Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pepper Spray, Rubber Bullets And The Police State!

This weekend, while listening to an NPR story about police using tear gas and rubber bullets to break up a demonstration, I was actually surprised when it turned out the newscaster was talking about Tahrir Square -- I had assumed it was about another brutal response to a peaceful protest here at home.
All across the country -- most recently on the campus of UC Davis -- a war is being waged. This isn't a battle over parks and tents and sleeping bags. Though many of our leaders don't seem to realize it, this is a battle about their credibility -- even their legitimacy -- about how they represent us, about whom their real allegiance is to. Their misguided response to the Occupy protests has actually proved the point of the protesters more than any sign or chant could. Sure, you can clear the protesters out from this or that park in the middle of the night, or send in riot-geared police to clear a campus sidewalk, but that doesn't mean you've won. Quite the opposite. What is going on is a war of ideas, based in turn on moral standing.
The Occupy movement has been a test -- a national MRI -- that has allowed us to check-in on the health of our democracy by allowing us to see what's going on underneath the surface of America's power structures. And the results are dire. What the movement, and the response to it, has shown is a government almost completely disconnected from those it purports to represent.
Each week brings an image more iconic than the last. There was the NYPD officer calmly walking up to several women who were penned, pepper-spraying them in the face and then slinking off. There was the 84-year-old woman pepper-sprayed in Seattle, along with a pregnant 19-year-old and a priest. There was Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen splayed on the ground with a serious head injury after being assaulted by police in Oakland. There was the picture of Elizabeth Nichols being pepper-sprayed directly in the face at close range by police in Portland.
And there were the indelible images from the surprise 1 a.m. raid on Occupy Wall Street's Zuccotti Park encampment by the NYPD -- which, Mayor Bloomberg claimed, was because it had become "a health and fire safety hazard." Really? Does the city traditionally take care of "health and fire safety hazards" under cover of darkness?
The mayor may have won the battle of sleeping bags in a park but this reminds everyone who was occupying exactly why they were occupying.
If the mayor is so concerned about the hazards posed by people sleeping on the street and is prepared to use immense city resources to take care of it, as of last year there were over 3,000 homeless people sleeping on the streets of New York City.
City officials usually like to publicize their efforts fighting "health and fire safety hazards" for their citizens. But not this time. Not only were the media not allowed to report on the raid on Zuccotti, many reporters were barricaded, blocked, manhandled and even arrested. "The first thing the police did was clear out the journalists so that they could not see what was going on, "just as they routinely do in totalitarian nations."
Rivaling his "health and fire safety hazard" line, Bloomberg claimed the reason reporters were kept away was "to protect members of the press." Another hit to the mayor's credibility. As Harry Siegel put it in the Daily News:
The city doesn't take actions it's proud of at 1 a.m., and with the police literally shoving reporters away from the scene, 'to protect members of the press,' as Bloomberg insisted. That 'protection' applied to at least six journalists who were arrested, and many others who were handled roughly, including myself.
If you're a government official and you choose to do something in the middle of the night and you don't want the press to see, that's a pretty good sign you shouldn't be doing it. Since September, 26 reporters covering the Occupy movement have been arrested. A spokesman for the Mayor later bragged that "only five" of those arrested were officially credentialed by the NYPD. What a victory for civic government! Putting aside the fact that the NYPD doesn't get to decide who "the press" is, they actually want credit for "only" arresting five credentialed reporters of the many they shoved and beat and blocked and barricaded who were doing nothing more than trying to tell the citizens of New York what the officials they voted into office and whose salary they pay were doing in their name.
I often wonder how Rockford mayor Morrissey would handle an encampment. Rockford has one of the biggest police forces per capita in Illinois and now we have a new Home Land Security (also known as the new American KGB) headquarter downtown. So far the police have been more then tolerant and at times seem like they're on our side, but I know that at the flick of Morrissey's finger we would be up against a brutal wall. Just a week ago Morrissey made the decision to have most of the streetlights removed so he wouldn't have to layoff any of the police due to budget cuts. This is a city that operates in the dark now and I think it's going to get worse before it gets better.

Dead Press- Journalism that's not sold-out!

Dead Peasant Has A New Mission!

From here on out I'm going to be blogging on the actions and agenda of Occupy Rockford. I will still have articles on corporate corruption outside of my community bubble, but I want to be the trusting news of the Rockford movement. The Rockford mission is in solidarity with the Wall Street occupation.

Here are some statements from Occupy Wall Street activists as it begins to clarify its goals and mission (these do not represent the entire movement):

We Envision: [1] a truly free, democratic, and just society; [2] where we, the people, come together and solve our problems by consensus; [3] where people are encouraged to take personal and collective responsibility and participate in decision making; [4] where we learn to live in harmony and embrace principles of toleration and respect for diversity and the differing views of others; [5] where we secure the civil and human rights of all from violation by tyrannical forces and unjust governments; [6] where political and economic institutions work to benefit all, not just the privileged few; [7] where we provide full and free education to everyone, not merely to get jobs but to grow and flourish as human beings; [8] where we value human needs over monetary gain, to ensure decent standards of living without which effective democracy is impossible; [9] where we work together to protect the global environment to ensure that future generations will have safe and clean air, water and food supplies, and will be able to enjoy the beauty and bounty of nature that past generations have enjoyed.

Ten Things We Want
A Proposal for Occupy Wall Street

1. Eradicate the Bush tax cuts for the rich and institute new taxes on the wealthiest Americans and on corporations, including a tax on all trading on Wall Street (where they currently pay 0%).

2. Assess a penalty tax on any corporation that moves American jobs to other countries when that company is already making profits in America. Our jobs are the most important national treasure and they cannot be removed from the country simply because someone wants to make more money.

3. Require that all Americans pay the same Social Security tax on all of their earnings (normally, the middle class pays about 6% of their income to Social Security; someone making $1 million a year pays about 0.6% (or 90% less than the average person). This law would simply make the rich pay what everyone else pays.

4. Reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, placing serious regulations on how business is conducted by Wall Street and the banks.

5. Investigate the Crash of 2008, and bring to justice those who committed any crimes.

6. Reorder our nation's spending priorities (including the ending of all foreign wars and their cost of over $2 billion a week). This will re-open libraries, reinstate band and art and civics classes in our schools, fix our roads and bridges and infrastructure, wire the entire country for 21st century internet, and support scientific research that improves our lives.

7. Join the rest of the free world and create a single-payer, free and universal health care system that covers all Americans all of the time.

8. Immediately reduce carbon emissions that are destroying the planet and discover ways to live without the oil that will be depleted and gone by the end of this century.

9. Require corporations with more than 10,000 employees to restructure their board of directors so that 50% of its members are elected by the company’s workers. We can never have a real democracy as long as most people have no say in what happens at the place they spend most of their time: their job. (For any U.S. businesspeople freaking out at this idea because you think workers can't run a successful company: Germany has a law like this and it has helped to make Germany the world’s leading manufacturing exporter.)

10. We, the people, must pass three constitutional amendments that will go a long way toward fixing the core problems we now have. These include:

a) A constitutional amendment that fixes our broken electoral system by 1) completely removing campaign contributions from the political process; 2) requiring all elections to be publicly financed; 3) moving election day to the weekend to increase voter turnout; 4) making all Americans registered voters at the moment of their birth; 5) banning computerized voting and requiring that all elections take place on paper ballots.

b) A constitutional amendment declaring that corporations are not people and do not have the constitutional rights of citizens. This amendment should also state that the interests of the general public and society must always come before the interests of corporations.

c) A constitutional amendment that will act as a "second bill of rights" as proposed by President Frankin D. Roosevelt: that every American has a human right to employment, to health care, to a free and full education, to breathe clean air, drink clean water and eat safe food, and to be cared for with dignity and respect in their old age

-Dead Press- Journalism that's not sold-out!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

OWS hits the road to DC

The Occupy Wall Street protesters marching to D.C. said their spirits were high Thursday - despite hitting a roadblock within hours of leaving New York.
The 24 demonstrators set off from their Zuccotti Park camp on Wednesday afternoon for the two-week walk to Washington, and were soon forced to reroute by New Jersey cops.
“We were trying to go over a bridge near Newark but cops wouldn’t let us cross it,” said Michael Glazer, one of the founders of the “Occupy the Highway” movement.
“They said it was too close to rush hour.
“We had to take a detour and ... it delayed us three hours.”
Despite the delay, the group still arrived at their first scheduled stop in Elizabeth, N.J., Wednesday night, where they slept at the home of a fellow Occupy Wall Street supporter.
Glazer said they have been inspired by the send-off they received in New York City and plan to march 18 miles to New Brunswick by nightfall Thursday, where they will meet up with the town’s local occupation movement.
“I'm stoked. We all feel great and are ready for the trek,” Glazer said.
“We are all in high spirits and determined.”
Along the route, which will take them through Trenton, Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore, the group already has been greeted by trucks honking their horns in support, and the odd heckler.
They are equipped with backpacks, sleeping bags and tents, and plan to pick up supporters along the way.
They intend to end up in the nation’s capital on Nov. 23, in an effort to persuade elected officials to extend the Bush era tax cuts for the rich, or so-called “millionaires tax.”
For the moment, Glazer’s main concern however is the weather.
"I'm a little concerned about the rain - hopefully we won't be caught in a downpour,” he told the News.

Read more:

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The Tyranny of Unemployment

'We do not have the right to a job'

November 9, 2011

There are around 40 million people in the United States who are unemployed. These people want to work, and must work to survive and provide for their families.

The companies who could hire these unemployed workers have plenty of money to do so. They have made record profits and have received billions in bailouts from our tax dollars.

But these companies do not hire us, not because they cannot afford it, but because they fear that if they produce too much they won’t be able to sell it all. The cost of labor would cut into their profits—so they decide not to hire, even with record profits, and keep unemployment numbers surging.

We have the right to vote; the right to free speech and the right to assemble. But we do not have the right to a job. The employers, however, have the right to lay us off in the millions, ruining lives, in order to protect their profit margin. The decision over whether or not to employ the masses of unemployed, with the wealth we create in the first place, is in the hands of the 1%. Such power wielded over millions of lives, enriching a tiny few at the expense of the majority, is not a just or “democratic” system. That is a form of tyranny.

-Dead Press- Journalism that's not sold-out!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Class Warfare

We’re in a class war.

It’s the corporations and the very wealthiest against all the rest of us. We’re losing.

In 1962 the wealthiest 1 percent of American households had 125 times the wealth of the median household. Now it’s 190 times as much. Is that a case of a rising tide lifting all boats, just a few of them a little bit higher? No.

From 1950 to 1965, median family income rose from $24,000 a year to $38,000 a year. That’s close to 4 percent a year, close to 60 percent over 15 years. That’s a rising tide.

In 1964 there was a big tax cut. That’s when things started to slow down for average people. By the mid-'70s the rise of the middle class stalled. From 1975 to 2010 median family income rose $42,936 to $49,777. That’s not quite 16 percent over 25 years, less than six-tenths of 1 percent per year.

Briefly, when taxes went up under Clinton, median income rose, peaked at $52,587 in 1999, and then, after Bush cut taxes, declined. Keep in mind that this is median family income. In the '50s and '60s, family income was usually earned by a single person. Today, family income normally comes from at least two people.

At the same time, income for the richest soared. In 1979 the richest 1 percent of Americans earned 9 percent of all U.S. income. Now they earn 24 percent of all U.S. income. One percent of Americans earn nearly one-fourth of all the income in the country.

Then came the crashes of 2001 and 2008 and the recessions that followed.

The crash hasn’t changed anything. Things have become worse.

From 1990 to 2005, adjusted for inflation -- the minimum wage is down 9 percent, production workers’ pay is up only over 15 years 4.3 percent.

At the same time, the rich get richer:

Corporate profits are up 106.7 percent. The S&P 500 is still up 141.4 percent since 1990. CEO compensation is up 282 percent. Call it transfer of wealth. Or call it class warfare.

What’s wrong with the rich getting richer?

Slate's Timothy Noah, in "The United States of Inequality," wrote, “Income distribution in the United States [has become] more unequal than in Guyana, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, and roughly on par with Uruguay, Argentina, and Ecuador.”

Take a look at that list.

Countries with wide income inequality don’t lead the world in research, technology, industry, and innovation. They’re unstable. They have large underclasses. They have high rates of crime. They have little opportunity.

In such countries the rich have disproportionate power. They take control of all aspects of society, especially government, the police, and the judiciary. They become self perpetuating.

If current trends continue, “The United States by 2043 will have the same income inequality as Mexico.” (Tula Connell, Mar 12, 2010, AFL-CIO Now.)

Countries with high levels of income inequality are third-world countries.

Here’s how regular people can deal with cultures of high inequality. The primary, and best, weapon is a progressive tax structure. As people move up the income ladder they pay a higher rate at each rung. Unearned income –from dividends and capital gains – is taxed at least as high as earned income (money that people actually work for.) Tax cuts for the wealthy mark, with great precision, the decline in fortunes of ordinary Americans. Tax cuts for the wealthy mark, with equal precision, the increase in inequality. We had a chance to slow the process by letting the last round, the Bush tax cuts, expire. We’ve lost that round.

People can become educated and move on up.

Back in the '60s, when I was growing up, New York City had free universities. The burgeoning SUNY system charged $400 tuition a semester. The minimum Regents scholarship was $400 a semester. If a student didn’t get one, he or she could easily earn enough to pay tuition with a summer job. The same held true for most state university systems across the country.

Today, students have to borrow. The median student debt for an undergraduate degree – forget about a doctorate, law school, and med school – is $20,000. The first, and truest, lesson you learn when you go to college is how to be in service to the banks.

We’ve lost that battle.

What does it mean?

“Children from low-income families have only a 1 percent chance of reaching the top 5 percent of the income distribution, versus children of the rich who have about a 22 percent chance.

“Children born to the middle quintile of parental family income ($42,000 to $54,300) had about the same chance of ending up in a lower quintile than their parents (39.5 percent) as they did of moving to a higher quintile (36.5 percent). Their chances of attaining the top five percentiles of the income distribution were just 1.8 percent.”

Working people can organize and form unions. Unions do more than raise wages. They improve working conditions and safety. They provide protection against abuse, intimidation and wrongful dismissal. Non-union employers have to compete, partly to keep out unions, so the existence of unions helps everyone. Unions also have political power, they spend money and mobilize their members to vote.

Businesses have become very good at beating unions. And they’re getting better at it. According to Business Week, ("How Wal-Mart Keeps Unions at Bay,” 10/28/2002),"over the past two decades, Corporate America has perfected its ability to fend off labor groups."

In the 1940s a third of private sector employees were unionized. Now it’s down to just 7.2 percent. Unions only remain strong in the public sector, where membership is 37 percent.

If you read the papers or watch the news, you will see an anti-public service union story almost everyday. These are the people who teach your kids, pick up the trash, clean the sewers, drive the buses and trains, they’re the police and fireman. The stories will tell you their pension fund liabilities will bankrupt the states; that it’s unionized teachers who have ruined our schools. Charter schools – without unions – are the new favorite charity for billionaires.

When a country is, or becomes, a third-world country, the other thing people can do is run. To some place richer and freer. Like America.

But when America becomes Mexico, where you gonna run to?

Larry Beinhart is the author of "Wag the Dog," "The Librarian," and "Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin." His latest book is Salvation Boulevard. Responses can be sent to

-Dead Press- Journalism that's not sold-out!

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Whole Picture

Fact: A robotic revolution happened a decade ago. Corporations have exploited this technology. Proof of it can be seen on the Discovery Channel series "How It's Made". Everything from applesauce to automobiles is made by robots. Count how many human workers you see on the show. Not very many.
Problem: Millions of people have lost jobs! The corporations know that the world is overpopulated and they no longer have any need for working men who need livable wages. If a corporation can't use a robot to do certain jobs then they move their factories to tax free third world countries where they can take advantage by way of wage slavery. Now the elitists behind the corporate machine want us to starve to death by taking away government provided social services.

There is a very important book by Edwin Black called War on the Weak. In it he discusses eugenics. It seems that none other than the good old USA started the ball rolling. Two foundations Rockefeller & Ford pushed their belief that some segments of our species deserve to survive and others don't. In view of the rapidly disappearing resources on this planet it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see the losers: Katrina, the Tsunami, lack of AIDS money, Iwreck, all of the stans, Africa--which will receive the highest impact from climate change. In many statements Adolph Hitler credits the US-based foundations for pointing him in the right direction toward the embodiment of the eugenics ideology--elimination camps.

The Oligarchy of about 6000 men will divide what is remaining of the earth's provisions the rest will have to exist on what's left. Recall the movie "Escape from New York" by John Carpenter and you will have a vivid picture of just what the Oligarchs have in store for us. The New Austerity campaigns in Europe are the beginning. The too big to fail banksters have stolen our wages, loaned it back to us at exorbitant interest rates, gambled with those astronomical profits and lost then charged the borrowers--US--for their losses. They are no longer taxed, corporations are both non-human entities--watch BP wriggle out of their liabilities--and human entities, whenever it suits their bottom lines. Greece, France and England's citizenry are being forced to pay what the Oligarchs owe to the rest of us. Check out Iceland for a viable way out. I doubt if the Europeans allow for this impoverishment--they've seen it before. The USA is next. It will take a while but this country won't accept the "offer" either. Just remember...we have the superior numbers. By definition an Oligarchy means a FEW!

-Dead Press- Journalism that's not sold-out!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Mr.Monk Goes To Madison

Tony Shaloub (the star of Monk) speaks out against Governor Walker's Union Busting Bill and stands up for his "Thug-like" teaching sister.

-Dead Press- Journalism that's not sold-out!

Stephen King's Real Nightmare

Stephen King speaks against Republicans, Ronald Reagan, and the Tea Party at a rally in Sarasota, Florida.

-Dead Press- Journalism that's not sold-out!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Monday, March 7, 2011

Michael Moore's Great Wisconsin Speech

If these speech doesn't inspire you, you're on the wrong side.

-Dead Press- Journalism that's not sold-out!

Monday, January 24, 2011

First Anniversary of Citizens United Decision: Hundreds of Millions in Corporate Money Already Pouring into Elections

A year ago this week, the Supreme Court issued a ruling so momentous that many are still grappling to take stock of its impact on our political system.

This story originally appeared in Facing South, online magazine of the Institute for Southern Studies.

The case: Citizens United. The decision: In a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to limit in any way the amount of money corporations can spend on attack ads or other "electioneering communications" to sway a political race.

Before Citizens United, plenty of corporate money had found its way into political PACs and other avenues to influence elections. The court also did nothing to strike down the ban on direct corporate contributions to candidates or political parties.

But the decision opened a massive loophole in our country's already-porous campaign finance system, giving corporations the green light to inject unlimited sums of cash into independent groups -- 527s and 501c4s, references to their IRS tax status -- that can intervene in elections.

After the January 2010 decision, many in the media reported that corporations may be skittish about fully exploiting Citizens United's political windfall, but that proved premature. Millions of dollars began flooding into existing electioneering like Americans for Prosperity, backed by benefactors like the Koch brothers and North Carolina retail magnate Art Pope. New groups like Karl Rove's American Crossroads and American Crossroads GPS were quickly erected to funnel tens of millions of dollars into key congressional races.

A new report released by Public Citizen this week surveys the results:

* Spending by outside groups jumped to $294.2 million in the 2010 election cycle, a nearly four-fold increase from the $68.9 million spent in 2006, the last mid-terms. Nearly half of that ($138.5 million) came from just 10 groups, with the biggest share by far benefiting Republicans.

* In 60 out of 75 congressional races, the candidate benefiting most from outside spending won the race -- a remarkable 80 percent win rate.

* The source of the money flooding into elections after Citizens United largely hidden: Because many of the independent groups aren't required to disclose their donors, barely a third -- 34 percent -- of the groups reported which people and groups gave them money.

As Public Citizen notes, the cloak of secrecy surrounding corporate campaign spending goes against the Supreme Court thinking behind Citizens United, which was that massive corporate spending was acceptable as long as the public knew about it:

Justice Anthony Kennedy's opinion for the majority was based in part on the assumption that any dangers posed by the new flood of corporate spending in elections would be mitigated by disclosure. "This transparency enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages," Kennedy wrote.
The DISCLOSE Act, a bill that would have required non-profit groups to reveal the donors behind their election war chests, failed by one vote last spring in the face of a Senate Republican filibuster.

Although not as widely reported, Citizens United proved decisive in state elections as well. As Facing South documented in a series of reports, three independent groups backed by Art Pope in North Carolina -- Americans for Prosperity, Civitas Action and Real Jobs NC -- spent over $2 million targeting 22 state races, helping fuel the Republicans' capture of the N.C. legislature for the first time since Reconstruction.

Some advocates are calling for a new bill to force disclosure of the donors behind outside election spending, although it faces an uphill climb in the Republican-controlled U.S. House and does little to combat the campaign spending arms race exacerbated by Citizens United.

-Dead Press- Journalism that's not sold-out!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Other 98%= Mad Billionaire's Disease

On May 17th, a black-tie audience at the Metropolitan Opera House applauded as a tall, jovial-looking billionaire took the stage. It was the seventieth annual spring gala of American Ballet Theatre, and David H. Koch was being celebrated for his generosity as a member of the board of trustees; he had recently donated $2.5 million toward the company’s upcoming season, and had given many millions before that. Koch received an award while flanked by two of the gala’s co-chairs, Blaine Trump, in a peach-colored gown, and Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, in emerald green. Kennedy’s mother, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, had been a patron of the ballet and, coincidentally, the previous owner of a Fifth Avenue apartment that Koch had bought, in 1995, and then sold, eleven years later, for thirty-two million dollars, having found it too small.

The gala marked the social ascent of Koch, who, at the age of seventy, has become one of the city’s most prominent philanthropists. In 2008, he donated a hundred million dollars to modernize Lincoln Center’s New York State Theatre building, which now bears his name. He has given twenty million to the American Museum of Natural History, whose dinosaur wing is named for him. This spring, after noticing the decrepit state of the fountains outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Koch pledged at least ten million dollars for their renovation. He is a trustee of the museum, perhaps the most coveted social prize in the city, and serves on the board of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where, after he donated more than forty million dollars, an endowed chair and a research center were named for him.

One dignitary was conspicuously absent from the gala: the event’s third honorary co-chair, Michelle Obama. Her office said that a scheduling conflict had prevented her from attending. Yet had the First Lady shared the stage with Koch it might have created an awkward tableau. In Washington, Koch is best known as part of a family that has repeatedly funded stealth attacks on the federal government, and on the Obama Administration in particular.

With his brother Charles, who is seventy-four, David Koch owns virtually all of Koch Industries, a conglomerate, headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, whose annual revenues are estimated to be a hundred billion dollars. The company has grown spectacularly since their father, Fred, died, in 1967, and the brothers took charge. The Kochs operate oil refineries in Alaska, Texas, and Minnesota, and control some four thousand miles of pipeline. Koch Industries owns Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups, Georgia-Pacific lumber, Stainmaster carpet, and Lycra, among other products. Forbes ranks it as the second-largest private company in the country, after Cargill, and its consistent profitability has made David and Charles Koch—who, years ago, bought out two other brothers—among the richest men in America. Their combined fortune of thirty-five billion dollars is exceeded only by those of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation. These views dovetail with the brothers’ corporate interests. In a study released this spring, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute named Koch Industries one of the top ten air polluters in the United States. And Greenpeace issued a report identifying the company as a “kingpin of climate science denial.” The report showed that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups. Indeed, the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies—from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program—that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus.

In a statement, Koch Industries said that the Greenpeace report “distorts the environmental record of our companies.” And David Koch, in a recent, admiring article about him in New York, protested that the “radical press” had turned his family into “whipping boys,” and had exaggerated its influence on American politics. But Charles Lewis, the founder of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan watchdog group, said, “The Kochs are on a whole different level. There’s no one else who has spent this much money. The sheer dimension of it is what sets them apart. They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation. I’ve been in Washington since Watergate, and I’ve never seen anything like it. They are the Standard Oil of our times.”

A few weeks after the Lincoln Center gala, the advocacy wing of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation—an organization that David Koch started, in 2004—held a different kind of gathering. Over the July 4th weekend, a summit called Texas Defending the American Dream took place in a chilly hotel ballroom in Austin. Though Koch freely promotes his philanthropic ventures, he did not attend the summit, and his name was not in evidence. And on this occasion the audience was roused not by a dance performance but by a series of speakers denouncing President Barack Obama. Peggy Venable, the organizer of the summit, warned that Administration officials “have a socialist vision for this country.”

Five hundred people attended the summit, which served, in part, as a training session for Tea Party activists in Texas. An advertisement cast the event as a populist uprising against vested corporate power. “Today, the voices of average Americans are being drowned out by lobbyists and special interests,” it said. “But you can do something about it.” The pitch made no mention of its corporate funders. The White House has expressed frustration that such sponsors have largely eluded public notice. David Axelrod, Obama’s senior adviser, said, “What they don’t say is that, in part, this is a grassroots citizens’ movement brought to you by a bunch of oil billionaires.”

In April, 2009, Melissa Cohlmia, a company spokesperson, denied that the Kochs had direct links to the Tea Party, saying that Americans for Prosperity is “an independent organization and Koch companies do not in any way direct their activities.” Later, she issued a statement: “No funding has been provided by Koch companies, the Koch foundations, or Charles Koch or David Koch specifically to support the tea parties.” David Koch told New York, “I’ve never been to a tea-party event. No one representing the tea party has ever even approached me.”

At the lectern in Austin, however, Venable—a longtime political operative who draws a salary from Americans for Prosperity, and who has worked for Koch-funded political groups since 1994—spoke less warily. “We love what the Tea Parties are doing, because that’s how we’re going to take back America!” she declared, as the crowd cheered. In a subsequent interview, she described herself as an early member of the movement, joking, “I was part of the Tea Party before it was cool!” She explained that the role of Americans for Prosperity was to help “educate” Tea Party activists on policy details, and to give them “next-step training” after their rallies, so that their political energy could be channelled “more effectively.” And she noted that Americans for Prosperity had provided Tea Party activists with lists of elected officials to target. She said of the Kochs, “They’re certainly our people. David’s the chairman of our board. I’ve certainly met with them, and I’m very appreciative of what they do.”

Venable honored several Tea Party “citizen leaders” at the summit. The Texas branch of Americans for Prosperity gave its Blogger of the Year Award to a young woman named Sibyl West. On June 14th, West, writing on her site, described Obama as the “cokehead in chief.” In an online thread, West speculated that the President was exhibiting symptoms of “demonic possession (aka schizophrenia, etc.).” The summit featured several paid speakers, including Janine Turner, the actress best known for her role on the television series “Northern Exposure.” She declared, “They don’t want our children to know about their rights. They don’t want our children to know about a God!”

During a catered lunch, Venable introduced Ted Cruz, a former solicitor general of Texas, who told the crowd that Obama was “the most radical President ever to occupy the Oval Office,” and had hidden from voters a secret agenda—“the government taking over our economy and our lives.” Countering Obama, Cruz proclaimed, was “the epic fight of our generation!” As the crowd rose to its feet and cheered, he quoted the defiant words of a Texan at the Alamo: “Victory, or death!”

Americans for Prosperity has worked closely with the Tea Party since the movement’s inception. In the weeks before the first Tax Day protests, in April, 2009, Americans for Prosperity hosted a Web site offering supporters “Tea Party Talking Points.” The Arizona branch urged people to send tea bags to Obama; the Missouri branch urged members to sign up for “Taxpayer Tea Party Registration” and provided directions to nine protests. The group continues to stoke the rebellion. The North Carolina branch recently launched a “Tea Party Finder” Web site, advertised as “a hub for all the Tea Parties in North Carolina.”

The anti-government fervor infusing the 2010 elections represents a political triumph for the Kochs. By giving money to “educate,” fund, and organize Tea Party protesters, they have helped turn their private agenda into a mass movement. Bruce Bartlett, a conservative economist and a historian, who once worked at the National Center for Policy Analysis, a Dallas-based think tank that the Kochs fund, said, “The problem with the whole libertarian movement is that it’s been all chiefs and no Indians. There haven’t been any actual people, like voters, who give a crap about it. So the problem for the Kochs has been trying to create a movement.” With the emergence of the Tea Party, he said, “everyone suddenly sees that for the first time there are Indians out there—people who can provide real ideological power.” The Kochs, he said, are “trying to shape and control and channel the populist uprising into their own policies.”

A Republican campaign consultant who has done research on behalf of Charles and David Koch said of the Tea Party, “The Koch brothers gave the money that founded it. It’s like they put the seeds in the ground. Then the rainstorm comes, and the frogs come out of the mud—and they’re our candidates!”

The Kochs and their political operatives declined requests for interviews. Instead, a prominent New York public-relations executive who is close with the Kochs put forward two friends: George Pataki, the former governor of New York, and Mortimer Zuckerman, the publisher and real-estate magnate. Pataki, a Republican who received campaign donations from David Koch, called him “a patriot who cares deeply about his country.” Zuckerman praised David’s “gentle decency” and the “range of his public interests.”

The Republican campaign consultant said of the family’s political activities, “To call them under the radar is an understatement. They are underground!” Another former Koch adviser said, “They’re smart. This right-wing, redneck stuff works for them. They see this as a way to get things done without getting dirty themselves.” Rob Stein, a Democratic political strategist who has studied the conservative movement’s finances, said that the Kochs are “at the epicenter of the anti-Obama movement. But it’s not just about Obama. They would have done the same to Hillary Clinton. They did the same with Bill Clinton. They are out to destroy progressivism.”

Oddly enough, the fiercely capitalist Koch family owes part of its fortune to Joseph Stalin. Fred Koch was the son of a Dutch printer who settled in Texas and ran a weekly newspaper. Fred attended M.I.T., where he earned a degree in chemical engineering. In 1927, he invented a more efficient process for converting oil into gasoline, but, according to family lore, America’s major oil companies regarded him as a threat and shut him out of the industry. Unable to succeed at home, Koch found work in the Soviet Union. In the nineteen-thirties, his company trained Bolshevik engineers and helped Stalin’s regime set up fifteen modern oil refineries. Over time, however, Stalin brutally purged several of Koch’s Soviet colleagues. Koch was deeply affected by the experience, and regretted his collaboration. He returned to the U.S. In the headquarters of his company, Rock Island Oil & Refining, in Wichita, he kept photographs aimed at proving that some of those Soviet refineries had been destroyed in the Second World War. Gus diZerega, a former friend of Charles Koch, recalled, “As the Soviets became a stronger military power, Fred felt a certain amount of guilt at having helped build them up. I think it bothered him a lot.”

In 1958, Fred Koch became one of the original members of the John Birch Society, the arch-conservative group known, in part, for a highly skeptical view of governance and for spreading fears of a Communist takeover. Members considered President Dwight D. Eisenhower to be a Communist agent. In a self-published broadside, Koch claimed that “the Communists have infiltrated both the Democrat and Republican Parties.” He wrote admiringly of Benito Mussolini’s suppression of Communists in Italy, and disparagingly of the American civil-rights movement. “The colored man looms large in the Communist plan to take over America,” he warned. Welfare was a secret plot to attract rural blacks to cities, where they would foment “a vicious race war.” In a 1963 speech that prefigures the Tea Party’s talk of a secret socialist plot, Koch predicted that Communists would “infiltrate the highest offices of government in the U.S. until the President is a Communist, unknown to the rest of us.”

Koch married Mary Robinson, the daughter of a Missouri physician, and they had four sons: Freddie, Charles, and twins, David and William. John Damgard, the president of the Futures Industry Association, was David’s schoolmate and friend. He recalled that Fred Koch was “a real John Wayne type.” Koch emphasized rugged pursuits, taking his sons big-game hunting in Africa, and requiring them to do farm labor at the family ranch. The Kochs lived in a stone mansion on a large compound across from Wichita’s country club; in the summer, the boys could hear their friends splashing in the pool, but they were not allowed to join them. “By instilling a work ethic in me at an early age, my father did me a big favor, although it didn’t seem like a favor back then,” Charles has written. “By the time I was eight, he made sure work occupied most of my spare time.” David Koch recalled that his father also indoctrinated the boys politically. “He was constantly speaking to us children about what was wrong with government,” he told Brian Doherty, an editor of the libertarian magazine Reason, and the author of “Radicals for Capitalism,” a 2007 history of the libertarian movement. “It’s something I grew up with—a fundamental point of view that big government was bad, and imposition of government controls on our lives and economic fortunes was not good.”

David attended Deerfield Academy, in Massachusetts, and Charles was sent to military school. Charles, David, and William all earned engineering degrees at their father’s alma mater, M.I.T., and later joined the family company. Charles eventually assumed control, with David as his deputy; William’s career at the company was less successful. Freddie went to Harvard and studied playwriting at the Yale School of Drama. His father reportedly disapproved of him, and punished him financially. (Freddie, through a spokesperson, denied this.)

In 1967, after Fred Koch died, of a heart attack, Charles renamed the business Koch Industries, in honor of his father. Fred Koch’s will made his sons extraordinarily wealthy. David Koch joked about his good fortune in a 2003 speech to alumni at Deerfield, where, after pledging twenty-five million dollars, he was made the school’s sole “lifetime trustee.” He said, “You might ask: How does David Koch happen to have the wealth to be so generous? Well, let me tell you a story. It all started when I was a little boy. One day, my father gave me an apple. I soon sold it for five dollars and bought two apples and sold them for ten. Then I bought four apples and sold them for twenty. Well, this went on day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, until my father died and left me three hundred million dollars!”

David and Charles had absorbed their father’s conservative politics, but they did not share all his views, according to diZerega, who befriended Charles in the mid-sixties, after meeting him while browsing in a John Birch Society bookstore in Wichita. Charles eventually invited him to the Kochs’ mansion, to participate in an informal political-discussion group. “It was pretty clear that Charles thought some of the Birch Society was bullshit,” diZerega recalled.

DiZerega, who has lost touch with Charles, eventually abandoned right-wing views, and became a political-science professor. He credits Charles with opening his mind to political philosophy, which set him on the path to academia; Charles is one of three people to whom he dedicated his first book. But diZerega believes that the Koch brothers have followed a wayward intellectual trajectory, transferring their father’s paranoia about Soviet Communism to a distrust of the U.S. government, and seeing its expansion, beginning with the New Deal, as a tyrannical threat to freedom. In an essay, posted on Beliefnet, diZerega writes, “As state socialism failed . . . the target for many within these organizations shifted to any kind of regulation at all. ‘Socialism’ kept being defined downwards.”

DP Essay:The Corporated States of America

This, I know, is bound to be an unpopular essay that is likely to incite intense emotions and harsh accusations against me. Yet I feel compelled to express my thoughts on the matter in part because the commercial media does not allow dissenting views to be heard. Also, the majority of my fellow citizens have been drinking the mind altering kool-aide that distorts reality into fabulous forms that bears little resemblance to reality. Added to the formula is the fact that so many of us choose to live in denial rather than face the haunting specter of American history that might prove too disturbing for us to acknowledge.

Far too many Americans are so thoroughly indoctrinated in popular myths and propaganda that they are unable to recognize reality when they see it. They desperately need to cling to the absurd myths conjured by our rulers and deny the most criminal and unethical behavior upon which this nation was founded. Aided by a bogus educational system, we then contort them into virtue. Thus, murderers and robber barons are celebrated as self made industrialists who built America into a world class power. But as Thoreau stated, “Any truth is better than make believe.”

Unlike the majority of my fellow citizens, I do not take pride in the American flag. I do not get choked up when I see ‘old glory’ flapping in the breeze. My understanding of American history does not permit such unfounded patriotic stirrings. Too many atrocities have been committed under the flag for me to see any beauty in it, especially under the Bush regime. Indeed, seeing the flag often flushes me with shame and regret. I refuse to pledge allegiance to any flag. However, I pledge to live by a credo of social justice that does not recognize national borders. We are all one big family.

Historian Howard Zinn wrote, “There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.” I am inclined to agree.

For most Americans the flag stirs elements of sentimentality and reverence. It is celebrated as a symbol of freedom and democracy, the triumph of justice over injustice; good over evil. But symbols of noble ideals vanish into the mist when one critically examines the historical evidence. Millions of innocent people have died under the flag, including those who have carried it into battle in the belief that they were fighting for something nobler than corporate profits (see USMC General Smedley Butler’s 1933 essay “War is a Racket).”

To me the flag symbolizes much that is wrong with America. The flag is used as another clever marketing ploy against the people to manipulate and to control them, selling them a fictionalized version of history. The flag has been used, like the idea of patriotism, to motivate men to commit horrible crimes against earth and humankind. Rather than conjuring images of freedom and peace in my mind, it portrays the darkest side of human nature such as conquest, invasion and occupation. It reveals a litany of crimes against nature and humanity that I cannot dismiss from memory. Critical thinking demands that one weigh the evidence and draw one’s own conclusions based upon the facts, whether they contradict our preconceived notions or not.

I keep another flag, one that more accurately portrays the truth about America, in the trunk of my car, which I carry at anti-war rallies and demonstrations. Like the American flag, this pennant is red, white and blue. In place of the fifty stars there are corporate symbols that depict the corporate states of America. My flag portrays the reality of what the American flag really stands for. It is all about corporate power, global conquest, death, destruction and oppression. What do these have to do with democracy and freedom? What do they have to do with social justice?

Once again the people were sold a vision that is at odds with reality. The truth is that America is the polar opposite of everything we have been told she is. That is why so much of the world is aligned against us. They see us as we are, not merely as what we pretend to be. Most of the world’s 192 nations have been the recipients of our benevolence in the form of CIA interventions, land mines and carpet bombs.

When I see old glory fluttering in a brisk breeze I hear the lies of an imperialist dictator named George Bush and all the horrors they have wrought for so many echoing across the tides of time. I recall the brazen lies of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condi Rice, and the entire neocon cabal that has resulted in the criminal invasion and occupation of Iraq, Abu Griab, and the inhumane horrors enacted daily at Guantonimo Bay, the massacre of innocent civilians by U.S. marines and the attendant cover up. I see the theft of Iraqi oil by U.S. forces handed over to oil companies and defense contractors on a silver platter. I see the entire civilized world held at gun point, stripped of its dignity and its freedom by the largest crime syndicate the world has ever known. It is hard to get all puffed up and to take pride in that.

I recall the overthrow of democratically elected governments around the world by an imperialist nation, particularly in Latin America; the assassination of populist leaders who refused to be puppets for U.S. corporations. Chile’s Salvador Allende’ provides an example. Visions of Columbian death squads trained at the School of the Americas move like ghosts in my mind. They are not to be ignored. I perceive the threatening overtures directed at true democratic socialist governments in Venezuela and Bolivia that I know will probably result in the eventual assassinations of Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales. These threats and violent overtures are part of a familiar historical pattern. It is not difficult to imagine what will follow. Democracy is a threat to corrupt power and it must be assassinated. Power in the hands of the people will not be tolerated by the Plutocracy. Under the red, white and blue profits matter more than people. They always have.

The historical evidence demonstrates that populist movements and true democracy are the avowed enemies of the corporate states of America and the ruling Plutocracy. We have a long history of destroying democratic, left wing governments. When has America ever over-thrown an oppressive right wing government? Death squads do not exist to celebrate democracy or to liberate the oppressed.

We have troops stationed at permanent bases all over the world and they are not fostering democracy, they are suppressing it. These acts are committed under the banner of the stars and stripes and given noble explanations in the commercial media. Every day the madmen who are running the government are planning new horrors, an endless litany of death and mayhem to be committed in our name for corporate profits. So forgive me if I do not pledge allegiance to the flag of the corporate states of America. Pardon me if I do not get choked up with pride when I see a bumper sticker that reads, “These colors don’t run.” Most people, it seems to me, have no clue about the atrocities that are being committed by their government. They do not want to know.

-Dead Press- Journalism that's not sold-out!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Americans Are Far Less Conservative Than the Right Wing Claims

Among the many memes floating around in the wake of the 2010 election is that America has taken a rightward turn, and conservative pundits seem re-energized in calling America a center-right nation. After all, a plurality of American voters (42 percent) now call themselves “conservative” — as compared to just 35 percent who say they are “moderate” and 20 percent who say they are “liberal.” Two years ago, moderates and conservatives both were at 37 percent.

But new research suggests that pundits ought to be cautious of overinterpreting the conservative label: It doesn’t always mean what they think it means: Only a quarter of self-identified “conservatives” may actually be true conservatives on the issues — less than the 30 percent of whom are not conservative at all, but simply like the label.

The reason why so few “conservatives” turn out to be solid right-wingers is that the word “conservative” has different meanings for different people, according to political scientists Christopher Ellis of Bucknell and James A. Stimson of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, who describe their findings in a new working paper, “Pathways to Ideology in American Politics: The Operational-Symbolic ‘Paradox’ Revisited”

According to their research, some people genuinely know what it means to be a conservative in the current political debate and indeed express matching preferences across all issues. But these “constrained conservatives” (as Ellis and Stimson call them) account for only 26 percent of all self-identified conservatives.

More common are the “moral conservatives” (34 percent), who think of themselves as conservative in terms of their own personal values, be they social or religious. And they are indeed right-leaning on social, cultural and religious issues. But they also like government spending on a variety of programs and generally approve of government interventions in the marketplace, hardly making them true conservatives.

And still others, “conflicted conservatives” (30 percent), are not conservative at all on the issues. But they like identifying themselves as conservatives. To them, it somehow sounds better. “They like the word,” explained Ellis. Or at least, they like it better then their other choices in the traditional self-identification questionnaire: moderate and liberal.

Finally, a smaller group of self-identified “conservatives” (10 percent) could be classified as libertarian — conservative on economic issues, liberal on social issues.

Self-identified liberals, on the other hand, are consistently liberal on all the issues, according to Ellis and Stimson. Two-thirds of liberals fit into the category of “constrained liberals,” who pick the label because it actually describes their worldview.

A good part of the reason why moral conservatives keep calling themselves conservative (despite dubiously conservative issue positions) is that these are voters who don’t follow politics closely enough to fully understand what it means to be a political conservative. Conflicted conservatives, meanwhile, identify as conservatives because they hear liberals defend programs and Republicans defend principles and agree with both without confronting the contradictions.

“People don’t hear conflicting arguments, but rather two sets of arguments,” explained Ellis. “Conservatives talk about a commitment to conservative values, and liberals talk about what we can do for you on education or the environment. Elite conservatives never say cut education spending, and elite liberals never say we’re proud to be liberals. The two groups of people talk past each other.”

This is a longstanding phenomenon. In another paper, Ellis and Stimson have shown going back to at least 1937 — the heart of the New Deal — that the American public, on average, has been operationally liberal and symbolically conservative. That is, that when asked about specific “liberal” government programs — be they spending on education, environmental protections, regulation of business — the majority of voters consistently say they approve.

But when asked to self-identify as liberals, moderates or conservatives, many of the same voters say they are “conservative.” The gap widened in the 1960s, when Republicans started making a concerted effort to turn “liberal” into a four-letter word. Since then, there has been an enduring 20-25 percent gap between the percentage of Americans who identify as liberals and who actually support liberal policies.

For both true liberals and true conservatives, however, the contradictions between self-identification and actual policy preferences can be maddening.

“Liberals would say, these people like all these things but call themselves conservative, so it just must be an artifact or a label,” said Ellis. “Conservatives would say these people call themselves conservative, they share our values and principles, but they don’t understand these policies are not reflective of our values.”

As for the supposed conservative shift this election, Ellis believes that voters were thinking more about symbols and values than about specifics: “The tenor of the discussion was about smaller government, lower taxes and traditional social values,” said Ellis. No wonder, then, that a few more people identified themselves as conservatives. (Other research has suggested that ideology can shift depending on the situation and that conservatism tends to rise in response to anxiety and uncertainty.)

But that doesn’t mean that the recent uptick in conservative self-identification provides a ringing endorsement of conservative policies for a simple reason: Most so-called conservatives just aren’t that conservative.

“I hope what this does is provide a grain of salt in reading public opinion,” said Ellis. “We’re more conservative now than we were two years ago, but the raw numbers are misleading. They give a picture that’s just not there when you dig deeper.”

-Dead Press- Journalism that's not sold-out!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Propaganda VS. Misinformation

I once asked someone I know why she listens to Rush Limbaugh, even though his diatribes bring her endless anguish. Her response? “Because I want to stay informed.”

As someone who regularly watches Keith Olbermann, perhaps it’s hypocritical to be astonished by such an absurd pronouncement. But here’s the difference between Olbermann and conservative propaganda. Yes, Countdown is a form of propaganda, the same way this article can be called propaganda. But it is not disinformation.

According to, the word propaganda was coined in 1718 and is taken from the Latin word propagare, which means “to propagate” and was short for “Congregatio dePropaganda Fide,” or “congregation for propagating the faith,” a term employed by a committee of cardinals bent on spreading the teachings of the Church. defines propaganda as “information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc.”

This in no way equals the plain candor of’s definition of disinformation, whose grim origin is Rus. Dezinformatsiya, 1955: “false information intended to deceive or mislead.”

Today, everyone’s favorite way of demonizing the opposition is by calling it propaganda. But, as a teacher once taught me, propaganda was not always considered a dirty word. As he put it, “The Nazis ruined it for everyone.” When I popped Triumph of the Will, one of the most notorious Nazi propaganda films, into my DVD player, I was braced for a bombardment of disgusting depictions of Jews. But by the time I was finished I was surprised by the absence of negativity and sole focus on the positive, such as footage of healthy, strong Aryan boys playing in open fields. In his speeches, Hitler’s language often mirrors that of any normal politician—one could easily conjure Bill Clinton or George H.W. Bush when the Fuhrer talks of uniting the nation.

In this paradigm, propaganda is employed to motivate Germans to join the Nazi movement, not to go out and massacre Jews, Gypsies, gays and the sick. It’s not unlike watching the YES network, where you’ll regularly see celebratory clips and never a commercial showing the Yankees giving up a home run or a classic rerun of the Red Sox triumph in game seven of the 2004 ALCS. The goal is to glorify and get viewers excited about the Yankees and motivated to watch or buy tickets to the games.

However, as we all know, many other articles of Nazi propaganda did incite the volk to commit pogroms and eventually genocide. Since then, propaganda has been treated with absolute contempt, in a way reminiscent of how “fuck,” as George Carlin put it in his immortal “seven words” routine, originally meant “to strike” but is now understood to encapsulate not only the act of copulating, but also all the frightening and aggressive connotations we associate with sex.

Consequently, nowadays the left calls Fox News and conservative talk radio propaganda, and the right reserves that catch-all epithet for “the liberal media,” i.e., every media outlet that’s not staunchly conservative, especially Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

All this would be tolerable, especially because most moderate conservatives can easily distinguish between Fox News—where on supposedly non-opinionated segments (i.e. not Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly and co.) the anchors routinely, egregiously misinform their viewers, such as the time they ran a story misrepresenting a Max Planck Institute report by claiming that it concluded that trees are causing global warming—and The New York Times, or CNN, etc.

But the wholesale demonization of propaganda as a tool in political warfare becomes troublesome when it makes it acceptable for disinterested commentators to classify Olbermann, who establishes at the beginning of each show that he offers “all the news and commentary,” in a category that must be reserved exclusively for groups such as Fox News, conservative talk radio, the producers of the 9/11 conspiracy documentary Loose Change, and Alex Jones, who seeks to “inform” the masses that the “elite” of America are plotting to enslave everyone as part of a grand conspiracy to establish a New World Order.

I first watched Countdown two years ago, when I had just started following politics and had no ideological convictions, and I made the same error as many people by dismissing it as mere propaganda because of the incendiary tone of the show. The Worst Person’s in the World bit, the absolute contempt for conservatism and Bush, and strong rhetoric such as “Fox News is worse than Al-Qaeda,” all made it easy to ignore Olbermann’s message.

But eventually, after steadily following the news, conducting various research projects and learning more about just how deceitful Fox News is and how divorced from reality today’s mainstream conservative movement has become, considering that it entails believing climate change is a hoax, waterboarding is not torture, and the sub-prime mortgage crisis was caused by too much government regulation, to pick a few prominent examples, I started watching Countdown again and now feel comfortable asserting that Olbermann really is “saying it like it is” (though I disagree with him on some issues, such as his opposition to the war in Afghanistan and his insistence on a public option for healthcare) with the full realization that I run the risk of sounding just like any defender of Limbaugh.

But here’s the crucial difference between the two. When Limbaugh “informs” his audience about how “Imam Obama,” who “does not have a birth certificate,” wants to create death panels, he’s lying. When Olbermann tells his viewers how Gov. Brewer of Arizona has, in fact, implemented a death panel, he’s not deceiving anyone by interviewing mortally sick patients who have callously been denied easily available funding for life-saving procedures by a heartless conservative leader. Olbermann’s propaganda motivates people to donate thousands of dollars to help the “Arizona 98,” while Limbaugh’s disinformation spurs activists to protest in front of the Capitol and call Barney Frank a faggot to his face.

When Glenn Beck cravenly tells his followers that he “can’t debunk” the idea that Obama—whom he consistently calls a “radical Marxist,” a student of Stalin and a fascist bent on forming a private army, securing reparations and trampling on the Constitution—has created concentration camps through FEMA for political enemies, he’s misleading those who believe him (his neatly evasive backtracking notwithstanding) and inspiring them to fear obscene and fantastical threats. When Olbermann expresses outrage over Bush’s privatization of the military and opening, via executive order, CIA black sites that featured interrogation tactics modeled after KGB methods, he truly is informing people about radical, unconstitutional, heinous crimes against humanity.

Angry white conservatives who crave excuses to despise Obama turn to Beck (and the Tea Party, for that matter) to be told why they should hate, or to use their dishonest terminology, “fear” the President, progressivism and labor unions. Beck, like Fox News as a whole, feeds them the stories they desperately want to hear, though he “doesn’t want to believe they’re true,” and consequently large chunks of the population think healthcare reform is a government takeover, Obama is a socialist and George Soros will establish a One World Government unless “the people” stop him.

Olbermann, on the other hand, does not need to invent reasons to be outraged by the Bush administration and corporate campaign contributors like Rupert Murdoch and the Koch brothers, who in fact donate millions to politicians and disinformation outlets to try to dismantle the safety net and destroy progressivism.

If you look at the non-partisan Politifact’s “truth-o-meter” page on Olbermann you’ll find two “false” and three “half true” statements. Olbermann’s half-truths are merely opinions, such as that Ronald Reagan would not have passed the “Tea Party checklist.” At his worst, he has made two false statements, one of which was an honest mistake that he corrected the next day, and in the other case he accused a Republican representative of “Tweeting the whereabouts of a top-secret mission to Iraq,” a popular but discredited claim.

Compare this to politifact’s profiles of Limbaugh and Beck. Limbaugh has three “pants on fire” ratings, one for claiming that President Obama “wants to mandate circumcision” and another for accusing the White House of stealing donations to Haiti through And Beck has (only) four “pants on fire’s,” for saying things such as “in the health care bill, we’re now offering insurance for dogs,” and “John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, ‘has proposed forcing abortions and putting sterilants in the drinking water to control population.’ "

As we reflect on the Tucson massacre, we must caution against overly caustic rhetoric, but we must also be able to distinguish between moral outrage and false outrage. We should be angry that a mentally unstable person could legally purchase a semi-automatic weapon with an extra-large gun clip. And we must not allow the right to blast calls for stricter gun control as a callous attempt to “politicize” the tragedy.

Propaganda, like most things, can be used both for good or evil. Disinformation is a form of propaganda that is invariably sinister and dangerous. Propaganda, by design, evokes a visceral reaction: when I watch Fox News I usually lose my appetite (literally). But when I watch Countdown, or read Christopher Hitchens’ classic polemic against religion, God is not Great, I experience the same emotions Limbaugh’s fans feel when they listen to him: exuberance and outrage—I’m hooked. The point of propaganda is to motivate people to act upon the message being relayed. But when that message is a complete distortion of reality we end up with movements like the 9/11 Truthers, the Birthers and, of course, the Tea Party.

-Dead Press- Journalism that's not sold-out!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Homeland Security Report: Rightwing Terrorism Is America's Biggest Threat

Two years before the Tucson massacre, the Department of Homeland Security warned in a report that right-wing extremism was on the rise and could prompt "lone wolves" to launch attacks. But the agency backed away from the report amid intense criticism from Republicans, including future House Speaker John Boehner.

The report, which warned that the crippled economy and the election of the first black president were “unique drivers for right-wing radicalization and recruitment,” described the rise of “lone wolves and small terrorist cells embracing violent right-wing extremist ideology [as] the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States,” according to a copy reviewed by The Center for Public Integrity.
In the wake of last weekend’s attempted assassination of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, which left six dead and 14 wounded, the report’s warning of a lone wolf attack from someone with extremist tendencies seems prescient.
But when the April 2009 report was issued, it was overwhelmingly criticized by conservative commentators and lawmakers, who derided it as political propaganda from the Obama administration. Some experts worry that its findings were ignored due to political blowback.
“Not only was the report buried, the actual unit which created it was disemboweled,” said Brian Levin, a professor of criminal justice and the director of the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. He noted that DHS is congressionally mandated to study long-term trends among extremist groups.

Levin worried that political fallout rendered the report’s findings “impotent,” as well as future reports from the department profiling extremist groups. “Rather than the report being a hit piece, the hit piece was what was done in the wake of the report.

“Was there some awkward language in one section? Sure. But it was a very well-done report.”

The awkward language he refers to was a section in the report warning that returning veterans could be prime targets for recruitment into extremist organizations. Then-Minority Leader Boehner of Ohio was one of many Republicans who called on DHS to apologize.

“Furthermore, the Secretary of Homeland Security owes the American people an explanation for why … her own department is using [“terrorist”] to describe American citizens who disagree with the direction Washington Democrats are taking our nation,” said Boehner, now House speaker.

Leading conservatives claimed the report was a White House-directed hit piece—commentator Michelle Malkin derided it as “propaganda.”

Secretary Janet Napolitano was forced to issue a statement defending the study, stating that “we do not—nor will we ever—monitor ideology or political beliefs.” When asked about the report at an event in late 2010, Napolitano described it as “ancient history.”

The report’s primary focus was the fear that if the economy continued its downturn, it could mix with racial and political opposition to the election of Barack Obama and the ongoing debate about immigration. The report was especially concerned that these factors paralleled those that led to several incidents of domestic terrorism during the Clinton era.

“The current economic and political climate has some similarities to the 1990s when right-wing extremism experienced a resurgence fueled largely by an economic recession, criticism about the outsourcing of jobs, and the perceived threat to U.S. power and sovereignty by other foreign powers,” it said.

Unlike the 1990s, however, “the threat posed by lone wolves and small terrorist cells is more pronounced than in past years.”

Threat analysts within the department’s Extremism and Radicalization Branch, which produced the extremism report, also produced a “Domestic Extremism Lexicon” in late March 2009, just before the controversy began. The lexicon, which defined different extremist groups, was recalled quickly after being issued. When the lexicon came to light a few months later, it received criticism for including anti-immigration and antiabortion groups on its list of extremist organizations.

Giffords, a Democrat, had been the target of violent threats over the past year. In March, her Tucson office was vandalized hours after she voted in favor of President Obama’s health-care reform bill. Other Democrats experienced similar threats or vandalism.

The three-term congresswoman has received generally poor ratings from pro-gun groups. Gun Owners of America gave her a D in its 2010 candidate rankings, and the NRA gave her a D+ in 2008. Giffords has described herself as a gun owner, and she joined the NRA’s amicus brief regarding the Washington, D.C., gun ban. After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the ban, she described the decision as “a common sense decision that reaffirms the constitutional right—and Arizona tradition—of owning firearms. I commend the court for ruling in favor of restoring our right to bear arms.”

The U.S. Capitol Police, which is in charge of security for members of Congress, does not disclose statistics on threats to sitting representatives. The sergeant at arms for the Senate has said that threats of violence against senators went from 29 in 2009 to 49 in 2010. Speaking to reporters following a moment of silence at the Capitol today, Terrance Gainer, the sergeant at arms, said that overall the number of direct threats against members of Congress is “very low.”

While discussion has swirled around possible ties between accused gunman Jared Loughner and right-wing extremists, DHS on Monday said department officials “have not established any such possible link.” Levin doesn’t believe extremism was the sole driving factor. “This guy is a mentally deranged person first,” he said, and noted that the mentally ill often latch on to conspiracy theories to layer over their already “obsessive and aggressive template.”

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Monday, January 10, 2011


This is the truth. The question is what next? The answer is coming soon. TAKE A STAND!

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Sunday, January 9, 2011


Do NOT comment till you watch it all the way through!

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Jared Lee Loughner, the Arizona gunmen who shot Congresswoman Giffords in the head and killed 5 including a federal judge, was an avid fan and admirer of Glenn Beck. Here is proof:

This video is one of many crazy Rantings of Jared Lee Loughner, also known as classitup10 on YouTube. Notice his statement that the Beckinator is way cool?

In a series of videos, he gave a rambling account of obsessions and paranoias that appeared to be troubling him with increasing intensity up to the catastrophe. They included references to conscious dreaming, or "conscience dreaming" as he called it, a process of directing one's own dreams that he is thought to have practised. Another was a belief in the gold and silver standard of currency – a favourite topic of the rightwing of American politics that is regularly propounded by the Fox News commentator Glenn Beck.
The tone of Loughner's rantings is almost exclusively conservative and anti-government, with echoes of the populist campaigning of the Tea Party movement. "Don't trust the government listener!" he said in one video, accusing Washington of mind control and brainwashing.
The US constitution, the bible of the Tea Parties, features heavily, as does the suggestion that the federal government is acting against the text. "You don't have to accept the federalist laws. Read the United States of America constitution to apprehend all of the current treasonous laws."
There is also a strong streak of implicit violence in the postings.
He linked to his favourite video, America: Your Last Memory in a Terrorist Country, which shows a ghostly figure burning the US flag in the desert to a heavy metal song that repeatedly chants "Let the bodies hit the floor!"
He referred to people calling him a terrorist and wrote "a terrorist is a person who employs terror or terrorism, especially as a political weapon."
Until 4 October, Loughner was a student at Pima community college in Tucson, but he was suspended after a number of inappropriate acts.
The college said he had five contacts with the campus police for having disrupted classrooms and the library. In a YouTube video posted on 29 September, Loughner accused the college of fraud and of being illegal under the US constitution.
After Loughner quit the college, the institution made clear that, if he wished to return, he would have to undergo a mental health check to ensure that his presence did not "present a danger to himself or others".
Fellow students at Pima told local newspapers that he had displayed troubled behaviour. He was reported to be isolated and withdrawn and used to laugh out loud in the poetry class in a way that made others feel uneasy.
"He disrupted class frequently with nonsensical outbursts," Lynda Sorenson, who shared his mathematics class last year, told the Arizona Daily Star.
He lived with his parents on the northwest side of Tucson, a few miles away from the shooting scene. His difficulties began relatively early, with one incident recorded by police of a drug violation while he was at high school. He tried to enlist in the US military in Tucson but was turned away for unspecified reasons.
Arizona prides itself on its loose gun laws but there is still shock that a man with such a prolonged history of erratic and disturbing outbursts was able to legally acquire the gun he used in his rampage. The shootings were carried out with a Glock 19 semiautomatic, with a magazine of 30 bullets.


Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' blood is on Sarah Palin's hands after putting cross hair over district.
Sarah Palin should've known what she was doing when she put a target on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (below). Palin might as well have said, 'Fire!'

Yes, she put a cross hair on Gifford's district, encouraging gun-toting lunatics.
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was a target of Sarah Palin, but is a moderate, gun-owning Democrat who is tough on illegal immigration, really a threat to the Tea Party agenda or is she just a fragile target for Selfish Sarah to pick on. Here is what Sarah Palin said on the Facebook page where she depicted Gabrielle Giffords in the cross hairs of a rifle scope: "Don't retreat! Instead - RELOAD!"
Well, the guy who shot Giffords yesterday managed to keep firing until he killed six, including a child, and wounded 13 .
Palin would no doubt say that she was only speaking in metaphor, that she only meant her followers should work to unseat Giffords and 19 other Democrats who had roused her ire by voting for health care.
But anyone with any sense at all knows that violent language can incite actual violence, that metaphor can incite murder. At the very least, Palin added to a climate of violence.
Palin should have taken it as a warning of what might happen when a Tea Party hothead dropped a gun while heckling Giffords at an earlier Congress On Your Corner event, more than a year ago.
That did not stop Palin from declaring Giffords a "target." Giffords' district office was subsequently vandalized, and the congresswoman noted that Palin had put "the cross hairs of a gun sight over our district."
"When people do that, they have to realize that there are consequences to that action," Giffords said.

Giffords herself at least publicly failed to appreciate the full magnitude of the danger. She said at the time of the dropped gun incident that "at no point did I ever feel in danger and at no point did I ever feel there was a problem."
"When you represent a district that includes the home of the O.K. Corral and Tombstone, 'the Town Too Tough to Die,' nothing's a surprise out in Cochise County," Giffords was quoted saying.
In citing the famous shootout at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Giffords did not note that the gunplay was sparked when the Earp brothers sought to enforce town ordinance No. 9.
That law was promulgated on April 19, 1881, by the Earps themselves. It prohibited carrying "deadly weapons, concealed or otherwise" including "firearms of every description."
For Giffords to have cited Ordinance No. 9 could have meant political ruin in a district that romanticizes the O.K. Corral as part of its "gun culture."
Either out of political expediency or actual belief, Giffords herself spoke fondly of this supposed legacy of the Wild West.
"In my district and in my state, we have a very strong gun culture," she said in May when asked for her position regarding a renewed ban on assault weapons.
She had been one of the members of Congress who added their support to the effort to overturn the gun ban in Washington.
She also noted in interviews that she herself owned a Glock 9 mm. The NRA still branded her as an opponent because she had dared to suggest that guns should not be carried in bars.
Even if Giffords had been carrying her Glock at her latest Congress On Your Corner event yesterday, she would have had no time to reach for it and defend herself. Unlike in all those westerns, gunmen bent on homicide almost never give you a chance to draw.
And, unlike in the real Arizona of old, there was no Ordinance No. 9, no Earp brothers in the crowd yesterday to enforce it, to maybe spot the killer with the gun before he had a chance to use it.
The result was exactly the kind of carnage the Earps had sought to prevent with their attempt at instilling gun-control culture.
And, now that Palin may have the blood of more than some poor caribou on her hands, I wonder if she will continue putting people in cross hairs and calling on folks to RELOAD!

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Friday, January 7, 2011


While campaigning before the midterm elections Republicans obsessively opposed government spending.

Tea Party and Republican candidates vowed to cut spending, but now House Republicans — when asked specifically what they would cut from the budget — many couldn’t list even one single item.

When asked, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said, “The line-item will be across-the-board.” John Boehner the new Speaker of the House, who promised repeatedly to stop government spending, also could not think of one program we could do without.
NBC’s Brian Williams asked Boehner to name a specific item he’d cut, and Boehner couldn’t deliver:
WILLIAMS: Name a program right now that we could do without.
BOEHNER: I don’t think I have one off the top of my head.

John Boehner swore he would “never compromise the will of the people.” Mr. Speaker, the will of the people did not want tax cuts extended to the wealthy and they do not want Health Care reform repealed.

You are for the people or you are not — and by people, we mean ‘we the people’ not ‘we the wealthy people.’

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Monday, January 3, 2011

Are These Signs of Things To Come?

So far there has been major events such as floods, tornados and earthquakes all over the world this new year of 2011. If you're thinking of moving to Arkansas, hold off a bit. The state, reeling from the chilling sight of 10,000 blackbirds dropping dead from the sky New Year's Eve at midnight, is now grappling with 100,000 fish that have washed up on a 20-mile stretch of the Arkansas River. Officials suspect disease killed the drum fish about 125 miles northwest of Little Rock. Fish die-offs aren't unusual, but the size of this one is. Officials are hopeful the phenomenon isn't the result of pollution or toxins. "The fish kill only affected one species of fish," an official tells CNN. "If it was from a pollutant, it would have affected all of the fish." Supposing experts believe the bird deaths were linked to stress and weather. Swamp gas would have made more sense. They're trying to keep the two situations separate, even though the birds and fish are in the same area. There's something their not telling us!

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