17 February 2005

How do so many Americans wonder why more Iraqis each day are supporting both violent and non-violent movements of resistance to the occupation?

Because mainstream media reportage in the United States about the occupation in Iraq is being censured, distorted, threatened by the military and controlled by corporations that own the outlets.
Most Americans don't know that on any given day, an average of three U.S. soldiers die in Iraq as a result of 75 attacks every single day on U.S. forces or that Iraqi civilian deaths average 10 times that amount.

Most Americans also don't know there are four permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq, with the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root diligently constructing 10 others.

Most Americans don't know overall troop morale in Iraq resembles that of the Vietnam War, with tours being extended and stop-loss orders imposed.

Nor do most folks know where billions of their tax dollars have been spent that were supposed to be used in the reconstruction of Iraq.

In reality, Iraq has been flattened by the Bush administration's tank.

15 February 2005

Those guys pretty much just made it up, so says FDR's grandson, James Roosevelt, himself the former associate commissioner for Social Security

Britt Hume and other Fox News blowhards take a bunch of 70-year-old quotes out of context to make it look like FDR would endorse President Bush's social security privatization scheme.
The Fox News folks, of course, specifically Brit Hume, squeezed the whole FDR thing. ‘Media Matters For America’ has done much of the legwork on breaking this down, and both on his radio show and at his website, Al Franken has done much of the publicizing. Hume, and others like those bastions of public conduct John Fund and Bill Bennett, have taken a bunch of 70-year old quotes out of context to make it look like Franklin Delano Roosevelt is endorsing President Bush’s plan to partially privatize Social Security.

Here’s the full relevant segment from Roosevelt’s message to Congress on Social Security and other similar programs from 1935: “In the important field of security for our old people, it seems necessary to adopt three principles: First, non-contributory old-age pensions for those who are now too old to build up their own insurance. It is, of course, clear that for perhaps thirty years to come funds will have to be provided by the States and the Federal Government to meet these pensions. Second, compulsory contributory annuities which in time will establish a self-supporting system for those now young and for future generations. Third, voluntary contributory annuities by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age. It is proposed that the Federal Government assume one-half of the cost of the old-age pension plan, which ought ultimately to be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans.”

The syntax is a little ancient but the message is pretty straightforward. For 1935, people who would only take money out of Social Security and not put any in, should have their contributions covered half by the federal government and half by the states. Later on, those contributions should be replaced by the “self-supporting annuity plans” — which Roosevelt has already defined (“Second…”) as the actual Social Security system. Buried in the formality of his third point, FDR is talking about things we would later know as IRA’s and Keoghs and 401k’s.

But look at how Hume mixed and matched the original Roosevelt quotes on February 4th (and we’re quoting this verbatim from Fox’s website) “…it turns out that FDR himself planned to include private investment accounts in the Social Security program when he proposed it. In a written statement to Congress in 1935, Roosevelt said that any Social Security plans should include, ‘Voluntary contributory annuities, by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age,’ adding that government funding, ‘ought to ultimately be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans.’”

Roosevelt said no such thing. The “voluntary contributory annuities” are the IRA’s and Keoghs and 401k’s. What “ought to ultimately be supplanted” was the special government contributions to Social Security on behalf of people born in the 1870’s and earlier, and the “self-supporting annuity plans” constitute Social Security itself.

It’s premeditated, historical fraud, but you will not see Hume nor Fox News backpedal from it (as Jordan did for his misdemeanor), nor apologize for it (as Jordan did), nor save their masters from its shame (as Jordan did — of course there is no shame at Fox).

The grandson of Franklin Delano Roosevelt appeared on the MSNBC Keith Olbermann show to say this implication is an attempt to deceive the American people and an outrage.

Britt Hume should resign, yet he's not backing away from the intellectual fraud he has committed.

Liberal media bias my arse.

11 February 2005

The Jeff Gannon Controversy

A partisan hack, for a phony baloney news agency that published GOPUSA press releases as news, using a pseudonym, with no journalism background and training is granted White House credentials to shill for the Bush administration.

Media Matters asks some important questions about the Gannon relationship with the White House that have not been answered, including how did he manage to secure press credentials and how he got his hands on classified documents that revealed the identity of covert operatives.

An excellent summary of the Gannon/Guckert affair, with investigative details ferreted out not by the mainstream media, but by bloggers on the internet, can be found here.

Despite his lack of journalistic experience, Guckert used an assumed name and was granted access to the elite White House Press Corps.  His application for a press pass to the House and Senate galleries was rejected because Talon News shares ownership with and did not meet press pass standards.  Yet somehow he was still given a daily press pass to White House Briefings for almost two years.

In a press briefing on Feb. 10th, White House Press Secretary McClellan claimed that Guckert was granted White House access because he "showed that he was representing a news organization that published regularly." (emphasis added).

However, Talon News came into existence on March 29, 2003.  It was granted White House Press Corps access just four days (approx. 96 hours) later.  During that four-day time period, Talon News published a total of nine "stories."  

During briefings, Guckert's questions frequently revealed not only his conservative bias, but also a possible coordination with White House Press Secretary McClellan.  Guckert's questions were frequently leading, unabashedly partisan, and at times inflammatory.  Moreover, Guckert apparently had unprecedented access, and even claimed at one point to be "entertaining the Prime Minister of Great Britain."

Maybe the bigger question is how it was so easy for a Republican shill posing as a "journalist' under a false name could hide out for so long with "legitimate" White House press reporters.

And the right wing cries of how "liberal bloggers" dug into Mr. Gannon/Guckert's "personal life" are indeed laughable:

Bloggers who "uncovered" Mr. Guckert's true identity have been accused repeatedly of "digging into Gannon/Guckert's personal life." No one dug into his personal life. He made it available by posting it online... himself. This was all public record. Gannon/Guckert posted all of this on the World Wide Web. No "digging into his personal life" was required. He wasn't followed around and photographed. His phone wasn't tapped. No one went through his trash. Gannon/Guckert, himself, made all of this information public. Every last shred of it.

Granted, the "conclusions" reached by some -- that he operated a gay escort service -- have not been borne out by facts, but the photograph of him in his underwear and the website names registered to his address and his name are public record. No one "dug into his personal life," and buying into that line of reasoning means buying into the classic red herring, "Look-over-here!" line of defense. Which is to say, no defense at all.

The real isues remain: Gannon/Guckert's securing of a supposedly secret memo undercutting Wilson's claim that his wife had nothing to do with the Nigeria/yellowcake assignment; and a fake journalist with a fake name being cleared by White House security. Of course, much of the mainstream press seems to have bought into the misdirection play.