Saturday, October 31, 2009

Climate Cover-Up: A (Brief) Review

RealClimate
20 October 2009

We often allude to the industry-funded attacks against climate change science, and the dubious cast of characters involved, here at RealClimate. In recent years, for example, we’ve commented on disinformation efforts by industry front groups such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute, the Fraser Institute, and a personal favorite, The Heartland Institute, and by industry-friendly institutions such as the Wall Street Journal editorial board, and other media outlets that assist in the manufacture and distribution of climate change disinformation.

When it comes to the climate change disinformation campaign, we have chosen to focus on the intellectually bankrupt nature of the scientific arguments, rather than the political motivations and the sometimes intriguing money trail. We leave it to others, including organizations such as SourceWatch.org, the sleuths at DeSmogBlog, authors such as Ross Gelbspan (author of The Heat is On, and The Boiling Point), and edited works such as Rescuing Science from Politics to deal with such issues.

One problem with books on this topic is that they quickly grow out of date. Just over the past few years, there have been many significant events in the ‘climate wars’ as we have reported on this site. Fortunately, there is a book out now by our friends at DeSmogBlog (co-founder James Hoggan, and regular contributor Richard Littlemore) entitled Climate Cover Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming that discusses the details of the contrarian attacks on climate science up through the present, and in painstaking detail. They have done their research, and have fully documented their findings, summarized by the publisher thusly:

Talk of global warming is nearly inescapable these days — but there are some who believe the concept of climate change is an elaborate hoax. Despite the input of the world’s leading climate scientists, the urgings of politicians, and the outcry of many grassroots activists, many Americans continue to ignore the warning signs of severe climate shifts. How did this happen? Climate Cover-up seeks to answer this question, describing the pollsters and public faces who have crafted careful language to refute the findings of environmental scientists. Exploring the PR techniques, phony “think tanks,” and funding used to pervert scientific fact, this book serves as a wake-up call to those who still wish to deny the inconvenient truth.

There are interesting new details about the Revelle/Singer/Lancaster affair and other tidbits that were new to me, and will likely to be new to others who been following the history of climate change contrarianism. Ross Gelbspan who has set the standard for investigative reporting when it comes to the climate change denial campaign, had this to say about the book:

absolutely superb - one of the best dissections of the climate information war I have ever seen. This is one terrific piece of work!

There is an important story behind the climate change denial effort that goes well beyond the scientific issues at hand. Its not our mission at RealClimate to tell that story, but there are others who are doing it, and doing it well. Hoggan and Littlemore are clearly among them. Read this book, and equally important, make sure that others who need to do as well.

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/10/climate-cover-up-a-brief-review/

Friday, October 30, 2009

Pew Confirms: We're Turning Into Media Tribes

Posted by Charles Cooper
Coop's Corner
October 29, 2009
http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/10/29/blogs/coopscorner/entry5454217.shtml

Here's a headline. The latest Pew survey informs us that Fox News is viewed by Americans as the most ideological news network of them all. Well, duh. The shocker, I suppose, was that 14% said Fox was "mostly liberal." ...

Snarky asides notwithstanding, the data also testify to our propensity to watch news networks which reconfirm preexisting political biases. Consider the following points I lifted from the Pew report:

• Ideology plays a role in how Americans view the networks. 57% of liberals say that Fox News is mostly conservative, compared with 46% of moderates and 44% of conservatives.

• 48% of conservatives find MSNBC to be mostly liberal, compared with 31% of moderates and 29% of liberals.

• 51% of conservatives say CNN is mostly liberal, while 33% of moderates and 28% of liberals agree. (The report found "comparable ideological differences in perceptions of the ideologies of NBC News, ABC News and CBS News.")

• Regular Fox News viewers are more likely than those tuning into other news networks to see those networks as mostly liberal. 48% of regular Fox viewers say the network is mostly conservative. They also believe that featuring hosts of cable news programs with strong political opinions is a good thing. (Bill O'Reilly, you still have a job);

• At the same time, regular viewers of Fox News think the media's in the tank for the administration. About 45% say the press is not sufficiently critical of the president, compared with 15% of regular MSNBC viewers, 23% of regular CNN viewers and 21% of regular nightly network news viewers;

With conservatives settling in at Fox and liberals congregating around CNN and MSNBC, it's interesting to consider what this suggests about Americans' willingness to consider opposing points of view. To be fair, how many people are interested in having their entire world views challenged after a hard day at the office - especially by a talking head shrieking about high crimes and misdemeanors? Hmm. Maybe that explains Jon & Kate Plus Eight.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Billy Graham and the Rise of the Republican South

Billy Graham, political operative
by John G. Turner
www.christiancentury.org
October 06, 2009

Graham and the Rise of the Republican South
Steven P. Miller
University of Pennslyvania Press, 320 pp., $29.95

Miller has written a political biography that shines fresh light on Graham's political machinations, navigation of the civil rights movement and boosting of the Sunbelt South.

"Now Watergate does not bother me," sang Lynyrd Skynyrd's Ronnie Van Zant in the unofficial Alabama state anthem, "Does your conscience bother you?" When the Watergate break-in turned into a presidency-threatening scandal in 1973, it clearly bothered Billy Graham's conscience. Condemned as a "court prophet" and criticized as a Republican stooge, Graham regretted his political alliance with Richard Nixon. Nevertheless, he refused to call for Nixon's resignation and instead blamed the president's sins on the nation's loss of a "moral compass."

"There's a little bit of Watergate in all of us," the evangelist intoned on several occasions.

As "America's Preacher," Billy Graham was the most famous religious figure in the United States during the second half of the 20th century. Steven Miller, who grew up in a "rural Mennonite congregation" with "evangelical instincts," has written a political biography that shines fresh light on Graham's political machinations, navigation of the civil rights movement and boosting of the Sunbelt South.

Graham's moderation on issues of race and civil rights is well known. Graham haltingly but then definitively desegregated his southern crusades in the early-to-mid 1950s, condemned racist violence at Little Rock and invited Martin Luther King Jr. to pray at his 1957 New York City crusade. Within a few years, however, Graham criticized King's strategy of civil disobedience as lawless, condemned "extremists on both sides" of the civil rights struggle and called for a moratorium on protests. At best a mild prophet of racial justice, Graham quickly became a proponent of moderation, civility and gradualism, an evolution that cost him black support and attendance at later crusades.

Miller does not satisfy himself with the easy job of poking holes in the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's mythic accounts of Graham's civil rights contributions. Instead, he contends that Graham's "politics of decency" provided "an acceptable path upon which white southern moderates could back away from Jim Crow."

Those moderates flowed into Richard Nixon's emerging "silent majority," steered by none other than Graham. Miller does not portray Graham as politically naive; nor does he suggest that he was simply used by Nixon. Instead, Graham emerges as a shrewd political operative in his own right, dedicated to the success of Nixon and the GOP despite his regular professions of nonpartisanship. Graham regularly undertook political assignments for Nixon, maneuvering against Demo cratic senator Albert Gore Sr.'s 1970 reelection bid and discouraging George Wallace from campaigning for the White House in 1972. Graham's politics of decency played a central role in the emergence of the reliably Republican South. Graham's constant calls for law and order in the wake of civil rights protests and urban unrest prefigured Nixon's 1968 campaign, and his willingness to openly help Nixon court the southern evangelical vote tilled the soil for Jerry Falwell and other Christian right activists.

Chagrined by Watergate, Graham distanced himself from Nixon and pledged to stay "a million miles away from politics." He did not abide by that pledge, though he became more circumspect. One of the most original sections of Miller's book is his discussion of Graham's post-Water gate political career. The evangelist maintained a cordial but distant relationship with Jimmy Carter, developed an intimate friendship with the Bush family, and sympathetically responded to Bill Clinton's personal travails (a reaction that in some respects mirrored his response to Watergate).

Miller concludes that most "portraits of Graham have exaggerated the nature of his depoliticization." Though he distanced himself from the Christian right, he remained a quiet Republican activist. For this, evangelicals, other Christians and all Americans should be grateful. As shriller and sometimes hateful voices became identified with political evangelicalism, Graham emerged as a more irenic elder statesman. He never claimed the mantle of a prophet, and he certainly lacked consistency on the central issue of race relations. Yet when louder and angrier voices on the right further polarized American politics and sullied the image of Chris ianity in the minds of young Americans, Graham "modeled an important yet underappreciated strand of American conservatism that learned to speak a compassionate language of post racialism and international humanitarianism."

Moderate voices always anger those on the political and religious left and right, but there were far worse alternatives to Graham's politics of decency. Similarly, religious and political progressives may not appreciate Rick Warren's opposition to gay marriage, but Warren serves as a far more constructive representative of contemporary evangelicalism than many of his more conservative counterparts.

On the other hand, for all of Graham's political and personal decency (to which there were occasional exceptions, such as when he made anti-Semitic comments that were caught on tape at the Nixon White House), his political theology ultimately proved bankrupt. Graham's political thought revolved around what Miller awkwardly terms "evangelical universalism," which em phasizes social change through individual regeneration and subordination to governmental authority. Graham was an evangelist without parallel in his era, but it would be hard to argue that those myriad conversions produced a more just or moral nation and world—and Graham's emphasis on electing "Christian statesmen" proved problematic for obvious reasons. Moreover, subordination and obedience were hardly a recipe for needed social change on issues like race.

In his "Letter from Birmingham Jail," King termed the southern church "a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion" rather than a "thermostat that transformed the mores of society." Graham could be both and was often somewhere in between; he was thus an ill-fitting actor in morality plays like the civil rights movement and the Watergate scandal. That Miller captures Graham's complexity is one of the chief virtues of this even-handed and probing political profile.

Before we condemn Graham for his moderation and political hypocrisy, we would do well to remember his own—admittedly self-serving—Watergate-era warnings against hubris and self-righteousness. Graham is hardly the only American religious leader to be awestruck by powerful politicians, to make false claims of political neutrality and to say embarrassing things behind closed doors. There's a little bit of Billy Graham in most Christians who involve themselves in the political process.

John G. Turner teaches modern American history at the University of South Alabama. He is the author of Bill Bright and Campus Crusade: The Renewal of Evangelicalism in Postwar America (University of North Carolina Press).

http://www.christiancentury.org/article.lasso?id=7857

Obama's Struggle to Expose Fox News As GOP Propaganda Arm

By Robert Paul Reyes
NewsBlaze
October 25,2009

Fox News is the propaganda arm of the GOP; its primetime lineup is on a mission from God to destroy the Obama administration. Sean Hannity's reason d'être is to vilify, castigate, and criticize Obama. Glenn Beck is slightly more nuanced in his attacks, calling Obama a racist who hates white people.

The president tolerated the relentless attack from the Fox News network with remarkable patience, but he finally decided to fight back against the Fair and Balanced Fox News steamroller.

The White House stated that Murdoch's network is "not a news organization" but rather "the communications arm of the Republican Party. I don't know why Republicans have their panties in a twist over this statement, it's as undeniable and as incontrovertible as declaring that "the sky is blue and the sun is yellow."

President Obama is wise to attack the Fox News leviathan directly, it sends a clear message to the public that the fair and balanced network has as much legitimacy and credibility as talk radio.

The White House isn't confining its assault on the cable news network simply to words; it's refusing to provide key administration officials to appear on Fox News programs.

The Obama and Fox News war is an entertaining spectacle for the public, and it benefits both warring factions. The Obama/Fox News tiff attracts as many viewers as a balloon boy or a missing young white girl. Obama also gains from the epic battle, it appeases the left wing of his party and it serves to deflect charges that he's a softy.

Obama's blitzkrieg won't dampen the love of right-wing nut jobs for the cable news network, but it might convince many normal Americans that Fox News is as reliable as a British tabloid.

Robert Paul Reyes is a NewsBlaze writer on Politics, Pop Culture and Pointless Pontificating. Contact him by writing to NewsBlaze.

http://newsblaze.com/story/20091025120249reye.nb/topstory.html

Sunday, October 25, 2009

New Book Exposes Pedophilia, Government Officials and Cover-up

American Chronicle
September 04, 2009

A nationwide pedophile ring, run by a pair of Republican powerbrokers, had access to the highest levels of our government, connections to the CIA, and used venerable Boys Town orphanage as a pedophilic reservoir.

http://alexconstantine.blogspot.com/2009/09/new-book-exposes-pedophilia-government.html

Nick Bryant´s writing has recurrently focused on the plight of disadvantaged children in the United States, and he´s been published in numerous national journals, including the Journal of Professional Ethics, Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, Journal of Social Distress and Homelessness, Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, and Journal of School Health.

Also see: "Robert Wadman's Perjury Party"

The Franklin Scandal : a new documentary and book on the Franklin Cover-up by Nick Bryant:

Documentary Trailer, Part 1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6aqA4Shsjhk

Part 2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2uLvY3oHCiA

http://www.franklinscandal.com

Saturday, October 24, 2009

DUPING LIBERALS THE WAY FOX DUPES MODERATES, PACIFICA'S AMY GOODMAN PROMOTES CIA MIND CONTROL TORTURER

Amy Goodman, unabashed admirer of CIA mind control pioneer Robert Jay Lifton
By Alex Constantine (Repost)

In case you were still wondering, Amy Goodman is not credible.

CIA Mockingbird-journalist followers are used to taking spoon-fed information and this has turned them into credulous dupes.

The funny thing is, they don't know it.

An animal that runs in herds doesn't think about where it is being led. It follows without question. So do the listeners of Democracy Now!

I'll introduce a sub-title at this point because this is too significant for the body of this complaint - this brick wall of words that should have graffiti painted over it in bold, red letters: Robert Jay Lifton is Responsible for Much of the Illicit MKULTRA Experimentation Conducted by the CIA - a Scaife-Funded Torturer Highly Praised by Amy Goodman

This is a particularly offensive act by Amy.

She is an unabashed fan of Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, who is passed off on Democracy Now! as a concerned establishment liberal of some kind, his paper-thin CIA cover story. Dr. Lifton is in fact a guiding light of the far-right, Mockingbird Scaife-funded American Family Foundation, a CIA front. Confused? This far-right-left-wing-CIA-anti-CIA doctor isn't confused politically. He's a manager of perceptions. Suspend disbelief for a moment and the contradictions aren't so glaring. Amy Goodman takes him at his word. Research his past, dig a little (a few minutes on the Internet), and you will find that Lifton is responsible for thousands of atrocities committed against hapless American citizens, tortured in unconscionable CIA mind control experiments initiated by Lifton himself as a founder of the Human Ecology Fund.

The Fund disbursed grants for classified experimentation code-named MKULTRA, an ambitious program that explored the uses of electric shock, LSD, bio-electronics, torture, depatterning (the desctruction of the mind in order to rebuild it), "coercive persuasion" and other forms of mind control atrocity in the 1950s and early '60s.

And that takes some doing.

His famous study, The Nazi Doctors, was written for the CIA. It is, viewed one way, a prescription for CREATING Nazi doctors. It fails to name names.

From the Democracy Now! people, however, we learn none of this. And that is especially galling - Goodman is intentionally keeping the truth from her listeners.

Lifton is PRAISED: "Robert Jay Lifton, distinguished Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at John Jay College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York as well as a visiting psychiatry professor at Harvard Medical School. He is also the author of several books. His latest book is Superpower Syndrome: America's Apocalyptic Confrontation with the World."

You can almost hear the depths of her awe in the clipped speech and the intensity of her delivery. It's a voice that grows more grating every day to my ear. She can ACT, but not so well. This is Amy Goodman's take on one of the most notorious CIA officers in American history.

Information on Lifton can be found The Search for the Manchurian Candidate, (J. Marks, p. 128), Psychic Dictatorship in the U.S.A. 1995 (Alex Constantine, p. 58), Journey Into Madness (G. Thomas, pp. 344-5, 376).

If you have ever read about the fascist excesses of MKULTRA, consider that the Human Ecology Fund's co-founder, Dr. Lifton, made them all possible.

He is widely considered a "cult expert." In fact, his writing on cults for Scaife's AFF is easily refutable CIA disinformation, CRAP, his stock-in-trade.

Lifton's writing on mind control is also crap and a cover story that conceals widespread and ongoing illicit experimentation by the CIA, the subject of numerous books on the topic ignored by the media-at-large ... and by Pacifica and The Nation, which have foisted this pariah upon the Left without so much as a mention of his past.

Pacifica managers and board members are old enough to recall the release of LSD upon an unsuspecting world by the CIA in the mid-'60s to DISTRACT, DISORIENT, DISCREDIT AND DEFUSE THE ANTI-WAR MOVEMENT, a case I make supported by Army biowarfare documents.

That was the work of Ms Goodman's beloved Robert Jay Lifton.

Once again, paying Pacifica listeners have been fed deliberately misleading information that serves the CIA - on the basis of such frauds, the network has thrived.

I am publicly condemning Pacifica and Amy Goodman.

Let them respond.

(Copies of a version of this complaint were sent privately to every member of the board at KPFK, the Pacifica outlet in Los Angeles. Not one denial came back.)

White House Should Engage Fox, not Ignore it

By Doug Stone
Minn. Star Tribune
October 20, 2009

... President Obama did interviews with all the networks’ Sunday shows last month except Fox. His communications director told The New York Times that “as they (Fox officials) are undertaking a war against Barack Obama and the White House, we don’t need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave.” She also called the network an “arm of the Republican Party.”

Administration officials continued to blast the network in talk shows last weekend although they indicated, according to the Washington Post, that members of the administration would be allowed to appear on Fox in the future.

The administration’s stance struck me as rather childish, like the youngster who didn’t get his way so he took his ball and went home. In Washington politics is a blood sport. The way to deal with the conservative commentators and the factual distortions and accusations that the White House so dislikes is to confront them, not run from them.

Have administration spokespeople all over the Fox airwaves, challenging the commentators with reasonable arguments, facts and persuasion. Show the Fox audience, which by the way contains at least some moderates who might be sympathetic to the President, that Obama is not the monster he is sometimes made out to be by the right. He is, in fact, a bright, thoughtful, restrained man.

And when you have the best presidential communicator in years, put him on Fox up against the Hannitys and Becks and O’Reillys.

As David Carr of The Times points out, “When he (Obama) eventually sat for an interview with Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly two months before the election, it made for great television.”

It is far more difficult for the Fox commentators to throw mud at the President when he is sitting with them in the White House or on the set of their show or live via satellite than when he refuses to engage them.

In my work, I have always advised leaders and officials not to say “no comment,” but to engage in a discussion or rebuttal if attacked or criticized. In the modern era of 24-hour television and the Internet, failure to respond is seen as an admission that the critic is right. Officials often are resistant to such responses because they don’t want to get “in the gutter” with their critics. But responses can be thoughtful, factual and persuasive. They don’t have to have the same tone as the critic.

Fox, which relishes its role as the not-so-loyal opposition, has seen its ratings climb this year. The President and his aides do themselves no good by boycotting Fox and its commentators. Obama is better than that and bigger than that. And he can show the country that he is by using his own great debating and oratorical skills to engage the network which conservatives love, rather than ignoring it.

http://www.startribune.com/yourvoices/65099897.html?elr=KArks7PYDiaK7DUoaK7D_V_eDc87DUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aUU

Friday, October 23, 2009

Meet author Jerry Brown: The "philosopher prince" as CA governor again?

"As you observe modernizing projects in the world today that are operated by multinational corporations without much interference from national governments, do you see fascistic elements there? There are certainly enormous changes imposed without the consent of the governed." - Jerry Brown

Posted By: Carla Marinucci
SF Chronicle Politics Blog
Oct 22, 2009

State Attorney General Jerry Brown's past life as the liberal host of the 90s' We the People radio show came in for a good look this week -- so now's a good time to re-introduce you to author Jerry Brown, whose '90s book "Dialogues" also contains a few memorable quotes that may end up in some 2010 gubernatorial campaign ads.

The "philosopher prince" expounds?

With 40 years in state politics, there's a lot of colorful history, quotes and possibly controversial material out there in the public domaine regarding Brown, the politico whom author Robert Pack called "the philospher prince."

Brown's 1998 book, Dialogues (Berkeley Hills Books, $14.95), is an example: it's his hand-picked collection of deep conversations with some leading academics, activists and intellectuals of the day.

Brown's prologue promises that "you will find that each dialogue illuminates the paradoxes of progress, and opens up cracks in the certitudes of our modern world view."

That's a tall order, but with a used copy going for $8 on Amazon, we went for it. The jacket blurb gushes that Brown "has reevaluated and attacked entrenched ideas, forging a political philosophy that transcends conventional boundaries."

But Dialogues -- along with the recent story on We the People by the Sacramento Bee's reporter Jack Chang -- both dramatize how the 2010 campaign may be a blast from the past. It will work both ways -- for Brown fans, the material illustrates the intellectual curiousity and independence that they say set him apart in the current pack of pols. For conservatives, it's more proof he's still that ultra-liberal, wacky "Moonbeam'' character.

So here's some snippets of vintage Brown's "Dialogue" comments and questions to the big thinkers -- long before he had to worry about mundane stuff like crime and punishment as the state AG, or talking to Average Joe Voter in his next campaign for governor:

*To author and philosopher Noam Chomsky:

*"How would you compare the propaganda system in the so-called free world to an authoritarian system? What are the differences?''

*To Alice Walker, prize-winning author of "Color Purple":

*"Many people are proposing education is the answer. They say it's the answer to poverty; it's the answer to other problems. And yet, in many respects, education is a deeper embedding of alienation."

*"Is whatever left of civil rights, liberalism, activism, whatever, is it now so domesticated that violence and repression aren't needed?"

*To Judi Bari, late "Earth First!" enviromental activist:

*"None of us is an isolated monad with this bundle of private property rights outside the fabric of these larger obligations. So I very much believe that it's time to take another step in the evolution of capitalism. Right now, I don't think the federal government can make that happen...it can't even operate what it owns, so that's not the answer. But we're on a track of real destruction socially and ecologically and we have to understand that as clearly as we can in order to come up with a better set of rules."

*To Wolfgang Sachs, author and enviromental researcher:

*"As you observe modernizing projects in the world today that are operated by multinational corporations without much interference from national governments, do you see fascistic elements there? There are certainly enormous changes imposed without the consent of the governed."

*To Suzanne Arms, natural childbirth crusader, photojournalist and author:

*"There is a massive propaganda system that is invading our unconscience, and its message is what you're talking about ... romanticism."

*To Lt. Col Dave Grossman, author:

*"During the Gulf War, we saw green missile flashes broadcast on CNN. We didn't see Iraqi people, human beings, young boys, many of them Christians, buried alive by vehicles driven by America GIs. If we'd gotten that picture, we might have had a very different reaction to this very popular war."

*"We are exposed to death and violence in so many forms, movies, television, video games. Even our president takes out television commercials to show how committed he is to killing criminals. You might say we have a stronger fascination with death than ever before."

*To Sister Helen Prejean, anti-death penalty activist and author of Dead Man Walking:

*"Over the centuries, there has persisted the sense of an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, a belief in rightous vengeance, a primordial feeling that the killings of criminals will balance the scales of justice...we are faced with the question of the death penalty nearly every time we vote, either in specific crime-related measures, or by candidates promoting their stand for or against capital punishment. This question is nothing less than a test of our humanity, of how we see ourselves and others and how we define the role of the state.''

*To Paolo Soleri, author and architect:

*Paolo, I want to talk a little bit about your idea of the omega seed."

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/nov05election/detail?entry_id=50095

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Betsy McCaughey and the Media

" ... [The New Republic] owner Martin Peretz still stands by her ... "

by Jamison Foser
Media Matters
October 05, 2009

The New Republic's Michelle Cottle examines "the never-ending lunacy of Betsy McCaughey," including a lengthy examination of the largely-forgotten hilarity and insanity that marked McCaughey's time as Lieutenant Governor of New York.

Cottle's article seems to be part of TNR's continuing efforts to make up for inflicting McCaughey's lies on the rest of us in the first place. Just this morning, for example, Politico's Michael Calderone quotes TNR editor Franklin Foer saying of the magazine's publication of McCaughey's falsehood-riddled attack on the Clinton health care bill "an original sin that I hope we can expunge."

Cottle pulls few punches in her profile of McCaughey, beginning with a description of Brookings Institution scholar Henry Aaron's opening statement during a recent debate with McCaughey, which Aaron used to make clear his opponent's dishonesty:

So it is that Aaron finds himself standing in the Crystal Ballroom of the Doubletree Hotel in Arlington, Virginia, running through PowerPoint slides that detail--quote by excruciating quote--McCaughey's reputation as among the most irresponsible, dishonest, and destructive players on the public stage. He starts with Politifact.com's categorization of her commentary as "Pants on Fire," followed by New York Times articles debunking her assertions, followed by complaints from economist Gail Wilensky (adviser to John McCain's presidential campaign and head of Medicare financing under the first President Bush) that "these charges of death panels, euthanasia and withholding care from the disabled give rational, knowledgeable, thoughtful conservatives a bad name." Next comes a denunciation of McCaughey's "fraudulent scare tactics" by John Paris, professor of bioethics at Boston College; AARP executive vice president John Rother's protest that her statements are "rife with gross--even cruel--distortions"; a scolding editorial by The Washington Post about McCaughey's characterization of White House health policy adviser Ezekiel "Zeke" Emanuel as "Dr. Death"; and, to wrap it all up, Stuart Butler, vice president of domestic policy at the conservative Heritage Foundation, expressing dismay that the "personal attacks on good people like Zeke are outrageous. There are real policy issues that should be debated vigorously, but slandering a good person's name is beyond the pale." At one point, the debate moderator felt moved to reach over and give McCaughey's hand a comforting pat.

Cottle concludes that McCaughey's refusal to acknowledge her own dishonesty is what makes her infuriating:

Since her earliest days in the spotlight, McCaughey has presented herself as a just-the-facts-please, above-the-fray political outsider. In reality, she has proved devastatingly adept at manipulating charts and stats to suit her ideological (and personal) ambitions. It is this proud piety concerning her own straight-shooting integrity combined with her willingness to peddle outrageous fictions--and her complete inability to recognize, much less be shamed by, this behavior--that makes McCaughey so infuriating.

I don't think that is actually what makes McCaughey infuriating. There are plenty of liars in the world who nobody gets worked up about -- because their lies don't drive major media coverage about an important issue. That's what's infuriating about Betsy McCaughey: major news organizations give her a platform. They run her op-eds, they host her on television, they quote her, they allow her falsehoods to shape the public debate about health care. They do this despite knowing that she's a liar.

That's what's infuriating: that someone whose defining quality for the past 15 years has been her dishonesty about health care reform should be granted a role shaping the debate over health care reform by major media outlets. And, unfortunately, Cottle doesn't address that issue at all. How did TNR come to publish McCaughey in the first place? Don't they employ fact-checkers? Shouldn't they? How do her false claims continue to make it into print? Why do television news shows book her? What does it say about the news media that they grant McCaughey a platform? That's the important part. If McCaughey was just another crackpot spouting off lies and conspiracy theories while nursing a cup of coffee at the local diner, nobody would care.

But she isn't. And as Calderone notes, TNR owner Martin Peretz still stands by her:

"I do not think Betsy is an intellectual fraud. Not at all," Peretz wrote in an email.

"I have not read the Cottle piece and I do look forward to doing that," he continued. "But the issue that McCaughey went after was one of the most intricate and economically challenging ones that America has faced, as we can see from the present debate."
...


Also, Peretz wrote, "their [the Clinton administration's] worst tactical error was to do up what was I think [was] an eleven-page memo 'rebutting' the New Republic article, a sign of its importance and weight."

The owner of a magazine that published a deeply dishonest attack on the Clinton health care reform efforts thinks it's appropriate for him to lecture the Clinton administration on why they were unsuccessful in combatting the lies he published?

That's the story here. Not Betsy McCaughey's shamelessness -- the irresponsibility of the news organizations that promote her, and the arrogance of someone who lectures others for failing to properly clean up his own mess.

http://mediamatters.org/blog/200910050009

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Wingnuts are too Stupid to win their Fake Civil War

Excerpt By Stanley Crouch
NY Daily News
September 21st 2009

... We can hear the intellectually rabid pit bulls of fringe right-wing hate radio or watch them go for it with all of the counterfeit heat one can pay for at Fox News.

The Washington demonstration - which seems to have been bought and paid for by the drug and insurance lobbies - let us see that there are always people available to be had.

All one has to do is play the real card that shakes everyone up at the table. It is not the race card. That is not all-American enough. It is the self-pity card. Self-pity may be the actual religion of the fringe and can be found in any people on the intellectual margins of society. There is a plot to deprive them of something essential. Government is out of hand. All facts are manufactured by liberal interests. ...

When I was growing up in California, the John Birch Society made the most noise on the right and had its followers convinced that America was becoming so weak and indecisive that one day people would look up to see Communist troops parachuting into their backyards. This has not been new since the 19th century, only those about whom the true believers should be paranoid have changed or changed colors or politics. But they are still there to do Americans in and hysteria is the only choice left.

Hysteria is always the wrong choice. It echoes through the intellectual graveyard of real ideas. ...

These people appropriately dubbed "wing nuts" are heading for another Gettysburg. They will not be shot down, however. They will simply be ignored as soon as the nation decides to move on to democratic business.

More: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2009/09/21/2009-09-21_wing_nuts_are_too_stupid_to_win_their_fake_civil_war.html#ixzz0UGUbKoRP

Administration Fights to Protect Secret Propaganda Budget

By DAVID ROGERS
Politico
10/15/09

The Pentagon's Information Operations arm trips up over basic information, like how much it costs.

Just months ago, the Defense Department said it needed $988 million to help win hearts and minds in the new fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. When the House cut this by half in July, top-level officials landed on Capitol Hill, pleading their case but also making a startling admission: Their budget needs for 2010 are actually $626.2 million — more than one-third less than first estimated.

Even at the Pentagon, an error of that size gets attention. “That $988 million number stuck, to our regret,” a defense official told POLITICO. And one man who hasn’t forgotten is Rep. John Murtha, who chairs the defense appropriations panel that funds the IO budget.

“The information war is off to a bad start with bad information,” the Pennsylvania Democrat laughed Wednesday in an interview. “They all said the same thing: ‘We made a mistake. We realize that we fumbled the ball.’ And they were very apologetic. Everybody is. But they go back and say, ‘This is very important.’”

Indeed, combat commanders, beginning with Army Gen. David Petraeus, have stressed IO programs as a key factor in winning popular support in Iraq — and now hopefully in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The level of concern about losing the money is real enough that the Pentagon and State Department have mounted a full-court press to stave off cuts.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen, Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn and Jack Lew, an old hand in the House and now deputy secretary of state for management and resources, have all raised the issue with Murtha. With an eye toward upcoming House-Senate talks on defense spending, Michele Flournoy, undersecretary of defense for policy, met with Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) on the issue last week.

The great problem is that the numbers mix-up only adds to the misgivings of an old-school Marine like Murtha, who views the ever-expanding IO budget as a hangover from Donald Rumsfeld’s years and a propaganda machine ill-suited for uniformed military.

“I just don’t like the idea that the military is in the propaganda business,” he told POLITICO. “I don’t like it.”

Murtha’s preference is that the State Department take more of the lead, although he admits State can’t ramp up fast enough to handle the task this coming year.

“They’re going to have to depend on the Defense Department,” he said. “The problem with the Defense Department is they’re not only willing to take care of it; they will push you right aside in order to take care of it.”

This aggressive style was Rumsfeld’s trademark as secretary of defense for most of George W. Bush’s presidency and as an early champion of the IO programs.

Pentagon documents describe the mission broadly, running from electronic warfare to psychological operations. Major portions of the budget are classified, but it has made headlines before for allegedly paying to plant stories in the overseas press that are favorable to U.S. policy in Iraq, for example.

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1009/28314.html

Pro-Obamacare Republicans in the Pay of the Health Industry

By: Timothy P. Carney
Examiner Columnist
October 14, 2009

As the White House dismissed the insurance lobby's critiques of the Senate health care bill as self-serving corporate disinformation, President Obama used his weekly radio address to laud four former Republican officials for supporting the push for "reform." But Obama failed to mention that these pro-"reform" Republicans -- whom he lauded for "ris[ing] above the politics of the moment" -- are all in the pay of the health care industry and could personally profit from "reform."

Former Republican Health and Human Services Secretaries Louis Sullivan and Tommy Thompson, along with former Senate Majority Leaders Bill Frist (a doctor) and Bob Dole, received plaudits in the president's weekly radio address for exhibiting "the spirit of national purpose" and for understanding "that health insurance reform isn't a Democratic issue or a Republican issue, but an American issue that demands a solution."

Media outlets dutifully carried the Democratic story line: Four important Republicans are backing Obama, but GOP lawmakers remain in lockstep for partisan political readings.

Obama, along with ABC News, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Associated Press and nearly everyone who reported on the GOP support for Obamacare, left out the salient detail that these pro-"reform" Republicans are lobbyists, consultants and directors for the drug companies, hospitals and other health care corporations that stand to profit from Obama's reform.

Thompson, the former Republican governor of Wisconsin, served four years as President George W. Bush's HHS chief. Now Thompson is a health care consultant at the lobbying firm Akin Gump, whose clients include insurer Aetna, many drug makers, device makers and hospitals.

Pharmaceutical companies and hospitals are sure to see profits improve from a bill like the current Senate measure. Health insurers like Aetna are walking a fine line between disaster (a government option for health insurance) and a corporate dream come true (the individual mandate). It's naive to imagine Thompson doesn't have his clients' interests in mind in endorsing Obamacare.

Sullivan was George H.W. Bush's HHS secretary in the 1990s. In 2008, Sullivan made $220,000 as a director for four health care companies, including the biotech firm Biosante Pharmaceuticals, where he was chairman of the board, according to Forbes. His total 2008 compensation from these companies (with options and other non-cash compensation) was more than $1 million. He has recently served as a director at Bristol-Myers Squibb and Cigna.

These companies all stand to profit from "reform" legislation that would mandate health insurance, subsidize private insurance and provide more drug subsidies. They are paying Sullivan, and Sullivan is supporting "reform" legislation.

Sullivan leveraged his public service into a private fortune helping big drug makers and insurance companies boost their profits. He is precisely the sort of revolving-door corporate consultant whom candidate Obama accused of corrupting the political system. But now he is on Obama's side, so Sullivan is a "distinguished leader" exhibiting "the spirit of national purpose," in Obama's words.

Frist is a partner in a private investment firm that bets on health care companies -- and on regulation. The firm's Web site reads: "With deep expertise in the healthcare reimbursement and regulatory environments, the Cressey & Company team has invested in almost every for-profit niche of healthcare."

So Frist gets rich by helping pick the health care companies that will get rich. Now he's backing Obamacare -- and winning praise for it.

And Dole, as this column discussed last Friday, is a health care lobbyist for the downtown firm Alston & Bird, which represents drug makers and insurers. The media have something of a blackout on his conflicts of interest, instead using him to cudgel the current GOP leadership for lacking this sort of "bipartisanship."

All of these pro-"reform" Republicans would say their support for Obamacare is not related to their financial interests. But the White House has declared the profit motive sufficient to discredit criticism of "reform." White House aide Linda Douglass (the woman who called in August for citizens to report "fishy" e-mails about proposed health care regulations) dismissed a recent critical report by health insurers as "distorted" and "dishonest," stating: "It comes on the eve of a vote that will reduce the industry's profits."

But Obama has been holding out as heroes these four Republicans supporting a plan that will likely enhance their personal profits. Maybe ulterior motives only matter if you're opposing the White House.

Timothy P. Carney, The Examiner's lobbying editor, can be reached at tcarney@washingtonexaminer.com. He writes an op-ed column that appears on Friday.

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/politics/Pro-Obamacare-Republicans-in-the-pay-of-the-health-industry-8379285-64125832.html

Friday, October 16, 2009

The CIA/Media War Against 9/11 "Conspiracy Theorists"

Some of the most vociferous critics of 9/11 "conspiracy theories" move on to engage in ridiculous conspiracy theories themselves. Fox News, for instance, has promoted Birthers and finds the Executive Office involved in a slew of lucicrous "socialist-Nazi" plots - employing rhetorical tools of McCarthyism and Holocaust denial. Ridicule is their most effective tactic. Others include reductio ad absurdum, lumping legitimate research with conspiratorial garbage (Birther claims, for instance) planted on the web by the far-right and intelligence assets, also unbridled disinformation. - AC

* Ramon Gilsanz, Contributor to the NIST 9/11 Study, Changed His Story/Vanishing Reports

* National Geographic Special Marginalizing 9/11 Truthers Brought to You by Rupert Murdoch and the CIA

* Kathy Shaidle, UnTruther & Unabashed Racist

* WHY IS THE 911 "FRINGE" MOVEMENT SO MAINSTREAM?

* "THE PATH TO 9/11" (PART 8): Southeastern Asset Management (SAM), Longleaf Partners and Perception Management TV

* The BBC, Amazing Pederast James Randi and CIA Mind Control

* Invisible History, Afghanistan's Untold Story, is no Conspiracy Theory

* Vincent Carroll's Lazy-Man's Guide to 9/11

* Letter to the NYT - 9/11 and the “War on Terrorism”: Facts and Myths

* CIA Infiltration of Pacifica - Larry Bensky's Hang-Ups

* Who Owns NEW SCIENTIST?

* Dr. Patrick Leman, New Scientist's Debunker of Conspiracy Theories, and the NAZI History of the Nuffield Foundation, which Funds Dr. Leman

* Who Killed Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake? Also: TCI/Heritage Communications' Jim Cownie, News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch & the "Paranoia" of Theresa Duncan

* Film Targets JFK Conspiracy Theories & the Boston Globe's Reviewer Alex Beam Reviles 9/11 Truthers, too (Update: BOSTON GLOBE'S ALEX BEAM - SON OF A NAZI/CIA COLLABORATOR - DEFLECTS ATTENTION FROM HIS OWN FAMILY BY WRITING ABOUT QUISLING FRANCES GOULD)

* Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi Terrorizes 9/11 Truthers Also: Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi is Mentally Ill and will Only be Hunter S. Thompson in his most Far-Fetched Dreams

* Fascism is Inherently Conspiratorial - Response to Dallas Observer

* Peter Roff - a Sun Myung Moon Cultist - Attacks "Fringe" 9/11 Truth Movement in US News & World Report

* Establishment Media Debunkers of Conspiracy Research - Who are They? (Part One): RM Scaife Concubine Emerson Vermaat

* Establishment Media Debunkers of Conspiracy Research - Who are They? (Part Two): Lev Grossman, the Time Reporter who Hated V for Vendetta

* Commission Atty. John Farmer Claims 9/11 was the Result of "Massive Bureaucratic Failures"

* Homeland Security Links 9/11 Truthers to Taliban (2007)

* The Media 9/11 Debunking Machine is now a Smoking Gun

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Opus Dei Unleash the Dragons

The Olive Press
September 30, 2009

IT will feature some of the cream of British cinema and is expected to be one of the big Hollywood blockbusters for next year.

But the film There be Dragons – directed by Roland Joffe and starring Charlie Cox, Charles Dance and Derek Jacobi – is extremely unlikely to be popular in Spain.

Based on the shady Catholic organisation Opus Dei, it tells the story of its founder Spaniard Josemaria Escriva, who was a close friend of former dictator Francisco Franco, as well as South American pariah Augusto Pinochet.

It has already been accused of being a 20 million euro propaganda vehicle for the secretive organisation, which has close links to the Vatican, as well as strong support in Spain.

It has also emerged that the film has received funding from Opus Dei members in a bid to counter its portrayal as a group of self-flagellating schemers as seen in 2006 blockbuster The Da Vinci Code.

Joffe, who directed the Mission and the Killing Fields, recently confimed that the film – set for release in 2010 – has received substantial financial backing by Opus Dei member, the independent Hollywood film producer Heriberto Schoeffer.

Consulting at least one Opus Dei priest during its 13-week shoot in Argentina, it is said to heavily promote the organisation, which is allegedly behind numerous big, controversial infrastructure projects in Spain.

One former member of the organisation, who lives in Argentina, explained that the film is “dark Dei propaganda”.

So right-wing was the script, that it was initially rejected by Hugh Hudson, the director of Chariots of Fire, as he deemed it to be too “pro-Franco”.

Dictator Franco was a supporter of both Hitler and Mussolini during the Second World War and his regime was linked to the deaths of an estimated 200,000 Spaniards during his 40 year regime.

Yet director Joffe has vehemently maintained that his film is not a propaganda tool for the organisation. He says he was given complete creative control before filming began and that it is not pro-Franco.

However, the controversial film depicts the life of Spaniard Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer during the turbulent Spanish Civil War.

Amid claims of corruption and scandal – compounded by Dan Brown’s notorious bestseller, The Da Vinci Code – Opus Dei and Escriva are both still shrouded in mystery.

The facts about Escriva’s life are thin on the ground. Born in the historic Aragonese town of Barbastro in 1902, he was ordained a priest in 1925, before going on to study Law at Madrid University.

He was the second of six brothers, three of whom died young, and his father was a failed businessman, who later was declared bankrupt. He dealt in fabrics and chocolate and died when Escriva was just 22 years old.

One has to journey back almost 81 years to discover how one moment of enlightenment was the catalyst behind one of the world’s most influential religious movements.

It was on October 2, 1928 in Madrid, Escriva had just begun his routine prayer ritual when he saw God’s work laid out before him. His vision consisted of two latin words; Opus Dei, meaning “work of God”.

He suddenly believed that people could achieve holiness – and even sainthood – if they stuck to a strict regime of religious practices.

This involved allegedly wearing a cilice, or undergarment, made from rough cloth or animal hair or even barbed wire.

Sometimes known as a “hair shirt”, this contraption pricks into the wearer’s skin, constantly reminding them of the importance of repentance and atonement.

According to Wikipedia, if worn continuously it could form a breeding ground for lice.

Incredibly it has been endorsed by Popes as a way of following in Christ’s footsteps after his crucifixion. “Let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me,” Jesus once said.

So sure was he of this route to sainthood, that he set about, like the missionaries in Africa, to convert anyone in Spain prepared to listen.

Escriva devoted the rest of his life’s work to preaching these methods – a fact that was recognised by Pope John Paul II when he canonised Escriva in 2002.

Insisting that he gave to this mission entirely, he stated: “He worked especially among the poor and the sick languishing in the slums and hospitals of Madrid.”

However, in 1936, Escriva, played by London actor Charlie Cox in Joffe’s film, was forced to flee Spain after Republican forces targeted him.

He made a dramatic escape across the Pyrenees – the inspiration behind the forthcoming movie – but returned three years later aftern Franco had established his dictatorship.

And it was during the Caudillo’s reign that Opus Dei flourished and spread throughout Spain.

By 1945, the organisation was getting international recognition as well as suspicious glances from other religious groups.

Accusations over Escriva’s support for fascist regimes plagued his legacy. One early critic was leading Jesuit, Wlodimir Ledochowski, who told the Vatican that he considered Opus Dei to be “very dangerous for the Church in Spain”.

He cited its “secretive character” and called it “a form of Christian masonry”.

Yet the growth of Opus Dei continued unaffected and, by 1946, Escriva made the bold decision to move the organisation’s headquarters from Madrid to Rome.

Just four years later, Opus Dei’s meteoric rise in religious clout was officially recognised by the Vatican when Rome granted its recognition as an “institution of pontifical right”.

By the time of his death on June 26 1975, Escriva, 73, had succeeded in creating and nurturing a hugely influential religious group that consisted of 60,000 members from five different continents.

Nevertheless, accusations surrounding Escriva’s support for fascist regimes continued to plague his legacy.

In his later years, it is alleged that Escriva became extremely close to the torturous regime of General Pinochet’s Junta in Chile during the height of its dictatorial power.

And, while being considered for sainthood, an Opus Dei priest revealed Escriva once told him: “Hitler couldn’t have been such a bad person. He couldn’t have killed six million people – four million at the most.”

Opus Dei has since fought back against the accusations that it is just a secret society for religious fundamentalists and right-wing extremists.

It has pointed out that, while many of its members are conservative, there is still a handful of liberals, including the Italian Democratic party senator Paola Binetti, who famously admitted she occasionally wore a cilice.

In the UK, former Labour cabinet minister Ruth Kelly is reported to be a member, while in Spain various bullfighters and athletes are members, as well as former president Adolfo Suarez.

In Spain the organisation is divided into ten regional delegations, each controlled by their own boss. Overall control for Spain is in the hands of Ramon Herrando Prat de la Riba.

Joffe’s film concentrates mostly on Escriva’s early years during the 1930s and, in particular his “Indiana Jones” style escape from Spain with the Republicans in hot pursuit.

The cast for There Be Dragons is clearly impressive. As well as the British talent, it also includes Ukranian Bond girl Olga Kurylenko as the love interest.

The only problem is few Spaniards are likely to love it.

http://www.theolivepress.es/2009/09/30/opus-dei-unleash-the-dragons/

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Media Failure Compounds the Financial Failure - The press is still missing the story of fraud and economic decline ahead

By Danny Schechter
Oct 12, 2009

We know that Wall Street has not learned much from the crash it helped instigate. We know that our government, whatever its stated desire to clean up the markets and reform the financial behemoths, lacks the willingness and perhaps the clout to rein in the real power centers. We are not sure if they have been “captured” by them, or just lack the guts to take on institutions and individuals that helped fund their rise to power.

But do we know that, even now, much of our media, despite the sheer volume of coverage, may be missing the real story? Do we know that if we want to find missing facts and the real context we have to turn away from the failed media system that never really investigated the failed financial system?

Top Down

The Project on Excellence on Journalism released a study charging “that the gravest economic crisis since the Great Depression has been covered in the media largely from the top down, told primarily from the perspective of the Obama administration and big business, with coverage reflecting the concerns of institutions more than the lives of everyday Americans.”

Why is this? I asked several journalists in making a film and writing a book about the financial crisis as a crime story. A number agreed that the media itself is “embedded” in the culture and narratives of Wall Street, like reporters embedded in Iraq. They lack the ability to be critical of the sources they rely on. They bring little perspective and context to their work.

Max Wolff who works in the financial industry, and also teaches about it, shared his view as we stood outside the New York Stock Exchange:

“I think the media mostly did unpaid press releases for various businesses looking to sell financial products and while that made sense given the advertising driving the media, they became cheerleaders instead of critics and that took out of the discussion a critical voice that would have helped people realize what was going on, stop it before it got too big, and deal with the crisis in a way that was relatively transparent, democratic, and broadly beneficial as opposed to quiet and partial and very muddy and unclear.”

I pressed him to reflect on why, “It seems like there is still a tendency to amplify rumors on one hand, and then try to reassure that everything is o.k., while at the same time telling us that the world is about to end.

“We get a wild volatility, with a blind set of stories: everything is fine, nothing to see here, remain calm—or, if you don’t do x, y, and z then tomorrow life as we know will come to a screeching halt, water won’t come out of your faucet, electricity won’t come on, and you will live the rest of your life regretting that you just didn’t listen to me when I told you what I wanted.

“And that is a bad way conduct a social discussion. And it makes the public more scared and quite reasonably less confident in leadership, whether that is corporate leadership, politicians or the media itself.”

Buried Problems

The tendency on the left is to bash the frenzy of free market hype on Fox but not look too carefully at other channels and mainstream media outlets.

Often, even when they run good stories, they don’t probe deeply enough. The Naked Capitalism blog offered up one recent example in the New York Times:

“The New York Times features a generally very good piece, ‘Buyout Firms Profited as a Company’s Debt Soared,’ by Julie Creswell that falls short in one important respect: it fails to call a prevalent and destructive practice of private equity firms by its proper name….

“George Akerlof and Paul Romer called that activity ‘looting’ in a famous 1993 paper and depicted it as criminal: Bankruptcy for profit will occur if poor accounting, lax regulation, or low penalties for abuse give owners an incentive to pay themselves more than their firms are worth and then default on their debt obligations.”

Conservatives like Peter Schiff, who was literally laughed off Fox News when he warned of the coming meltdown in 2006 (the year I did the film “In Debt We Trust”), says media institutions have centrist biases that genuflect to the status quo.

“A lot of the media I appeared on were kind of captured by the industries,” he told me. “You know everybody that comes on television is working for government or working for Wall Street. They all have invested interests. They are all trapped inside the bubble and so, from their vantage point, they don’t know they are in a bubble.”

Right now, many media outlets are reinforcing the idea that a recovery is underway, pointing to a rise in the stock market and some signs of improvement, even as joblessness continues to climb along with bankruptcies and foreclosures.

The dissents of informed analysts like Paul Krugman, Nouriel Roubini, and George Soros are heard but marginalized. The signs of another collapse tied to an insolvent banking sector are discussed in the financial blogs but not yet on TV.

And the crime angle that I investigate is still seen as minor, except in all the stories about Bernie Madoff or the corporate lawyer Marc Dreier just profiled by 60 Minutes, which wanted to get him to be more “emotional” (that is, cry for the camera).

These “poster boys” for corporate crime get the visibility while reports on pervasive “epic” fraud in our financial institutions are buried in trade outlets like Information Week which notes “Seventy percent of financial institutions in the past 12 months have had cases of insider fraud, a new survey says.”

Kelly Jackson Higgins reported, “A former Wachovia Bank executive who had handled insider fraud incidents says banks are in denial about just how massive the insider threat problem is within their institutions.

“Meanwhile, the economic crisis appears to be exacerbating the risk, with 70 percent of financial institutions saying they have experienced a case of data theft by one of their employees in the past 12 months, according to new survey data.

“Shirley Inscoe, who spent 21 years at Wachovia handling insider fraud investigations and fraud prevention, says banks don’t want to talk about the insider fraud, and many aren’t aware that it’s an ‘epic problem.’”

Epic problems are often buried problems. No wonder most of us don’t know about them and are not as outraged as we deserve to be.

News Dissector Danny Schechter has made a film and written a book on the “Crime Of Our Time.” (News Dissector.com/plunder.) Comments to dissector@mediachannel.org.

http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/content/view/23782/

Beck Continues Long History of Invoking Nazis by Comparing Fox to the Jews During the Holocaust

Media Matters
October 13, 2009

During the October 13 edition of his radio show, Glenn Beck likened the Obama administration's treatment of Fox News to Nazi persecution of Jews, telling other media outlets: "When they're done with Fox, and you decide to speak out on something," it would be like "[t]he old, 'first they came for the Jews, and I wasn't Jewish.' " Beck has a long history of invoking the Holocaust, the Nazi Party, and Adolf Hitler to smear the Obama administration, other progressive individuals and organizations, and the media; indeed, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) previously criticized Beck for comparing Al Gore's efforts to raise awareness of global warming to the Holocaust.

Beck has repeatedly compared Obama to Hitler, claimed his policies are leading America toward Nazi Germany

"This is what Hitler did with the SS." Discussing Obama's call for a "civilian national security force" -- which was a reference to expanding the foreign service, AmeriCorps, and the Peace Corps -- Beck said on the August 27 edition of his Fox News program: "I'm finding this -- this is the hardest part to connect to. Because this is -- I mean, look, you know, David [Bellavia, former Army staff sergeant], what you just said is, you said, 'I'm not comparing' -- but you are. I mean, this is what Hitler did with the SS. He had his own people. He had the brownshirts and then the SS. This is what Saddam Hussein -- so -- but you are comparing that. And I -- I mean, I think America would have a really hard time getting their arms around that."

Beck: "I'm not comparing" Obama to Hitler, but asked his audience to "please read Mein Kampf" and learn from Germany's mistakes. On the August 12 broadcast of his radio show, discussing Obama's position on health care reform, Beck stated: "I am not comparing him to this, but please, read Mein Kampf for this reason. If you read it now, you see that Hitler told you what he was going to do. He told the Germans. It outsold the Bible. Germans read Mein Kampf, but what did they do? They didn't listen. 'Oh, he doesn't mean that.' 'Oh, he's just saying that to appeal to X, Y, Z.' All of the same lies we're telling to ourselves. 'No, that's crazy. Nobody would actually do that.' They buried their heads in the sand, and then it became too late. Please, America, take this man for what he says."

Beck cited Hitler to attack Obama, claim "[e]mpathy leads you to very bad decisions." During a discussion of Obama's statement that he would consider "empathy" in choosing a Supreme Court nominee, Beck drew a parallel to Hitler on his May 26 Fox News show: "Finally -- well, he wasn't the president. He was the chancellor, Hitler, decided that it was the only empathetic thing to do, is to put this child down and put him out of his suffering. It was the beginning of the T4, which led to genocide everywhere. It was the beginning of it. Empathy leads you to very bad decisions many times."

Beck told Newsmax: "I fear a Reichstag moment." On September 29, conservative news website Newsmax.com reported of its interview with Beck:

But his real worry is that many Washington elitists really don't like our form of government and want to see it abolished.

"I fear a Reichstag moment," he said, referring to the 1933 burning of Germany's parliament building in Berlin that the Nazis blamed on communists and Hitler used as an excuse to suspend constitutional liberties and consolidate power.

"God forbid, another 9/11. Something that will turn this machine on, and power will be seized and voices will be silenced."


Beck links health care reform to Nazis, suggests reform would kill elderly and newborns. On his August 6 radio show, Beck suggested that health care reform would lead to the eugenics programs undertaken in Nazi Germany, saying that "three people in the White House are in love with eugenics" and that reform would kill the elderly and newborns.

Beck compared car dealership closures to Nazism, warning "at some point, they're going to come for you." While discussing the closures of auto dealerships under the bankruptcy deals of GM and Chrysler, Beck said that the "poem that keeps going through my mind" is "First they came for the Jews," adding, "Gang, at some point they're going to come for you."

Beck compared auto bailouts to the actions of German companies "in the early days of Adolf Hitler." While discussing the auto company bailouts on the April 1 edition of his Fox News program, after stating, "I am not saying that Barack Obama is a fascist," Beck said, "If I'm not mistaken, in the early days of Adolf Hitler, they were very happy to line up for help there as well. I mean, the companies were like, 'Hey, wait a minute. We can get, you know, we can get out of trouble here. They can help, et cetera, et cetera.' "

Beck compared TARP to "what happened to the lead-up with Hitler." On the April 21 edition of Fox Business' Money for Breakfast, Beck said of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, "This is not comparing these people to the people in Germany, but this is exactly what happened to the lead-up with Hitler. Hitler opened up the door and said, 'Hey, companies, I can help you.' They all ran through the door. And then in the end, they all saw, 'Uh-oh. I'm in bed with the devil.' They started to take their foot out, and Hitler said, 'Absolutely not. Sorry, gang. This is good for the country. We've got to do these things.' And it was too late."

Beck said "the Germans" during Hitler's rise "were an awful lot like we are now." On the June 10 edition of his Fox News program, Beck stated: "I think the Germans, however, were an awful lot like we are now. We're kind of living in a denial, like, 'No, no, that can't really be happening. No, that really -- I" -- you don't want to believe some things, but you have to. You have to actually think about them."

Beck airs photos of Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, asks, "Is this where we're headed?" On the April 2 edition of his Fox News program, while teasing the next day's show, Beck asked, "Is this where we're headed?" while airing photos of Hitler, Josef Stalin, and Vladimir Lenin.

ADL rebuked Beck for repeatedly smearing Gore as a Nazi

Beck repeatedly compared Gore to a Nazi propagandist. Beck has repeatedly likened Gore to a Nazi propagandist for speaking out about global warming, notably comparing Gore to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. Beck also suggested that by giving a speech to students, Gore was trying to "indoctrinate the kids" like the "new Hitler Youth" and said of Gore's 2006 Academy Award winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth: "It's like Hitler."

In 2007, ADL rebuked Beck's smears of Gore. On May 2, 2007, the ADL issued a press release condemning Beck's April 30, 2007, statement that "Al Gore's not going to be rounding up Jews and exterminating them. It is the same tactic, however. The goal is different. The goal is globalization. The goal is global carbon tax. The goal is the United Nations running the world." Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and a Holocaust survivor, said of the remark, in part: "Glenn Beck's linkage of Hitler's plan to round up and exterminate Jews with Al Gore's efforts to raise awareness of global warming is outrageous, insensitive and deeply offensive."

Beck has also invoked the Holocaust to smear progressive organizations

Beck has also attacked progressive organizations as "brownshirts." Beck has repeatedly attacked the "brownshirts" at ACORN and "their henchmen" at the Service Employees International Union.

Beck has also invoked the Holocaust to criticize the media

Beck compared Fox News to Jews during Holocaust, other news organizations to silent bystanders. On the October 13 broadcast of his radio show, Beck compared Fox News to the Jews during the Holocaust, telling other media outlets, "When they're done with Fox, and you decide to speak out on something. The old, 'first they came for the Jews, and I wasn't Jewish.' " He went on to say, "When they're done with Fox and talk radio, do you really think they're going to leave you alone if you want to ask a tough question? ... If you believe that, you should open up a history book, because you've missed the point of many brutal dictators."

Beck compares media portrayal of "tea partygoers" to Nazi portrayal of "complainers,"
On the August 11 edition of his Fox show, Beck compared the media's portrayal of the "tea partygoers" to a Nazi propaganda poster portraying "complainers" about Nazi policies, saying, "This is a poster of what you see every day now in the news media making the complainers, the tea partygoers, look somehow rotten."

Beck not alone in invoking Nazis to smear progressives

Numerous conservative media figures have invoked Nazis to smear progressives. Media Matters for America has previously documented the conservative media's invocation of Hitler and the Nazis to smear the Obama administration, Democratic officials, and progressive policies.

- C.S.

http://mediamatters.org/research/200910130061

Obama & Right-Wing Illiteracy

From "Today in Attempting to Read Tiny Minds," SLOG website, posted by Dan Savage on Tue, Oct 13, 2009, re a message cut into the green of a golf course in Massachusetts by a right-wing "bigot," or "patriot," "[as] they're known on Fox News":

" ... I [swastika] Obama? Um... what does that mean? Is it supposed to be a riff on that "I [heart] NY" campaign and its tens of thousands of variations? My boyfriend has an "I [club] Hippies" shirt. But hearting/loving and clubbing are things a person does; one is a feeling, the other an action. You can't "Nazi" someone the way you can "heart" them or "club" them. Unless... are the vandals making an admission here? Are they telling us that they're trying to make Obama out as some sort of Nazi? That this Nazi meme is something they're doing to him, that they're running around sliming the president by making a patently false and politically inflammatory accusation? That would make it an admission of guilt or evil intent on their part. ... "

CONTINUED

http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2009/10/13/today-in-attempting-to-read-tiny-minds

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Post Editor Who Spoke Out Against Racist Cartoon is Fired

By BET.com Staff
Oct. 8, 2009

The New York Post editor who spoke against a racist cartoon in her paper that likened President Obama to a dead chimpanzee has been fired from her job.

Officials at the Rupert Murdock-owned tabloid issued a statement to the Huffington Post saying that Sandra Guzman had been released because Tempo, the monthly in-paper insert she edits, had been nixed.

But some at the paper believe that the editor had been in the newspaper’s dog house ever since she blasted the decision to run a cartoon that sparked a national controversy five months ago. In February, renowned cartoonist Sean Delonas drew a satirical piece for the Post showing two White police officers standing over a dead chimp riddled with bullet holes; one of the officers had a smoking gun in his hand. “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill,” one officer says to the other.

Black leaders and others were outraged at the cartoon, particularly because Obama was widely viewed as the author of the stimulus bill.

At the time, Guzman wrote a note to fellow journalists saying, "I neither commissioned nor approved it. I saw it in the paper yesterday with the rest of the world. And, I have raised my objections to management."

Several of Guzman’s colleagues, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said her firing seemed like payback.

"I think ever since then, she has been on their sh*t list and they were trying to look for a reason to get rid of her," a Post employee told Huffington.

http://www.bet.com/News/National_NYPost_Editor_Who_Spoke_Out_Against_Racist_Cartoon_Fired.htm?wbc_purpose=Basic&WBCMODE=PresentationUnpublished&Referrer=%7B0471DDF0-D0D8-48A8-9E30-ADD40CBE0269%7D

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Is Glenn Beck the Imperial Wizard of Modern Know Nothingism?

Tim McCown
Philadelphia Progressive Examiner
September 13, 2009

One of the greatest radio demagogues of all time, before Glenn Beck, was Father Charles Coughlin in the 1930's. At one time he had a following of perhaps 30 million Right Wing sympathizers. He initially supported FDR until it began to dawn on him that FDR was not making "the right kind of changes." His magazine Social Justice was banned from magazine racks under the Espionage Act. At the end he was essentially a Nazi sympathizer. Coughlin accused Roosevelt of "moving this nation towards International Socialism."

Know Nothingism was a nativist American political movement. It began because of popular fears that the country was being over run by immigrants. hey feared American culture and traditions were being lost. They wanted immigration and naturalization of all immigrants stopped. These immigrants were the Irish.

The Know Nothings began in the 1840's and Father Coughlin believed Democrats were moving the nation into the Socialist camp in the 1930's. So what is new? At the speed the Left is making us Socialist none of us will be around to know.

Glenn Beck's Modus Operandi as Jonathan Schwartz notes on Tiny Revolution is to "Locate the most extreme statement by anyone on the other side, hype it as much as you possibly can to your side as embodying the true spirit and goals of your enemy." His use of lies, distortion and innuendo is effective unless you think through the point that he has virtually no facts. It is just a false play on raw emotion.

I look at Beck and others on the Right and I see a bunch of racist bigots hiding behind the language of the Constitution and freedom. Lets face it, Beck didn't get all wound up by the security forces in Afghanistan acting like they were at a Fraternity Toga party, yet the world was coming to an end because some members of ACORN acted absolutely stupidly and told someone how to run a brothel.

The difference here is that ACORN registers African Americans to vote. This is a Democratic Party constituency. So we seek to discredit ACORN in hopes of suppressing the Black vote since you can't have Poll taxes and other Jim Crow laws. ...

CONTINUED

http://www.examiner.com/x-3629-Philadelphia-Progressive-Examiner~y2009m9d13-Is-Glenn-Beck-the-Imperial-Wizard-of-modern-Know-Nothingism

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Carlisle, PA: Director Carl Colby, Son of Late CIA Chief William Colby, to Speak at Dickinson College

Carl Colby testified at the preliminary OJ Simpson trial (the latter was framed by the CIA and Mafia). The press covering the pre-trial failed to note that Carl is the son of late CIA Director William Colby, a veteran leader of the Phoenix Program. When Carl - who lived next to Nicole Simpson for a spell - testified against OJ Simpson, there was an embarrassing moment of silence interrupted by a few gasps in the countroom when he made a racist comment: Colby admitted that he once called the police on Simpson for no other reason than he's black and Colby spotted him in the neighborhood. Very suspicious ... Carl, of course, is a CIA propagandist, obviously:

: ... The documentary ... will utilize the controversial and professional life of William E. Colby as a prism through which to chart the evolution, from World War II to the present day, of the intersection of the CIA and America’s constitutional values. ... "

And it isn't a comedy:

Film director and producer Carl Colby will visit Dickinson College to discuss a documentary he is making about his father, the late Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director William E. Colby. The presentation, which is free and open to the public, will be held Friday, Oct. 9, 3:30 p.m., in the Stern Center Great Room, West Louther Street, between West and College streets, in Carlisle.

Carl Colby is an Emmy Award-winning documentary film director and producer with more than 40 documentary films to his credit. William E. Colby served as director of the CIA from September 1973 to January 1976. He died in May 1996 at age 76 after he collapsed and drowned while canoeing in Maryland.

The documentary, the working title for which is “The Colby Project,” will utilize the controversial and professional life of William E. Colby as a prism through which to chart the evolution, from World War II to the present day, of the intersection of the CIA and America’s constitutional values.

This program is sponsored by The Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues. For more information, visit www.clarkeforum.org or call 717-245-1875.

http://www.cumberlink.com/calendar/events/index.php?com=detail&eID=6363

Friday, October 2, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: 'A Bomb in Every Issue' by Peter Richardson

Short, explosive, unforgotten: The story of Ramparts Magazine and its lingering influence long after it was gone.

Short, explosive, unforgotten: The story of Ramparts Magazine and its lingering influence long after it was gone.

By Erik Himmelsbach
latimes.com
October 2, 2009

Live fast, die young, leave a good-looking corpse. That's the stuff of myth, but Ramparts pulled it off.

Published for just 13 years, the San Francisco magazine not only blew the cover off the biggest stories of its era, it also helped set the ideological agenda for its core demographic, the New Left, and forced the mainstream press to follow its lead. At its peak in late 1967, circulation reached 250,000 -- proof, notes Peter Richardson in his lively history of the magazine "A Bomb in Every Issue," that "mainstream media techniques could be used to advance leftist politics."

Yet less than a decade later, Ramparts was history, taken down by the usual stuff that eats away at organizations: financial strife and power struggles. Richardson compares the trajectory to that of a highflying rock band: "It blew minds, launched solo careers, and spawned imitators," he writes.

Also like a rock band, Ramparts was very much a creation of its time, and when that time passed, its creative evolution couldn't keep up.

Ramparts launched quietly in 1962, started by an idealist named Edward Keating to challenge the traditional dogma of the Catholic Church. That same year, Keating recruited young Bay Area journalist Warren Hinckle, a hard-drinking, eye-patch-wearing wild man with a sense for the sensational. Part muckraker, part P.T. Barnum, Hinckle initially was a writer, then served as promotions manager before taking over as executive editor.

Hinckle understood the value of controversy. Ramparts got its first taste in 1965, after it ran an interview with German playwright Rolf Hochhuth, whose play, "The Deputy," accused Pope Pius XII of failing to challenge the Nazis during the Holocaust. Readers were outraged and the magazine had the buzz it wanted. By mid-1965, Ramparts had ditched Catholicism for good.

Hinckle brought in fellow travelers such as art director Dugald Stermer, who gave Ramparts its stylized look. Robert Scheer became its editorial soul. By the time Scheer was named managing editor in October 1966, Richardson writes, "the magazine had found its voice, identified its causes and joined the battle."

The battle was also taking place internally, Richardson notes, as Hinckle wrested control of the operation from Keating. Opinion soon gave way to investigative reporting. A 1966 exposé, about the CIA using the Michigan State University campus to train the Saigon police, put the staff on the agency's radar.

Two years later, Scheer and Stanley Sheinbaum broke the bombshell that the agency was secretly funding civilian organizations such as the National Students Assn. It was a major moment for the New Left.

When Ramparts broke a story, Hinckle made sure everyone knew about it; he took full-page ads in the New York Times to trumpet the scoops. There was much to trumpet: The magazine published Eldridge Cleaver's prison diaries, championed his release from prison and hired him as an editor when he was freed.

Ramparts also began covering a small militant group across the Bay called the Black Panthers, formed by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale in October 1966. Suddenly, the militants became international revolutionaries. "Ramparts made celebrities of the Black Panthers and their star power increased the magazine's cache," Richardson writes.

The hits just kept on coming. Ramparts was the first magazine to publish New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison's conspiracy theories about the JFK assassination, and it got the U.S. rights to the diaries of Che Guevara, since, as Richardson points out, it was the one American outlet Fidel Castro trusted with these writings.

But Richardson is also quick to dispel the mythology surrounding Ramparts: In spite of chronic financial issues, Hinckle was an egregious spendthrift whose devil-may-care attitude often put the magazine in peril. And in spite of its radical cred, Ramparts attitude toward women and sexuality left a lot to be desired. A sample headline tease from 1968 read: "Breaking the Faggot Barrier in Men's Clothes."

Richardson traces Ramparts' downward spiral to its coverage of the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Sparing no expense, Hinckle sent 10 staffers to cover the tumultuous events. Though the daily Ramparts Wall Poster was a valuable resource, it failed to tell the entire story -- that the staff was complicit with organizers such as Tom Hayden and knew in advance of Hayden's plan to confront Chicago police.

"We didn't dare touch the one big story that was ours exclusively: how a relatively small group of American radicals had made common cause with the enemy and was leading the left toward self destruction and nihilism," Sol Stern recalls.

The left imploded after Chicago. By early 1969, Ramparts declared bankruptcy. Scheer replaced Hinckle in the top spot but lacked the charismatic firepower to lead the staff through lean times. When he offered Susan Sontag $1,500 -- the entire monthly editorial budget -- for a piece on Sweden, the staff was outraged. He was ousted in a coup led by David Horowitz, who sought to reshape Ramparts as a collective.

But even as Ramparts faded, Richardson notes, its influence was seen in better-funded operations such as Rolling Stone, "60 Minutes" and even the New York Times, which published the Pentagon Papers in 1971 -- an instance of Ramparts being beaten at its own game.

Meanwhile the magazine chugged along, serving as a political forum for radical celebrities like Jane Fonda and John Lennon, until it died in 1975. "Toward the end of its life, it was competing not only with established outlets but with upstarts created or at least partly in its own image," Richardon writes.

Yet we're still talking -- and writing -- about Ramparts today because it did change America. In addition to birthing a generation of thoughtful writers like Scheer, Stern and Seymour Hersh, its existence forced the press to keep the power structure honest and for all of us to question authority -- which is, no matter what anyone tells you, the benchmark of a healthy democracy.

Himmelsbach is a Los Angeles writer and producer.

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/arts/la-et-book2-2009oct02,0,3811710,print.story

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Max Boot: Apologist for War Crimes

Boot's commentary amounts to vulgar apologetics for egregious war crimes.
By Max Kantar
www.palestinechronicle.com

The recent publication of the UNHRC's report on Israel's December-January assault on the Gaza Strip, also known as the Goldstone Report, has elicited some rather hysterical reactions from Israel's leading apologists. Perhaps among the most desperate of the attempts to deflect legitimate criticism of Israeli war crimes is an article entitled, "The Goldstone Report," [1] written by Max Boot. Boot is an award winning author, distinguished journalist, and served as an editor for the Christian Science Monitor and The Wall Street Journal during the 1990s. He is currently a senior fellow for National Security Studies at the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations.

In his article, "The Goldstone Report," published under his daily blog at Commentarymagazine.com, Boot repeatedly struggles to divert attention from the overwhelming amount of documentary evidence compiled in the UNHRC report (and in other relevant independent findings as well) which implicates the Israeli government in a large number of war crimes committed throughout the duration of "Operation Cast Lead."

Not only is Boot's commentary extremely superficial and desperate as an analysis of the Goldstone Report, but it is indeed contemptuous in regard to the intellectual and moral capacity of his readers. It would seem that responding to or refuting such intellectual defecation might suggest that reasonable arguments have been put forth by Boot, giving his nonsense some sort of legitimacy. Nevertheless, this author found it to be even more maddening to allow such vulgarities and perversions to go unchecked. What follows is a brief exposure, step by step, of the bankruptcy of Mr. Boot's analysis.

Israeli Repression of Dissent

While he criticizes the mentioning of Israeli repression of dissent during "Operation Cast Lead," Boot makes no attempt to refute the fact reported in the Goldstone Report that 715 people, mostly Israeli-Arab citizens (as well as some non-citizen, Palestinian "residents" of occupied East Jerusalem) were arrested and imprisoned by the Israeli government for exercising their rights to free speech. Instead he dismisses the protestors as "unruly" (why were they unruly?) and points his finger at the lack of free speech in neighboring Arab states. It is true that the Arab states are much less open and permissive than is the case in Israeli proper (excluding the occupied territories where Israel's human rights record is by far the worst in the region) but it is unclear to the reader why this has anything to do with Israeli state repression of dissent. At any rate, Israel's imprisonment of 715 dissenters during its attack on Gaza was hardly a focal point in the Goldstone Report. Boot simply is attempting to take attention away from the extensive documentation of Israeli war crimes by making ideological assertions about "Israeli democracy," appealing to brainless readers who are searching not for truth, but for empty rationalizations aimed at preserving a benevolent image of The Holy State.

Boot then goes on to make apologetics for the fact that Israel is currently holding, according to the Goldstone Report, 8,100 Palestinian political prisoners in Israel, including nearly 400 children. Boot claims that unlike Egypt and Saudi Arabia, "all" of Israel's Palestinian "prisoners are behind bars because they are suspected of involvement in terrorism." Where is Boot's evidence for this claim? Of course, it's ridiculous and nothing more than a purely ideological statement. There are literally thousands of pages of human rights reports--many from Israeli groups--documenting the unlawful detention of nonviolent Palestinian activists and other civilians who took no part in any hostilities. Israel also routinely kidnaps, imprisons, and tortures Palestinian youth who are often arrested for throwing pebbles at heavily armed occupying forces.

Furthermore, it is in violation of international law to imprison children in adult prisons. It is against international law to torture prisoners. It is also illegal under international law (the Fourth Geneva Convention) to transport prisoners to prisons or detention centers outside of the occupied territory in which the arrest takes place. Boot also forgets to mention that under international law, people living under foreign military occupation have the right to armed resistance against the occupiers and such resistance, if targeted at the occupying forces, is not "terrorism."

Readers might also recall as to how the South African Apartheid regime also called all of its Black prisoners "terrorists" or "suspected terrorists." Nelson Mandela was one of them. Historically, all tyrannical regimes make such claims to justify their repression of dissent and legitimate resistance. Why is Israel any different? Why would rational people expect it to act differently? Why are the Palestinian grievances not creditable or legitimate?

At any rate, B'Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, and Amnesty International, among other countless other human rights groups, have extensively and exhaustively documented Israel's illegal imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians who have nothing to do with carrying out terrorism or conspiring to carry out terrorism against Israel. The fact that Boot spends so much time musing on the issue of prisoners is simply a reflection of his desperation; the report was not even about the issue of prisoners.

Targeting Civilians

Boot dismisses the Goldstone Reports' criticizing of Israeli attacks against Hamas civil society infrastructure, such as the legislative council building, on the grounds that the allied forces attacked the Reichstag during the Second World War. Why go back to WWII for a comparison? What if the Palestinians bombed the Israeli Knesset? What would Boot think of that? Would he proclaim it to be legitimate on the grounds that the allies bombed the Reichstag? What if Iraqis bombed the halls of Congress in Washington DC? Would that have been legitimate on the same grounds? The truth is, that even so, the Palestinians would've had a much stronger case for doing so: they are being militarily occupied and have been for over forty years. Millions of Palestinians are also being forcibly kept from returning to their homes.

Of course, no party has a right to attack civilian objects or target civilians. Boot and people like him dismiss international law only when politically or ideologically serviceable. It takes real discipline not to recognize such hypocrisy.

But why should one limit their criticism of the Goldstone Report for its denunciation of the Israeli targeting of Hamas' legislative buildings? What about the UN schools Israel attacked, bombed, and dropped white phosphorous on? What about the children who were literally incinerated by white phosphorous dropped from the skies by the IAF? What about the scores of mosques it attacked? What about the ambulances? What about the health clinics? What about the civilian homes? What about the women and children holding a white flag whom IDF soldiers gunned down? What about the precise drone strikes on Palestinian civilians? What about the bombings of schoolchildren during the middle of the day as classes were letting out and children were walking in the streets? All of these instances were documented in the report. Were these legitimate by Boots' standards? Should international law be dismissed in each of these cases, too?

Targeting Civilian Police Officers

Boot also ridicules the Goldstone Reports' conclusion that Israeli attacks and killings of Palestinian civilian police officers were unlawful, but he gives no reason as to why such attacks should be considered legitimate. In fact, those police officers were the ones responsible for maintaining law and order in Gaza and actually arrested several rouge terrorists firing rockets into Israel during the ceasefire period, which Hamas scrupulously observed, as was documented by an official Israeli report on the ceasefire period that preceded Israel's attack on Gaza. [2]

Anyhow, we do not need to debate the legitimacy of Israel's targeted killings of civilian police officers in Gaza because there is a unanimous consensus among experts in international law and human rights groups. Readers of The Palestine Chronicle informed of this [3] back in January:

In the opening days of Israel's aerial bombardment of the Gaza Strip, its main targets were police stations and officers. For civilian police officers to be considered legitimate military targets, they must be directly engaged in hostilities, in this case, towards Israel. No evidence has been presented by Israel, or anyone else, that even reasonably suggests that the police officers in Gaza fall into this category. Therefore, the police officers that were targeted and murdered by Israel were clearly civilians: not lawful military targets.

Here are a few authoritative sources cited at the time [4] which articulate the illegality of such strikes:

"The First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions establishes two conditions that must be met for an object to be considered a legitimate military target: it must effectively contribute to military action and its total destruction or partial neutralization offers a clear military advantage." - B'Tselem, Dec. 31, 2008

"Police were not combatants and could not represent legitimate targets unless actively engaged in hostilities...it was Israel's burden of proof to show [that] the police they targeted were, indeed, Hamas militants." - Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director, Human Rights Watch (Middle East & North Africa Division), January 7, 2009

"Police members who do not take part in any hostilities are not considered legitimate military targets under international humanitarian law and must not be deliberately targeted." - Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, December 28, 2008

"Police stations, police officers and law enforcement officials are classified under the international law as civilians, and targeting them as such while they were not engaged in military action constitutes a violation of the international law." - Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, December 27, 2008.

"[The Israeli Air Force] bombed the main police building in Gaza and killed, according to reports, forty-two Palestinians who were in a training course and were standing in formation at the time of the bombing. Participants in the course study first-aid, handling of public disturbances, human rights, public-safety exercises, and so forth." - B'Tselem, December 31, 2008

It Was a Massacre, Not a War

We might also take note that the Goldstone Report is entirely consistent with all of the other reports regarding Israel's attack on Gaza. The world's leading human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch - groups that are quite independent of constraints from either side--issued reports well before the UN report was published and had eerily similar findings. A whole slew of local and regional rights groups, including many Israeli groups, also reached the same conclusions. Are we honestly supposed to believe that along with the UN, every human rights group in the world is simply anti-Semitic, bent on defaming Israel for its own sake?

It is also important for serious people to be clear about what happened in Gaza. It was not a "war" or "an armed conflict." There were virtually no battles or military showdowns between Hamas militants and the IDF. All one has to do is take a look at what Israeli soldiers are coming out and saying now in, Breaking the Silence. [5] In Breaking the Silence, Israeli soldiers talk about how they encountered virtually no armed resistance during the ground invasion of Gaza during "Operation Cast Lead."

Commanders warned soldiers about "suicide bombers," "snipers," and "women carrying explosives" but according to the testimonies of soldiers, "none of [these reports] ever materialized" and soldiers "never ran into any" such people. In fact, some Israeli soldiers were so intent on fighting and so disappointed of the lack thereof that, according to one testimony, "One guy said he just couldn't finish this operation without killing someone. So he killed someone...."

Soldiers testified to "all [the] destruction, all [the] fire at innocents...the hatred and the joy of killing...There's nothing to hold you back. They're just Arabs." Many soldiers were emphatic about the "tremendous" and "insane" amount of "fire power" employed by the IDF and how there were "no innocents," when it came to shooting people, that they were given permission to open fire "even at most people who definitely aren't terrorists."

Another testimony noted that entire neighborhoods were totally flattened without regard for civilian life and property. "What is a suspect spot? It means you decided it was suspect and could take out all your rage at it." Soldiers were ordered by their superiors to specifically "target mosques" and to shoot at everyone, "even an old woman--take her out."

Israeli warplanes flew more than 3,000 flights over Gaza in the course of twenty-two days and not one aircraft was downed, damaged, or even scratched. Soldiers noted that the destruction in Gaza "was on a totally different scale" than anything "previously known," that "the ground was....constantly shaking" from all of the incessant Israeli fire and bombing.

Every independent report that has surfaced since "Operation Cast Lead" illustrates how virtually every single piece of infrastructure and every population center that the IDF targeted was a civilian object or civilian center. Out of all of the exhaustive research, study, fieldwork, interviews, and documentation, no independent report has found any of the Israeli propaganda lines to be true. None of the ambulances or hospitals were hiding Hamas fighters; none of the schools were being used to launch attacks on Israel; none of the mosques were hiding weapons; no evidence was ever found that suggested that Hamas fighters used civilians as human shields, which was the main Israeli claim to justify its indiscriminate killings, a justification which even if it was true--which it isn't--wouldn't rise up to the standards of the international laws of war. In fact, each study has revealed that the exact opposite was true, that it was Israeli soldiers who systematically used Palestinian civilians as human shields, occupying their homes and shooting people from the cover of civilians and civilian homes. Soldiers have since testified as to the extensive and quite diverse use of Palestinian civilians as human shields in Breaking the Silence reports.

Finally, let's look at the results of what happened. According to rigorous studies--studies which documented by name and legal status, each person who was killed--carried out by The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights [6] as well as by the Israeli group, B'Tselem, [7] roughly 1,400 Palestinians were killed in Israel's twenty-two day assault, overwhelmingly civilians. In fact, if we accept basic principles of international law and count the civilian police officers in Gaza as civilians, then the percentage of civilian deaths among Palestinians in Gaza reaches upwards of 85%, literally. On the Israeli side, thirteen people were killed, just three of whom were civilians, and at least three others of the thirteen were killed by friendly fire in Gaza. So we have roughly 1,000 Palestinian civilians killed versus three Israeli civilians killed. Including all deaths, the ratio is more than 100-1. No matter how you break it down, the only way one could characterize what happened is by calling it a massacre, plain and simple.

And as for those Palestinian fighters or "militants" whom everybody seems to agree are worthy of receiving an automatic death sentence from the Israeli military machine, we might do well to recall the timely words of British Parliamentarian, Gerald Kaufman (whose extended family was largely exterminated by the Nazis) who ridiculed Israeli self-congratulation over its killing of supposed Palestinian militants by saying that "I suppose that the Jews fighting for their lives in the Warsaw ghetto could have been dismissed as militants."

The Comparison with WWII

Boot is quite right when he notes that by the standards of the international laws of war, that the allied powers during WWII certainly did commit extensive war crimes when they deliberately targeted civilians and civilian objects while fire-bombing cities in Germany and Japan. There is no doubt about that. The fact that he is unable to comprehend this is further evidence of how his ideological commitments take precedence over international law and the principle of universality.

But what is most disturbing here is that Boot derides the fact that in the Goldstone Report, Israel's alleged crimes were equated with alleged Palestinian crimes, that the report assessed the facts using international law as a standard for both parties. He then makes an implicit comparison between the Nazis and the Palestinians, noting that it is unfair to equate Hitler's crimes with the allies' crimes because Hitler's were much worse, implying that it is wrong to equate Hamas's killing of three civilians and a handful of invading soldiers with Israel's slaughter of 1,400 Palestinians, including over 300 innocent children on the basis that Hamas's crimes are much worse. In light of the most bare and uncontroversial facts about the Gaza massacre, it is beyond comprehension how Boot could compare the feeble and virtually inconsequential actions of the leadership of a besieged and occupied people with the Nazis and Adolph Hitler who systematically murdered six million defenseless Jews. This is even more perplexing when considering it in the context of an Israeli massacre of over 1,000 civilians in a twenty-two day period, which was far more Nazi-like than anything the Palestinians could ever contemplate.

Furthermore, where is the context of these events in Boot's commentary? The Palestinians are living under a horrifically brutal foreign military occupation and have been for over forty years. For years, Gaza has been subjected to a draconian economic blockade--literally, an "act of war" under international law--denounced as "collective punishment"--a major war crime—by every relevant commentator in the international legal community. Boot ridicules the UN's labeling of Gaza as "occupied territory" in light of Israel's 2005 removal of its troops and settlers from the Strip. Boot is so far out of the mainstream that he hasn't read the tirelessly documented and examined UN reports, legal analyses, and rights groups' reports which all categorically label Gaza as "occupied territory" despite the so-called "disengagement." [8] The best example of such a study is the report and analysis, "Disengaged Occupiers: The Legal Status of Gaza," authored by the Israeli group, Gisha: Legal Center For Freedom of Movement. [9]

At any rate, it's irrelevant because the West Bank and Gaza Strip constitute one territorial entity according to the Oslo "peace process" agreements as well as the International Court of Justice's 2004 ruling. There is no controversy on this issue whatsoever as far as the relevant bodies of law and monitoring are concerned.

Right of Return

Finally, Boot also castigates the report for making note of Israel's continued barring of refugees to return to Israel and/or the occupied territories. Boot is again way out of the mainstream on this one too. The 13 th article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights clearly states "Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country." UNSC Resolution 194 (passed with US support) specifically makes it the legal right of all Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. Every human rights group is unanimously in agreement on this issue. There is absolutely no controversy regarding the legal right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.

Even though it is well known that a full Palestinian return may be politically impossible, this does not give anyone a right to dismiss this score human right of Palestinians as irrelevant or illegitimate as an issue to be negotiated upon with Israel. When Boot dismisses the Palestinian right of return as something that would "destroy Israel demographically," it is nothing more than a wildly racist statement.

Conclusion

Boot's commentary on the massacre in Gaza amounts to some of the most vulgar apologetics for egregious war crimes that one could imagine. Even the smallest amount of common sense and the most cursory glance at the documentary record and international law reveals this to be true.

Instead of making obscure rationalizations for murdering innocent people, Boot and other apologists for American and Israeli crimes should denounce all war crimes, demand justice for the victims, and applaud the fact that global civil society has erected a body of international law designed to minimize the suffering of civilians during armed conflicts and to establish basic norms and laws regarding fundamental human rights.

- Max Kantar is a freelance writer. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: maxkantar@gmail.com

Notes:

[1] Max Boot, "The Goldstone Report," Commentary Magazine, September 16, 2009.

[2] Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Israel Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center, "The Six Months of the Lull Arrangement," December 2008, 2, 6, 7.

[3] Max Kantar, "The Massacre in Gaza: Check the Facts," The Palestine Chronicle, January 14, 2009.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Breaking the Silence: Soldiers' Testimonies from Operation Cast Lead, Gaza 2009. All of the following quotes in this paper from Israeli soldiers were found in this compilation of testimonies.

[6] "Palestinians: Final Gaza Toll shows 960 civilians killed," Ynet, March 12, 2009.
[7] B'Tselem, "B'Tselem's Investigation of fatalities in Operation Cast Lead."

[8] Jake Hess, "Palestine since disengagement," Znet, August 24, 2007. This article includes several citations of rights groups and UN officials categorizing the Gaza Strip officially as "occupied territory" despite Israel's "disengagement."[9] Gisha, "Disengaged Occupiers: The Legal Status of Gaza," January 2007, 64, 65, 71.

http://www.palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=15447