Tag: msm

Jun 08

Edward Snowden Should Head the NSA, Not Prosecuted

In an editorial last week, The Los Angeles Times gave NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden credit for the mild NSA reform that was enacted by congress under the USA Freedom Act and signed into law by President Barack Obama. The editors also called for Mr. Snowden’s prosecution.

When he announced Tuesday that he would sign a bill ending the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records and making other reforms in surveillance laws, President Obama praised Congress – and himself. [..]

Unacknowledged by the president was the man who can fairly be called the ultimate author of this legislation: former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who has been charged with violating the Espionage Act and is now living in exile in Russia.

Without Snowden’s unauthorized disclosures two years ago, neither the public nor many members of Congress would have known that the government, acting under a strained interpretation of the Patriot Act, was vacuuming up and storing millions of Americans’ telephone records. That program will end after a six-month transition period under the bill signed by Obama. [..]

A pardon for Snowden now would be premature. But if he were to return to this country to face the charges against him, the fact that he revealed the existence of a program that has now been repudiated by all three branches of government would constitute a strong argument for leniency. Snowden should come home and make that case.

During his campaign for president, Mr. Obama promised he would rein in the NSA and he promptly broke that promise and gave the NSA even more power to spr on American citizens. Only after the Snowden leaks was he dragged kicking and screaming to do what he promised.

Lawyer and Journalist for The Intercept, Glenn Grenwald tells us why the LA times is wrong about prosecuting Mr. Snowden, but also why the media, especially the so-called left wing media, has been so wrong about him.

Two years ago, the first story based on the Snowden archive was published in the Guardian, revealing a program of domestic mass surveillance which, at least in its original form, ended this week. To commemorate that anniversary, Edward Snowden himself reflected in a New York Times Op-Ed on the “power of an informed public” when it comes to the worldwide debate over surveillance and privacy.

But we realized from the start that the debate provoked by these disclosures would be at least as much about journalism as privacy or state secrecy. And that was a debate we not only anticipated but actively sought, one that would examine the role journalism ought to play in a democracy and the proper relationship of journalists to those who wield the greatest political and economic power.

That debate definitely happened, not just in the U.S. but around the world. And it was revealing in all sorts of ways. In fact, of all the revelations over the last two years, one of the most illuminating and stunning – at least for me – has been the reaction of many in the American media to Edward Snowden as a source.

When it comes to taking the lead in advocating for the criminalization of leaking and demanding the lengthy imprisonment of our source, it hasn’t been the U.S. Government performing that role but rather – just as was the case for WikiLeaks disclosures – those who call themselves “journalists.” Just think about what an amazing feat of propaganda that is, one of which most governments could only dream: let’s try to get journalists themselves to take the lead in demonizing whistleblowers and arguing that sources should be imprisoned! As much of an authoritarian pipe dream as that may seem to be, that is exactly what happened during the Snowden debate. [..]

So many journalists were furious about the revelations, and were demanding prosecution for it, that there should have been a club created called Journalists Against Transparency or Journalists for State Secrecy and it would have been highly populated. They weren’t even embarrassed about it. There was no pretense, no notion that those who want to be regarded as “journalists” should at least pretend to favor transparency, disclosures, and sources. They were unabashed about their mentality that so identifies with and is subservient to the National Security State that they view controversies exactly the same way as those officials: someone who reveals information that the state has deemed should be secret belongs in prison – at least when those revelations reflect poorly on top U.S. officials. [..]

The LAT editors began by acknowledging that Snowden, not President Obama, is “the ultimate author” of the so-called surveillance reform enacted into law. They also acknowledge that “the American people have Snowden to thank for these reforms.”

Despite that, they are opposed to a pardon or to clemency. While generously conceding that Snowden has “a strong argument for leniency,” they nonetheless insist that “in a society of laws, someone who engages in civil disobedience in a higher cause should be prepared to accept the consequences.”

I see this argument often and it’s hard to overstate how foul it is. To begin with, if someone really believes that, they should be demanding the imprisonment of every person who ever leaks information deemed “classified,” since it’s an argument that demands the prosecution of anyone who breaks the law, or at least “consequences” for them. That would mean dragging virtually all of Washington, which leaks constantly and daily, into a criminal court – to say nothing of their other crimes such as torture. But of course such high-minded media lectures about the “rule of law” are applied only to those who are averse to Washington’s halls of power, not to those who run them.

May 22

The Iraq Invasion Was Based on Lies & The MSM Knew It. (Up Date)

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

There are those of who knew that the Bush administration was lying about the intelligence that led up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. As Rolling Stones‘s Matt Taibbi put it, the invasion was as much a joke then as it is now and he calls out the media for their hypocritical “hounding of Jeb Bush” over his really stupid answers about his brother’s war. They seem to have forgotten their own complicity in the banging of the war drums.

So presidential hopeful Jeb Bush is taking a pounding for face-planting a question about his brother’s invasion of Iraq. Apparently, our national media priests want accountability from leaders on this issue. [..]

We can call this the “None of us pundits would have been wrong about Iraq if it wasn’t for Judith Miller” line of questioning. This rhetoric goes something like this: since we invaded, the war has gone epically FUBAR, so it’s obvious now that it was a mistake, and so we can mock you for not admitting as much.

But because of Judith Miller, it wasn’t obvious even to all of us geniuses back then, which is why virtually every media outlet to the right of Democracy Now! (MSNBC included, as old friend Alex Pareene wittily pointed out) got it wrong for years on end, back when this issue actually mattered.

Go back up a few paragraphs and look at that list of media outlets. All of them – the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times obviously, the Chicago Tribune – they were all card-carrying Iraq war cheerleaders.

I get that many of the individual writers involved in bashing Jeb this week were not the same writers who whored for the Bush administration back in the day. [..]

But the individuals aren’t the issue. It’s the general notion that the Iraq War issue was some kind of tough intellectual call that we all needed hindsight to sort out. It wasn’t, and we didn’t.

It was obvious even back then, to anyone who made the faintest effort to look at the situation honestly, that the invasion was doomed, wrong, and a joke. [..]

The Iraq invasion was always an insane exercise in brainless jingoism that could only be intellectually justified after accepting a series of ludicrous suppositions. [..]

That’s why the lambasting of Jeb Bush by all of these media voices grinds a little. At least plenty of Republicans sincerely thought the war was a good idea. But I know a lot of my colleagues in the media saw through the war from day one.

The bulk of them hid behind the morons in our business, people like Tom Friedman and David Brooks and Jeffrey “I trusted the Germans” Goldberg, frontline pundits who were pushed forward to do the dirty work, the hardcore pom-pom stuff.

Many others, particularly the editors, quietly sat by and let lie after lie spill onto their papers’ pages, telling themselves that this wasn’t wrong or a mistake until years later, when we found out for sure the WMD thing was a canard.

Hundred of thousands of people have died because none of these people in the media had the courage to stand up to the Bush administration’s lies.  Thousands are still dying and will continue to die at the hands of the militants the Iraq war unleashed and at the hands of the Obama and future US administrations under the guise of another lie, the Global War on Terror. The MSM continues to justify the invasion and this slaughter with the parade of pundits, both neo-con and neo-liberal, who refuse to mention their own complicity.

Up Date: 5/22/2015 19:30 EDT In an exclusive web interview with Democracy Now!‘s Amy Goodman and Nareem Shaikh, Matt Taibbi discussed his article and the complicity of journalists and the mainstream media in the run up to the Iraq war.

Transcript can be read here

Oct 17

Demanding Answers from the Candidates

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The Romney/Ryan tax plan is not serious. As Matt Taibbi, contributing editor of Rolling Stone, points out, we should all be rolling our eyes and laughing at this farcical plan. He also takes the mainstream media to task for not being offended by the dishonest tactics and lies that the Republican candidates are using to bamboozle the electorate into handing these two frat boys the White House.

I’ve never thought much of Joe Biden. But man, did he get it right in last night’s debate, and not just because he walloped sniveling little Paul Ryan on the facts. What he got absolutely right, despite what you might read this morning (many outlets are criticizing Biden’s dramatic excesses), was his tone. Biden did absolutely roll his eyes, snort, laugh derisively and throw his hands up in the air whenever Ryan trotted out his little beady-eyed BS-isms. [..]

The load of balls that both Romney and Ryan have been pushing out there for this whole election season is simply not intellectually serious. Most of their platform isn’t even a real platform, it’s a fourth-rate parlor trick designed to paper over the real agenda – cutting taxes even more for super-rich dickheads like Mitt Romney, and getting everyone else to pay the bill. [..]

Think about what that means. Mitt Romney is running for president – for president! – promising an across-the-board 20 percent tax cut without offering any details about how that’s going to be paid for. Forget being battered by the press, he and his little sidekick Ryan should both be tossed off the playing field for even trying something like that. This race for the White House, this isn’t some frat prank. This is serious. This is for grownups, for God’s sake. [..]

Sometimes in journalism I think we take the objectivity thing too far. We think being fair means giving equal weight to both sides of every argument. But sometimes in the zeal to be objective, reporters get confused. You can’t report the Obama tax plan and the Romney tax plan in the same way, because only one of them is really a plan, while the other is actually not a plan at all, but an electoral gambit. [..]

The proper way to report such a tactic is to bring to your coverage exactly the feeling that Biden brought to the debate last night: contempt and amazement. We in the press should be offended by what Romney and Ryan are doing – we should take professional offense that any politician would try to whisk such a gigantic lie past us to our audiences, and we should take patriotic offense that anyone is trying to seize the White House using such transparently childish and dishonest tactics.

Like Taibbi, I am no fan of the Obama/Biden administration, but this campaign by the Republican candidates is a bad joke being played out with the blessings of the traditional MSM. It’s time to get answers. This is serious business.

Aug 17

CNN Host Does Her Homework

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

I have to admit that I very rarely watch CNN these days but today while reading through the posts at Crooks & Liars, I may have to consider watching Soledad O’Brien. Most of the this morning Romney surrogate John Sununu was spouting half truths and bold faced lies about Medicare and the Romney/Ryan budget proposal that would leave seniors with a fixed voucher for private insurance. When he tried to spew the same talking points to Ms. O’Brien on her CNN show Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien, he found himself in a debate with someone who had done her homework:

You can read the transcript of the exchange here

Sununu had been making the rounds of talk shows for several days spouting the same talking points virtually unchallenged. He even, rudely, out shouted Andrea Mitchell on her MSNBC show who was not as well prepared to counter the debunked party line.

Apparently this was not the first encounter that Ms. O’Brien had with a Romney/Ryan camp spokesperson. While subbing for Anderson Cooper Monday night on CNN’s 360° she cut off spokesperson Barbara Comstock when Comstock spouted the nonsense lie that $700 billion has somehow been “stolen” from Medicare. As soon as Comstock realized that she wasn’t getting away with that talking point she fell back on the debunked canard of “death panels.” Of course the right wing is having a field day with this because they claim that O’Brien was taking her argument from a left wing blog and siting Obama talking points. That’s the best they can do to counter Ms. O’Brien’s accurate fact checking.

It is good to see a news anchor on cable doing their job. Perhaps David Gregory, Chris Matthews, et al should take a page from Ms. O’Brien’s book. I should watch CNN in the morning more often.

Mar 02

The Pentagon, the Media and a War with Iran

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Over that last few weeks with the winding down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there has been much hype over Iran and its nuclear capability and threats from Israel of military intervention. Despite all the intelligence and statements from the ruling Ayatollahs that Iran is not seeking to develop nuclear weapons, the US government and pundits continue to push the meme in the media that Iran must not be allowed to continue to develop nuclear “capabilities.” Much of this sounds very familiar hearkening back to the lies of 2003’s run up to the war in Iraq. The major media is banging out the message that a war with Iran is inevitable and have failed to disclose to the public the relationship of some of its guests to government agencies or their guests own self interests for monetary gain should there be a war.  As Talking Points Media points out the talk of a war with Iran has reached “fever pitch”:

The tone in reporting on a potential military conflict with Iran has entered a new phase in recent weeks, with the saber rattling seemingly reaching a fever pitch.

From the New York Times recently reporting on how Israel would carry out a strike against Iran, to pundits casually throwing around the words “bomb Iran,” to presidential candidates trying to out-tough each other on a daily basis, the prospect of a potential military conflict with Iran is increasingly discussed less in terms of “if” but of “when.”

Glen Greenwald at Salon focused on the relationship of NBC News with retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey whose reliability has come into question:

In 2009, The New York Times‘ David Barstow won the Pulitzer Prize for his twopart series on the use by television networks of retired Generals posing as objective “analysts” at exactly the same time they were participating – unbeknownst to viewers – in a Pentagon propaganda program. Many were also plagued by undisclosed conflicts of interest whereby they had financial stakes in many of the policies they were pushing on-air. One of the prime offenders was Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who was not only a member of the Pentagon’s propaganda program, but also, according to Barstow’s second stand-alone article, had his own “Military-Industrial-Media Complex,” deeply invested in many of the very war policies he pushed and advocated while posing as an NBC “analyst”:

   Through seven years of war an exclusive club has quietly flourished at the intersection of network news and wartime commerce. Its members, mostly retired generals, have had a foot in both camps as influential network military analysts and defense industry rainmakers. It is a deeply opaque world, a place of privileged access to senior government officials, where war commentary can fit hand in glove with undisclosed commercial interests and network executives are sometimes oblivious to possible conflicts of interest.

   Few illustrate the submerged complexities of this world better than Barry McCaffrey. . . . General McCaffrey has immersed himself in businesses that have grown with the fight against terrorism. . . .

   Many retired officers hold a perch in the world of military contracting, but General McCaffrey is among a select few who also command platforms in the news media and as government advisers on military matters. These overlapping roles offer them an array of opportunities to advance policy goals as well as business objectives. But with their business ties left undisclosed, it can be difficult for policy makers and the public to fully understand their interests.

   On NBC and in other public forums, General McCaffrey has consistently advocated wartime policies and spending priorities that are in line with his corporate interests. But those interests are not described to NBC’s viewers. He is held out as a dispassionate expert, not someone who helps companies win contracts related to the wars he discusses on television.

Not exactly an unbiased reliable source nor especially coherent:

Among the many attributes one might attribute to McCaffrey and his report, incoherence is near the top of the list. He does, as I noted, make statements suggesting imminent military conflict, including his claim that “there is a significant probability of Iranian escalation in the coming 90 days” and “they are likely to further escalate,” along with the title of his first page: “Creeping toward war.” But as several emailers point out, he also tacks onto the end of the discussion on the first page the assessment of “15% probability of major military action in the coming 90 days.” The document is devoted to making military conflict appear quite likely, though he places a relatively low percentage on “major military action in the coming 90 days.”

Knowing all this, NBC News still calls McCaffrey an analyst, gives him an unchallenged platform and beats the drums of another unnecessary war.

Jun 12

“Public employees have become targets of anger and criticism.”

Cross-posted at Daily Kos.

The quote “Public employees have become targets of anger and criticism” that was followed by “and that’s leading to a growing number of them calling it quits,” came from Lester Holt last night on NBC Nightly News.

John Yang reported from New Jersey where public worker retirement jumped 60% and nearly doubled for teachers in 2010. But it is not just Governor Chris Christie “mocking teacher benefits” who deserves all the credit. The report shows many states where politicians downgrading the value of public workers has become too much for the good government workers to continue. In 2010 California and Colorado each reported a 20% rise in retirees from the public sector. This year Ohio has reported a 34% increase and after the assault from Scott Walker public worker retirement in Wisconsin is up 96%.

One New Jersey teacher was the focus of the segment. Judy Cinnamond who has decided to give up teaching. This highly respected educator sums up the situation with “All of the sudden the teachers are the enemy and I don’t want to feel that way. Having dedicated my life to this job, I just don’t want to feel that way.”  

May 08

9/11 Myth Signaled the End of Rationality

First, I’m not sure there’s any point to writing this. Aside from the fact this blog has fallen off rather dramatically, the subject of 9-11 is not a big favorite her or anywhere. However, I was taking a nice walk this morning and the though came into my head to write a diary on this subject. It may be one of my last ones–I’m kind of through being concerned about the political and cultural situation in this country. It has gone way too far into fantasy such that any kind of intelligent discussion is almost impossible since we have, even if we don’t admit it, lost sight of the foundations of Western Civilization which is the rationalistic “Great Conversation” as Mortimer Adler called it. Reasonable arguments go nowhere and are, in fact, automatically discounted usually as “conspiracy theories” since it is almost illegal to parse data and seek patterns. I will make absolutely no case for alternate explanations of 9/11, there’s no point–my beef is not with arguing the patterns that present themselves on the basis of available evidence–that’s a worthwhile argument. My beef is, as I’ve indicated, with the fact that any argument based on facts that goes contrary to beliefs that make people feel good is not only discounted but is utterly out of the question.

I want to examine, briefly, just how different the world is now than it was ten years ago. Frankly, if I think about it too deeply I want to weep not just for our political situation but for myself who is now living in an irrational world. I feel I am falling with no place to plant my feet and the sad part is that I see other people in the same situation only they don’t even know it. If you turn off your consciousness, if you devolve, morally, spiritually and intellectually then you are fine–that sense of “falling” I describe is not perceivable unless you are sensitive to the historical and spiritual dimension.  

Apr 08

Drifting Over the Edge 2

We can blame “them” all we want but as my first teacher in politics Walt Kelly had his main character Pogo say “Yep, son, we have met the enemy and he is us.”

Leaders and media personalities all have their own motivations and little cabals and interests and careers but in the end they reflect who we are. It isn’t just because we are, a democracy (more or less) but that the cultural ambience always has an effect at least for those who interact on various levels with the world. The more rarified and wealthy a person, of course, the more likely they will be out of touch with everyday interactions. But even then there are influences of the media, the music, the arts (both good an bad) and even the language itself. In fact, as an aside, language itself carries inherent values not only in the meanings but in the rhythms and sounds as well. We are, also, influenced by each other in other ways, body language, facial expressions, clothing, hair styles even moods and “vibes.” We are far more connected than we think. Yet, part of that connection involves a culture that is focused on what I describe as narcissistic isolation. To be more precise, the culture encourages people live separate lives focused on fulfilling fantasies. Work life and “personal” life are largely segregated-a person has to put on a work mask and take it off and be “real” when they home. Work is, usually, a place where arbitrary and often inexplicable goals and values are pursued where mysterious and all-powerful hierarchies largely frame your work life. When we get home we play, like children, at life-play fantasy sports, watch porn, shop for clothes so that we can be our very own dolls, and “unwind” (does anybody wonder why we have to be wound up in the first place).  

Oct 16

Ventura on Mainstream

Oct 11

MSM Ratings Drop! Legal Blindness

Aug 14

What If I Got my Information from AP headlines and stories?

This morning when I turned on my computer – these headlines greeted me from my Yahoo opening page:

AP: Obama Claims GOP Trying to Destroy Social Security.

In that story AP states that a bipartisan committee was set up by the President to make social security more secure.  It does not name the bipartisans, nor give us any background on them.  I can tell you my own friends are pretty clueless, and I’m guessing many of yours are.

In another headline earlier this week:

Obama: GOP wants to Privatize Social Security.

Why is he setting us up?  Any ideas.  Because Paul Krugman, Dean Baker, Jamie Galbreath and others are hitting back?  Because Paul Ryan is getting some press, even though he is soundly trounced by Paul Krugman.  Washington Post gives him plenty of space.  Because he is hearing from the Congress that people are becoming aware of what’s going on – even the “lesser” people – even the F****n retards (and what is worse than an elderly f***n retard) – even the “bleeding heart liberals” that Durbin admonished:  Everyone has to make sacrifices.  I have faxed Durbin’s office for a list of his sacrifices.  How about him and other senators paying for all of their healthcare – just a gesture to the taxpayers, many of whom have no healthcare.  I plan to go to one of his meetings with a list of my own sacrifices.  No. 1 on that list is that I lost almost half of my portfolio because people like him weren’t doing their job.

Or is it because he wants to seem tough and embattled.  And, when he does some sleight of hand, some backroom card dealing – and the program comes out weaker than it is now – we’ll have understood – well he did try but “we just don’t have the votes.”  Since we now know that Gingrich and Clinton were working behind the scenes – can we doubt that we’re in for some unpleasant surprise.

Any ideas.  I’m flummoxed but I know this:  it’s not in the working class’ interest.  Repeat, it is not in our interests and if it were a matter of less importance I might enjoy the Obanamic theatrics.  I can assure I. will.not.

Your thoughts!  

Oct 06

Who was Grayson really Apologizing to?

also posted on dkos

Rep Alan Grayson’s Apology


Well, I would like to Apologize —

I would like to Apologize to the Dead.

44789 Americans die every year because they HAVE NO Health Insurance,

according to this Harvard Study.  http://grayson.house.gov

That is more than 10 x the number of Americans who’ve died in the War in Iraq

It’s more than 10 x the number of Americans who died in 9/11

but that was just once.


Take a look at this — read it and weep.

and I mean that Read it and WEEP!

Let’s remember we should ‘care about people’ — EVEN after they’re born.

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