Post-holiday posting

I’m glad I wandered over to friend Sue’s BLOG just now and found her post about Thanksgiving cooking and Christmas decorating. Sue tells her readers she just hasn’t had time to keep up with the news. I left her this comment:

OMG!!! I was so happy to read this post, Sue. I, too, have had a very busy last few days and have kept up with nothing in the news ('cepting Tiger). I had a post ready to go this morning, but had no idea about any folo information on its subject, so I scratched it. I then had a two-hour phone call from a friend who wanted to dump about her holiday with family. CRUNCH. The last thing I wanted to do this Monday morning was to come up with a blog post, so I am delighted to get your reminder that - to paraphrase John Lennon - life is what happens when you're blogging. Enjoy yourself, BJ


27 plus one

Sharing this from the staff at THE PROGRESS REPORT, Center for American Progress, 25 November 2009:


1. We're thankful President Obama is thinking long and hard about committing more troops and money to Afghanistan.

2. We're thankful President Bush feels liberated now.

3. We're (not) thankful Dick Cheney has elected to move from his undisclosed location to the media spotlight.

4. We're thankful Al Franken has gone from playing self-help guru Stuart Smalley on Saturday Night Live to helping rape victims receive justice from their employers.

5. We're thankful for the healing power of beer.

6. We're thankful there are some on the right who think Glenn Beck is "incoherent," "mindless," "erratic," "bizarre" and "harmful to the conservative movement."

7. We're thankful for long hikes on the Appalachian Trail.

8. We're thankful Michael Steele understands that he can't "do policy" and that no one has any reason to trust his "words or actions."

9. We're (not) thankful for "birthers," "deathers," "tenthers," or "tea baggers."

10. We're (not) thankful conservatives believe they love America so much that they can root for our President to fail and for our nation to lose out on hosting the Olympics.

11. We're thankful NFL players refused to "bend over and grab the ankles" for Rush Limbaugh.

12. We're thankful six companies have resigned from the Chamber of Commerce due to its denial of climate change science.

13. We're thankful Falcon "Balloon boy" Heene wasn't actually in the balloon.

14. We're thankful Lt. Dan Choi and Lt. Col Victor Fehrenbach bravely spoke out against Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

15. We're thankful Shep Smith doesn't always drink the Fox News Kool-Aid.

16. We're thankful more than 80 companies refused to lend their sponsorship to Glenn Beck's hateful rants.

17. We're thankful there are progressive organizations in D.C. lobbying for a two-state solution in the Middle East.

18. We're (not) thankful for the filibuster.

19. We're thankful that more than 20,000 of you stood up to Bill O'Reilly's harassment machine and called for impeachment hearings against torture advocate Jay Bybee.

20. We're thankful that Iran's authoritarian rulers live in fear of their own population.

21. We're thankful we'll no longer have to listen to nativist rhetoric on CNN and global warming skepticism on ABC News.

22. We're (not) thankful for bailed out CEOs who think they're doing "God's work" by doling out billions in bonuses.

23. We're thankful for the legacy of the Liberal Lion.

24. We're thankful Bill O'Reilly won't be following us home for Thanksgiving.

25. We're thankful a "wise Latina" sits on the Supreme Court.

26. We're thankful our boss helped rescue imprisoned American journalists in North Korea.

27. We're thankful for our readers and the support you give us.


I am thankful for each of you who keep coming back to DemWit and for your comments which add so much to this blog.

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving! See you Monday!



Memories marred by murder

The home of one’s grandparents is a sacred place filled with memories. The Holcomb, Miss., home shown in the 1970 photo at top, was built in the first decade of the 20th Century and bu mid-century was the home of my grandparents, Samuel Franklin and Mary Ella Lindsey Timmons. After their deaths, my aunt, Kathleen Oakley, continued to reside there for many years until she moved to Tupelo to be near her daughters.

Throughout the 20th Century, the families which graced its spacious rooms added to the home’s provenance: Clark, Jackson, Timmons, Oakley and Clanton. The Clantons completed the restoration of the home begun by my aunt and her children.

Today, the wonderful old homes of Holcomb have been lovingly restored in this “bedroom community” situated between Greenwood and Grenada. For a wonderful bit of Americana, visit this small town’s Web site HERE.

The artist’s rendering above is of the main street I remember so well, and the Corner Grocery with the restored Coca-Cola sign once belonged to my aunt and uncle – a heaven of free Lance cookies, Eskimo Pies and Grapette drinks.

So, this, then, is a history of the place where I spent so many precious moments of my teenage years.

My memories were marred when word came from my older brother Roy that the current owner of this wonderful old homeplace, the Rev. Jimmy Stauddy, 69, a United Methodist minister and antigues dealer, and his caregiver, Martha Stoker, 47, were stabbed to death last week by an intruder. Stauddy, a former captain of the Grenada Police Department and intelligence analyst with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, was wheelchair-bound from the advanced stages of Parkinson’s.

Ironically, I am reminded of another senseless Holcomb killing, that Holcomb the small Kansas town where the murders of the Clutter family took place. When I read Truman Capote’s account, In Cold Blood, I couldn’t help recall another sleepy farm town, the peaceful little Holcomb of my youth.

I do not know the victims of this crime, but my heartfelt sympathy goes out to their families and neighbors in so many ways.



“Killings shake Holcomb,” Bob Darden, Greenwood (Miss.) Commonwealth, 17 November 2009

“Man arrested in double slaying,” Bob Darden and Tim Kalich, Greenwood (Miss.) Commonwealth, 20 November 2009


The Federal Reserve System

A little DemWit digging to bring readers information about the subject of my previous post, “The little committee that could.”

I readily admit a good deal of it is over my head, but, hopefully, this information will be helpful in understanding the U.S. House committee action discussed in the last post.

Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2009:

Central banking authority of the United States. It acts as a fiscal agent for the U.S. government, is custodian of the reserve accounts of commercial banks, makes loans to commercial banks and oversees the supply of currency, including coin, in coordination with the U.S. Mint. The system was created by the Federal Reserve Act, which Pres. Woodrow Wilson signed into law on Dec. 23, 1913. It consists of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the 12 Federal Reserve banks, the Federal Open Market Committee, the Federal Advisory Council, and, since 1976, a Consumer Advisory Council; there are several thousand member banks.

The seven-member Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System determines the reserve requirements of the member banks within statutory limits, reviews and determines the discount rates established by the 12 Federal Reserve banks and reviews the budgets of the reserve banks. The Chairman of the Board of Governors is appointed to a four-year term by the president of the United States.

A Federal Reserve bank is a privately owned corporation established pursuant to the Federal Reserve Act to serve the public interest; it is governed by a board of nine directors, six of whom are elected by the member banks and three of whom are appointed by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. The 12 Federal Reserve banks are located in Boston; New York City; Philadelphia; Chicago; San Francisco; Cleveland, Ohio; Richmond, Virginia; Atlanta, Georgia; St. Louis, Missouri; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Kansas City, Missouri; and Dallas, Texas.

The 12-member Federal Open Market Committee, consisting of the seven members of the Board of Governors, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and four members elected by the Federal Reserve banks, is responsible for the determination of Federal Reserve bank policy to encourage long-term objectives of price stability (i.e., controlling inflation through the adjustment of interest rates) and economic growth. The Federal Advisory Council, whose role is purely advisory, consists of one representative from each of the 12 Federal Reserve districts.

The Federal Reserve System exercises its regulatory powers in several ways, the most important of which may be classified as instruments of direct or indirect control. One form of direct control can be exercised by adjusting the legal reserve ratio—i.e., the proportion of its deposits that a member bank must hold in its reserve account—thus increasing or reducing the amount of new loans that the commercial banks can make. Because loans give rise to new deposits, the potential money supply is, in this way, expanded or reduced.

The money supply may also be influenced through manipulation of the discount rate, which is the rate of interest charged by Federal Reserve banks on short-term secured loans to member banks. Since these loans are typically sought by banks to maintain reserves at their required level, an increase in the cost of such loans has an effect similar to that of increasing the reserve requirement.

The classic method of indirect control is through open-market operations, first widely used in the 1920s and now employed daily to make small adjustments in the market. Federal Reserve bank sales or purchases of securities on the open market tend to reduce or increase the size of commercial-bank reserves; e.g., when the Federal Reserve sells securities, the purchasers pay for them with checks drawn on their deposits, thereby reducing the reserves of the banks on which the checks are drawn.

The three instruments of control described here have been conceded to be more effective in preventing inflation in times of high economic activity than in bringing about revival from a period of depression. A supplemental control occasionally used by the Federal Reserve Board is that of changing the margin requirements involved in the purchase of securities.

The Federal Reserve has broad supervisory and regulatory authority over state-chartered banks and bank holding companies, as well as foreign banks operating in the United States. It is also involved in maintaining the credit rights of consumers. One of the longest chairmanships of the Federal Reserve Board was held by Alan Greenspan, who took office in August 1987 and held the post until January 2006.


What Is The Federal Reserve?

A History of The US Central Banking System

By Rebecca Turner , Suite101
Jan 28, 2008

What is the Federal Reserve?

It's an independent government organization that controls America's money supply.

What The Federal Reserve Does

As the central bank of the United States, the Federal Reserve has three key functions which revolve around managing the money supply:

* To adjust base interest rates
* To print and release new bank notes
* To remove existing notes from circulation

By controlling the amount of money in circulation, the Federal Reserve can make US currency either more or less valuable, thereby influencing the country’s economy on a multitude of levels.

How The Federal Reserve Was Founded

In 1907, rumours emerged that caused the latest of a string of large-scale bank runs. Fears of an economic depression shattered the confidence of the American people, who soon called for bank reforms.

A group of wealthy businessmen – led by J P Morgan, Paul Warburg and John D Rockefeller – intervened to pave the way for the establishment of a private central bank. With their connections, they soon put a banker-controlled plan to President Woodrow Wilson.

In a decision that would later come to haunt him, President Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act into law. In doing so, he effectively placed control of the US economy squarely in the hands of the private bankers, who would go on to create massive amounts of credit – backed by absolutely nothing.

(About suite101.com: “The world's most comprehensive independent online magazine: written and edited by professionals, trusted by over 24 million readers monthly.”)


The little committee that could

A very unusual event occurred in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday, 19 November.

In a David v. Goliath rendering of people power, two so-called “wingnuts” went up against “one of those permanent power centers in this country that exert great power with very little accountability and almost no transparency.”

A House committee passed the Ron Paul/Alan Grayson amendment calling for a (gasp!) full audit of the Fed.

DemWit rarely shares a full article, preferring to hit the highlights and let the reader choose to move beyond this page via the appropriate link. But, this baby – from Salon.com – is just too good to condense.

So, leaning heavily on the “fair use notice” in my sidebar, here, then, is how a tenacious little group of representatives went up against The Washington Establishment and won the first skirmish in a battle for accountability and transparency:

The Washington establishment suffers a serious defeat

Approval of the Paul/Grayson bill to audit the Fed is both rare and important in several ways

By Glenn Greenwald
Salon.com/Nov. 20, 2009

Something quite amazing happened yesterday in Congress: the House Finance Committee - in a truly bipartisan and even trans-ideological vote - defied the banking industry, the Federal Reserve, the Democratic leadership and mainstream Beltway opinion in order to pass an amendment, sponsored by GOP Rep. Ron Paul and Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson, mandating a genuine and probing audit of the Fed.

The Huffington Post's Ryan Grim has the best account of what took place, noting:

“In an unprecedented defeat for the Federal Reserve, an amendment to audit the multi-trillion dollar institution was approved by the House Finance Committee with an overwhelming and bipartisan 43-26 vote on Thursday afternoon despite harried last-minute lobbying from top Fed officials and the surprise opposition of Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who had previously been a supporter.”

Grim details how key Committee Democrats such as Frank - who spent the year claiming to support an audit of the Fed in the face of rising anger over its secret and bank-subservient policies - suddenly introduced their own amendment (sponsored by Democratic Rep. Melvin Watt) that would have essentially gutted the Paul/Grayson provisions. Banking industry and Fed officials, as well as the Democratic leadership, then got behind that alternative provision as a means of pretending to support transparency while protecting the Fed from any genuine examination. Notwithstanding the pressure exerted on Committee Democrats to support that watered-down "audit" bill, Grayson convinced 15 of his colleagues to join with Republicans to provide overwhelming support for the Paul/Grayson amendment. As Grim notes:

“[Frank] urged a no vote, yet 15 Democrats bucked him, voting with Paul. Key to winning Democratic support was a letter posted early Thursday from labor leaders and progressive economists. The letter, organized by the liberal blog FireDogLake.com, called for a rejection of the Watt substitute and support for Paul.

“Grayson was able to show Democratic colleagues that the liberal base was behind them.

‘Today was Waterloo for Fed secrecy,’ a victorious Grayson said afterwards.”

The bill still faces substantial hurdles in becoming law, of course, but yesterday's vote has made that outcome quite possible, and it's worth noting several important points highlighted by what happened here:

(1) Our leading media outlets are capable of understanding political debates only by stuffing them into melodramatic, trite and often distracting "right v. left" storylines. While some debates fit comfortably into that framework, many do not. Anger over the Wall Street bailouts, the control by the banking industry of Congress, and the impenetrable secrecy with which the Fed conducts itself resonates across the political spectrum, as the truly bipartisan and trans-ideological vote yesterday reflects. Populist anger over elite-favoring economic policies has long been brewing on both the Right and Left (and in between), but neither political party can capitalize on it because they're both dependent upon and subservient to the same elite interests which benefit from those policies.

For that reason, many of the most consequential political conflicts are shaped far more by an "insider v. outsider" dichotomy than by a "GOP v. Democrat" or "Left v. Right" split. The pillaging of America's economic security by financial elites, with the eager assistance of the government officials who they own and who serve them, is the prime example of such a conflict. The political system as a whole - both parties' leadership - is owned and controlled by a handful of key industry interests, and anger over the fact is found across the political spectrum. Yesterday's vote is a very rare example where the true nature of political power was expressed and the petty distractions and artificial fault lines overcome.

(2) As Grim expertly describes, the effort to defeat the Paul/Grayson amendment came from all of the typical Washington power centers using all of the establishment's typical manipulative tools:

“The playbook in Washington often goes like this: When a measure that threatens the establishment builds enough momentum that it must be dealt with, it is labeled as ‘unserious.’ The Washington Post editorial board, true to the script, called Paul's measure ‘an unserious answer to a serious question.’

“And, it particularly rankles the center that a pair of ‘wingnuts’ [Paul and Grayson] are behind a successful effort to challenge the prevailing order.

“Step Two is for a ‘serious’ compromise to be offered. In this case, it was Watt's amendment. But, by the time the vote was called Thursday afternoon, committee members had seen through his measure, recognizing that it was not a compromise effort to bring real transparency to the Fed, but an attempt to further shut the doors.”

One can count on one hand the number of times that establishment attacks like this fail, but this time - at least for now - it did. And, it reveals a winning formula: where there is a strong and principled leader in Congress willing to defy the Party's leadership and the Washington establishment (Grayson), combined with leading experts lending their name to the effort (economists Dean Baker and James Galbraith), organizations standing behind it (labor groups), and a shrewd and driven organizer putting it all together (FDL's Jane Hamsher), even the most powerful forces and opinion-enforcers can be defeated, as they were here. Those progressive advocates' refusal to be distracted by trite partisan considerations, and their reliance on substantial GOP support to pass the bill (as hypocritical as the GOP's position might have been), was particularly crucial - and smart.

(3) Beyond the specifics, a genuine audit of the Fed would be a major blow to the way Washington typically works. The Fed is one of those permanent power centers in this country that exert great power with very little accountability and almost no transparency (like much of the intelligence and defense community). The power they exert has exploded within the last year as a result of the financial crisis, yet they continue to operate in a completely opaque manner and with virtually no limits. Its officials have been trained to view their unfettered power as an innate entitlement, and they express contempt for any efforts to limit or even monitor what they do.

In other words, the Fed is a typical Washington institution that operates un-democratically and in virtually total secrecy, and a Congressionally-mandated audit that they (and much of the DC establishment) desperately oppose would be a serious step towards changing the dynamic of how things function. At the very least, it would provide an important template for defeating the interests which, in Washington, almost never lose. At least yesterday, those interests did lose - resoundingly - and the importance of that should not be overlooked - Glenn Greenwald


John Gilbert Ludwig sentence

Demwit reported back in April the case of a prominent Greenville, S.C., businessman charged with murder when his Maserati crashed into a home killing a man.

According to WSPA-TV, “John Ludwig pleaded guilty to reckless homicide in a Greenville courtroom Monday morning (11/16/09), but will serve no jail time. Judge James C. Williams, Jr., sentenced Ludwig to five years probation, suspended to three years probation. Ludwig must also serve 500 hours of community service.”

Murder charges against Ludwig were dismissed.

Read the full report.


Today’s DemWit post follows.

The right to lie?

“I might not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” I have no idea who first spoke these words, but I used to embrace them.

In today’s political climate of 24/7 say anything, I’m having second thoughts.

A couple of days ago I read a blog discussion about Sarah Palin’s new book, “Going Rogue: An American Life” - for days now the No. 1 “bestseller” on Amaxon.com . The post noted that some persons mentioned in Palin’s book are denying the veracity of the woman’s words.

Immediately, a Palin supporter pointed out that she has the “right to free speech.”

There is an ethical side to the claim of free speech. Of course, the Supreme Court has said free speech does not include yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater. And, there are libel and slander laws in place to protect persons from written or spoken defamation. The Court has ruled that “public figures” voluntarily put themselves in the spotlight and must prove “actual malice.” In any such lawsuit, truth is the best defense.

But, what about lies in the political arena, such as those in South Carolina which derailed John McCain’s bid for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination or the “swift-boating” which hurt John Kerry’s 2004 race?

Morally, is it a matter of free speech when persons lie in order to destroy an individual’s political ambitions? Are there moral connotations when persons spread outright lies to bring down anyone whose ideas they oppose? Did George W. Bush promote free speech when he allowed only supporters into his speeches and rallies, relegating those who opposed him to “free-speech zones” far from the venue in which he appeared?

In 2003, a federal court in Florida unanimously ruled that it is OK for Fox News to lie to its viewers. The defense argued there are no laws in the United States prohibiting media lies. A perfect defense.

I suspect when the Bill of Rights was adopted, guaranteeing basic freedoms, those who wrote the words had no idea how immoral politics and purveyors of opinion could become.

It is, after all, a question of right and wrong, isn’t it?

As long as lies are protected by the First Amendment, we must rely on the standard set forth in John Milton’s great plea for a free press, Aeropagitica:

“Let truth and falsehood grapple. Whoever knew truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter?”

An old Chinese proverb says, “A lie goes around the world while truth is still putting on its shoes.” That was never more true than today. I wonder what Milton would argue in a day of 24/7 cable news, the World Wide Web and No. 1 bestsellers?

I’m betting he would still believe in the power of truth.


'Failure is not an option'

For more than two decades 40-year-old Alva Williams of Upstate South Carolina has had a personal motto: “Failure is not an option.”

The Physical Abilities Test of the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy is described thusly by WSPA-TV writer Robert Kittle:

“Recruits have to run around the outside of the half-court twice, then hop over two 18-inch obstacles, climb up a flight of stairs, down the other side then turn around and go up and down again, crawl under a pipe that’s three feet off the ground, jump over a 6-foot-wide “ditch”, jump over a 4-and-a-half foot fence, and then climb through a ‘window’ that’s about 4-and-a-half feet off the ground, then drag a 150-pound sandbag, finishing with another lap around the perimeter. And they have to do all that in under 2 minutes and 6 seconds.”

Alva finished this physical test on two occasions just seconds over the time limit. Joining the next class of recruits, he conquered the obstacle course with 17 seconds to spare.

On Friday, October 30, Alva graduated from the Academy with two distinctions.

He won the Courage Award.

And, he became the first person in the state, and possibly the country, to accomplish what he did.

Alva has an above-the-knee leg prosthesis. His leg was amputated follwing a football injury when he was 16.

He is now an officer with the Travelers Rest, S.C., police department, fulfilling his longtime dream.

Need a feel-good moment today? Read Alva Williams’ inspiring story, beautifully conveyed by WSPA’s Kittle. (Scroll below the video for the article.)

And, the next time you encounter some seemingly insurmountable obstacle, remember Alva’s motto.


'It's not personal, it's business'

Late Friday night I was feeling great. I had almost made it through Friday the 13th with no apparent problems. The New York strip steak I had for dinner was perfect. Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher had just been rescued from the cave in the book I’m listening to. Then, I received the following email:

Obama and his Muslim faith. A muslim president of a Christian nation is a scary thought.

Read this before it is removed. If the administration finds it they will remove immediately.

Watch the YouTube video, “Obama Admits He’s a Muslim.”.


"Jesus Christ," I said out loud, "hasn't this been laid to rest?" This email was offensive to me on so many levels and spoiled an otherwise perfect evening. How do you respond without saying “you are ignorant” to the person who sent it? How do you respond without seeming to attack Christianity?

I have chosen to respond on DemWit. To the person who sent the email I quote the line from "The Godfather" trilogy, "It's not personal, it's business." Here are a few facts:

1) I am Christian.
2) Barack Obama is Christian
3) The United States of America is not “a Christian nation.” While the majority of its citizens are of the Christian religion, the Constitution clearly states, “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …” The first part of this clause means America cannot be declared “a Christian nation.” The second means any citizen may worship freely in this country – Muslim, Jew, Christian – or even choose not to worship at all.
4) There is an overriding assumption in the email that all Muslims are evil. Islamic Jihadists are our enemies, an evil presence just as extremists in any religion are, including fanatical Christians.
5) It’s just plain stupid to assert the Obama administration would “remove” this YouTube video. It’s been up since September 2008, and it hasn’t been removed yet. And, it sure as hell didn’t have an impact on Election 2008.

I am on a dial-up connections, too slow to view videos, so I took a trip through Googleland and came up with the original interview from which the YouTube video was lifted out of context.

Obama did not “admit” on ABC to being a Muslim

Here’s the full exchange with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, making it perfectly clear that when Obama says “John McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith,” he meant “John McCain has not claimed I am Muslim.” He’s referring to efforts to smear him, and both he and Stephanopoulos clear the statement up.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You mention your Christian faith. Yesterday you took off after the Republicans for suggesting you have Muslim connections. Just a few minutes ago, Rick Davis, John McCain’s campaign manager, said they’ve never done that. This is a false and cynical attempt to play victim.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: You know what? I mean, these guys love to throw a rock and hide their hand. The …

STEPHANOPOULOS: The McCain campaign has never suggested you have Muslim connections.

OBAMA: No, no, no. But the — I don’t think that when you look at what is being promulgated on Fox News, let’s say, and Republican commentators who are closely allied to these folks …

STEPHANOPOULOS: But John McCain said that’s wrong.

OBAMA: Now, well, look. Listen. You and I both know that the minute that Governor Palin was forced to talk about her daughter, I immediately said that’s off limits. And …

STEPHANOPOULOS: But John McCain said the same thing about questioning your faith.

OBAMA: And what was the first thing the McCain campaign went out and did? They said, look, these liberal blogs that support Obama are out there attacking Governor Palin. Let’s not play games. What I was suggesting — you’re absolutely right that John McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith. And you’re absolutely right that that has not come …

STEPHANOPOULOS: Christian faith.

OBAMA: — my Christian faith. Well, what I’m saying is that he hasn’t suggested …

STEPHANOPOULOS: Has connections, right.

OBAMA: … that I’m a Muslim. And I think that his campaign’s upper echelons have not, either.

IN CONCLUSION, it took me 10 minutes to research this allegation. If the persons who pass this crap along would take a few minutes to verify it rather than spread bogus information, this would be a better world – and my contented evening would not have been interrupted.


Lou Dobbs' higher calling

At one time or the other, Lou Dobbs, who joined CNN at its inception in 1980, has met every criteria of DemWit’s description to your left.

Dobbs became a respected journalist anchoring CNN’s “Moneyline.” His reporting on the 1987 stock market crash earned him the George Foster Peabody Award for excellence in broadcasting, the venue’s most prestigious honor. He won an Emmy for life achievement in 2005.

Morphing into an advocacy journalist, Dobbs became rabid in his reporting on certain issues. Night after night after night, he became more obsessive and egocentric. You could tune in any night and within one minute you heard the terms “broken borders” and “illegal immigrants.”

Ignoring major polls, Dobbs cited only those which backed his manic convictions.

Then, he joined the far-right’s “birther” movement, demanding that President Obama produce a "legitimate" birth certificate to prove his U.S. citizenship.

Both he and CNN have stated his departure last night from the cable network's nightly lineup was “amicable,” but it’s common knowledge that he has brought controversy to the network in recent years.

Anyone who quoted Lou Dobss to me was met with a pat answer: “Lou Dobbs is an idiot!”

In words similar to those of Sarah Palin, Dobbs sees before him some grandiose mission:

"Over the past six months, it has become increasingly clear that strong winds of change have begun buffeting this country and affecting all of us, and some leaders in media, politics and business have been urging me to go beyond the role here at CNN and to engage in constructive problem-solving as well as to contribute positively to a better understanding of the great issues of our day and to continue to do so in the most honest and direct language possible."

Problem-solving and honesty from a man who believes the president of the United States is an illegal immigrant?

Keep an eye on these wingnuts who are leaving their high-paying and prestigious positions to embrace a higher calling.

Read comments by Dobbs and CNN President Jonathan Klein HERE.

UPDATE: Media Matters for America's home page has full coverage of Lou Dobbs' departure from CNN, including "What Really Happened."


Honoring our veterans

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved, and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

- John McCrae


Graham crosses 'the climate Rubicon'

DemWit would like to commend South Carolina Sen. Lindsey O. Graham. Quite often, I disagree with Graham’s stance on issues and let him know about it. On the occasions he listens to his own conscience and swims against the conservative tide, he deserves kudos.

On one stance, Graham is in hot water with his fellow Republicans.

According to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) the party of “no” became the party of “no show” last week when Republican senators boycotted the legislative markup of a bill designed to produce clean energy and related jobs.

The nations of the world are looking to the United States for leadership as they prepare to gather in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December to develop the successor to the Kyoto Protocol. That global warming treaty was signed by every major nation except the United States, despite our country being one of the largest contributors of carbon emissions.

The Center for American Progress identifies the opposition in America:

“Fossil fuel companies, conservative business lobbying organizations and right-wing pundits have led the resistance. Exxon Mobil alone spent $7.2 million on lobbying in the last quarter - more than the total of the entire alternative energy sector or environmental organizations. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which called for a 'Scopes monkey trial'
on climate science in August, suffered months of defections and outside pressure. Grudgingly accepting the need for action, the Chamber is still opposing 'targets and timetables' for reducing carbon pollution.” Particulary outspoken is Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe, who denies the existence of a global warming problem.

It takes a brave man to stand up to such opposition, and Sen. Graham is paying the price.

On 10 October 2009, Graham co-authoried a New York Times op-ed column with Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) titled “Yes We Can (Pass Climate Change Legislation).”

According to The Progress Report of 5 November 2009, “Graham (on 4 November) rebuked senators unwilling to address carbon pollution, saying that he has ‘seen the effects of a warming planet.’ Graham called for the U.S. to ‘lead the world rather than follow the world on carbon pollution’ to ‘create millions of new jobs for Americans that need them.’

“Graham has ‘crossed the climate Rubicon,’ abandoning denialist conservative activists by recognizing the threat of global warming and working with Democrats. Conservative activists have accused Graham of ‘going to bed with John Kerry’ and making a ‘pact with the devil’ and called him a ‘traitor,’ ‘a Democrat in drag’ and a ‘wussypants, girly-man, half-a-sissy.’

It is not lost on me that all this absurd name-calling is playing off persistent whispering that Graham is gay. I mention this only to point out how dirty the right-wing fights.

The Progress Report continues, “The American Energy Alliance, ‘funded in part by oil and natural gas companies, utilities and other energy-industry firms’ and staffed by Republican operatives, is running ads in South Carolina accusing Graham of supporting ‘new energy taxes’ that will ‘further harm our economy and kill millions of American jobs.’

"But, Graham also has local supporters, who argue that ‘Graham is fighting for South Carolina's needs in the national energy debate.’ John Courson, a conservative South Carolina state senator and former Marine, shot back that ‘when you see all the ads attacking Lindsey Graham for supporting energy reform, just remember this: The special interest groups are protecting their own profits. Lindsey Graham is fighting for South Carolina.’

Beyond that, on this issue, Lindsey Graham is fighting for America, for the world and for the future. So, a tip of the hat today to my senator.


Murdoch defends Fox feuds

During a business interview via conference call from Sydney, Australia, Rupert Murdoch was asked about Fox News’ “feuds” with both MSNBC and the White House.

The News Corp chairman, 78, in a classic Faustian defense of his flagship enterprise claimed, “We did not start this abuse.”

Murdoch was referring to Keith Olbermann and others at MSNBC and to a White House attempt to ban Fox News from a pool interview. He said MSNBC started the feud, and Fox had to “retaliate.” Of the White House matter, Murdoch said Fox News’ competition came to its defense.

Interestingly, he added this about the White House, “"We haven't really had any continuing problem there at all. We cover them, and they have said publicly that we are absolutely fair in our reporting of the White House. They just don't like one or two of our commentators, which we understand."

You didn’t start this abuse, Mr. Murdoch? It’s OK, in your view, for Fox News to malign President Obama, falsely reporting on every aspect of his campaign and his presidency?

Nevermind that, aside from commentators like Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and a whole host of guests, all of whom repeatedly lie to viewers – a fact backed up by documentation – Fox News’ reporting is often nuanced and driven, right down to biased bottom-of-the-screen headlines.

So what if Keith Olbermann merely reports what your ratings-happy clowns say verbatim and then knocks their own words down with facts?

Could it possibly matter that Fox News won a lawsuit based on its only defense: that it’s OK to lie to its viewers? “In February 2003, a Florida Court of Appeals unanimously agreed with an assertion by FOX News that there is no rule against distorting or falsifying the news in the United States.” (Read about the Florida case HERE.)

As a journalist, I can think of few actions more harmful to this country than falsifying the news to fit a political agenda.
Rupert Murdoch made a deal with the devil in amassing his media empire. At age 78, he might soon meet his dealmaker face to face.


Anatomy of HR. 867

House Resolution 867 passed the U.S. House yesterday with the following votes: 344 yeas, 36 nays, 22 answering “present” and 30 not voting.

The bill title: “Calling on the President and the Secretary of State to oppose unequivocally any endorsement or further consideration of the ‘Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict’ in multilateral fora “

Having followed closely the story which led to this vote in the U.S. House, I believe it is fair to ask if 344 members of Congress knew exactly what they were voting on, or did they stand en masse for a pro-Israeli vote?


HR. 867, with all its “whereases” can be read HERE. Essentially, it calls the United Nations’ fact-finding report on the Gaza conflict earlier this year a pack of lies.


The United Nations report, authored by Justice Richard Goldstone, concludes that “war crimes” were committed by both Palestinians and Israelis during the conflict, resulting in destruction of schools and hospitals and the deaths of civilians, including children.


Former South African Constitutional Court Justice Richard Goldstone “led the investigations of abuses in South Africa, the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Kosovo, and worked to identify and prosecute Nazi war criminals as a member of the Panel of the Commission of Enquiry into the Activities of Nazism in Argentina.”


According to the international rights organization Avaaz, “(President) Obama, our allies in Europe, almost everyone wants basic accountability for war crimes - starting with national investigations on both sides. Under pressure, Israeli cabinet members and Palestinian leaders are themselves considering such inquiries. By endorsing House Resolution 867, Congress would be uncritically taking sides - seeking to tie the president’s hands, and wreck the UN process and all chance of truth and justice.”

(NOTE: According to its Web site, “Avaaz.org is an independent, not-for-profit global campaigning organization that works to ensure that the views and values of the world's people inform global decision-making. Avaaz means 'voice' in many languages. Avaaz receives no money from governments or corporations, and is staffed by a global team based in Ottawa, London, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Buenos Aires and Geneva.”)


In a Common Dreams article titled “Israel and Gaza Deserve Better Than HR 867,” Congressman Brian Baird, a Democrat who represents Washington’s 3rd District, asked some very legitimate questions prior to the House vote. Baird was one of two Americans who entered the war zone immediately following the bombing campaign.

* Why are we bringing this resolution to the floor without ever giving former South African Constitutional Court Justice Richard Goldstone a hearing to explain his findings?
* Have those who will vote on H.Res. 867 actually read the resolution?
* Have they read the Goldstone report?
* Are they aware that Justice Goldstone has issued a paragraph-by-paragraph response ... to HR. 867, pointing out that many of its assertions are factually inaccurate or deeply misleading?
* Since scarcely a dozen House members have actually been to Gaza, what actual firsthand knowledge do the rest of the members of Congress possess on which to base their judgment of the merits of H.Res. 867 or the Goldstone report?
* What will it say about this Congress and our country if we so readily seek to block "any further consideration" of a human rights investigation produced by one of the most respected jurists in the world today?


Rep. Baird concludes, “As one of the first two American officials, along with Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), to enter Gaza shortly after the conclusion of major bombing from ‘Operation Cast Lead,’ then again several months later, I have seen firsthand the devastating destruction of hospitals, schools, homes, industries and infrastructure. Much of that devastation was wrought using U.S. manufactured and paid for weaponry. I have also spoken with health workers, average Gazans, nongovernmental organization relief workers and many others.

“In addition, I have been to the Israeli town of Sderot, which has been the target of repeated rocket attacks, and to a number of Palestinian towns and Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Colleagues who have not been to the region may wish to view some of the images and interviews from these visits on my Web site.

“With the information from these personal visits and on-the-ground knowledge, I read with care and interest the Goldstone report in its entirety, and my firm conclusion is that, although the findings may be unpleasant and troubling, they are, unfortunately, consistent with the facts and evidence. In my judgment, far from meriting the obstruction called for in H.Res. 867, the Goldstone report is without question worthy of further investigation.”


Yesterday, 344 U.S. House members voted to condemn Justice Goldstone’s report. How they would answer Rep. Baird’s questions may never be known. I plan to write a letter to my congressman, J. Gresham Barrett, who aspires to be South Carolina's governor, and ask him to answer each of the questions for me. (How did your representative vote?)

The Goldstone report places blame for war crimes on Israelis and Palestinians. The United States of America can never broker a Middle East peace accord if our elected representatives are scared that any condemnation of Israel will be viewed as “anti-Semitic.” It is my opinion that this is the reason for 344 yea votes to squelch a report of this magnitude.

Finally, how long can we embrace our nation if torture and war crimes are acceptable over truth and justice?


'Project Censored - 2010'

"Project Censored is one of the organizations that we should listen to, to be assured that our newspapers and our broadcast outlets are practicing thorough and ethical journalism."
— Walter Cronkite


It’s that time of the year again! Sonoma State University has released its 33rd annual “Project Censored” list.

Here are the top 25 news stories of 2009 most neglected by the U.S. media. (To read articles, go to the link at the bottom of this post, where each headline is an active link to the story.)

1. U.S. Congress Sells Out to Wall Street

2. U.S. Schools are More Segregated Today than in the 1950s

3. Toxic Waste Behind Somali Pirates

4. Nuclear Waste Pools in North Carolina

5. Europe Blocks U.S. Toxic Products

6. Lobbyists Buy Congress

7. Obama’s Military Appointments Have Corrupt Past

8. Bailed Out Banks and America’s Wealthiest Cheat IRS Out of Billions

9. U.S. Arms Used for War Crimes in Gaza

10. Ecuador Declares Foreign Debt Illegitimate

11. Private Corporations Profit from the Occupation of Palestine

12. Mysterious Death of Mike Connell—Karl Rove’s Election Thief

13. Katrina’s Hidden Race War

14. Congress Invested in Defense Contracts

15. World Bank’s Carbon Trade Fiasco

16. U.S. Repression of Haiti Continues

17. The ICC Facilitates U.S. Covert War in Sudan

18. Ecuador’s Constitutional Rights of Nature

19. Bank Bailout Recipients Spent to Defeat Labor

20. Secret Control of the Presidential Debates

21. Recession Causes States to Cut Welfare

22. Obama’s Trilateral Commission Team

23. Activists Slam World Water Forum as a Corporate-Driven Fraud

24. Dollar Glut Finances U.S. Military Expansion

25. Fast Track Oil Exploitation in Western Amazon