Tag Archives: nefarious deeds

Hearts and Minds and Souls of A People


The knack of turning a phrase was explained by Theodore Roosevelt to his young aide, Lieutenant Douglas MacArthur, in 1906. MacArthur had asked the President to what he attributed his popularity, and Roosevelt replied, “To put into words what is in their hearts and minds but not in their mouths.” (“Hearts and minds” later became a slogan of sorts, as what had to be won in Vietnam.

And if the U.S. wants to win hearts and minds, “You have to pursue Gen. McChrystal’s strategy. If you say that’s not acceptable and costs too much, it takes too long, we don’t have our allies — then you come up with a counterterrorist strategy, which means you’re going to start killing people and thereby risk killing a lot of innocent civilians, thereby creating more insurgents.” – Former Secretary of Defense William Cohen

“The Revolution was effected before the War commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations…. This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people, was the real American Revolution.” – John Adams February 13, 1818

“Evidence from this trial will only show one side. I was on the wrong side but I switched sides,” Hasan, an American-born Muslim, said in a roughly two minute-long opening statement.

Not a new concept nor a new phrase, eh?  This whole “hearts and minds” thing.  We are very good at talking about it, and some of us really do get it.  Sadly, some of us really get it at a level that is only manipulative.  That is the propaganda level.  And, sadly, we are failing in some very important ways.

I have been thinking about this a lot this week in a lot of contexts.  It was that final quote that started the thought process really.  No matter how much lip service our politicians and “leaders” give, many Muslims at home and around the world feel that the so-called “war on terror” is, in fact, a war on Islam.  We are completely failing to “win the hearts and minds” of Muslims.

I have a friend who in many ways is an intelligent, reasonable, educated man, and yet, he totally discounts Al Jazeera as a legitimate news source, simply because he believes that they are Muslim biased.  That’s it.  Yet, he will cite Alex Jones, one of the most popular conspiracy theorists on the right wing circuit, as though he is a reliable and credible news source, and then, my friend will consider himself to be non-biased.  I eventually had to tell him that I will not even look at any link that comes from an infowars.com address.  If he wants me to look at it, find it in another source.  If it has any legitimacy, it will be somewhere else.   Let’s be clear about this.  Alex Jones has as much actual credibility as David Icke, which is to say none.  Zip. Zero. Zilch.

That is, unless, of course, you believe that the British royals are actually shape shifting lizards.

We build bridges and roads.  We build schools, and reach out to children and their parents in these countries that we are occupying.  And, then, we bomb them, and kill those same children.  Why then, do we wonder that we create enemies?

What have you done for me lately?”  When the answer is buzzing my towns, blow up my bridge, destroy my schools and homes, and kill my daughters and sons, then I am going to forget that you built those bridges and schools.  I am going to forget that you said, “We are not at war with Islam”, when all I see is you killing other Muslims.  I am going to forget you said that when I see a disproportionate support of a state that is repeatedly violating the mandates of the same organization that you said was one of the reasons you were invading Iraq, while that same state carries out murders around the world and imposes apartheid conditions on those who are like me.

Our words and our actions have to be in line if we are going to “win the hearts and minds”.  Until then, we are simply continuing the same hypocrisy that we have exhibited for years in our support of dictators around the world, and in countless other ways.  Worse yet, until then, we will continue to fail.

We show that we don’t even believe these words ourselves, at home.  Despite our recent “revelations” we are still a reasonably open society.  Our internal words and thoughts are posted openly for not only our own citizens to see, but also for pretty much the whole world to see.  So, when our warts are exposed, they are really exposed.  That is really as it should be.  That gives us the opportunity to treat them.


The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is…


I have written before on the purpose that fairy tales served in our not too distant past before they were sanitized and Disneyfied.  In short, they were very useful for keeping children in line.  Fear.  Our first method of discipline as children is often fear.  It is typically the same method that many western religions use.  It is the reason that the phrase “god-fearing Christian” still exists in our lexicon.  (That, and it is baked into the Judeo-Christian religion at a fundamental level.)  As we grow and mature, we can develop into more complex and reasonable ways to discipline and learn.  Fear need not be the way we teach our children the difference between right and wrong, nor should it be the way we govern ourselves, or our society.

Decisions made on the basis of fear are almost always knee-jerk reactions, and more often than not, short of truly critical individually life threatening emergency situations, they are wrong.  Fight or flight responses are almost never appropriate for a society.

This is precisely what we do though.  We elect people more often than not based on fear.  Fear of “the other guy”.  Fear of what will happen if we act on the courage of our convictions.  Fear that “this election is too important to take a chance”.  Fear that we are “at war” with al Qaeda, on drugs, on poverty, on women, on ________ .

All too often, those we elect, and worse yet, those we do not elect, but that are in positions of extraordinary power, are more than happy to use this fear to manipulate and control the populace in the ways that they see fit.  In fairness, some of them are dong so because they sincerely believe that it is necessary.  They truly believe that “the world is a dangerous place” and that “the ends justifies the means”.  These are the people that I most feel sorry for.  They fail to understand that they are actually creating or exacerbating the problems that they are seeking to protect us against.

Yes, there are bad people in the world, and yes, we do have to take steps to protect ourselves against them.  We do not, however, have to go overboard with that.  We do not have to start sacrificing our liberties and our minds in that pursuit.  With complete honesty and not the least bit of hyperbole, it is these people, the ones that are supposed to be protecting us, that scare me far more than the al Qaedas, the M-13s, or the Somali pirates of the world.  I literally have no fear of walking through Chicago’s Auburn Gresham or Shanghai at 2:00 am (which I have done), but these people at the NSA, Homeland Security, the FBI, and the other nearly 1,300 other governmental organizations plus 2,000 private companies?  Yeah, they cause me a great deal of alarm.  Read those numbers again, and stop to think about that.  That is a security apparatus that is not transparent.  It is not even fully known how widely it stretches.  You will not find anyone, any where, who can eve tell you how much money is being spent on these operations.  You will find estimates, but no accurate totals.

And, it is, by its very nature based on fear.  What do animals that are fearful do?  Have you ever seen a cornered dog or cat?  One that is afraid?  That is a dangerous animal!

Then, there are the other types of people who are involved in this community.  Those are the people who should be removed from their positions, stripped of their wealth and prosecuted for a variety of crimes.  In many cases, crimes against humanity.  These are the people who have used fear to manipulate and control simply to enrich themselves and their friends.  They have used fear to maintain positions of power, wealth and prestige.  These people are rightfully called terrorists.  For they use terrorism, and the dictionary definition of terrorism is clear:

terrorism

1.   the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.

2.   the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.

3.   a terroristic method of governing or of resisting a government.

Osama bin Laden was “on the run” for more than a decade after having been identified and claiming responsibility for the attacks on America on 9/11/2001.  During that time we launched three wars – The War on Terrorism, the War in Iraq, and the War in Afghanistan.  (Though the right has tried to revise history, the Bush cabal clearly made an effort to tie the War in Iraq to al Qaeda and sold it as part of the War on Terrorism.)  All three of these wars were to have two purposes.  First, to defeat al Qaeda, and by extension, any and all terrorists who would attack the US, and by extension, any Western interests anywhere around the world.  Second, to find and capture or kill Osama bin Laden.
CONTINUED on PAGE 2


Meet the children killed in your name by drone strikes. Be proud, America! Be proud!


PAKISTAN

Name | Age | Gender

Noor Aziz | 8 | male
Abdul Wasit | 17 | male
Noor Syed | 8 | male
Wajid Noor | 9 | male
Syed Wali Shah | 7 | male
Ayeesha | 3 | female
Qari Alamzeb | 14| male
Shoaib | 8 | male
Hayatullah KhaMohammad | 16 | male
Tariq Aziz | 16 | male
Sanaullah Jan | 17 | male
Maezol Khan | 8 | female
Nasir Khan | male
Naeem Khan | male
Naeemullah | male
Mohammad Tahir | 16 | male
Azizul Wahab | 15 | male
Fazal Wahab | 16 | male
Ziauddin | 16 | male
Mohammad Yunus | 16 | male
Fazal Hakim | 19 | male
Ilyas | 13 | male
Sohail | 7 | male
Asadullah | 9 | male
khalilullah | 9 | male
Noor Mohammad | 8 | male
Khalid | 12 | male
Saifullah | 9 | male
Mashooq Jan | 15 | male
Nawab | 17 | male
Sultanat Khan | 16 | male
Ziaur Rahman | 13 | male
Noor Mohammad | 15 | male
Mohammad Yaas Khan | 16 | male
Qari Alamzeb | 14 | male
Ziaur Rahman | 17 | male
Abdullah | 18 | male
Ikramullah Zada | 17 | male
Inayatur Rehman | 16 | male
Shahbuddin | 15 | male
Yahya Khan | 16 |male
Rahatullah |17 | male
Mohammad Salim | 11 | male
Shahjehan | 15 | male
Gul Sher Khan | 15 | male
Bakht Muneer | 14 | male
Numair | 14 | male
Mashooq Khan | 16 | male
Ihsanullah | 16 | male
Luqman | 12 | male
Jannatullah | 13 | male
Ismail | 12 | male
Taseel Khan | 18 | male
Zaheeruddin | 16 | male
Qari Ishaq | 19 | male
Jamshed Khan | 14 | male
Alam Nabi | 11 | male
Qari Abdul Karim | 19 | male
Rahmatullah | 14 | male
Abdus Samad | 17 | male
Siraj | 16 | male
Saeedullah | 17 | male
Abdul Waris | 16 | male
Darvesh | 13 | male
Ameer Said | 15 | male
Shaukat | 14 | male
Inayatur Rahman | 17 | male
Salman | 12 | male
Fazal Wahab | 18 | male
Baacha Rahman | 13 | male
Wali-ur-Rahman | 17 | male
Iftikhar | 17 | male
Inayatullah | 15 | male
Mashooq Khan | 16 | male
Ihsanullah | 16 | male
Luqman | 12 | male
Jannatullah | 13 | male
Ismail | 12 | male
Abdul Waris | 16 | male
Darvesh | 13 | male
Ameer Said | 15 | male
Shaukat | 14 | male
Inayatur Rahman | 17 | male
Adnan | 16 | male
Najibullah | 13 | male
Naeemullah | 17 | male
Hizbullah | 10 | male
Kitab Gul | 12 | male
Wilayat Khan | 11 | male
Zabihullah | 16 | male
Shehzad Gul | 11 | male
Shabir | 15 | male
Qari Sharifullah | 17 | male
Shafiullah | 16 | male
Nimatullah | 14 | male
Shakirullah | 16 | male
Talha | 8 | male

YEMEN

Afrah Ali Mohammed Nasser | 9 | female
Zayda Ali Mohammed Nasser | 7 | female
Hoda Ali Mohammed Nasser | 5 | female
Sheikha Ali Mohammed Nasser | 4 | female
Ibrahim Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 13 | male
Asmaa Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 9 | male
Salma Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 4 | female
Fatima Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 3 | female
Khadije Ali Mokbel Louqye | 1 | female
Hanaa Ali Mokbel Louqye | 6 | female
Mohammed Ali Mokbel Salem Louqye | 4 | male
Jawass Mokbel Salem Louqye | 15 | female
Maryam Hussein Abdullah Awad | 2 | female
Shafiq Hussein Abdullah Awad | 1 | female
Sheikha Nasser Mahdi Ahmad Bouh | 3 | female
Maha Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 12 | male
Soumaya Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 9 | female
Shafika Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 4 | female
Shafiq Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 2 | male
Mabrook Mouqbal Al Qadari | 13 | male
Daolah Nasser 10 years | 10 | female
AbedalGhani Mohammed Mabkhout | 12 | male
Abdel- Rahman Anwar al Awlaki | 16 | male
Abdel-Rahman al-Awlaki | 17 | male
Nasser Salim | 19

http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2013/07/25/us-officials-attack-far-from-authoritative-leaked-drone-report/PAKISTAN

Name | Age | Gender

Noor Aziz | 8 | male
Abdul Wasit | 17 | male
Noor Syed | 8 | male
Wajid Noor | 9 | male
Syed Wali Shah | 7 | male
Ayeesha | 3 | female
Qari Alamzeb | 14| male
Shoaib | 8 | male
Hayatullah KhaMohammad | 16 | male
Tariq Aziz | 16 | male
Sanaullah Jan | 17 | male
Maezol Khan | 8 | female
Nasir Khan | male
Naeem Khan | male
Naeemullah | male
Mohammad Tahir | 16 | male
Azizul Wahab | 15 | male
Fazal Wahab | 16 | male
Ziauddin | 16 | male
Mohammad Yunus | 16 | male
Fazal Hakim | 19 | male
Ilyas | 13 | male
Sohail | 7 | male
Asadullah | 9 | male
khalilullah | 9 | male
Noor Mohammad | 8 | male
Khalid | 12 | male
Saifullah | 9 | male
Mashooq Jan | 15 | male
Nawab | 17 | male
Sultanat Khan | 16 | male
Ziaur Rahman | 13 | male
Noor Mohammad | 15 | male
Mohammad Yaas Khan | 16 | male
Qari Alamzeb | 14 | male
Ziaur Rahman | 17 | male
Abdullah | 18 | male
Ikramullah Zada | 17 | male
Inayatur Rehman | 16 | male
Shahbuddin | 15 | male
Yahya Khan | 16 |male
Rahatullah |17 | male
Mohammad Salim | 11 | male
Shahjehan | 15 | male
Gul Sher Khan | 15 | male
Bakht Muneer | 14 | male
Numair | 14 | male
Mashooq Khan | 16 | male
Ihsanullah | 16 | male
Luqman | 12 | male
Jannatullah | 13 | male
Ismail | 12 | male
Taseel Khan | 18 | male
Zaheeruddin | 16 | male
Qari Ishaq | 19 | male
Jamshed Khan | 14 | male
Alam Nabi | 11 | male
Qari Abdul Karim | 19 | male
Rahmatullah | 14 | male
Abdus Samad | 17 | male
Siraj | 16 | male
Saeedullah | 17 | male
Abdul Waris | 16 | male
Darvesh | 13 | male
Ameer Said | 15 | male
Shaukat | 14 | male
Inayatur Rahman | 17 | male
Salman | 12 | male
Fazal Wahab | 18 | male
Baacha Rahman | 13 | male
Wali-ur-Rahman | 17 | male
Iftikhar | 17 | male
Inayatullah | 15 | male
Mashooq Khan | 16 | male
Ihsanullah | 16 | male
Luqman | 12 | male
Jannatullah | 13 | male
Ismail | 12 | male
Abdul Waris | 16 | male
Darvesh | 13 | male
Ameer Said | 15 | male
Shaukat | 14 | male
Inayatur Rahman | 17 | male
Adnan | 16 | male
Najibullah | 13 | male
Naeemullah | 17 | male
Hizbullah | 10 | male
Kitab Gul | 12 | male
Wilayat Khan | 11 | male
Zabihullah | 16 | male
Shehzad Gul | 11 | male
Shabir | 15 | male
Qari Sharifullah | 17 | male
Shafiullah | 16 | male
Nimatullah | 14 | male
Shakirullah | 16 | male
Talha | 8 | male

source


Apathetic After Shock


There has been a lot of talk recently, of course, about Edward Snowden and traitors.  There has been a great deal of public gnashing of teeth and wailing by our elected leaders over his release of the snazzy Micro$oft PowerPoint slideshow that was not meant for public consumption.  There was a really well done piece explaining how, under the definitions given in the US Constitution, Snowden has not committed treason.  Not going to talk about that today.  Not directly.

Instead, what I find bothersome is just how much acceptance there is about this from the vast majority of people.  I really shouldn’t be surprised, and I suppose I’m not really.  Still, I am disappointed.  When it broke, I had hoped that perhaps this would be sufficient to bring about a ground swell of anger and activity.  There was certainly an initial outburst of shock.  And, yet, very quickly since then …

There has been some small amount of noise at the fringes.  Reddit has been one place where a little activity has taken place.  The Daily Kos, EFF, and a lot of other organizations have quietly come out in opposition.  Note the key word being quietly.  These organizations sent out emails to their members.  I know.  I got some of them.  I certainly didn’t get all of them.  I’m not on all of their mailing lists.  There was some activity on the right.  Again, I know.  I saw some of it.  I heard about other, and I went looking to see if there was any in other places.  At the fringes, yes.  In the heart, in the mainstream?  No.  Not really.

stopwatching.us was set up to collect signatures.  I want to share with you a screen shot taken from that site on the morning of June 16, 2013.  It is a compilation that shows their “Selected Signatories.”  I’ve compiled the 4 categories that they have on four separate tabs – Organizations, Individuals, Businesses, and Members of US Congress – together for you to take in all at once.

Combined Selected Signatories

As of this morning, they have collected 178,350 signatures.  Please read that again.  That’s a sad number.

No one cares.  The majority of the country is so used to the intrusions of the PATRIOT Act, warrantless searches, surrendering our civil liberties in the name of security, and the concept that “If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear,”  that this kind of “revelation” is blasé.  No worries, mate.

According to one poll (as reliable as that may be), 54% of Americans think that Snowden did the right thing in exposing PRISM, but 53% still think he should be prosecuted.  A vast majority of people say they’re following the story closely.  My theory as to why?  Because to most people this is just the next episode in the Bourne Chronicles.  Most people are likely watching to see which scenario happens next.  Will he be subjected to “extraordinary rendition”?  Will he be found dead “by his own hand”?  Will he be mundanely arrested and extradited back to the US?  Will he become an “asset” of the Chinese or some other foreign government that would like access to the information he may still have not released yet?

They are not paying attention because they are interested in or concerned about the actual issues.  I see in both left of center and right of center blogs, as well as the main stream media the over-whelming theme of “Who cares?” about the program itself.  I actually read the words, “I am not sure I care if the government is reading my email or listening in on my phone calls as long as it keeps me safe.”  The majority of the coverage of this case is about who is Edward Snowden?  (My Google search for the term, “Who is edward snowden” returned 1,180,000,000 results)  What is Booz Allen Hamilton?  (A firm most of us had never heard of before.)  Should we be privatizing “national security”?  (A question that probably should have been asked 40 years ago, but which was answered as an inevitable part of the supply-side, conservative domination of the government over that time period.  What did y’all really expect?)  And, so on.  Very little about the intrusiveness of this program which in all likelihood has accomplished nothing in terms of actual security, despite claims to the contrary.
CONTINUED on PAGE 2


Surprised? No. Outraged? Yes!


Let me begin with a question.  It is a simple question.  We’ll come back to the context in a moment.  In all seriousness.

Why are you surprised?  Or, perhaps, better, why would anyone be surprised?

The Guardian newspaper this week, using leaked documents, “revealed” the existence of “PRISM” – a broad program to collect “so-called meta data on your telephone calls.”  The article goes further to claim that the NSA also has direct backdoor access to the servers of major tech companies (Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, YouTube, Skype, AOL, and Apple) which between them own the vast majority of all online communications between e-mail, video, and chat.

Again, why would anyone be surprised?  This is really not news.  The specifics of it might be new, but we have known about the existence of this program for years.  I don’t think the public knew the name of the program, or had seen that nifty logo.  The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court was set up in the mid-1970s.  The PATRIOT Act was approved by near unanimous consent (357 to 66 in the House and 98 to 1 in the Senate) and signed into law by George W Bush on 10/25/2001.  It was introduced on 10/23.  So, in less than 48 hours it went from concept to law.  It was then renewed in 2006, and again in 2011 by the current POTUS.  It is these two laws which provide the broad foundations for the program, however, there are many, many other laws which have been passed that have aided and abetted the development of these programs.

Again, why are you surprised?  In 1979, the Supreme Court upheld this kind of invasion of privacy.  They found in the Smith v Maryland case, that collecting, what was called at the time the “pen register” (that is the time equivalent of the meta data), was legal.  This is the modern, technologically equivalent program.  When it goes further into the courts, they will uphold it.

The NSA has been involved in this kind of snooping and has been caught at it before.  We know this.  It isn’t new.  In 2005, the EFF filed a lawsuit against AT&T for illegally cooperating with the NSA to facilitate these actions.  If you read this article, or remember from the time period, you will note that the defense from the administration is almost precisely the same.

In 2006, one of the sitting FISA judges quit the appointment and others urged congress to give the FISA court a direct role in overseeing the wiretapping program.

“The administration defends the eavesdropping program, saying it is only targeting communications to and from suspected terrorists, that government lawyers review the program every 45 days and that Congress authorized the president to track down 9/11 co-conspirators, thereby giving the president the ability to bypass wiretapping laws.”

In 2009, the director of the National Cybersecurity Center resigned, and blamed the NSA’s “pwer grab” as a threat to “our democratic process.

In 2001, William Binney resigned from the NSA  after more than 30 years, including time as director of the World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group, and started blowing the whistle, warning about the size and scope of the NSA’s surveillance program.

This is not tin foil hat conspiracy theory territory.  This is you can only be surprised if you weren’t paying attention.  This is, “If you aren’t angry, you aren’t paying attention” territory.

For most of the last 60 years there has been talk of Project ECHELON.  Not just in tin foil hat, conspiracist circles where we can laugh at it, but also in the halls of government, with official investigations.  There have been actual investigations and acknowledgements of its existence with accompanying refusals to discuss its full expanse.  Sound familiar?

Many in our governments, around the world, took Orwell’s 1984 not as a warning, but as a guidebook, just as many right wingers took Ayn Rand’s work not as a poorly written morality play, but as the writings of a prophetess.

Now, as I said, there is no reason that anyone should be surprised.  However, that does not mean that we should not be outraged, nor does it suggest that we should accept it.  I hope that this will be the moment that people will awake and arise.  I do not expect it, but I do hope for it.  Perhaps we will remember and live up to the words of at least one of the “Founding Fatherstm

CONTINUED on PAGE 2


Pay No Attention To The Squid Under The Toupeè


I would like to share some observations with you this week.  This will be a bit different than most posts here in the SCIAMAGE column.

I have been listening to a lot of FAUX News and CNN HLN News on SiriusXM radio over the last three months.  The other morning my subscription ran out, and I have no intention of renewing it.  It’s okay.  It was a freebie that came with my car, rather than something that I had intentionally chosen.  I figured while I had it, I might as well use it, right?  Anyway, I started off listening to a lot of their POTUS channel.  That’s supposed to be “unfiltered political talk,” but wound up being mostly the same boring talk radio drivel I could get on AM radio in the afternoon drive time.  At lunch time, the Press Pool show was reporters interviewing each other, and the morning was about as interesting as listening to grass interviewing acorns about the life of squids.

It wasn’t long before I settled into a routine of listening to FOX News and flipping over to CNN.  Occasionally I would divert over for some music.  I didn’t listen to their NPR option, primarily because it wasn’t the news shows, but the “human interest” shows.  While those can be fascinating, I really wanted the news and politics in the limited time I spend in my car.

FAUX News really likes to present themselves as out of the mainstream.  They consistently refer to all of the other news sources as the “mainstream news media”.  I suppose from one perspective, they’re right.  They are not mainstream news, in that they’re really not news.  They are infotainment in the same sense that Ron Popeil was.  However, there are a lot of people who consider them news, and in that sense, their claims are simply more lies.  Last year, for the 11th straight year, they dominated the cable news viewership with an average of 2.071 million in prime time.   In fact, for their category, they dominate in every time slot.  Every day.  That is the very definition of mainstream.

One very striking difference between FAUX news and CNN when listening to them though is this, CNN is more like your local news station.  That is, they spend a lot of time covering “human interest” stories and sports.  They’ll cover fashion and entertainment.  FAUX news doesn’t do this except to a very limited degree.  Fox is very message driven.  If the story doesn’t support their overall message of fear, the Democrats are evil, the president is the anti-Christ, and that the country has gone to hell because of that, then it doesn’t make it onto their air waves.  They are very hard hitting.  The facts they use are questionable at best, though sometimes accurate.  Much in the same way that it has been said that the devil uses the truth.

CNN HLN, on the other hand, remains so fluffy and devoid of substance as to be nearly useless.  Seriously, it may as well be E-TV these days.  When CNN started back in 1980, it was actually 24 hour news.  Certainly there were human interest stories and a little bit of the sports stories.  I remember that I first heard about the Blue Man Group on CNN back in 1993.  It was a short segment in the last 5 minutes of the hour, when it might have gone over to local affiliates, except that it didn’t here.  Mostly though, they had actual news on.  The stories were short, and lacking in any real depth, but they were actual news.  Those days are gone.  CNN does its best to be the national version of Every Town, USA’s local news.  As a result, it fails to delivery real, substantial news of the national scale that is needed from a national cable news outlet.
CONTINUED on PAGE 2


The Lost Art of Truth


Fact checking has become an incredibly valuable tool, and yet, all too few people are actually using it.  It would seem to be a popular past time, right?  With the abundance of websites and newspaper columns dedicated to it, you’d think that people are jumping straight to a reliable source to check some new information or graphic prior to believing it as accurate, right?

We’ve got :

Snopes

PolitiFact

FactCheck.org

The Fact Checker

FlackCheck.org

OpenSecrets.org

TruthOrFiction.com

Not to mention every major news paper, online journal and TV network.

That’s just a partial list, and, yet…

Every day, the facts are stated incorrectly and when that is pointed out, there is always some argument.  When someone does bother to pull out the fact checkers, then the fact checkers are attacked.  The most obvious and clear recent disdain is, when Neil Newhouse, a pollster working for the Romney campaign, flatly stated, “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.”

But, then, Mitt Romney hasn’t exactly been the standard bearer of consistency has he?  This is just another in a long line of flip flops.  This position espoused by Newhouse, and not yet contradicted by the Romney campaign, is in direct contradiction to the words Romney himself spoke back on August 9th.

You know, in the past, when people pointed out that something was inaccurate, why, campaigns pulled the ad,” Romney said on the radio. “They were embarrassed. Today, they just blast ahead. You know, the various fact checkers look at some of these charges in the Obama ads and they say that they’re wrong, and inaccurate, and yet he just keeps on running them

Or, perhaps more accurately, it is typical of the double standard that both the far right and the center right wish to apply to each other, but it is a particular hypocrisy with which the far right is even more comfortable.  Perhaps because they have more experience rotting in that particular filth.  Perhaps because the far right generally is more comfortable subscribing to the belief that the ends justifies the means.  They want to demand that their prime opponent be held to a higher standard of accuracy than that to which they themselves should be held.  For so long, the center and what has remained of the left has played the role of the honorable party.  We have made the attempt to remain decent and play fair despite what the right has done.  Despite the dirty tricks of Watergate era Nixon, Iran Contra Reagan, blatant lies of pill head Rush Limbaugh, false patriotism of Glen Beck, and so on, and yet we have tried to remain above it.  Not all of us, certainly.  Some of the politicians have gotten in there and played dirty too, but not as well and not as dirty.  Again, it likely comes down to experience.

So, the piece to which Romney was referring above, an ad run by a SuperPAC  supportive of Obama, Priorities USA Action, which gave the impression that Romney was responsible for the death of a woman because Bain Capital had closed a plant thus removing her health insurance.  An ad, which fact checkers have called false, saying:

The ad uses innuendo for a serious allegation, but there’s no proof directly linking the death to Bain. We rate the claim False.

This should be called for what it is.  It is wrong.  It is deceitful.  It is completely in keeping with the center right politician that Obama is.  It is typical of the politics of fear that the right wing plays.

So, when an image like this pops up:

RNC debt clock - We built this juxtaposition

It looks very legit.  Both of these things were at the RNC this week in Tampa.  It gets posted quickly and without checking.  However, someone had, very likely, superimposed two images.  Sadly, it is actually also factually accurate.  The supply side economics, unpaid for wars built on lies, an unpaid for Medicaid drug coverage, and ineffectual, morally offensive, and economically destructive tax cuts for a very limited number of people did, in fact, build that debt.  Want a dispassionate, non-partisan look at which presidents are responsible for the debts?  Here:

US Debt Accumulation by President

But, of course, you don’t, do you?  It is unlikely that very many people with an open mind are reading this far along.  The sad reality appears to be that very few people remain that are willing to consider facts any more and that is the point, isn’t it?  Politics has become religion for many.  So many whine about wanting change, but so few actually do.  Most of us are doing one of two things, either we’re pissing into the wind, or we’re simply bitching and moaning because we are preaching to the choir.

It is my fervent hope to actually open a dialog with people who are undecided or who are on the other side of the fence.  I posted a while back in response to someone asking, “What are you going to do?”  Part of that response was, to educate as many people as possible with actual facts.  The trick is finding people who are actually willing to having open and honest discussions.

As Bernard Baruch said, (and was later repeated by, and usually attributed to, Daniel Patrick Moynihan):

Every man has a right to his own opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts. – Deming Headlight (New Mexico), 6 January 1950, as cited in the Yale Book of Modern Proverbs


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