Monday, December 7, 2009

Glenn Beck's Nazi Fans

After an ADL report says Beck may foment violence, I visit racist Web sites to see if their denizens are listening

By Alexander Zaitchik | Salon | Nov 20, 2009

It's been a busy week for Glenn Beck watchers. On Monday, the Anti-Defamation League released a report warning of the paranoia and stridency that increasingly define the conservative grass roots. It echoed an April report issued by the Department of Homeland Security, but unlike the DHS report, the ADL named names, and fingered Beck as the figure most responsible for the unhinging of the right.

"Beck has acted as a 'fearmonger-in-chief,' raising anxiety about and distrust towards the government [which] if it continues to grow in intensity and scope, may result in an increase in anti-government extremists and the potential for a rise of violent anti-government acts," the ADL wrote.

Amazingly, just after the ADL report's release, Sarah Palin responded to a question about a possible Palin-Beck ticket by refusing to rule out Beck as a running mate. She praised him effusively, describing him as "bold, clever, and very, very, very effective."

Effective at what, exactly?

Earlier this week, Sam Stein of the Huffington Post detailed several instances in which Beck has welcomed onto his shows guests with ties to groups that traffic in white supremacy, neo-Confederate secession, and anti-Semitism. Stein's reporting was a good start, but it would take a chalkboard the size of Idaho to fully map out Beck's racially paranoid guest list.

But Beck insists his critics are imagining things, that he does not engage in racial fear-mongering, that a string of guests with ties to hate groups do not form a meaningful pattern, and that he's not a racist. It occurred to me the other day that if you really want to know whether Beck and his guests are blowing racial dog-whistles, it's best to ask a dog.

I decided to reach out to Don Black, the avowed white nationalist who runs the Web site, the country's leading "Discussion board for pro-White activists and anyone else interested in White survival." But Black hung up on me. I next tried to get in touch with David Duke, the former gubernatorial candidate and current head of the European American Unity and Rights Organization. Duke, too, had little interest in talking to me, likely because of my past association with the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks the activities of white supremacist groups.

Unable to get through to the highest-profile spokesmen of the racist grass roots, I took a page from the other side and trawled their Web sites for insight. I scanned and to see what they had to say, if anything, about Beck. Admittedly, this method is not scientific, and certainly folks on the left don't like it when righties cherry-pick an extreme comment from Daily Kos or the Huffington Post and pretend the whole site can be summed up by such extremism.

On the other hand, isn't a media organization but a self-described discussion board. And when it comes to Beck, the discussions are fairly positive. On both David Duke's Web site and Stormfront, Beck's July 28 claim that President Obama harbors a "deep-seated hatred of white people, or the white culture" was met with attention and appreciation.

Duke was heartened by the discussion it generated, and placed it in a larger context. "A lot of stuff is happening in the world of race relations and little of it points towards a post-racial society," Duke noted. "Beck is steadily losing advertisers, but his viewers seem to be sticking with him ... White desperation is manifesting itself in various forms."

Beck's charge that the president hates white people sparked a more expansive discussion at Some participants saw Beck as an important ally in the White Nationalist cause. Others were skeptical, viewing him as a clueless conservative version of Lenin's "useful idiot." But some of Stormfront's most active members generally agreed that, whether he was fully conscious or not, Beck was nudging his audience toward an embrace of racial consciousness.

"Glen [sic] Beck can be useful," said one frequent Stormfront contributor who posts under the name SS_marching. "When Glen beck said 'Obama Has A Deep-Seated Hatred For White People' he is able to reach a much wider audience than we can. They will [be] predisposed to the idea and the next time Obama pushes an anti-white policy they will see it as such."

Stormfront member PowerCommander agreed. Beck, he wrote:

"seems to have ignited a flame under the asses of some folks with similar ideas by pushing the right buttons. It appears as if the current regime [is] directly blaming GB and fox news for throwing a wrench in their machine. Is Beck's rambling getting America fired up and ready to fight? Has Beck told enough of the truth to start something bigger? Even an engine needs a starter to get fired off and go down the road."

Thor357, a Stormfront sustaining member who has posted on the site more than 3,500 times, had this to say:

"Glenn Beck and Alex Jones [a controversial conservative media figure who believes 9/11 was an inside job] are the front line in the war of Ideals we grapple with, they are far from perfect and are somewhat compromised. But every person in the last 2 years that I have introduced to the WN [White Nationalist] Philosophy have come largely from Alex Jones, Glen Beck and the Scriptures for America founder Pastor Pete Peters ... Baby steps are required for people like these, but the trio Beck, Jones, Peters are the baby food that feeds potential Nationalists… Glenn Beck is not far behind as his Mormon background indicates to me as most Mormons I have met are not friends of Jews like the Church was years ago. Most Mormons I know are arming themselves, with guns, bullets and food."

Later in the same discussion thread, Thor357 added:

"I have talked to 6 people in two days because Glenn Beck woke them up, it's amazing how angry they are. They are pissing fire over Obama, this is a good thing. Now I educate them. If out of 100 of the Glen Beckers I keep 20 then I have won 20 more to cover my back side. I never lost the 80 as they never were."

Carolina Patriot, whose member picture features a kitten aiming an assassin's rifle, was conflicted but admiring:

"Every now and again when an infomercial takes the place of hunting or fishing, I'll turn over to Glenn Beck if he's on and watch his show. Sometimes it is amusing, sometimes it is informed, and sometimes, I think he comes to SF [Stormfront] to steal show idea's"

UstashaNY offered up an analogy to substance abuse, with Beck as the soft-stuff hook:

"Beck, Dobbs etc. are like gateway drugs. If it wakes up one person to learn something about whats really going on and that person does the research, looks deeper and deeper into WHO and WHAT is behind all of this, then its a win for the movement. NOBODY in the msm is reporting the stuff Beck does, let him keep talking. It will wake people up, believe me… He is more of a help to us then you may think. Until we have a REAL voice in the msm, guys like him and Dobbs are a stepping stone right into our laps. Its only a matter of time..."

Even those who don't think Beck understands what he’s doing appreciate his instincts. According to WhiteManMarchesOn88:

"There is no doubt that Beck is not a WN [white nationalist], but I have to agree that he does raise a lot of really good questions that do promote White survival. I'm sure he would go a lot farther with a lot of his questions, but ZOG [Zionist Occupied Government] would more than likely kick him off television if he did."

ZOG or no ZOG, Beck is clearly doing something right from the point of view of the average white nationalist.

"By no means do I think [Beck] is aware of the racial issue, and for the moment that is ok," wrote Stormfront member QHelios. "He is stirring the pot, and I thank him for that."

Friday, November 6, 2009

Cancer: Cured! McCarthy: Crucified! Jews: Demonic! Studies in Crap digs up Wichita's The Defender

By Alan Scherstuhl in Studies in Crap
Nov. 5 2009

The Defender Magazine

Representative Quotes:

"History will give [Senator McCarthy] a rightful place above all inferiors." (February, page 2).

"[The American Medical Association] hopes to have a blitzkrieg going -- the objective being to exterminate all of the minority healing professions by 1958." (September, page 2)

Liberty weeps. In 1955, when the United States senate dared to censure its anti-communist inquisitionist Joe McCarthy, few Americans heard the spirited nonsense roared by Wichita evangelist Gerald B. Winrod in The Defender, his monthly journal of sermons and horseshit. Only Winrod dared call the censure "crucifixion."

In The Defender, " ... Talk of serpents summoned by Jewish magicians in ancient Babylon leads right to Jewish 'tentacles' shaping American life: They control radio, TV, an 'invisible government,' and an ADL as powerful as the FBI. Groff detests the Talmud, that expansive archive of rabbinic thinking, almost as much as he adores repetitive synonyms. 'The contents of the Talmud explains why the Jews are strange, different, and odd' ... "

That means that some of Winrod's predictions turned out to be wrong, such as when he claims that McCarthy's speech in response to the censure "will be studied as a political and literary masterpiece in high school and college textbooks of the future," which just goes to show you that even time itself has a liberal bias. Hazarding why even Eisenhower turned red, Winrod speculates on powers greater even than presidents:

"It is now known that during all the months that the White House was maneuvering things against Senator McCarthy, the Time and Life publishing outfits had one of their key men stationed at the President's elbow."


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

David Horowitz Hosts Dutch "Scholar" who Faces Prosecution for Inciting Race Hatred

Controversial Dutch Pol Renders His Message
By Bryan Schwartzman
October 29, 2009 Bryan Schwartzman

Geert Wilders

A controversial Dutch lawmaker and fierce critic of Islam received an overwhelming positive response from a largely Jewish audience in Center City, just days after several dozen students protested outside Temple University, the parliamentarian's first local stop. Both events took place under tight security.

Geert Wilders, the leader of the Netherlands Freedom Party, has angered Muslims by claiming that terrorism and violence are central components of Islam, as opposed to products of an extremist, fringe subset.

Wilders is facing charges of incitement to hatred in his native country for producing a short film called "Fitna." The documentary has been widely viewed on the Internet, and essentially argues that the West is under siege from radical Islam.

Wilders, who has called for limiting Muslim immigration to Europe, has portrayed himself as an advocate of free speech. He's even become a darling in certain conservative circles.

"I have nothing against Muslims. I do have a problem with Islam," said Wilders to a burst of applause during an Oct. 22 speech held at the Union League of Philadelphia. "The Koran is an evil book; it calls for murder, terror and war."

Attended by about 200 people, the speech served as the inaugural event for the David Horowitz Freedom Center--Philadelphia. Formed less than a year ago, the local center is meant to serve as the East Coast headquarters of the Los Angeles-based organization run by Horowitz, a one-time liberal turned conservative firebrand. Horowitz is the editor of the right-leaning Web site

According to its mission statement, the Philadelphia center will focus on campus activity and academic freedom by helping ensure that critics of Islam -- as well as pro-Israel speakers -- are allowed to offer their viewpoints without being quashed.

Wilders' Temple speech drew a number of protesters, including Jewish students, and created a controversy on campus as to whether or not he should have been permitted to speak at all.

Some of the proceeds from the Union League event will go toward Wilders' legal defense back home, said Horowitz.

The issue of how to relate to Muslims in America -- and Islam, in general -- has proved a divisive one for the Jewish community. Those on the left have, for the most part, advocated dialogue and engagement, while the right has espoused a more confrontational line. The same can be said for Israeli relationships with Arabs in the Mideast.

Theory Works Both Ways

Rabbi Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer, who directs the Department of Multifaith Studies and Initiatives at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote, did not attend the speech.

But she said later in an interview that it can be highly misleading to highlight individual quotes from the Koran -- as Wilders' does -- and call it representative of Islam in totality.

Using that same theory, back in the Middle Ages, Christian leaders would pore through the Talmud to pick out passages to be used against Jews.

Said Fuchs-Kreimer: "Judaism is a very diverse, evolving religious civilization. The same is true of Islam."

The Myth of Fox News' Ratings Spike

By Eric Boehlert
Huffington Post
November 3, 2009

Fact: The breathless claim that Fox News' ratings recently spiked thanks to the White House's public critique is bogus hype -- hype that Fox News and the Beltway press have relentlessly pushed.

It's just not true.

No matter how many times reporters and pundits made the claim, a detailed analysis of Nielsen ratings numbers clearly indicates that in the two weeks after the White House in mid-October sparked a media controversy by claiming Rupert Murdoch's channel was not a legitimate news organization, Fox News' ratings did not soar or go "through the roof." In fact, not only did Fox News' overall ratings not soar, they experienced no significant increase at all. Instead, in the two weeks following the initial verbal jousts with the White House, Fox News' total day ratings virtually flatlined.

Another example of the Beltway press not letting the facts get in the way of a good story? It sure looks that way. In this case, we saw nearly universal agreement among media elites that the White House decision to publicly call out Fox News was monumentally dumb, thin-skinned, short-sighted, and uncivil. (Paging the etiquette police!)

Everyone said so. Therefore pundits were certain that Fox News' ratings were way up and that Obama and his aides had made a huge tactical blunder. The ratings angle simply provided statistical ammunition for what the Beltway press corps already knew to be the truth: Fact-checking Fox News, in the immortal words of The Washington Post's CW-loving Sally Quinn, was "absolutely crazy."

Except it turns out none of that was true. There was no viewer stampede toward Fox News.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Should Modern Warfare 2 Allow Us to Play at Terrorism?

Leaked footage of a controversial airport level in Modern Warfare 2 has caused a wave of controversy online...

Modern Warfare 2: could you shoot this man? You may be about to find out...

Guardian | October 29, 2009

The video is a few minutes long, but it might just be the most important game footage to be seen this year. It's a bootleg of a single mission from Modern Warfare 2, the much-anticipated first-person shooter, certain to be the winter's biggest selling game. It shows the player joining Russian terrorists on a bloody rampage through an airport building; civilians are gunned down as armed men run through the departures lounge, and it's evident that the player is firing too. In one alarming moment someone is shown dragging an injured person across the concourse – the player shoots them both dead.

Released onto the internet earlier this week, the blurry footage has already provoked a media backlash, a Mirror headline proclaiming, "leaked level makes light of terrorist atrocities." Many see in it harrowing evocations of last year's Mumbai terror attacks in which over 170 people were killed. For a while, it wasn't clear whether the sequence was genuine, but yesterday, Activision released a statement confirming its authenticity:

"The leaked footage was taken from a copy of game that was obtained illegally and is not representative of the overall gameplay experience in Modern Warfare 2. Infinity Ward's Modern Warfare 2 features a deep and gripping storyline in which players face off against a terrorist threat dedicated to bringing the world to the brink of collapse. The game includes a plot involving a mission carried out by a Russian villain who wants to trigger a global war. In order to defeat him, the player infiltrates his inner circle. The scene is designed to evoke the atrocities of terrorism.

"At the beginning of the game, players encounter a mandatory 'checkpoint' in which they are warned that an upcoming segment may contain disturbing elements, and they can choose not to engage in the gameplay that involves this scene."

So what should we make of all this?

Clearly, once again, we will be confronted with difficult questions about the role and duty of videogames as an entertainment form. To some commentators, videogames by their very nature, 'make light' of anything they portray. This is partially about semantics; the interpretation of the word 'game' as something fundamentally frivolous. Partly, too, it is about the legacy of videogames as a pastime for children, for teenagers – not for adults.

And then interactivity itself brings in complex moral questions. If a movie were to depict a terrorist outrage, the viewer takes no active part. But in a videogame, you're engaged and complicit. The participation is the entertainment, and that's always going to be problematic. Activision's argument about seeking to portray the depths of the terrorist cell's immorality in order to stir the player's emotions is sound to a point – it's an established narrative device. But as Tom Hoggins asks in his Telegraph feature, is it really necessary for the player to throw grenades? And wouldn't similar revulsion be elicited if the player were placed into the shoes of one of the victims? This would, after all, reflect the wonderful opening sequence to the original Modern Warfare, in which the player takes on the perspective of a prisoner who is bundled into a car and later executed.

This is also not the first time that the Call of Duty series has forced the player into a morally troublesome sequence. There is at least one moment in Call of Duty: World at War (admittedly created by a different development studio, but still part of the CoD lineage), in which the player has no choice but to shoot a group of unarmed enemy soldiers in order to complete a mission objective. Is there an agenda here to push the boundaries of acceptability in shoot-'em-ups? It's a brave move if there is.

On top of it all, context itself is a problematic notion. In this case it appears both vital and valid. What we're robbed of when viewing this illicit footage is what happens before and afterwards, the exact nature of the scene, and the authenticity of the player's involvement. It's certainly far too early for tabloids to be bandying accusations about – but then, when did that ever stop them?

The problem is, context can easily become an excuse to portray wanton violence. In the PlayStation title Driver, for example, the gamer is ostensibly controlling an undercover policeman posing as a criminal, but this backstory is immaterial to the game action, which involves stealing cars, smashing other vehicles out of the way – and having lots of fun in the process. That's a very different game, and a very different circumstance, but it's an example of how the framework can be bent to suit the core game dynamic.

I'm also not sure about Activision's plaintive claim that the scene can be skipped. It's something of a cop-out, a side-step, rather than a pertinent justification. The point is, it's there – the developers put it there. It is an intended element of the whole experience.

Responsibility is the underlying theme in all this. I think this is the deciding factor. Infinity Ward is an excellent developer, it uses narrative in a mature and sophisticated way. Witness the nuclear explosion sequence and the apparent death of Captain Price in Modern Warfare; these are moments of sheer emotional resonance, which would have been fumbled by most studios – indeed they wouldn't even have been attempted by most studios. Both moments work perfectly within the game's depiction of a desperate global battle. I'm certain that will be the case here. This development team has no need for cheap controversy, it doesn't have to appeal to the basest instincts of nihilistic teen gamers looking for a few cheap sick thrills.

That is why this blurry, inconclusive footage is so important. The scene portrayed may well represent a statement of intent: this is what games are capable of now – unsettling us with powerful imagery, backing us into difficult situations, toying with our moral certainties. It is an 18 certificate game. We must be trusted to test ourselves against this.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Climate Cover-Up: A (Brief) Review

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, 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.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Pew Confirms: We're Turning Into Media Tribes

Posted by Charles Cooper
Coop's Corner
October 29, 2009

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
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).

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

By Robert Paul Reyes
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.

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.

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

Part 2

Saturday, October 24, 2009


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.

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 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."

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'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.

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.


Administration Fights to Protect Secret Propaganda Budget


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.

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 He writes an op-ed column that appears on Friday.

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


* "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


* 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.

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 Comments to