War with IranThe al-Qods Brigade is active in arming, training and funding militant movements, such as Lebanon's Hezbollah, throughout the Middle East. The US troops disarm Iranian guards and break open the consulate's gates to seize documents and computers as well as officials. The raid on the consulate follows a powerfully belligerent statement from Bush in his speech of the night before, where he accuses Iran and Syria of aiding terrorists and insurgents in and out of Iraq, and promises that the US will "seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies." Irbil is the Kurdistan Regional Government's seat in Iraq's northern autonomous Kurdish area. Iran has protested the raid and detentions with a letter to Iraq's foreign ministry, calling on the Iraqi government to secure the release of the detainees. Like the two Iranian military officials briefly detained by US forces in December 2006, it is believed that the Iranians currently under detention have diplomatic status, making it difficult for the US to justify their detention under the accepted rule of international law. Iran's foreign ministry summons Iraqi and Swiss diplomats to protest and demand an explanation; Switzerland represents US interests in Iran. tehran contends that the five men detained are all diplomats, an assertion that Iraq's foreign minister and US officials reject. Russia's foreign ministy labels the raid "absolutely unacceptable" and "the crudest possible violation of the Vienna convention on consular relations." The statement from the ministry refers to the raid as being directed against "the Iranian consulate general" and describes five Iranians arrested as "diplomats."
War with IranIf this is true, Bush has started a "new secret, informal war against Syria and Iran" without Congressional authorization or even any acknowledgements for the American citizenry. In last night's speech, Bush said, "Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity and stabilizing the region in the face of extremist challenges. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We'll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq. We're also taking other steps to bolster the security of Iraq and protect American interests in the Middle East. I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region. We will expand intelligence-sharing and deploy Patriot air defense systems to reassure our friends and allies. We will work with the governments of Turkey and Iraq to help them resolve problems along their border. And we will work with others to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating the region." The bare outlines of his apparent military aggression against these two countries can be gleaned from these lines.
"My concern is we're gonna see a ginning up situation whereby we fall in hot pursuit any effort by the Iranians to interfere with Iraq. We take a couple shots at them, they react, then we bomb the hell out of them and hit their nuclear installations without any without any action by Congress. That's the scenario I fear, an extra-constitutional war is what I'm worried about." -- MSNBC's Chris Matthews, to White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, January 11
Media manipulation and marketing by GOPAfter his appearance at Fort Benning (see January 11 item), Bush will appear on CBS's 60 Minutes, which airs immediately after an NFL playoff game. Dick Cheney will appear before sympathetic "interviewer" Chris Wallace on Fox News. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice leaves today on a week-long trip to the Middle East and Europe to brief US allies on the plan. White House spokesman Tony Snow has already begun granting interviews to right-wing radio and television hosts. Snow says the PR blitz will continue throughout the following weeks. He says the strategy is aimed at several distinct audiences, including Congress, servicemembers, Iraqis and other Middle Eastern countries, as well as the American public. White House communications director Kevin Sullivan adds, "This is something the president will do on an ongoing basis. We'll do it in a lot of different ways." It is entirely typical of this administration to approach an unpopular, unfeasible plan with nothing more than a "new and improved" marketing strategy. (USA Today)
Iraq war and occupation(See the January 10 item on Bush's speech to see more information and quotes from the briefings.) "Why should we give you the benefit of the doubt this time, when it appears so evident that so many mistakes have been made in the past?" House Democrat Robert Wexler asks Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Gates, appearing before the House Armed Services Committee, refuses to discuss an exit strategy for US troops to begin departing Iraq, saying, "At the outset of the strategy, it's a mistake to talk about an exit strategy."
Iraq war and occupationThe soldiers regard Bush in stony silence for most of his speech, though, as ordered, they give him a standing ovation when he finishes. Bush tells the troops that in Iraq there has been "remarkable progress," but "2006 turned out differently than I anticipated. And it did because there's an enemy there that recognizes that the advance of freedom is in contrast to their hopes and their dreams. The situation in Iraq is difficult, no question about it." To ensure that Bush would not hear any dissent, base commander Major General Walter Wojdakowski prohibits the 300 soldiers who had lunch with Bush from talking with reporters. If any of them harbored doubts about heading back to Iraq, many for the third time, they were kept silent or not allowed to meet with Bush. White House officials had promised reporters they could talk with soldiers, but Wojdakowski wasn't cooperative. "The commanding general said he does not want media talking to soldiers today," spokeswoman Tracy Bailey says. "He wants the focus to be on the president's speech."
Bush's economic policies"[B]alancing the budget in 2040 could require actions as large as cutting total federal spending by 60 percent or raising federal taxes to 2 times today's level," says Walker. He says that decision-makers in Washington suffer from "tunnel vision" and "myopia." Walker tells the committee, "Continuing on our current fiscal path would gradually erode, if not suddenly damage, our economy, our standard of living, and ultimately even our domestic tranquility and our national security." Walker heads the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the independent, nonpartisan watchdog of Congress that evaluates the spending of American tax dollars and advises Congress on improving government programs. While he acknowledges the single-year fiscal improvement touted by the Bush administration for 2006, he says that "it did not fundamentally change our long-term fiscal outlook." He also notes that since 2000, America's net social insurance commitments and other fiscal obligations have increased to $50 trillion from $20 trillion, representing four times the nation's total economic output. Rising national health care costs are the greatest culprit according to data collected by Walker's agency. During the course of the hearing, senators also asked Walker about the cost estimates presented by Bush for sending 21,500 more troops to Iraq this year. Walker believes that the amount of money planned to be spent on the troop escalation was much more than needed for the number of troops involved. "I have some serious concerns about the numbers.... It is unclear what much of the $5.6 billion is to be spent on," he says. (Raw Story [link to full statement], Crooks and Liars)
Medical research and fundingThe bill, though passing by a 253-174 margin, lacks the two-thirds margin required to defeat a Bush veto. A two-thirds majority is 290 votes. Bush says he will veto this bill as well, and a White House spokesman derides the bill, saying it would "would use federal taxpayer dollars to support and encourage the destruction of human life for research." Stem cell research such as that funded by this bill involves the destruction of frozen human embryos, a technique that anti-abortion forces characterize as murder. Proponents of the research said it is done on embryos that would otherwise be discarded from fertility clinics anyway. House Minority Leader John Boehner says, "I support stem cell research with only one exception -- research that requires killing human life. Taxpayer-funded stem cell research must be carried out in an ethical manner in a way that respects the sanctity of human life. Fortunately, ethical stem cell alternatives continue to flourish in the scientific community." Boehner's attempt to split the difference is specious; as of now, there is no valid scientific method to conduct research on stem cells without destroying frozen embryos. Democratic representative James Langevin, an anti-abortion lawmaker who is paralyzed from the chest down from a handgun accident that occurred when he was a teenager, counters that such research offers "tremendous hope that not only stem cell research might lead one day to a cure for spinal cord injuries but one day a child with diabetes will no longer have to endure a lifetime of painful shots and tests."
Iraq war and occupationMurtha writes, "Attacks increased and a record number of Americans and Iraqis were killed. I see no difference between this and the President's plan to 'stay the course.'" Murtha continues, "I am particularly disappointed that there are no credible benchmarks and no way to measure the military and economic progress of this operation. There is no incentive for the Iraqis to take over. All of us want stability in the Middle East, and Iraq is an important element in achieving that stability. But the military and their families deserve an achievable mission. It is unacceptable to me that we are sending troops back to Iraq who have not completed their training cycle and that we are extending troops who are battle-weary from the intensive combat in Iraq. A year ago, I called for a redeployment of our forces and predicted that this 'stay the course' policy would adversely affect our military readiness. The Defense Subcommittee will begin holding extensive hearings on January 17th to determine how we can best restore the readiness and strategic reserve of our military." (Huffington Post)
War with IranHe opens with the following salvo: "Only this president, only in this time, only with this dangerous, even messianic certitude, could answer a country demanding an exit strategy from Iraq, by offering an entrance strategy for Iran. Only this president could look out over a vista of 3,008 dead and 22,834 wounded in Iraq, and finally say, 'Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me' -- only to follow that by proposing to repeat the identical mistake...in Iran." He warns that Bush is taking the recommendations, by the Iraq Study Group and others, for opening diplomatic dialogues with Iran and Syria and transforming into threats against those countries, "when al-Qaeda would like nothing better than for us to threaten Syria, and when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would like nothing better than to be threatened by us. This is diplomacy by skimming; it is internationalism by drawing pictures of Superman in the margins of the text books; it is a presidency of Cliff Notes. ...Mr. Bush, the question is no longer 'what are you thinking?,' but rather 'are you thinking at all?'"
Iraq war and occupationCole writes, "The answer to 'al-Qaeda's' occupation of neighborhoods in Baghdad and the cities of al-Anbar is then, Bush says, to send in more US troops to 'clear and hold' these neighborhoods. But is that really the big problem in Iraq? Bush is thinking in terms of a conventional war, where armies fight to hold territory. But if a nimble guerrilla group can come out at night and set off a bomb at the base of a large tenement building in a Shi'ite neighborhood, they can keep the sectarian civil war going. They work by provoking reprisals. They like to hold territory if they can. But as we saw with Fallujah and Tal Afar, if they cannot they just scatter and blow things up elsewhere."
Iraq war and occupationRidgeway quotes historian Gareth Porter, who points out that "although he knows very little about how to deal with Sunnis and Shi'ites, Kissinger does know how to convey to the public the illusion of victory, even though the US position in the war is actually weak and unstable." In a January 11 article on Asia Online, Porter writes, "One of Kissinger's accomplishments was to sell the news media on the Nixon administration's propaganda line that the Christmas 1972 bombing of Hanoi had so unnerved the North Vietnamese that it had allowed president Richard Nixon and Kissinger to achieve a diplomatic victory over the communists in the Paris Agreement. That line was a gross distortion of what actually happened before and after the bombing." Kissinger was also the one who helped the Ford administration blame the Vietnam debacle on the Democrats. Is it possible that Kissinger is helping Bush run a similar ploy this time? If so, Bush is throwing in the US's lot with the Shi'ite death squads to eradicate their Sunni counterparts. "So is the Bush administration simply throwing in its lot with one set of death squads over another?" Ridgeway asks. "It wouldn't be the first time." (Mother Jones)
Partisan Bush appointeesNovak writes, "Just what career diplomat Negroponte was doing as the new intelligence czar in the first place was puzzling. But to pull him out just as his on-the-job training as director had been completed reflects a panicky desire to fill the deputy secretary's post that had been unfilled for an unprecedented six months. Five other key State Department positions are either vacant or soon to be vacant." The reason why, Novak writes, is that, according to Congressional Republicans, "the State Department under Secretary Condoleezza Rice is a mess. That comes at a time when the US global position is precarious. While attention focuses on Iraq, American diplomacy is being tested worldwide -- in Afghanistan, Iran, Israel, Korea and Sudan. The judgment by thoughtful Republicans is that Rice has failed to manage that endeavor." According to these Republicans, Rice, whose experience is primarily as an analyst and staffer, not a manager, has not had the kind of strong, dominant deputy she needs to help her run the department. In recent months, she has relied on help from department "counselor" Philip Zelikow, who Novak says alienated many in the department due to his arrogance. After putative deputy Robert Zoellick left 18 months ago, a "furtive, sporadic search for a deputy" began, with little success until "Negroponte...was implored by fellow Foreign Service officers to bring order out of chaos." (Chicago Sun-Times)
Iraq war and occupationThe strategy is to deflect the incoming Democrats' argument for winding down the war by offering the opposite. And look what we are all discussing. This places 'stay the course' as the reasonable middle ground. It is always about appearances and political strategies not reality or the good of the country with this crowd." Johnson gives a few telling examples: "Bush has not asked for tax increases to pay for the war, either. Because it would undermine political support for the party. Instead he offered candy -- tax cuts. ...Bush and his surrogates say we are fighting 'Islamofascism' and it is the worst threat America has ever faced -- and then says 'go shopping.' Fight the worst threat the nation has ever faced by going shopping? Because any kind of sacrifice would undermine support for the Republican Party. Meanwhile fear changes the way people think, and leads much of the population to more easily accept the authoritarian agenda of the right. ...In the face of the worst threat the nation has ever faced, and declining readiness of our military -- 'stretched too thin' -- Bush does not ask for a draft to protect the country. Because that would be politically unpopular and undermine support for the Republican Party. No draft to protect the country. No taxes to pay for the war. No lowering of oil use to cut finding to terrorist states. Nothing that might undermine support for the Republican Party. Party over country at every turn." (OpEd News)
US actions in Latin AmericaPosada Carriles is charged with making false statements on an application for becoming a naturalized citizen and making false statements under oath during a 2006 interview with Department of Homeland Security officials. Posada Carriles illegally entered the US in 2005 and asked for political asylum. He is suspected of plotting a bombing attack that killed 73 people aboard a Cuban airliner in 1976, an attack believed to have been plotted in Venezuela. A US judge ruled in 2005 that he could not be extradited to either Cuba or Venezuela for fear that he might be tortured. For the last decade, Posada Carriles has been attempting to dodge a trail of charges across Latin America, stemming from his involvement with the CIA's attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro in the 1960s. He was convicted in Panama of trying to assassinate Castro during an international summit in 2000, but was shortly thereafter pardoned by the Panamanian government. He has been in hiding since then, until he demanded asylum in the US. He admits to carrying out attacks on tourist facilities in Cuba in 1997 that left at least one person dead, but denies any involvement in the 1976 plane bombing. However, recently declassified FBI and CIA documents show Posada Corriles as the "employer" of two others believed to have carried out the actual bombing. (DPA/Raw Story)
Bush's foreign policies (etc.)The Doomsday Clock is a widely recognized indicator of the world's vulnerability to nuclear weapons and other threats. The move was announced today by the Board of Directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. It reflects growing concerns about what the board calls a "Second Nuclear Age" marked by grave threats, including nuclear ambitions in Iran and North Korea, unsecured nuclear materials in Russia and elsewhere, and the continuing "launch-ready" status of 2,000 of the 25,000 nuclear weapons held by the US and Russia. The board also cites "escalating terrorism, and new pressure from climate change for expanded civilian nuclear power that could increase proliferation risks." Since 1947, the Doomsday Clock has been a feature of the Bulletin at its headquarters at the University of Chicago. It uses the analogy of the human race being at a time that is a "few minutes to midnight" where midnight represents destruction by nuclear war. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was founded in 1945 by University of Chicago scientists who had worked on the Manhattan Project and were deeply concerned about the use of nuclear weapons and nuclear war. The magazine is published six times per year.
Iraq war and occupationAdditionally, al-Sadr has been actively recruiting hundreds of residents of Sadr City to supplement the 8,000 to 10,000 militiamen already believed to make up the Mahdi Army in Baghdad. Bahaa al-Araji, one of al-Sadr's representatives in the Iraqi parliament, says that al-Sadr has ordered his Mahdi Army not to attack US forces even if targeted. But those orders may be swiftly countermanded if US and Iraqi forces actually begin combing Sadr City to capture or kill Shi'ite militia members. Outgoing director of national intelligence John Negroponte told Congress yesterday, "One has to wonder why it is they [Iran] have increased their supply of these kinds of lethal weapons to extremists Shi'a groups in Iraq, provoking violence, attacks on coalition forces and others. And one wonders if their policy towards Iraq may not have shifted to a more aggressive posture than it has been in the past." (ABC News)
Iraq war and occupationBush told the soldiers on January 11, "The [Iraqi] Prime Minister came and said, look, I understand we've got to do something about this violence, and here is what I suggest we do. Our commanders looked at it, helped fine-tune it so it would work.... The commanders on the ground in Iraq, people who I listen to -- by the way, that's what you want your Commander-in-Chief to do. You don't want decisions being made based upon politics, or focus groups, or political polls. You want your military decisions being made by military experts. And they analyzed the plan and they said to me, and to the Iraqi government, this won't work unless we help them. There needs to be a bigger presence.... And so our commanders looked at the plan and said, Mr. President, it's not going to work until -- unless we support -- provide more troops. And so last night I told the country that I've committed an additional -- a little over 20,000 more troops, five brigades of which will be in Baghdad." Froomkin, still dodging the term "liar," calls Bush's tale "revisionist history" and says Bush lacks "believability."
Medicare and Medicaid cuts; health careDemocrats say senior citizens are too often saddled with horrendous prices for needed pharmaceuticals; Bush, the recipient of millions of dollars from drug companies in campaign donations and corporate gifts, says the system works fine as it is and the Democrats merely want another level of government intrusion into private business. The legislation passes with a strong, but not veto-proof, 255-170 vote tally. The Senate will take up the legislation in the days and weeks to come. The House drug legislation directs the secretary of Health and Human Services to bargain directly with drug companies, altering a fundamental provision of the 2003 law that created the Medicare drug benefit for seniors. That law, crafted by Republican House leaders and the White House, specifically left government out of the pricing decisions and placed the negotiations over cost in the hands of drug companies and the private insurers that sponsor the Medicare plans. "This legislation is simple and common sense," says Democrat John Dingell; "It will deliver lower prices to seniors, lower prices at the pharmacy and savings for all taxpayers." "Let us not solely entrust the negotiations of drug prices to the very companies who profit from the sales of these drugs," says Republican House member Jo Ann Emerson, one of 24 Republicans to vote for the new legislation. Not a single Democrat voted against the bill and all 170 no votes were cast by Republicans.
US torture allegationsMurtha says that Congress shouldn't provide funds for sending more soldiers overseas until the Bush administration takes those steps and others, including restoring the Army's ability to respond to other crises by increasing troop strength of the strategic reserve -- those forces able to deploy urgently anywhere. Murtha, a decorated ex-Marine, says, "We have no ability to deploy and sustain a deployment in Iran or Korea, and the enemy knows this." Murtha says he will push for a plan to pressure the Bush administration to make the changes he seeks in order to get the money it wants for the war in Iraq. The administration is expected to propose a war-funding request as a supplemental budget bill next month. Murtha wants Bush to halt the 21,500-troop increase he recently announced and start bringing American forces home. He says he will not cut any funds for those already fighting. Murtha says the best way to control what course the war takes now is for Congress to attach conditions to war-spending bills, because Bush is unlikely to veto a bill that provides money to keep fighting. The Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo military prisons, where prisoners have been held without charges and abused, need to be closed to restore American credibility, Murtha says. Murtha brushes aside critics who say he's trying to micromanage the Defense Department. "I'll tell you, they need micromanagement," he growls. "They've been out of control." (McClatchy)
Secrecy of Bush administrationThe DOJ claims that the release of the report would violate employees' privacy. But former Assistant US Attorney Richard Convertino of Detroit says the DOJ already violated his privacy rights by revealing to the media that he was the subject of an internal ethics inquiry after he publicly criticized the Bush administration's counterterrorism strategy. The report rules out Convertino as a suspect in the leak case -- why Convertino would leak false allegations damaging only to himself is not addressed -- and the report does not identify anyone as the leaker. The report narrows down the list of possible leakers to around 30 prosecutors and DOJ officials in Washington and Detroit, all of whom deny leaking anything. The report concludes that Convertino "was not the source because he did not have access to all of the information." Convertino's attorney, Stephen Kohn, says the DOJ isn't interested in anyone's privacy rights, but is keenly interested in covering up evidence of its own misconduct. "There's nothing in that report that should not be out there in the public domain so people could assess the hypocrisy and misconduct of the Department of Justice," Kohn says. "Withholding it, I believe, is part of a cover-up."
US veteransLiberal blogger Bob Geiger, himself a veteran, says that Webb "did more for the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan on his first day in the Senate than the man he ousted, George Felix Allen, did in the entire previous Congress." The legislation will provide America's newest veterans with educational benefits similar to those provided in the famous GI Bill in the years following World War II. Webb says of the bill, "As a veteran who hails from a family with a long history of military service, I am proud to offer this bill as my first piece of legislation in the United States Senate. The GI bill program was designed to help veterans readjust to civilian life, avoid high levels of unemployment, and give veterans the opportunity to receive the education and training that they missed while bravely serving in the military." Webb's bill will replace the Montgomery GI Bill, which provides far less benefits and requires soldiers to contribute to the fund, and which Webb calls "simply inefficient after 9/11." Webb's bill will pay for veterans' tuition, books, fees, and other training costs, while also providing a monthly stipend of $1,000 for living expenses, thus making it much more possible for a large number of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan to actually be able to complete a college education. "The United States has never erred when it has made sustained new investments in higher education and job training," Webb says. "Enacting the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2007 is not only the right thing to do for our men and women in uniform, but it also is a strong tonic for an economy plagued by growing disparities in wealth, stagnant wages, and the outsourcing of American jobs. ...Better-educated veterans have a more positive readjustment experience. This experience lowers the costs of treating post-traumatic stress disorder and other readjustment-related difficulties." Geiger, a beneficiary of the GI bill, writes, "A robust GI Bill set the tone for my adult life and Webb's bill will pave the way for a new generation of Veterans to get the same kick-start to a healthy post-military life." (Bob Geiger)
Islamist terrorismPadilla, once accused by the Justice Department of planning to detonate a "dirty bomb" on American soil, is now accused of being part of a North American terrorist cell. Padilla was held for over three years without charge after Bush classified him as an "enemy combatant," until in late 2005 he was added to a Miami terrorism-support case after Bush officials worried that the courts would not support Padilla's indefinite detention. Apparently all charges related to the "dirty bomb" accusations have been dropped. Padilla's lawyers claim he was tortured while in the Navy brig, a contention the Justice Department and Pentagon have repeatedly denied. Mental experts hired by Padilla's lawyers have filed court papers saying that Padilla suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and cannot adequately assist his legal defense team. "This is a case that has to be done right. If additional time is needed, then it is time well spent," says his attorney, Anthony Natale. (USA Today)
US Attorney firingsLam, a Bush appointee who took her job in 2002, is famous for her dogged prosecutions of politicians and corporate executives, and recently led the prosecution of former GOP House member Randy Cunningham. The excuse given for Lam's firing is her supposed failure to focus more on smuggling and gun issues. According to local lawyers who know her work, her real failing is not kowtowing to the US Justice Department. "It's virtually unprecedented to fire a US Attorney absent some misconduct in office," says criminal defense attorney Michael Attanasio, a former federal prosecutor. "This office has clearly made a priority of investigating and prosecuting white collar offenses and has had occasional success doing so. One would think that would be valued by any administration, even if it meant fewer resources were devoted to routine and repetitive border crimes." The relevant portion of the Patriot Act reauthorization is Section 502, signed into law in March 2006. It changed the law regarding the appointment of US Attorneys; whereas before the relevant federal district court would have appointed a replacement within 120 days after the Attorney General picked one, now that pick stands without challenge, allowing an "interim" replacement to serve indefinitely. Days after the news of the firings broke, Republican senator Arlen Specter confirmed that he inserted the language into the reauthorization act at the last minute, just before it was voted on by Congress. It is unlikely that any but a few high-ranking Republicans knew of the insertion before the vote was taken.
Conservative media slantIn particular, Free Press is working to combat what founder Robert McChesney calls the "increasing consolidation and homogenization of broadcasting." Another hot debate topic will be discussions on "net neutrality," the effort to keep the Internet relatively deregulated and not overcome by corporate content by the turnover of the Internet to a group of telecommunications firms. The conference brings nearly 3,000 media professionals, academics, and activists from across the country together with a roster of media celebrities, critics, politicians, policy makers, and movie stars. "The media are in a state of deep, deep crisis, and it's universally acknowledged that the state of journalism in America has disintegrated," says McChesney, a media critic and research professor at the University of Illinois. "And I learned a long time ago that the only way you can fight organized money is with organized people." He describes the communications industry as an "oligopoly," wherein an ever-smaller number of extremely profitable companies determines what we read and view and controls its distribution with virtually no oversight. He says this combination of money and influence allows Big Media to impact government regulatory policies without properly informing the public or having to engage in open debate. A 2006 report by the Project for Excellence in Journalism agrees, saying, "[T]he decades-long battle between idealists and accountants is now over. The idealists have lost." Media consolidation and market forces have "aided the efforts of newsmakers to control what the public knows." McChesney hopes the conference will help galvanize Congress to take action, perhaps by adding regulations to telecommunications corporations limiting the amount of control one firm can have over a particular market.
Conservative media slantMoyers gives a sordid litany of corporate media malfeasance, from the lackluster and largely non-skeptical reporting of the Bush administration's launch of the war in Iraq to the lack of attention paid to a domestic landscape of increasing economic disparity and racial segregation. Virtually uncontrolled media consolidation over the past decade, he says, has meant a loss of independent journalism and created "more narrowness and homogenization in content and perspective, so that what we see on our couch is overwhelmingly the view from the top." It is in this environment that the Bush administration can, for example, can "turn the escalation of a failed war and call it a surge, as if it were a current of electricity through a wire instead of blood spurting from the ruptured veins of a soldier," says Moyers. On the domestic front, "the question of whether or not our economic system is truly just is off the table for investigation and discussion, so that alternative ideas, alternative critiques, alternative visions never get a hearing," he says. "It is clear what we have to do. We have to tell the story ourselves."
Iraq war and occupationMaddox writes, "President Bush's 'surge' assumes that the Iraqi government shares his goals, and that given a bit of help with security and a bit more time, they will get there together. That is wrong. Nouri al-Maliki, the Prime Minister, is not quite the well-meaning but ineffective figure portrayed in Bush's plan. He has done at least seven things in the past six months which show that he plans to help Shi'as to secure control of every part of government and has no notion of sharing power with Sunnis."
Iraq war and occupationThese facts paint a dismal, coherent picture of a burgeoning dictatorship in America. Unfortunately, this story (but for a piecemeal, fragmented, censored version) never saw the light of day in the mainstream media." While Cohen's opening salvo reads distressingly like conspiracy theorizing, the remainder of his article provides sobering facts to support his contention.