Monthly Archives: August 2007

Take the Dennis Miller "Buzz Kill" Radio Challenge!

Dear Conservative/Liberal/Independant Talk Radio Listener:

1. Are you 100% happy with your country?

If you answered “yes” to question 1, are you: 2. Currently sedated? 3. On prescription, mood-altering drugs? or 4. Legally insane?

(I put in these qualifiers because I believe that only the above folks would be 100% happy with their country. We all have our gripes–legitimate and illegitimate–about the U.S. of A)

If you answered “no” to questions 2 through 4, then: 5. Do you consider yourself close-minded and unwilling to hear new ideas?

If you answered “no” to question 5–I have a proposal for you: Take the Dennis Miller “Buzz Kill” Radio Challenge! The challenge is simple. Listen to a show from group A (conservative talk radio programs) for one week. Try to be fair and impartial as you listen, and take in what the Host is saying and how he/she is getting his/her point across. Write down anything the host presents as truth or commentary that “grabs” you. Research the truths and commentary that “grabbed” you and see if they are true, mostly true, partly true or outright lies. Try to determine, with some additional research, if the Host’s commentary is informed and insightful, or hateful and dishonest. Have fun with it!

Step 2 of the challenge is to repeat the process with show from group B (Liberal/Progressive/Independant talk radio program).

Step 3 is to compare notes. See what you learned from each side. Decide which side is informing, and which side is indoctrinating. Decide if one side is making more compelling arguments, and if the other side is simply name-calling. Maybe both sides are informing and indoctrinating, compelling and name-calling. Decide which side is being more honest. As an open-minded individual willing to listen to new ideas, you should be able to make up your own mind on this.

Below are suggested radio programs from both sides. You can easily find their homepage with a google search. The homepage should include a local station you can listen on, a link to stream the broadcast online, or downloadable podcasts of past shows. You can also download podcast of many of the shows at itunes.

Group A:
Sean Hannity
Bill O’Reilly
Rush Limbaugh
Laura Ingraham
Hugh Hewitt
Dennis Miller
Michael Savage

Group B:
Thom Hartmann
Randi Rhodes
Stacy Taylor
Mike Malloy
Ed Schultz
Rachel Maddow
Ring of Fire with RFK jr. and Mike Papantonio
Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman

The impetus of the Dennis Miller “Buzz Kill” Radio Challenge! is that I read a short piece in U.S. News and World Report (Washington Whispers section–though I don’t see how another conservative talk radio program qualifies) entitled: Dennis Miller Fights “Buzz Kill” Talk Radio.
Read full piece here.

The “Buzz Kill” talk radio Miller is fighting, according to him, is liberal/progressive talk radio, like Air America. Miller says of liberal radio talk shows “It begins to catch up to them that they are so unhappy with their country.” (I would submit that being unhappy with politicians and/or the STATE of your country is an widely-shared sentiment right now, but Miller’s certainly entitled to the opinion that everything’s coming up roses) To counter liberal unhappiness, Miller plans on ranting about stories he pulls off of Matt Drudge’s Drudge Report. Seriously. In brief, Miller’s show, as summarized by Paul Bedard of Washington Whispers:

He’s big on politics, down on global warming, up on the war, and backs GOP presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani. “I think he’s the least neurotic guy we have about pre-emptively killing the enemy.”


Sounds like standard-fare conservative talk radio to me, but I’ll withhold judgment until I complete the challenge.

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Filed under air america radio, dennis miller, paul bedard, talk radio, u.s. news and world report, washington whispers

I’m ready to fight them over here, George. How ’bout you?

Of all the president’s offensive and inane talking points, the one I find the most offensive and inane is “we’re fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here” when referring to the Iraq War. You can lump this in with the “we don’t want them to follow us home” TP. They’re both equally stupid and contemptible.

I’ve given the thrust of those talking points a lot of thought (for me, that means about an hour) and I’ve concluded, in words our war president would approve of: “Bring ’em on.”

That’s right, I said bring ’em on. I’m ready to fight the terrorists over here. I’m ready for them to try to follow me home. Withdraw the troops from Iraq and bring most of them home and redeploy needed reinforcements to Afghanistan.

But, and this is a big but, I can’t take on the terrorists all by myself. I think we should ALL fight them. In the grand tradition of so many of Michelle Malkin’s columns, I’m putting a call out to all Americans to put up for their country. Anybody not currently in the U.S. Armed Forces between the ages of 18-55, who is physically able to mall-shop, is hereby drafted into a “Homeland Security Anti-Terrorist Defense Force” (HSATDF). This should provide the U.S.A with at least 50 or so million reasonably able-bodied U.S. Citizens and resident aliens. We will mobilize and organize and protect our country from the looming terrorist horde. We will all get uniforms, radios and weapons (this won’t cost as much as many think it will: many americans already have uniforms, radios and weapons). The government will put in our contracts that we can only be deployed in our home state–except in extreme emergencies, where we could be temporarily deployed anywhere in the continental U.S. (sorry Hawaii).

Since the military is already overburdened, College-age paintballers will sub as squad-level weapons and tactics trainers for the HSATDF. I’ve seen these vicious little brats on TV, and though they are short on honor and a sense of duty, they seem disciplined enough to teach the fledgling HSATDF how to run, duck, cover, and shoot.

The HSATDF will protect our cities and towns, our infrastructure, our farms and ranches, our parks and our neighborhoods–24/7. We will engage and destroy any and all terrorists wealthy enough to afford the passage and/or stupid enough to take us on–who reach the U.S. Homeland.

Think of the enormous tactical advantages we’d have over Iraqi terrorists who tried to “follow us home.”

  1. We’d speak the native tongue–American English (with slang and twang–where available)
  2. Knowledge of the battlefield. Let them try to assault our Barnes and Noble’s and Target stores–we know those aisles like the backs of our hands!
  3. Network of informants (all non-HSATDF citizens) could text vital intel in real-time whenever a suspected terrorist was spotted.

Last week’s Doonesbury might’ve been the inspiration for this post–though I’ve been musing about this for months. If you missed it you really should go over the slate.com’s doonesbury page and read the strips. I can’t resist (illegally?) reprinting this one:

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Filed under doonesbury, iraq war, snark, talking points, terrorists

"The loss of liberty to a generous mind is worse than death"

The quote in the title is by Andrew Hamilton, Philadelphia lawyer and uncle of Alexander Hamilton.

Every now and again, I unplug and crack open one of my aged Grollier’s Encyclopedias, circa 1954, and learn something new (to me, anyway). I refuse to part with these books, as I’ve loved them since I was a child and discovered them on my father’s book shelf. They were magical then, and even more so now, when I recognize more of the people, places and things–and grasp their meaning and significance. Today I was poking around my basement and spotted the Grollier’s books. I opened A Treasury of the World’s Great Speeches and —-SHAZAM—-found oratorical gold:

It is natural, it is a privilege, I will go farther, it is a right, which all free men claim, that they are entitled to complain when they are hurt. They have a right publicly to remonstrate against the abuses of power in the strongest terms, to put their neighbors upon their guard against the craft or open violence of men in authority, and to assert with courage the sense they have of the blessings of liberty, the value they put upon it, and their resolution at all hazards to preserve it as one of the greatest blessings heaven can bestow….

The loss of liberty, to a generous mind, is worse than death. And yet we know that there have been those in all ages who for the sake of preferment, or some imaginary honor, have freely lent a helping hand to oppress, nay to destroy, their country. This brings to mind that saying of the immortal Brutus, when he looked upon the creatures of Caesar, who were very great men, but by no means good men: “You Romans,” said Brutus, “if yet I may call you so, consider what you are doing; remember that you are assisting Caesar to forge those very chains which one day he will make you yourselves wear.” This is what every man who values freedom ought to consider. He should act by judgment and not by affection or self-interest; for where those prevail, no ties of either country or kindred are regarded; as upon the other hand, the man who loves his country prefers its liberty to all other considerations, well knowing that without liberty life is a misery….

Power may justly be compared to a great river. While kept within its due bounds it is both beautiful and useful. But when it overflows its banks, it is then too impetuous to be stemmed; it bears down all before it, and brings destruction and desolation wherever it comes. If, then, this is the nature of power, let us at least do our duty, and like wise men who value freedom use our utmost care to support liberty, the only bulwark against lawless power, which in all ages has sacrificed to its wild lust and boundless ambition the blood of the best men that ever lived….

I hope to be pardoned, Sir, for my zeal upon this occasion. It is an old ans wise caution that “when our neighbor’s house is on fire, we ought to take care of our own.” For though, blessed by God, I live in a government where liberty is well understood and freely enjoyed, yet experience has shown us all (I am sure it has to me) that a bad precedent in one government is soon set up for an authority in another; and therefore I cannot but think it mine and very honest man’s duty that, while we pay all due obedience to men in authority we ought at the same time to be upon our guard against power wherever we apprehend that it may affect ourselves or our fellow subjects.

You see that I labor under the weight of many years, and am bowed down with great infirmities of body. Yet, old and weak as I am, I should think it my duty, if required, to go to the utmost part of the land where my services could be of any use in assisting to quench the flame of prosecutions upon informations, set on foot by the government to deprive a people of the right of remonstrating and complaining, too, of the arbitrary attempts of men in power….

But to conclude: The question before the Court and you, Gentlemen of the jury, is not of small or private concern. It is not the cause of one poor printer, nor of New York alone, which you are now trying. No! It may in its consequence affect every free man that lives under a British government on the main of America. It is the best cause. It is the cause of liberty. And I make no doubt but your upright conduct this day will not only entitle you to the love and esteem of your fellow citizens, but every man who prefers freedom to a life of slavery will bless and honor you as men who have baffled the attempt of tyranny, and by an impartial and uncorrupt verdict have laid a noble foundation for securing to ourselves, our posterity, and our neighbors, that to which nature and the laws of our country have given us a right to liberty of both exposing and opposing arbitrary power (in these parts of the world at least) by speaking and writing truth.

The above passage is from Andrew Hamilton’s impassioned defense of printer/publisher John Peter Zenger on August 4, 1735. Yes, 1735–a full 40 years before Lexington and Concord and the American Revolution. Zenger was on trial for seditious libel for publishing a newspaper called the New York Weekly Journal (NYWJ) that was critical of the Governor of New York. His paper arose as a response to a newspaper called the New York Gazette, which was a mouthpiece for the Governor (today, we have something similar called Fox News). After first trying to stop Zenger by seizing and burning copies of the NYWJ, the Governor next arrested and imprisoned Zenger for seditious libel and set a ridiculously high bail.

Although Governor Cosby seemingly stacked the deck against Zenger by hand-picking the judges, the power of Hamilton’s oration compelled the jury to see justice done, and Zenger was found not guilty. The verdict didn’t change the libel law then. But you can see Andrew Hamilton’s fingerprint on the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution. His oratorical triumph in 1735 paved the way for a free press.

George William Curtis, a famous orator and publicist, spoke of Hamilton’s court victory in an address before the New York State Press Association in 1881:

. . .when the Zenger jury cried ‘Not Guilty’, and Andrew Hamilton left the courtroom, like an aureole around his reverend head shone the freedom of the American press. The thunder of the cannon, the music of the bells, the joyous feasting, and the fervidly grateful address of the city, saluted not the orator only, but American liberty which had caught a fresh breath of life from his burning lips.


I will think of Zenger and Hamilton every time I see a headline that reads “Surrender Monkees” or hear the President say “if you’re not with us you’re against us.” The foolish notions of our wannabe “Unitary Executive” and bleating of his blatantly pro-power propagandists squander Hamilton’s gift and ignore his truths. They don’t love liberty and they don’t know what it means to be an American or a patriot.

Reading Hamilton’s words filled me with hope. Our founders were great man with lofty ideals, and the living document that is the U.S. Constitution is their legacy to us. As much as George W. Bush and his wholly-rotten administration try to take our liberty; spy on us; murder,enslave and torture others in our name; and destroy the rule of law, we must continue to resist–in any way we can according to the laws of this country. We must follow the example of John Peter Zenger and Andrew Hamilton, who stood against the tyrannical Governor Cosby.

*I found much of Hamilton’s defense of Zenger on Doug Linder’s Zenger Trial page. I copied the text of Andrew Hamilton’s words but none of Linder’s, which are copyrighted.

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Filed under andrew hamilton, bill of rights, free press, George Bush, john peter zenger, libel, u.s. constitution

Punishing True Patriots: Bush and Gonzo vs. alleged whistleblower

From Newsweek story Looking for a Leaker, by Michael Isikoff:

Aug. 13, 2007 issue – The controversy over President Bush’s warrantless surveillance program took another surprise turn last week when a team of FBI agents, armed with a classified search warrant, raided the suburban Washington home of a former Justice Department lawyer. The lawyer, Thomas M. Tamm, previously worked in Justice’s Office of Intelligence Policy and Review (OIPR)—the supersecret unit that oversees surveillance of terrorist and espionage targets. The agents seized Tamm’s desktop computer, two of his children’s laptops and a cache of personal files. Tamm and his lawyer, Paul Kemp, declined any comment. So did the FBI. But two legal sources who asked not to be identified talking about an ongoing case told NEWSWEEK the raid was related to a Justice criminal probe into who leaked details of the warrantless eavesdropping program to the news media. The raid appears to be the first significant development in the probe since The New York Times reported in December 2005 that Bush had authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on the international phone calls and e-mails of U.S. residents without court warrants. (At the time, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said of the leak: “This is really hurting national security; this has really hurt our country.”)

. . .

The FBI raid on Tamm’s home comes when Gonzales himself is facing criticism for allegedly misleading Congress by denying there had been “serious disagreement” within Justice about the surveillance program. The A.G. last week apologized for “creating confusion,” but Senate Judiciary Committee chair Sen. Patrick Leahy said he is weighing asking Justice’s inspector general to review Gonzales’s testimony.

I’ve always been a believer in the hoary sayings “history repeats itself” and “those who don’t remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” This FBI raid on a suspected leaker reminds me of Daniel Ellsberg, his leaking of the “Pentagon Papers”, and President Nixon’s efforts to discredit and imprison him.

From Wikipedia entry on Daniel Ellsberg:

After returning from Vietnam, Ellsberg went back to work at the Rand Corp. As a Vietnam expert, he was invited, in 1967, to contribute to a top-secret study of classified documents regarding the conduct of the Vietnam War that had been commissioned by Defense Secretary McNamara. These documents later became known collectively as the Pentagon Papers. Because he held an extremely high-level security clearance, Ellsberg was one of the very few individuals who were given access to the complete set of documents. They revealed that the government had knowledge, early on, that the war would not likely be won, and that continuing the war would lead to many times more casualties than was ever admitted publicly. Further, the papers showed that high-ranking officials had a deep cynicism towards the public as well as disregard for the loss of life and injury suffered by soldiers and civilians.

Ellsberg was appalled by the cynicism and hypocrisy reflected in these papers, and, after a period of soul-searching, became determined to make their contents public. He knew that releasing the papers would most likely result in a conviction and a lengthy prison sentence. In late 1969, with the assistance of his former Rand Corp. colleague, Anthony Russo, he secretly made several sets of photocopies of the papers (which was, in itself, a very difficult undertaking). Throughout 1970, Ellsberg covertly attempted to persuade a few sympathetic U.S. Senators — among them J. William Fulbright, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and George McGovern, a leading opponent of the war — to release the papers on the Senate floor, because a Senator could not be prosecuted for anything he said on-the-record before the Senate.

When these efforts came to naught, Ellsberg finally leaked the documents to New York Times correspondent Neil Sheehan. On Sunday, June 13, 1971, the Times published the first installment of the 7,000 page document. For 15 days, the Times was prevented from publishing its articles by court order requested by the Nixon administration. However, the Supreme Court soon ordered publication to resume freely. Although the Times did not reveal Ellsberg as their source, he knew that the FBI would soon determine that he was the source of the leak. Ellsberg went underground for sixteen days, living secretly among like-minded people until deciding to turn himself in on June 28. He was not caught by the FBI, even though it was under enormous pressure from the Nixon Administration to find him.

The Nixon administration also began a campaign to discredit Ellsberg. Nixon’s plumbers broke into Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office in an attempt to find damaging information. When they failed to find Ellsberg’s file, they made plans to break into the psychiatrist’s home.

. . .

In one of Nixon’s actions against Ellsberg, G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt, members of the White House Special Investigation Unit (also called the “White House Plumbers”) broke into Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office in September 1971, hoping to find information they could use to discredit him. The revelation of the break-in became part of the Watergate scandal. Due to the gross governmental misconduct, all charges against Ellsberg were eventually dropped. White House counsel Charles Colson was later prosecuted and pled no contest for obstruction of justice in the burglary of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office.

All it would take for the house of cards that is the Bush Administration to implode is for Mr. Tamm to have info waiting to be released to lots of media outlets, and especially foreign press who WILL run the story unfiltered. He obviously has lots of info on who knew the NSA program was illegal, and when they knew, who participated in the program, what illegitimate purposes the program was used for, etc. etc. etc. In short, Mr. Tamm has the known knowns, the unknown knowns, the known unknowns, and the unknown unknowns, to paraphrase former SecDec Donald Rumsfeld. Worst case scenario is that he’ll have to go to prison until Bush and co. are removed from office. And he will be a national hero to all thinking Americans. That means a six, possibly seven-figure book deal at least.

This administration has seen scandal after scandal after scandal, yet hasn’t been properly punished for its crimes. Like Reagan, Bush has admitted his crimes on national television broadcasts. Like Reagan, (so far) he has not been held accountable. I sit here hoping–praying–that this FBI raid, continued revelations about warrantless eavesdropping and data-mining, Gonzo’s perjury et al become George W. Bush’s “Watergate”. Except this time, there’s no Gerry Ford preemptive pardon and impeachment, and conviction, happens.

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Filed under alberto gonzales, daniel ellsberg, fbi raid, pentagon papers, thomas tamm, watergate

Greg Palast Investigative Fund needs your help

Greg Palast’s Investigative Fund is broke. They need an infusion of cash to keep their staff working on uncovering more Bush Administration misdeeds. Mr. Palast is pretty much single-handedly responsible for blowing the lid off of RNC vote caging in the 2004 Presidential election–and he provided emails to Rep John Conyers of vote caging lists missent to a George Bush parody site by Karl Rove protege Tim Griffin and Florida RNC stooges (watch the PBS NOW special on vote caging here). White House Political Hack Monica Goodling, a former Rove assistant, admitted to the existence of vote caging in her congressional testimony, and if it is proven that vote caging targeted minority voters, Lots of pimply, lily-white neo-con butts are going to jail. Greg Palast’s latest book is Armed Madhouse, now in paperback, and his website is a source of invaluable information.

Palast’s Investigative Fund is a licensed not-for-profit organization, and the man himself doesn’t get a penny of the $$$–it goes to his staffers, camera-people, researchers and travel expenses. Any bucks you can spare is great, and starting at around a $45 donation you can get autographed books and DVDs of Mr. Palast’s amazing work. I’m going to raid my savings and give $100; I wish I could give more. Here is a link to the Greg Palast Investigative Fund. Please give if you can, this man is doing important work for our country.

From Greg Palast website:

Cutely buried in the 18th paragraph in a story about Alberto Gonzales on Sunday was a slyly-worded updated confession by the New York Times that, in 2004, the Bush Administration leaned on its editors to spike a story about illegal invasions of citizens’ private records (”data mining”). The Times editors smothered the story. They finally ran it – a year later – after Bush was safely re-elected.

As a journalist, this makes me want to throw up.

For two reasons: First, while The Times was covering up Bush’s KGB-style data-mining operation, the Palast team was revealing its secrets. We published confidential FBI memos detailing horrific schemes for illegal spying using Bush’s favored contractor, a company called ChoicePoint Inc.

The second reason The Times ‘confession’ makes me ill: While the publishers at the Paper of Record were counting their millions, the Palast Investigative Fund was slowly going broke.

Well, we’ve made it: Last Friday, the main-stream US media, through the venerable PBS program ‘NOW’, finally broadcast our reportage on the “caging” of voters, a story we first broke 3 years ago. BEFORE the 2004 election.

We’ve made it in another way: Friday was also the day I was informed that the Palast Investigative Fund was dead broke, technically bankrupt, with way less than zero in the account.

Bluntly: if we don’t get some help, and fast, we’re sunk. We are throwing staff overboard and halting some operations while we seek funds to keep afloat.

I’m pleading with you to do three things:

1. Watch PBS ‘NOW’ on voter ‘caging’. Then, if you think our work is important…
2. Donate at least $100 (tax deductible) to the Palast Investigative Fund. With heartfelt gratitude, I’ll send you a personalized, signed copy of Armed Madhouse (hardbound or paperback, your choice), or the DVD “Big Easy to Big Empty,” the untold story of the drowning of New Orleans.

(For $250, I’ll sign and send a whole BOX of Raw Journalism: 2 books: Armed Madhouse and Impeach the President, 2 DVDs: Big Easy to Big Empty and American Blackout, the Audio Book Armed Madhouse and the Spoken Word CD Live from the Armed Madhouse). Or simply make an open no-gift donation for a sum of your choice. (All options and many other signed items can be found at the Palast Investigative Fund Homepage.)

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Filed under armed madhouse, donations, greg palast, monica goodling, vote caging

More Letters to the Editor

My esteemed sometimes-commenter Mr. Walter Gladwin had another Letter to the Editor published in the Springfield (MA) Republican newspaper on Thursday, August 2, 2007. Here is the text of that letter:

Democrats can’t prove impeachable offenses

What is all this silly talk about impeachment? The nation’s Democrats have had six years to try to pin high crimes and misdemeanors on President Bush, who leadership has put us in excellent economic and security shape.

These die-hard Democrats can’t stand to be controlled even by their own party, which is why nothing will happen to even debate it (because they know there is nothing they can prove to bring about an impeachment.) They should go out, have a big pity party and get blasted in 2008.

Walter Gladwin

I wrote my own letter to the Editor when I got home from work, ignoring Gladwin’s comments about the “excellent” economy and security (I don’t agree with either statement)–and his implication that I should “be controlled” by the Democratic party, and focused on the meat of his note: that there is no evidence of crimes that merit impeachment of George W. Bush.

This is my letter, which I sent to the Springfield Republican newspaper:

The Case for Impeachment

A recent letter writer made the assertion that there is no proof President Bush committed Impeachable offenses. This is not true. Here is a short list of some “high crimes and misdemeanors” committed by President Bush:

Bush lied to the American People to build a case for War with Iraq. Although warned of faulty intelligence about a sale of “yellow cake” uranium from Nigeria to Iraq, and told by the CIA to leave references to this out of his speeches several times, Bush included this information in his 2003 State of the Union Address anyway.

Throughout his presidency, Bush has issued “signing statements” with every bill he has passed into law. In effect, these signing statements subvert the law, as they state President Bush’s intention NOT to obey the law he has just signed. A GAO study has concluded President Bush has broke 30% of the laws in which he has issued signing statements.

President Bush has openly advocated the use of torture on enemy detainees, in violation of the Geneva Convention and International laws.

President Bush lied about the existence of an illegal spying program (TSP), then later confessed to it in his 2006 State of the Union Address. This program, authorized by President Bush, has repeatedly broken the FISA law.

Bush was briefed about the coming disaster of Hurricane Katrina. He did nothing and continued his vacation. Later, he denied he was ever briefed prior to the storm. A videotape of the briefing refutes this statement.

Bush detained U.S. Citizens and held them without charge and without due process of law. This is illegal and a violation of Constitutional rights.

This is only a partial list of Bush’s misdeeds. Additionally, noted constitutional scholars and staunch conservatives like John Dean (former Nixon White House counsel) and Bruce Fein (deputy Attorney General under Ronald Reagan) say we MUST impeach Bush. Think about it
this way, Republicans: If we don’t impeach, and a Democrat wins the White House in 2008, do you want that Democrat (maybe Hillary) wielding all the extra presidential powers George Bush has unconstitutionally amassed? Partisanship shouldn’t trump the law of the land.

Mike Farrar

It’s long, and I don’t know if it’ll get published. My hope is it–or a letter with impeachment evidence presented more eloquently, more focused and/or with more details, gets published in the paper to refute Mr. Gladwin’s assertion. I must say, it sure it nice to see the “I” word cropping up more and more, hopefully something will come of it. For the sake of our democracy, Bush must be impeached.

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Filed under Impeachment, springfield republican

Catapulting the Propaganda–more evidence of a lap-dog press doing the DoD’s bidding

The following quote is from CBS News’s Public Eye Blog, by Matthew Felling (full article here)–I followed a link in a comment on Time’s Swampland blog by a commenter named memekiller. The quote is from Josh Rushing, a former U.S. marine and press liason in Iraq, currently an author and a correspondent for Al Jazeera’s English-language network:

When I would go out and give reasons why we were going to invade Iraq, having been given the messages from a Republican operative that was my boss, he would give me the theme of the day. Sometimes it would be “WMD,” others it would be “regime change” and others it would be “ties to terrorism.” I would go out to a Fox reporter and they would say “Are there any messages you want to get across before we get to the live interview?” And we would script the interview around the government messaging, and they would thank me for my service at the end of it. And out of fairness, that wasn’t just Fox. There were a number of American networks who did it. The reporters were in a position where there was no way their editorial leadership or their audience for that matter, wanted to see them be critical of a young troop in uniform.

But the devious part of that, is that the administration knew that and understood that and used young troops in uniform to sell the war in a way it knew couldn’t be questioned or criticized. If you look at MSNBC, they packaged their coverage with a banner that said “Our Hearts Are With You.” So when that banner is under my face and I’m giving the reasons why we need to go to war, is anyone going to ask me a critical question? Of course not, their hearts are with me. And there’s a danger in that.

The media’s purpose in a democracy is to be professionally skeptical of anything that anyone in a position of authority or power says. If they’re not, who is? Nobody, and then the people in authority and power can say and do anything they want. So I was disappointed in that.

Mr. Rushing was featured in a documentary Control Room and is the author of Mission Al Jazeera (you can buy the book here).

Description of Mission Al Jazeera:

Blending his riveting personal story with innovative ideas about how to win the war on terror, former marine turned Al Jazeera reporter Josh Rushing addresses all the issues he was not allowed to talk about when he was in uniform. If we are to win the war on terror, Rushing explains, we have to interact with the media at home and abroad in order to control the way we are perceived. By refusing to appear on Al Jazeera, Western leaders allow people who disagree with the current administration to represent the West to the Arab world in a skewed, negative way. By taking readers inside Al Jazeera, Rushing offers a unique behind-the-scenes look at the controversial news channel and shows how the West can harness it to its advantage, relay a positive message to the Arab public, and hear what it has to say in return.

Mission Al Jazeera is now on my reading list. And I’m also very interested in watching one of Mr. Rushing’s Al Jazeera broadcasts, to see just how he is “relay(ing) a positive message to the Arab public. . .” and “control(ling) the way we are perceived.” I’m going to give the guy the benefit of the doubt, but my inner voice is screaming: “he’s getting paid by Al Jazeera to keep spinning the war for the Pentagon!” I hope my inner voice is wrong this time, because Mr. Josh Rushing seems like a decent guy–and he volunteered to serve his country in wartime as a marine–which is a huge sacrifice and an extremely dangerous career. According to several articles on him, he maintains that U.S. Forces are in Iraq to liberate Iraqis, and he joined Al Jazeera to better explain to Muslim audiences that message. I don’t agree with him about the U.S. being in Iraq to liberate anything but the oil, but I applaud him for trying to do what he thinks is right. You can see Rushing’s commentary via the Al Jazeera website here. There is a monthly subscription fee.

Rushing indicates in the Public Eye interview that both conservative and liberals take what they want to hear from his message–though I, ignoramus that I am, figure(d) most conservatives/Republicans would brand Rushing a war hero went a little crazy and turned traitor. I’ve been wrong before, but I don’t see Rushing getting invited to The Factor or Glenn Beck or Hannity to tell his tale.

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Filed under Iraq, josh rushling, media, propaganda, public eye