How Conservatives Really Control the Media

Sean Hannity calling President Obama on Fox News Channel a “socialist” every night in prime time on the Fox News Chanel is only the visible tip of the conservative propaganda iceberg. The Right’s real power lies in its ability to shape the narrative and define what is fair and out of bounds for the rest of the media.

Last week MSNBC reported the following:

“So you may not hear Mitt Romney say ‘Keep America American’ anymore, because it was a rallying cry for the KKK group, an intimidation against blacks, gays and Jews, and the progressive AMERICAblog was the first to catch on to that.”

Within hours, so-called liberals at MSNBC like Chris Matthews and Al Sharpton were falling over themselves to see who could offer the most debasing, abject apology to Mitt Romney.

Predictably, the rest of the so-called mainstream media and more of the “Liberal Media Establishment” weighed in on the issue, all to denounce MSNBC and to portray Romney as an innocent victim.

As recent as last night, Bill O’Reilly and fellow right-wing media ideologist Bernard Goldberg hashed over the affair in Prime Time. The focus of their debate was whether NBC did enough in their apologizing or whether they were still evil because of their so-called liberal bias.

The otherwise normally sensible Mediaite.com describes the story this way:

“It turns out, the (MSNBC’s) story was not exactly true. …”

There is only one little problem with all of this hysteria. MSNBC’s story that Romney said “keep America American” and that this was a phrase used by the Klan appears to be 100% factual and truthful!

The Romney campaign initially refused to respond to this story for two days. Finally, they claimed that Romney never said “Keep America, American.” They claim he said “Keep America, America.” The central point of evidence is a video you can see here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=26AMgycOWoU.

When I play the video to various people, most claim they hear Romney saying “Keep America American” (I definitely do). But to be fair, a few do hear Romney saying “Keep America America.” But here’s what isn’t a close call. The Los Angeles Times reporter on December 9, 2011 reported that Romney said this: "We have on one side a president who wants to transform America into a European-style nation, and you have on the other hand someone like myself that wants to turn around America and keep America American with the principals that made us the greatest nation on Earth. And I will do that with your help."

Was the reporter ever contacted by the Romney campaign demanding a retraction? Are there comments on the LATimes website at the time of the story (this was before the controversy broke out)?

No and no.

So now we are supposed to believe that he Los Angeles Times reporter just makes up stuff and that most people who hear Romney on this video with their own ears saying “Keep America American” should disbelieve their own ears and instead put their trust in the Romney campaign’s press release.

This stretches credulity.

Another school of thought in most of the media reporters is that MSNBC was horribly irresponsible for not providing more context to the story, presumably to cast Romney in a more favorable light.

Fair enough; let’s parse the phrase “Keep America American.” After all, it truly would be unfair to pick a random phrase like “I love America” or “I am a vegetarian” and show that the Klan or a Nazi had once used the phrase. But “Keep America American” is not that general. It’s not a phrase that easily floats from everyone’s mouth. The phrase had a specific meaning in the 1920s and it has one today. The similarity is that in both cases, what it means is this “My ideas and principles are good and the ideals and values of people who oppose us are bad. And these ideas are bad because they got their ideas from other countries and other parts of the world. We should reject their ideas and values not just because they are bad but specifically because their ideas originated from other parts of the world.”

It doesn't matter how you slice or dice it, the phrase “Keep America American” is a rhetorical cheap shot used by demagogues in the act of committing demagoguery. No, it doesn’t mean Romney is a closet Klansman, but it does mean he uses rhetorical cheap shots that have a long tradition and it’s fair game to point out their tradition.

So are we being unfair to Romney for looking at the phrase he used and inferring one set of ideas when he really was implying something else? NO. Just look at the full quote above. Romney is rejecting Obama and his ideas, specifically because Obama’s ideas are European. That’s what makes them bad, they aren’t from America—get it?

What O’Reilly and all of the right wing echo chamber have been doing for the last week is tending to the media landscape. And what they have done, to a remarkable degree of success, is to say that any suggestion of racism among prominent republicans is out of bounds. In the conservative media establishment’s worldview, there is no such thing as racism among conservatives. Only liberals can be racist. Therefore any story that hints at or suggests that a conservative is racist is inherently wrong and demands an immediate denunciation and retraction.

This bit of zeitgeist shaping was done with such efficiency and collaboraton that it left the other side helpless.

n the conservative world view, it is quite Ok to brand Obama a “socialist” or even a “communist” if he does something so radical as suggesting Richard Nixon’s healthcare plan. Never mind that socialism and communism are hated ideologies by most Americans and is represented by regimes such as Cambodia’s where 7 million people were slaughtered by a genocidal communist. No, that’s considered completely fair, and normal because, well, because that’s what every conservative gets away with in the media every day.

But no one is ever allowed to compare any extreme Republican rhetoric with, say, fascists or racists. That’s considered automatically beyond the pale. There is an un-written rule imposed by the conservative media establishment and accepted by even liberal mainstream media:

“Thou shalt not accuse any Republican of doing anything even mildly racist or even racist-friendly unless you can capture video tape of the republican saying ‘I hate all black people and want to string them all up and kill them!’”

The result is a media climate where any ambitious, smart reporter pulls his/her punches when reporting on Republicans. Don’t report anything that can tie a Republican to an extremist cause or organization, even if the facts bear it out. Instead, use that time to report that Obama isn’t a citizen or that Bill Clinton made a fortune on Whitewater or that House Democrats want to wage “class warfare” because they want to raises taxes to the same rates they were in 1994.

The strongest form of power is away the subtlest and Conservatives have both overt and subtle power to get the media, all the media, to sell their propaganda.

 More info at the Dailynational

 

 

 

 

How Conservatives Really Control the Media

Sean Hannity calling President Obama on Fox News Channel a “socialist” every night in prime time on the Fox News Chanel is only the visible tip of the conservative propaganda iceberg. The Right’s real power lies in its ability to shape the narrative and define what is fair and out of bounds for the rest of the media.

Last week MSNBC reported the following:

“So you may not hear Mitt Romney say ‘Keep America American’ anymore, because it was a rallying cry for the KKK group, an intimidation against blacks, gays and Jews, and the progressive AMERICAblog was the first to catch on to that.”

Within hours, so-called liberals at MSNBC like Chris Matthews and Al Sharpton were falling over themselves to see who could offer the most debasing, abject apology to Mitt Romney.

Predictably, the rest of the so-called mainstream media and more of the “Liberal Media Establishment” weighed in on the issue, all to denounce MSNBC and to portray Romney as an innocent victim.

As recent as last night, Bill O’Reilly and fellow right-wing media ideologist Bernard Goldberg hashed over the affair in Prime Time. The focus of their debate was whether NBC did enough in their apologizing or whether they were still evil because of their so-called liberal bias.

The otherwise normally sensible Mediaite.com describes the story this way:

“It turns out, the (MSNBC’s) story was not exactly true. …”

There is only one little problem with all of this hysteria. MSNBC’s story that Romney said “keep America American” and that this was a phrase used by the Klan appears to be 100% factual and truthful!

The Romney campaign initially refused to respond to this story for two days. Finally, they claimed that Romney never said “Keep America, American.” They claim he said “Keep America, America.” The central point of evidence is a video you can see here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=26AMgycOWoU.

When I play the video to various people, most claim they hear Romney saying “Keep America American” (I definitely do). But to be fair, a few do hear Romney saying “Keep America America.” But here’s what isn’t a close call. The Los Angeles Times reporter on December 9, 2011 reported that Romney said this: "We have on one side a president who wants to transform America into a European-style nation, and you have on the other hand someone like myself that wants to turn around America and keep America American with the principals that made us the greatest nation on Earth. And I will do that with your help."

Was the reporter ever contacted by the Romney campaign demanding a retraction? Are there comments on the LATimes website at the time of the story (this was before the controversy broke out)?

No and no.

So now we are supposed to believe that he Los Angeles Times reporter just makes up stuff and that most people who hear Romney on this video with their own ears saying “Keep America American” should disbelieve their own ears and instead put their trust in the Romney campaign’s press release.

This stretches credulity.

Another school of thought in most of the media reporters is that MSNBC was horribly irresponsible for not providing more context to the story, presumably to cast Romney in a more favorable light.

Fair enough; let’s parse the phrase “Keep America American.” After all, it truly would be unfair to pick a random phrase like “I love America” or “I am a vegetarian” and show that the Klan or a Nazi had once used the phrase. But “Keep America American” is not that general. It’s not a phrase that easily floats from everyone’s mouth. The phrase had a specific meaning in the 1920s and it has one today. The similarity is that in both cases, what it means is this “My ideas and principles are good and the ideals and values of people who oppose us are bad. And these ideas are bad because they got their ideas from other countries and other parts of the world. We should reject their ideas and values not just because they are bad but specifically because their ideas originated from other parts of the world.”

It doesn't matter how you slice or dice it, the phrase “Keep America American” is a rhetorical cheap shot used by demagogues in the act of committing demagoguery. No, it doesn’t mean Romney is a closet Klansman, but it does mean he uses rhetorical cheap shots that have a long tradition and it’s fair game to point out their tradition.

So are we being unfair to Romney for looking at the phrase he used and inferring one set of ideas when he really was implying something else? NO. Just look at the full quote above. Romney is rejecting Obama and his ideas, specifically because Obama’s ideas are European. That’s what makes them bad, they aren’t from America—get it?

What O’Reilly and all of the right wing echo chamber have been doing for the last week is tending to the media landscape. And what they have done, to a remarkable degree of success, is to say that any suggestion of racism among prominent republicans is out of bounds. In the conservative media establishment’s worldview, there is no such thing as racism among conservatives. Only liberals can be racist. Therefore any story that hints at or suggests that a conservative is racist is inherently wrong and demands an immediate denunciation and retraction.

This bit of zeitgeist shaping was done with such efficiency and collaboraton that it left the other side helpless.

n the conservative world view, it is quite Ok to brand Obama a “socialist” or even a “communist” if he does something so radical as suggesting Richard Nixon’s healthcare plan. Never mind that socialism and communism are hated ideologies by most Americans and is represented by regimes such as Cambodia’s where 7 million people were slaughtered by a genocidal communist. No, that’s considered completely fair, and normal because, well, because that’s what every conservative gets away with in the media every day.

But no one is ever allowed to compare any extreme Republican rhetoric with, say, fascists or racists. That’s considered automatically beyond the pale. There is an un-written rule imposed by the conservative media establishment and accepted by even liberal mainstream media:

“Thou shalt not accuse any Republican of doing anything even mildly racist or even racist-friendly unless you can capture video tape of the republican saying ‘I hate all black people and want to string them all up and kill them!’”

The result is a media climate where any ambitious, smart reporter pulls his/her punches when reporting on Republicans. Don’t report anything that can tie a Republican to an extremist cause or organization, even if the facts bear it out. Instead, use that time to report that Obama isn’t a citizen or that Bill Clinton made a fortune on Whitewater or that House Democrats want to wage “class warfare” because they want to raises taxes to the same rates they were in 1994.

The strongest form of power is away the subtlest and Conservatives have both overt and subtle power to get the media, all the media, to sell their propaganda.

 More info at the Dailynational

 

 

 

 

Obama Take Action, Stop Mass Starvation in Afghanistan.

It's as an obscene a scenario as you can imagine.  Year after year, Afghan villages to which aid can easily be delivered are faced with starvation because the regions are peaceful and there is no need for Pentagon press releases about winning "hearts and minds."  

BBC reports:

"More than 2.5 million people face hunger in drought-stricken areas of Afghanistan despite billions of dollars of aid that have poured into the country in recent years, aid agencies say. Many villagers have only limited supplies of food left as winter looms...Aid agencies have been concerned for some time about the amount of aid directed towards conflict areas of Afghanistan.  Much of it is designed to win hearts and minds through "quick impact projects" in insurgency-plagued provinces in the south and east of the country. According to a US Congressional study, 80% of US aid has gone to troubled regions....For example, last year Kandahar province received four times more US aid per head than Bamiyan, while the equally quiet neighbouring Daykundi province saw five times less."

BBC says the policy of  letting people starve in the north and focusing on the southern, Pashtun regions is "roundly defended" by the US ambassador to Kabul, Ryan Crocker.  Crocker says:

"We have put substantial assistance into the south. You know, we are trying to end an insurgency here and that means, in part, funding a better future and giving people alternatives."

Getting aid to the villages faced with starvation is easy because security is not as big a problem.  The US manages to get food aid through to much "hotter" zones just fine.  Even in winter, airdrop capacity and technology is such that cargo planes can drop pallets of food and ammunition within a quarter mile of a combat outpost in all but worst of weather.   But ordinary, non-combatant Afghans who are starving in the snow don't rate this kind of attention (although I have no doubt that rank-and-file American soldiers would vie for these missions.)

Ten years after the occupation began,  Afghans at times are still often literally reduced to eating grass.

(Note: Bimayan Province is where our new little friends, the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers, are from.)  

David Swanson of War is a Crime reports:

"While the “Super” Committee works on the federal budget for FY 2013 and beyond, under the radar, the Congress is moving forward with another huge Defense budget for FY 2012. When it returns from Thanksgiving break, the Senate will be voting on a $682.5 billion Defense Authorization bill."

2.5 million are in imminent danger.  $2 worth of foodstuffs, protein/vitamin-enriched flour, cooking oil, etc., is a reasonable cost per person since most people are already living on less than a dollar a day.  That's 2 times 2.5 million times 90 days or about a half billion dollars for a solid commitment to warding off hunger during the three harshest months of the winter.  We spend $10 billion per month in Afghanistan on military operations.  So the entire food part of the program would cost less what we spend in 2 days in fuel, ammo, and the cost of maintaining the occupation.

2 days.  Obama should ask Congress for an emergency appropriation and begin relief operations immediately.

The kicker is that the insurgency has steadily spread from the south, the "conflict areas," to the north, and Washington and the generals can't seem to figure out why. Why, why are Afghans so cynical about the US presence?  Now there is fighting where there was never fighting before!

When one looks at the dynamics, one thing starts to become perfectly clear: this is no recipe for winning a war.  Keep the masses in hunger and starvation, unleash brutal, indiscriminate force, such as drone attacks which kill mostly civilians, in the chase for a few insurgents, and make sure the Taliban is well-funded by the Pentagon itself through pay-offs for allowing military supply convoys to pass through.  This is a perfect recipe for keeping any war going.  

And why not?  In 2006 the Institute for Policy Studies and United for a Fair Economy reported that "stock price gains for defense contractors have averaged 48 percent" more than the overall stock market.  CEOs of major defense contracting corporations are not only in Occupy Wall Street's top one percent, but in the top .1%.

Investing Daily gushed last year:

The Afghanistan Troop Surge Means Profits!

the likelihood that the U.S. will end up the loser in Afghanistan is a long-term worry. In the short-term, military contractors doing business in Afghanistan will make a boatload of money...  - "How To Profit From the War in Afghanistan"

In 1934 Marine General and double Medal of Honor winner Smedley Butler took off his uniform and traveled the country to tell Americans what he had learned from his career.  The title of his book and speech was "War is a Racket."  Butler until his dying day shook people by the scruff and begged them to understand what he had seen:

   "War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives... A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small 'inside' group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes."

The failure of direct aid in the north is a microcosm of the greater, almost deliberate neglect on the part of the US to support the many avenues available, over the last ten years, for delivering meaningful assistance to Afghans wishing to rebuild the country's war-torn basic infrastructure, and instead directing billions toward foreign contractors and their subsidiaries who soak up 40-60 percent of the funds for profits and overhead, so that little of that aid actually reaches Afghans or goes toward projects that they themselves want and need.  

Much more effective would be fully funding the indigenous Afghan National Solidarity Program (NSP), which has thousands of local projects voted on by community councils which are ready for ground-breaking but lack funds.  The NSP has been found by the US Special Inspector General to be honest and efficient.  These are the kinds of projects which put Afghans on the path to sustainability by rebuilding vital parts of the traditional agrarian economy: water projects, canal clearing and irrigation, and secondary (unpaved) road improvement. It is a myth that development cannot be done in rural regions because of security concerns, a myth that is used to excuse years of abysmal neglect.  Dr. Greg Mortenson says:

“Aid can be done anywhere, including where Taliban are...But it’s imperative the elders are consulted, and that the development staff is all local, with no foreigners.”

The UN World Food Programme country director in Afghanistan, Louis Imbleau, in the BBC article is adamant about the looming food crisis in the country where fuel costs alone amount to at least $300,000 per year for every single US soldier on the ground.  Speaking of the effects of malnutrition on those children who survive, Imbleau says:

"it's irreversible and should just not be allowed to happen. It should not be allowed to happen."

Obama ask Congress for an emergency appropriation and begin relief operations immediately.

White House
Comments: 202-456-1111
Switchboard: 202-456-1414

Contact Congress
Switchboard: 202-224-3121

RAWA (2008): "Hunger Could Kill More People in Afghanistan Than the Taliban"

For more information of Afghan development go to Jobs for Afghans.

 

Debunking the Myth That Same Sex Marriage Lost Anthony Weiner's Seat to a Tea Party Candidate

There is a quiet effort to pin the failings of Democrats to beat a Tea Party candidate in the 2011 special election to fill Anthony Weiner’s House seat in NY District 9 on the passage of the same-sex marriage law in NY State. However though a small number of voters may have voted on this as their prime issue, the history of previous Congressional elections in that district prove that support of LGBT issues including marriage do not jeopardize Democratic candidates.

 

 

In 1998, Congressional-member Charles Schumer beat incumbent Senator Al D’Amato and a special election was held to fill Schumer’s seat in the 9th district. As Democrats have held the seat since the 1920’s the Democratic Primary was seen as the de-facto election to fill the seat. The Democratic primary contenders were city council-member Anthony Weiner who previously served as Schumer’s Chief of Staff, former NY Assemblywoman and City Council Member Melinda Katz from the Queens portion of the district (also a strong record on LGBT issues) and Noach Dear, a NY City Council-member from the Brooklyn side a former City Council-member and ultra-Orthodox Jew who has been a very outspoken anti-LGBT bigot.

Debunking the Myth That Same Sex Marriage Lost Anthony Weiner's Seat to a Tea Party Candidate

There is a quiet effort to pin the failings of Democrats to beat a Tea Party candidate in the 2011 special election to fill Anthony Weiner’s House seat in NY District 9 on the passage of the same-sex marriage law in NY State. However though a small number of voters may have voted on this as their prime issue, the history of previous Congressional elections in that district prove that support of LGBT issues including marriage do not jeopardize Democratic candidates.

 

 

In 1998, Congressional-member Charles Schumer beat incumbent Senator Al D’Amato and a special election was held to fill Schumer’s seat in the 9th district. As Democrats have held the seat since the 1920’s the Democratic Primary was seen as the de-facto election to fill the seat. The Democratic primary contenders were city council-member Anthony Weiner who previously served as Schumer’s Chief of Staff, former NY Assemblywoman and City Council Member Melinda Katz from the Queens portion of the district (also a strong record on LGBT issues) and Noach Dear, a NY City Council-member from the Brooklyn side a former City Council-member and ultra-Orthodox Jew who has been a very outspoken anti-LGBT bigot.

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