Say it Ain’t So, Osama May 18, 2011Posted by rogerhollander in Media, War on Terror.
Tags: american news, islamic fundamentalists, jorhnalism, mainstream media, Media, Middle East, navy seals, nick turse, Osama bin laden, osama porno, osama pornography, roger hollander, tom engelhardt
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His take-down was the story that grabbed almost 69% of the American “news hole” the week it happened, and from a media point of view it turns out to be the gift that never stops giving. Small wonder, since it’s got just about everything: multiple wives, lost high-tech stealth helicopters, brave cyborg canines, killer tractors, championship-style celebrations, tiny helmet cams, private diaries, evil plans for future destruction, recalcitrant Pakistanis, shots of the world’s arch-villain changing channels whenever his arch-enemy, the president of the United States, comes on-screen, and now — the ultimate fundamentalist hypocrisy — “a stash of porn.” If that isn’t God’s gift to web traffic, what is?
As Reuters first reported and no one on this planet can now not know, in the treasure trove of computer hard drives and thumb drives collected by the Navy SEAL team that hit bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound, CIA analysts claim to have found a cache of now-classified pornographic videos. News of this was leaked to the press in hopes of “tarnishing” the reputation of the man who, in 2002, denounced American culture for its “exploitation of women’s bodies in dress, advertising, and popular culture.”
Of course, with so much crucial news pouring out and news staffs shrinking across the media landscape, choices need to be made. Under the circumstances, there are always a few stories that have to give way before what’s truly crucial, and so go unreported. In recent years — explain it as you will — the Pentagon’s ongoing weapons trade with Middle Eastern despots has largely fallen into this category. Someday, perhaps, this trade, which can take place with the most fervent of Islamic fundamentalists, might be reclassified as pornographic and so get the attention it deserves. In the meantime, thanks to the reporting of Nick Turse, TomDispatch will continue to spend time in the unexplored interstices between what fascinates the media.
Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project, runs the Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com. He is the author of The End of Victory Culture: a History of the Cold War and Beyond, as well as of a novel, The Last Days of Publishing. His most recent book is The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s (Haymarket Books).
To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com here.
Philly Inquirer quietly hires John Yoo as columnist May 12, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Criminal Justice, Media, Torture.
Tags: alex koppleman, john yoo, journalism, mainstream media, Media, newspaper columnist, philadelphia inquirer, rick santorum, roger hollander, torture, torture memos
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www.salon.com, May 12, 2009
Very few people are going to defend the Philadelphia Inquirer’s choice of columnists these days, so let’s get one possible defense out there, for their sake: Hey, if you hired former Bush administration official John Yoo, the man responsible for the initial torture memos, to write a monthly column, you’d probably try to keep it a secret too.
According to Will Bunch, who writes for the Philadelphia Daily News, the Inquirer’s sister paper, the Inquirer hired Yoo to pen a monthly column in late 2008, but even employees of both publications were unaware of the deal. And until this past Sunday, Yoo wasn’t identified as an Inquirer columnist in the bio that accompanied his pieces.
Yoo’s not the only controversial conservative writing for the Inky; former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., is paid $1,750 for each of his biweekly columns. Santorum has his own issues, of course, but say this for him — at least he’s never suggested that the president might legally have the power to order that the child of a terror suspect have their testicles crushed in order to get information from that suspect.
Tags: bill frist, colombia hospital, congress, congressional testimony, donna smith, expert witnesses, for-profit health insurance, hca, health, health care, health care reform, health insurance, health plan, health reform, healthcare, healthcare reform, hospital corporation, insurance industry, mainstream media, medicare fraud, national health plan, pharmaceutical industry, private insurance, richard scott, roger hollander, single payer
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Published on Sunday, May 3, 2009 by CommonDreams.org
Many know by now that a single payer healthcare system is the type of reform most widely supported by the American people and a majority of nurses, doctors and healthcare professionals. Many also know that Congress has so far deftly and purposely shunned most expert witnesses who would offer evidence in favor of that publicly funded, privately delivered system. The media has also done its part to keep the message targeted away from single payer as recent independent studies showed how the mainstream media did its level best to keep big insurance and pharmaceutical advertisers happy by not reporting fairly on the topic.
Congress isn’t alone in its shading the discussion nor is the media. Both followed President Obama’s lead as he locked out the single payer voice from the first White House forum on health reform until the phone lines jammed with reports of planned protests by nurses in scrubs and white-coated docs marching outside the gates of the executive mansion while the industry “stakeholders” and the elected officials they support so mightily met inside at the invitation of Mr. Obama.
We might expect the fawning and fainting with glee over the cooperation between the usual suspects in this health reform period. With the most power-challenging and boat-rocking alternative kept out of the picture for now, those who profit most under a for-profit insurance based reform would be expected to act as if they have previously been enemies but are now ever so generously working together.
This is political theater staged by those with lots and lots of money in the game, and it is a fight for human rights being waged outside that political theater by those of us with lots and lots of real skin in the game. Millions of Americans have lost loved ones and homes and careers and good health and credit ratings to this travesty of a system, and none of the plans currently being “vetted” by this Congress or this President do much to mitigate that at all. It is a classic struggle of epic proportions.
But some of what is being offered and accepted as expert Congressional testimony is shocking even within this skewed and staged arena. There are some real rotten apples now in this Congressional record. And those rotten apples will spoil the whole process unless we all demand better. This fight for healthcare justice demands that we call for our best experts, our finest minds and not simply the most well-connected ones.
One example of the terribly biased testimonies being taken is that of the testimony submitted by Richard Scott to the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, subcommittee on health, on March 24, 2009. Mr. Scott reports that he was asked to submit his testimony to the committee. On his website, Conservatives for Patient Rights, Scott touts his own experience in the delivery of healthcare in this nation as reason enough to consider him an expert. And Scott is also launching some very inaccurate advertising on behalf of his “organization” in the effort to keep himself and his closet allies in the insurance and private provider industry in a very preferred position in the U.S. healthcare system.
Here’s a bit of this Congressional expert witness’s biography: Scott founded the Columbia Hospital Corporation in 1987, but dumped by the company’s board of directors in 1997 in the midst of the nation’s biggest healthcare (Medicare and Medicaid) fraud scandal. In 2001, Scott co-founded the Solantic Corporation, which operates walk-in medical care centers.
We need to know more about who is influencing Congress and the media now in the discussion. So, here’s more about witness Scott: In July 1997, when Scott was then the chairman and CEO of Columbia/Hospital Corporation of America and was forced out by the company’s board of directors, he left with a $10 million severance deal and 10 million shares of stock. At that time, the shares were worth more than $300 million. Scott was replaced by Dr. Thomas Frist, Jr., the co-founder of HCA and the brother of Senator Bill Frist, then Majority Leader in the U.S. Senate.
It’s all just a little incestuous, don’t you think?
But wait, our 2009 expert witness on healthcare reform in the U.S. left a little more than history behind at his company that speaks to how he views what is most important to him: making a buck in this system.
In 2001, HCA reached a plea agreement to pay $95 million in fines to the federal government to avoid criminal charges against the company. In late 2002, HCA agreed to pay the government $631 million, plus interest, and paid another $17.5 million to state Medicaid agencies, in addition to $250 million paid up to that point to resolve outstanding Medicare expense claims. In all, civil law suits cost HCA more than $1.7 billion to settle, including more than $500 million paid in 2003 to two whistleblowers.
$1.7 billion with a great big “B” was paid by HCA to resolve the Medicare and Medicaid fraud mess orchestrated under Mr. Scott’s watch who walked away with his own sweet deal. The largest Medicare and Medicaid fraud case in U.S. history, an investigation of over 10 years and he walks away with hundreds of millions of dollars only to return as one of our current expert witnesses on health reform? Whew. That’s an epic award and an epic injustice.
I worked for a Columbia-owned hospital in 1990. I was the billing manager. I was asked to do some very creative bookkeeping and went to the Medicare law and read that I would be risking prosecution if “I knew or should have known” what I was doing was illegal under federal law. As I read the law, it broadly imposed appropriate sanctions upon those who might consider bilking the taxpayer-funded system. My bosses told me if I wouldn’t do the transactions, they would hire someone who would.
As a consequence of what I read about the law, I packed up my belongings, walked to my car and drove away from that hospital rather than break the law. My husband was three weeks away from having his first open-heart surgery, and it was two weeks before Christmas. We had no other source of income.
What I had been asked to do in order to keep my job – my $35,000 a year job – was not right and I knew it even as a relatively “green” billing manager. How in the world am I to believe that Richard Scott knew less than I did about what was right and what was wrong under the Medicare program? And why was my life’s course forever altered in ways so very much different? He walked away with hundreds of millions. I certainly was not rewarded in any way for my honesty. I reported what I saw by way of letters to the government, but never heard anything back from my letters, save one response from a Senator who said they’d look into it.
And the fraud cases that were settled didn’t even touch on all the ways companies headed up by some of 2009′s “expert witnesses” like Richard Scott came up with to skirt the rules and bump up the bottom line. What I saw related to how Medicare bad debt is reimbursed – and it’s still an area where rules are broken today. Scott never went to jail. He took his hundreds of millions and now returns to say what’s needed in healthcare reform.
It’s all about the money folks. It’s all about the money.
We must demand that our Congress and our president hear from experts that are not of this ilk. We are better people than this. And our healthcare system must reflect our values of justice, decency and compassion. Dr. David Himmelstein of Physicians for a National Health Program testified finally a couple of weeks ago – but so far he has been the only expert from outside the corporate fold allowed to utter a word on the Congressional record on behalf of single payer. The Senate has invited no witness who strays from the canned agenda that will force us all to buy the defective product that is for-profit health insurance.
Mr. Scott didn’t care one bit about ripping off you and ripping off me and ripping off any other patient or taxpayer in this nation. He should not be an expert now advising Congress or anyone else on healthcare reform. His commercials and his organization’s communications should have to carry a disclaimer fully disclosing his involvement in the Columbia/HCA fraud case.
In fact, every witness ought to have to disclose their current source of any income as well as their conflicts of interest. Otherwise, we’ll end up with a system crafted in large part by those whose interests are not shared by hard-working Americans who don’t get rewarded if they break the law. How could Congress – our lawmakers – do less than demand full disclosure?
And, I would sure like to hear from a few witnesses whose salaries are not paid by the largest corporate interests in healthcare insurance, big Pharma or for-profit provider corporations. Congress needs to reverse this right now and invite real expert testimony from the broadest spectrum of law-abiding true stakeholders – not liars and cheats and gamers who would pretend they have conservative values at their core and as their reasons for opposing a single payer system.
Look at all the truths. Look at the evidence not the scare tactics. Listen to economic and social policy experts and clinical professionals and patients. But for God’s sake, stop taking testimony from solely the big-money interests – else you’ll get just the long-term results people like Scott would embrace.
Media Behavior and the Torture ‘Debate’ April 24, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Criminal Justice, Media, Torture.
Tags: 9/11, abc news, Abu Ghraib, adam serwer, anthony taguba, bagram, Barack Obama, barry mccafrey, barton gellman, beltway, charles kaiser, chris matthews, cliff may, dana priest, david gregory, david ignatius, democratic party, doj, eric holder, firedoglake, geneva conventions, glenn greenwald, greg sargent, Guantanamo, International law, jane mayer, journalism, justice department, Karl Rove, mainstream media, marcy wheeler, Media, media superstars, new york times, office of legal counsel, olc, peggy nonan, political journalism, republicans, robert baer, roger cohen, roger hollander, rule of law, sheperd smith, special prosecutor, ta-nehisi coates, torture, torture memos, torture prosecutions, torture techniques, wall street journal, War Crimes, washington post, waterboarding, wsj
We could use more like I.F. (Izzy) Stone now; thank the goddess for Glenn Greenwald et. al.
Published on Friday, April 24, 2009 by Salon.com
Three Key Rules of Media Behavior Shape Their Discussions
of “the ‘Torture’ Debate”
It is now clear that the Obama White House didn’t think before it tried to appease the hard left of the Democratic Party.
When Rove speaks, the political class pays attention — usually with good reason.
There does seem to be a little bit of a reaction to how this was received on the left. . . frankly this feels like a political food fight now. . .. The hard left, the hard right, fighting over this in the blogosphere.
This whole torture debate is likely to tell us a lot about the kind of president Barack Obama intends to be. Will he buckle to the left, the netroots, and pursue an investigation into torture having said he didn’t want to? Or will he go post-partisan and leave the past to the historians?
What [Obama officials] got on their hands is a highly politicized and very partisan issue about the treatment of 9/11 prisoners. . . . At a time when the administration and the President will already be under scrutiny for being tough enough, is this a fight they really want to have? I would also point you to, if you haven’t see this already, the Wall St. Journal Editorial Page today, which I think raises some really tough points about not only what signal you’re sending to the rest of the world, but also to potential Terrorists out there, about just what it is that U.S. interrogators would do and not do, but also the point that’s raised there is: did the Bush administration go out of its way to make sure they were adhering to the law and not crossing over that bridge when it came to getting into torture?
(By the way: can someone tell me what a “9/11 prisoner” is?; and is there anything less surprising than the fact that Gregory looks to The Wall St. Journal Editorial Page for guidance on such questions?)
* * * * *
For years, media stars ignored the fact that our Government was chronically breaking the law and systematically torturing detainees (look at this extremely detailed exposé by The Washington Post‘s Dana Priest and Barton Gellman from December, 2002 to get a sense for how much we’ve known about all of this and for how long we’ve known it). Now that the sheer criminality of this conduct, really for the first time, has exploded into mainstream political debates as a result of the OLC memos, media stars are forced to address it. Exactly as one would expect, they are closing ranks, demanding (as always) that their big powerful political-official-friends and their elite institutions not be subject to the dirty instruments that are meant only for the masses — things like the rule of law, investigations, prosecutions, and accountability when they abuse their power.
The rules for how media stars behave are vividly evident as they finally take part in what they are calling The ‘Torture’ Debate. Here are three key rules for Beltway media behavior that, as always, are shaping what they say and do:
(1) Any policy that Beltway elites dislike is demonized as coming from “the Left” or — in this case (following Karl Rove) – the “hard Left.” Media stars recite that claim regardless of how widely accepted the belief is in American public opinion and regardless of whether there is anything “leftist” about the view in question. For years, withdrawing from Iraq was demonized as the view of the “left” even though large majorities of Americans favored it.
Identically, roughly 40% of Americans favor criminal prosecutions for Bush officials — even before release of the OLC memos — and large majorities favor investigations generally. The premise of those who advocate prosecutions is the definitively non-ideological view that political elites should be treated exactly like ordinary Americans when they break the law and commit serious crimes. Individuals such as Gen. Antonio Taguba, Gen. Barry McCaffrey and former CIA officer Robert Baer advocate investigations and/or prosecutions of Bush officials. But no matter: the Beltway opposes the idea, and it is therefore dismissed by media stars as coming from the “Hard Left.”
(2) Nobody is more opposed to transparency and disclosure of government secrets than establishment “journalists.” Richard Cohen wrote of the Lewis Libby prosecution: “it is often best to keep the lights off.” ABC News’ Peggy Noonan said this week of torture investigations: ”Some things in life need to be mysterious. Sometimes you need to just keep walking.” The Washington Post‘s David Ignatius, condemning Obama for releasing the OLC memos, warned: ”the country is fighting a war, and it needs to take care that the sunlight of exposure doesn’t blind its shadow warriors.” And the favorite mantra of media stars and Beltway mavens everywhere — Look Forward, Not Backwards — is nothing but a plea that extreme government crimes remain concealed and unexamined.
This remains the single most notable and revealing fact of American political life: that (with some very important exceptions) those most devoted to maintaining and advocating government secrecy is our journalist class, of all people. It would be as if the leading proponents of cigarette smoking were physicians, or those most vocally touting the virtues of illiteracy were school teachers. Nothing proves the true function of these media stars as government spokespeople more than their eagerness to shield government actions from examination and demand that government criminality not be punished.
(3) The single most sacred Beltway belief is that elites are exempt from the rule of law. Amidst all the talk about how prosecutions would destroy post-partisan harmony and whether torture “works,” it is virtually impossible to find any media star discussions about the fact that torture is illegal and that those who order, authorize or engage in torture are committing felonies. That is because — other than for fun sex scandals and other Blagojevich-like sensationalistic acts — the overriding belief of the political class is that elites (such as themselves) have the right to break the law and not be held accountable.
Amazingly, when it comes to crimes by ordinary Americans, being ”tough on crime” is a virtually nonnegotiable prerequisite to being Serious, but when it comes to political officials who commit crimes in the exercise of their power, absolute leniency is the mandated belief upon pain of being dismissed as “shrill” and extremist. Can anyone find an establishment media pundit anywhere — just one — who is advocating that Bush officials who broke the law be held accountable under our laws? That view seems actively excluded from establishment media discussions.
The OLC memos that were released last week reflect a deeply corrupted, criminal and morally depraved political class (see this video clip for a strangely affecting demonstration of that fact – linked fixed), but our media stars are a vital reason why that has happened. It cannot be overstated the extent to which they are nothing but appendages of, servants to, political power (as one Twitter commentator said today about this painfully vapid video from the painfully vapid David Gregory: when media stars say “my reporting,” what they usually mean is: “this is what I was told to repeat”). These three media rules repeatedly shape how they talk about government actions, and these rules are particularly pronounced as the establishment media now is finally forced to discuss what to do about the fact that our highest political leaders repeatedly broke our most serious laws.
* * * * *
As a testament to the positive effect media criticisms can have, Columbia Journalism Review‘s Charles Kaiser has been tenaciously criticizing The New York Times for failing to challenge — and instead mindlessly adopting — the claim of Bush officials that torture ”worked” by producing valuable intelligence. Yesterday, a NYT Editor told Kaiser that he agreed that more attention needed to be paid to this issue, and today, the NYT published a very potent Op-Ed from an FBI interrogator at Guantanamo who aggressively disputes the claim that torture “worked.”
Also: I’ll be on Warren Onley’s To the Point program today at 2:10 p.m. EST (along with The New Yorker‘s Jane Mayer and National Review‘s Cliff May) to debate the question of investigations and prosecutions. Local listings and live audio feed can be found here (the segment will be posted to their website later today).
* * * * *
UPDATE: As the recent debate-changing discovery of Marcy Wheeler demonstrated, one extremely important way to improve media coverage of these issues is to have independent journalists able to work on them. Marcy has long been one of the hardest-working and most important writers on these matters, yet has been doing it all for free, as a side hobby before and after her full-time job. FireDogLake is now attempting to raise funds to hire Marcy to enable her to work on her investigative journalism full-time. For those able to do so, contributing to that fund is something I’d highly recommend. That can be done here.
UPDATE II: The link to the video I referenced above was wrong; the correct link is here. In addition to Generals Taguba and McCaffrey, the Hard Left has another new member: Sheperd Smith (here and here). And Greg Sargent makes a key point: whether torture “worked” is, among other things, entirely irrelevant. As I pointed out more times than I can count during discussions of the warrantless eavesdropping debates, we don’t have a country where political leaders are free to commit crimes and then, afterwards, claim that their doing so produced good outcomes.
UPDATE III: The Atlantic‘s Ta-Nehisi Coates posts video of the Peggy Noonan comments and writes:
The job of journalists is to challenge the government and to challenge their readers and viewers. What sort of journalist tells his readers that some things must be mysterious? What sort of writer tells her readers, and viewers, essentially, to not ask too many questions? We have a fine era, when otherwise respected, intelligent, and well-read people step on a national stage and endorse national ignorance.
There’s nothing unusual about Noonan’s mentality; it’s the dominant mindset of our political and media class. The American Prospect‘s Adam Serwer notes a column from The New York Times‘ Roger Cohen today arguing against prosecutions (of course) and observes:
Cohen’s argument simply reflects the consensus among certain journalistic and political elites that the powerful simply shouldn’t be held accountable when they make mistakes, because, after all, we all make mistakes. This compassionate attitude naturally doesn’t extend beyond this small group. America has the highest incarceration rate in the world, fully 1 percent of the population. I’m sure there are millions of people currently incarcerated who would like it if Cohen’s policy of absolution for crimes was extended to them.
That elite-protecting consensus is the central affliction of America’s political culture. It explains not only how we continuously shield our elites from the consequences of their crimes, but also explains the reason such crimes keep happening. If you constantly announce to a small group of people that they will be able to break the law with impunity, you are rendering inevitable future rampant criminality. That’s just obvious.
Pacifica Radio at 60: A Sanctuary of Dissent April 15, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Media.
Tags: alternative media, amy goodman, denis moynihan, fm radio, freedom of the press, james baldwin, KKK, klan, kpfa, kpfk, kpft, lew hill, listener supported, mainstream media, malcolm x, Media, nonprofit journalism, pacifica radio, paul robeson, radio journalism, roger hollander, wbai, wpfw
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Published on Wednesday, April 15, 2009 by TruthDig.com
The Pacifica network grew to five stations: KPFA in Berkeley, KPFK in Los Angeles, WBAI in New York, WPFW in Washington and KPFT in Houston.
In 1970, in its first months of operation, KPFT became the only radio station in the United States whose transmitter was blown up. The Ku Klux Klan did it. The KKK’s grand wizard described the bombing as his proudest act. I think it was because he understood how dangerous Pacifica was, as it allowed people to speak for themselves. When you hear someone speaking from his or her own experience-a Palestinian child, an Israeli mother, a grandfather from Afghanistan-it breaks down stereotypes that fuel the hate groups that divide society. The media can build bridges between communities, rather than advocating the bombing of bridges.
Pacifica is a sanctuary for dissent. In the 1950s, when the legendary singer and African-American leader Paul Robeson was “whitelisted” during Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s witch hunts, banned from almost every public space in the United States but for a few black churches, he knew he could go to KPFA and be heard. The great writer James Baldwin, debating Malcolm X about the effectiveness of nonviolent sit-ins in the South, broadcast over the airwaves of WBAI. I got my start in broadcast journalism in the newsroom of WBAI. Today, the Pacifica tradition is needed more than ever.
In this high-tech digital age, with high-definition television and digital radio, all we get is more static: that veil of distortions, lies, misrepresentations and half-truths that obscures reality. What we need the media to give us is the dictionary definition of static: criticism, opposition, unwanted interference. We need a media that covers power, not covers for power. We need a media that is the fourth estate, not for the state. We need a media that covers the movements that create static and make history.
With more channels than ever, the lack of any diversity of opinion is breathtaking. Freedom of the press is enshrined in the Constitution, yet our media largely act as a megaphone for those in power. As we confront unprecedented crises-from global warming to global warring to a global economic meltdown-there is also an unprecedented opportunity for change.
Where will innovative thinkers, grass-roots activists, human-rights leaders and ordinary citizens come together to hash out solutions to today’s most pressing problems?
For example, while there are many people in this country-in the peace movement as well as in the military-who oppose the “surge” in Afghanistan, as they did in Iraq, we see and hear virtually none of these dissenting voices in the U.S. media. While some polls indicate that a majority of Americans support single-payer health care, these voices are essentially ignored or disparaged in the newspapers and network-news programs.
While traveling the country, I was asked the other day what I thought about the mainstream media. I said I thought it would be a good idea. On this 60th anniversary of the Pacifica Radio Network, we should celebrate the tradition of dissent and the power of diverse voices to resolve conflict peacefully.
Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.
Up Is Down: The Military Budget April 8, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Media, War.
Tags: david swanson, f-22, fox news, general dynamics, hullabaloo, journalism, lockheed martin, mainstream media, Media, military budget, military contractors, news reporting, northrop brumman, pentagon budget, pentagon spending, rachel maddow, Robert Gates, roger hollander
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www.opednews.com, April 8, 2009
The largest military budget in the history of the world is being increased. Certain weapons are being cut back, others expanded. But the overall budget is going UP. However, you don’t need me to tell you that. You’ve learned it from these fine news sources:
“With Defense Secretary Robert Gates proposing broad cuts in Pentagon spending, a new war over the president’s budget has begun. While critics already are warning that the plan could compromise U.S. security, the greater resistance appears to be coming from lawmakers worried that the cuts threaten thousands of jobs in their states.”
There really are cuts and critics and chicken littles, but nowhere does Fox tell you that the overall budget is INCREASING. Then again, if Fox didn’t lie, how would we know what was true?
“Defense Secretary Robert Gates today proposed a massive overhaul of Pentagon spending. Since the year 2000 the already huge defense budget has risen 72 percent. Gates’ new budget would pry the Pentagon away from its preparations for big conventional you-line-up-here we’ll-line-up-here wars … Anticipating criticism that he is making too big a change away from things that the Pentagon has traditionally LOVED spending money on, Mr. Gates said this: ‘Every defense dollar spent to to overinsure against a remote or diminishing risk … is a dollar not available to take care of our people.’ … And that was the head of the Pentagon acknowledging that there isn’t infinite money available for his department, that there have to be tradeoffs. And that thump-thump-thump sound that you heard in the distance as he was talking was the sound of executives at all the big defense contractors passing out.”
Love ya three-quarters of the time, Rachel, but you really should have waved blue pom-poms for this one. As noted below, many “defense” contractors are cheering for Gates’ budget.
“WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced a major reshaping of the Pentagon budget on Monday, with deep cuts in many traditional weapons systems but new billions of dollars for others, along with more troops and new technology to fight the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan. … Representative Tom Price, a Georgia Republican, reacted strongly against Mr. Gates’s proposal to end spending for the F-22, which employs 25,000 workers in Georgia and across the country. ‘It’s outrageous that President Obama is willing to bury the country under a mountain of debt with his reckless domestic agenda but refuses to fund programs critical to our national defense,’ Mr. Price said in a statement. In addition, a bipartisan group of six senators urged Mr. Gates not to make large cuts in missile defense programs. In a letter to Mr. Obama, they said the reductions ‘could undermine our emerging missile defense capabilities to protect the United States against a growing threat.’”
If the New York Times didn’t use “objective” (quote one war monger and a second war monger) reporting to back militarism, how would we know we weren’t dreaming?
“Regular Army No More? (Audio)
“By Ana Marie Cox
“Defense Secretary Robert Gates builds in unprecedented cuts to defense spending, especially on experimental and “next generation” weapons like the F-22 and the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. What’s next? Lower-tech, proven options such as intelligence and counter insurgency. What it has in common with the rest of the Obama program may surprise you.”
I love Air America and was on it yesterday, but fluff is fluff and some of it I’m allergic to.
“Gates Reins In Bloated Defense Budget
“Yesterday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced his recommendations for the department’s 2010 budget, offering ‘deep cuts in many traditional weapons systems but new billions of dollars for others, along with more troops and new technology to fight the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan.’ The Los Angeles Times described his proposal offering ‘the most sweeping changes in military spending priorities in decades.’ The Wonk Room’s Matt Duss wrote yesterday that Gates’s recommendations represent ‘an appreciable shift in the way that the United States approaches the issue of military acquisitions.’”
This went on at length without ever mentioning that the budget was going UP not DOWN
“Tell Congress to support the Gates/Obama defense budget.
“Some of us wondered if this day would ever come. Today the Secretary of Defense explained to Congress exactly the points TrueMajority members have been making for years: wasting taxes on weapons which don’t work and have no conceivable use against real-world enemies makes us LESS strong as a nation1.
Show Congress we’re ready to invest in True Security — sign the petition.”
OK, I know this isn’t a news source. But this is an activist group that drives giant displays of Oreo cookies around the country to illustrate the relative sizes of the military budget and budgets for schools and healthcare. An Oreo got added to the military stack, and “True” Majority wants us to cheer instead of vomiting.
You could find the news if you searched, of course. CNN included the news in its 39th paragraph. AP included the total cost in its second paragraph but not whether it was an increase or decrease. A New York Times editorial in favor of more cuts included the total cost in its ninth paragraph. A USA Today editorial admirably noted and lamented the huge size of the budget but praised the supposed cutting of it and did not note that the overall budget was increasing. The Washington Post’s editorial claimed to approve the cuts but deemed them politically impossible, never noting the INCREASING military budget. And, of course, columnists in the Wall Street Journal screamed “Obama and Gates Gut the Military”.
But business sources told a very different story. Here’s Market Watch:
“Pentagon still a cash cow despite budget cuts
“Analysts weigh in on the winners and losers from Gates’ spending proposal
“By Christopher Hinton, MarketWatch
“NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — The proposed 2010 defense budget from the Pentagon had a lot of changes, but Wall Street analysts said Tuesday there’s still plenty of funding for the country’s top military contractors. ‘Lockheed Martin had the best outcome from [Defense Secretary Robert] Gates’ budget decisions, there was also strong support for Northrop Grumman’s and General Dynamics’ shipbuilding businesses,’ said Douglas Harned, an analyst with Bernstein Research. ‘Notably, there were no indications of plans to bring budgets down significantly in 2011.’”
“US defence stocks surged on Gates’ budget proposal
“Major US defence stocks were raised out of the doldrums by Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ budget proposals thanks to the lifting of a degree of uncertainty and proposals that were not as dramatic as the markets expected. Fitch Ratings was among those who noted that although four of the top 10 US programmes face reductions or delays, several of the leading projects – including the F-35 and F/A-18 aircraft programmes – were to be increased. The proposal to increase intelligence and reconnaissance support by USD2 billion highlighted the new priorities of the Pentagon and threw up clear winners ranging from sensor and systems providers such as Raytheon (which closed 8.2 per cent up). Textron – which successfully divested its HR Textron unit the day before and increased its exposure to unmanned air systems through the buy of AAI Corporation – was the leader of the day, with a double-digit jump of 11.3 per cent.”
The second round articles tended to be worse than the first:
“Will New Military Budget Prolong Recession?
“Many Cities and Towns Rely on Government Spending to Keep Their Economies Strong
“By SCOTT MAYEROWITZ, ABC NEWS Business Unit
“April 8, 2009—Many cities and towns across this country rise and fall with military spending. And with Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ announcement earlier this week of new defense spending priorities, many communities are bracing for drastic cuts or a windfall.”
This article mentioned that the budget was actually increasing in its 35th paragraph.
My point is not that the reported cuts aren’t real, that jobs won’t be lost, or that congress members aren’t bought-and-paid-for schmucks. And my point is not just that the military should be cut and that non-military investment produces more and better paying jobs. My immediate point is that we are not getting the news, even from sources that would be screaming it from the rooftops if Obama had an “R” after his name.
Now, the last time I claimed that everybody had something wrong, Hullabaloo complained that they had got it right, so I checked and sure enough Hullabaloo got this right by quoting TPM which got this right. My advice is to follow such sources closely if you want to know you can believe what you’re reading.
As you may have figured out, Republicorporate news sources will disguise and promote military spending even if done by a Democratic president, and Democratic news sources will do so only if done by a Democratic president. Democrats in Congress will play along whoever is in the White House, but at least when it’s a Republican, SOME news sources will fill us in on what’s happening. Practice eternal vigilance.
Rewriting the First Draft of History January 15, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Iraq and Afghanistan, Media, Uncategorized, War.
Tags: al-Qaeda, amy goodman, bush administration, chris matthews, Condoleezza Rice, congress, fox news, history, Iraq, lou dobbs, mainstream media, mass media, naomi klein, new york times, news media, powell, Robert Scheer, roger hollander, rumsfeld, saddam hussein, scott riter, sy hersh, un weapons inspector, war, william pitt, wmds, wolfowitz
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- Chris Matthews, MSNBC, 09 April 2003
by: William Rivers Pitt, t r u t h o u t | Columnist
Seeing as how we currently find ourselves hurtling along this downhill run towards new history – the countdown to the day America has itself a president named Obama can be measured in hours instead of days or weeks now – it seems an appropriate moment to pause and reflect on a bit of older history we’ve already passed through. I’m not talking about any kind of ancient history, mind you. For the purposes of this reflection, we need only take a small leap backwards in time, just six short years ago.
We all passed through the little slice of history that began to take shape in the early months of 2003, and we all remember that time in our own way. Today, however, there is a great deal of effort being expended to make sure this bit of history is remembered differently than how it really happened. An even better result for those exerting this effort would be if this bit of history were not remembered at all. That may, in fact, be their ultimate goal.
I am referring, of course, to the very beginning of another downhill run towards history, the one that began in 2003 and led us into the current Iraq debacle that is about to become another president’s problem.
I am not, however, referring to anyone who works or once worked within the Bush administration. To be sure, Mr. Bush would prefer if we remembered all this differently than it happened, as would Mr. Cheney, Mr. Rumsfeld, Mr. Powell, Mr. Wolfowitz, Mr. Feith, Ms. Rice, and every other one of the glorified think-tank cube-rats who ginned the whole thing up to begin with. Richard Perle, in an amusing aside, actually allowed himself to be quoted saying the neocons had nothing to do with Iraq, had no hand in the planning and implementation of same, and anyone who says differently is just wrong and dumb and should go away.
That one’s a hoot, in’it?
No, I am referring to an equally large, craven and culpable body outside the official bounds of our federal governmental: the mainstream American news media. They work fist in glove with that government now, worked with them yesterday, and will likewise be working with them tomorrow. Specifically, they will be working as hard as Bush & Co. to make us remember that downhill run to Iraq differently, because they never worked more closely with our government on anything than they did on Iraq just six short years ago.
The mainstream news media did not concoct false evidence to justify a course for war, but they fobbed off that false proof as if it were holy truth. They did not lie to the American people about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but they passed on Bush administration lies to the American people with full-throated credulity. They did not browbeat the American people with dire threats of impending terrorism to cover up political liabilities, but they passed those threats on from Bush’s people to the American people with the kind of breathless energy only seen whenever media types have skyrocketing ratings and ad revenues twinkling in their eyes.
The mainstream American news media is just as responsible for what has happened in Iraq as the Bush administration; they are as responsible for the lies they repeated as the ones who first told them, and are as guilty for what happened in Iraq as the Bush administration officials they enabled and covered for.
Many people, by now, may have forgotten the manner in which this gruesome symbiosis played out six years ago. An organization called Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting has compiled a little refresher course on the topic. Behold some of the highlights:
”Oh, it was breathtaking. I mean I was almost starting to think that we had become inured to everything that we’d seen of this war over the past three weeks, all this sort of saturation. And finally, when we saw that it was such a just true, genuine expression. It was reminiscent, I think, of the fall of the Berlin Wall. And just sort of that pure emotional expression, not choreographed, not stage-managed, the way so many things these days seem to be. Really breathtaking.”
- Ceci Connolly, Washington Post reporter, on Fox News Channel on 09 April 2003
”This has been a tough war for commentators on the American left. To hope for defeat meant cheering for Saddam Hussein. To hope for victory meant cheering for President Bush. The toppling of Mr. Hussein, or at least a statue of him, has made their arguments even harder to defend. Liberal writers for ideologically driven magazines like The Nation and for less overtly political ones like The New Yorker did not predict a defeat, but the terrible consequences many warned of have not happened. Now liberal commentators must address the victory at hand and confront an ascendant conservative juggernaut that asserts United States might can set the world right.”
- David Carr, New York Times reporter, 16 April 2003
”We’re proud of our president. Americans love having a guy as president, a guy who has a little swagger, who’s physical, who’s not a complicated guy like Clinton or even like Dukakis or Mondale, all those guys, McGovern. They want a guy who’s president. Women like a guy who’s president. Check it out. The women like this war. I think we like having a hero as our president. It’s simple. We’re not like the Brits.”
- Chris Matthews, MSNBC, 01 May 2003
”He looked like an alternatively commander in chief, rock star, movie star and one of the guys.”
- Lou Dobbs, CNN, 01 May 2003
”We had controversial wars that divided the country. This war united the country and brought the military back.”
- Howard Fineman, MSNBC, 07 May 2003
Some people may remember hearing these lines when they were uttered. A great many people can probably remember hearing or reading similar comments during that time. The sentiment was all but ubiquitous, at least within the mainstream media’s echo chamber, that the weapons were there, that Bush was right, that war was necessary, so let’s go.
I remember it a little differently.
In the summer of 2002, after working in concert with former chief UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter, I wrote and had published a book titled “War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn’t Want You to Know.” The book argued that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, no al-Qaeda operatives in Iraq, no connection between Iraq and 9/11, thus there was no reason to go to war against Iraq, and that any such war would be a disaster of vast proportions.
In short, the book was spot-on correct.
The latter half of 2002, however, saw very few people arguing these points make their way into the mainstream media conversation. I tried, believe me. I did dozens of radio interviews with every small-market, community-based radio personality in and out of America. I traveled tens of thousands of miles trying to let people know what was what. By the spring of 2003, the book became a New York Times and international best seller, and was translated into 13 languages, but my own informed perspective on the issue had failed to break into the mainstream media conversation.
Mine was not nearly the only voice shut out of the debate by the mainstream news media. From the very beginning, independent or investigative journalists were sounding the alarm, preparing the facts, and not getting heard. People like Amy Goodman, Sy Hersh, Mike Malloy, Juan Cole, Dahr Jamail, Bernard Weiner, Norman Solomon, William Greider, Joe Conason, Robert Scheer, Robert Kuttner, Molly Ivins and Naomi Klein have been horribly vindicated by the passage of time. There are many, many other voices like theirs which, had they been included in the conversation six years ago, could have perhaps saved us all from the disaster they saw coming a mile away.
Of course, not everyone in the mainstream news media participated six years ago in making sure the Iraq war happened, but so very many of them did. Those well-known personalities who actively participated in selling the war, along with their editors, producers and corporate owners, want no part of being rightly remembered for their role in the debacle that is Iraq. For the last couple of years, they’ve been backpedaling furiously away from the mess they were deeply involved in creating; all those once-dismissed “left-wing” talking points about the folly of this war and the absence of Iraqi WMD, seemingly overnight, were adopted by the mainstream news media with nary a hiccup.
Remember how that worked? From 2003 until around 2006, the line from the media was, “Of course everyone knows there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.” But after the WMD’s failure to turn up entered a fourth year, a switch got thrown. Suddenly, the line from the media was, “Of course everyone knows there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq,” after which came all the anti-Bush rhetoric they’d once ridiculed.
They skipped the all-important middle part. In between “Of course they have WMD” and “Of course they had no WMD” should have been a few deadly serious questions: Why did they tell us there were WMD? Why did we accept their version of the facts so easily? How responsible are we for making the American people believe all that WMD stuff was true?
They skipped all that, because media people avoid self-analysis the way cats avoid water. Now, they want us to remember things differently than how they were. Again.
The folks in the mainstream news media see themselves as the writers and crafters of the first edition of history. This is a position they monstrously abused regarding Iraq, and now, they would like to rewrite that first draft, so they can edit out their own direct involvement as major players in the drama.
Bush must be held responsible, along with all his minions and Congressional enablers, for the bloodbath of criminal wrongdoing that took place and continues in Iraq. But the media must be held accountable, as well. They’d like us to forget what they did. Don’t let them let us forget. We all have skin in this particular game.
William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: “War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn’t Want You to Know” and “The Greatest Sedition Is Silence.” His newest book, “House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America’s Ravaged Reputation,” is now available from PoliPointPress.