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...
[Updated at end of article with videos of responses to O'Reilly response from MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann.]
After years of demonizing Kansas physician Dr. George Tiller, who was assassinated in his Wichita church on Sunday, Fox "News" host Bill O'Reilly toned back his inflammatory rhetoric on his first show back since yesterday's murder. (See video at end of article.)
Where he had previously, and repeatedly, described Tiller as "Tiller the Baby Killer," equated him with Nazis and al-Qaeda, described him repeatedly as "executing babies" and "operating a death mill," tonight O'Reilly characterized himself as the victim of a "left-wing" cabal of "Fox News haters" trying to "exploit" the tragedy to "shut guys like me down." Notably, however, he did not use the same strident rhetoric that had characterized his "reportage" of Tiller in the past...
Update 6/1/09: Thanks to Jed Lewison at DailyKosTV for the following short compilation of clips from among 29 segments of O'Reilly's show, in which he persisently demonized Tiller. "As you can see from these video clip samplings of O’Reilly’s holy war," Lewison writes, "you don’t have to actually pull the trigger to help sponsor terrorism:"
Tiller was better known to Fox "News" viewers as "Tiller the Baby Killer," as he's long been described by Bill O'Reilly, who has spent years targeting Tiller on the most-watched show in cable news. O'Reilly has long demonized him with allegations of performing illegal late-term abortions, characterized as murder by O'Reilly and his guests.
Of course, it's no more O'Reilly's fault when a lunatic takes action to murder someone the Fox host has targeted for years on his popular television show than it was when another lunatic gunned down church-goers in Tennessee last year, claiming in his pre-murder "manifesto" that it was "a symbolic killing," and that he had "wanted to kill...every Democrat in the Senate & House, the 100 people in Bernard Goldberg's book." Goldberg is a regular featured guest on O'Reilly's show, and the author of 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (And Al Franken is #37).
Jim David Adkisson, the Knoxville, TN, murderer, also advocated the murder of "liberals" in his manifesto, echoing comments frequently made by O'Reilly that "The Major News outlets have become the propaganda arm of the Democrat Party. Liberals are evil, they embrace the tenets of Karl Marx, they're Marxist, socialist, communists."
Those are all merely coincidences, of course. Nobody, other than the murderers themselves, should feel it necessary to take any personal responsibility whatsoever when such events occur.
In March of this year, after Tiller had been acquitted of charges alleging that he'd performed late-term abortions in violation of Kansas state law, O'Reilly continued his series of programs focusing on the Kansas physician, charging him with "operating a death mill" (video here), and alleging that he was "executing babies" (video here).
O'Reilly had previously been highly critical of the state's Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, charging, during his Talking Points commentary in 2007, that she was "allowing [Tiller] to continue the slaughter."
Now, O'Reilly won't have to worry about that anymore.
FURTHER UPDATE: A quick read of the far right website FreeRepublic (O'Reilly's base), reveals hundreds of comments on a number of threads, applauding and even celebrating the death of Tiller. We've reposted many of them below. (Hat-tip Charles at Little Green Footballs.)
Note to O'Reilly, who has proven not to understand the difference when he repeatedly highlights a selected anonymous user comment from what he describes as "liberal hate-sites," such as Huffington Post and Daily Kos, while comparing them to the Ku Klux Klan: The following are comments by readers at the site, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of those who run Free Republic. Nor is there any guarantee that such posters are not purposely posting these comments in hopes of reflecting poorly on the site in question. Though, in this case, there are so many of them, most posted by users with a long posting history on the site, that we'll leave it to your judgement as to whether you believe these comments are for real or not...
[Update: Be sure to read Lori Minnite's explanation in comments of what seems to have happened here. Details at bottom of article.]
Unless I'm missing something here (please let me know if I am!) it doesn't appear that the DoJ "dropped" charges against the RNC's alleged 2002 NH election "phone-jammer," James Tobin, as is currently being described in news accounts, and via several emails I've received alerting me to the story.
From my read of AP's coverage, and several others, it looks like the DoJ lost their original New Hampshire case, and then recently saw the appeal of a refiled case, with a different focus (lying to federal investigators) in Maine, "dismissed" by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.
We all have been tirelessly screaming about issues related to Congressional leaders abdicating their main responsibility of 'oversight.' We have been outraged for way too long at seeing 'no' accountability whatsoever in many known cases of extreme wrongdoing. I, and many of you, believe that the biggest reason for this was, and still is, the lack of true journalism and media coverage --- which acts as the necessary pressure and catalyst for those spineless politicians on the Hill and in the Executive branch. Or, at least it's supposed to. So, in our book, the MSM have been the main culprit.
Well, here is a chance to turn the tables.
At my new blog, 123 Real Change, I'm happy to present an experimental project, Project Expose MSM, created to provide readers with specific mainstream media blackout and/or misinformation cases based on the documented and credible first-hand experiences of legitimate sources and whistleblowers.123 Real Change is inviting all members of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC), other active (covert or overt) government whistleblowers, and even reporters themselves, 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 or tainted.
Yes, we will be naming names --- myself included.
We will even do so below, in one real-case example, intended to help illustrate how the project will work. In the absence of the real investigative journalism and unbiased independent media we need, this is one way to set the record straight...
The faux Republican outrage over Nancy Pelosi's perceived slight, in charging that CIA briefers directly misled Congress, has been amusing to watch. Even as the Democrats' seeming inability to either defend her, or fear of sinking into the same phony political sandtrap, is disappointing. But Democrats seem to excel at disappointment these days, so that part of the ginned-up story is hardly surprising.
The GOP hypocrisy in charging that Pelosi has somehow hurt the morale of The Agency in the bargain (and, as bonus, that Obama's release of the Bush Torture Memos has endangered CIA operatives) has been all the more amusing to witness, in their complete and entire selective amnesia of their party's own 100%, unqualified support of a White House which, for the first time in the history of this nation, had publicly outed the identity of a covert CIA operative. In unapologetically exposing Valerie Plame-Wilson, and completely destroying her entire, crucial network monitoring the trafficking of WMD in the Middle East along with it, untold damage was brought not only to CIA operatives risking their lives in the defense of this nation, but also to the national security of the nation itself, which was significantly blinded in the Middle East --- and on the issue of WMDs, of all things --- at a time when we were theoretically going to war there, over that very issue. Yet, the Republicans chose to side with the criminals in treason, over the "morale" or "effectiveness" of The Agency in their shortsighted and inexcusable politicization of the matter.
It doesn't get much more absurd than all of that...unless you add to it the Democrats' near-complete incapacity to take on, and tear down, the opportunistic Republicans on their own, absurdist argument in phony defense of the CIA of late.
Ernie Canning, here at The BRAD BLOG, has been documenting the CIA's rich, and often ugly, 50-year history in the use of torture, and other illegalities, as a direct tactic to control foreign populations in the march towards the growth of U.S. Empire in the twentieth, and now twenty-first, century, well-prior to the Bush Administration's claims of the necessity for so-called "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" in the post-9/11 era. Canning's third, and latest chapter in his exclusive four-part series was published here last week.
But more germane, for the moment, to the continuing, cynical, and disingenuous Republican "outrage" over Pelosi's charges that the CIA misled Congress during classified briefings --- as happily amplified by the corporate broadcast media on all of the Sunday News Shows today --- is 42-year CIA veteran Melvin A. Goodman's brief summary of the CIA's rich history in bamboozling Congress published over at The Public Record. As with the use of torture by the CIA, no, The Agency's lies to Congress did not begin in the post-9/11 period, but they certainly reached a high-point (or low-point, depending on your perspective) during that period which the GOP has now chosen for their fully-politicized, hoped-for distraction, in targeting the current Democratic Speaker of the House.
Goodman's summary is worth a quick review --- particularly by Democrats who seem to be caught flat-footed, yet again, in having a clue about how to dismantle, and defang this latest absurd strawman argument mustered by a party with no tools left in their toolbox, other than a fully-compliant corporate media, and a startlingly-inept opposition party.
Today, VelvetRevolution.us announced our new campaign calling for the disbarment of 12 of the Bush-era torture lawyers in four states and the District of Columbia. The campaign, whose VR homepage is at DisbarTortureLawyers.com (where you can sign on yourself, read the complaints, etc.), calls for action to be taken by the state bar associations to revoke the law licenses of attorneys John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales, Michael Mukasey, Michael Chertoff, John Yoo, Jay Bybee, Stephen Bradbury, Douglas Feith, David Addington, William Hayens, and Timothy Flanigan in NY, CA, TX, PA and D.C., following their exceedingly irresponsible and inappropriately liberal interpretation of U.S. law.
My colleague Kevin Zeese, an attorney himself, as well as executive director of VotersForPeace.us and a board member at VR, signed the complaints delivered to the appropriate boards for all 12 Bush attorneys. He announced the launch of the initiative at a press conference in D.C. this morning. His published statement, released today with the press conference, is posted in full here.
So far, the coverage in the corporate mainstream media today has been surprisingly decent and fairly widespread. We've seen reports from NY Times, CNN, LA Times, WaPo, Bloomberg, AP and others.
AP's coverage has been interesting, and instructive, to watch. When they first reported on the initiative early today, the lede on their story was [emphasis mine]:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Two outside groups want Bush administration lawyers linked to memos on harsh interrogation techniques of detainees to lose their licenses to practice law.
Their updated version, which included a few more details, but the same headline, "Complaint seeks disbarment of Bush lawyers," had this as its lede [emphasis mine]:
WASHINGTON (AP) — A coalition of liberal groups filed petitions Monday seeking disbarment of Bush administration attorneys linked to memos on harsh interrogation techniques of detainees.
Not sure what makes calling for a strict, conservative interpretation of the Rule of Law, versus the wildly liberal interpretations of the Bush Administration (and that's putting it mildly), a "liberal" cause, but that's what I guess we must come to accept from the news organization --- sorry, let me update that --- rightwing house organ that AP has become.
UPDATE: As I've been asked by a number of media folks for a comment on today's initiative, as co-founder of VR, I've been happy to offer them this statement:
"The wildly liberal interpretations of the rule of law by the Bush administration attorneys, in order to justify their torture schemes, should be offensive to the core, to anyone who believes in a strict, conservative interpretation of decades of established U.S. law on the matter, including treaties signed, on behalf of the U.S., by such conservatives as Ronald Reagan."
UPDATE 5/19/09, 8:44pm PT: AP's short video coverage of Kevin Zeese at the presser yesterday is here. But a more complete version of his statement follows below. Also, a big congrats to our Kevin for being honored with the prestigious BuzzFlash "Wings of Justice" award today for his tremendous effort on this campaign!
These are said to be among the photos of prisoner abuse/torture whose release Obama has determined to block. Some of them were obtained, and posted several years ago, by The Sydney Morning Herald (who have more here).
Remember, these prisoners were captured in the war on Iraq, so even the disingenuous claims of Geneva Conventions not applying cannot be used here.
As Drudge and Rush have (predictably) taken to ridiculing these latest noticed photos of abuse/torture of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. captors, I thought it worth running some of them here, so you could similarly see how "ridiculous" it is to be concerned about this sort of treatment of prisoners on our watch. I'm certain that no U.S. military family would ever object, in the slightest way, were their son or daughter treated this way after being captured by an enemy country.
'Security via obscurity' didn't work as a concept during the Bush Administration. It's difficult to fathom how the Obama Administration would believe it'll work any better for them.
Andy Worthington, who largely broke the story of the reported 'suicide' of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi in a Libyan prison, into the English-language press on Sunday (as we helped that night), picked up last night on our followup to the original story, decrying the paucity of coverage of the disturbing report in the U.S. corporate mainstream media.
Al-Libi was, after all, the 'ghost detainee' who had offered a false link between Iraq and al-Qaeda, used loudly by the Bush Administration before the war as a key justification for it, after being tortured by the CIA and Egypt, where he'd been secretly renditioned from U.S. custody at Guantanamo. He would later recant his false 'confession,' explaining that it had come about only after 17 hours of 'mock burial,' and a session of brutal beatings by his captors which followed it.
Newsweek describes the al-Libi affair today as "one of the biggest intelligence fiascos of the run up to the Iraq War" and "a major embarrassment for the Bush administration."
Worthington asked why the initial "media silence," before noting that while U.S. outlets have finally begun to cover the story, one of the better initial reports, from Peter Finn at Washington Post fails to follow up on the paper's own previous coverage of 'ghost detainees,' which included al-Libi, who had disappeared, at some point, from the Bush Administration's long list of suspected 'terrorists' captured following 9/11.
Al-Libi was one of those captives previously reported on by WaPo. His re-emergence in Libya --- where he was spotted by Human Rights Watch at the Abu Salim prison in late April, in apparent good health, but refused to be interviewed, reportedly saying only "Where were you when I was being tortured in American prisons?" --- was punctuated, just two weeks later, by the surprising news of his reported 'suicide.'
But where WaPo covered some of the points mentioned in a press release on al-Libi's death from HRW, they failed to mention any of the other 'ghost detainees' mentioned in the very same press release, whose whereabouts had been a mystery up until now. That, even though WaPo had previously reported the 'missing' status of those same detainees!
Given the disturbing fate of al-Libi --- who, HRW's Tom Malinowski charges, "was missing because he was such an embarrassment to the Bush administration. He was Exhibit A in the narrative that tortured confessions contributed to the massive intelligence failure that preceded the Iraq war" --- it's disappointing that the paper has so far failed to connect dots that could, in this case, help shine a spotlight on growing concerns about some of those other detainees: A spotlight which may help keep them alive, at this point.
There is certainly good reason to question both the timing, and reported means, of al-Libi's death, not the least of which is the point made in several media reports, including AP's, where some have "expressed doubts that al-Libi killed himself, saying al-Libi was a 'true Muslim and Islam prohibits committing suicides.'"
Yet, as Worthington notes, the Post failed to even mention the current status of the other detainees HRW discovered in the Libyan prison, even as they had similarly been sent there by the CIA following claims of abuse and torture at the hands of the U.S....
[Ed Note: See bottom of article for several late updates.]
So, it's been about 16 hours since we covered indie journalist/historian/blogger Andy Worthington's detailed report on the the reported suicide of the man who falsely "confessed," during torture, to a false tie between Iraq and al-Qaeda. The forced confession was subsequently used by the Bush Administration (Bush himself, as well as Powell and others) as justification for the war on Iraq. That, despite the fact that Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi recanted his story not long thereafter, as long and widely reported.
As of this moment, not a single mainstream U.S. newspaper or broadcast outlet has reported on the story. Is it not notable? Or are our newspapers just dead set on ensuring their irrelevance by continuing to not report on news that actually matters, no matter how widely it's being reported in other parts of the world?
The former FBI translator and whistleblower suggests blackmail may be at the heart of Congressional refusal to bring accountability and oversight to its own members - such as both Hastert and Harman - in matters of espionage and national security
I have been known to quote long-dead men in my past writings. Whether eloquently expressed thoughts by our founding fathers, or those artfully expressed by ancient Greek thinkers, these quotes have always done a better job starting or ending my thoughts - that tend to be expressed in long winding sentences. For this piece I am going to break with tradition and start with an appropriate quote from a living current senator, John Kerry: "It's a sad day when you have members of Congress who are literally criminals go undisciplined by their colleagues. No wonder people look at Washington and know this city is broken."
The people do indeed look at Washington and know that this city is 'badly' broken, Senator Kerry. The public confidence in our Congress has been declining drastically. Recent poll results highlight how the American people's trust in their Congress has hit rock bottom. A survey of progressive blogs easily confirms the rage rightfully directed at our Congress for abdicating its role of oversight and accountability. Activists scream about promised hearings that never took place - without explanation. They express outrage when investigations are dropped without any justification. And they genuinely wonder out loud why, especially after they helped secure a major victory for the Democrats. The same Democrats who had for years pointed fingers at their big bad Republican majority colleagues as the main impediment preventing them from fulfilling what was expected of them.
The recent stunning but not unexpected revelations regarding Jane Harman (D-CA) by the Congressional Quarterly provide us with a little glimpse into one of the main reasons behind the steady decline in the integrity of Congress. But the story is almost dead - ready to bite the dust, thanks to our mainstream media's insistence on burying 'real' issues or stories that delve deep into the causes of our nation's continuous downward slide. In this particular case, the 'thank you' should also be extended to certain blogosphere propagandists who, blinded by their partisanship, myopic in their assessments, and ignorant in their knowledge of the inner workings of our late Congress and intelligence agencies, helped in the post-burial cremation of this case.
Ironically but understandably, the Harman case has become one of rare unequivocal bipartisanship, when no one from either side of the partisan aisle utters a word. How many House or Senate Republicans have you heard screaming, or even better, calling for an investigation? The right wing remains silent. Some may have their hand, directly or indirectly, in the same AIPAC cookie jar. Others may still feel the heavy baggage of their own party's tainted colleagues; after all, they have had their share of Abramoffs, Hasterts and the like, silently lurking in the background, albeit dimmer every day. Some on the left, after an initial silence that easily could have been mistaken for shock, are jumping from one foot to the other, like a cat on a hot tin roof, making one excuse after another; playing the 'victims of Executive Branch eavesdropping' card, the same very 'evil doing' they happened to support vehemently. Some have been dialing their trusted guardian angels within the mainstream media and certain fairly visible alternative outlets. They need no longer worry, since these guardian angels seem to have blacked out the story, and have done so without the apparent need for much arm twisting...