As of tomorrow, the increasingly useless Washington Post will become more so. Dan Froomkin, one of the few journalists at the once-credible newspaper who bothered to do his job by investigating and asking the questions that mattered during the Bush Administration's historic gutting of America and so much of what it stands for, filed his final "White House Watch" column today. He described, today, what he does as "accountability journalism." We could use dozens more like him in the MSM.
His piece today echoes FBI whistleblower Coleen Rowley's exposé on these pages yesterday, in his description of Bush as "the proverbial emperor with no clothes." He goes on to note how, after 9/11, "the nation, including the media, vested him with abilities he didn't have and credibility he didn't deserve."
By late January/early February, 2003, I and other Americans were witnessing the Bush Administration's final and intense push to launch their pre-emptive war on Iraq, based largely on (what are now well known as) two completely false pretexts: Iraq's possession of WMD and its connections to Al Qaeda terrorists. My knowledge that Iraq's WMD was being exaggerated was merely what anyone could gain from close reading of public sources: the McClatchy news articles by Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel (who later won Pulitzers for their reporting) as well as a few buried articles in the Washington Post and Newsweek debunking the "evidence" being educed by Bush-Cheney-Powell-Rice-Rumsfeld et al.
Due to the Minneapolis FBI's pre-9/11 investigation of an Al Qaeda operative, however, I was in a better position to know more than J.Q. Average Citizen in regard to the non-existence of ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda.
I felt it my responsibility to speak out, and so I did --- or tried to --- to my bosses at the FBI, and to the media, including CBS' 60 Minutes...
The New York Times just doesn't get it. You'd think, by now, they would. But they don't. And they should print a correction immediately.
In a brief, unbylined editorial yesterday, headlined "How to Trust Electronic Voting," the paper endorses this year's version of Rep. Rush Holt's election reform bill (H.R. 2894). The editorial is misleading and, even worse, blatantly (and inexcusably) inaccurate on at least one important point...
It's been nearly five months since the official complaint about Ann Coulter's alleged voter fraud in 2002 and 2004 was filed in Connecticut, yet state election officials continue to refuse comment on the status of the case beyond acknowledging that it's "still pending," as recently confirmed by The BRAD BLOG.
Several charges of absentee voter fraud were alleged in the complaint against Coulter in Connecticut, where evidence shows she cast absentee ballots illegally while living in her then permanent New York City residence.
In addition to the head of the California GOP's voter registration firm pleading guilty to fraud last week (his company, Young Political Majors, is under investigation in several other states as well, and is alleged to have secretly changed thousands of registrations from Democratic to Republican, denying voters the ability to cast votes in last year's primary), and the Republican election official in Kentucky who last month pleaded guilty to participating in a massive election fraud conspiracy beginning in 2002, there still remains the outstanding official investigation into the allegations against Coulter, the GOP's storied Queen of Voter Fraud.
If all you watched was the Fox "News" Channel, however, and their increasingly bizarre --- and yet still evidence-free --- "investigation" into "voter fraud" by ACORN, you'd have no idea. That, even though Coulter herself continues to parade in front of their cameras as a regular guest without ever being asked about the official inquiry in the second state to investigate voting improprieties by the GOP superstar.
"The delay in this case is inexplicable given they need to prove two things: where she registered to vote/voted and where she lived when she registered to vote/voted," the complainant in the case, Daniel Borchers, a Christian conservative who has long opposed Coulter's behavior, told The BRAD BLOG. "Both are easily proven."...
In last week's "New Rules" segment on HBO's Real Time, Bill Maher blasted President Obama for "not getting the job done," adding "this is not what I voted for." He had been critical of Obama's lack of fight for health care reform, and "nibbling" that's leaving insurance companies "still running the show," bailed out banks "laughing at us about how easy it was to get back to 'business as usual,'" and scientists' vital warnings about serious climate change being largely ignored.
We ran that video last week, and found it was linked to by an enormous number of rightwing websites, using the opportunity to suggest that Maher now agreed with them about Obama.
This week (video above-right) Maher clarified the record. He first noted: "Last week in this space, I criticized President Obama for not fighting corporate influence enough, and it made some Liberals very angry. My phone rang off the hook." But he then removed any doubt about whether he was actually "in league" with those on the Right.
"As far as you folks on the Right that think that we're somehow in league --- we're not in league! I was criticizing Obama for not being hard enough on the corporate douche bags you live to defend. I don't wanna be on your team. Pick another kid."
"So I stand by my words," Maher said, before launching into a no-holds barred attack on the Democrats and Obama for their failings, yet again. "There is another side to the story. And that is, that every time Obama tries to take on a Progressive cause, there's a major political party standing in his way --- the Democrats."
"We don't have a Left and a Right party in this country anymore. We have a center-Right party and a crazy party. And over the last thirty-odd years, Democrats have moved to the Right, and the Right has moved into a mental hospital."
He went on to criticize Democrats for becoming the party of "hedge fund managers, credit card companies, banks, defense contractors, big agriculture and the pharmaceutical lobby [who] sit across the aisle from a small group of religious lunatics, flat-earthers, and Civil War re-enacters...who mostly communicate by AM radio and call themselves the Republicans."
The major concluding thesis in his scathing criticism: "Bottom line, Democrats are the new Republicans"
Diane Sweet of RAW STORY observed in her coverage: "If Maher had finished by declaring his candidacy for public office, by the sound of the applause in response to his monologue, he would have left the studio Friday evening with an audience full of supporters."
If you're unable to watch the video (above right), a text-transcript of the key quotes from this week's must-see monologue follow below. As with last week's, we find ourselves hard-pressed to disagree with a word of it...
Seemingly dead-set on hastening its obsolescence, Washington Post has fired "White House Watch" columnist Dan Froomkin, one of their only unflinching truth-tellers who never stopped telling those truths, even through every dark year of the former oppressive regime when McCarthyesque tactics prevailed, and 99% of the men and women who held jobs like Froomkin's failed the nation by pulling their punches and folding to the cynicism of fear and intimidation.
Says Froomkin in response: "I'm terribly disappointed. I was told that it had been determined that my White House Watch blog wasn't "working" anymore. But from what I could tell, it was still working very well. I also thought White House Watch was a great fit with The Washington Post brand, and what its readers reasonably expect from the Post online."
Ironically, folks like Howard Kurtz and Dana Milbank remain employed by WaPo in the meantime. So do unapologetic wingnut liars and tools such as Charles Krauthammer, William Kristol, George Will and a bevy of others. And in more irony, despite the paper's purge of just about anyone who might have been described as "liberal" or "progressive" (and yes, Froomkin held Obama feet to the same fire he held Bush's), the still-employed wingnuts will continue to label the hard-right charging WaPo as "the liberal media," even as the editors and publishers of the paper run out of money, wonder what happened to them, and blame "the Internet" for their own failures in falling for the bait.
"As I've written elsewhere," Froomkin said in his statement, "I think that the future success of our business depends on journalists enthusiastically pursuing accountability and calling it like they see it. That's what I tried to do every day. Now I guess I'll have to try to do it someplace else."
Meant to run this clip from Crazy Land (aka Fox "News") over the weekend. You may have seen some portions of O'Reilly's flip-out previously, but the entire thing is worth a look. Feelin' guilty much, Mr. O'Reilly? What a maroon (and that's putting it nicely). Crazy Land gets crazier and crazier by the day...
At the risk of undermining the vigorous debate and discussion now ongoing in response to my Saturday morning article drawing a comparison between Iran's '09 election and Ohio's '04 election (and the ongoing speculation about the reported Iranian results going on just about everywhere else today), allow me to amplify a bit on the point I was hoping to get at in that piece, written as reports were just coming in about skepticism in the reported results.
Since The BRAD BLOG began reporting on issues of democracy and concerns about elections, most intensely beginning on or about the early morning hours of November 3rd, 2004 and continuing ever since, we've likely investigated, researched and/or written as much or more on virtually every aspect of the topic as any other media outlet in the world.
In the process of observing one election after another since that time, and the increasingly inevitable ensuing questions about, as well as disbelief and/or belief in the validity of each election's results, one thing has become crystal clear: without complete transparency and 100% citizen oversight of every aspect of any given election, most notably the tabulation of its ballots, certainty in any given officially-announced result has become nearly impossible.
Without the transparency required for democracy to actually work, each "democratic" election, whether in this country, or in any other, has become more and more like Russian Roulette, but without the certainty...
The New York Times has an unbylined editorial today, headlined "Neither Real Nor Free" which blasts the Iranian election, alleging that "it certainly looks like fraud."
Our friend Michael Jay, a former delegate to the California Democratic Party who amended their party platform to include language encouraging Democratic candidates to not concede until every ballot is counted, took the opportunity today to riff on our weekend comparison of Iran '09 to Ohio '04 with a letter to the NYTimes editors which begins as follows...
Major typos in "Neither Real Nor Free"
To The Editor:
I'm afraid your spell check software got the better of you in preparing "Neither Real Nor Free," (Editorial, June 15, 2009.) It appears both the country and a key political party were misidentified.
I've included a corrected, and abbreviated, version. Too bad the Times, and other news outlets, didn't publish such editorials following our 2004 election.
See Michael's "corrected" version of the piece, sent with his letter to the Times editors, below...
How long will it be until white supremacists claim that the shooting at the Holocaust Museum never happened?
And, speaking of denialist wingnuts, where up is down, Right is now Left. TPM offers actual reportage (versus satire, as above) on mainstream wingnutters who are becoming more and more indistinguishable from their loony, extremist, denialists brethren just barely to their right. The "respectable" Righties are now actually trying to make the case that James von Brunn, the Obama-hating, Nazi-loving, accused gunman from this week's Holocaust Museum assassination is a Lefty. Seriously, that's the case they're pleading...
As noted in its announcement, 'Project Expose MSM' invites all members of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC), other active (covert or overt) government whistleblowers, and reporters, to publish their experiences in regard to their own first-hand dealings with the media, where their legit disclosures were either intentionally censored/blacked out, tainted, or otherwise met with a betrayal of trust.
The first report, exposing Michael Isikoff and Newsweek was posted here.
This second project report is based on the first-hand documented experience of Mr. Sandalio Gonzalez, retired Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Special Agent in Charge. Time Magazine reporters Tim Burger and Tim Padgett had an opportunity to speak at length with Mr. Gonzalez and several other veteran DEA agents with direct knowledge of a major corruption case involving several DEA agents on drug traffickers' payrolls in Colombia. The involved corrupt US officers were also directly involved in helping Colombia's paramilitary death squads launder drug proceeds. Further presented at the meeting with Time's reporter was the documented cover up of this major scandal by the DEA and Dept. of Justice Inspector General (OIG) offices. Despite direct corroboration by a number of other sources, including several veteran DEA agents and other government officials with first-hand knowledge of the case; documented evidence disclosed and provided; and despite being given an 'exclusive' to the story as insisted on by the magazine, Time never published the story, and no reasons were ever provided...
Not sure whether to laugh deliriously or cry here. The 'death of media,' and the ensuing plummet in ad sales, don't help or please folks like us either...even if some believe we're somehow partially responsible for it all...
"Americans think that it’s healthcare that produces health, when there really is very little evidence for that. What turns out to be really important is the nature of caring and sharing in society….Where societies are more equal --- and economic equality is the thing that is most important in this --- people look after each other…and pretty well everyone does better. There’s almost nothing that is better in a society that tolerates the extreme levels of inequality in the United States. And so, we end up dying younger than people in all the other rich countries, despite spending half the world’s healthcare bill." - Dr. Stephen Bezruchka, March 30, 2009
"Who are we? Is this what we have become --- a nation that dumps people off like garbage who can't pay their hospital bills?" - Michael Moore, following a segment in which a confused elderly woman in a flimsy hospital gown is dumped curbside near a Skid Row rescue mission, in his documentary Sicko!*
In Failed States (2006), Prof. Noam Chomsky, a preeminent linguist and one of this nation’s most prolific political writers, concludes that the U.S. suffers from a “democracy deficit” --- the significant gap between the policy positions of the electorate and their elected representatives --- which he attributes to the manner in which “elections are skillfully managed to avoid issues and marginalize the underlying population…freeing the elected leadership to serve the substantial people.”
The deficit is especially acute in what Chomsky describes as “the most dysfunctional healthcare system in the industrial world.” Chomsky notes that a single-payer system --- that is a system in which all medical providers would be paid by a government entity as now occurs with Medicare --- has long been overwhelmingly favored by “a considerable majority” of the American people, but routinely dismissed by both the corporate media and the leaders of both political parties as “lacking political support” and not being “politically possible.”
The issue touches on the core contradictions which arise because we have allowed private authoritarian entities, corporations, to subvert democracy by controlling our economy, our mass media and the manner in which we conduct elections.
This piece will focus on the irrationality of a privatized health care system which values the wealth of a handful of CEOs of the parasitic and entirely unnecessary middle-men --- for-profit carriers and HMOs --- over the health and very lives of our people. It will explain what corporate America and their bought-and-paid-for politicians do not want you to hear...
Now, he's just lying. On his TV show, and in his newspaper column. We understand why Fox "News" is willing to let him say any irresponsible thing he wants, but what of the newspapers who run his syndicated garbage? Do they have no responsibility to do any fact checking? How about his column's syndicator, Creators Syndicate? Do they have any responsibility to fact check their authors' work before they send it out to be published in hundreds of papers around the country?
In fact, O'Reilly himself used that term, over and over again, to describe Tiller. Media Matters offers the documented, video-taped facts which, as usual, aren't even close to O'Reilly's blatant Spin, which is now also being perpetuated by this nation's newspapers. Here are the facts...
Last week, 123 Real Change, announced the experimental 'Project Expose MSM' in hopes of providing readers with specific, documented cases of blackout and/or misinformation in the mainstream media, based on the first-hand experiences of legitimate and credible sources and whistleblowers.
As noted in the announcement, 123 Real Change invites all members of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, other active (covert or overt) government whistleblowers, and reporters, to publish their experiences in regard to their own first-hand dealings with the media, where their legit disclosures were either intentionally censored/blacked out, tainted, or otherwise met with a betrayal of trust.
Here is the first project report, this one based on my own first-hand documented experience. In 2003 Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff interviewed me for, and then published a story on the FBI translation program. His report knowingly omitted crucial facts, directly relevant cases, witness statements and confirmed official reports, while advancing the FBI's already-discredited point of view...