Monday, November 19, 2012

In Gaza conflict, news media are more interested in pictures than the truth.

We've seen the pictures over and over. We see them every few years. Members of the news media wearing flack jackets but standing at a recommended safe distance from actual shelling, their cameras rolling give their reports of the latest barrage of rockets fired into Israel by Hamas from Gaza and the latest on Israeli retaliation and its aftermath and are on the scene quickly to record the carnage, the pained faces and the destruction.

What they never get to is the truth as if they are actually afraid to ask the right questions, the most important questions. The questions are there  to be asked but they never ask them.

 This was apparent a few days ago as CNN showed a home in Gaza damaged by a nearby Israeli missile strike and the Palestinian woman who lived in the home saying to the journalist and the camera, "what did we do to deserve this"?

It was the single most telling and important question of the conflict and one that had an answer. But the reporter on the scene didn't answer her question when the reporter clearly could have.

What is so poignant and important about the Palestinian woman's question of "what did we do to deserve this"? is that it was clear by her question that she didn't know. She seemed to not know that Hamas initiated the conflict and caused the retaliation by firing rockets into Israeli civilian populations, into apartment buildings, into homes and have tried to hit Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The Palestinian woman gave every indication that she didn't know.

If she didn't know, it would have said a great deal about Hamas and their control over the news media and the free flow of what information gets to the Palestinian people. But the reporter could have told her. And the reporter could have asked the woman some critical questions.

The CNN reporter could have asked if she knew about the rockets Hamas had launched into Israel. The reporter could have asked her if she held Hamas responsible for the damage to her home and what the Palestinian people are now going through because of the rocket attacks by Hamas.

Whatever her answers would have been, they would have been crucial to understanding just what the real issues are regarding this outbreak for Palestinians living in Gaza. It would have been crucial to know whether this woman supported Hamas and their attacks or not  because  it would have given insight into how much support from Palestinians in the street Hamas really has for its actions and whether Palestinians in Gaza are willing to pay the price for Hamas rocket attacks.

If, upon learning of the Hamas rocket attacks, the woman did blame Hamas or felt they bore some responsibility for the retaliatory Israeli missiles coming into Gaza including the one that hit her home, it would have an enormous effect on how third parties and the rest of the world would view the conflict and whether Hamas is truly acting in the name of the people who elected them.

On the other hand if the woman said she did support the rocket attacks by Hamas the next logical question would have been, " and did you expect Israel to just absorb the rocket attacks and do nothing to retaliate or try and stop them"?

In the unlikely event the woman said yes ( unlikely, since if she had known about the rocket attacks in the first place she never would have asked " what did we do to deserve this"?) then the rest of the world would know what Israel is up against and be clear about the will of the Palestinian people in Gaza.

In either instance, the CNN reporter didn't ask, didn't inform her or answer her questions about why her home was damaged.  The reporter could have told the woman  that what happened to her house was the byproduct of Israeli retaliation for the Hamas rocket attacks into Israel, initiated by Hamas. The woman could have been asked her feelings about that and did she support what Hamas did and does she understand now why her home was damaged.

Instead all the CNN reporter wanted to bring you were pictures. Pictures of grief. Pictures that say war is bad as if anyone needed to be told, and  using pictures of this woman's grief and the grief and damage of those on the Israeli side brought to you for your viewing pleasure.

 Does it really take more courage to ask a question in Gaza than to put on a flak jacket? Apparently it does.

NOTE: an addendum to CNN's coverage: Suzanne Malvaeaux was her usual smiling self during her reporting of the Gaza conflict seemingly unable to contain herself and was especially smiley promoting a Piers Morgan interview to be aired with Shimon Peres on the Gaza crisis. Anyone watching Malveaux's smiling coverage might rightly ask what she thinks is so funny. Malveaux who can never stop smiling no matter what she is reporting is one of those TV journalists who seem to think she is always making an audition tape. Someone should remind her she got the job.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

New documentary to expose media, NCAA and Penn State Board dishonesty in Paterno role related to Sandusky charges.

 An upcoming documentary will expose the self-serving and blatantly dishonest ratings- first- truth- last reporting by the news media as it pertained to Joe Paterno in the Sandusky matter as well as the rank dishonesty of the NCAA, the Freeh Report and the actions of the Penn State Board of Trustees as it all related to Jerry Sandusky.

 While the media coverage of Paterno and a false and dishonest Freeh Report pushed for by some members of the Board of Trustees, a report that clearly had an agenda that had more to do with covering up for others ( possibly even Freeh himself given his own connection to Sandusky) while pinning blame on people who were not in a position to defend themselves, was one of the most dishonest, incompetent and self-serving examples of unethical media coverage in recent memory, the fallout has gone further resulting in the NCAA punishing students and student athletes most of whom were in the 3rd grade when Sandusky committed his crimes defying both logic, decency, common sense and any principle of justice.

 These are punishments that fits the crimes,  not of Sandusky, but the crimes of  the  NCAA, Penn State Board of Trustees, the  Louis Freeh, Governor Tom Corbett and the news  media as a whole who thought it just to selectively punish students and athletes who had nothing to do with Sandusky or his crimes.

 While there is still much more to be said and more to be exposed and more wrongs to be righted, from the clearly dishonest and manipulative Freeh Report, including getting to the bottom of why Freeh, a man with a documented history of smearing people and unethical conduct (and the subject of a Justice Department recommendation of official censure) was chosen in the first place, and why the NCAA acted on the report, as well as exposing more of the dishonest and self serving media coverage, this upcoming documentary could be a catalyst for getting these events re-examined and eventually hold the real culprits accountable, none of whom is named Joe Paterno.

 The 32 minute documentary preview can be seen by clicking on the image above.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Election rejection and dejection for Republicans, conservatives, the Tea Party and Big Money.

The party is over, literally and figuratively for the Tea Party,conservatives and Republicans. If you're a Republican you might want to point out that the popular vote in the presidential election was close. If you're a Democrat when you hear that you roll over laughing.

 This election was as decisive a rejection of conservative principles, Republicans in general and the Tea Party most specifically, as one could get.

 Yes Obama won the popular vote by a narrow 3 million while winning a decisive and very large electoral college vote. But only weeks before the election, in national polls which proved to be reliably accurate this time around, when asked if Obama deserved re-election, 54% said no. And understandably so given Democratic voter disgust with his first four years in office and all that could have accomplished and wasn't when he had super majorities in congress his first four years.

 Yet given that 54% said Obama didn't deserve to be re-elected, he was re-elected anyway given the voters choice between Obama or Romney whose vice-presidential candidate drafted Tea Party endorsed economic proposals that the rest of the country soundly rejected.

 That isn't just rejection or losing an election. That is repudiation. And that is in spite of tepid, even weak Democratic campaign commercials and political strategy. In the end the election was about people making up their own minds. Had Democrats had better strategists who knew how to hit harder, the margin of victory would have been much larger, especially in the House.

 Along with Obama's win, the Democrats substantially increased their control of the senate in an election where Republicans thought they would take control. Instead they lost 3 seats, the long held Republican seat in Indiana thanks to the Tea Party and a candidate who replaced Richard Lugar who  said a pregnancy from rape was a gift, Elizabeth Warren beating Scott Brown in Massachusetts and a pro-choice independent who took Olympia Snowe's seat in Maine and will caucus with the Democrats giving the Democrats and liberals a 55-45 majority. 

 Then there was good old Todd Akin another Tea Party candidate who made medieval comments about rape and was landslided by Democrat Claire McCaskill.

 Along with the Tea Party and Republican conservatives the other big loser was Big Money. No one got less for their money than Karl Rove, his super PAC and  other Republican and conservative PAC's.

 The Koch Brothers poured hundreds of millions into this election and lost big. Republican Linda McMahon who ran for the Senate in Connecticut reportedly spent $100 million of her own money. She was destroyed by the Democratic candidate in a landslide defeat.

 According to post election statistics, the NRA, once but probably no longer feared by Democrats who oppose their agenda, spent over $7 million and received a 0.018% return on their investment based on money spent on candidates and who won. Conversely, Planned Parenthood, constantly and irrationally attacked by conservatives saw a better than 99% return on investment in terms of  money spent on candidates they supported and candidates who won.

 The corrupt and preposterous Citizens United 5-4 Supreme Court decision in which conservatives on the court undid years of precedent and declared that corporations were people and therefore had the same right of freedom of speech as individuals ( a proposition utterly preposterous since corporations employ thousands even tens of thousands and in some cases hundreds of thousands of people none of whom have a say in who the corporation decides to support, a decision generally made by one person) in the end, gave corporations enough rope to hang themselves.

 The hundreds of millions they spent trying to push candidates and ideas the majority didn't want made the alternatives look even more attractive. So it all backfired.

 Their money bought nothing. And it proved to Democrats as well, who kept sending out hysterical fund raising emails about being outspent and begging for more money, that as I kept telling them, it wasn't about money but message.

 In the end, the election was clearly more about a rejection of conservatives than an embrace of Obama. A majority decided they would prefer to give Obama another chance at not being a political cigar store Indian and actually do some of the things he promised rather than see a Republican in the White House implementing polices most didn't want.

That Obama won in this economic environment is testimony to just how unattractive Romney, Ryan,  Republican and Tea Party polices both econimic and social really are. When facing a choice between a failed Democratic president and Republican ideas and polices, a majority chose the failed Democratic president. Again, not just rejection but a resounding repudiation.

 So, does that mean that voters will now see the liberal ideas and policies they voted for  become reality? Not exactly. Because now that the election is over, Democrats and liberals still have to face the very sobering fact that the person in the White House is Barrack Obama.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Presidential choices: a waste vs. a wasteland part II.

There can be no arguing that Barrack Obama's first four years in office has been a waste. The same kind of waste that was predictable given his previous 11 years of elected office in which he accomplished absolutely nothing. Given the super majorities Obama had in congress in his first two years he could have accomplished anything he wanted. Instead he accomplished what he has always accomplished as an elected official - nothing. And that nothing is the single biggest reason Democrats lost their super majorities and in fact, any majority in the House.

 What could have been his legacy, a public health insurance option and real health care reform the most important piece of legislation since the Civil Rights Act in 1964, was sold out to health insurance lobbyists. In its place was Obamacare which every Democratic senator, 55 of whom publicly pledged to vote for a public option had it been brought to the senate floor, could only call "better than nothing". Nancy Pelosi, who was instrumental in engineering a dishonest 2008 Democratic primary season and DNC convention to give Obama the nomination, had to use a broomstick to whack Democratic members of the House over the head to get them to vote for Obamacare since most of them said they would not vote for any healthcare reform bill that didn't contain a public option. The list goes on and on.

 But the other choice is Romney and a Republican party which, if it had its way, would turn the country into a wasteland.

 If the country was divided into two countries -- red state and blue state, Blue State America would now be living in economic prosperity, buoyed by the multi trillion dollar surplus left by Bill Clinton, a balanced budget and a zero deficit. Unemployment would be low. There would be enough money to take care of any contingency. There would have been no 911 attack since it was Bush and the Republicans who dismissed terrorism as a real threat prior to the attack. The cost to the country in lives, way of life and trillions in economic resources including the war in Iraq, a war the country was lied into, are costs that are all the result of Republican ideology.( It is still a fact that Bush and the Republicans were the first and only government in American history to take the country to war --   an unncessary one -- and cut taxes at the same time. That did more damage to the country and the economy than anything Al-Qaeda was able to do.)

 Conversely, unlike Blue State America, Red State America under Republican conservative ideology would look like and function like a third world country. The education system under Red State America conservative ideology would be a mess. Like Texas who dropped Thomas Jefferson from their school curriculum because Jefferson's contempt for the church made it impossible for Texas to teach their students the country was founded on Christian values and principles. Red State students would know nothing of the philosophy of the man who authored the Declaration of Independence. Red State students,unfettered by liberal challenges,  would have a school system that taught creationism over evolution, and curriculums would be based on political and social beliefs and propaganda as in many middle eastern countries. Their schools would also be choked with 50 students or more to a class in order to accommodate tax cuts resulting in fewer teachers and lower teacher salaries as they want to do in Wisconsin.. The overall result would be Red State America students with inferior educations making them unable to compete globally.

 While the economy of Red State America governed by conservative Republican principles would be choking on enormous deficits, high unemployment and soaring inflation, they would be without most government services ( like Departments of Education and Departments of Transportation that conservatives want to do away with)  because they would no longer exist. There would be no FEMA so any natural disaster like Katrina, the wild fires in Texas or a disaster like Hurricane Sandy hitting Red State America would put them in a position of having to depend on the charity of other nations to help them through.

 In Red State America, governed by economic policies that have  already caused the worst economic crisis since the Depression, the differences between the assets of the wealthy vs. the middle class would deepen the divide and make Red State America no different than a banana republic.

 Socially, with abortion outlawed for the last 20 years because it is condemned by a church that Jefferson, Adams, Paine and other Founders wanted to insure never had an official say in the government of the United States, thousands if not tens of thousands of unwanted children, many of whom uncared for, some the result of rape that Indiana senate candidate Richard Mourdock thinks is a "gift",  would grow up without love, guidance or a good education with many ending up roaming the streets and resorting to crime. Under conservative Republican policies Red State America would lead the western world in prisons built and people incarcerated and have the biggest drug problem in the western world, putting another huge drain on the already depleted financial resources of a Red State America government. In Red State America, building more prisons, yes, schools no.

 With conservative ideology at the forefront, Red State America would be a society where the idea of "right to life" ends at birth since these are the same people who during a Republican presidential debate  cheered the idea of letting someone who couldn't afford health insurance simply die.

 This is what the country would be like under a strictly conservative Republican government, a government put in place by people who call themselves "values voters',  but whose values are filled with hypocrisy and predicated on what they don't want other people to have. Values rejected by most in Blue State America, and most of the western world as well and "values" that were anathemas to the Founders of the country.

This is what a Red State America would be like and the best reason to vote against and reject Romney and the Republicans and the damage they would cause in every area of American life.

 The unkindest cut of all for Romney and the most telling, is that in Salt Lake City, the heart of Mormonism, the Salt Lake City Tribune today, Sunday, endorsed Obama and called Romney "shameless" in his embrace of right wing Republican conservative ideology which they said would be bad for the country.

That the polls show a close election is a testament to the almost universal distaste among Democrats and Democratic voters for Obama's personal failures and weakness as president. It's also a the result of the underhanded tactics used by Pelosi, Donna Brazille and others in the DNC and the press who wanted to insure they gave the nomination to Obama in the first place without his having honestly earned it.

But that said, while Obama has been a waste as a president for what he could have accomplished and didn't, a man who may not accomplish much in the future ( unless Democrats regain control of congress and force Obama to actually do something) the alternative is a Republican wasteland based on values that are and always have been anathema to the country and those who founded it, values that former Supreme Court justice and Republican Sandra Day O'Connor said was " destroying the country" and would make even worse the kind of damage Republicans have already caused.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Republicans pressure government agency to withdraw report that discredits Republican economic policy.

 While Democratic groups politically have proven they can be as dishonest as Republicans at times in their spin and distortions, (when they don't have to) it's left mostly to Republicans to chronically lie about their policies and the provably negative effects these policies have on the country as a whole.

 In the past Republicans have both credited and discredit the same agency and their findings depending on whether those findings were favorable to Republican positions and ideology or unfavorable.

 During the health care debate, the CBO scored the public option and said that it would actually decrease the overall deficit by $160 billion ( a far cry from the projections of Obamacare, Obama's poor political substitute which will inevitably cost people more).

 Republicans were apoplectic since they had staked out a position as deficit hawks and opposed health care reform at the same time and this undermined both positions. So they discredited not just the CBO's numbers but the Budget Office itself as being partisan and unreliable and even incompetent. Except when Republicans regained control of the House, CBO numbers on another issue, favorable to Republicans, were touted by Republicans as accurate and used as a political weapon against Democrats.

 Now the New York Times is reporting that Republicans pressured the Congressional Research Service, a non-partisan agency and arm of the Library of Congress, that issued a report that found no correlation between tax cuts for upper income earners and job creation or economic growth, substantially putting the lie to what many already knew -- Republican trickle down economics, the idea they use to justify their tax cuts for the upper 1% of income earners is a fiction and would be the same failure under Romney that it was during the Bush years.

 Democrat Charles Schumer pointed out that " they ( Republicans) didn't like the report and instead of rebutting it made them take it down".

 Though the research service is non-partisan Republicans protested the reports use of the words " Bush tax cuts", and "tax cuts for the rich" and used that,and charges that those words proved the report was political, as part of the reason they pressured the agency to withdraw the report.

 The real reason of course is they don't like what the report says since it undermines every aspect of what was already proven to be a failed economic approach. They also discredited the Tax Policy Center which put out a report that Romney's proposal to cut tax rates 20% while cutting the deficit was mathematically impossible.

 No matter what math is used, it all adds up to the same thing - Republican unable to support their ideology with facts, truth, or reality, and try and repress anything that proves their ideology and policies wrong. They have proved in the past they will resort to anything , any subterfuge to try and push their ideology through and what makes their policies dangerous is that they have shown they really don't care whether their ideology solves problems or not -- its the ideology that matters not results.

 So anything that discredits their ideology or policies in turn gets discredited by Republicans whether its economics, unemployment ,climate change, or anything else. Which really becomes the best reason in the world for voters to decide this election that its the Republicans and their ways of doing business that no longer matters. And to keep in mind the admonition that those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it.