Vlogging Update: May 2017

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Hey y’all,

Sorry for the long absence.

My computer died.

I gave it to my aunt to work on.

She does IT work for the local school district.

Unable to fix it, she gave me another one that a school was getting rid of.

I tried to salvage what I could from the old one.

But, most of my programs and files were lost.

I’ve been searching for the missing software and restoring what I can.

My scanner/printer didn’t want to cooperate with the new computer.

I tried replacing it.

But, the replacements didn’t work either.

After a couple of days messing with it, I finally got it running.

My van has a million problems.

But, at least I got the front tire fixed that kept going flat.

I’ve replaced that tire THREE TIMES and it still kept going flat.

I thought maybe the rim was bent.

I had it looked at and they found a piece of metal lodged inside.

They patched it up.

Now, it shouldn’t be a problem anymore.

Only cost me $15 bucks (thank God)!

I tried to repay my grandmother $700 dollars I owe her.

She forgave some of it.

My ex forgave the $200 I owed her, too, since I’ve been helping her relocate and move her stuff.

Not sure how I’ll get my other debts paid.

But, I try not to get stressed out about it.

That really fucks up my creativity.

Spring Has Sprung

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I was watching some YouTube videos lately.

I got very annoyed.

Other bands are doing stuff that I wanna do.

But, they keep beating me to it.

I hate when that shit happens.

Maybe it is just that everything has already been done to death and we keep repeating and reinterpreting what came before us.

I dunno.

I know that, financially, I am gonna be screwed for the foreseeable future.

I am robbing Peter to pay Paul for as long as I have to.

I seriously doubt that I will break even before summer begins.

I keep putting off working on and publishing the zine until I can get ahead a little.

But, that doesn’t look like it is going to happen very soon.

I may do a cheaper version, than what I had in mind, until it begins to pay for itself.

Just a thought.

I will probably raid my boxes of old tapes that I have in storage and dig around for some incomplete material to finish.

I have a lot of it, going back nearly forty years.

Since I have been tinkering with the analogue multi-track machine, maybe I will include some fresher stuff with it, too.

I dunno.

A guitarist whom I have not played with in years contacted me and is eager to jam again.

So, maybe he can give me a morale boost and help me get my shit done.

Maybe.

I am always willing to jam with other people if they are interested.

I need to find somewhere that I can paint and make loud noises too.

Maybe somebody can help me with that.

Just because I dig your music, doesn’t mean I have to like your dumb ass!

ASSHOLES Pink Flamingos

Separating an artist from their work can sometimes be difficult. It stirs mixed emotions and makes us question ourselves. It makes us see our heroes as the flawed human beings that they really are.

In 2015, Bill Cosby has been revealed (by his own words, under oath) to be a serial rapist. Does that mean I can’t enjoy his work anymore?

No.

The comedy albums that he recorded, that I grew up with, are still classic. I still love them. I still like Fat Albert, The Cosby Show, and some other work that he did in film and television. But, I won’t be giving him any of my money anymore.

The Bad Brains are one of the greatest hardcore punk bands of all time. Being one of the few all-black groups in that scene certainly made them trailblazers as well. But, they are (at least they were, back in the 1980’s) extremely homophobic.

During the summer of 1982 they became involved in the Rock Against Reagan Tour, during which time they fell out with the band MDC when Rastafarian singer H.R. learned that Big Boys‘ singer, Randy Turner, was gay. H.R. and MDC‘s Dave Dictor had an intense confrontation. Upon Bad Brains‘ departure from the bill, they refused to return a loan owed to Big Boys and instead left a note that reportedly read, “burn in hell bloodclot faggot.” The incident resulted in the MDC song “Pay to Come Along.”

“First let me say I hated that whole incident. MDC adored the Bad Brains 1980-1982. After a gig where we really hit it off together in Oakland, we dropped everything in our lives to go across country on a mini tour with them on 2 days notice. Ended up playing 2 shows with them. One in Houston and the infamous one in Austin where we dropped off the tour. There in Austin they freaked out in the middle of the show about Gary Floyd’s and Randy Biscuit’s out gayness and refused to sing using the same microphone as them. The Bad Brains seemed to always have these much younger people in the scene around them. And it seemed no would call them on their bullshit. We were about the same age as them and a bit more politically sophisticated then the typical people in the DC and NY scene.

I only felt mistreated in that they came into a show that MDC and others had set up and hurled a lot of insults and anger towards our friends. Insults like “All gay people are blood clot faggots and they should be put to death.” It wasn’t like they expressed that they didn’t like gay people and disapprove of their lifestyle. It was wishing death for the singers of two of our favorite bands in our original punk rock home town. It was sad to see it all go down and didn’t feel good at all. It was confusing that we could adore and agree with people about many political topics including human rights, yet disagree about homosexuality. With HR-Joseph we have never resolved anything, but with Darryl and Dr Know (the bassist and guitarist), we all expressed regrets on the topic years later.”

P.M.A. (Positive Mental Attitude) my ass!

Politically conservative rock & roll musicians are an oddity. Rock & roll, by definition, is anti-authoritarian and anti-conservative. Ted Nugent, Lee Ving, and Johnny Ramone never seemed to understand that.

I don’t understand how Alice Cooper, Dave Mustaine, or Ozzy Osbourne can go on about Christianity and keep a straight face.

Some artist’s work can also be questionable (or just plain vile). But, I may appreciate certain aspects of it, regardless.

Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead has long been criticized for his collection of Nazi paraphernalia. But, no serious person believes that he holds any sympathies for them or their ideology.

Lemmy
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Lemmy collects German military regalia, and has an Iron Cross encrusted on his bass, which has led to accusations of Nazi sympathies. He has stated that he collects this memorabilia for aesthetic values only, and considers himself an anarchist or libertarian, and that he is “anti-communism, fascism, any extreme,” saying that “government causes more problems than it solves”.

Jeff Hanneman, the late founder of the thrash metal band Slayer, befriended Lemmy due to their shared fondness for collecting Nazi memorabilia. According to Keith Emerson’s autobiography, two of Lemmy’s Hitlerjugend knives were given to Emerson by Lemmy during his time as a roadie for The Nice. Emerson used these knives many times as keyholders when playing the Hammond organ during concerts with The Nice and Emerson, Lake & Palmer, often before destroying them.

Some stuff that I like, I know is just totally horrible and in bad taste. It doesn’t make me a bad person, though.

Overall, if you don’t want to support someone because they offend you, then don’t. Save your money. Give it to someone more worthy. Meanwhile, enjoy whatever art & music that you enjoy. If other people don’t like that, fuck ’em.

Jackie O., A “Conspiracy Nut”?

Jackie O., A “Conspiracy Nut”?

Chuck Baldwin
Aug 28, 2011
Tapes that were recorded within months of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination and that have been sealed in a vault at the Kennedy Library in Boston are soon to be released. In the tapes, former First Lady Jackie Kennedy reveals that she believed Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson and other influential individuals orchestrated the Dallas shooting that killed her husband.
Jackie went on to marry Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis, of course. Mrs. Kennedy had ordered that the tapes should not be released until 50 years after her death. She died 17 years ago from cancer at the age of 64. Now, her daughter, Caroline Kennedy, has agreed to release the recordings early. According to press reports, the tapes will be aired by ABC and by British broadcasters as well. The tapes are also said to reveal illicit affairs by both President Kennedy and Jackie.
According to DailyMail, “Jackie Onassis believed that Lyndon B. Johnson and a cabal of Texas tycoons were involved in the assassination of her husband John F. Kennedy, ‘explosive’ recordings are set to reveal.
“The secret tapes will show that the former first lady felt that her husband’s successor was at the heart of the plot to murder him.
“She became convinced that the then vice president, along with businessmen in the South, had orchestrated the Dallas shooting, with gunman Lee Harvey Oswald–long claimed to have been a lone assassin–merely part of a much larger conspiracy.”
See the DailyMail report at:
http://tinyurl.com/3ovu7z4
So, now I suppose we can add Jackie-Kennedy-Onassis to the list of “conspiracy nuts.” Right? Isn’t that what anyone is called who believes that the federal government hides the truth about what happens and conjures up a convenient “official” story to sell to the American people? Isn’t that what the media calls anyone who dares to question any “official” report? Isn’t that what Glenn Beck calls them? Isn’t that what Joe Scarborough calls them? Isn’t that what Bill O’Reilly calls them? Isn’t that what Rush Limbaugh calls them? They are “conspiracy nuts.” Right? I wonder if we will now hear any of these talking heads call Jackie Onassis a “conspiracy nut”?
And since we are talking about conspiracies, I want to go ahead and just say up front: I believe that anyone who thinks that there are no conspiracies that many times involve people and agencies at the highest levels of government and business is downright simple minded, willingly ignorant, incredibly naïve, or has a personal, vested reason to remain clueless.
The John F. Kennedy Assassination
Is there really anyone reading this column who actually believes the “official” story that Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated President Kennedy in the manner in which he is purportedly to have done it: all by himself? Get real! Now we know that even Jackie Kennedy, who was in the limo when her husband was killed, didn’t believe it!
I further believe that the assassination of John Kennedy was a major turning point in US history. It was at this point that a criminal cabal wrested control of the federal government from the hands of “We the People” and turned it into a giant mafia. I don’t believe the people and their representatives in Washington, D.C., have had much to do with their federal government (especially at the executive level) ever since.
TWA Flight 800 “Explosion”
While we are talking about conspiracies, let’s just go ahead a mention a few more. Do you really believe the “official” story of the crash of TWA flight 800 in 1996? What if an American missile accidentally shot down that jetliner? Do you really think the federal government would come clean about it?
Read this report from The Washington Weekly, if you are willing to be enlightened:
http://www.chuckbaldwinlive.com/twa.html
Oklahoma City Bombing
Do readers really believe the “official” story that Timothy McVeigh acted alone in igniting the explosion that took down the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and that there was no cover-up as to what actually happened? I don’t.
Here are a couple places to get started on this one:
http://www.chuckbaldwinlive.com/bomb.html
And:
http://www.chuckbaldwinlive.com/key.html
A D V E R T I S E M E N T

9/11 Twin Towers and Pentagon Attacks
There has been so much written on this subject, I will let readers fend for themselves as to personal research on the matter. Without wading too deeply into this discussion (and for the sake of column space), let me ask just one simple question. Pray tell, what took down Building 7? To this good hour, I have not heard one single plausible explanation proffered by any government or media representative that explains why Building 7 collapsed.
Do I believe that the government is purposefully keeping the American people in the dark as to what really happened on 9/11/01? You bet I do! Do I believe that there is a cover-up of crucial evidence related to 9/11 by both the federal government and the national news media? You bet I do!
Haiti Earthquake
Another event that the “official” version is just completely unbelievable to me is the earthquake in Haiti in January of last year. I will always believe that there was so much to this story that we were not being told. It didn’t “smell” right to me when it happened; it doesn’t “smell” right to me now. If you’re interested, try perusing through some of this information:
http://chuckbaldwinlive.com/home/?page_id=855
Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syrian Wars
Let me round out my personal list of conspiracies with all the wars America is waging in the Middle East. I believe virtually every reason George W. Bush gave the American people for attacking and invading Iraq was a premeditated, bald-faced lie! I believe the so-called “war on terror” (and the “war on drugs,” for that matter) that justifies endless wars abroad and endless surveillance at home is completely manufactured by those in government and business for personal economic and political interests.
In fact, if you really want to get sick to your stomach over what this so-called “war on terror” is accomplishing, take a look at this report:
http://tinyurl.com/3wzo9mn
So, nearly 50 years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, we now learn that First Lady Jackie Kennedy believed that there was a conspiracy to kill her husband and that Lyndon Johnson was neck-deep in it. I wonder what future generations will learn about many of these other “official” stories of the federal government that just didn’t add up?
And wouldn’t it be nice if the national news media were actually honest and interested in the truth and would do their jobs to inform the American people as to what is truly going on in their federal government? Of course, if they did, the American people would probably tar and feather the whole bunch and start all over! Hmm. Sounds kind of inviting, doesn’t it? I bet Jackie would agree.
P.S. If readers are still skeptical of how many “conspiracy theories” are, in reality, “conspiracy facts,” I urge you to read this enlightening column:
http://tinyurl.com/3swqcka

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14 Propaganda Techniques Fox "News" Uses to Brainwash Americans

14 Propaganda Techniques Fox “News” Uses to Brainwash Americans
Saturday 2 July 2011
by: Dr. Cynthia Boaz, Truthout | News Analysis

There is nothing more sacred to the maintenance of democracy than a free press. Access to comprehensive, accurate and quality information is essential to the manifestation of Socratic citizenship – the society characterized by a civically engaged, well-informed and socially invested populace. Thus, to the degree that access to quality information is willfully or unintentionally obstructed, democracy itself is degraded.

It is ironic that in the era of 24-hour cable news networks and “reality” programming, the news-to-fluff ratio and overall veracity of information has declined precipitously. Take the fact Americans now spend on average about 50 hours a week using various forms of media, while at the same time cultural literacy levels hover just above the gutter. Not only does mainstream media now tolerate gross misrepresentations of fact and history by public figures (highlighted most recently by Sarah Palin’s ludicrous depiction of Paul Revere’s ride), but many media actually legitimize these displays. Pause for a moment and ask yourself what it means that the world’s largest, most profitable and most popular news channel passes off as fact every whim, impulse and outrageously incompetent analysis of its so-called reporters. How did we get here? Take the enormous amount of misinformation that is taken for truth by Fox audiences: the belief that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and that he was in on 9/11, the belief that climate change isn’t real and/or man-made, the belief that Barack Obama is Muslim and wasn’t born in the United States, the insistence that all Arabs are Muslim and all Muslims are terrorists, the inexplicable perceptions that immigrants are both too lazy to work and are about to steal your job. All of these claims are demonstrably false, yet Fox News viewers will maintain their veracity with incredible zeal. Why? Is it simply that we have lost our respect for knowledge?

My curiosity about this question compelled me to sit down and document the most oft-used methods by which willful ignorance has been turned into dogma by Fox News and other propagandists disguised as media. The techniques I identify here also help to explain the simultaneously powerful identification the Fox media audience has with the network, as well as their ardent, reflexive defenses of it.

The good news is that the more conscious you are of these techniques, the less likely they are to work on you. The bad news is that those reading this article are probably the least in need in of it.

1. Panic Mongering. This goes one step beyond simple fear mongering. With panic mongering, there is never a break from the fear. The idea is to terrify and terrorize the audience during every waking moment. From Muslims to swine flu to recession to homosexuals to immigrants to the rapture itself, the belief over at Fox seems to be that if your fight-or-flight reflexes aren’t activated, you aren’t alive. This of course raises the question: why terrorize your own audience? Because it is the fastest way to bypasses the rational brain. In other words, when people are afraid, they don’t think rationally. And when they can’t think rationally, they’ll believe anything.

2. Character Assassination/Ad Hominem. Fox does not like to waste time debating the idea. Instead, they prefer a quicker route to dispensing with their opponents: go after the person’s credibility, motives, intelligence, character, or, if necessary, sanity. No category of character assassination is off the table and no offense is beneath them. Fox and like-minded media figures also use ad hominem attacks not just against individuals, but entire categories of people in an effort to discredit the ideas of every person who is seen to fall into that category, e.g. “liberals,” “hippies,” “progressives” etc. This form of argument – if it can be called that – leaves no room for genuine debate over ideas, so by definition, it is undemocratic. Not to mention just plain crass.

3. Projection/Flipping. This one is frustrating for the viewer who is trying to actually follow the argument. It involves taking whatever underhanded tactic you’re using and then accusing your opponent of doing it to you first. We see this frequently in the immigration discussion, where anti-racists are accused of racism, or in the climate change debate, where those who argue for human causes of the phenomenon are accused of not having science or facts on their side. It’s often called upon when the media host finds themselves on the ropes in the debate.

4. Rewriting History. This is another way of saying that propagandists make the facts fit their worldview. The Downing Street Memos on the Iraq war were a classic example of this on a massive scale, but it happens daily and over smaller issues as well. A recent case in point is Palin’s mangling of the Paul Revere ride, which Fox reporters have bent over backward to validate. Why lie about the historical facts, even when they can be demonstrated to be false? Well, because dogmatic minds actually find it easier to reject reality than to update their viewpoints. They will literally rewrite history if it serves their interests. And they’ll often speak with such authority that the casual viewer will be tempted to question what they knew as fact.

5. Scapegoating/Othering. This works best when people feel insecure or scared. It’s technically a form of both fear mongering and diversion, but it is so pervasive that it deserves its own category. The simple idea is that if you can find a group to blame for social or economic problems, you can then go on to a) justify violence/dehumanization of them, and b) subvert responsibility for any harm that may befall them as a result.

6. Conflating Violence With Power and Opposition to Violence With Weakness. This is more of what I’d call a “meta-frame” (a deeply held belief) than a media technique, but it is manifested in the ways news is reported constantly. For example, terms like “show of strength” are often used to describe acts of repression, such as those by the Iranian regime against the protesters in the summer of 2009. There are several concerning consequences of this form of conflation. First, it has the potential to make people feel falsely emboldened by shows of force – it can turn wars into sporting events. Secondly, especially in the context of American politics, displays of violence – whether manifested in war or debates about the Second Amendment – are seen as noble and (in an especially surreal irony) moral. Violence become synonymous with power, patriotism and piety.

7. Bullying. This is a favorite technique of several Fox commentators. That it continues to be employed demonstrates that it seems to have some efficacy. Bullying and yelling works best on people who come to the conversation with a lack of confidence, either in themselves or their grasp of the subject being discussed. The bully exploits this lack of confidence by berating the guest into submission or compliance. Often, less self-possessed people will feel shame and anxiety when being berated and the quickest way to end the immediate discomfort is to cede authority to the bully. The bully is then able to interpret that as a “win.”

8. Confusion. As with the preceding technique, this one works best on an audience that is less confident and self-possessed. The idea is to deliberately confuse the argument, but insist that the logic is airtight and imply that anyone who disagrees is either too dumb or too fanatical to follow along. Less independent minds will interpret the confusion technique as a form of sophisticated thinking, thereby giving the user’s claims veracity in the viewer’s mind.

9. Populism. This is especially popular in election years. The speakers identifies themselves as one of “the people” and the target of their ire as an enemy of the people. The opponent is always “elitist” or a “bureaucrat” or a “government insider” or some other category that is not the people. The idea is to make the opponent harder to relate to and harder to empathize with. It often goes hand in hand with scapegoating. A common logical fallacy with populism bias when used by the right is that accused “elitists” are almost always liberals – a category of political actors who, by definition, advocate for non-elite groups.

10. Invoking the Christian God. This is similar to othering and populism. With morality politics, the idea is to declare yourself and your allies as patriots, Christians and “real Americans” (those are inseparable categories in this line of thinking) and anyone who challenges them as not. Basically, God loves Fox and Republicans and America. And hates taxes and anyone who doesn’t love those other three things. Because the speaker has been benedicted by God to speak on behalf of all Americans, any challenge is perceived as immoral. It’s a cheap and easy technique used by all totalitarian entities from states to cults.

11. Saturation. There are three components to effective saturation: being repetitive, being ubiquitous and being consistent. The message must be repeated cover and over, it must be everywhere and it must be shared across commentators: e.g. “Saddam has WMD.” Veracity and hard data have no relationship to the efficacy of saturation. There is a psychological effect of being exposed to the same message over and over, regardless of whether it’s true or if it even makes sense, e.g., “Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States.” If something is said enough times, by enough people, many will come to accept it as truth. Another example is Fox’s own slogan of “Fair and Balanced.”

12. Disparaging Education. There is an emerging and disturbing lack of reverence for education and intellectualism in many mainstream media discourses. In fact, in some circles (e.g. Fox), higher education is often disparaged as elitist. Having a university credential is perceived by these folks as not a sign of credibility, but of a lack of it. In fact, among some commentators, evidence of intellectual prowess is treated snidely and as anti-American. The disdain for education and other evidence of being trained in critical thinking are direct threats to a hive-mind mentality, which is why they are so viscerally demeaned.

13. Guilt by Association. This is a favorite of Glenn Beck and Andrew Breitbart, both of whom have used it to decimate the careers and lives of many good people. Here’s how it works: if your cousin’s college roommate’s uncle’s ex-wife attended a dinner party back in 1984 with Gorbachev’s niece’s ex-boyfriend’s sister, then you, by extension are a communist set on destroying America. Period.

14. Diversion. This is where, when on the ropes, the media commentator suddenly takes the debate in a weird but predictable direction to avoid accountability. This is the point in the discussion where most Fox anchors start comparing the opponent to Saul Alinsky or invoking ACORN or Media Matters, in a desperate attempt to win through guilt by association. Or they’ll talk about wanting to focus on “moving forward,” as though by analyzing the current state of things or God forbid, how we got to this state of things, you have no regard for the future. Any attempt to bring the discussion back to the issue at hand will likely be called deflection, an ironic use of the technique of projection/flipping.

In debating some of these tactics with colleagues and friends, I have also noticed that the Fox viewership seems to be marked by a sort of collective personality disorder whereby the viewer feels almost as though they’ve been let into a secret society. Something about their affiliation with the network makes them feel privileged and this affinity is likely what drives the viewers to defend the network so vehemently. They seem to identify with it at a core level, because it tells them they are special and privy to something the rest of us don’t have. It’s akin to the loyalty one feels by being let into a private club or a gang. That effect is also likely to make the propaganda more powerful, because it goes mostly unquestioned.

In considering these tactics and their possible effects on American public discourse, it is important to note that historically, those who’ve genuinely accessed truth have never berated those who did not. You don’t get honored by history when you beat up your opponent: look at Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln. These men did not find the need to engage in othering, ad homeinum attacks, guilt by association or bullying. This is because when a person has accessed a truth, they are not threatened by the opposing views of others. This reality reveals the righteous indignation of people like Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity as a symptom of untruth. These individuals are hostile and angry precisely because they don’t feel confident in their own veracity. And in general, the more someone is losing their temper in a debate and the more intolerant they are of listening to others, the more you can be certain they do not know what they’re talking about.

One final observation. Fox audiences, birthers and Tea Partiers often defend their arguments by pointing to the fact that a lot of people share the same perceptions. This is a reasonable point to the extent that Murdoch’s News Corporation reaches a far larger audience than any other single media outlet. But, the fact that a lot of people believe something is not necessarily a sign that it’s true; it’s just a sign that it’s been effectively marketed.

As honest, fair and truly intellectual debate degrades before the eyes of the global media audience, the quality of American democracy degrades along with it.

DR. CYNTHIA BOAZ
Dr. Cynthia Boaz is assistant professor of political science at Sonoma State University, where her areas of expertise include quality of democracy, nonviolent struggle, civil resistance and political communication and media. She is also an affiliated scholar at the UNESCO Chair of Philosophy for Peace International Master in Peace, Conflict, and Development Studies at Universitat Jaume I in Castellon, Spain. Additionally, she is an analyst and consultant on nonviolent action, with special emphasis on the Iran and Burma cases. She is vice president of the Metta Center for Nonviolence and on the board of Project Censored and the Media Freedom Foundation. Dr. Boaz is also a contributing writer and adviser to Truthout.org and associate editor of Peace and Change Journal.

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Glenn Beck: “I Could Give A Flying Crap About The Political Process… We’re An Entertainment Company"

An interesting portrait of Glenn Beck in Forbes pulls back the curtain on Beck’s sincere, “I just want Americans to know what’s going on in Washington” broadcasting persona to reveal a multi-millionaire obsessively focused on bringing home more dough.
The article states:
Beck insists that he is not political: “I could give a flying crap about the political process.” Making money, on the other hand, is to be taken very seriously, and controversy is its own coinage. “We’re an entertainment company,” Beck says. He has managed to monetize virtually everything that comes out of his mouth. He gets $13 million a year from print (books plus the ten-issue-a-year magazine Fusion). Radio brings in $10 million. Digital (including a newsletter, the ad-supported Glennbeck.com and merchandise) pulls in $4 million. Speaking and events are good for $3 million and television for $2 million. Over several days in mid-March Beck allowed a reporter to follow him through his multimedia incarnations, with one exception, his 5 p.m. daily show on Fox News, which attracts just under 3 million viewers. (FORBES has a relationship with that channel via Forbes on Fox.)
Who could have guessed that the guy who loves his country so much he’d cry for it would prove that his biggest hope for America is that it will fork up more cash for his coffers?


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The Confederate Leviathan

The Confederate Leviathan
Ronald Bailey | September 18, 2009, 1:45pm
Last night I was dining with an acquaintance who hails from the North and who is an amateur historian specializing in the Grand Army of the Republic. My acquaintance is often asked to lecture on the GAR at Civil War meetings and reenactments. He claimed that most Civil War buffs are chiefly focused on Confederate armies and interest in Union armies is minimal.

We got to talking about the Confederate battle flag and what is symbolizes today. Some people wave it around as a symbol of states rights, which I take to refer to the rights and political powers that individual states possess in relation to the federal government. Supporters of the states rights doctrine aim to restrict the growing powers of the federal government and the often unstated implication is that states are better guarantors of individual rights than is the federal government.

As our discussion continued, my dinner companion asked, “Did you know that the Confedaracy introduced conscription well before the Union did?” I admitted that I did not know that. We kept talking about various violations of liberty–other than the horrific atrocity of slavery– pioneered by the Confederacy. For a quick summary, my companion directed my attention to the blog Civil War Memory run by local historian Kevin Levin. In a recent post, Levin asks,

… is the record of the Confederacy one of limited government and respect for individual rights?

The answer is, no. As evidence, Levin lists the following Confederate violations of liberty:

Conscription (before the United States)
Tax-In-Kind
Tariff (higher than the 10 to 15 percent rate proposed by Hamilton in his Report on Manufacturers (1791)
Confederate National Investment in Railroads (amounting to 2.5 million in loans, $150,000 advanced, and 1.12 million appropriated)
Confederate Quartermasters leveled price controls on private mills and were later authorized to impress whatever supplies they needed.
Government ownership of key industries
Government regulation of commerce
Suspension of habeas corpus (According to historian, Mark Neely, 4,108 civilians were held by military authorities)
So, to repeat Levin’s question to would-be defenders of states rights: Are you sure that you’re waving the right flag?

Addendum: Take a look at the 2004 Reason column “Wrong Song of the South: The dangerous fallacies of Confederate multiculturalism” by David Beito and Charles Nuckolls. They correctly conclude:

If the Confederate multiculturalists believe in liberty, as many of them assert, they will stop waving the Confederate Battle Flag, abandon the cause of a nation state that championed an unforgivable violation of inalienable rights, and embrace the rich American heritage of individualism.

Disclosure: I was born in Texas and grew up in the Appalachian mountains of Virginia


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The Liberal Majority and How To Win With It

The Liberal Majority and How To Win With It
By Ian Welsh Friday Sep 18, 2009 5:00pm One constant theme which needs dealing with is the idea that the country is more conservative than liberal and that centrists are needed to hold off horrible conservative things from happening.

More than that, this is an argument for oligarchy. What I see is that the majority of people, in poll after poll, want single payer. A huge majority want the public option, yet odds are decent you won’t even get that.

When people talk of left-center coalitions the center part include a large number of Senators (like Diane Feinstein) who won’t do what the majority of their constituents want them to do. At this point centrist = captured by monied interests.

Odds are if Obama wanted single payer, the House could pass it. It’d be close, but they could get it done. The House is the more representative body of the two bodies, the Senate is deliberately retrograde.

When I look at the US what I see is a banana republic, because it doesn’t act like a democracy. I see people who think that the Senate, or even the House, actually does what the American people want. Again and again, Congress does things that the majority disagree with. In 2006 the Dems were elected to end the war in Iraq, for example, and refused to do so (though again, the House at least went through the motion, the Senate didn’t even make an effort). Oh, Congress will sometimes do what the majority want—when that’s what it was going to do anyway.

The plan to fix this is simple enough and always has been.

Obama was a right wing democrat and this was clear early. This was clear even in the primaries and certainly into the election. Once he was chosen as the nominee the best idea was to not to work for him or give him money, because he could win or lose without netroots or progressive support (it was a drop in the bucket compared to what he was getting elsewhere and was not decisive for him), and to instead take that time and money and spend it on electing progressive members of Congress, where that amount of money and volunteers could be decisive.

People who hold progressive and liberal policy views are a much larger proportion of the population than the right wing crazies are, they are in fact a majority of the population, though you’d never know it from listening to the gnashing of teeth of some folks.

If the right wing crazies could capture the Republican party, liberals and progressives, who already make up the largest block in the House, and who massively outnumber Blue Dogs, can certainly do the same to the Democratic party.

If, of course, they stop telling themselves self-excusing lies about how the country doesn’t agree with them on basic issues like healthcare, when, in fact, the country does. Americans may not call themselves liberals, but when you look at their actual policy positions they are more liberal on most (not all, but most) issues than they are conservative. That’s a gap in self-perception it should be possible to jump.

It takes real work for the centrists and right wing to keep Liberals and Progressives down. Notice that almost all of Obama’s whipping is towards the left, towards progressives, not to the right. The right wing of the Democratic party is more or less doing what he wants (forget the rhetoric, again, look at who he and Rahm whip), it’s the left wing he’s scared of, because if they got their act together they could stop him from passing anything. The Blue Dogs in the House do not currently have a veto, the Progressives, if they want to use it, do. And that’s why they get the back side of Obama and Rahm’s hand so often.

The left is the most dangerous force in American politics today. The entire resources of the lobbying industry and of centrist Democratic interests are required to keep it in check, not just during legislative season, but during elections, when the DCCC and the DSCC do their very best to make sure that progressives don’t win primaries, and when they do, that they’re starved of resources.

So time to spine up. If you’re a left wing Democrat, you belong to the scariest force in American politics. The crazy right will have some good cycles yet to come, mainly due to Democratic establishment incompetence and preference for mushy middle candidates but demographics are against them. Don’t write Republicans off yet, but they are failing. You—the left—is the rising force, and everyone in the center and the right, is doing everything they can to keep you down.

Don’t let them, and don’t believe lies about how you’re some tiny minority whom the American people don’t agree with.


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What a Bunch of Whiny Sourpusses!

From The Huffington Post: May 23, 2009 01:04 AM

It has just gotten awful for the Republicans. Tear-shedding gut-wrenching heart-breaking sad.

The party of tough talk and unflappable belief in their version of America — the party willing to send others’ kids to war to prove how tough they are — has just become the most whiny, bitchy, sad little thing you’ve ever seen. Like one of those poodles with a red ribbon and a pedi-pedi and an owner who you just want to hand a sandwich to and beg her to eat, please eat. It’s gotten so bad that Republicans even gave up smashing beer cans against their foreheads to have tea parties for each other.

It’s all the fault of someone else. The group who insists we can do it alone and don’t need any help from anyone else and nobody better question us ’cause we know what we’re doing so you better not speak up or we’ll call you un-American anti-apple pie terrorists socialists godless wimps has, well, fallen victim …

… poor victims of the media who won’t treat them fair and balanced

… poor victims of dweeby little college professors and meek little school teachers who are bent on indoctrinating their kids

… poor victims of sad little dictators like Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, and Kim Jung Il who just won’t listen!

… poor victims of the Intertubes & the mean pajama-clad bloggers who won’t leave them alone

… poor victims of the American voters who threw ’em out of power

… poor victims of Nancy Pelosi & Rahm Emanuel & Arlen Specter who keep pullin’ the wool over their eyes
… poor victims of the mean old French who wouldn’t play with them in their Iraq sandbox

… poor victims of the unions who won’t let their executive friends take all the money and run
… poor victims of the gays who are ruining their god-blessed marriages

Geez.

Who wants to follow a Republican Party or conservative movement that sits in a corner, sucking its thumb, and whines about how the world is out to get them and they just can’t do anything about it!?

At least they’ve still got Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, and Newt Gingrich to show us how to be real men. (Or should I say moose-hunting Sarah Palin?)

Waaaah! Waaaah! Waaaah!

Waaaah!


Donnie Fowler
San Francisco


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Colbert Study: Conservatives Don’t Know He’s Joking

Colbert Study: Conservatives Don’t Know He’s Joking
By Jason Linkins @ Huffington Post 04/27/09

Last week, Stephen Colbert revisited a segment he had done on Florida Representative Bill Posey, who sponsored a bill that “would require future presidential candidates to provide a copy of their original birth certificate,” in order to put insane rumors of President Barack Obama’s birthplace to bed.

Colbert thought a similar measure should be taken to end the whisperings that Posey was a human-alligator hybrid. Posey, in response to Colbert, said, “I expected there would be some civil debate about it, but it wasn’t civil…There is no reason to say that I’m the illegitimate grandson of an alligator.” And one wondered, “Does Posey not realize that Colbert is not speaking in earnest? His reaction seems uniquely stupid!”

Stupid, yes. But apparently it’s not unique at all, according to a study from The Ohio State University, which proves, with math and stuff, that lots of conservatives seem to not understand the intrinsic, underlying joke of The Colbert Report:

This study investigated biased message processing of political satire in The Colbert Report and the influence of political ideology on perceptions of Stephen Colbert. Results indicate that political ideology influences biased processing of ambiguous political messages and source in late-night comedy. Using data from an experiment (N = 332), we found that individual-level political ideology significantly predicted perceptions of Colbert’s political ideology. Additionally, there was no significant difference between the groups in thinking Colbert was funny, but conservatives were more likely to report that Colbert only pretends to be joking and genuinely meant what he said while liberals were more likely to report that Colbert used satire and was not serious when offering political statements. Conservatism also significantly predicted perceptions that Colbert disliked liberalism. Finally, a post hoc analysis revealed that perceptions of Colbert’s political opinions fully mediated the relationship between political ideology and individual-level opinion.
I think a lot of conservatives are going to pissed when they realize that Stephen Colbert’s performance at the 2006 White House Correspondents’ Dinner was not, in fact, an awkward and ineffective attempt to praise President George W. Bush, but actually a bitter and satiric criticism of his incompetence!

PREVIOUSLY, on the HUFFINGTON POST:
Florida Congressman Continues To Stonewall On His Half-Alligator Genetic Heritage (VIDEO)
Anti-Gay Group Sends Letter To Colbert Thanking Him For Mocking Them

[Would you like to follow me on Twitter? Because why not?]


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Yes, National Review, We Did Execute Japanese for Waterboarding

Yes, National Review, We Did Execute Japanese for Waterboarding
By Paul Begala | Huffington Post

In a CNN debate with Ari Fleischer, I said the United States executed Japanese war criminals for waterboarding. My point was that it is disingenuous for Bush Republicans to argue that waterboarding is not torture and thus illegal. It’s kind of awkward to argue that waterboarding is not a crime when you hanged someone for doing it to our troops. My precise words were: “Our country executed Japanese soldiers who waterboarded American POWs. We executed them for the same crime we are now committing ourselves.”

Mr. Fleischer, ordinarily the most voluble of men, was tongue-tied. The silence, rare in cable debates, spoke volumes for the vacuity of his position.

Now Mark Hemingway of the National Review Online has asserted that I was wrong. I bookmark NRO and read it frequently. It’s smart and breezy — but on this one it got its facts wrong.

Mr. Hemingway assumed I was citing the case of Yukio Asano, who was convicted of waterboarding and other offenses and sentenced to 15 years hard labor — not death by hanging. Mr. Hemingway made the assumption that I was referring to the Asano case because in 2006 Sen. Edward Kennedy had referred to it. (Sen. Kennedy accurately described the sentence as hard labor and not execution, by the way.)

But I was not referring to Asano, nor was my source Sen. Kennedy. Instead I was referencing the statement of a different member of the Senate: John McCain. On November 29, 2007, Sen. McCain, while campaigning in St. Petersburg, Florida, said, “Following World War II war crime trials were convened. The Japanese were tried and convicted and hung for war crimes committed against American POWs. Among those charges for which they were convicted was waterboarding.”

Sen. McCain was right and the National Review Online is wrong. Politifact, the St. Petersburg Times’ truth-testing project (which this week was awarded a Pulitzer Prize), scrutinized Sen. McCain’s statement and found it to be true. Here’s the money quote from Politifact:

“McCain is referencing the Tokyo Trials, officially known as the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. After World War II, an international coalition convened to prosecute Japanese soldiers charged with torture. At the top of the list of techniques was water-based interrogation, known variously then as ‘water cure,’ ‘water torture’ and ‘waterboarding,’ according to the charging documents. It simulates drowning.” Politifact went on to report, “A number of the Japanese soldiers convicted by American judges were hanged, while others received lengthy prison sentences or time in labor camps.”

The folks at Politifact interviewed R. John Pritchard, the author of The Tokyo War Crimes Trial: The Complete Transcripts of the Proceedings of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. They also interviewed Yuma Totani, history professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, and consulted the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, which published a law review article entitled, “Drop by Drop: Forgetting the History of Water Torture in U.S. Courts.” Bottom line: Sen. McCain was right in 2007 and National Review Online is wrong today. America did execute Japanese war criminals for waterboarding.


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How Close the Bush Bullet


Published on Wednesday, March 4, 2009 by Consortium News
How Close the Bush Bullet
by Robert Parry

Earlier this decade when some of us warned that George W. Bush was behaving more like an incipient dictator than the leader of a constitutional republic, we were dismissed as alarmists, left-wingers, traitors and a host of less printable epithets.

But it is now increasingly clear that President Bush and his top advisers viewed the 9/11 attacks as an opportunity to implement a series of right-wing legal theories that secretly granted Bush unlimited power to act lawlessly and outside the traditional parameters of the U.S. Constitution.

These theories held that at a time of war – even one as vaguely defined as the “war on terror” – Bush’s powers as Commander in Chief were “plenary,” or total. And since the conflict against terrorism had no boundaries in time or space, his unfettered powers would exist everywhere and essentially forever.

According to his administration’s secret legal memos released Monday, Bush could waive all meaningful constitutional rights of citizens, including the First Amendment’s protections on free speech and a free press.

John Yoo, a deputy assistant attorney general at the Justice Department’s powerful Office of Legal Counsel – which advises a President on the limits of his constitutional powers – declared that Bush could void the First Amendment if he deemed it necessary to fight terrorism.

“First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully,” Yoo wrote in an Oct. 23, 2001, memo entitled “Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities Within the United States.”

Yoo then added ominously, “The current campaign against terrorism may require even broader exercises of federal power domestically.”

What was particularly stunning about Yoo’s reference to waiving the First Amendment – a pillar of American democracy – was his cavalier attitude. He tossed the paragraph into a memo focused on stripping Americans of their Fourth Amendment “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.”

While saying that Bush could order spying on and military attacks against U.S. domestic targets at his own discretion as Commander in Chief, Yoo added, almost in passing, that the President also could abrogate the rights of free speech and a free press.

Wiping Out Public Trials

Another Yoo memo, dated June 27, 2002, essentially voided the Sixth Amendment and a federal law guaranteeing Americans the right to public trials. In the memo, Yoo asserted that Bush had the power to declare American citizens “enemy combatants” and detain them indefinitely.

“The President’s power to detain enemy combatants, including U.S. citizens, is based on his constitutional authority as Commander in Chief,” Yoo wrote, adding that “Congress may no more regulate the President’s ability to detain enemy combatants than it may regulate his ability to direct troop movements on the battlefield.”

Yoo acknowledged that in “war on terror” cases, an “enemy combatant” may have no formal connection to an enemy group, may have no weapon, and may have no discernable plan for carrying out a terrorist attack. In other words, an “enemy combatant” could be anyone that Bush so designated.

Under Yoo’s analysis, an alleged “enemy combatant” would have no legal recourse, since Bush’s Commander in Chief powers trumped even habeas corpus requirements that the government must show cause for imprisoning someone. Further, this opinion wasn’t just hypothesizing; it provided the legal basis for indefinitely detaining U.S. citizen Jose Padilla.

Though the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately issued a narrow 5-4 decision overturning Bush’s supposed right to deny habeas corpus and punish “enemy combatants” through his own military court system, many of Yoo’s concepts survived in the Military Commissions Act, which was passed by the Republican-controlled Congress in 2006.

While the law appears on the surface to target only non-citizens, fine print deep in the legislation makes clear that the Bush administration still was asserting its power to detain U.S. citizens who were viewed as aiding and abetting foreign enemies and to punish those citizens through military commissions that denied normal due-process rights to defendants.

“Any person is punishable as a principal under this chapter who commits an offense punishable by this chapter, or aids, abets, counsels, commands, or procures its commission,” the law states, adding that “any person subject to this chapter who, in breach of an allegiance or duty to the United States, knowingly and intentionally aids an enemy of the United States … shall be punished as a military commission … may direct.”

The reference to people acting “in breach of an allegiance or duty to the United States” would not apply to Osama bin Laden or al-Qaeda but would cover American citizens.

The Military Commissions Act remains in effect to this day, although President Barack Obama has vowed not to apply it, favoring use of regular civilian or military courts.

Loss of First Amendment

Though some of us have cited Bush’s determination to override key constitutional protections for years (see, for instance, our book Neck Deep), few critics – including me – thought to include the notion that Bush was interested in suspending the First Amendment.

The significance of Yoo’s throwaway paragraph about throwing away the First Amendment is that it suggests that the Bush administration intended as early as October 2001 to act against journalists and citizens who were viewed as undermining Bush’s “war on terror” through public comments or disclosures.

As a right-wing legal scholar, Yoo surely shared the Right’s knee-jerk animosity toward past reporting on the Watergate scandal and the Vietnam War’s Pentagon Papers, as well as contempt for Americans who demonstrated against the Vietnam War.

But his First Amendment reference also may have reflected the thinking of senior Bush aides in those early days of the “war on terror” as they collaborated with Yoo in formulating his legal opinions.

In his 2006 book War by Other Means, Yoo describes his participation in frequent White House meetings regarding what “other means” should receive a legal stamp of approval. Yoo said the “meetings were usually chaired by Alberto Gonzales,” then White House counsel, and involved Vice President Dick Cheney’s legal counsel, David Addington.

So, a seemingly incongruous reference to overriding the First Amendment – in a memo centered on overriding the Fourth Amendment – could be explained by the desire of White House officials to have some legal cover for actions aimed at journalists who were exposing secrets or whose reporting might weaken the national resolve behind Bush’s actions.

It also suggests that Bush’s critics who exercised their free speech rights in challenging his “war on terror” could have become targets of special government operations justified under Bush’s Commander in Chief powers.

In other words, Bush’s assault on America’s constitutional Republic may have been more aggressive than many of us imagined. It was a bullet that came close to the heart of a dream dating back to 1776.

© 2009 Consortium News
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat. His two previous books are Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’.


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