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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Red for Blood

When you’re in the field you wonder if the equipment you have will be enough when you need it. You wonder about ammo. You wonder if your weapon will hold up and if your body armor will work.

You wonder if you will be alive tomorrow.

But after a while, you know whom you like to work with – and you trust them. You also trust that people are looking out for your family and things back in the “World.” You expect your leadership really has your best interest at heart and that you will not be forgotten.

You hope, despite restrictive Rules of Engagement and the huge responsibilities heaped upon you, that it will be possible to fight and win, and that the cause you have been asked to champion is right and pure and true.

In a hospital room, here in the U.S. is a young man who has lost both legs. A lieutenant in the SEAL teams, his only comment after they put him through another run of surgery, was that he was happy the doc’s had evened things out so that his legs would both be the same length. In a town in Tennessee, a woman and her baby have been waiting nearly a year to get citizenship after her husband was killed in action because of a 57-year-old law requiring her to have consummated her marriage following her wedding date. It wasn't possible. Her fiancee was serving in Iraq, so they had to complete their marriage long-distance.

Now, no one will tell her when, if ever, she will get the permission to stay in the States and raise her child in the hometown of her husband – a Marine sergeant who died in 2008. Having his son raised in his hometown was his final wish. Congress is doing nothing about it. See the most recent stories on this website for more information on these folks.

So, instead of helping these people, our government has decided to spend time and money on shipping our President, his wife and others, overseas to wheel and deal, talking about getting the 2016 Olympics located in his hometown. Instead of focusing on doing the right thing, they are doing the comfortable thing.

In fact, while spending trillions of dollars, the government is making sure 26 members of the WWII Alaska National Guard remaining alive, have their due benefits removed. Those men defended our nation against a Japanese invasion, but the government has decided to take that couple-hundred dollars, a month in retirement pay, away from these people.

Meanwhile, in New York, we light the Empire State building in red to honor Communist China.

Where did we get so lost?

Operation Iraqi Freedom has seen 4,349 deaths – 3,473 of those killed in action. 17,642 were wounded and returned to duty and 13,872 were wounded but not returned. In Afghanistan there have been 844 deaths – 598 KIA. Afghanistan has seen 1,639 wounded and returned and 2,500 not returned. These are current figures.

Now some folks will look at those numbers and see just that – numbers. But a few will imagine men and women like the Lieutenant, in their hospital bed with a long rehab ahead and two fewer limbs. Some will say the leadership has more important things to do than take care of the citizenship papers of some young Marine’s widow and his son. After all, there’s the economy, health care, the Olympics, and so many other things to focus on. Certainly 26 WWII warriors, who because of their age, will soon be gone from this Earth, are not even remotely important.

Or are they?

I would suggest that these situations and others like them are the most important things we face. Because we are losing our sense of the personal and we are losing our humanity along with it. Civility is being discarded for expediency and truth is being sacrificed on the altar of the 24-hour news cycle, media bias and political and PR deflection.

Consider it. If our leadership can’t sign a simple set of citizenship papers for family of one of our Marines who gave his life in our service – if these same people can’t even take the time to discuss the requirements as stated by commanders in the field, then why are they in public office? If our government is happy to fund a twisted organization like Acorn – and others like them -to the tune of millions, perhaps billions of dollars, but feels like they need to steal the meager benefits left to WWII troops, something is radically skewed.

43 troops have died – more than one a day since the request for more troops was first ignored by our president. A baby and his mother are still waiting – eight months later to be given their citizenship. A former SEAL faces long rehabilitation and his family is struggling to pay the bills so they can stay close to the hospital.

And our President stumps for his pet projects while our Congressmen lie and cheat and steal.

And the Empire State Building is red.

Red for shame. Red for anger.

Red for blood.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A dying Marine's final request... ignored by Congress?

Children are our way to conquer time. They are the Fountain of Youth – true immortality.

I think you’re most aware of that when you’re about to die. That moment which stretches on-and-on into the perfect blue light, is transcendent. You realize in just that brief flicker you have left, that all you have to mark your existence – to say to the Earth that you were here - are your children.

They are our monuments and our gifts to the future. They embody hope.

August 10, 2008 might have passed unnoticed for some, but for one woman, Hotaru Freschke, it was the end of a future with her husband, Michael. But January saw a new beginning, as their son was born. Little Mikey is now with his mother and grandmother, in Tennessee, where her husband had wanted his son to grow up. It was his dying wish after he was killed conducting house-to-house searches in Iraq. He was only 22 years old and he was a team-leader in the Okinawa-based 3rd Recon Battalion, 3rd Marine Division.

He fought and died for you and I and every other American, and his dying wish – something as simple as having his son grow up in his hometown - should be honored.

But without an act of Congress, it won’t be.

That’s because 57 years ago, some idiot wrote into the Immigration and Nationality Act that a marriage between a U.S. citizen and foreign national must be CONSUMMATED after the wedding in order to be considered valid.

Fifty-seven years. That’s 35 years before Michael Ferschke senior was even born. And 22 years after his birth, his young life is cut short, and he passed through that endless moment which waits for us all.

And all he asked is that at least his son be given the chance to grow up here – in the United States. Think about that for a moment, because in the entire Congress, only one guy, Tennessee Rep. John Duncan Jr. (R), is thinking about it at all. The rest of them – Democratic and Republican leaders on the “Immigration Subcommittee” alike - have “expressed support” for the measure Duncan has introduced, but no one has given any indication when a vote might come on the “private bill” to recognize the marriage.

How complicated is it?

Hotaru and Mikey should be able to live and grow old in the country that Sergeant Ferschke Jr., gave his life to protect. They should be able to visit his gravestone together. That child should at least be able to touch that stone and trace the engraved letters with his fingers and listen to his mother’s stories. There’s no questioning this. There’s no reason for waiting nearly a year to make this happen. If Congress is incapable of acting on a simple final request by one of our country’s bravest and best – then they should all resign now. Where are our heroes in Congress? Why aren't you all over this?

Mikey is 8-months-old. Perhaps it’s time for our leadership to get off their well-padded asses and do something right. If they don’t, mother and son will have to return to Japan and maybe, if finances allow, will be able to visit Tennessee twice a year. Mikey will have to grow up without the citizenship his father valued so much, he was willing to give his life in service.

The Marine motto is "Semper Fidelis" - "Always Faithful. Maybe a few people in Congress should think about showing a little of that faith in return.

So, if any of you decision-makers are reading this. Stop fooling around on this damn blog and make some phone calls.

GET IT DONE.

*****


For the full - real story on this, by a much better writer - see the Stars and Stripes article at:

http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=65071

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090917/ap_on_re_us/us_marine_s_widow_immigration

A wounded SEAL who needs help...

If you can, have a look at this young man's story. He needs help. We should be able to do something.

-d

The "Perfect Idea" Project receives its' first


I don't have a brilliant thought for you, but I'll tell you this:

I was a single mother, NYC English teacher by day, who went to school nights to get the pre-reqs for med school. Needless to say I worked my ass off. One more child, 4 yrs of med school, 4 yrs of residency, & 4 yrs of treating the severely mentally ill later and I'm in no mood to sit around and let a corrupt, swaggering thug & his ilk take over my country.

There are peopIe in great need. But I see first hand the well-nursed sub-culture of dependency, & also the slugs sucking whatever they can get out of the system. The system makes acute mental illness chronic by feeding it's dependency and giving people no need to strive. I see what it is I carry on my back. These corporations & politicos, they're no different, they're just at a different level. They're chronically ill with greed & corruption. They're so far gone from any ethics, morality, or honor they may once have possessed, their illness is rotely ingrained in their souls. We carry them on our backs as well, & they will suck Americans dry and use our own belief system, & our loving, giving spirit to do so.

My daughter's talking in her sleep right now, she's such a beautiful soul. I'll fight my bitterness and fatigue to keep her heart pure, & I'll fight for my country, too.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Thank you SSgt. Berky. Rest in peace.

There are occasions when I come upon the sad listing of the death of a young man or woman in our country's service. They shouldn't be forgotten or passed by without comment.

Here's one of them.


The full article on SSgt. Berky -

Waiting to Exhale - the climate change question

Someone last night sent me a message suggesting CO2 needed to be curbed in order to “heal the planet.”

Look, I’m no climate or green czar – they hire Communists for that position – but even with my limited high school science background, I can discern the difference between Carbon Monoxide (which is what comes out of the back of your SUV) and Carbon Dioxide, which is what comes out of your mouth when you exhale. Mr. Weintraub, our science teacher would drone on and on in that monotone voice about such subjects. I can even tell you without any doubt, those two gasses are very different from what comes out of a cow’s butt. That’s Methane. Methane is also in pig poop. I know that from watching Tina Turner in Beyond Thunderdome. In the Netherlands, a large farm is turning pig poop into electricity, just like in “Bartertown” in the Thunderdome movie.

Yep, they’re getting five thousand megawatts a year – from poop. But that’s a whole different story.

For this story, I got another odd message from a source, which shall remain nameless (unless they subject me to the caterpillar “boo-box” thing they’ve been using in terrorist interrogations, ‘cause that sounds real scary). Anyway, this second source suggested I look at PNM, the Public Service Company of New Mexico, regarding their withdrawal from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

And so I have. Unfortunately, like everything lately, the questions involved are more complicated than they might usually be. So for my international audience of readers, I need to lay down some background. We here in New Mexico generally suffer from a variety of woes. We have a twitchy infrastructure, we have water troubles, overdevelopment, we have difficulties attracting big business and thus creating real industry and lasting job security. And of course, we have the desert. In the summer it’s hot - real hot. And having households with below average incomes, means that the cheapest way to cool them is with swamp coolers.

A swamp cooler is an evaporative cooler, which uses a ½ to 1 hp motor to turn a fan, which sucks outside air through wet sponge pads, cooling it and sending it into the home. They can use a fair amount of electricity since they run all day and all night throughout Spring, Summer and part of Fall.

Now the issue with global warming is an interesting one. On the surface it seems simple, the Earth is being affected by industry and cars and executives and congressmen flying here and there in private jets – and there’s all these invisible “carbon footprints” being left by invisible giants stomping around through our atmosphere.

Just kidding about that last part - there’s no giants.

But there is a giant amount of research and data being dumped on the public. And so, in an unusually thoughtful mood for a government agency, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has decided to request a public hearing.

You see the USCOC is looking at the recent EPA findings, which state that greenhouse gasses endanger public health and welfare and should subsequently be regulated under the Clean Air Act. But the COC doesn’t believe the data involving “endangerment.”

The hearing they are requesting calls for a review of the endangerment science – not climate science. Interestingly, much of this debate seems centered around C02 (the stuff you exhale). Various groups like the Sierra Club originally jumped on the crazy train to try to force the regulation of CO2. I imagine we would all be expected to hold our breath and thus save the planet. Do it now. Big Brother commands it.

But now, according to an article by David Chavern at the USCOC, “no one, repeat no one, thinks that regulating CO2 under the CAA is a good idea – not the President, the Congress, or even the EPA.”

You may exhale and feel free to inhale as well.

Let’s set humor aside for a moment, though. I started writing this blog because of the ridiculous Cap-and-trade bill. I was stunned that something so obviously bad for people should be allowed to make it through even one side of Congress. Yet it did. Why? And why would an action, which would boost the electric bills of each household by more than $1500 annually, be given any credence whatsoever?

And why would PNM – New Mexico’s electric company – decide that it wants to circumvent the USCOC’s requested review of the data and presumably press ahead with its’ own course of action?

PNM spokesman Don Brown released a statement explaining that the company sees climate change as “the most pressing environmental and economic issue of our time. Given that view, and a natural time limit on both company time and resources, we have decided that we can be most productive by working with organizations that share our view…” PNM wants to operate without any dissent or conflicting points of view.

Brown identified Edison Electric Institute, the association of shareholder-owned electric companies and the U.S. Climate Action Partnership as groups friendly to their cause. The U.S. CAP he called “a group of businesses and environmental organizations. PNM is a founding member of that group.

“As a result,” wrote Brown “we have decided to let our membership in the U.S. Chamber lapse when it expires at the end of the year.”

As Nicholson said so eloquently through all that face paint “Hubba, hubba, hubba – who do you trust?”

Lets look at the reality of PNM’s connections first. When we investigate the company, we see a number of individuals connected to it, but really the first thing that jumps out is Cascade Investment LLC. That group is an investor into PNM. The sole member of Cascade is William H. Gates III.

Yep. Billy. The same Billy listed as a member of the Clinton Global Initiative, the same Billy who is the director of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., the same Billy who is co-founder, chairman and director of Microsoft Corporation.

Billy the Billionaire. I’m betting he doesn’t have a swamp cooler on his house.

But let’s cut Billy some slack, after all he’s a way better Billy than the beer-swilling Billy we had when Carter was in office. Let’s instead look at the Cascade Investment thingie. And dear reader, it is aptly named. It is a cascade.

Cascade is connected with the following: Pacific Ethanol, Republic Services Inc., ICO Global Communications (Holdings) Limited, GAMCO Investors Inc., Canadian National Railway Company, Western Asset Claymore US Treasury, Planetout Inc., and something called Fomento Economico Mexicano S.A. de C.V.

Call it a nose for the strange, but I decided to follow the scent through Fomento. What I found was a company involved in the distribution of Beer in Mexico. It’s a dead-end and just another investment Billy has made. It was heartwarming, though, and a bit nostalgic to find there’s a connection to beer with this Billy as well. Makes you feel like, in the current world climate, that the 70s never really left after all.

In any case, to follow the other side of the PNM background, I decided to look into some of the other connections. One of them is Adelmo E. Archuleta, director of the Bank of Albuquerque, President and CEO of Molzen-Corbin and Associates, and director of a children’s science museum. Another connection to PNM is Manuel T. Pacheco, a director of the company. Pacheco shows up as president of the University of Houston, the University of Missouri, the University of Arizona and interim president of the New Mexico Highlands University. Charles McMahen, also a PNM director, is also listed as a chairman of the University of Houston.

Robert M. Price, a director at PNM is also into tech and data corporations. Woody L. Hunt, another director is into building and something called the University of Texas Investment Management Company. Bonnie S. Reitz is into airlines – specifically Eos Airlines, Inc. Julie A Dobson shows up as chair at TeleBright and director at Safeguard Scientifics and LCCI, as well as COO of Telecorp PCS.

But Jeffry E. Sterba gets the prize. A chairman and CEO of PNM he was also a director at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Edison Electric Institute - more on that group in a moment. But we’ve come full-circle, as we so often do here in New Mexico.

Still, with the number of universities being mentioned here, you might think that perhaps PNM’s board was basing their decision to break away from USCOC on cutting-edge research – that maybe they knew something USCOC didn’t. You might think that some of those Pacheco or McMahen connections – the University of Houston, University of Missouri, University of Arizona or New Mexico Highlands, have a corner on green research.

Nope. They don’t.

Grist.org lists 15 colleges leading the way in "green." They are in order of the deepest shade of “green” to the lightest: College of the Atlantic, Middlebury College, Earth University, Evergreen State College, Oberlin College, Harvard University, University of British Columbia, California State University, Tufts University, Leeds University, Green Mountain College, Yale University, Aquinas College, Glasgow University and the University of Maryland. Pacheco’s folks don’t even come close to rating.

So what’s the rub? Where’s the motivation for jumping off the USCOC ship?

Please examine the comment from the PNM spokesman. He mentions Edison Electric Institute. That organization was a donor to both the Democratic and Republican national conventions in 2008, but has an interesting Senior Vice President. His name is Brian Wolff. Wolff was executive director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and he was also something else…Nancy Pelosi’s political director. Ruth G. Shaw of the Edison Electric Institute is connected to several power companies, the Nuclear Energy Institute, the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations and Wachovia Corporation – and they are into everything.

So what’s the rub? It’s really what it always is in New Mexico – money and politics and power.

It’s just that this time the power thing is going to directly affect my swamp cooler – and of course, my electric bill as the folks involved with PNM try to push forward the administration’s agenda and jack up the cost of electricity, creating yet another re-distribution of wealth – from those of us who have very little to those who already have quite a lot.

I guess I could always pop across the boarder into Mexico and buy some of that new Billy Beer.

That'd probably make me feel better - and I'll bet their electricity will still be on.

Article on Green Power coming up!

Upcoming, an article on "Green," CO2 and all kinds of goodies including the recent announcement that New Mexico's power company, PNM is pulling out of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Why? Who did the Jolly Rogers find while digging in this patch of the desert? And how is it all connected to the current administration? Read the next Jolly Rogers article and enjoy the ride.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The rabbit hole, indoctrination and Obama Youth

"He said red, yellow, black or white/All are equal in his sight. Barack Hussein Obama."

Yep. That’s great.

So now that we have the Obama Youth, how long before we have children informants, camps for political prisoners and all the other goodies that showed up in the last country, which got involved with National Socialism.

I don’t know. It is a catchy tune – and I love the way they’ve rewritten the Christian hymn. I especially like the part where the kiddies sing "He said we must be clear today/Equal work means equal pay."

Oh, so much fun. They had a countdown in New Jersey before they had the children break into the new tune – kind of like what NASA does before a launch. And this, along with eight other skits, was allegedly performed during “black history month.” But whether that is simply to divert from the obvious question of indoctrination, is an obvious, albeit painful question.

The author of the little ditty hasn’t come forward or otherwise been identified, and that’s a shame. The world will benefit so much from the verse such an artist would no doubt produce. Art Galleries and Museums would be erected in their name – right next to the Barack Hussein Obama National Headquarters for Marxism and Socialist Studies, which would be across the street from the new “Dictators r’ Us” department store.

The video saw its’ online debut by Charisse Carney-Nunes, an activist and author of the children's book "I Am Barack Obama." Nunes is the founder of “Brand Nu Words, a publishing company, which according to her website is “dedicated to telling unique stories for children and families.”

Another story, which could not be confirmed, suggested Nunes, allegedly created the vid as a father’s day tribute to Obama classmate at Harvard.

The whole Harvard thing is a fun angle. Let’s take a little romp around Nunes world, shall we?

Nunes is VP of the Jamestown Project, which according to the description on the organization’s website, is “a diverse action-oriented think tank of new leaders who reach across boundaries and generations to make democracy real.”

Thank God. They’re saving us all.

Wait! There’s more.

“Founded and operated primarily by people of color and women,” reads the website overview, “the Jamestown Project consists of scholars, activists and communities who use five broad strategies to achieve our mission: generating new ideas; promoting meaningful public conversations and engagement; cultivating new leaders; formulating political strategy and public policy; and using cutting-edge communications techniques that reach a broad public.”

If you dance around on that website for a while, you will no doubt, come across some real gems of information, but what I found most interesting was a tree.

An Ogle-tree to be exact.

Charles J. Ogletree is the Harvard Law School Jesse Climenko Professor of Law and Founding and Executive Director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice. The Jamestown site calls him a “prominent legal theorist who has made an international reputation by taking a hard look at complex issues of law and by working to secure the rights guaranteed by the Constitution for everyone equally under the law.”

Wow. He’s the man. In fact, he’s the man who has been referred to as the college mentor of Barack Obama. But he’s also a trustee of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, chaired by Sheila P. Burke. And Sheila is an amazing character.

Let’s look at Sheila’s list of occupations: She’s been on the faculty at Georgetown University Public Policy Institute, she’s been an advisory council member for the Center for State Health Policy, she’s been a member of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, she’s been the director of the Partnership for Public Service, she’s been the Deputy Secretary and COO of the Smithsonian Instituton, she’s been a trustee on the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation, Executive Dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, member of the Kaiser Commission on the Future of Medicaid and the Uninsured, trustee of the University of San Francisco, member of the Institute of Medicine, Director of Wellpoint Inc. and the Chubb Corporation. Oh yeah – and she was a secretary at the U.S. Senate, where Senator William H. Frist used to work – and he’s also on the board at Kaiser.

Incidentally, Chubb Corp. is the eleventh largest property and casualty insurer in the world, with over 120 offices located in 29 countries, and is a large, U.S. based health insurance company and the largest member of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

How about them apples?

But Sheila was also Chief of Staff for Bob Dole, who was the majority leader at the U.S. Senate and once remarked, “There is no crisis in health care." It’s strange how the world works.

Another trustee listed at Kaiser is Cokie Roberts, of ABC News fame, who is the director of the Partnership for Public Service, at which dear Sheila is also a director – but when you look up Cokie you find an amazing collection of folks.

Cokie has been involved in the following: Pew Partnership for Civic Change, National Public Radio, ABC News and the Foundation for the National Archives.

The Pew Partnership for Civic Change on which Cokie is an advisory board member, is (according to their website), “a civic research organization that provides consulting and program support to communities, governments, foundations, and nonprofit agencies.” They help clients “identify and implement solutions and strategies crucial to making communities stronger.”

An advisory member of Pew is Marsha Johnson Evans who was a director at Lehman Brothers Holdings, Inc., which was called by Fortune Magazine “One of the biggest calamities of the current recession.” She was also the CEO of the American Red Cross from 2002 to 2005 just prior to the Dole Presidential campaign. Although some claims were made that Evans resignation from ARC was related to the Red Cross' Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, Evans in fact, cited difficulties in dealing with the Board of Governors.

Evans was also a director of the Huntsman Corporation, which leads to Chesapeake Enterprises, an 11 lobby firm with all kinds of connections including a few Indian tribes and the Oracle Corporation, etc. Huntsman also leads to the Ben Barnes Group, which lobbies for Energy Recovery Technology, Transglobal Petroleum, Glo-Fish-Yorktown Technologies, Williams Bailey, Dynamotive USA, Weatherford International Ltd., American Airlines, Patient Privacy Rights Foundation, Search Light Minerals Corp., Behavioral Recognition Systems, Life Sciences Research Inc. and Novacentrix Corporation, just to name a few.

The rabbit hole is endless, dear reader. But remember, this all connects back to Ogletree, the Jamestown Project and a lady who wrote some Obama books for children and was somehow involved in that production in Jersey with the snappy tunes replacing the name of Jesus with that of our dear President.

Oddly, this particular rabbit hole all leads to Charisse Carney Nunes.

There’s only one problem with this rabbit hole, however. Unlike the one Alice fell into, this one doesn’t seem to provide an opportunity to wake up.

*****

Some other fun filled facts about individuals directly or indirectly connected to the Jamestown Project, or whose names turned up in the research of this article:

Eddie S. Glaude Jr. – tracks to an organization named “Teach for America.”

Robin A. Lenhardt – tracks to Brown University.

Enola G. Aird – on the Advisory Board for Jamestown, - tracks to Hopkins School.

Peter B. Edelman – an advisory member of Jamestown – tracks to Marian Wright Edelman, Georgetown University Law Center, Chapin Center for Children, 1980 Edward M. Kennedy presidential Campaign, Robert F. Kennedy memorial, Robert F. Kennedy, Public Welfare Foundation, American Constitution Society, Arthur J. Goldberg.

Elaine Bernard – Labor and Worklife Program Harvard, tracks to Democratic Socialists of America.

Andrew L. Stern – President SEIU– tracks back to Center for Community and Corporate Ethics, Aspen Institute, National Academy of Social Insurance, Service Employees International Union, Rock the Vote and Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The makings of war

How much clearer does it need to be?

The generals in-theater are calling for more troops to deal with Afghanistan. Let’s not try to say that this will produce a final solution, because there is no finality in our constantly changing world. Let’s not even try to say that sending in a “surge” of troops will provide an opportunity to duplicate the success in Iraq. It’s a totally different situation.

But we can say without any doubt that without the needed manpower, death and mayhem are a certainty and our children and grandchildren, mothers and fathers in the service now are being put in harm’s way for the worst reason in the world – politics.

And what of Iran? Did anyone really not see that one coming – the discovery of a “secret” nuclear weapons facility? Wow. I wasn’t even part of the CIA’s Remote Viewing program and I could see that one coming. Any idiot could. Chimps in city zoos around the country were probably discussing how many such facilities exist in Iran and what the potential yield of an Iranian nuke would be.

It doesn’t take great intellect to realize that a president flying around the world making great apologies to former adversaries while snubbing our long-time allies, does not change the way of things. Just consider how long the whackjobs imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay have sat there in their special country club doing their social networking with each other and basically getting better treatment than some U.S. citizens.

Oh to be sure there were interrogations and all that water boarding – basically body-surfing without the waves or the beach, but in all that time, they kept their belief system. Many of them upon release returned to old hobbies, trying to kill Americans. If you had the chance to convince the terrorists involved in 9/11 that their way of life and their beliefs were morally wrong and that they shouldn’t go through with the attacks, how well do you think that would have worked out? Anyone ready to attempt a missionary effort to fly into the mountains of Afghanistan and re-educate the Taliban?

The new 12-step program for whackjobs – yeah, baby. It’s coming to a madrassa near you. Just kidding. Such a thing doesn’t exist – just in case some folks are out there reading this and nodding their heads “oh yeah we can do this.”

Here’s the truth of this, folks: There is no such thing as effective negotiations with any whackjobs, regardless of their religion or society, unless it is happening with a very big military deterrent and an iron-clad, hard-edged, powerful resolve. But this isn’t just about Muslims. Remember, the Western nations and Christian religion has produced some pretty amazing kooks too.

So what’s the solution? We need a larger military force. We need to continue to wipe out the Taliban in Afghanistan and we need to continue to destroy terrorists wherever they are found. We need to leave the professionals and the hard men to do their jobs in interrogations and we should immediately stop the second-guessing. We need to forget for the moment about “green” anything, develop our own oil sources and drop whole sections of law regarding small business restrictions and taxation, to really create jobs.

And we need to forget health care reform for now and focus seriously on the action happening in the world around us.

Iran will attack Israel when they get the first opportunity – and they only need to score one hit with a nuclear warhead. Israel won’t wait for that – they will preemptively strike if necessary. And if our President has the stones for it, he will order the Navy to set up shop nearby in case fast action is needed.

But make no mistake; Iran’s leadership is looking for an excuse to engage. They want Armageddon, because according to their particular brand of belief, this will hasten the arrival of their savior. And that kind of a fight will pull in the Russians and Chinese who will certainly continue to do business with the whackjobs, putting them directly at odds with us.

In that kind of situation, everybody takes sides.

It’s called World War, and it’s happened twice before

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The source and truth of media bias


How do you quantify or qualify media bias?
People have been asking that question for a long time, and there really doesn’t seem to be a good answer.

I was trained at the Defense Information School. The media and journalism side of my primary duties in the military were tied very closely to Public Relations, and it wasn’t until I left the service, that I really understood what reporting the news was all about. The publisher who hired me ran a small-town daily, and he was old-school. There were many days I was called on the carpet for this or that and there were many meetings trying to explain the details behind one story or another – just trying to get them through to publishing.

There were no classes on media bias at DINFOS as I recall, and I don’t know if there are any today. But lately, I have been examining the question. As people line-up now to take whacks at ACORN – an organization seemingly rife with corruption, at least one TV show host, Glenn Beck, is asking the pertinent questions – the “why and the who and the “when.” We already know the “what.”

So while Beck is looking at the perpetrator question, I thought I’d investigate the “enabler” question. I wanted to know, with such a big story and so much obvious stink, why none of the alleged “mainstream” media is looking for the corpse. Why isn’t anyone else picking up the story?

So I’ve been investigating Annenberg. Please see my previous story for that one, because what I found was some obvious, direct connections to education – and in some instances, focused progressive education in the direction of media, broadcasting and journalism. The whole time I was looking down at this problem, trying to find a way to describe what I felt in my gut to be true.

Then I looked up.

In a dusty corner of my office, around a few other frames and plaques, there’s a “features” award from the AP. It was a proud day. I remember it clearly. There I was receiving a “first-place” for a feature, from the AP itself. To most people – hell, most reporters or broadcasters – they would say “so what?”

But to me that was a big deal. And I’m still proud of it. But now, it leads me to a realization that helps me write this story. Because, the article I wrote, which won that award was “The Art of Ranching.” It was a story about a young rancher who inherited a cattle ranch and through environmental means- in today’s parlance, “green initiatives” - he reintroduced the things, which ranchers had so long been eradicating; pests like groundhogs and insects and rabbits. The results: he reclaimed the failing property. Photographs of riparian areas taken in the early 1900s matched photos of the same areas in current day. The grasses were coming back – the ground was alive again. He was able to triple the size of his herd and still the land was improving.

It was a story about environmentalism in an environment, which hates that kind of thinking – traditional ranching. But the story won the AP award over so many others – why?

I would like to think it was because it was good writing, good research, good reporting, but maybe it was also about something else. Maybe it was about being a good “worker,” within the system, and writing the kinds of things the judges like to read.

Because, you see, to get an article out on the national wire when I was a reporter meant that you had to submit it to the wire services and they had to decide to pick it up. If they didn’t like it, then that piece would never see the light of day. You might reach a few people locally, in your own paper’s circulation, but regardless of how earth-shaking the story, you would get zip – zot – nothing and nowhere.

So I looked at my award with new eyes and suddenly saw all my recent research fall into place, like gears in a giant machine. It’s the kind of machine that grinds slowly with heavy, cumbersome, greasy parts. It groans and gnashes with dark intention and it fills rooms – many rooms, all across the nation. It grinds slow because it has been built slowly and carefully over time, silently slipping into schools across the entire spectrum, building an environment of politically correct thinking – progressive thinking. The opposition has been either removed or has gone out by attrition and has been replaced by others; those who will maintain and feed the machine.

They are feeding the machine our young.

To begin with, it is nearly impossible to unravel half a century of school “reform.” The changes it encompasses often are subtle and if not seemingly benign in nature, are cloaked in packaging and nomenclature which suggest the gentle, kindly people tinkering with the system, only have the best interests of the children at heart.

And sometimes they really do. Besides, only madmen go into a thing with intention to do harm. No, in this case, the machine is built slowly, one cumbersome piece at a time. It may start with a really great idea, like Annenberg, a major initiative to revive and inspire K-12 public education across the United States. But the foundation of Annenberg was already much larger, and with the funding of the K-12 programs soon expanded.

The Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania was established in 1994. Through offices in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., according to the Annenberg website, “it conducts and disseminates research, hosts lectures and conferences, and convenes discussions on the critical intersection of media, communication, and public policy. Research focuses on questions and issues in political communication, information and society, media and the developing child, health communication, and adolescent risk.”

This policy center has developed such gems as FactCheck.org, which “aims to increase public knowledge and understanding by monitoring factual accuracy of political dialogue. The center is also responsible for the National Annenberg Election Survey, the nation’s largest academic election poll.

Just two questions there... what do K-12 students need with “understanding factual accuracy of political dialogue? And how many K-12th grade students are remotely involved in election polls? The answer of course, is none. The Annenberg foundation is stretched out into many different areas including higher education and beyond.

Annenberg is plugged into the political process, because in 1958, the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania got up and running. The School’s purpose; to examine “various approaches to the study of communication and its methods drawn from both the humanities and the social sciences. It calls itself “an intellectual common market” and contains social scientists, historians and critics. Masters and Doctoral programs “prepare students to make professional contributions to communication scholarship, research and policy.”

In 1971, the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California began as a small graduate institution and was reorganized in 1994 to include the USC School of Journalism and the Department of Communication Arts. It claims to prepare “students to study, understand and manage important communication in education, politics, management, marketing, government and non-governmental institutions.”

One of USC’s programs is the Center for the Study of Journalism and Democracy.

In July 2009, David Whestphal a senior fellow with the Center on Communication Leadership and Policy and executive in residence, Annenberg School for Communication, USC, wrote “This model, in which special-interest foundations establish news organizations that report on funders’ interest areas, traditionally has raised several concerns. For health-news consumers, there’s the question of whether the coverage is somehow shaped by the interests of the funder...”

Westphal’s article, references Alex Jones, who has led what Westphal called “one of the nations most prominent nonprofits, the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, for the past nine years.”

Westphal wrote:

"Jones wants one or more of the world’s richest people to establish a $2 billion endowment that would provide permanent funding for PBS’ “NewsHour.” “If Warren Buffett or a group of billionaires wanted to change the world, this is how they could do it,” he said. “It’d be one hour of prime viewing time for every television in the country. It would give the United States the genuinely high-quality TV news operation that it has never had.”


But this is all looking at the journalistic field from the bottom up. What does it look like from the top down? To examine this, it is easiest to go straight to the top. In the wake of a fantastic investigative piece of work done by two young people on the ACORN organization, it should be asked, will these two people be considered for the prestigious Pulitzer Prize.

It seems doubtful. This is because looking from the top, down into the Pulitzer committee – at what should arguably represent the best-of-the-best in the journalism field, some unusual trends come to light.

For example, look at David Kennedy. Kennedy served as a Pulitzer Prize juror in the history category in 1984, 1994 and 2002 and was elected to the Pulitzer Prize Board in 2002.

Kennedy, named a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies and the Guggenheim Foundation, was selected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. He has written in The Historian, Reviews in American History, Encyclopedia of American Biography, the Dictionary of American Biography, The Nation, The New Republic, The London Review of Books, The Atlantic Monthly, The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times.

Many might wonder what a top journalist and Pulitzer jurist like this would write about? Surely, such a worldly beacon of journalism would produce exceptional prose. Here’s a small selection from an article written by Kennedy:

The Best Army We Can Buy
By DAVID M. KENNEDY
Published: July 25, 2005

THE United States now has a mercenary army. To be sure, our soldiers are hired from within the citizenry, unlike the hated Hessians whom George III recruited to fight against the American Revolutionaries. But like those Hessians, today's volunteers sign up for some mighty dangerous work largely for wages and benefits - a compensation package that may not always be commensurate with the dangers in store, as current recruiting problems testify.
<...>
Some will find it offensive to call today's armed forces a "mercenary army," but our troops are emphatically not the kind of citizen-soldiers that we fielded two generations ago - drawn from all ranks of society without respect to background or privilege or education, and mobilized on such a scale that civilian society's deep and durable consent to the resort to arms was absolutely necessary.

Leaving questions of equity aside, it cannot be wise for a democracy to let such an important function grow so far removed from popular participation and accountability. It makes some supremely important things too easy - like dealing out death and destruction to others, and seeking military solutions on the assumption they will be swifter and more cheaply bought than what could be accomplished by the more vexatious business of diplomacy....

This historian and professor, a Pulitzer winner himself, has taught at Stanford University since 1967. His book, Over Here: The First World War and American Society, and Freedom From Fear, won the Pulitzer Prize in history in 2000.

He earned his B.A. in history in 1963 from Stanford University, then continued his studies at Yale, where he was awarded a master's degree and doctorate in American Studies.

And although many might think the viewpoint expressed in this single article, not representative of the man’s work, there’s more – a lot more. How about writing that Abraham Lincoln was considered so divisive a figure that his election “triggered a civil war.”

But that’s enough about Kennedy. What about Jay T. Harris, former publisher of the San Jose Mercury News and director of The Center for the Study of Journalism and Democracy at the Annenberg School of Communication, USC.

Harris eventually served as assistant dean, of Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism. He is credited with creating the American Society of Newspaper Editors' annual national census of minority employment in daily newspapers. But Harris is also a Senior Fellow on the Salzburg Board of Directors for Salzburg Global Seminar, headquartered in Austria, is a massive independent Non-Governmental Organization with a board of directors, which according to their website is “drawn from diverse regions, backgrounds and fields of expertise.”

According to the website: “It seeks in its’ faculties, fellows and staff people of the highest intellectual and leadership capacity from around the world and from all sectors of society and attempts to benefit from their breadth of experience and perspective across the full range of their work.”

The Salzburg Global Seminar also “seeks to challenge present and future leaders to solve issues of global concern.” Their strategy “is to convene imaginative thinkers from different cultures and institutions, organize problem-focused initiatives, support leadership development and engage opinion makers through active communication networks, all in partnership with leading institutions from around the world and across different sectors of society.”

The values of this far-reaching organization move far outside the world of journalism. They “seek to magnify the impact of individuals and institutions that bring just and humane values to bear on global challenges facing their societies and the world.”

But Harris is involved in an organization, which reaches even further – into the re-writing of history and “historical reparations.”
The Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation is involved with educational and public policy institutions to “organize and sponsor historical discourse in pursuit of acknowledgement, and the resolution of historical disputes. In October 2008, the IHJR was established as an independent institute in The Netherlands and is now a nonprofit foundation seated in The Hague.”

Beneath the IHJR title is this: The IHJR seeks to dispel public myths about historic legacies in societies divided by ethnic conflict.

So how does any of this relate to journalism? Because if organizations are teaching or encouraging viewpoints from these kind of global groups to fresh minds entering the journalism field, how is it possible for these people to end up as objective minds when they enter the market? Isn’t it more likely that many of those taught and influenced by people involved in organizations like this, will develop similar perspectives – perspectives which they are also instructed to view as centrist and objective?

So what about the dusty award for a feature story on the wall of that office? Signed by an editor at the Associated Press, that award is basically given where the rubber meets the road in journalism. It’s certainly not in the lofty heights where Harris and Kennedy live and work, but rather, down where some $7.50-an-hour reporter spends 15-20 hours of on unpaid overtime each week, covering their assigned beats for a small daily or a tiny radio station somewhere in the back of beyond.

These reporters come from less-refined backgrounds – like myself. But they may attend some of the civilian journalism schools out there at places like USC or maybe on the other side of the country at City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism.

According to the CUNY website, “There can be no more dynamic environment in which to learn and work than New York City. The city is the media capital of the world, and the Graduate School of Journalism is situated in its very heart.”

Three people on the Journalism school’s faculty are Pulitzer Prize winners.

And CUNY has a fairly up-front ethics policy, which reads in part, “The duty of journalists is to inform the public in ways that promote understanding of past or current events and the workings of a democratic society. To be credible and trustworthy, we seek truth in an unbiased way, always striving for a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues.”

CUNY Graduate School of Journalism is part of the CUNY Graduate Center, which apparently as a whole, embraces a wide variety of policies and perspectives. Frances Fox Piven is a Professor of Political Science and Sociology at CUNY. Piven co-authored a book with Richard Cloward, titled Regulating the Poor. The book, details the role of welfare policy in the economic and political control of the poor and working class. She also wrote Poor Peoples' Movements (1977), which looks at insurgent social movements and how they produce policy reforms. Another Piven book, Why Americans Don't Vote (1988) was updated to Why Americans Still Don't Vote in 2000), digs into the role of electoral laws and practices in disenfranchising the working class and poor. Lastly, Piven wrote The War at Home (2004), which examines the domestic causes and consequences of the foreign wars launched by the Bush administration.

And best of all, her book, Challenging Authority: How Ordinary People Change America, shows the interplay of disruptive social movements and electoral politics in generating the political force for “egalitarian reform in American history.”

Piven is on a board for the leftforum.org., along with a couple other CUNY people including Stanley Aronowitz, a Professor of Sociology at CUNY Graduate Center, where he is Director of The Center for the Study of Culture, Technology and Work.

The leftforum.org, convenes the largest gathering in North America of the US and international Left every spring. Continuing a tradition begun in the 1960s, the organization assembles intellectuals and organizers to share perspectives, strategies, experience and vision.

According to their website, the most recent forum, held at Pace University in New York City, included approximately 3,000 participants, over 200 panels, and 650 speakers from over 40 countries.

“For the US and the world, revitalizing an American Left has never been more urgent,” explains a description of the organization on their website. “Left Forum has a critical role to play in that undertaking. Our work parallels and cross-fertilizes with the renewal of left strength elsewhere—from indigenous movements in Bolivia to the South Korean farmers to the electoral gains of European and Latin American left parties. Like many movements abroad, Left Forum seeks to link the critique of neo-liberalism to anti-capitalism, and to foster radical alternatives to the established order.”

Piven and Aronowitz are on that board with Jamie McCallum, Hobart Spaulding, William Tabb and Julia Wrigley, all of them also from CUNY.

MacCallum studies Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center, and teaches in the Urban Studies department and the Center for Worker Education at Queens College. He is described on the leftforum website as “an agitator for social justice.”

He was a labor organizer in New York and California, and helped build worker-activist alliances before the WTO protest in Seattle in 1999.

Spalding is retired as Professor of History from the City University of New York (CUNY). His work has focused on Latin America and the Caribbean, specifically the working class and labor history. He sits on the editorial board of several publications, most notably Socialism and Democracy.

Tabb taught economics at Queens College and economics, political science and sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center. He has written books including the Economic Governance in the Age of Globalization (Columbia University Press, 2004) and The Amoral Elephant: Globalization and the Struggle for Social Justice in the Twenty-First Century (Monthly Review Press, 2001). Lastly, Wrigley is a Professor of Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center and the author of Class Politics and Public Schools and Other People's Children.

These CUNY educators are on the same board with Richard D. Wolff, a Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusettes. Wolff’s publications, current research, and teaching concentrate on developing and applying Marxian economic theory. According to the leftforum website, his most recent books, co-authored with Stephen Resnick, are New Departures in Marxian Theory (Routledge Publishers: London and New York, 2006) and Class Theory and History: Capitalism and Communism in the USSR (Routledge Publishers: London and New York, 2002). He also serves on the editorial board of Rethinking Marxism.”

These are just a sampling of university educators and their belief systems. These belief systems are at least in part, transferred to students and carried forward. In the field of journalism – as in many other occupations - developing perspectives, influenced by folks like this, are subsequently reinforced by recognition, awards, status and pay. The truth of this assertion can be found in a letter to Andy Stern, President of SEIU dated May 1, 2008. Two of the individuals who signed that letter were Aronowitz and Piven. The rest of those who signed it are listed below with the full contents of that letter, which can be found at calnurses.org:

An Open Letter of Concern To Andy Stern
About United Healthcare Workers-West

Mr. Andy Stern, President
May 1, 2008

Service Employees International Union
1800 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036

Dear Andy:

We are writing to you as journalists, authors, political activists, and educators who are committed to organized labor because of its important role in social justice struggles in the U.S. Some of us have longstanding ties to SEIU and have done research, writing, or labor education work involving its members, organizers, and local leaders. Those of us who deal with graduate students or undergraduates have encouraged younger people to pursue internships or full-time job opportunities with SEIU and other Change To Win or AFL-CIO unions. A number of us belong to unions ourselves. Many of us have been part of community-labor coalitions or campus-based groups like Scholars, Artists, and Writers for Social Justice (when it was still active) because we support organizing and bargaining by janitors, cafeteria workers, and other service sector employees.

We are writing to express our deep concern about SEIU's threatened trusteeship over its third largest local, United Healthcare Workers (UHW). We believe that there must always be room within organized labor for legitimate and principled dissent, if our movement is to survive and grow.

Putting UHW under trusteeship would send a very troubling message and be viewed, by many, as a sign that internal democracy is not valued or tolerated within SEIU. In our view, this would have negative consequences for the workers directly affected, the SEIU itself, and the labor movement as a whole. We strongly urge you to avoid such a tragedy.

Sincerely,

Michael Albert, Author, co-founder South End Press and Z Magazine*
Richard P. Appelbaum, Professor of Sociology, University of California-Santa Barbara
Stanley Aronowitz, Professor of Sociology, CUNY Graduate Center
Sara Abraham, Sociology, University of Toronto
Frank Bardacke, Author and Educator
Jennifer Berkshire, Journalist and Editor
Elaine Bernard, Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School
Fred Block, Sociology Department, University of California-Davis
Edna Bonacich, UC-Riverside
Eileen Boris, Women's Studies Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara
Joanna Brenner, Portland State University
Robert Brenner, Professor of History, UCLA
Kate Bronfenbrenner, Cornell ILR School
Dan Brook, Sociology, San Jose State University
Michael Jacoby Brown, Founder, Jewish Organizing Initiative
Anita Chan, Australian National University
Noam Chomsky, Professor of Linguistics (Emeritus), MIT
Levon Chorbajian, Sociology, U-Mass, Lowell
Dan Clawson, Sociology Professor, U-Mass Amherst
Bruce Cohen, Associate History Professor, Worcester State College
Tim Costello, Labor Researcher and Author
Mike Davis, Author and Professor, UC-Irvine
Ellen David-Friedman, Founder, Vermont Workers Center and former VEA Staff Member
Michael Denning, Professor of American Studies and Director, Initiative on Labor and Culture, Yale
G.William Domhoff, Sociology Professor, UC Santa Cruz
Jill Esbenshade, San Diego State University
Tess Ewing, U-Mass Boston Labor Center
Rick Fantasia, Sociology Dept., Smith College
Leon Fink, Professor of History, University of Illinois at Chicago
Richard Flacks, UC Santa Barbara
Bill Fletcher, Jr. Co-founder, Center for Labor Renewal & Exec. Editor, Blackcommentator.com
John Bellamy Foster, Professor of Sociology, University of Oregon
Harris Freeman, U-Mass Amherst Labor Center
Yoshie Furuhashi, MRZine
Bill Gallegos, Communities for a Better Environment
William A. Gamson, Professor of Sociology, Boston College and former American Sociological Association president
Zelda Gamson, Senior Associate, New England Resource Center for Higher Education
Dan Georgianna, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
Sam Gindin, Packer Chair in Social Justice at York University, former CAW Research Director
George Gonos, Sociology, SUNY Potsdam
Suzanne Gordon, Journalist & Author
Jim Green, Professor of History and Labor Studies, U-Mass Boston
Brian Greenberg, Department of History and Anthropology, Monmouth University
Michael Honey, University of Washington
Thandabantu Iverson, Assistant Professor in Labor Studies, Indiana University
Robin D.G.Kelley, Professor of History, USC
Howard Kimeldorf, University of Michigan
Jennifer Klein, Department of History, Yale
Kitty Krupat, City University of New York
Nelson Lichtenstein, Professor of History, UC Santa Barbara
Stephanie Luce, Associate Professor, Labor Center, U-Mass-Amherst
Biju Mathew, Assistant Professor of Business, Rider University
Dale Melcher, U-Mass Labor Extension
Tom Mertes, UCLA Center for Social Theory
Jack Metzger, Emeritus Professor of Humanities, Roosevelt University
Nancy McLean, Professor of History, Northwestern University
James Monsonis, Professor Emeritus, Simon's Rock College
David Montgomery, Professor Emeritus, Yale
Carolina Bank Munoz, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Brooklyn College-CUNY
Ruth Needleman, Professor of Labor Studies, Indiana University
Manny Ness, Brooklyn College, CUNY
Frances Fox Piven, CUNY Graduate Center
Vijay Prashad, Trinity College
Peter Rachleff, History Dept., Macalester College
Marcus Rediker, History, Univ. of Pittsburgh
Adolph Reed, Professor of Political Science, Univ. of Pennsylvania
Thomas Reifer, Assistant Professor, Sociology and Ethnic Studies, University of San Diego
Christopher Rhomberg, Yale University
Corey Robin, Associate Professor, Political Science, Brooklyn College
Ian Robinson, University of Michigan
Carlos Rosado, Chicago-Kent College of Law
Lucy Rosenblatt, Psychotherapist, Health Workers for People Over Profits
Andrew Ross, New York University
Robert J. S. Ross, Sociology Professor, Clark University
Daisy Rooks, Rutgers University
Jay Schaffner, Author and Moderator, Portside
Michael Schwartz, SUNY Stony Brook
Robert Schwartz, Author and Attorney
Kim Scipes, Professor of Sociology, Purdue
Dennis Serrette, President, United Association for Labor Education
Rae Sovereign, Labor Studies Program, Indiana University-South Bend
Chris Spannos, ZNet and Z Communications
Judith Stepan-Norris, UC-Irvine
Alan Wald, Professor, University of Michigan
Richard Walker, Geography Dept., UC-Berkeley
Immanual Wallerstein, Professor of Sociology, Yale University
Victor Wallis, Berklee College of Music
Andrea S. Walsh, Lecturer, MIT
Dorian Warren, Columbia University
Eve Weinbaum, U-Mass Amherst
David Wellman, Sociology Dept., UC-Santa Cruz
Suzi Weissman, St.Mary’s College of CA
Cal Winslow, Fellow, Environmental Politics, UC Berkeley
Steffie Woolhandler & David Himmelstein, Harvard School of Public Health and PNHP
John Womack,History Professor, Harvard
Michael D. Yates, Professor Emeritus, University of Pittsburgh
Dr. Quentin Young, PNHP
Maurice Zeitlin, Dept. of Sociology, UCLA
Howard Zinn, Author, Playwright, and Professor Emeritus, Boston University
Michael Zweig, SUNY at Stony Brook



So if these are the educators working directly with students, and they have “done research, writing, or labor education work involving its members, organizers, and local leaders,” and “have encouraged younger people to pursue internships or full-time job opportunities with SEIU and other Change To Win or AFL-CIO unions.” Then who are on the other end of the spectrum giving the encouragement and the awards?

For this we can look back at recent times within the AP. This is the same organization, which distributed a photo of mortally wounded Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard, 21, of New Portland, Maine, even after being asked by the young man’s father not to do it.

Bernard was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade in a Taliban ambush Aug. 14 in Helmand province of southern Afghanistan, and although the AP waited until after the burial, they still distributed them, saying the photo was “...part of the history of this war.”

Bernard's father after seeing the image of his mortally wounded son said he was against publication, calling it disrespectful to his son's memory.

That’s the AP – as an organization. But what do they look like up close? How about looking at the Pulitzer Prize winners? Associated Press reporters and photographers have won 49 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other news organization in categories for which it can compete. The AP has won 19 Pulitzer Prizes for writing and 30 Pulitzer Prizes for pictures.

Here’s some highlights from the AP itself:

2005 -Bilal Hussein, Karim Kadim, BrennanLinsley, Jim MacMillan, Samir Mizban, Khalid Mohammed, John B. Moore , Muhammad Muheisen, Anja Niedringhaus, Murad Sezer and Mohammed Uraibi for breaking news photography for a stunning series of pictures of bloody yearlong combat inside Iraqi cities.

2000 -Sang-Hun Choe, Charles J. Hanley, Martha Mendoza and Randy Herschaft for Investigative Reporting, for "The Bridge at No Gun Ri," a package of stories reporting the mass killings of South Korean civilians by American troops at the start of the Korean War..

1995 -Mark Fritz, for reports on the ethnic violence in Rwanda.

1995 -Jackie Arzt, Javier Bauluz, Jean-Marc Bouju, Karsten Thielker for photos of the ethnic violence in Rwanda.

1991 -Greg Marinovich, for a series of pictures showing the brutal killing of a man believed to be a Zulu Inkatha supporter in South Africa.

1983 -Bill Foley, for a series of pictures of victims and survivors of the massacre of Palestinians in a refugee camp in Beirut.

1982 -Saul Pett, for a series of stories on the bureaucracy of the federal government.

1978 -J. Ross Baughman, for a series of pictures showing white Rhodesian soldiers beating and torturing black nationalist guerrillas.

1977 -Neal Ulevich, for a series of pictures showing bloody fighting between police and left-wing students in Bangkok, Thailand.

1973 -Huynh Cong (Nick) Ut, for a picture of a Vietnamese girl fleeing in terror after a napalm attack.

1972 -Horst Faas and Michel Laurent, for a series of pictures of tortures and executions in Bangladesh.

1970 -Steve Starr, for a picture of armed black students emerging after their 36-hour occupation of a Cornell University building.

1969 -Edward (Eddie) Adams, for a picture of Vietnamese Brig. Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a Viet Cong prisoner on a Saigon street.

1958 -Relman Morin, for reports on school desegregation rioting at Little Rock.

1951 -Max Desfor, for a picture of Korean War refugees in flight over ruins of a Taedong River bridge.

1951 -Relman Morin and Don Whitehead, for war reports from Korea.

1947 -Arnold Hardy, for his photo of a girl leaping to death in a hotel fire.

Notice any kind of similarity in content? Do you wonder why so much horror and grief and despair is winning the top awards in journalism? Is it just because “bad news sells papers? Or can we draw any conclusions from this – can we say that a certain type of reporting is being rewarded?

If you look at these events, you have race-war, death, destruction, “evil” U.S. government and evil U.S. troops, sad third-world violence, and to use the AP’s words “a stunning series of pictures of bloody yearlong combat inside Iraqi cities.”

Wow. It just makes a person want to see more, doesn’t it? Yet year after year, despite thousands, maybe millions of stories and photos, and billions of dollars being spent, this is the kind of stuff selected for the top award – the Pulitzer.

To be fair, however, AP has made a difference, influenced people, exposed truths – and there were other, brighter topics, which won the day. But the greatest majority of material selected seems geared to these themes. Just consider for a moment, how the average person would feel capturing a photo of a girl leaping to her death in a hotel fire? And how must you feel accepting an award for that kind of material? I think I would rather destroy it. I think I would never allow those pictures of the dying Marine to leave the scene. I would have punched up “delete” on my digital camera, or popped the back of my analog rig and torn the film out, exposing it – allowing the light of day to fade away the darkness, forever.

But these individuals chose not to do those things. Is that professionalism over-riding the impulse to do the right thing? And is it possible to know what that says about us all. Not really. Is it enough to say that they were doing their job, while people bled out? Is it enough to say they were serving humanity when they couldn’t even serve the wishes or needs of a grieving father who’s son died bravely and honorably - so that those very same AP executives could continue to eat in fancy restaurants, live comfortable, happy lives and talk about their daily works?

How are journalists produced? Can we really say it is not a type of indoctrination? Where is objectivity when even simple humanity is ignored to boost circulation? How can you claim neutrality when you benefit from bringing in a particular kind of story – when you’re paid for a specific perspective?

What is truth but perception and what is perception, but perspective. I may respond to anger, with anger and to harsh words with the same. I may choose to accept my view of the world justifies some kind of opposite reaction. But I would be wrong.

They say that with certain conditions you simply can’t see them, because you are on the inside looking out. So, when you try to see the problem, it evades detection, because it is itself, a part of you. Some soldiers and civilians who have lived through terrible, traumatic circumstances, suffer from a condition like this – it’s called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. So what condition does the alleged “mainstream media” suffer from?

I do not believe these agencies are corrupt or in total, biased. But, there are groups involved in training our young people and they have been at work within our education system, for a long time, influencing the development and education of the new people swelling their ranks. That stewardship has maintained a horrific machine, which is called “indoctrination” and has been folding generations of people into an alternative perspective; a different way of seeing things.

When people ask why the mainstream media isn’t covering certain breaking stories, what is more likely – a conspiracy of epic proportions, or simply a group of people who have a special kind of organizational blindness coupled with economic and professional encouragement?

They believe their world-view to be correct and they can’t imagine a different way or a different world. Their viewpoint is reinforced daily by peers and bosses in their hierarchy. I suppose that says something important. Maybe we are lacking imagination or vision – of course, maybe believing that I know that, is equal intellectual hubris or a lack of imagination itself.

But I heard something recently, which is certainly true. Maybe this is the only truth: If we wake up alive again tomorrow – any of us, or all of us – we will have a new day to try to be a better person.

It would be great, if we could all develop that as a perspective.

Wouldn’t it?

Story on reason for Biased media coming

The story on crooked journalism and the ongoing bias amongst mainstream media is nearly complete. We will be releasing it soon - and soon after, the screaming will start.

Get ready for it. Exclusive to the Jolly Rogers and in cooperation with the Flying Patriot. Gonna float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

Monday, September 21, 2009

An Afternoon with Jack



As I listen to and read the new media, both radio, TV, and the rag sheets, I'm amazed at the polarization in this nation caused by an ideology being rammed down the backbone of the American people by an undemocratic congress and a president whose ego is definitely not that of a statesman.

I recently thought of Jack, a college fraternity brother of mine. We played football together at SMU.

Jack was really too small for college ball at 5'6" and 145 pounds. The memory of a 230 pound linebacker that dropped Jack's small frame, still sends shudders through my mind. After the collision, Jack was the first player to rise and hurry back to the huddle. He had that grin stretched across his face. I remember asking Jack, "Why the grin?" He said, with a giggle, "I said to the linebacker, 'I hope I didn't hurt you.'"

That was Jack.

The afternoon was sunny, without a cloud in the sky, as I stood many years ago, gazing at the wall known as the Vietnam Memorial. On this, my first trip to Arlington National Cemetery, it occurred to me that the name carved in the cold granite wall was all the world would ever know of Jack. For you see, Jack was a Colonel flying a phantom jet over North Vietnam when on October 26, 1967, he simply vanished from the world. They never found a trace of the jet or his remains.

I remember when we were in college, Jack joined the Air Force ROTC, while my choice was the PLC program the Marine Corps offered to college students. By all odds, my name should have been on that wall, not Jack's.

As October approaches every year, I think of that name written with thousands of others on that Granite Wall. Would they be proud of the sacrifices they made for our freedom, or ashamed that our country is divided right, left, liberal, conservative? It is really strange that on the thousands of crosses, there is never a democratic or republican symbol written there - only their names, branch of service, date of death.

All Americans need to regroup with an attitude of country first, honoring our Constitution and Bill of Rights that define who we are as a people.

My wish for America is quite simple; it is for every member of Congress, to stand before that Granite wall and read the names written there; and realize that our divisions are minor, compared to the sacrifices of those whose names are on that wall.

*****
written by Tom Macon
special to The Jolly Rogers

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