Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Century of Propaganda

 
  Swans Commentary » swans.com March 23, 2009  

 


 

Blame The Media
 

 

by Michael Barker

 

 

 

 

"When the twentieth century becomes history it will be seen as distinctive, I believe, for three developments in liberal Western societies: the growth of democracy; the rise of huge concentrations of economic power, known as corporations; and the professionalizing and institutionalizing of propaganda, especially as a means for safe-guarding the power of free-enterprise corporations against democracy. Perhaps our period will eventually be known as the Century of Propaganda."
Alex Carey - 1987.

 

(Swans - March 23, 2009)   For many on the Left, it is readily apparent that the American mass media manufactures public consent for elite interests. At a push, many of the citizens of the United States might also agree with this conclusion, although having been thoroughly misled by the media, half believe that the media manufactures consent for liberal, not conservative interests. (1) Either way it would not be surprising if the general public, let alone progressive activists, identified the media as having an influential antidemocratic role in shaping American culture and politics. So given the commonsensical notion that the corporate-dominated mass media serves their elitist owners' best interests, not those of progressives, I was surprised to read that Professor G. William Domhoff's advice to the Left was to "Stop Blaming the Media!" -- a name he used for an article that was based upon a chapter in his book Changing The Powers That Be: How The Left Can Stop Losing and Win (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2003). (2) This news was all the more surprising to me because Professor Domhoff is an influential critical theorist, and a pioneer of power elite research, authoring many seminal texts, two of his earliest being Who Rules America? and The Higher Circles (first published in 1967 and 1970, respectively).

Being a supporter of both Domhoff's power elite work and Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky's classic book Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (Parthenon, 1988), I was therefore interested in trying to comprehend why Domhoff would counsel the Left to stop blaming the media for their problems. While I agreed with many of the points Domhoff made in his article, I found myself in total disagreement with most of his conclusions, especially his final one that suggested that the mass media with due "cultivation" could "be used to good effect on many issues" by the Left. This article will therefore provide a critical analysis of Domhoff's views on the Left's future relations with the mainstream media. (3)

Domhoff starts off his essay by noting that "[a]s horrible as the media can be, they are not the problem." On this point I agree with Domhoff: capitalism is the root problem, not the media per se, but he then went on to add:

Blaming the media becomes an excuse for not considering the possibility that much of the leftist program is unappealing to most people -- third parties, calls for a planned non-market economy, the use of violent tactics by some groups, and a tendency to rely on charismatic leaders. None of these has any appeal to average Americans, and it is not the media that created this negative reaction.

He also suggests that the tendency amongst activists to blame the media "reinforces tendencies toward conspiratorial thinking," which undermines the type of "creative thinking" that is necessary to enable activists to think "about how to make use of the media as part of strategic nonviolent campaigns." On most of these points I found myself strongly disagreeing with Domhoff.

No doubt Domhoff is correct in maintaining that the Left's programs for egalitarian social change are unappealing to the majority of the public, but surely this is because many people have no idea what the Left's programs actually are -- this is in spite of the fact that they have been clearly articulated (for one obvious example see the Green Party of the United States policy platform). (4) Indeed, surely one cannot blame anarchist groups for their total misrepresentation in the mainstream media, which has seen anarchy falsely equated with chaos and violence. (5) I would assert that it is near on impossible to present (let alone consistently present) progressive leftist programs in an appealing way within any organ of capitalist hegemony. So while Domhoff locates the root problem in Leftist policies, not the media, I would suggest that both are equally important in comprehending the weaknesses of the Left.

Fundamental structural weaknesses of the Left, which include the ongoing co-option and channelling of dissent into harmless directions by liberal philanthropists (a topic covered within Domhoff's own research), help to explain why progressives have been unable to counter the tide of repressive and regressive neoliberal policies washing over the world. Yet the mainstream media, from both conservative (e.g., the neoconservative Weekly Standard) and so-called liberal outlets (e.g., the Public Broadcasting System), has also played a vital role in pacifying the Left.

The media defines which voices will be heard in the public sphere, and which will be marginalized -- but the media cannot fully silence anyone, as they are still "free" to converse with the population through other means. Thus radical voices proposing viable alternatives to capitalism are, as might be expected, filtered out from the mainstream media, while the voices of those groups and individuals speaking in tones that harmonise with corporate interests are transmitted via the media with varying degrees of success. This filtering process helps explain why the not-too-critical voice of Human Rights Watch -- whose numerous advisory boards are stocked with members of the power elite -- resonates so well with the corporate media. Furthermore, it is ironic that Domhoff draws his readers' attention to the problems of the use of violence and charismatic leaders by the Left, when both traits are regarded as must-haves by the ever-selective media outlets, even if they are not features that are highly regarded by many grassroots activists. (6)

Domhoff contends that "When activists complain about the nature of media coverage, they are actually demanding that the media abandon an independent journalistic stance and champion their cause by reporting what they want reported." Again I agree with this in part, but I do not think that many progressive activists would actually make a demand for the media to "abandon an independent journalistic stance." This is because there is also no such thing as truly independent journalism, and it is false to impute that the mainstream media outlets are independent in the first place (they are simply corporations that cater to other corporate political elite interests). Here it is worth briefly quoting British-based media watchdog group Media Lens on the issue of the myth of objective or value-free journalism:

We believe that media "neutrality" is a deception that often serves to hide systematic pro-corporate bias. "Neutrality" most often involves "impartially" reporting dominant establishment views, while ignoring all non-establishment views. In reality it is not possible for journalists to be neutral -- regardless of whether we do or do not overtly give our personal opinion, that opinion is always reflected in the facts we choose to highlight or ignore. While we seek to correct corporate distortions as honestly as possible, our concern is not to affect some spurious "objectivity" but to engage with the world to do whatever we can to reduce suffering and to resist the forces that seek to subordinate human well-being to profit. We do not believe that passively observing human misery without attempting to intervene constitutes "neutrality." We do not believe that "neutrality" can ever be deemed more important than doing all in our power to help others. (7)

That said, it would be desirable to promote a form of journalism that represents citizens' actual needs as opposed to a journalism dedicated to manufacturing their "needs" (as dictated by the advertising industry), and their consent (or quiescence) for elitist policies.

With regard to the "general leftist view of the media," which is perhaps best summarised by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky's propaganda model, Domhoff basically suggests that "[t]here is a little something to be said for each part of this overall analysis, but taken as a whole it greatly overstates the case." Yet surely part of the power of such explanatory media models lies in the additive function that results when the news that's fit to print (or screen) must pass through a number of ideological filters. Furthermore, Domhoff believes that the "general leftist view of the media" "ignores the many openings that are available to left activists when they learn how to use the media for their own purposes," and consequently overlooks such activists' ability to bypass the media on some occasions. But here he is overstating the predictive capabilities of media models like the propaganda model. Indeed, as Herman himself points out:

We never claimed that the propaganda model explained everything or that it shows media omnipotence and complete effectiveness in manufacturing consent. It is a model of media behavior and performance, not of media effects. We explicitly pointed to the existence of alternative media, grassroots information sources, and public scepticism about media truthfulness as important limits on media effectiveness in propaganda service, and we urged the support and more vigorous use of the existing alternatives. Both Chomsky and I have often pointed to the general public's persistent refusal to fall into line with the media and elite over the morality of the Vietnam War, the desirability of the assault on Nicaragua in the 1980s, and the merits of the North American Free Trade Agreement in the 1990s, among other matters. The power of the U.S. propaganda system lies in its ability to mobilize an elite consensus, to give the appearance of democratic consent, and to create enough confusion, misunderstanding and apathy in the general population to allow elite programs to go forward. We also emphasized the fact that there are often differences within the elite that open up space for some debate and even occasional (but very rare) attacks on the intent as well as the tactical means of achieving elite ends.

Few media critics would ever suggest that activists are unable to exploit the media under certain circumstances. Simply put, when progressive activists learn how to conform to conventional media news values they will almost always generate more positive media coverage, but the question remains: what overall effect does such "learning" cost to progressive activism more generally? Having written about liberal foundations, Domhoff himself should be fully conversant with the fact that the odds are stacked against progressive forces trying to beat capitalism at its own game, which is what makes his take on progressive media relations so hard to fathom. (8)

It is important to note that there is no reason why leftist media criticisms, most notably the propaganda model, should -- as Domhoff suggests -- encourage "conspiratorial thinking," because as Herman clearly restated in 2003, the "propaganda model describes a decentralized and nonconspiratorial market system of control and processing." (9) Consequently, it is ironic that Jeffrey Klaehn observes how:

Herman and Chomsky's (1988) view of media as an ideological apparatus for dominant elites mirrors the thesis put forth by William Domhoff (1979) in his book, The Powers That Be: Processes of Ruling Class Domination in America (published nine years before Manufacturing Consent). Domhoff contends that there are four basic processes through which the ruling capitalist class "rules": (1) the special interest process; (2) the policy formation process; (3) candidate selection; and (4) the ideological process. (10)

Returning to Domhoff's article, he observes that although media corporations are primarily profit-maximising machines (like all other corporations) "there are nonetheless differences on some issues between media executives and corporate leaders that can be exploited." Without citing evidence he then goes on to suggest that "leaders in the mass media tend to be more moderate on foreign policy and domestic issues than corporate executives," a point he follows by saying that with regard to environmental issues "media pros hold the same views as people from liberal organizations." This point is interesting as there may well be similarities in environmental thinking between some green groups and media corporate leaders -- although perhaps not for the same reason of which Domhoff is thinking. This is because many of the leading liberal US-based environmental organizations already work closely with the corporate world to campaign for free-market solutions to environmental problems. (11) However, even if Domhoff was referring to some of the more progressive environmental groups, there is still plenty of evidence -- which I have outlined elsewhere -- to demonstrate that mainstream media coverage of environmental issues fits closely with Herman and Chomsky's manufacturing consent thesis. Moreover, in his footnotes Domhoff provides "evidence on how useful the media have been in the anti-sweatshop movement" by citing the "first two chapters of Randy Shaw, Reclaiming America: Nike, clean air, and the new national activism. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999." Yet the media coverage of sweatshop issues was not as positive as first meets the eye:

After a long history of labour abuse in sweatshops worldwide, it was only in the mid 1990s that the issue started receiving serious attention in the US mass media (coinciding with a couple of high profile sweatshop investigations). Contrary to "normal" social movement coverage, analysis of this coverage showed that sweatshop activists actually "achieved a position of definitional prominence" over corporate interests, a position typically reserved for powerful institutional actors. This was a remarkable achievement, however, this success was undermined by the media's dominant focus on micro-level issues, such as individual sweatshops, and their aversion to the discussion of the systemic structural inequalities supporting the use of sweatshops. Media coverage also located the root of the problem in western consumer shopping activities, not at the doorstep of the businesses profiting from the use of sweatshops, which served to cloud the issue of responsibility. Therefore, although the anti-sweatshop movement may have successfully campaigned for limited labour reforms (i.e., by Nike) -- some of which have now become institutionalised -- paradoxically, this success may render their long-term goal of eradicating sweatshops inoperable. Businesses successfully avoided regulation by promoting self-regulation, and even though the use of sweatshops is still common practice, media coverage of sweatshops has been far less visible since 2000, reducing the anti-sweatshop movement's ability to maintain public support and awareness for their campaigns. Furthermore, current estimates suggest that there are still about 250,000 sweatshop workers employed in the U.S. alone.

To highlight the fact that the corporate media don't always satisfy elite interests, Domhoff notes that "studies of media content find it is not all to corporate liking" as the focus on bad news (e.g., crime and disasters) upsets some corporate leaders, who, Domhoff reports, criticize such coverage "because it paints a negative picture of American society." He implies that they have a point, but this is to state the obvious: corporate leaders are humans after all, and few rational humans would publicly suggest that society could possibly benefit from an ideological saturation of negativity. However, as long as corporations are driven by insatiable growth imperatives, the media's ceaseless promotion of bad news does in fact serve a useful ideological purpose by helping sustain the media-military-industrial complex (pdf), and encouraging a philosophy of futility within the public. (12) Of course it is possible that another more peaceful world might be attainable in the near future if the mass media regaled us with positive stories of progressive individuals successfully cooperating to defeat powerful corporate interests, along with tales of altruism not greed. Unfortunately such reporting is unlikely to ever happen with any degree of regularity within corporate-owned media outlets.

Domhoff asserts that the media's fixation with bad news is just a fact of nature, or rather a fact of capitalism, a finding that "suggest[s] that the media's focus on any violence that occurs at protest demonstrations is not peculiar to the activities of leftists." This is strange because this conclusion fails to explain why under normal circumstances police violence directed towards protestors is rarely considered newsworthy, while that of citizens is, or why violence at public protests that support elite points-of-view tend to be overlooked.

For example, environmental protestors... occupied US Congressional Republican Representative Frank Riggs office in California October 1997 and were confronted by police who used pepper spray to restrain them. Throughout this confrontation - which was filmed - one of the protestors managed to calmly articulate her group's reasons for protesting; however, that segment was edited out from the television news report. As well as demonstrating how activists can be silenced in the media (or have their agendas distorted), this type of reporting serves to normalise police violence against protestors, which is dangerous for all involved in peaceful protest.

Given the large amount of anecdotal and academic evidence supporting leftist critiques of the mass media, it is fitting to examine the evidence Domhoff marshals to support his argument. Firstly he cites David Demers's book The Menace of the Corporate Newspaper: Fact or Fiction? (Iowa State University Press, 1996) to demonstrate that "large newspapers and newspaper chains are more likely than small local newspapers to publish editorials and letters that deal with local issues or are critical of mainstream groups and institutions." Domhoff adds that Demers "found that a wider range of opinions appears in the chain newspapers, including critical ones." He also noted that Demers obtained "survey responses from 409 journalists at 223 newspapers, [and] found that their reporters and editors report high levels of autonomy." Domhoff then writes that "[d]espite the generally conservative biases of newspaper owners, there are studies showing that the journalists who actually produce the news are by and large independent professionals who make use of the freedom of the press that was won for them by courageous journalists of the past, often in battles with the federal government." (13) Yet these findings prove nothing about the content of the journalists' reporting, as for any journalist to work effectively as defenders of the plutocratic status quo they must act autonomously (or at least give the appearance of doing so); it is just a matter of fact that autonomous journalists with critical tendencies will be less likely to retain journalism jobs with the corporate media. Michael Parenti suggests:

Most professionals are not repressed rebels, waiting only to be unleashed from the tyranny of their employers. As faithful products of their education and society, they define their own betterment in privatized ways, their intent being to avoid conflict and secure a place for themselves within the system, on the system's own terms. Their understanding is that the path to success lies in conforming to "the values, prejudices and modes of thought of the world to which entry is sought." (14)

Media Lens expands on this point:

We reject the idea that journalists are generally guilty of self-censorship and conscious lying; we believe that the all-too-human tendency to self-deception accounts for their conviction that they are honest purveyors of uncompromised truth. We all have a tendency to believe what best suits our purpose -- highly paid, highly privileged editors and journalists are no exception.

Domhoff cites the low readership levels of alternative media (like Mother Jones, The Nation, and The Progressive) compared to their mainstream counterparts (e.g., Time and Newsweek) as proof that "very few people are interested in what these magazines have to say." This statement is not true, as for a start this type of comparison would only be meaningful if the public had equal access to alternative and mainstream magazines -- or at the very least knew that alternative media existed, and was not full of dogmatic socialist propaganda, as opposed to the mainstream media that is full of corporate propaganda. In fact, rather than selling the public what it wants, it would be more accurate to say that the mainstream media sell the public to advertisers. Michael Parenti writes:

When deciding on which media to spend their billions, corporate advertisers are directed in part by ideological preferences. Deprived of advertisers, progressive publications like Mother Jones, The Nation, and The Progressive are always facing insolvency, never able to launch the kind of massive mailing and mainstream campaigns that might build up their circulations. Needless to say, it is the corporate system's journalist defenders and apologists, not its critics, who attract the moneyed advertisers. (15)

Under different, fairer, circumstances it is anyone's guess as to what percentage of Americans might rely upon alternative media, but it is safe to say it would be higher than it is at present. Furthermore, the historical record clearly demonstrates that the public, when given the chance, will support progressive media. Thus before the Black Panther party was physically liquidated by the American government in the early 1970s, their weekly newspaper The Black Panther had a peak circulation of some 100,000. Similarly, the British Labor newspaper The Daily Herald was forced to close its operations in 1964 not due to lack of public demand -- far from it, the paper had a circulation of over 1.2 million people -- but owing to ever-diminishing advertising revenues. (16)

Toward the end of his article Domhoff acknowledges the power of the media to influence social change when he notes that "[i]t even can be argued that one key to activist successes down through the decades has been the media coverage their efforts have received, which is often very positive." Yet as mentioned before, the activism that obtains positive media often works to promote moderate capitalist-sanctioned solutions to the harsh reality that capitalism often ravages. Domhoff agrees with leftist media critiques that "the media can magnify the message of the powerful and trivialize and marginalize the claims of the powerless," but he then adds that "the media don't cause some people to be powerful and some people to be powerless." This is correct in one sense, but in another way it is misguided, as groups that obtain positive media coverage do become more powerful. On a simplistic level this can be seen in how people donate their money to charitable causes, as the public can only give money to progressive groups that they have already heard of. Thus groups whose work is orientated to facilitating progressive social change remain under (or un) funded, while do-good-all groups and charities that ultimately sustain the status quo obtain widespread public (and corporate) support.

The conscious intent of ruling elites to manufacture public consent, while not monolithic in its effectiveness -- for the most part because of vigorous grassroots activism -- still exerts a massive influence on the way people think about domestic matters and especially foreign affairs. Indeed, with the massive amount of money, time, and technology poured into the dark art of engineering consent, it should not be the least bit surprising that corporate propaganda plays a central part in shaping our lives (and in destroying the lives of distant "others"). While elites cannot always simply manufacture public consent (as the public often holds vastly different opinions to those propagated by the media), (17) the mass media has been remarkably successful at manufacturing the general public's contentedness and/or resignation to the idea that there is no alternative to capitalism -- both of which do wonders to bolster the status quo. (At the same time the media have almost completely censored any critical discussion of their own antidemocratic influence on democracy, and have neglected to examine how the funding of liberal foundations works to undermine the Left -- neither of which is very surprising.)

Domhoff suggests that many researchers who talk about the media manufacturing consent or exerting a form of ideological domination over the mass population "end up explaining away Left failures by claiming that people are bamboozled." Yet I do not think one needs to choose one or the other. Of course, as Domhoff advises, progressive activists need to consider the "possibility that leftist programs and strategies have so far proven inadequate," and evaluate their work in this light, but this does not mean that the media does not exert a massive influence over the American population. Here it is fitting to acknowledge the late Alex Carey's seminal work on corporate propaganda. Carey suggested that corporate propaganda can be divided between two main approaches, one that utilises treetops propaganda and another that uses grassroots propaganda. The differences between the two forms of propaganda are evident in their target audiences; so while the former, treetops propaganda, serves to manufacture elite consent (e.g., that of business leaders, politicians, and academics), (18) the latter, grassroots form, serves to divert the general population minds from the political questions shaping their everyday lives by manufacturing the philosophy of futility. As Noam Chomsky observes:

A properly functioning system of indoctrination has a variety of tasks, some rather delicate. One of its targets is the stupid and ignorant masses. They must be kept that way, diverted with emotionally potent oversimplifications, marginalized, and isolated. Ideally, each person should be alone in front of the TV screen watching sports, soap operas, or comedies, deprived of organizational structures that permit individuals lacking resources to discover what they think and believe in interaction with others, to formulate their own concerns and programs, and to act to realize them. They can then be permitted, even encouraged, to ratify the decisions of their betters in periodic elections. The rascal multitude are the proper targets of the mass media and a public education system geared to obedience and training in needed skills, including the skill of repeating patriotic slogans on timely occasions.

For submissiveness to become a reliable trait, it must be entrenched in every realm. The public are to be observers, not participants, consumers of ideology as well as products. Eduardo Galeano writes that "the majority must resign itself to the consumption of fantasy. Illusions of wealth are sold to the poor, illusions of freedom to the oppressed, dreams of victory to the defeated and of power to the weak." Nothing less will do.

Returning to Domhoff's point about the many functional problems evident within the Left, I agree that this is a very important issue, and it is a problem that is amplified by the Left's collective unwillingness to critically examine the co-optive funding practises of liberal foundations (otherwise known as not-for-profit corporations). But as I said before I do not think that blaming the media further weakens the Left, instead it clearly strengthens it.

I believe that a movement for social change built around the mainstream and alternative media's democratic deficits can help reinvigorate the Left, encouraging coalition building between all manner of progressive groups. Ongoing analyses of the media's antidemocratic output -- which is transparent and easy to scrutinize, as opposed to secretive policy making processes -- may be used as a means by which to radicalise concerned citizens. Media Lens is one such group that might help catalyse such a radicalising process as their stated objective is to "draw public attention to the deep systemic problems of current media institutions" by encouraging the "general population to challenge media managers, editors, and journalists who set news agendas that traditionally reflect establishment/elite interests." Moreover, they realistically note that "[t]here may be some, short-term marginal benefits to be had from seeking out the more challenging journalists; but a more effective longer-term strategy, we think, is to boost public awareness of the reality of mainstream media deceptions and omissions." (19) In this case, challenging is empowering.

Citizens involved in challenging the legitimacy of the "mighty Wurlitzer" of propaganda that is the mainstream media will hopefully, in turn, recognise the importance of supporting independent progressive media outlets and allow alternative media to reach an increasing number of people. The importance of such ventures is worth recounting, because as Edward Herman suggests, without the "preservation and expansion of a left media" and the "alternative frameworks and contesting facts that they provide, even liberal and left veterans are easily swept into the establishment web or rendered inert." Furthermore, Z Magazine cofounder Lydia Sargent provides a useful antidote to Domhoff's concern that the Left is obsessed with the media. She writes:

Interestingly, given our [the Left's] analysis of how media exists to sell audience to advertisers for profit, how it replicates and incorporates the values and structures of corporate control in its own operations, and how it is owned by and serves the same elites that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and Powell represent, our media activism has often been confined to critiquing the mainstream media, coupled with attempts to get our 20 second sound bytes on the networks, as if that will solve the problem.

Others have created "alternative" or "independent" media (not all of which is so radical) and they try desperately to distribute it with little money, in a society where methods of distribution are under the same control as the mainstream media itself. Many of these efforts have been incredibly successful (considering the odds), but many more have folded for lack of funds or from burn out. Those that have survived are kept small and can only be found by people who go looking for them, which, ironically most often happens during a crisis or a war.

So it is time to direct more of our protests toward the media. What we want is for mainstream media to include peace and justice programming, prepared by the peace and justice movement, in their daily reports. If they do not agree to this demand, we picket their offices, occupy them if necessary, and shut them down.

While I don't agree with Sargent's sentiment that all we need is for activist-prepared "peace and justice programming" to be embedded within the corporate media, I do think that her call to arms is an important one. Of course some media reforms may result from ongoing well-backed efforts to hold the media accountable to democratic principles -- which are most likely to be nothing more than a fig leaf that allows capitalism to keep (steam) rolling along -- but in all likelihood significant changes should not be expected within an ideological pillar of the capitalist system. Thus as long as media reform efforts are undertaken with this knowledge in mind, continuing evidence of the mainstream media's inability to accommodate the demands of its citizens will result in escalating popular support for alternative media, bringing the world another step closer to the social revolution that will replace elite domination and war with public participation, cooperation, and peace.

 

 

Notes

1.  Although the mainstream mass media clearly caters to corporate interests, there is some truth in the claim that it is highly influenced by liberal elite agendas, see Michael Barker, "The Liberal Foundations of Media Reform? Creating Sustainable Funding Opportunities for Radical Media Reform," Global Media Journal, 1 (2), June 2008.  (back)

2.  William Domhoff's book was reviewed in the 2004 issue of the journal Critical Sociology by three separate authors (see Volume 30, Number 1, 2004, pp.109-38), which was followed by a response from Domhoff. Regarding Domhoff's discussion of activist media relations, the first reviewer, Robert Ross, wrote that, "provocatively Domhoff breaks with Left orthodoxy about the media. Basically he says quit blaming the mass media for your troubles and start using it for your own spin. However inadequate as grand theory of political culture this is probably good advice: whining about the media is repetitive and boring and leads absolutely nowhere in practical terms" (p.111). The second reviewer, Dan Clawson, doesn't discuss the media issue, but the final reviewer, Robert Newby, takes a more adversarial position than Ross. Newby writes that: "When Domhoff says "Stop Blaming the Media," he makes some valid points but critiques of mainstream media are essential. Since the mainstream media are not independent but controlled by major corporations, what the American people get as news is essentially a mouthpiece for the powerful in America, including what [Greg] Palast claims to be The Best Democracy Money Can Buy" (p.123).  (back)

3.  As I have already written elsewhere -- see "Conform or Reform? Social Movements and the Mass Media" -- my understanding of this matter is that the mainstream mass media plays a fundamental role in undermining efforts to promote progressive social change. Moreover, although I personally hold out little hope that such media systems can ever be adequately reformed, I do believe that the Left needs to acknowledge the power of the media to effect social change, and then support both criticisms of the mainstream media (which might include attempts to reform it), while simultaneously creating and strengthening alternative, progressive media outlets. Sadly few progressive readers appear willing to financially support independent media projects. For example earlier this month the British-based media watchdog Media Lens wrote that although they have sent out regular free media alerts for nearly eight years to thousands of interested readers, a total of only "122 currently donate money on a fixed monthly basis." This is despite the fact that John Pilger has described Media Lens' forthcoming book like this: "Not since Orwell and Chomsky has perceived reality been so skilfully revealed in the cause of truth."  (back)

4.  Referring to Ralph Nader's book on his 2000 presidential campaign, Domhoff points out that "building a strong anti-corporate, progressive social movement in the United States with the help of the electoral system" is not likely to garner much success given the rules of the electoral system. On this statement I am inclined to agree, but while Domhoff belittles the influence of the media on Nader's campaign by focusing on Nader's exclusion from the presidential debates (a point Nader himself dwells upon in his book on the 2000 campaign), a more important observation is that Nader, and the Green party more generally, are thoroughly demonized or excluded from the mainstream media nearly all the time, not just during presidential debates. For a useful discussion of influence of Nader's presidential campaigns see William Blum, An Unreasonable Man, The Anti-Empire Report, January 2008.  (back)

5.  Robert Barsky writes in his book The Chomsky Effect: A Radical Works Beyond the Ivory (MIT Press, 2007) that, "[t]here are historical reasons for the link frequently made between anarchy and violence, including the justifiable lack of an institutional basis for anarchism and a collective amnesia about the fact that many anarchist ideas grow out of actual examples from history, such as solid friendships or good marriages, or in the loose and free association of groups in ancient Greece (described by Rudolph Rocker in his masterpiece Nationalism and Culture) and, more recently, the workings of certain segments of Spanish society in the 1930s. Instead, the legacy that remains grows out of memories of its so-called terrorist phases, including one that lasted from March 1892 until June 1894, during which time nine people were killed and numerous others wounded in eleven separate detonations in France, all linked in some way to anarchists. As Mina Graur suggests in a recent biography of Rudolph Rocker, 'that was the time when the stereotype of the vile anarchist, a dagger in his hand and a fuming bomb in his pocket, was planted in the public's mind. The press and the police did their best to reinforce this image and frighten the public with the specter of the 'great international anarchist conspiracy'.' Examples like this could be multiplied with references to similar events in different periods throughout the world." (p.7)  (back)

6.  The debate concerning the use of violence in progressive activism is considered by this author elsewhere -- see, "A Force More Powerful: Promoting 'Democracy' through Civil Disobedience." For a thought-provoking book on this subject, see Peter Gelderloos, How Nonviolence Protects the State (South End Press, 2007); to read an extract from this book, see his article "Arms and the Movement."  (back)

7.  For a more detailed discussion of this matter, see Robert Jensen, "The Myth of the Neutral Professional," EMME, Fall 2006.  (back)

8.  Published in 1967, Domhoff's classic book Who Rules America? provided an early insight into the elite linkages of some of the largest liberal foundations: that said, his short section on liberal foundations is mostly descriptive and merely identifies foundations as important players in the shaping of the American polity. While Domhoff's later books (published in 1990 and 1996) continued to acknowledge the influence of liberal foundations on the formulation of social policy, his work, like that of much of the power structure researchers, does not emphasize the critical role played by liberal foundations in supporting all manner of progressive groups.  (back)

9.  Oliver Boyd-Barrett has suggested that a sixth "buying out" filter might be added to the propaganda model, he writes: "One area that Herman and Chomsky seemed purposely to eschew was the direct purchase of media influence by powerful sources, or the 'buying out' of individual journalists or their media by government agencies and authorities. Herman and Chomsky wanted to demonstrate that media complicity with propaganda did not require 'conspiracy theory' -- not quite the same thing as demonstrating that conspiracy does not happen." With regard to conspiracies, Michael Parenti argues:

"Unfortunately there are some individuals who believe that a structural analysis demands that we treat conspiracies as imaginary things and conscious human efforts as no great consequence. They go so far as to argue that we are all now divided into two camps, which they call 'structuralists' and 'conspiracists.' ... I consider conspiracies (by which most people seem to mean secret, consciously planned programs by persons in high places) to be a part of the arsenal of structural rule. ... Rather than seeing conspiracy and structure as mutually exclusive, we might consider how the former is one of the instruments of the latter. Some conspiracies are imagined, some are real. And some of the real ones are part of the existing political structure, not exceptions to it."

Oliver Boyd-Barrett, "Judith Miller, The New York Times, and the Propaganda Model," Journalism Studies, 5, 2004, p.426; Michael Parenti, Democracy for the Few (Wadsworth/Thomas Learning, 2002), viii-ix.  (back)

10.  Jeffery Klaehn, "A Critical Review and Assessment of Herman and Chomsky's 'Propaganda Model'," (pdf) European Journal of Communication, 17, 2002, p.155.  (back)

11.  For more on the cooption of the American environmental movement by liberal foundations, see Michael Barker, "The Liberal Foundations of Environmentalism: Revisiting the Rockefeller-Ford Connection", Capitalism Nature Socialism, 19 (2), 2008, pp. 15-42; Robert Brulle, Agency, Democracy, and Nature: The U.S. Environmental Movement from a Critical Theory Perspective (MIT Press, 2000); Robert Brulle and J. Craig Jenkins, "Foundations and the Environmental Movement: Priorities, Strategies, and Impact," (pdf) in Faber, D., and McCarthy, D. Foundations For Social Change: Critical Perspectives on Philanthropy and Popular Movements (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005); Mark Dowie, Losing Ground: American Environmentalism at the Close of the Twentieth Century (MIT Press, 1995); Brian Tokar, Earth for Sale: Reclaiming Ecology in the Age of Corporate Greenwash (South End Press, 1997).  (back)

12.  Here it is apt to cite Media Lens, which writes that our corporate dominated media systems promote "indifference, greed, selfishness, hatred of enemies, passivity, and so on." Yet, critically, with regard to belief in the mythical freedom of the press, Media Lens demonstrates that "[t]he key element responsible for convincing people of this mythical press freedom is not the right-wing press -- most caring, compassionate people are not fooled by that -- but the so-called 'liberal' press: the Guardian, the BBC, and so on." This explains why Media Lens works to "expose the role of the 'liberal' press in maintaining the illusion that it doesn't fulfil an establishment propaganda role when, in fact, it does."  (back)

13.  Domhoff points out that journalist "independence is first of all seen in the many stories on corporate and government wrongdoing developed in the long tradition of investigative journalism, which always has been strongly resisted by corporate and political leaders alike. Thanks to their large resources, the major newspapers do as many critical studies of corporate malfeasance and government favoritism to big business as activists and scholars." In support of this point, a study published by David Protess in 1991 (titled The Journalism of Outrage) determined that the amount of time being spent by journalists on investigative reporting was increasing. However, as I have summarised in an earlier article, the study also "reported a trend towards shorter investigations which, taken together with cuts in funding for longer term investigative reporting, is placing increasing pressure on journalists to replace adversarial journalism with coalition journalism. Investigative journalism is becoming less visible in the public sphere, as its work becomes more widely dispersed, conventional and less adversarial -- staying closer to the borders of the dominant policy discourses. A further outcome of these changes is that as shorter investigative pieces are cheaper to produce, media outlets have less incentive to actively pursue policy stories for the duration of policy processes. Dominant news values, such as 'timeliness' further strengthen such practises by working to constantly change those issues on the public agenda, preventing any form of sustained media attention to most issues." Thus although mainstream journalists may still undertake some investigative reports which are in turn drawn upon by critical scholars, when read alone with limited contextual detail they do not serve as useful "indictment[s] of the American power structure" as Domhoff's suggests they might.  (back)

14.  Michael Parenti, Power and the Powerless (Palgrave Macmillan, 1978), p.120. Parenti adds: "The erstwhile rebels come to consider themselves not conservatives but 'realists,' insisting they are more effective when operating in a spirit of accommodation than in a spirit of confrontation. They 'understand how things work' and know that the wisest course is to learn the ropes and 'make the system work for you.' In time they learn to say, 'How much will it cost?', 'Who supports it?', and 'Let's avoid unnecessary headaches,' rather than 'Is it fair?', 'Is it just?', 'Will it help those less fortunate than me?' They become adept at seeing all sorts of difficulties and impracticalities in dissenting approaches. While they give assurances that they are 'not against change as such,' they show hostility toward specific progressive transformations that might directly affect the ongoing arrangements to which they have so successfully accommodated themselves. Without realizing it they become the thing they say they oppose. More important to them than the fulfillment of their liberal principles is their survival and professional advancement." (p.121)  (back)

15.  Michael Parenti, Inventing Reality: The Politics of News Media (St. Martin's Press, 1986), pp.48-9.  (back)

16.  Domhoff correctly notes that alternative media has "often...had substantial funding from millionaire liberals and leftists" so should have been able to reach more people. Again in some ways I agree with this comment, as some progressive media enterprises have been well funded by wealthy individuals or liberal foundations. But perhaps the problems encountered by such well supported media outlets is a problem stemming from the Left's reliance upon antidemocratic liberal philanthropy instead of promoting greater reliance of their media on grassroots funding. See "Who Funds the Progressive Media?": this article was initially published by the Center for Research on Globalization on July 7, 2008, but was removed from their Web site the same day. No reason was ever given to me as to why my article was censored.  (back)

17.  Referring to the contempt that ruling elites have for the ignorant masses, that is, the general population, Noam Chomsky writes: "For the home front, a variety of techniques of manufacture of consent are required, geared to the intended audience and its ranking on the scale of significance. For those at the lowest rank, and for the insignificant peoples abroad, another device is available, what a leading turn-of-the-century American sociologist, Franklin Henry Giddings, called 'consent without consent': 'if in later years, [the colonized] see and admit that the disputed relation was for the highest interest, it may be reasonably held that authority has been imposed with the consent of the governed,' as when a parent disciplines an uncomprehending child. Giddings was referring to the 'misguided creatures' that we were reluctantly slaughtering in the Philippines, for their own good."  (back)

18.  Edward Herman points out that "[t]he power of the U.S. propaganda system lies in its ability to mobilize an elite consensus, to give the appearance of democratic consent, and to create enough confusion, misunderstanding and apathy in the general population to allow elite programs to go forward."  (back)

19.  Media Lens are well aware of the extreme limitations imposed on critical reporting in the mainstream media; thus their "view is that in a free society, given the costs of press corruption in terms of suffering and human lives, journalists should consider refusing to work for a corporate media institution unless it is on the understanding that they are free to criticise both the media generally, and that media entity specifically." A situation that they think "is outrageous from the point of view of the corporate mindset; no-one in business is allowed to criticise the product in front of customers." However, they hold out some hope and note that key to having a positive impact on mainstream media coverage is for "journalists, or would-be journalists, to be willing to abandon all hope of a career in the mainstream and instead try to be very honest and challenge the media and pressure it to change. If these efforts are backed up by massive democratic participation, with hundreds and thousands of people writing letters, campaigning, protesting, and so on, a lot of good could be done."  (back)

 

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Published March 23, 2009



THE COMPANION OF THINKING PEOPLE


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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Chomsky News Late March 2009

baltimorechronicle.com/2009/032409Floyd.shtml


MORE THAN JUST COMMENTARY:

A Progressive Legacy: Bill Clinton's Long War in Serbia Rages On

by Chris Floyd

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

There are still a small number of Progresso-Americans who will condemn
Bill Clinton's war on Serbia as a war crime; but most P-As are
perfectly happy to laud this precusor to Bush's Iraq atrocity as one
of America's many "good wars."

Progresso-Americans (P-As) are of course united in their rightful
condemnation of George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq. Those on the
milder, "centrist" side will boldly aver that the invasion was a
"mistake," was "done badly," or was "the wrong war at the wrong time."
A much smaller number -- those not seeking jobs with the Obama
administration or sinecures in "serious" media outlets and think tanks
-- will denounce it forthrightly as an act of evil, a war crime of
monstrous, murderous proportions. But all the groovy great and good
agree that the Iraq War has been a major harsher of America's buzz.

But when it comes to an earlier instance of a young president from a
Southern state waging a unilateral, undeclared, unsanctioned war
against a nation that had not attacked the United States and posed no
threat to it, progressive unity falls by the wayside -- although the
"serious" vs. "shrill" dynamic still holds. There are still a small
number of Progresso-Americans who will condemn Bill Clinton's war on
Serbia as a war crime; but most P-As are perfectly happy to laud this
precusor to Bush's Iraq atrocity as one of America's many "good wars."

Noam Chomsky, arguably the most "unserious" analyst of American policy
out there, has, along with many others, thoroughly demolished the
alleged case for Clinton's civilian-murdering assault on Serbia: i.e.,
that the Serbs were carrying out vast atrocities and mass
displacements in Kosovo that could only be stopped by NATO bombs.
Chomsky followed the radical course of actually consulting the
abundance of official documentation on the run-up to the war.
(Consulting documents! You can tell he's no journalist.).There he
found something curious:

The documentary record is treated with what anthropologists call
"ritual avoidance." And there is a good reason. The evidence, which
is unequivocal, leaves the Party Line in tatters. The standard
claim that "Serbia's atrocities had of course provoked NATO action"
directly reverses the unequivocal facts: NATO's action provoked
Serbia's atrocities, exactly as anticipated...

In brief, it was well understood by the NATO leadership that the
bombing was not a response to the huge atrocities in Kosovo, but
was their cause, exactly as anticipated. Furthermore, at the time
the bombing was initiated, there were two diplomatic options on the
table: the proposal of NATO, and the proposal of the [Serbians]
(suppressed in the West, virtually without exception). After 78
days of bombing, a compromise was reached between them, suggesting
that a peaceful settlement might have been possible, avoiding the
terrible crimes that were the anticipated reaction to the NATO
bombing.

Chomsky's September 2008 article, "Humanitarian Imperialism," in
Monthly Review, will give you chapter and verse of this case, which he
has also spelled out at book length. But what is perhaps most
interesting is the new confirmation he has found for the real casus
belli behind the mass bombing operation dubbed, with truly macabre
cynicism, "Merciful Angel":

Without running through the rest of the dismal record, it is hard
to think of a case where the justification for the resort to
criminal violence is so weak. But the pure justice and nobility of
the actions has become a doctrine of religious faith,
understandably: What else can justify the chorus of
self-glorification that brought the millennium to an end? What else
can be adduced to support the "emerging norms" that authorize the
idealistic New World and its allies to use force where their
leaders "believe it to be just"?

Some have speculated on the actual reasons for the NATO bombing.
The highly regarded military historian Andrew Bacevich dismisses
humanitarian claims and alleges that along with the Bosnia
intervention, the bombing of Serbia was undertaken to ensure "the
cohesion of NATO and the credibility of American power" and "to
sustain American primacy" in Europe. Another respected analyst,
Michael Lind, writes that "a major strategic goal of the Kosovo war
was reassuring Germany so it would not develop a defense policy
independent of the U.S.-dominated NATO alliance." Neither author
presents any basis for the conclusions.

Evidence does exist however, from the highest level of the Clinton
administration. Strobe Talbott, who was responsible for diplomacy
during the war, wrote the foreword to a book on the warby his
associate John Norris. Talbott writes that those who want to know
"how events looked and felt at the time to those of us who were
involved" in the war should turn to Norris's account, written with
the "immediacy that can be provided only by someone who was an
eyewitness to much of the action, who interviewed at length and in
depth many of the participants while their memories were still
fresh, and who has had access to much of the diplomatic record."
Norris states that "it was Yugoslavia's resistance to the broader
trends of political and economic reform--not the plight of Kosovar
Albanians--that best explains NATO's war." That the motive for the
NATO bombing could not have been "the plight of Kosovar Albanians"
was already clear from the extensive Western documentary record.
But it is interesting to hear from the highest level that the real
reason for the bombing was that Yugoslavia was a lone holdout in
Europe to the political and economic programs of the Clinton
administration and its allies. Needless to say, this important
revelation also is excluded from the canon.

And needless to say, the malign effects of Bill Clinton's stern
chastisement of Serbia for its failure to get with the globalization
program -- i.e., the very program that has now brought the entire
world to the brink of economic ruin -- are still going on. The BBC
reports this week that thousands of unexploded cluster bombs still
litter the Serbian landscape, still killing people or maiming them
horribly -- and will keep on doing so for decades:

Every year the Maksic family like to visit the river near their
home in southern Serbia. They go to remember 12-year-old Miroslav.

Miroslav had just been for a swim with his friend in Bujanovac,
when he was killed by a cluster bomblet. His friend was seriously
injured.

It was a hot August day, a few months after the end of the 11-week
Nato bombing campaign, launched on 24 March 1999 in an effort to
push Serb forces out of the province of Kosovo.

The unexploded ordnance had been lying discarded in a field, it had
been dropped as part of a cluster bomb....

A decade on from the Nato bombing campaign, more than 90,000 Serbs
are still in danger from unexploded cluster munitions, according to
a recent report funded by the Norwegian foreign ministry. The
report says they face a daily threat and estimates that there are
some 2,500 unexploded devices in 15 areas of Serbia.

In a bitter irony, the cluster bomb problem has been made worse by the
fact that Serbia has indeed finally gotten with the program and is
seeking to please the Potomac overlords. The Serbian government has
joined the bipartisan elite in Washington in refusing to sign the
international treaty banning cluster bombs -- a refusal which hinders
efforts to cleanse the country of the overlord's leavings. As the BBC
reports:

Sladjan Vuckovic says the anniversary is also difficult for him.
The 43-year-old retired Serb military officer was clearing cluster
munitions from Mount Kopaonik in central Serbia when one exploded.
He lost both his hands and part of his right leg, and his face was
disfigured.

"I can't forget how my life has changed since that day. I can't
take my children for a walk, I can't hold their hands," he says.
"It is especially hard when I think of Serbia, the country that I
fought for, not signing the convention on banning cluster bombs."

Doesn't it make you feel good -- doesn't it make you feel humanitarian
-- to know that little children are still being killed in your name,
even ten years after Bill Clinton killed hundreds of innocent
civilians to make the Serbs open up their markets and cut their social
programs? And isn't it great that the Clintonistas are back in the
saddle again, riding herd with Barack Obama? Doesn't that fill you
with hope for the future? Why, there are probably thousands of
12-year-olds yet unborn who will die from cluster bombs yet undropped
in humanitarian interventions yet unlaunched by the defenders of
humanity.

NOTE: We would be remiss if we failed to note one of the most
paradigmatic statements issued by a "public intellectual" in the
United States during the bombing of civilians in Serbia. It was, as
you might expect, our old friend (and a friend to all humankind), the
Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist of the New York Times, Mr. Thomas
Friedman, who in April 1999 called explicitly for the infliction of a
war crime -- the targeting of civilian infrastructure -- on Serbia:

"Let's at least have a real war... It should be lights out in
Belgrade: every power grid, water pipe, bridge, road and
war-related factory has to be targeted...Every week you ravage
Kosovo is another decade we will set your country back by
pulverizing you. You want 1950? We can do 1950. You want 1389? We
can do 1389 too."

Here is the true face of the American elite: ignorant, arrogant and
bloodthirsty. But serious; oh-so-serious.

(For more on this most worthy gentleman, see Hideous Kinky: The
Genocidal Fury of Thomas Friedman. This piece is about a later
genocidal fury, by the way, directed at the people of Iraq.)


Chris Floyd has been a writer and editor for
more than 25 years, working in the United States, Great Britain and
Russia for various newspapers, magazines, the U.S. government and
Oxford University. Floyd co-founded the blog Empire Burlesque, and is
also chief editor of Atlantic Free Press. He can be reached at
cfloyd72@gmail.com.


www.expertclick.com/NewsReleaseWire/default.cfm?Action=ReleaseDetail&ID=26037

Akron, OH March 24 2009

Nothing Good Happens in a Vacuum of Leadership
5 Steps to Lead through Presence

Noam Chomsky, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology linguist and
US foreign policy critic, ranks as the most quoted living thinker.
Marx and Lenin rank as the most often quoted individuals in history.
Lincoln may be the most quoted president in history, followed closely
by FDR, and JFK. However, one of my favorite sayings is my own. Or at
least I believe it is my own: nothing good happens in a vacuum of
leadership.

Much has been written about leadership: what makes an effective
leader? The questions I am addressing in this article are: when and
why does a leader need to be present?

Our journey must first take us to the definitions of the key words
involved: Presence, Vacuum, and Leadership. The word presence was
first used in popular English literature sometime before 1010.
However, Webster's online dictionary covers in more depth a studio
album by Led Zeppelin entitled Presence, than it defines the word
presence in any other implementation.

Presence is simply defined as the act of being present. In our every
day lives, we do not define, discuss, or develop the word presence.
A vacuum is defined as the absence of matter in a volume of space. The
definition of vacuum is applied in several areas: aerospace,
literature, mechanical engineering, and mining. There is no
application of the word in business, leadership, or politics.

A vacuum in leadership may be the most dangerous vacuum of all because
it has long lasting consequences. Hitler came to power when there was
a vacuum of leadership in Germany; Ahmadinejad has come to power in
the absence of leadership in Iran.

The word leadership was first used in English literature in 1517. We
have used the word leadership in every decade, and yet what do we
mean?

The European Union defines leadership as a term . . . generally
applied to qualities and forces existing within an organization
(usually centered in the top executives) which motivate, guide and
direct individuals.

So what happens when there is a vacuum of motivation, guidance, and
direction? From a communication perspective, nothing good. Just as
water fills a vacuum, some one or some thing will fill in where there
is an absence of leadership. As a lame duck President, Bush created a
communication vacuum of economic leadership when the financial perfect
storm hit in September. The stock market kept plummeting and
plummeting and plummeting. Juxtapose this approach with Obama's
actions when he became president-elect. Obama had no authority to do
anything other than talk. Every day the week of Thanksgiving he held a
news conference to talk about his vision or announce an appointment.
The stock market went up each of these days.

5 Rules to Lead through Presence

1. Sell the Vision
What's your vision, your biggest picture of the future of your
company? You need to both communicate and create buy-in for this
vision. How will someone, a department, a company, one person, be
better off for having bought in to this vision? Figure that out,
and then sell this vision at every opportunity. Effective leaders

CRAP


www.halsteadgazette.co.uk/news/countywide/4221503.Thief_beat_dog_owner_and_ran_off_with_his_puppy/

A YOB assaulted a dog lover before running off with one of his four
puppies.

James Hindley was punched in the face four or five times before his
attacker ran off with cornlands labrador, Chomsky.

However Mr Hindley, 37, gave chase with his remaining puppies and
cornered the youth at the ambulance station in Rayne Road, Braintree,
where the yob dropped Chomsky and fled.

The drama unfolded after Mr Hindley, a horticulturalist, arrived home
near midnight in Rayne Road after visiting a fellow cornlands labrador
breeder in Stisted.
He had taken Sasmita, the puppies' mother, and their grandfather
Wellington into the house, and was putting leads on the
three-and-a-half-month-old puppies when he was approached by a young
man, aged between 18 and 20.

Mr Hindley said: "I was just about to put the lead on the fourth puppy
when this youth turned up right next to me.

"He started talking about having had an argument with his girlfriend.
He then said he was going to take one of the puppies and I said no he
wasn't.

"Then he started to bash me around the head with his fists on the left
and right side and on the bridge of the nose. It must have been about
four or five times.

"I was just so shocked. I was completely dazed. He then picked up the
fourth puppy and ran with it down towards Braintree town centre."

Mr Hindley ran after him and watched as the man tried to get through
fencing behind the ambulance station with Chomsky, before dropping him
and escaping.

Chomsky was uninjured and has now found a new home in Cheshire as a
show dog.

Mr Hindley, who was left with slight injuries, said: "I was very
shaken. It hit me the most when I went out to take them for a walk the
next day."

He is caring for the remaining puppies - Cacia, Luke and Popper - with
housemate Angus McGregor.

Mr Hindley's attacker is described as white, 6ft 1ins tall, slender
with a slim face and mousey/dark auburn hair. He wore a grey and blue
jacket and jeans. Anyone with information about the incident on March
12, details of which have just been released, should call PC Rosanna
Rowe at Braintree police station on 0300 3334444 or call Crimestoppers
on 0800 555111.

ideas.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/24/sports-fandom-opiate-of-the-masses/

INSERT DESCRIPTION

Sport | When you spilled your beer and nachos in a moment of
excitement watching the Duke game the other day, it probably didn't
occur to you that you were tapping the beast within.

But David P. Barash, psychology professor at the University of
Washington, writes that, for many, sports spectatorship taps a
primordial human instinct for belonging, much as militaristic
nationalism does. It indulges "the illusion of being part of something
larger than ourselves and thus nurtured, understood, accepted,
enlarged, empowered, gratified, protected."

In the wave-generating arena crowd, Barash adds, "one becomes part of
a great beckoning, grunting, yet smoothly functioning, and,
presumably, security-generating Beast. And for those involved, it
apparently feels good to be thus devoured whole and to live in its
belly." Has anyone suddenly lost the appetite for nachos?

Noam Chomsky and Murray Sperber, among others, have weighed in
significantly on this idea: that sports, on its grand national
scale in America, at least, distracts us from more important
matters. The markets play in, but mass media facilitate this, of
course. The shame is that so many otherwise brilliant people in
higher education and meaning-making have been eagerly complicit in
creating a monolithic cultural that seems immune to moderation or
correction.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

old GLADIO lie in TIMES embedded newspaper


Haha... godfather = MAFIA!!
(get the drift?)


From
March 17, 2009

Andreotti: why I walked out of my own biopic

The godfather of Italian politics, Giulio Andreotti, was not impressed by Il Divo, a film about his life


When Giulio Andreotti, seven times Italian Prime Minister, went to see the film Il Divo, which portrays him as the man at the heart of postwar Italy's dark secrets, he suffered in silence. There came a moment however, it was reported, when the 90-year-old Andreotti groaned and stood up, declaring: “No, no - that is really too much.”

When we met at the Italian Senate I asked him what the “too much” moment was. Was it when the film's Andreotti - brilliantly played by Tony Servillo, who also starred in Gomorrah - explains the discrepancy between his deep Roman Catholic faith and his political pragmatism with the cynical words “God doesn't vote”?

Was it perhaps when he recites a list of mysterious violent deaths and says: “Sometimes you have to do evil to do good”? Or was it the scene in which he is seen sealing his links to the Mafia by giving a “kiss of honour” to Toto Riina, the notorious Godfather who was arrested in 1993 and is serving multiple life sentences, an episode that one Mafia turncoat swore he had seen?

He gazes at me owlishly through his spectacles, a small, hunched but alert figure, as if struggling to remember. “Yes, the kiss, I think,” he says. “It never happened, you know. It was an invention. I would kiss my wife, but not Toto Riina.”


OK, but did he also resent the rest of the film? He shrugs. “I didn't see much of it, to be honest.” A disarming smile and a chuckle. “I had better things to do.” Did he consider complaining to Paolo Sorrentino, the director, whom he once called “a blackguard”, or even taking legal action? “Good heavens, no. I don't say the film didn't interest me, I say it didn't particularly move me. I don't consider myself a hero or a saint. I am a normal man.”

“Normal”, however, is the one thing Andreotti is not, as emerges with dramatic force from Sorrentino's operatic and often savagely biting film, which won the Prix du Jury at the Cannes Film Festival last year. His various nicknames speak for themselves: Il Divo Giulio (from Divus Iulius, the nickname of Julius Caesar) but also Beelzebub, the Prince of Darkness, the Fox, the Hunchback (“Perhaps if I had taken more exercise when young my figure would be different,” he remarked).

He is a difficult man to pin down: evasive, enigmatic, witty, entertaining, sinister to many, he embodies the Italy of the past 65 years, including its “dark heart”. Having lived through Fascism as a young man, he was present at the creation of postwar Italian democracy as a disciple of Alcide De Gasperi, the great Christian Democratic Prime Minister.

Andreotti was born in Via dei Prefetti, just “two steps” from Parliament. He said he preferred “the old, authentic Rome” of the cobbled historic centre to the modern suburbs. He tends to see events in the broad sweep of history rather than today's headlines. “I have been blamed for almost everything apart from the Punic wars, which were before my time,” he once said. His father died when he was young, and he was brought up in considerable hardship by his mother. As an altar boy he acquired the faith that has never left him (he still goes to Mass every day).

He studied law and dabbled in journalism, until a chance meeting in the Vatican library with De Gasperi took him into politics. An aunt taught him to realise that few things were truly important and to keep a sense of perspective. The two dominant women in his life, however, have been his wife Livia (played in the film by Anna Bonaiuto), to whom he has been married for more than 60 years (they have four children, plus grandchildren), and his long-serving secretary Vincenza Enea (Piera Degli Esposti), both of whom he found sympathetically portrayed.

He was Prime Minister on seven occasions from 1972 to 1992, as well as Minister of the Interior, Defence Minister and Foreign Minister, and is now a Senator for Life, still manoeuvring to support or bring down governments. He has sat in Parliament without interruption since 1946 - with (his enemies say) the backing of the United States, the Vatican, the secret services and the Mafia.

When Il Divo was shown at the London Film Festival last October a critic for Times Online wrote: “Small, stiff-limbed and short-strided, Andreotti ought to be a figure of fun as he pigeon-steps his way through marble halls and palaces. The laughter stops when he comes to a halt, standing at the static centre of a room while lackeys and lieutenants swirl around him.”

He was acquitted, convicted and then acquitted again of ordering the murder in 1979 of Mino Pecorelli, an investigative journalist who had alleged that Andreotti had links to the Mafia and to the kidnapping and murder in 1978 of Aldo Moro, a former Prime Minister and close Christian Democratic colleague who wanted to bring the Italian Communists into government in an “historic compromise”.

He was also acquitted on a separate charge of “Mafia association”. However, the final judgment in the Pecorelli case, in 2003, stated that Andreotti had had strong ties to the Mafia until 1980. It has never been established what he knew about the fate of Roberto Calvi, the Vatican-linked financier known as God's Banker, who was found hanging under Blackfriars Bridge in London in 1982.

So, a Mafia man? No, Andreotti says: after all, he himself ordered a crackdown on Cosa Nostra. “Anyway, I was born in Rome and live in Rome. We have our criminal gangs in Rome, but they are not Cosa Nostra.” He is being disingenuous, I suggest: after all, Christian Democracy was sustained by Sicilian votes, as is Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia today. “Yes, yes,” he murmurs. “The Sicilians are full of enthusiasm, you know. Warm people.”

Did he ever say that you have to be evil to do good? “No, no. It's not true anyway. Evil is evil and good is good. It's a hypocritical excuse on the part of those who have done evil and seek to justify themselves.” He is famous for remarking that “Power wears out those who don't have it” - a remark used in the film Godfather III - but says he never used his power to enrich himself.

The episode that haunts him most - and features prominently in Il Divo - is the death of Moro at the hands of the extreme leftwing Red Brigades, which is still shrouded in mystery 30 years on. He denies rumours that as Prime Minister he could have done more to save Moro. “Moro and I were very close,” he says. “I was head of the Catholic University after him. He was a very complex man, very intelligent, a fascinating figure. The Red Brigades were not numerous, as it turned out, but they were highly motivated. They wanted to destroy capitalism.”

One theory is that many of the unsolved mysteries of postwar Italy are related to murky plots to stop the communists gaining power in a strategically vital Western country: after all in 1990 Andreotti himself acknowledged the existence of “Gladio”, a secret anti-communist military body that infiltrated the Italian elite.

“That is simplistic,” Andreotti counters. “Christian Democracy combined its values and convictions with the need to defend us against international communism, that much is true. The communist danger really existed. It is no secret that the Italian Communists and some leftwing trades unions were supported not only ideologically but also financially by Moscow.”

And the Vatican? On his side table the real Andreotti has a photograph of himself with Pope Benedict XVI and images of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. “The Vatican has some influence with certain groups and persons in Italian life, but I believe most Italians respect the Vatican and do not think the Pope interferes too much.” Far from bending to the Vatican's will he sometimes stood up to it, he says.

Despite its popularity Andreotti dismisses the film, saying he believes he will in the end be judged “on his record”. So the mysteries remain. I asked him if was true that when he turned 90 he had said he would “take his secrets to the grave”. “True. In my life I have made many, shall we say, delicate choices. Some people played a double game, claiming to be on one side while being on another. Some things you don't see at the time because you are blinded by the light. You think you understood everything, then you see you didn't. But the past is the past. It is better to look to the future.”

Il Divo is released on Friday

=========COMMENT========



check wikipedia:GLADIO.

CIA killed hundreds of innocent civilians..
It's OFFICIAL, proven.

Never mind how crazy it sounds... there is only one truth, namely that THAT HAPPENED.

TIMES is corporate owned, NEVER can it tell you the workings of OUR RULERS. The revolution will not be televized.

entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/film/article5919239.ece

Stay Tuned with Hope Johnson

March 17, 2009

Pelosi - Throw the Book at Her

Which book? Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, of course!

Madame Speaker, in her infinite wisdom, requests the Department of Justice allow local newspapers more flexibility to merge in order to save The Chronicle. Pelosi believes anti-competition laws should include television and internet media in defining competition faced by newspapers.

In this time of economic uncertainty, Madoff, and a corporate history including the Enron fiasco, do we really need to further limit the people controlling the media?

Propaganda model lesson time from Herman and Chomsky.

Few find value in a failed Chron; however, any news unfavorable toward the owners of a media source is susceptible to censorship and biased reporting. Diversified ownership is key to ensure what might be subject to censorship in one publication receives props in another.

Besides, Nancy, newspapers and your idea of their “new” competition, television and the internet, are already owned by a small minority. Think Rupert Murdoch.

The Bush administration used terrorist attacks to limit our freedom. Is this an attempt at using the economic crisis to help the affluent limit our information?

Best Political Mind Prediction Redux

Predicted first comment on viewing new Willie Brown Way street signs? “Hey, check it out, San Francisco really is liberal. They’ve switched from honoring great writers on street names to honoring criminals and con men!”

As one SF resident, who requested anonymity, said of the name change, “Totally unacceptable, unless, of course, it terminates in Madoff Circle.”

Gav, you want to name a street after the guy who used his weekly column to praise a man about to raise college tuition fees during one of the worst economic crisis in our history. What’s the kickback?

Oh, Won’t You Stay Just a Little Bit Longer

At his office party on Friday, District 11 Supervisor John Avalos described the odd feeling of moving from legislative aide to being on the inside of the Board Chambers railing separating electeds from the public.

“That separation exists but I’m trying to break it down as much as possible,” Avalos explained.

And that he did at Wednesday’s Budget and Finance Committee meeting.

It’s never seemed fair the Mayor and department heads aren’t required to listen to public comment on their proposed program cuts, especially as we face devastating losses this year.

Imagine Rec and Park Department General Manager Jared Blumenfeld’s surprise when Avalos said, “I would like to ask a few questions as well but after public comment.”

“I think it would be good if you’re able to respond certainly to our questions, but then some of the things that are brought up in public comment as well at the end,” Avalos instructed Blumenfeld.

And, just like that, finally, the Mayor’s office had to not only stay for their fair share of public comment but also listen carefully. There was a test at the end!

Kudos to Supe Avalos for offering a hopeful spirit to worried commentators and, hopefully, starting a pattern of everyone involved in budget cuts getting an earful.

Stay tuned. Oh, yeah, and happy St. Paddy’s!

Fun Fact

FCJ’s multi-talented Elaine Santore captured live the solidarity protest for Tristan Anderson at the Israeli Embassy. Check it out, here.

www.fogcityjournal.com/wordpress/2009/03/17/stay-tuned-with-hope-johnson-5/


Chomsky: Obama coming to Turkey for energy
There has been many scenarios about U.S. President Barack Obama`s visits to Turkey.
Wednesday, 18 March 2009 12:04
Chomsky: Obama coming to Turkey for energy Wednesday, 18 March 2009 12:04

There has been many scenarios about U.S. President Barack Obama`s visits to Turkey.

Chomsky, the famous U.S. political thinker, said Obama`s main objective during his vist to Turkey is to guarantee the Middle East energy resources.

There has been many scenarios about U.S. President Barack Obama`s visits to Turkey. USA's leading political thinker Noam Chomsky believes the main and the most important agenda will be energy during the visit.

Chomsky told Turkish newspaper Sabah, "The U.S. is trying to develop a new system in the Middle East. It wants to guarantee energy resources in the Middle East. It has preferred country models, such as Turkey, Israel and Iran in the Shah period."

Highlighting Turkey's strategic position, Chomsky said, "Turkey should assess this carefully as it serves as "energy bridge". At the same time, it should increase the level of their relations with Central Asian countries."

Chomsky states the United States has given much importance to Turkey`s armaments since the Cold War and added "as Turkey is the the world's fastest armed country, the relations have strengthened since especially 1997. But, in 2003, the Turkish government has made an interesting surprise (rejecting US troops to invade Iraq). The United States could not tolerate the idea that Turkey is a democratic country ."

Chomsky also said that Obama`s foreign policy is not different than Bush`s and the reason for increasing the number of troops in Afghanistan is to reduce the impact of Iran and Russia on this country

"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum."
- Noam Chomsky


"That's an internet theory and it's hopelessly implausible. Hopelessly implausible. So hopelessly implausible I don't see any point in talking about it."
- Noam Chomsky, at a FAIR event at New York's Town Hall, 22 January 2002, in response to a question from the audience about US government foreknowledge of 9/11. At that time, 9/11 investigators had already presented substantial documented evidence for: prior warnings, Air Force stand-down, anomalous insider trading connected to CIA, cover-up of the domestic anthrax attacks, inconsistencies in identities & timelines of "hijackers", US connections to al Qaeda in Balkans, a Pak ISI-al Qaeda funding connection, etc etc etc.

Professor Noam Chomsky, one of the country's most famous dissidents, says that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman in Dallas. Anyone who still supports the Warren Commission hoax after forty years of countering proofs is either ill-informed, dumb, gullible, afraid to speak truths to power or a disinformation agent.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where Chomsky has worked for decades, has a very good physics department (MIT is the largest university contractor to the military). Perhaps he could visit them and learn why it is physically impossible for Oswald to have been anything more than the "patsy" that he (accurately) claimed to be.

The truth is that Chomsky is very good in his analysis within certain parameters of limited debate -- but in understanding the "deep politics" of the actual, secret government, his analysis falls short.

Chomsky is good at explaining the double standards in US foreign policies - but at this point understanding / exposing the mechanics of the deceptions (9/11 isn't the only one) the reasons for it (Peak Oil / global dominance / domestic fascism) and what we can do (war crimes trials / permaculture to relocalize food production / paradigm shifts) is more important than more repetition from Chomsky.

Professor Chomsky was apparently part of a study group in the late 1960s that was investigating what really happened in Dallas (ie. he was a skeptic of the official story). It seems likely that Chomsky did indeed figure out what happened - and decided that this was too big of an issue to confront.

Maybe Chomsky gets more media attention these days than most other dissidents BECAUSE he urges people not to inquire into how the secret government operates.

Chomsky in his own words

9-11: Institutional Analysis vs. Conspiracy Theory
Submitted by Noam Chomsky on Fri, 2006-10-06 14:09.
Categories: Middle East | United States | US Foreign Policy

The following is an exchange between a ZNet Sustainer and Noam Chomsky, which took place in the Sustainer Web Board where Noam hosts a forum...

ZNet Sustainer: Dear Noam, There is much documentation observed and uncovered by the 911 families themselves suggesting a criminal conspiracy within the Bush Administration to cover-up the 9/11 attacks (see DVD, 9/11: Press for Truth). Additionally, much evidence has been put forward to question the official version of events. This has come in part from Paul Thompson, an activist who has creatively established the 9/11 Timeline, a free 9/11 investigative database for activist researchers, which now, according to The Village Voice’s James Ridgeway, rivals the 9/11 Commission’s report in accuracy and lucidity (see,http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0416,mondo1,52830,6.html, or www.cooperativeresearch.org).

Noam Chomsky: Hard for me to respond to the rest of the letter, because I am not persuaded by the assumption that much documentation and other evidence has been uncovered. To determine that, we'd have to investigate the alleged evidence. Take, say, the physical evidence. There are ways to assess that: submit it to specialists -- of whom there are thousands -- who have the requisite background in civil-mechanical engineering, materials science, building construction, etc., for review and analysis; and one cannot gain the required knowledge by surfing the internet. In fact, that's been done, by the professional association of civil engineers. Or, take the course pursued by anyone who thinks they have made a genuine discovery: submit it to a serious journal for peer review and publication. To my knowledge, there isn't a single submission. ZNet Sustainer: A question that arises for me is that regardless of this issue, how do I as an activist prevent myself from getting distracted by such things as conspiracy theories instead of focusing on the bigger picture of the institutional analysis of private profit over people?

[note: the Complete 9/11 Timeline does not focus on the physical evidence, Chomsky is either ignorant of the issue or steering people into a false dichotomy]

Noam Chomsky: I think this reaches the heart of the matter. One of the major consequences of the 9/11 movement has been to draw enormous amounts of energy and effort away from activism directed to real and ongoing crimes of state, and their institutional background, crimes that are far more serious than blowing up the WTC would be, if there were any credibility to that thesis. That is, I suspect, why the 9/11 movement is treated far more tolerantly by centers of power than is the norm for serious critical and activist work. How do you personally set priorities? That's of course up to you. I've explained my priorities often, in print as well as elsewhere, but we have to make our own judgments.

ZNet Sustainer: In a sense, profit over people is the real conspiracy, yes, yet not a conspiracy at all – rather institutional reality? At the same time, if the core of conspiracy theories are accurate, which is challenging to pin down, though increasingly possible, does it not fit into the same motivations of furthering institutional aims of public subsidizes to private tyrannies? I mean, through the 9/11attacks, Bush Et Al. has been able to justify massive increases in defense spending for a “war without end,” and Israel has been given the green light to do virtually whatever it wants since now ‘the Americans are in the same fight.’ Furthermore, there has been a substantial rollback of civil rights in our nation, with the most extreme example being strong attempt to terminate habeas corpus.

Noam Chomsky: Can't answer for the same reasons. I don't see any reason to accept the presuppositions. As for the consequences, in one of my first interviews after 9/11 I pointed out the obvious: every power system in the world was going to exploit it for its own interests: the Russians in Chechnya, China against the Uighurs, Israel in the occupied territories,... etc., and states would exploit the opportunity to control their own populations more fully through "prevention of terrorism acts" and the like. By the "who gains" argument, every power system in the world could be assigned responsibility for 9/11.

ZNet Sustianer: This begs the question: if 9/11 was an inside job, then what’s to say that Bush Et Al., if cornered or not, wouldn't resort to another more heinous attack of grander proportions in the age of nuclear terrorism – which by its very nature would petrify populations the world over, leading citizens to cower under the Bush umbrella of power.

Noam Chomsky: Wrong question, in my opinion. They were carrying out far more serious crimes, against Americans as well, before 9/11 -- crimes that literally threaten human survival. They may well resort to further crimes if activists here prefer not to deal with them and to focus their attention on arcane and dubious theories about 9/11.

ZNet Sustainer: Considering that in the US there are stage-managed elections, public relations propaganda wars, and a military-industrial-education-prison-etc. complex, does something like this sound far-fetched?

Noam Chomsky: I think that's the wrong way to look at it. Everything you mention goes back far before 9/11, and hasn't changed that much since. More evidence that the 9/11 movement is diverting energy and attention away from far more serious crimes -- and in this case crimes that are quite real and easily demonstrated.

ZNet Sustainer:Considering the long history of false flag operations to wrongly justify wars, our most recent precedent being WMD in Iraq, The Gulf of Tonkin in Vietnam, going back much further to Pearl Harbor (FDR knowingly allowing the Japanese to bomb Pearl Harbor – which is different from false flag operations), to the 1898 Spanish-American War, to the 1846 Mexican-American War, to Andrew Jackson’s seizing of Seminole land in 1812 (aka Florida).

Noam Chomsky: The concept of "false flag operation" is not a very serious one, in my opinion. None of the examples you describe, or any other in history, has even a remote resemblance to the alleged 9/11 conspiracy. I'd suggest that you look at each of them carefully.

ZNet Sustainer: Lastly, as the world’s leading terror state, would it not surprise anyone if the US was capable of such an action? Would it surprise you? Do you think that so-called conspiracy theorists have anything worthy to present?
Noam Chomsky: I think the Bush administration would have had to be utterly insane to try anything like what is alleged, for their own narrow interests, and do not think that serious evidence has been provided to support claims about actions that would not only be outlandish, for their own interests, but that have no remote historical parallel. The effects, however, are all too clear, namely, what I just mentioned: diverting activism and commitment away from the very serious ongoing crimes of state.

Chomsky supports the Warren Commission cover-up

JFK Conspiracy: The Intellectual Dishonesty and Cowardice of Alexander Cockburn and Noam Chomsky (Michael Worsham, The Touchstone. Feb 1997) www.rtis.com/reg/bcs/pol/touchstone/february97/worsham.htm

in early 1969 Mr. Chomsky met with several Kennedy experts and spent several hours looking at and discussing assassination photos. Mr. Chomsky even cancelled several appointments to have extra time. There was a followup meeting with Mr. Chomsky, which also lasted several hours. These meetings were ostensibly to try to do something to reopen the case. According to the Probe article, Mr. Chomsky indicated he was very interested, but had to give the matter careful consideration before committing.
After the meeting, Selwyn Bromberger, an MIT philosophy professor who had sit in on the discussion, said to the author: "If they are strong enough to kill the President and strong enough to cover it up, then they are too strong to confront directly . . . if they feel sufficiently threatened, they may move to open totalitarian rule." According to the author, Mr. Chomsky had given every indication that he believed there was a conspiracy at these meetings. However, Mr. Chomsky never got involved with trying to reopen the case.


"I agree that Professor Chomsky is not a CIA agent. But with respect to his pronouncements on the JFK assassination he is worse than a CIA agent. Without being an agent, with his enormous prestige as a thinker, as an independent radical, as a courageous man, he does the work of the agency. ... He is unconvinced by the evidence of a conspiracy, but his is utterly convinced that JFK was a consummate cold warrior who could not have changed and did nothing to irritate the military industrial intelligence complex."
- Vincent Salandria
www.geocities.com/mdmorrissey/sal1web.htm


www.webcom.com/ctka/pr197-left.html

Chomsky and his good friend and soulmate on the JFK case, Alexander Cockburn went on an (orchestrated?) campaign at the time of Stone’s JFK to convince whatever passes for the left in this country that the murder of Kennedy was 1) not the result of a conspiracy, and 2) didn’t matter even if it was. They were given unlimited space in magazines like The Nation and Z Magazine. But, as Howard Zinn implied in a recent letter to Schotz defending Chomsky, these stances are not based on facts or evidence, but on a political choice. They choose not to fight this battle. They would rather spend their time and effort on other matters. When cornered themselves, Chomsky and Cockburn resort to rhetorical devices like exaggeration, sarcasm, and ridicule. In other words, they resort to propaganda and evasion.
CTKA believes that this is perhaps the most obvious and destructive example of Schotz’s “denial.” For if we take Chomsky and Cockburn as being genuine in their crusades--no matter how unattractive their tactics--their myopia about politics is breathtaking. For if the assassinations of the ‘60’s did not matter--and Morrisey notes that these are Chomsky’s sentiments—then why has the crowd the left plays to shrunk and why has the field of play tilted so far to the right? Anyone today who was around in the ‘60’s will tell you that the Kennedys, King, and Malcolm X electrified the political debate, not so much because of their (considerable) oratorical powers, but because they were winning. On the issues of economic justice, withdrawal from Southeast Asia, civil rights, a more reasonable approach to the Third World, and a tougher approach to the power elite within the U.S., they and the left were making considerable headway. The very grounds of the debate had shifted to the center and leftward on these and other issues. As one commentator has written, today the bright young Harvard lawyers go to work on Wall Street, in the sixties they went to work for Ralph Nader.
knowing, that our last progressive president was killed in a blatant conspiracy; that a presidentially appointed inquest then consciously covered it up; that the mainstream media like the Post and the Times acquiesced in that effort; that this assassination led to the death of 58,000 Americans and two million Vietnamese; to us that’s quite a consciousness raiser. Chomsky, Cockburn and most of their acolytes don’t seem to think so.
In the ‘80’s, Bill Moyers questioned Chomsky on this point, that the political activism of the ‘60’s had receded and that Martin Luther King had been an integral part of that scene. Chomsky refused to acknowledge this obvious fact. He said it really wasn’t so. His evidence: he gets more speaking invitations today ( A World of Ideas, p. 48). The man who disingenuously avoids a conspiracy in the JFK case now tells us to ignore Reagan, Bush, Gingrich, Limbaugh, Stern and the rest. It doesn’t matter. ...
... what Probe is trying to do here is not so much explain the reaction, or non-reaction, of the Left to the death of John Kennedy. What we are really saying is that, in the face of that non-reaction, the murder of Kennedy was the first step that led to the death of the Left. That’s the terrible truth that most of these men and organizations can’t bring themselves to state. If they did, they would have to admit their complicity in that result.


Left Denial on 9/11 Turns Irrational
by Jack Straw
http://www.indybay.org/news/2005/05/1736367.php 6 May 2005

People like Noam Chomsky and Ward Churchill are turning toward the irrational as they continue to deny increasing signs that 9/11 was an inside job.
Ever since the events of 9/11, the American Left and even ultra-Left have been downright fanatical in combating notions that the U.S. government was complicit in the attacks or at least had foreknowledge of the events. Lately, this stance has taken a turn towards the irrational.
In a recent interview, Noam Chomsky has made an incredible assertion:

"There's by now a small industry on the thesis that the administration had something to do with 9-11. I've looked at some of it, and have often been asked. There's a weak thesis that is possible though extremely unlikely in my opinion, and a strong thesis that is close to inconceivable. The weak thesis is that they knew about it and didn't try to stop it. The strong thesis is that they were actually involved. The evidence for either thesis is, in my opinion, based on a failure to understand properly what evidence is. Even in controlled scientific experiments one finds all sorts of unexplained phenomena, strange coincidences, loose ends, apparent contradictions, etc. Read the letters in technical science journals and you'll find plenty of samples. In real world situations, chaos is overwhelming, and these will mount to the sky. That aside, they'd have had to be quite mad to try anything like that. It would have had to involve a large number of people, something would be very likely to leak, pretty quickly, they'd all be lined up before firing squads and the Republican Party would be dead forever. That would have happened whether the plan succeeded or not, and success was at best a long shot; it would have been extremely hard to predict what would happen."

[note: The "it would have had to involve a large number of people" claim is a tired cliche that completely ignores the role of compartmentalization in covert operations, something Professor Chomsky has probably read about during his long career.
On the other hand, the "Left Denial" article is generally very good about the strange myopia of the "left" about 9/11, but it is marred by a strange focus on alleged, unprovable assertions of temperature inside the burning towers that supposedly means they were demolished, and most of the web links for additional information are bogus. The "Left Denial" article ignores the evidence about foreknowledge, warnings to insiders, the stock trades on United and American Airlines just before 9/11, the anthrax attacks on the media and the Democrats, the motivation of Peak Oil and creating the pretext for invading the Middle East oil fields, among other issues that have very strong evidence for complicity. These omissions allow the leftists in denial to avoid the issue of complicity.
]


Published on Thursday, October 30, 2003 by Reuters
U.S. Dissident Says Bush Needs Fear for Re-election
by Anthony Boadle

HAVANA - U.S. linguist and political dissident Noam Chomsky said on Wednesday that President Bush will have to "manufacture" another threat to American security to win reelection in 2004 after U.S failure in occupying Iraq.
Chomsky, attending a Latin American social sciences conference in Cuba, said that since the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, the Bush administration had redefined U.S. national security policy to include the use of force abroad, with or without U.N. approval.
"It is a frightened country and it is easy to conjure up an imminent threat," Chomsky said at the launching of a Cuban edition of a book of interviews published by the Mexican newspaper La Jornada, when asked how Bush could get reelected.
"They have a card that they can play ... terrify the population with some invented threat, and that is not very hard to do," he said.
After the "disaster" of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Bush could turn his sights on Communist-run Cuba, which his administration officials have charged with developing a biological weapons research program, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor of linguistics said.
Chomsky said the military occupation of Iraq, to topple a "horrible monster running it but not a threat to anyone," was a failure.
"The country had been devastated by sanctions. The invasion ended sanctions. The tyrant is gone and there is no outside support for domestic dissidence," he said. "It takes real talent to fail in this endeavor."
Chomsky said it was reasonable to assume the Bush administration would try to "manufacture a short-term improvement in the economy" by incurring in enormous federal government debt and "imposing burdens on future generations."



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