying on Palin's homegrown critics in Alaska. They call themselves "Alaska Mythbusters," a nod to the popular television show. The team is made up mostly of elected officials who have opposed or know Palin and who criticize her work, such as the mayor of tiny Ketchikan, Bob Weinstein. Ketchikan was involved in Alaska's infamous "Bridge to Nowhere," a construction project that Palin initially supported but now says she opposed as an example of wasteful spending.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Revolving Door Undermines FCC's Watchdog Role

from the network-neutrality dept

In previous installments of my series on network neutrality, I've pointed out that the end-to-end principle is not as fragile as a lot of people assume. Technological platforms have a kind of momentum that make them hard to change once they've become established, and so it's not at all obvious that major broadband providers have the ability to significantly change the Internet's architecture. In my view, this is one reason to be skeptical of making the FCC the nation's network neutrality cop.

Here's a good example of another reason for skepticism: Catherine Bohigian, chief of the office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis at the Federal Communications Commission, stepped down effective September 5. Her next job will be with cable giant Cablevision. According to the Washington Post, Bohigian has worked closely with chairman Kevin Martin throughout his tenure. And before her tour of duty at the FCC, Bohigian—like Martin—worked at Wiley, Rein & Fielding, a private law firm specializing in communications law. In other words, Bohigian first worked at a law firm that regularly appears before the FCC, then she became one of the key decision-makers at the FCC, and now she's going to be working for a company that regularly appears before the FCC. It's reasonable to assume that she'll be using her intimate knowledge of the regulatory process—and, perhaps, her close ties to other FCC staffers—to gain regulatory advantages for her employer.

Now, this isn't illegal. It's not even unusual. But this kind of low-grade corruption does give us a window into how the regulatory process works.

Theoretically, the FCC is supposed to be a neutral agency that enforces the law in the public interest. In practice, the revolving door between the commission, major telecom companies, and the high-priced law firms that represent those companies means that the people who staff the agency and the people who lobby the agency are largely the same people at different points in their careers. In the next few years, if Cablevision wants to make sure that a particular FCC decision comes out in a way that promotes their interests, they won't just be able to make their arguments via the formal legal process. They'll also be able to dispatch Bohigian to have lunch with key FCC staffers—many of whom will be her friends, and possibly her former employees—to personally plead Cablevision's case. And of course, many of those staffers will be thinking about what their next gig will be, and it will be obvious that their chances at getting a cushy job at a major telco or cable company will be enhanced if they're helpful to those companies while they're still with the Commission.

You could mitigate this somewhat with stricter lobbying rules. For example, Congress imposes a one-year time limit on Hill staffers lobbying their former colleagues after they take jobs in the private sector. Maybe the FCC should beef up its own conflict-of-interest rules. But shutting down the revolving door completely would be extremely difficult. The regulations the FCC enforces are complicated, and the FCC needs a pool of people with in-depth understanding of those rules in order to do its job. But for people with expertise in the areas of law the FCC administers, the only other use for those skills is representing clients before the FCC. A ban on former FCC staffers working for telecom firms or the law firms that represent them would make it extremely difficult for the FCC to recruit talent, because working at the FCC would essentially be a dead-end job. Once somebody had taken a job at the Commission and developed expertise in telecom law, she'd have no real options for using those skills.

Which means that when we're debating new regulations of the telecom industry, we have to remember that the rules will be enforced by an agency that has close ties to incumbent telco interests. If Congress passes network neutrality regulations, those regulations will be interpreted and enforced by an agency whose key staffers have close ties to the major telephone and cable incumbents. Which means that the results are likely to be more incumbent-friendly—and less consumer-friendly—than network neutrality advocates expect. If Cablevision gets in hot water for a network neutrality problem, they'll be able to dispatch Bohigian and others on their payroll to make sure the company doesn't get more than a slap on the wrist. And, as I'll explain in the next installment, not only can this sort of lobbying render regulations toothless, but in some cases it can actually make things worse by allowing incumbents to tie their competitors up in red tape.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Globe Reporter Embroiled in Florida Ethics Scandal

By Jay Weaver and Carol Marbin Miller
McClatchy Newspapers
September 13, 2008

MIAMI — For nearly a year, Tania deLuzuriaga covered the nation’s fourth-largest school district for The Miami Herald.

Now, the former education reporter finds herself at the center of another news story: a simmering scandal over the nature of her relationship with the man who became Miami-Dade’s schools chief Friday which has questions about her journalistic ethics.

A series of e-mail exchanges last year between deLuzuriaga and Alberto Carvalho, then an associate superintendent, reveal not only romantic ties but also their attempts to boost each other’s professional careers.

It is not clear if the nearly two dozen e-mails are authentic. Carvalho, who has denied any romantic relationship, at first questioned the legitimacy of the e-mails, but on Friday said it was possible they are authentic. He said he does not remember getting any explicit messages from deLuzuriaga and might simply have never read them.

DeLuzuriaga, who left The Miami Herald in September 2007 for The Boston Globe, declined to comment, as did the Globe’s editor, Martin Baron.

The e-mails, most of them from the reporter to Carvalho, include some explicit sexual language and her complaints about the relationship apparently cooling off. Some also discuss their professional relationship. In one e-mail, deLuzuriaga purportedly wrote to Carvalho about her coverage of the looming budget crisis in August 2007 and stressed the importance of working as partners.

"I have not been as sensitive to your position and helping you as you have been to me," deLuzuriaga purportedly wrote in an Aug. 8, 2007, e-mail to Carvalho. "But you’re right — if it doesn’t compromise us professionally, we ought to act in ways that help one another ... and it is important for you in this political climate."

The Miami Herald reviewed about 24 e-mails, mostly written by the reporter through personal and company e-mail accounts, and about 110 published stories authored by deLuzuriaga in 2007.

Her stories seemed generally neutral. Carvalho, who spoke for the school district as part of his duties, was quoted in about 30 of them.

The Miami Herald’s newsroom ethics policy says reporters and editors "must avoid outside relationships, business involvements and personal dealings that are in conflict or may have the appearance of conflict with our roles at work." When conflicts arise, reporters and editors are required to inform editors.

"If these e-mails are real, this violates some of the most basic rules of our profession," said Miami Herald Executive Editor Anders Gyllenhaal.

In an e-mail deLuzuriaga purportedly sent after writing a story about the School Board’s meeting on Aug. 1, 2007, she assured Carvalho that she understood his view on coverage:

"I see your point about the quotes and giving credit ... and I ask for your understanding when I miss the opportunity," the e-mail reads. "It’s not intentional — you know that."

The e-mail messages came to light this week when they began circulating among school board members and district employees and were posted on the Internet.

A law professor who runs an ethics center at the University of Miami said the e-mails betray serious ethical lapses on both sides.

"Assuming that the emails are accurate, they demonstrate that the reporter by her own repeated acknowledgment compromised both her objectivity and impartiality in reporting as a result of her personal relationship with Carvalho," said Tony Alfieri, director of UM’s Center for Ethics and Public Service. "Equally disturbing, it seems clear that she again by her own admission worked diligently to advance Carvalho’s professional and career interests."


Friday, September 12, 2008

Fox News & Oliver North Involved with U.S. Afghanistan Massacre Cover-up

Global Research, September 10, 2008

The UK Times Online has posted a video of the aftermath of the killings of dozens of villagers in the Afghan village of Nawabad (called Azizabad in other stories). The U.S. has maintained that seven civilians and three dozen Taliban militants were killed in the combined U.S. Special Forces/Afghan Army/U.S. air operation last August 21. The United Nations and local villagers insist that 92 civilians were killed, over half of them children. According to the article:
In the video scores of bodies are seen laid out in a building that villagers say is used as a mosque; the people were killed apparently during a combined operation by US special forces and Afghan army commandos in western Afghanistan. The film was shot on a mobile phone by an Afghan doctor who arrived the next morning.

Local people say that US forces bombed preparations for a memorial ceremony for a tribal leader. Residential compounds were levelled by US attack helicopters, armed drones and a cannon-armed C130 Spectre gunship.

Besides the UN, the villagers' account is backed up by investigations from an Afghanistan government delegation and what the Times calls Afghanistan's "leading human rights organisation."

Now, NATO command is backing off the official story, noting that there is a "discrepancy" in death toll figures, and expressing the usual "heartfelt sorrow." But , as the Times reports, a new report by Human Rights Watch says that under reporting of civilian deaths in Afghanistan is out of control. (The report criticizes both U.S./NATO and Taliban forces.)
Taking what it says are the most conservative figures available, Human Rights Watch has calculated that civilian deaths as a result of Western airstrikes tripled between 2006 and 2007 to 321. In the first seven months of this year the figure was 119. In the same period, 367 civilian deaths were attributed to Taleban attacks. It accuses US officials of routinely denying reports of civilian deaths.

Perhaps the most amazing political news surrounding the Nawabad massacre is that the Pentagon says it relied for its account, in part, on corroborative evidence by the embedded journalist on the scene: Fox News "reporter" Oliver North! The Times portrays North as coming "to prominence in the 1980s Iran-Contra affair."

Actually, North was convicted for three felonies in regards to his activities during the Iran-Contra scandal. He only escaped a suspended prison sentence and $150,000 in fines because, as his Wikipedia bio describes it, an "appeals court found that witnesses in his trial might have been impermissibly affected by his immunized congressional testimony." North had been deputy director for political-military affairs for the National Security Council under Reagan, until the scandal brought his career to a halt.
North came into the public spotlight due to his participation in the Iran-Contra Affair, in which he was the chief coordinator of the sale of weapons via intermediaries to Iran, with the profits being channeled to the Contras in Nicaragua. He was responsible for the establishment of a covert network used for the purposes of aiding the Contras. U.S. funding of the Contras by appropriated funds spent by intelligence agencies had been prohibited by the Boland Amendment.

North's testimony in front of a congressional committee during the Iran-Contra hearings marked him as an unabashed apologist for covert operations and the projection of American power abroad, irregardless of the will of those in the countries subjected to U.S. intervention. Lying to Congress was justified, in his opinion, because he supported the anti-Sandinista "Contras", whom he labeled "freedom fighters." Since then, and after an unsuccessful foray into politics, he has made his living as a right-wing ideologue, writing books, and establishing himself as a right-wing television commentator.

It looks like North's service to his military masters has never ended. Looking at the video from the Times, which shows rows of dead bodies, including many children, we can only conclude that North has once again lied for the government. It's his specialty, and one shouldn't be surprised. However, North's participation in this U.S. military cover-up vividly calls into question the role of embedded "reporters" among the armed services.

The cover story on Nawabad/Azizabad included U.S. asssurances that the villagers were lying about the casualties. This from Chris Floyd's coverage:
What's more, the Pentagon then claimed that the reports of a wider slaughter were being faked by the villagers, at the behest of the Taliban. The American brass even accused the survivors of the attack of creating fake graves to fool the good-hearted U.S. military inspectors who, it was claimed, quickly visited the scene to ascertain the truth.

But Carlotta Gall is reporting at the New York Times:
Cellphone images seen by this reporter show at least 11 dead children, some apparently with blast and concussion injuries, among some 30 to 40 bodies laid out in the village mosque. Ten days after the airstrikes, villagers dug up the last victim from the rubble, a baby just a few months old. Their shock and grief is still palpable....

A visitor to the village and to three graveyards within its limits on Aug. 31 counted 42 freshly dug graves. Thirteen of the graves were so small they could hold only children; another 13 were marked with stones in the way that Afghans identify women’s graves.

If it takes this concerted of an international outcry to get the truth out of the U.S. government (and they're not admitting to anything on Nawabad yet), how many other instances of U.S. military action can even be believed? Is there anything this government even says or does that has credibility? I know that sounds severe, but that's the price power pays for mendacity and cover-up.
Hat-tip to Grand Moff Texan at Daily Kos for the Times Online article


posted by Valtin