Tag Archives: mainstream media

Pay-to-Play Scheme in NY Senate Seat Pick?

Senator-designate Kirsten Gillibrand (right) and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a lunch meeting with New York Governor David Paterson at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.

Senator-designate Kirsten Gillibrand (right) and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a lunch meeting with New York Governor David Paterson at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. Photo: Getty Images

 BLAGO AIN’T GOT NUTHIN’ ON THIS

Ever since Caroline Kennedy mysteriously withdrew her name from consideration for Hillary Clinton’s former U.S. Senate seat last Wednesday night, and Governor David Paterson’s surprise pick of Kirsten Gilibrand on Friday, many have wondered aloud: who the heck is Kirsten Gillibrand, and why did a Democratic governor choose a relatively unknown upstate Blue Dog whose voting record is more Republican than Democrat? 

Well, that’s a very good question to ask. Why did Paterson pick Gillibrand, when it seemed Kennedy was the obvious choice? And why did the Governor turn so nasty towards Caroline after she withdrew from the race? Why would he authorize one of his PR flacks (who, it turns out, is a former Bush White House staffer!) to “anonymously” kneecap Kennedy, spreading damaging stories to the press about Caroline’s supposed tax issues, nanny issues, and marital issues (stories Paterson now admits were totally false)?

The answer may not be in anything that Caroline did to piss off the Governor. It was what she didn’t do.

Here’s the REAL crux of the Paterson/Kennedy/Gillibrand senate seat story that the mainstream media won’t touch with a 10-foot pole…apparently becaue they’re all too busy flapping their lips about Blago and his really great hair:

Senate appointee Kirsten Gillibrand’ s former law firm is Boies, Schiller & Flexner.

David Boies, the senior partner at the firm, contributed $25,000 to Gov. Paterson’s campaign committee on December 23, 2008, while the governor was considering Gillibrand’s candidacy.

Boies’ son Chris, also a partner in the firm, contributed another $25,000 on the same day.

Source: The Village Voice (Jan. 22, 2009)

OK, go back and read that again. The timing of these campaign contributions reeks. Dec. 23, in the heat of the Senate seat competition?
Not TOO obvious, eh?
But wait…it gets better. Much, MUCH better. Read on.

THE MILLION-DOLLAR D’AMATO CONNECTION

This isn’t the first time Gov. Paterson’s engaged in a bit of pay for play and been called out. Less than two months after taking office, he had another little “issue” with a new hire in his press office, as reported by the New York Daily News’ Elizabeth Benjamin (who has been hot on the Governor’s heels over those nasty rumors he authorized his paid PR flack Judy Smith to leak “anonymously” about Caroline Kennedy).

Also, more info from the New York Times here on an “interesting” $3 million fundraiser Paterson held in December, while the senate seat contest was still hot. Check the guest list very, very carefully…

Then see this Village Voice article from Jan. 27, 2009 about the Paterson-Gillibrand-D’Amato connection, which reports that D’Amato gave Paterson a stunning $500k at a holiday party last year during the heat of the senate seat competition. That’s certainly enough money to buy D’Amato prime placement in the front row of Paterson’s press conference announcing Gillibrand as his senate pick…and perhaps it bought um….other things as well. (cough)

Here’s an excerpt from the Voice‘s investigative report which unravels the fascinating relationship between Gillibrand and D’Amato (it’s all in the family, baby!), and how the two came to be so strangely close to Governor Paterson:

“D’Amato wound up in the camera frame throughout the hour and a half press conference by design. Governor David Paterson’s staff kept the dignitaries in a holding room and walked them onto the stage in a prearranged order, positioning D’Amato at center stage, where his presence was a not-so-subtle advertisement of his influence with both the governor and the state’s new senator, a potential boon to Park Strategies, his multi-million dollar Washington and Albany lobbying business.

Gillibrand’s first job was as an intern for two summers in D’Amato’s senate office, and her father, Doug Rutnik, was so close to D’Amato that, while still married to Gillibrand’s mother, he covertly double-dated with the then single senator, squiring a D’Amato press aide on a two-week Caribbean tryst to celebrate the senator’s re-election in 1992…

…Because Rutnik’s ties to D’Amato, George Pataki, and the former GOP senate majority leader Joe Bruno are Albany legend, it was hardly a surprise that Gillibrand wanted D’Amato there. What no one could quite figure out is why Paterson did.

A Voice review, however, of two campaign finance committees–Paterson’s and the New York State Democratic Committee, which Paterson controls–reveals that D’Amato may be Paterson’s largest single fundraiser.

D’Amato hosted a $1,000-a-plate dinner for Paterson at the Coyote Grill in Island Park on November 2, and Paterson went to the Christmas party sponsored by D’Amato’s firm on December 10, and most of the $581,400 in contributions connected to D’Amato that the Voice has identified were given to Paterson’s committees near those two dates.”

YOU SAY TOMATO, I SAY D’AMATO

Now, let’s do the math, shall we?

More than $500,000 from the December holiday party, and at least $15,000 from the Coyote Grill fundraiser in November (based on an invitation list of 15 persons at $1,000 a plate), that’s a pretty good chunk of change, wouldn’t you say? And all of it raised by Uncle Al. No wonder he’s the governor’s new BFF!

While the $50,000 in contributions to Paterson from Gillibrand’s very close friends and former law partners on Dec. 23rd is not a huge amount in NY politics and is unlikely to buy anyone a state job, let alone a U.S. senate seat, more than half a million dollars from D’Amato should be enough to get *anybody’s* attention focused on Uncle Al’s longtime BFF Kirsten Gilibrand.

It certainly got Gov. Paterson’s attention.  

 

Hey, ya know, it may be cold and flu season in New York, but those figures are nothing to sneeze at.

And these are just the suspicious contributions we know about. There may be even more yet to be revealed. But adding up the estimated $15,000 from D’Amato’s November fundraiser, plus the whopping $500,000 from D’Amato’s December fundraiser (both lowball estimates, by the way), plus the $50,000 given by Gillibrand’s former law partners David and Chris Boies on Dec. 23 — puts a ballpark figure of nearly $600,000 in Paterson’s war chest.

Add to THAT all the smaller contributions from individuals and businesses raised by D’Amato for Patterson prior to those two fall fundraisers mentioned above (detailed here in the Voice’s excellent investigative piece), you’re looking at a Grand Total of well over a million dollars.

Cha-Ching! 

BLEEPIN’ GOLDEN

That being the case, wouldn’t this make Paterson guilty of doing the exact same thing that Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is currently being accused of? And more blatantly than Blago would have ever dared? (Which is really sayin’ something, as Blago is anything but subtle!)

I can hear that phone call now:

PATERSON: “I’ve got this thing and it’s bleepin’ GOLDEN! I’m not just gonna give that bleepin’ senate seat away for nuthin’!”

At a press conference last month, noting that Blagojevich has been under investigation for years for pay-to-play corruption charges, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald expressed his amazement that the activity would continue. “You might have thought in that environment, pay-to-play would have slowed down. The opposite happened. It sped up,” he said.

Apparently, no one warned Paterson to be careful since the heat was on. Or perhaps Paterson was warned and chose to arrogantly assume that he was ten feet tall and bulletproof. So far, Paterson seems to be. No one has even dared to raise a pay-to-play question regarding his senate pick…until now. So we’ll go ahead and ask a few questions:

Is it conceivable that Gov. Paterson got miffed at Caroline Kennedy because she was not willing to give him “anything but appreciation” for that Senate seat?

Could it be that Kennedy was too smart (and principled) to grease the Governor’s eager palms and potentially get herself embroiled in an explosive political corruption case? And did the Governor get pissed off because Caroline wisely stood her ground, held on to her integrity, and turned the other cheek?

CAROLINE WOULDN’T PLAY BALL

From our initial investigation, we can find no evidence of any campaign contributions given to Paterson by Kennedy or anyone connected with her.

Caroline is well-known for her avoidance of making financial contributions to New York Dems in local races, and this New York Daily News article from December 25, 2008 (curiously published just two days after friends of Gillibrand gave the Guv $50,000) flat-out states that Kennedy’s unwillingness to “play the game” may cost her the senate seat:

Caroline Kennedy’s supporters say she could raise tons of money as a senator, but when it comes to writing checks to New York Democrats, she’s been largely AWOL.

This decade, other than a $1,000 donation to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the Camelot heiress has not financially supported any Democrat seeking city or state office in New York, records reveal.

Some say Kennedy, who is worth at least $100 million, missed an opportunity to curry favor among Democratic pols to establish herself as a serious political player as she lobbies Gov. Paterson for Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat.

NONE DARE CALL IT CORRUPTION

Starting to see what’s really going on here? Gillibrand was willing to pay-to-play (with a little help from her “sugar daddy” D’Amato) and Kennedy was not. A million-dollar payoff to the Guv’s campaign fund was cash she wasn’t willing to pony, Macaroni.

Therefore, Gillibrand got the gig. It ain’t rocket science, folks. Just politics as usual.

Only difference this time is that the Governor of Illinois is being impeached for even suggesting (although not completing) such a transaction, while Paterson (who apparently did complete the transaction) is skating away like Tonya Harding. The local New York and national media plugs their ears and hums a tune, refusing to investigate any suggestion of Blago-type graft and corruption happening here. They hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.

Thanks to the Kansas City Star for pointing out an issue that both the New York Post and New York Times heartily agree on — that NY governor David Paterson is now officially Worse than Blagojevich after the media circus that surrounded his naming a replacement for the Senate seat left vacant by Hillary Clinton. But still, that’s as far as the media is prepared to go. None dare call it corruption.

Hmmm…wonder if anyone has been tapping Paterson’s phone during this senate contest? They were certainly listening to Gov. Spitzer’s calls in an effort to catch him in a liason with a high-priced hooker. Seems to me the authorities might have wanted to keep an eye/ear on Gov. Paterson during this selection process, especially in light of the Blago scandal. Under those circumstances, a case could easily be made for probable cause.

So WHERE ARE THE PATERSON TAPES? And where’s the investigation? Where’s the outrage? Where’s the impeachment?

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Filed under barack obama, caroline kennedy, election 2008, hillary clinton, jackie kennedy, JFK, JFK Jr., John F. Kennedy, john f. kennedy jr., media, politics, president kennedy, RFK, RFK Jr., robert f. kennedy, robert kennedy jr., senator robert kennedy, the kennedys, Uncategorized

Op-Ed: JFK Anniversary Tainted By Poor News Reporting

STORIES SAD BUT (NOT) TRUE

President Kennedy rides through the streets of Dallas. Nov. 22, 1963

President Kennedy rides through the streets of Dallas. Nov. 22, 1963

While browsing through the various and sundry news reports marking the 45th anniversary of the JFK Assassination yesterday, I was struck by one strange but nonetheless glaring error which was reported by several major news organizations around the globe. From a curiously uncited wire service report:

It was 45 years ago today that President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed as he rode in an open limousine in a motorcade through downtown Dallas.

The gunshots rang out shortly before noon as crowds lining the street watched in horror as the president slumped over in the backseat of his limousine, with fatal wounds to his head and neck.

Okay , now take a closer look at the second paragraph. Anything jump out at you? (OK, besides the fact that the entire paragraph is one big sloppy run-on sentence.)

The wire copy reports that shots rang out “just before noon.” As anyone who has ever read a history book knows, President Kennedy was shot at 12:30 p.m. central time.

This wire story was picked up by local, national, and international news outlets around the world yesterday. All of them ran the erroneous text exactly as it appears above. Obviously, not a single copy editor at any of these media organizations who ran the article noticed or corrected the error. Even more troubling is that none of their readers or viewers did, either. (Or, if they did notice and complain, their comments and letters to the editor were censored.)

Even when I tuned in to hear Dan Rather talk about covering the assassination on Mike Huckabee’s primetime weekend FoxNews program, I was appalled to hear this exact same error repeated again during Fox’s top-of-the-hour news break at 8 p.m. eastern. This time from the lacquered lips of weekend newsbunny, Emerson College grad and Emmy-award winning anchor Julie Banderas:

“And on this day in 1963, the people of Dallas, Texas, lined the downtown streets for a glimpse of their young president as his motorcade drove past. President John F. Kennedy rode in the back of an open limousine, waving and smiling to the throng. Then, just before noon, the smiles in Dealey Plaza turned to horror as shots rang out…”

So…let me get this straight: a bullet, fired “just before noon” hovers in midair for 30 minutes before hitting its’ target at 12:30 p.m.? Wow, that really IS one hell of a magic bullet! (And you thought all that zigging and zagging it could do was impressive!)

In any murder case — certainly in the most hotly-debated murder case of the 20th century — 30 minutes makes a huge difference.  Had shots rang out “just before noon” as erroneously reported, the president would have been assassinated while deplaning Air Force One. (Kennedy’s plane touched down at Dallas Love Field just before noon.) The only motorcade in Dallas that day would have been the one rushing him immediately to the nearest hospital. He would have been pronounced dead by 12:30 p.m., and history would have been written very differently.

Yeah, in a parallel universe. The one inhabited by lazy wire service writers who make up alternate versions of history out of thin air. (Because there is not an encyclopedia in the world which reports JFK’s murder as having taken place before noon.) The fantasy world populated by copy editors at mainstream media outlets worldwide who are apparently too stupid (or at the least mentally-challenged) to fact-check a story. The universe filled with attractive talking heads (“anchor” is too complimentary a word for them) who are too dense and self-absorbed to know or even care if the story they are reading to millions of viewers is accurate.

The Way It SHOULD Have Happened on 11-22-63. Since were making up our own versions of history now, why not try this scenario on for size?

In my parallel universe: The Way It SHOULD Have Happened on 11-22-63. Since we're making up our own versions of history now, why not try this scenario on for size?

JOURNALISM 101 CLASS IS NOW IN SESSION

The first thing an aspiring reporter learns in journalism school is that every story must answer five questions: WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, AND WHY? (Also known as “the five W’s”) The questions must be addressed in the first two paragraphs of the story (known as the “lede”), and the information must be accurate, based on information provided by at least two reliable sources.

In the case of President Kennedy’s assassination, accurate information which answers the first four questions is readily available from any library, history book, encyclopedia, newspaper archive, or a basic web search. This stuff ain’t rocket science. Any ten year-old taking a history exam could gather the following:

WHO? — President John F. Kennedy

WHAT? — Assassination

WHEN? — November 22, 1963 at 12:30 p.m.

WHERE? — In a motorcade traveling down Elm Street in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas.

Now, as for that tricky fifth question — WHY? — that’s the rest of your story.

WHY is the question the American people still want answered, even after 45 years.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we’ll be able to count on our press to find the answer to that one (a notion that certainly wouldn’t surprise longtime JFK conspiracy researchers). After all, if they can’t even give us an accurate account of WHEN the president was killed (a fact of the case which has never been in dispute), how could we expect them to do any serious investigation into WHY the president was killed?

IT’S THE MEDIA, STUPID

This blog is always critical of the media any time they report bad information about the Kennedy family. We’re quick to point out their easily avoidable errors, outrageous mistakes and boneheaded bloopers.

Unfortunately, they’ve been keeping us awfully busy this past year, as the quality of reporting continues to slide rapidly downhill and somebody’s got to call `em out on it. So we do. But this particular one really hit home for me. If they can’t even get the basic facts straight about JFK’s assassination on the 45th anniversary, this does not bode well for what the coverage is going to look like on the 50th anniversary. Or the 150th.

Heaven help us, God Bless President Kennedy, and Goddamn the lazy, coddled infants of our fourth estate who can’t be bothered to Google the initials “JFK” before running a story about him. Shame, shame, shame!

(And if you think my choice of words might be just a tad harsh, take a listen to this profanity-laden tirade JFK unleashed upon Gen. Godfrey McHugh after the president read a news report he didn’t like:)

(Kennedy, an avid reader, experienced reporter, and tough-as-nails media critic, then called up Arthur Sylvester, his old friend and former newspaperman who now served as Assistant Secretary of Defense, Public Affairs, to let off some more steam over the “fuck-up”.  This phone call is absolutely hilarious!)

FOR FURTHER READING ON MORE MEDIA KENNEDY “WONDER BLUNDERS”, WE RECOMMEND:

Whoops, They Did It Again

(yes, even the Boston Globe, the Kennedys’ hometown newspaper)

ABC News Can’t Keep Their Kennedys Straight

(apparently, NBC News can’t either. See story below.)

Say WHAT? Matt Lauer to RFK Jr.: “How’s Your Dad?”

(you absolutely, positively can’t make this stuff up, folks!)

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Filed under Uncategorized, politics, robert kennedy jr., RFK Jr., president kennedy, robert f. kennedy, RFK, LBJ, lyndon b. johnson, lady bird johnson, texas, JFK Jr., john f. kennedy jr., JFK, John F. Kennedy, the kennedys, jackie kennedy, media

Op-Ed: Whoops, They Did It Again

OK, THIS IS NOT AMUSING ANYMORE

The mainstream media continues to fail us day after day (just ask Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who regularly reports stories establishment media won’t go near) – and here lately their reporting on the Kennedy family in particular has gone from bad to worse to positively abysmal.

If you’ve been reading this blog in recent weeks, you know we’ve been highly critical of the media’s hysterical coverage of Sen. Ted Kennedy’s illness, and the endless, pointless pontificating on Hillary Clinton’s recent comments about the RFK assassination.

We’ve also given `em hell (and rightfully so) when they failed to demonstrate a basic ability to spell and fact-check stories about the Kennedys prior to publication — and then for not printing corrections once the damage was done. 

We’re not complaining about trivial little errors here. We’re talking whoppers, the kind of stuff that makes you scratch your head and wonder what qualifications one needs to become a journalist, or a copy editor, these days.

We’re not talking about small newspapers or independent bloggers making mistakes – oh, no – we’re talking about the biggest names in media: The New York Times, CNN, NBC, CBS, Fox News…you name it, they’ve mucked it up.

Most recently, we tore ABC News a new one for printing perhaps the most absurd wonder blunder we’ve ever seen – a story which asserts that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is, quite incredibly, the son of John F. Kennedy. (See related story, “ABC News Can’t Keep Their Kennedys Straight.”)

And we’re not just bitching about isolated errors popping up every once in a while. What we’ve witnessed over the past month alone in the media sphere of nonstop Kennedy coverage is an epidemic of poor research and reporting, combined with sloppy editing and irresponsible choices at the top levels of these newsroom hierarchies.

To run stories chock full of inaccuracies — when it’s so damned easy to catch and fix these massive screw-ups before they wind up embarrassing you (and your illustrious news organization) in print — is a transgression these great bastions of American journalism should have to answer for. But so far, no one is holding them accountable.

THE BOSTON GLOBE’S BIG BOO-BOO

Latest infuriating case in point: The Boston Globe’s May 11th review of Ted Sorensen’s new White House memoir, “Counselor: A Life at the Edge of History.” (The book itself is a marvelous read, by the way. If you don’t have it, get it!)

The book review was penned by Douglas Brinkley, distinguished author, history professor and “presidential historian.” Not that he doesn’t have the academic cred to back up that fancy pants title – he does – which leaves him absolutely no excuse for the colossal faux pas he committed in his recent Globe article. (Brinkley is a former director of the Theodore Roosevelt Center for American Civilization and taught history at Tulane University before he was “relocated” to Texas by Hurricane Katrina. Now we have to contend with him.)

By far the most astonishing thing about this latest media mistake is that it appeared in the Boston Globe, for crying out loud, the Kennedy clan’s hometown newspaper.

To my mind, and to that of many Americans, no U.S. news publication should bear a greater responsibility than the Boston Globe for accurately reporting All Things Kennedy. Of course, we expect every news organization to do their homework, but the Globe has only to look in their vast archives of Kennedy coverage — or even out their own back door — to get the story straight.

This time, they didn’t even bother. Not only has the Globe damaged its’ credibility among readers in Boston and elsewhere (who do know better) with this foul-up, they have also done a disservice to history; to Theodore Sorensen, and to the memory of President Kennedy.

JFK and Theodore Sorensen in the late 1950s

John F. Kennedy (left) and Ted Sorensen in the late 1950s. Sorensen began working for Kennedy as a research assistant in 1953. (PAUL SCHUTZER)

SAY WHAT?????

Upon reading the lede of the Globe’s book review, a smoking, flaming bomb of a boo-boo flies right up and smacks you in the face. (Hey, if you’re going to goof, do it big. And always make sure to put it in the first paragraph.)

Here’s the intro as originally published. How many of you can spot what’s wrong with this version of events?

When Ted Sorensen first heard the news on Nov. 22, 1963, that President John F. Kennedy had been shot, he fell into a state of zombie-like mourning. Struggling to control his emotions, he rushed to the Fish Room – the lounge across from the Oval Office – to watch CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite grimly report on the tragedy. Earlier that morning Sorensen had chatted with JFK near the White House helipad just before the president left for Dallas. Now, watching TV in a sullen trance, Sorensen doubted whether he would ever laugh again. The assassination had hit the 35-year-old special counsel harder than even his father’s death. “The news kept showing clips of the president delivering a speech earlier that day at a breakfast in Texas,” Sorensen recalled, “the same speech I had gone over with him in the Oval Office on the morning of his departure.”

Anyone who has ever done more than a cursory study of President Kennedy’s last day on earth know that he was not at the White House on the morning of November 22, 1963.

The President of the United States had been in Texas since the previous day on a goodwill tour, working to reunite warring factions of the state Democratic party and raising funds for the `64 campaign. Kennedy awoke that morning in Suite 850 of the Hotel Texas to a steady rain and 5,000 hardy souls standing in the parking lot beneath his window — all of them hoping for a smile; a word; a wave from their president.

Kennedy did brave the weather to address the crowd that morning, uttering that now-famous line: “There are no faint hearts in Ft. Worth!”

Apparently, the Boston Globe editors never heard this story, despite the fact that it is told in every printed account of Kennedy’s Final 24.

Don’t the copy editors up in Beantown at least have a copy of William Manchester’s JFK Assassination primer, The Death of a President, sitting on a reference shelf somewhere? All they had to do was hit the index.

Or maybe they could just read Ted Sorensen’s book. You know, the one they are reviewing here. Had anyone bothered to actually read it, there is no implication whatsoever from Sorensen that he spoke to Kennedy in person on Friday morning. As he describes that awful day in Counselor:

“The news kept showing clips of the president delivering a speech earlier that day at a breakfast in Texas,” Sorensen recalled, “the same speech I had gone over with him in the Oval Office on the morning of his departure.”

The morning of Kennedy’s departure was Thursday, November 21st, the previous day. I’d say that’s a rather important date to Mr. Sorensen. He remembers well the last time he saw the president – his dear friend – alive.

Nope, one doesn’t forget memories like that. But the Boston Globe does.

President Kennedy speaks at the hotel Texas, Fort worth. Nov. 22, 1963

Have no doubt: photographic proof of the President’s whereabouts on the last morning of his life. JFK (with Vice President Lyndon Johnson and Texas Governor John Connally behind him) addresses the crowd at Fort Worth’s Hotel Texas, November 22, 1963.

BUT WAIT…THERE’S MORE

While your head may still be reeling from a goof like that ever making it into print, hang on to your helmet because here comes another one.

Following right on the heels of the first flub, the second paragraph goes on to say:

With a writing style as smooth as ice cream, Sorensen’s “Kennedy” focused on such Cold War flashpoints as Cuba, Laos, Berlin, and Oxford, Miss. It recounted the famous “Ask Not” inaugural address that Sorensen had so brilliantly written.

Oh, brother…do we have to go through that again?

Sorensen did not write JFK’s inaugural address. His role would be best described as that of collaborator (actually, there were several cooks in Kennedy’s literary kitchen whose suggestions made the finished draft). The record on this has been clarified time and time again by none other than Sorensen himself.

For example, in his 1969 book The Kennedy Legacy (guess the Globe editors never read that one, either), Sorensen states that “the final shape of every text was always the President’s decision alone.”

Furthermore, we know that oftentimes throughout their decade-long collaboration, Kennedy would frequently carry a Sorensen speech to the podium only to ignore most of it, delivering instead his own extemporaneous oration. Sorensen was probably the greatest presidential speechwriter of the 20th Century, but his greatest skill lay in channeling Kennedy’s intellect. He himself has admitted this, writing that “in the vast majority of cases” Kennedy did not follow the speech he had prepared.

Sorensen has always loyally affirmed Kennedy’s authorship of the inaugural address. In Kennedy (Sorensen’s 1965 book noted above in the Globe’s review, which no one at the Boston Globe apparently bothered to speed-read), he insists that “the principal architect of the Inaugural Address was John Fitzgerald Kennedy.”

Could the man be any clearer than that? Then why does the mainstream media continue to get it wrong year after year, decade after decade?

JFK's handwritten notes for the 1961 inaugural address

Don’t Believe the Hype: one of JFK’s early drafts of the inaugural address, in his own practically illegible but nonetheless distinctive handwriting. Clearly a work in progress at this point, Kennedy is still toying with the language of “ask not what your country is going to do for you” instead of “can do for you.” (Larger images available for study at the National Archives’ website.)

FOR THE RECORD

If you might be tempted to think all this is much ado about nothing, think again. The issue of whether Kennedy composed his own inaugural address, or simply delivered Sorensen’s beautiful words, is not some arcane historical footnote. The speech is generally acknowledged to have been the greatest oration of any twentieth-century American politician. To deny the rightful author (JFK) full credit for it not only diminishes his legacy and weakens his claim on the hearts and minds of future generations, it also distances him, and us, from a speech that is a distillation of his experiences, philosophy, and character.

Erroneous assertions that Sorensen wrote JFK’s inaugural address have appeared frequently in the popular media through the years. In 1988, for example, Time magazine essayist Lance Morrow described Sorensen as “the author of so many of Kennedy’s speeches, including the inaugural.”

Even as late as 2002, PBS’s Great American Speeches series instructed U.S. schoolchildren everywhere that “John Kennedy’s inaugural address has been praised as one of the best public speeches ever…Kennedy, however, did not write the speech himself. Ted Sorensen did.”

None of these writers — including the illustrious Dr. Brinkley — offer any evidence that Sorensen wrote the Kennedy inaugural (but we offer clear and convincing evidence to the contrary; see image of Kennedy’s handwritten draft above). Instead, one detects the assumption that since speechwriters wrote the inaugural addresses of other presidents, one must have written Kennedy’s too, and that because Sorensen was the author of so many other Kennedy speeches, he must have been the author of this one as well.

But just because so many other media outlets made the same error before you is never an excuse to continue to perpetuate a falsehood, especially when there is clear documentary evidence to the contrary readily available. If a media outlet should do so knowingly, they might be well considered part of some elaborate conspiracy to undermine President Kennedy’s historical importance and intellectual abilities.

Now of course, we know the mainstream media has too much integrity to ever engage in such a thing, let alone an eminent historian like Douglas Brinkley, so therefore we must conclude that errors like these are not made out of any sense of spite or jealousy, but are rather the result of either laziness or ignorance.

That’s no comfort to me. How about you? What does it say about us as a society if our “best and brightest” historians and news editors are so ignorant of basic facts regarding any American president? And what kind of future historians, journalists and editors will we be sending into the workforce of the Fourth Estate in years to come? Isn’t that a scary thought?

Here’s an even scarier one: Douglas Brinkley is not only an esteemed “presidential historian,” he also is a Professor of History at Rice University in Houston. He’s a Senior Fellow at Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and was asked by former U.S. Secretaries of State James A. Baker III and Warren Christopher to be part of a commission studying Presidential War Powers. Obviously, Professor Brinkley has friends in very high places, and is often called upon to “interpret” history for them.

And if that doesn’t sufficiently frighten you, he’s also the staff historian at CBS News.

Douglas Brinkley charicature from slate

PROFESSOR OF POP HISTORY 101

Now let’s throw another log of irony on this already-searing fire: Brinkley was once a friend of John F. Kennedy Jr.’s and a contributing editor at Kennedy’s George magazine. But in the days immediately following JFK Jr.’s 1999 fatal plane crash, Brinkley quickly became “the William Ginsberg of the Kennedy Death Circus” (so said Slate’s David Plotz), appearing on MSNBC, Late Edition, Meet the Press, Good Morning America, Dateline, Today (twice), and NPR (twice). He also penned columns about his relationship with Kennedy for Newsweek and the New York Times, and was quoted everywhere else ink touches paper.

According to the Washington Post, Brinkley cut a $10,000 deal with NBC for a week of exclusive Kennedy commentary after JFK Jr.’s death, but then agreed to provide it pro bono. Editors at George were reportedly so annoyed about Brinkley’s death punditry that they dropped him from the masthead.

But Brinkley somehow managed to work his way back into the family’s good graces after that, and over the next near-decade became known as some sort of Kennedy authority; the talking head to call for analysis whenever something happened in the Kennedy kingdom.

He even won the prestigious 2007 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award for “The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast,” a work which was highly praised by his fellow presidential historian and Kennedy aide Arthur Schlesinger before his death. 

Brinkley has been touted as one hip history professor, an historian for a new generation of Americans. He believes Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson are the giants of American literature. He quotes Ramones lyrics. He’s an idealist and a Democrat who by all accounts loves the Kennedys. So how could he make such glaring, easily avoidable mistakes in this Globe piece? What kind of reputable historian and “authority on the Kennedys” could let those elephants silp quietly by?

And why on earth didn’t the Boston Globe editors catch them before the story was allowed to be printed?

I’ll leave that question to our readers. I’m quite certain you will have a few thoughts to add on the swift deterioration of our intellectual and journalistic standards in America, of which this is just another shining example.

For those who actually do care about what our children and grandchildren will be taught as “history,” it’s enough to make you want to home school. And for those in the news profession who still care about accuracy, credibility and earning the people’s trust, it’s enough to make you want to go out and start your own media empire, dammit.

With the explosion of independent media and the blogosphere, these new contemporary documentarians often do a better job of reporting the news than their overpaid brethren over at World News Headquarters in New York, Washington D.C. or even Boston.

Perhaps fortunately for Brinkley, the Boston Globe did not open his book review to public comments, or they likely would have been besieged by a rein of rotten virtual tomatoes over the past two weeks. But you can still write a Letter to the Editor through their website if you’d like to let them know of your displeasure.  We heartily encourage you to do so.

THE GOOD NEWS: WE STILL HAVE C-SPAN

If you’re looking for unfiltered coverage of news and events the mainstream media won’t touch (or perhaps because they screw up everything they touch) – such as important testimony before Congress, how your elected reps are voting, or the libertarian party convention, C-SPAN is the only place you’re going to get it. 

And if the mainstream media’s butchering of the Kennedy legacy is starting to get tiresome; if you’re weary of all the nonstop, fawning punditry we’ve had to tolerate lately in the wake of Sen. Kennedy’s cancer diagnosis, Clinton’s “Assassingate,” and the 40th anniversary of RFK’s murder, you might want to keep an eye on C-SPAN over the next couple weeks. They will be broadcasting several programs to remember RFK’s legacy in a low-key, respectful manner.

The first of which we caught live last week; a special symposium and panel discussion on the 1968 campaign of Robert F. Kennedy. Hosted at Washington D.C.’s Newseum, the program featured many of Kennedy’s closest surviving friends sharing their memories of him and was deeply moving to watch.

“To Seek a Newer World: A Symposium on the Life and Legacy of Robert F. Kennedy” was sponsored by the Freedom Forum, Vanderbilt University and the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial. Kennedy’s widow Ethel and daughter Kathleen Kennedy-Townsend also attended the panel discussion, and were on hand to present the annual Robert F. Kennedy Book and Journalism Awards later that evening.

Former Kennedy associates John Doar, Peter Edelman, Frank Mankiewicz, John Nolan, John Seigenthaler, James E. Tolan, William Vanden Heuvel, and Charles McDew spoke at length about RFK’s 1968 campaign and the transformative effect his all-too-brief bid for the presidency had on America.

C-SPAN will most likely rebroadcast this program in the days ahead, so keep an eye out for that. You can also watch the video online for free once it has been added to the C-SPAN Archives website.

And just thank your lucky stars (or your cable/satellite provider) for C-SPAN. In the barren desert wasteland of cable news these days, C-SPAN is an oasis, the only network we have left which still serves the public interest, not corporate interests.

 

* Copyright RFKin2008.com. The opinions expressed in this editorial are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the Kennedy family, or the owners of this website.

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More Bush Administration Arrogance

ALL THE NEWS THAT’S UNFIT TO PRINT, EPISODE 3

Hot off the presses…the latest edition of RFK Jr’s “Unearthed” column, for the week ending May 9, 2008.

Here Kennedy covers a vast array of subjects – everything from the Siegleman case to Cheney and Ashcroft’s refusal to testify about U.S. torture tactics; from the head of the EPA being fired for political purposes to depleted uranium being dumped in Idaho; from hundreds of dead ducks turning up in Canada to right-wing talk radio’s domination of the U.S. airwaves; from the oil crisis to American contractors quite literally making out like bandits in Iraq — all with one common thread, the central underlying theme which ties these stories together:

More unprecedented ARROGANCE from the Bush Administration!

In a mad dash to cover their tracks while scooping up all the spoils they can possibly grab before we kick them out of the White House next January, the Bushies seem to be wholly unconcerned with how things look or smell at this point. (A new poll shows that Bush is now the most unpopular president in history, but ask him if he cares.) Yes, they’re openly farting in our faces, and we’re supposed to love it.

Laughing all the way to the bank, these criminals now feel certain that they will never face prosecution or impeachment, so hey – why not take all they can get? After all, we’ve given them a pass, carte blanche’ and a blank check for the past seven years, turning a blind eye to their crimes against humanity. (And that’s not to mention those High Crimes and Misdemeanors.)

So put on your seat belts and gas masks, America. The ride is only going to get rougher and smellier as Bush’s clock runs out.

Did you ever feel like the proverbial frog in a pot of boiling water as the heat is slowly being turned up hotter and hotter? Well, you know what happens then, don’t you?

We must take a stand. We must stop them before they kill again (looks like you’re next, Iran). We must fight back. We must prosecute. We must stop taking “I don’t recall” for an answer. Because if we don’t, we could all wind up as dead as those Canadian ducks RFK Jr. writes about.

It may be too late to impeach (as our Democratic brethren continue to insist) now, but it’s never too late to try them for war crimes at the Hague.

Oh…and there’s no statute of limitations on murder, either.

UNEARTHED:

NEWS OF THE WEEK THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA FORGOT TO REPORT

by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Brendan De Melle

The Huffington Post

EPA Official Ousted For Offending Dow Chemical

At the request of Dow Chemical, the Bush administration forced out one of its own hand-picked EPA regulators on May 1st because she naively attempted to do her job by enforcing the law against Dow. EPA officials told Mary Gade, the federal agency’s top Midwest regulator to step down from her post or be fired by June 1. Bush appointed Gade in 2006, but Gade ran afoul of the White House when she pressured Dow Chemical to clean up dioxin pollution extending 50 miles downstream from the company’s Michigan headquarters. Dow asked EPA headquarters to intervene. In response EPA chief Stephen Johnson’s top deputies repeatedly grilled Gade about the case. When she refused to lay off Dow, they stripped her of her authority and told her to quit or be fired. “There is no question this is about Dow,” Gade said. “I stand behind what I did and what my staff did. I’m proud of what we did.”

Gade was formerly a loyal George W. Bush supporter and adviser. In 2000, she praised then-governor and candidate Bush for his “fresh approach” and “strong leadership.” But her loyalty couldn’t shield her from an administration bent on insulating its chemical industry cronies from public health laws.
Bush’s Misleading Claims About the Arctic Refuge Denied by Federal Officials

President Bush last week repeated his claim that if only Congress had approved his 2002 plan to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge it “would likely mean lower gas prices” today. However, oil industry experts and Bush’s own Energy Department officials say that Bush is greatly exaggerating the theoretical impact that opening the refuge would’ve had on current gas prices. They explained that it takes over a decade to find and develop a new oil field. Furthermore, the oil available in ANWR — even under the most optimistic projections — could supply less than 2% of U.S. demand, an amount that would have a negligible impact on prices at the pump.
Green Construction Could Drastically Slash North American Energy Dependence

Employing existing and emerging green construction practices could cut North America’s deadly fossil fuel dependence faster and more cost-effectively than any other measure, according to a new study by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, a panel erected by the United States, Canada and Mexico. Green construction has immediate paybacks, including “reduced energy costs and water costs as well the indoor health environment and increased productivity of the inhabitants of those buildings,” according to John Westeinde, an advisor on the report. The report found that North America’s buildings release more than 2,200 megatons of CO2, or about 35 percent of the continent’s total. If the construction industry rapidly adopted current and emerging green technologies, that number could be cut by 1,700 megatons by 2030, the report found.
Hundreds of Ducks Die at Canadian Oil Sands Mine

Hundreds of ducks made a fatal landing recently in a tailings pond filled with a witch’s brew of oil and toxic sludge at a northern Alberta tar sands mine. Regulators are investigating why Syncrude Canada — the country’s largest tar sands producer — failed to deploy a system designed to scare off waterfowl. Alberta’s tar sands development has been heavily criticized for huge carbon dioxide emissions, destruction of the boreal forest, and the potential for tailing ponds to contaminate local rivers and waterways.

 
Feds Acknowledge Error On Attempts to Muzzle Siegelman

Former Alabama Governor Don Siegleman, who was falsely imprisoned by Alabama cronies of Karl Rove, and is now released on appeal, was recently placed on a “special offender” list to restrict his right to travel. Siegelman was notified by federal probation officers of the new restriction shortly after he traveled to Washington to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, and appeared on 60 Minutes, the Tavis Smiley Show, and Dan Abrams’ Verdict.

The federal “special offender” designation applies to “Individuals identified or associated with traditional or non-traditional organized crime such as the Mafia, outlaw motorcycle gangs, Asian gangs, prison gangs, etc., persons identified as potential terrorists, kidnappers, members of a supremacy group, major bookmakers, major drug or weapon traffickers, pornographers, sex offenders, armed bank robbers, offenders of high notoriety, or cases similar nature.”

“This basically means I can’t travel out of Birmingham or Montgomery without a lot of red tape, and long delays. For example to travel in some places requires at least 30 days advance approval,” Siegelman said.

But on May 2, federal court officials acknowledged that they erred in classifying Siegelman as a special offender.

“They made an honest mistake,” Redmond said, acknowledging that the restrictions were illegal. “They were giving him conditions for a special offender under probation. He’s not. He’s pretrial.”
Cheney refuses to cooperate with Congressional Torture Investigation, claiming Congress has no authority over vice-president

The lawyer for U.S. vice-president Dick Cheney said Cheney would refuse to allow David Addington, the vice president’s chief of staff, to testify about his involvement in the approval of interrogation tactics used at Guantanamo Bay. The privilege asserted by Cheney’s office recalls his attempt last year to evade rules for disclosing classified documents by claiming that the vice president’s office is a hybrid branch of government that is neither executive nor legislative.
Ashcroft and Yoo Refuse to Testify About Torture

In another imaginative legal claim with dubious constitutionality, two other witnesses sought by Congressman John Conyers, former U.S. attorney general John Ashcroft and former U.S. justice department lawyer John Yoo, claim that their involvement in civil lawsuits related to harsh torture allows them to avoid appearing before Congress. “I am aware of no basis for the remarkable claim that pending civil litigation somehow immunizes an individual from testifying before Congress,” Conyers wrote.
Karl Rove Resists Congressional Request to Testify on His Siegelman Mischief

“The House Judiciary Committee threatened last Thursday to subpoena former White House adviser Karl Rove if he does not agree by May 12 to testify about former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman’s corruption case.

“In a letter to Rove’s attorney, committee Democrats called it ‘completely unacceptable’ that the Republican political strategist has rejected the panel’s request for sworn testimony even as he discusses the matter publicly through the media and op-eds and magazine interviews with tame reporters at GQ, and appearances with the administration’s media poodles on Fox News.

On April 7, MSNBC anchor Dan Abrams reported that Rove’s attorney, Robert Luskin, said Rove would agree to testify if Congress issues a subpoena to him as part of an investigation into the Siegelman case.

Ten days later, committee members invited Rove to appear, citing among other things Rove’s interview with GQ magazine. In that interview, Rove hurled insults at CBS News for airing a 60 Minutes segment on the Siegelman case, called his chief accuser a “lunatic” — but didn’t specifically deny any of the accusations.

In an April 29 letter back to the committee, Luskin changed his position[PDF], arguing that Rove would only appear under the following conditions: “Mr. Rove is prepared to make himself available for an interview on this specific issue with Committee staff. Mr. Rove would speak candidly and truthfully about this matter, but the interview would not be transcribed nor would Mr. Rove be under oath.”

 
Hate-filled Right Wing Radio

Racial slurs abound these days on right wing radio, particularly among the right’s leading shock jocks Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Neal Boortz, Michael Savage and Lou Dobbs. During his May 5 appearance on FOX News, Rush Limbaugh referred to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D), who is Hispanic, as a “shoe shine guy.

A 2007 study of talk radio conducted by the Project for Excellence in Journalism found that in the second quarter of 2007, when right wing radio resorted to spreading fear and hatred in order to defeat immigration reform. Immigration was the #1 topic – representing 16% of all airtime on right wing radio – led by Limbaugh, Hannity, and Savage. Neal Boortz chipped in too, urging listeners to help defeat “this illegal alien amnesty bill” and “yank out the welcome mat.” Speaking of undocumented immigrants he said, “Give ‘em all a little nuclear waste and let ‘em take it on down there to Mexico. Tell ‘em…it’ll heat tortillas.” Michael Savage encouraged his listeners to “burn a Mexican flag” and to “tell them to go back to where they came from.”

Bigotry and Hatred is Good Business

Propped up by the conservative bias among corporate media barons who control the airwaves, right-wing radio now claims 91 percent of U.S. radio airspace. Salon.com reported that “Talk like Savage’s, or Limbaugh’s or O’Reilly’s, has become routine, even systematic, and certainly a big business. According to the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, the top five radio station owners that control the 45 most powerful, 50,000-watt or more radio stations broadcast 310 hours of nationally syndicated right-wing talk. But they broadcast only a total of five hours of countervailing talk.” Meanwhile the public popularity of progressive talk is growing.
Thanks to Right-Wing Corporate Owners Right-Wing Hate Talk Dominates Airwaves

While progressive talk is making inroads on commercial stations, right-wing talk reigns supreme on America’s airwaves. Some key findings:

– In the spring of 2007, of the 257 news/talk stations owned by the top five commercial station owners, 91 percent of the total weekday talk radio programming was conservative, and only 9 percent was progressive.

– Each weekday, 2,570 hours and 15 minutes of conservative talk are broadcast on these stations compared to 254 hours of progressive talk–10 times as much conservative talk as progressive talk.

– 76 percent of the news/talk programming in the top 10 radio markets is conservative, while 24 percent is progressive.
Bush Is the Least Popular President in History

A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll indicates that 71 percent of the American public disapprove of President Bush’s job performance, making him the most unpopular president in modern American history, even less popular than Richard Nixon just prior to his resignation.

“Bush’s approval rating, which stands at 28 percent in our new poll, remains better than the all-time lows set by Harry Truman and Richard Nixon [22 percent and 24 percent, respectively], but even those two presidents never got a disapproval rating in the 70s,” Keating Holland, CNN’s polling director said. “The previous all-time record in CNN or Gallup polling was set by Truman, 67 percent disapproval in January 1952.”

A January poll – conducted on the five-year anniversary of Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” moment on board the USS Abraham Lincoln – found the percentage of Americans who think the U.S. is making progress in Iraq stood at 50 percent. That number has since dropped to 39 percent.

 
Radioactive waste being shipped from Kuwait for Disposal in Idaho

6,700 tons of sand contaminated with depleted uranium and lead is currently being shipped by rail from Longview, Washington to a hazardous waste disposal site in Idaho. The radioactive sand – which was shipped from Camp Doha, a U.S. Army Base in Kuwait – was contaminated with uranium after military vehicles and munitions caught fire during the first Persian Gulf War in 1991. The contaminated sand is destined for burial at American Ecology’s dumping grounds in the Owyhee Desert 70 miles southeast of Boise. The Kuwaiti government wanted no part of the waste which it considered a danger to the Kuwaiti people. Kuwait’s Ministry of Defense contracted Texas-based MKM Engineers Inc. to package and transport the waste back to the United States. MKM then subcontracted with American Ecology to dispose the military waste at its Idaho facility.
Whistleblowers Say Private U.S. Contractors Looted, Stole and Ran a Prostitution Ring

In an investigative report largely ignored by the mainstream media, Mother Jones reports the shocking testimony of three whistleblowers who recently appeared before the Senate’s Democratic Policy Committee (DPC). The whistleblowers told the committee that U.S. private contractors routinely looted Iraqi palaces and ministries, stole military equipment, fenced supplies destined for U.S. troops, and even operated a prostitution ring that may have contributed to the death of fellow contractor.

Barry Halley, a former project manager for Worldwide Network Services, a Washington, D.C.-based firm that was working on subcontract for DynCorp, testified that his site manager in Iraq, who he said was employed by a “major defense contractor,” moonlighted as the leader of a prostitution ring serving American contractors in Iraq. The sex business sideline indirectly caused the death of a colleague. “A co-worker unrelated to the ring was killed when he was traveling in an unsecure car and shot performing a high-risk mission,” he told the committee. “I believe that my co-worker could have survived if he had been riding in an armored car. At the time, the armored car that he would otherwise have been riding in was being used by a manager to transport prostitutes from Kuwait to Baghdad.”

Frank Cassaday, a former contract employee of disgraced Cheney-connected firm KBR told the committee about an ice-stealing operation the company ran “cheating the troops out of ice at the same time that [the foreman in charge was] trading the ice for DVDs, CDs, food, and other items at the Iraqi shops across the street.”

Cassaday also detailed how he was jailed in his tent for two days by KBR security and later transferred to a laundry job because he had reported to KBR superiors that his colleagues were stealing equipment from the U.S. military, including refrigerators, artillery round detonators, two rocket launchers, and about 800 rounds of small arms ammunition.

Another KBR whistleblower, Linda Warren, testifying about her time in Baghdad in 2004, said she was shocked by the number of contractors involved in criminal activity. “KBR employees who were contracted to perform construction duties inside palaces and municipal buildings were looting,” she said. “Not only were they looting, but they had a system in place to get contraband out of the country so it could be sold on eBay. They stole artwork, rugs, crystal, and even melted down gold to make spurs for cowboy boots.” Like Cassaday, KBR superiors punished Warren for speaking up, taking her vehicle away, monitoring her movements, cutting off her access to phones and the Internet, and ultimately transferring her out of Baghdad.
Iraqi Interpreters Who Helped U.S. Are Being Tossed Under the Bus By Bush Administration

The Bush administration is ignoring the plight of Iraqi interpreters who have risked their lives to provide essential help to U.S. soldiers. Interpreters have been kidnapped, tortured and assassinated by insurgents punishing them for working with the U.S. The Bush administration promised them refugee status to bring them here to safety, but has not delivered, leaving them at lethal risk.
Rockefellers Call on Exxon Mobil to Spend More on Oil Alternatives

Descendants of company founder John D. Rockefeller want Exxon Mobil to spend more money on alternative fuels and bar the CEO from also serving as chairman. Sixteen Rockefeller family members are urging fellow shareholders to support four resolutions on the environment and corporate governance at the company’s May 28 annual meeting.
More Record Profits for Oil Barons

Astounding profits in the oil industry are becoming as routine as the anguished looks of motorists filling up their gas tanks, the AP reports.

ExxonMobil, Shell and BP netted almost $13 million an hour combined in the first quarter amid the steepest increase in oil prices since 2000.

Exxon’s revenue climbed 34 percent to $116.9 billion, but Exxon’s 17 percent profit increase lagged behind the gains of 25 percent and 63 percent by Shell and BP. Chevron put yet another exclamation point on the oil patch’s long run of prosperity Friday with a first-quarter profit of $5.17 billion. That was up 10 percent from net income of $4.72 billion last year.

It was the second-highest quarterly profit in the company’s 129-year history and marked the most money that it has ever made during the January-March period. That puts the No. 2 U.S. oil company on track for its fifth straight year of record earnings.

BP posted a 63 percent surge in first-quarter net profit to $7.6 billion, while Shell reported a 25 percent rise, to a record $9.08 billion. ConocoPhillips reported a 16 percent rise in net income to $4.14 billion. Like BP and Shell, the third biggest U.S. producer far outpaced industry expectations.

Republicans Block Federal Aid to Wind and Solar

Tom Friedman of the New York Times reports:

Few Americans know it, but for almost a year now, Congress has been bickering over whether and how to renew the investment tax credit to stimulate investment in solar energy and the production tax credit to encourage investment in wind energy. The bickering has been so poisonous that when Congress passed the 2007 energy bill last December, it failed to extend any stimulus for wind and solar energy production. Oil and gas kept all their credits, but those for wind and solar have been left to expire this December. I am not making this up. At a time when we should be throwing everything into clean power innovation, we are squabbling over pennies.

These credits are critical because they ensure that if oil prices slip back down again — which often happens — investments in wind and solar would still be profitable. That’s how you launch a new energy technology and help it achieve scale, so it can compete without subsidies.

The Democrats wanted the wind and solar credits to be paid for by taking away tax credits from the oil industry. President Bush said he would veto that. Neither side would back down, and Mr. Bush — showing not one iota of leadership — refused to get all the adults together in a room and work out a compromise. Stalemate. Meanwhile, Germany has a 20-year solar incentive program; Japan 12 years. Ours, at best, run two years.

“It’s a disaster,” says Michael Polsky, founder of Invenergy, one of the biggest wind-power developers in America. “Wind is a very capital-intensive industry, and financial institutions are not ready to take ‘Congressional risk.’ They say if you don’t get the [production tax credit] we will not lend you the money to buy more turbines and build projects.”

If the wind and solar credits expire, said Rhone Resch, the president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, the impact in just 2009 would be more than 100,000 jobs either lost or not created in these industries, and $20 billion worth of investments that won’t be made.

While all the presidential candidates were railing about lost manufacturing jobs in Ohio, no one noticed that America’s premier solar company, First Solar, from Toledo, Ohio, was opening its newest factory in the former East Germany — 540 high-paying engineering jobs — because Germany has created a booming solar market and America has not.

 

Send tips about other stories the mainstream media forgot to report: unearthednews@gmail.com

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Filed under climate change, environment, global warming, impeach Bush, media, politics, RFK Jr., robert kennedy jr., Uncategorized

RFK Jr: Pentagon Propagandists Hyped The Case for Iraq War

In our second installment of RFK Jr.’s most recent “Unearthed” column, we learn more about the Pentagon propagandists who sold us on this illegal, idiotic occupation of Iraq prior to the 2003 invasion.

UNEARTHED: NEWS OF THE WEEK THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA FORGOT TO REPORT

By Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Brendan DeMelle

The Huffington Post

Menage a Trois – A Criminal Act

The Pentagon announced that it has suspended its illegal Retired Military Analyst Program. The program described in The New York Times exposé involved an illegal ménage a trois including: 1) the corporate television news broadcasters; 2) media military analysts employed by arms dealers and military, and 3) neocon Pentagon big wigs. The program violates federal “covert propaganda” laws.

Despite the official suspension of the illegal program, Fox News is continuing to feature these compromised mercenaries in its war mongering propaganda broadcasts. Last Sunday, a week after the Times published its finding, Fox aired jingoistic commentary by disgraced pundit Thomas McInerney without disclosing his affiliation to the illegal Pentagon group or the war profiteering arms dealers that pay his salary.

McInerney is a director of NetStar Systems, a technology firm which described itself in 2005 as “a prime contractor for the Department of Defense.” NetStar lists government clients including:
* Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)
* Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI)
* National Security Agency (NSA)
* Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
* Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
* Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
* Department of the US Army
* Marine Corps Intelligence Association (MCIA)
* Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)

In 2000, McInerney founded his own arms dealership firm called “Government Reform Through Technology (GRTT)” to market advanced weapons and government agencies.

McInerney appeared April 28, 2008 on the 11am hour of FOX NEWS LIVE. On April 23, another compromised contractor Robert H. Scales promoted the war on the 6:00 PM “FOX Special Report with Brit Hume.” Thousands of Americans are calling on Congress and federal prosecutors to launch criminal investigations and Congressional hearings and hold accountable the Pentagon criminals and corporate media moguls who staged this propaganda pitch.

Samples of the high quality analysis offered to Fox News viewers by Pentagon’s propaganda poodles


The Pentagon’s military media mercenaries who continue to appear shamelessly on Fox News played key roles in marketing the Iraq War to the U.S. public. Some samplings:

During a February 3, 2003, edition of On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, Robert H. Scales claimed that since “this operation is going to go so quickly,” and would “be over so fast,” the U.S. military wouldn’t have to worry about “suicide attack[s] or even a conventional defense, for that matter.” Additionally, Scales asserted that “[o]nce the campaign starts,” it would last “weeks, certainly not months,” and “[t]he only thing that would cause the campaign to last any length of time are the distances that are involved” between Iraqi cities.

During the December 20, 2002, edition of Fox’s On the Record, Thomas McInerney predicted that, should U.S. forces invade, “I think he’s [Saddam] going to use chemical weapons and biological” weapons on the Iraqi people because “he wants the collateral damage on his own people.” During the January 3, 2003, edition of On the Record, McInerney declared that “in the final analysis, France and Russia roll in” to assist in the Iraq war “even if it’s outside the U.N.” He concluded: “There’s no question if it’s inside the U.N., they’ll be there.”

McInerney also asserted during the same episode that invading Iraq and overthrowing Saddam would actually improve public opinion of America in the Arab world, and predicted that the “jubilation in Mosul, Basra, and Baghdad” after the invasion “will silen[ce] the Arab street.” According to McInerney: “There has not been a family in Iraq who has not been hurt by that man [Saddam], and so, once that is opened up, once those weapons of mass destruction that are exposed over there, once all this evil that this man has done, they’re going to go dead quiet, as will the critics in the United States.” Further, McInerney claimed on the February 3, 2003, edition of On the Record that the Iraq war would last “at the most one month,” but it would “probably [be] a two-week campaign.”
Rumsfield Propaganda Push Violates Federal Anti Propaganda Statutes

Donald Rumsfeld’s military analyst program violated federal anti propaganda statutes. Federal law prohibits the use of federal funds to propagandize the American people.

According to laws officially enacted in 1951 and affirmed by every appropriations bill since, “No part of any appropriation contained in this or any other Act shall be used for publicity or propaganda purposes within the United States.”

The Government Accountability Office’s definition of “publicity or propaganda” includes [PDF] “‘covert propaganda‘ (i.e., the communication does not reveal that Government appropriations were expended to produce it).”

The White House’s own Office of Legal Council further clarified the law in a 2005 memorandum following the controversy over the Armstrong Williams scandal (when it was discovered that the Bush administration had actually paid willing to publicly endorse its No Child Left Behind Law):

“covert attempts to mold opinion through the undisclosed use of third parties” would run afoul of restrictions on using appropriated funds for “propaganda.”

As Sheldon Rampton points out, the key passage here is the phrase, “covert attempts to mold opinion through the undisclosed use of third parties.” As David Bartow’s excellent New York Times report demonstrated in detail, the Pentagon’s military analyst program did exactly that.
1. It was covert. As Barstow’s piece states, the 75 retired military officers who were recruited by Donald Rumsfeld and given talking points to deliver on Fox, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS and MSNBC were given extraordinary access to White House and Pentagon officials. However, “The access came with a condition. Participants were instructed not to quote their briefers directly or otherwise describe their contacts with the Pentagon.”
2. It was an attempt to mold opinion. According to the Pentagon’s own internal documents (which can be downloaded and viewed from the New York Times website), the military analysts were considered “message force multipliers” or “surrogates” who would deliver administration “themes and messages” to millions of Americans “in the form of their own opinions.” According to one participating military analyst, it was “psyops on steroids.”
3. It was done “through the undisclosed use of third parties.” In their television appearances, the military analysts did not disclose their ties to the White House, let alone that they were its surrogates. The military analysts were used as puppets for the Pentagon. In the words of Robert S. Bevelacqua, a retired Green Beret and for Fox News military
analyst, “It was them saying, ‘We need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you.”

In a February 1, 1988 memorandum by the White House Office of Legal Council. Conservative lawyer Charles Cooper (then head of the OLC), explaining the legal limitations to White House efforts to win support for the Contra War in Nicaragua. Cooper declared that the Reagan Administration “can make available to private groups, upon request, printed materials that explain and justify the Administration’s position on Contra aid. These materials must be items that were created in the normal course of business and not specifically produced for use by these private groups.” Cooper continues:
It would be unwise, however, for the Administration to solicit the media to print articles by or interviews with anyone not serving in the government. And, of course, the Administration cannot assist in the preparation of any articles or statements by private sector supporters, other than through the provision of informational materials as described in the preceding paragraph.

In the case of the current Pentagon pundit scandal, however, the Pentagon clearly was assisting in the preparation both of articles and statements by private sector supporters. It did not simply provide “informational materials” that had been “created in the normal course of business.” Rather, it sat down with the retired military analysts, many employed by arms dealers in business with the Pentagon and worked closely with them to draft talking points and script language to deploy them as message amplifiers and surrogates without disclosure.

Rumsfeld knew he was breaking the law

Donald Rumsfeld was evidently told by advisors that his propaganda program was illegal and insisted to go forward anyway. In a transcript of one his meetings with his propaganda team of military media analysts, Rumsfeld complains that he has been warned that his “information operations” directed at U.S. citizens are “illegal or immoral“:
“This is the first war that’s ever been run in the 21sth Century in a time of 24-hour news and bloggers and internets and emails and digital cameras and Sony cams and God knows all this stuff. … We’re not very skillful at it in terms of the media part of the new realities we’re living in. Every time we try to do something someone says it’s illegal or immoral, there’s nothing the press would rather do than write about the press, we all know that. They fall in love with it. So every time someone tries to do some information operations for some public diplomacy or something, they say oh my goodness, it’s multiple audiences and if you’re talking to them, they’re hearing you here as well and therefore that’s propagandizing or something.”

This transcript demonstrates that Rumsfeld was aware of federal prohibitions on domestic propaganda operations. Although it is illegal to target propaganda at the America people, the law does not forbid propaganda aimed at foreign audiences. Rumsfeld has been warned, however, that in today’s world with “bloggers and internets and emails,” even information operations overseas reach “multiple audiences” including U.S. citizens who are “hearing you here as well and therefore that’s propagandizing.” Rumsfeld, however, made these statements during a conference with military pundits whom he had recruited specifically for information operations targeting U.S. audiences. Yet he went ahead and did it anyway. In another part of the transcript, he explained why. In fighting the war on terror, Rumsfeld said, the “center of gravity’s here in Washington and in the United States.” In other words, he intended specifically to break the law by targeting the American public to put pressure on Washington law makers to go along with his war. That transcript alone provides the smoking gun with clear enough evidence for any prosecutor to convene a grand jury.

 

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The News According to RFK Jr.

ALL THE NEWS THAT’S UNFIT TO PRINT, PT. II

Bobby’s back with another installment of “Unearthed: News the Mainstream Media Forgot to Report” on the Huffington Post this week.

Kennedy and co-blogger Brendan De Melle covered a mind-boggling array of news you won’t hear anywhere else in the latest column. So much news, in fact, it’s all rather difficult to digest in just one sitting…so we’ve decided to break it up into separate shorter stories which will run over the next few days here on this blog.

Here’s the first installment of this week’s “Unearthed” report:

UNEARTHED: NEWS THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA FORGOT TO REPORT

By Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Brendan DeMelle

The Huffington Post

Crimes Against Nature
Junk Science/Wolf Slaughter

At least 37 wolves have been killed in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming since the Bush Administration illegally delisted gray wolves from the Endangered Species Act, on March 28. The death toll could be even higher since kills are not required to be reported immediately. With the abolition of federal protection, the wolves are now being targeted under state laws that still classify wolves as “vermin” and allow unregulated wolf killing anywhere, anytime, for any reason. A dozen conservation groups have asked a federal court to immediately reinstate Endangered Species Act protections and to declare illegal the federal government’s wolf delisting decision which was based on manipulated, outdated and fraudulent science and which threatens the long-term survival of the species.

“Until now the reintroduction of gray wolves to the Northern Rockies was one of our greatest endangered species success stories,” said Louisa Willcox, Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) office in Livingston, MT. “Today it’s a national disgrace. The region has become a killing field for wolves, just as we predicted.”

The first casualty in the orgy of lupicide was “Hoppy” the eight-year-old celebrity wolf nicknamed for a limp (caused by an injury from a fight with another wolf pack). A rare black wolf Hoppy was one of the most recognizable members of Yellowstone’s famous Druid Peak pack. People snapped his photograph and shot video as he and his pack mates played, hunted and snoozed. Later, he became the first wolf to step foot into Utah in over 75 years and established his own pack in Grand Teton National Park. He was shot the day after delisting on an elk feeding ground in Wyoming.

“In delisting the wolves, the Bush Administration simply ignored the country’s leading wildlife biologists and two decades of scientific evidence showing that wolf populations are still too fragmented to survive. According to NRDC scientist, Dr. Sylvia Fallon, a minimum population of 2,000 to 5,000 animals is needed to ensure the genetic diversity necessary for the grey wolf’s long-term survival. At the time of delisting there were about 1,500 wolves in the region. All but 300 can be killed under President Bush’s current minimum recovery standard virtually assuring the gray wolf’s ultimate extinction.

The reintroduction of wolves by the federal government 12 years ago has been widely hailed as a major success story. It has measurably improved the natural balance in the Northern Rockies and benefited bird, antelope and elk populations. Many thousands of visitors flock to Yellowstone National Park each year to see and hear wolves in the wild, contributing at least $35 million to the local economy each year.

Thousands of gray wolves roamed the Rocky Mountains before being slaughtered and eliminated from 95 percent of the lower 48 states by the 1930s. The gray wolf was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 1973. Reintroduction efforts placed 66 wolves in Yellowstone National Park and part of Idaho in 1995-96.

Hundreds of Federal Scientists Ordered to Lie by Bush Administration

Hundreds of Environmental Protection Agency scientists say they have been pressured by superiors to skew their findings, according to a survey conducted by the Center for Survey Statistics & Methodology at Iowa State University, commissioned by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

One half of the nearly 1,600 EPA staff scientists who responded online to a detailed questionnaire reported they had experienced incidents of political interference in their work.

The report said 60 percent of those responding, or 889 scientists, reported personally experiencing political interference in their work over the last five years. Nearly 400 scientists said they had witnessed EPA officials misrepresenting scientific findings, 284 said they had seen the “selective or incomplete use of data to justify a specific regulatory outcome” and 224 scientists said they had been directed to “inappropriately exclude or alter technical information” in an EPA document. Nearly 200 of the respondents said they had been in situations where they or their colleagues actively objected to or resigned from projects “because of pressure to change scientific findings.” The University sent an online questionnaire to 5,500 EPA scientists and received 1,586 responses, a majority of them senior scientists who have worked for the agency for 10 years or more. The survey included chemists, toxicologists, engineers, geologists and experts in the life and environmental sciences.

The highest number of complaints about political interference came from scientists who are directly involved in writing regulations and those who conduct risk assessments such as determining a chemicals cancer risk for humans.

“The investigation shows researchers are generally continuing to do their work, but their scientific findings are tossed aside when it comes time to write regulations,” UCS said.

In the survey, the EPA scientists described an agency suffering from low morale as the agency’s political appointees and the White House Office of Management and Budget frequently second-guess scientific findings and change work conducted by EPA’s scientists.

EPA managers initially instructed employees not to participate in the survey, but the EPA’s general counsel’s office later sent an e-mail to employees saying they could participate in their private time.

White House Gives Industry More Influence over Science Process

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) chastised the Environmental Protection Agency for giving industry the ability to directly input information into the EPA’s influential database that catalogues chemical risk information, known as the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). The new process lets “the White House and federal polluters derail EPA’s scientific assessment of toxic chemicals,” she charged. The new policy, announced April 10 on the agency’s website, will allow industry to contribute its own biased information to the IRIS database, which was previously compiled solely by agency scientists. The new policy also allows for earlier and more extensive involvement by the White House and federal agencies that pollute the environment, such as the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy.

According to the watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, the changes mean that:
• Affected corporations will be intimately involved in each step of EPA’s risk assessment and will be able to know what staff are assigned to which work, making the agency “research plan” vulnerable to political manipulation through the appropriations process;
• The Defense and Energy Departments, two of the world’s largest polluters, will have a formal role on how pollutants, such as the chemical perchlorate, are evaluated. In addition, these agencies could declare a particular chemical to be “mission critical” that would allow them to control how “data gaps” are to be filled. All their alterations will be made in secret. All intra-and inter-agency communications on risk assessments are deemed “deliberative” and thus confidential.

The new policy gives polluters power to determine which chemicals get assessed and how those assessments are conducted. It also formalizes a new process to be run by the White House and polluters behind closed doors and exclude the public.

Federal, state and international agencies use these assessments to create public health protections, including drinking water standards, toxic waste cleanup levels, air pollution limits, controls on dangerous chemicals in food and consumer products, worker protections and other safeguards.

Green Building: Applause for Seattle’s Mayor

Seattle is now the nation’s leader in green building with 41 LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified buildings. LEED buildings, which are certified by the U.S. Green Building Council, are designed to use less water, energy and building resources, and often incorporate recycled materials. Besides Seattle, the top five cities with the most LEED certified projects include Portland, Oregon, Chicago, Washington, DC, and Grand Rapids, MI. Ten of Seattle’s LEED certified buildings are owned by the City of Seattle, demonstrating the city’s commitment to lead in this area. In February, Mayor Greg Nickels announced an effort to make Seattle America’s Green Building Capital by improving energy efficiency in all commercial and residential buildings by 20 percent.
RIGHT WING NEWS

Flat Earth Family

Demonstrating that deliberate ignorance may be genetic, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush told a group of several hundred business people in Texas that he is skeptical that humans are causing global warming. Bush accused those who advocate action to fight climate disruption of acting like religious zealots. “I don’t think our policies should be based on emotion; they should be based on sound science.” Bush’s two terms as governor ended in 2007. His successor, Republican governor Charlie Crist has said Florida should become a leader on this issue because its low elevation makes it vulnerable to sea level rise.

Stay tuned for more of “The news according to RFK Jr.” – and don’t forget to catch his weekly report on Air America radio and GoLeft.tv.

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ABC News Can’t Keep Their Kennedys Straight

ABC News logo

ABC’s WONDER BLUNDER

From the “if it weren’t so sad, it would almost be funny” department…

Apparently the overpaid geniuses at ABC News (and I use the word “news” very, very loosely) can’t keep their Kennedys straight.

In a piece posted May 1 on the “Political Radar” blog (“Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Says Family Members Are Wrong In Supporting Obama”), ABC News’ Eloise Harper clearly did not know the difference between JFK and RFK.

Our presumably college-educated reporter seems to believe, quite incredibly, that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is the son of John F. Kennedy.

Go figure.

Quoting Madame Harper’s original story:

Introducing Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., in Jeffersonville, IN, Robert Kennedy Jr. had some pretty harsh words for his family members who are backing Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., for president.

“There are some members of my family who’ve decided to do the wrong thing, support Senator Obama,” he said of the Democratic presidential fight.

…Kennedy went on to speak about the attacks that Sen. Clinton received while in office saying, “she came in after enduring one of the most savage beatings of a public figure during my lifetime with people like Ken Star going spending 40 million dollars going after her relentlessly with billionaires like Richard Mellon Scaife and his whole right wing machine that sent out hundreds of millions of letters to American citizens going after her relentlessly.”

Trying to connect the attacks Clinton pushed off to similar criticism President John F. Kennedy endured more than 40 years ago. “She had to endure the same kind of attacks that my father had to endure which was being called a carpetbagger when she came into New York.” Kennedy pointed to Clinton’s work in the upstate parts of New York to make his point saying that she”transformed those counties, which not even my father could do…..”

OH, WHAT’S HIS NAME?

Incredibly, none of the ABC copy or web editors noticed the error.

Even more incredibly, none of the readers did, either.

Finally…five days and 187 comments after the story’s original publication, one astute reader named Art Glick posted the following observation:

“Doesn’t it bother ANYBODY that JFK was NOT RFK Jr’s father?!?! And that the quote above likely refers to RFK???

Don’t they teach history in the schools anymore? Can anybody write copy for a news outlet???

Does no one proof the copy???

Am I really THAT old, that I’m the only one who remembers???

Posted by: Art Glick | May 5, 2008 12:04:20 PM

MEMO TO ABC COPY EDITORS

  • Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is not the son of President John F. Kennedy.
  • The reason his name is Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is…(wait for it!)…because his father was Robert F. Kennedy Sr.
  • The only son of John F. Kennedy is deceased. (please reference your own obituary files for 1999.)
  • President John F. Kennedy was a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, not New York State.
  • The President’s brother, Robert served as Senator from New York, 1964-68.
  • Senator Robert F. Kennedy was never President of the United States.
  • Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is the son of Senator Robert F. Kennedy. (Can’t believe I’m actually having to explain this, but just wanted to cover this territory one more time to make sure we’re on the same page…)
  • Oh…and one more thing: The correct spelling of Ken Starr’s name is with two R’s. (Please reference your own archival database from 1998.)

PARDON MY RANT

It would be one thing if this were Joe Blow’s Blog. Even a local newspaper with a limited staff of editors I could easily understand, but ABC News?

At one of this nation’s big three flagship news networks, an error of that magnitude is absolutely unacceptable. When neither the reporters, editors, or the majority of readers know the difference between JFK and RFK, I’m deeply troubled. We all should be.

Why? Because, as the network’s corporate slogan says, “more Americans get their news from ABC News than from any other source.”

When five days elapse without a correction to the story being posted, it speaks that basic newsgathering and editing skills are no longer required to get a job in the “news” industry.

Way to go ABC News. With top-drawer journalism like this, no wonder Americans are(as RFK Jr. likes to say) are “the most entertained and least informed people on the planet.”

 

Copyright RFKin2008.com.

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