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March 17, 2005


Just brilliant.

A small taste:

The Left has taken over academe. We want it back.

Mike Rosen, Rocky Mountain News columnist
CU is Worth Fighting For
March 4, 2005

In this great Cultural Revolution, the phenomenon of our schools being dominated by bourgeois intellectuals must be completely changed.

Central Committee of the
Communist Party of China
Resolutions of the Eleventh Plenum
August 1966


I have undertaken the task of organizing conservative students myself and urging them to protest a situation that has become intolerable.

David Horowitz
The Campus Blacklist
April 18, 2003

Students on University campuses were organized into groups of “Red Guards” and were given the chance to challenge those in authority. Students quickly turned their attacks on their closest adversaries, their teachers and university administrators.

Therese Hoffman
The Chinese Cultural Revolution:
Autobiographical Accounts of a National Trauma


Thomas Jefferson knew "a little rebellion now and then is a good thing" for America; David Horowitz knows it also is good for college campuses.

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
The Last Days of Intellectual Oppression
February 23, 2005

Mao came forward with the new slogan: “Rebellion is justified,” which encouraged [students] to assault officials and institutions indiscriminately.”

Stanley Karnow
Mao and China

Tick tock

New in the shop.

Why oh why...

...do these tenured radical professors hate American values?

I ask you.

Fight fake news

From the Washington Post:

WHAT DOES Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show" have in common with the Bush administration? They're both unabashed about putting out fake news. The Bush administration's version consists of video news releases -- government-produced, government-funded spots packaged to look and sound like regular television reports, complete with fake news reporters signing off from Washington. These are intended to be, and often are, aired by local television stations without any indication that the government is behind them. The Government Accountability Office found this kind of phony news to be impermissible "covert propaganda." It warned the government last month that such prepackaged news stories must be accompanied by a "clear disclosure to the television viewing audience" of the government's involvement. The Bush administration is now instructing its officials to ignore the GAO -- which is where (in addition to the question of comedic content) the administration and Mr. Stewart diverge. He wants you to know his news is phony.

Although this administration apparently isn't the first to use video news releases, it seems more enamored of them than its predecessors. For example: A spot commissioned by the Transportation Security Administration lauds "another success" in the Bush administration's "drive to strengthen aviation security," which the "reporter" describes as "one of the most remarkable campaigns in aviation history."

It's humiliating that local news stations, however short-staffed and desperate for footage, would allow themselves to be used this way. Indeed, as the New York Times reported Sunday, some have even lopped off government attribution when it was included or pretended the government reporter was one of their own. Even so, it's disingenuous for administration officials to blame the stations, given that many releases are crafted precisely to disguise their government origin.

So, what can you do? Glad you asked:

The Center for Media and Democracy is working with Free Press to gather a quarter million signatures on our petition mobilizing the American public to fight fake news and government propaganda. On Sunday, the New York Times reported that at least 20 federal agencies have made and distributed pre-packaged, ready-to-serve television news segments to promote President Bush's policies and initiatives. Congress' Government Accountability Office determined that these "video news releases" were illegal "covert propaganda" and told federal agencies to stop. But last Friday, the White House ordered all agencies to disregard Congress' directive. The Bush administration is using hundreds of millions of your tax dollars to manipulate public opinion. Here's how to stop them.

More here. Petition here.

What the hell

I got pissed off and pulled the link to my wish list a couple of weeks ago after Amazon was appallingly unhelpful in resolving a mixup (a reader accidentally sent the purchased items to herself, rather than to my address). But you know the old saw about cutting off your nose to spite your face. So, I've calmed down, and it's back. (Just read this first.) What the hell--I've got a birthday coming up. (And how it is possible that I am about to turn 44 is an utter mystery to me--but then, I've found that every birthday for the past ten years or so has left me with a similar feeling of bafflement).


March 16, 2005

Why do the American people hate America?

(That little riff just never gets old, does it?)

The ever-shifting rationale for the war usually goes something like this: Why can't liberals admit that X completely and utterly justifies the cost of this war in lives and resources with absolutely no room for ambiguity?...with "X"=the latest hint of vaguely positive news, i.e., big statue pulled down, elections held without too many people being killed, etc.

Well, it looks like the American public takes a much more nuanced view of these things than the average warblugger.

Two years after President Bush led the country to war in Iraq, Americans appear to be of two minds about the situation in the Middle East: A majority say they believe the Iraqis are better off today than they were before the conflict began -- but they also say the war was not worth fighting in the first place, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The January elections in Iraq have helped to shift public opinion in a positive direction about the future of Iraq and the rest of the Middle East, with a clear majority of Americans (56 percent) saying they are now confident that Iraqi leaders can create a stable government -- a dramatic turnaround since just before the elections.

Despite the optimism about the future, the poll suggests there has been little change in the negative public opinion about the decision to go to war. Fifty-three percent of Americans said the war was not worth fighting, 57 percent said they disapprove of the president's handling of Iraq, and 70 percent said the number of U.S. casualties, including more than 1,500 deaths, is an unacceptable price.

* * *

Along with judgments about the war in Iraq, the poll found little appetite for military action against other states Bush has targeted for criticism, including Iran and North Korea. But with Iraq moving toward greater self-governance, Bush does not appear to be under great pressure to remove U.S. forces immediately -- despite criticism of how he has handled the situation there.

* * *

Foreign policy experts said they found the seemingly conflicting views about the past and the future consistent with long-standing attitudes about the use of U.S. military force. For starters, Americans rank promoting democracy abroad at or near the bottom of acceptable reasons for using military force.

"People just think this is not our mission, that we should not be the democracy policemen," said James B. Steinberg, vice president and director of foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution. "Even though they think they [the Iraqis] are better off, they're leery about the U.S. going out and doing these things."

Of course, there's still plenty here to make your head hurt:

In the new poll, 56 percent said they think Iraq had weapons of mass destruction before the start of the war and 6 in 10 said they believe Iraq provided direct support to the al Qaeda terrorist network, which struck the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. Also, 55 percent of Americans said the administration told people what it believed to be true, while 43 percent believe the administration deliberately misled the country.


Retrospective judgments of Bush's decision making are far more negative that they were two years ago as events were unfolding. For the first time in a Post-ABC poll, a majority (51 percent) called the war in Iraq a mistake. On the day Baghdad fell in April 2003, just 16 percent called the war a mistake and 81 percent said it was the right thing to do.

A plurality of Americans said the war has damaged this country's standing around the world, with 41 percent saying the U.S. position is weaker, 28 percent saying it is stronger and the rest saying it has made no difference. Two years ago, 52 percent said the war had made the U.S. position stronger, vs. 12 percent who said it was weaker.

Full story.

More wacky fraternity hijinx

Isn't that how Rush Limbaugh described Abu Ghraib?

At least 26 prisoners have died in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002 in what Army and Navy investigators have concluded or suspect were acts of criminal homicide, according to military officials.

The number of confirmed or suspected cases is much higher than any accounting the military has previously reported. A Pentagon report sent to Congress last week cited only six prisoner deaths caused by abuse, but that partial tally was limited to what the author, Vice Adm. Albert T. Church III of the Navy, called "closed, substantiated abuse cases" as of last September.

The new figure of 26 was provided by the Army and Navy this week after repeated inquiries. In 18 cases reviewed by the Army and Navy, investigators have now closed their inquiries and have recommended them for prosecution or referred them to other agencies for action, Army and Navy officials said. Eight cases are still under investigation but are listed by the Army as confirmed or suspected criminal homicides, the officials said.

Only one of the deaths occurred at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, officials said, showing how broadly the most violent abuses extended beyond those prison walls and contradicting early impressions that the wrongdoing was confined to a handful of members of the military police on the prison's night shift.

* * *

At least eight Army soldiers have now been convicted of crimes in the deaths of prisoners in American custody, including a lieutenant who pleaded guilty at Fort Hood, Tex., this month to charges that included aggravated assault and battery, obstruction of justice and dereliction of duty. A charge of involuntary manslaughter in that case was dropped.

An additional 13 Army soldiers are now being tried, according to Army officials. They include Pfc. Willie V. Brand, who is facing a hearing at Fort Bliss, Tex., next week on charges of manslaughter and maiming in the deaths of two prisoners at Bagram Control Point in Afghanistan in December 2002.



March 15, 2005

But of course
The Bush administration, rejecting an opinion from the Government Accountability Office, said last week that it is legal for federal agencies to feed TV stations prepackaged news stories that do not disclose the government's role in producing them.

That message, in memos sent Friday to federal agency heads and general counsels, contradicts a Feb. 17 memo from Comptroller General David M. Walker. Walker wrote that such stories -- designed to resemble independently reported broadcast news stories so that TV stations can run them without editing -- violate provisions in annual appropriations laws that ban covert propaganda.

* * *

The legal counsel's office "does not agree with GAO that the covert propaganda prohibition applies simply because an agency's role in producing and disseminating information is undisclosed or 'covert,' regardless of whether the content of the message is 'propaganda,' " Bradbury wrote. "Our view is that the prohibition does not apply where there is no advocacy of a particular viewpoint, and therefore it does not apply to the legitimate provision of information concerning the programs administered by an agency."

Story. (Washington Post--registration required.)

Another elitist Republican
(A)ccording to the subscription-only Congress Daily, during a congressional hearing on child care funding in connection with the endless effort to reauthorize the 1996 welfare reform law, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) said this: "The issue of child care is a Washington-based issue. It is not an issue out in the states."

Tell it to working Americans, Senator.

(From New Donkey, via Frank Lynch.)


March 14, 2005


Zachary Roth, who reported on the "Karen Ryan" video news releases, emails to explain how it works:

Here's what happens: a government agency (say, HHS) decides it wants to promote the Medicare drug legislation or whatever. It hires a PR company to handle all aspects of this, including making a VNR. That PR company (I think it was Ketchum, in the case of the Medicare legislation) hires another company (Karen Ryan's company) to make the thing. Then it hires another company (often a company called Medialink) to distribute the VNR. That company distributes the VNR by paying for transmission time on various satellite news feeds, run by CNN, Fox, CBS, AP or whoever. Local stations also pay the owners of the news feeds to gain access to the stories.

So CNN, for instance, is getting paid both by the local stations who take the stories, and by the company distributing the VNR (say, Medialink). That company is getting paid by the PR company, and the Pr company is getting paid by HHS. So if you connect it all up, you could say that the government is paying the media outlets. But there are enough steps in the chain that HHS can appear to have clean hands. It's laundering, basically.

After I exposed CNN's role in the Karen Ryan business, they changed their procedure to ensure that they send out VNR material to local stations on a separate feed, rather than mixing it in with their legitimate CNN-produced news stories, as they had previously done. I have no idea whether they've kept to this.

From the mailbag
Thanks for the link to the NYT atricle on the Bush administration's propaganda machine.

One sentence caught my eye:

"The major networks, which help distribute the releases, collect fees from the government agencies that produce segments and the affiliates that show them."

Can this really be true? Are major networks receiving payments from the government for running gov't propaganda? This makes the Armstrong Williams case look like small potatoes.

I read the article through to the end, but found no further mention of these payments. Maybe you and other liberal bloggers can pick up where the Times left off.

There really are a lot of unanswered questions here. Primary among them being, what are these news outlets thinking? I know that corporate puff pieces posing as news segments have been picked up by cash-strapped stations for years as an easy way to fill out the time--I'd guess by news managers who think, hey, what's the harm in a fun little piece this wacky new trend and/or product? Don't get me wrong, I find that hugely objectionable--I'm pretty sure I remember doing a cartoon or two about it at some point during the nineties--but running government propaganda disguised as news takes it to an entirely different level of deceit. And if the networks really are complicit in this--and kudos to the sharp-eyed reader who caught the reference above--that's a hell of a lot worse than Dan Rather getting scammed by someone cough cough Karl Rove cough cough on that memogate silliness.

Somebody at some level in the broadcast news industry owes us an explanation. Because the government can churn these things out until they're blue in the face, but if newscasters don't run them, then they are relegated to the status of trees falling in an empty forest.


March 13, 2005

That good old liberal media
Under the Bush administration, the federal government has aggressively used a well-established tool of public relations: the prepackaged, ready-to-serve news report that major corporations have long distributed to TV stations to pitch everything from headache remedies to auto insurance. In all, at least 20 federal agencies, including the Defense Department and the Census Bureau, have made and distributed hundreds of television news segments in the past four years, records and interviews show. Many were subsequently broadcast on local stations across the country without any acknowledgement of the government's role in their production.

Much more.


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