Monthly Archives: December 2004

Fair Divers From Nowhere

These days the “mainstream” U.S. media would appear to “source” its stories by looking at itself in the mirror. But only from the most flatttering angle, with the best lighting.

Oceans of drivel about the “fall” of Dan Rather and the “farewell” of Tom Brokaw — two scandalously overpaid copy readers of no real interest. Plus the latest White House pres releases and RNC “BlastFaxes.”

Meanwhile Neil Mackay of the UK’s Sunday Herald gets down to the nitty-gritty.

The Pentagon has admitted that the war on terror and the invasion and occupation of Iraq have increased support for al-Qaeda, made ordinary Muslims hate the US and caused a global backlash against America because of the “self-serving hypocrisy” of George W Bush’s administration over the Middle East.
The mea culpa is contained in a shockingly frank “strategic communications” report, written this autumn by the Defence Science Board for Pentagon supremo Donald Rumsfeld.

What’s most shocking is that a report of any sort was written at all.

On “the war of ideas or the struggle for hearts and minds”, the report says, “American efforts have not only failed, they may also have achieved the opposite of what they intended”.

“American direct intervention in the Muslim world has paradoxically elevated the stature of, and support for, radical Islamists, while diminishing support for the United States to single digits in some Arab societies.”

Referring to the repeated mantra from the White House that those who oppose the US in the Middle East “hate our freedoms”, the report says: “Muslims do not ‘hate our freedoms’, but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favour of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the long-standing, even increasing support, for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan and the Gulf states.

“Thus when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypo crisy. Moreover, saying that ‘freedom is the future of the Middle East’ is seen as patronising … in the eyes of Muslims, the American occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq has not led to democracy there, but only more chaos and suffering. US actions appear in contrast to be motivated by ulterior motives, and deliberately controlled in order to best serve American national interests at the expense of truly Muslim self-determination.”

Cue Rudyard Kipling.

The way America has handled itself since September 11 has played straight into the hands of al-Qaeda, the report adds. “American actions have elevated the authority of the jihadi insurgents and tended to ratify their legitimacy among Muslims.” The result is that al-Qaeda has gone from being a marginal movement to having support across the entire Muslim world.
“Muslims see Americans as strangely narcissistic,” the report goes on, adding that to the Arab world the war is “no more than an extension of American domestic politics”. The US has zero credibility among Muslims which means that “whatever Americans do and say only serves … the enemy”.

But this narcissisim, strange as it may seem to outsiders, is all-pervasive in American life. From birth we are duly informed that we are the greatest nation on earth and the envy of everyone else. This message is repeated so frequently and in so many forms (news items, television shows, op-eds) that it has become something more than a mere “article of faith.” Enormous numbers of of people believe it in the same way they believe that the sun shines and the earth is round.

Well let’s just say that most of them believe that the earth is round. A goodly number of others are waiting fro the final word on that score to come down from Mel Gibson.

The report says that the US is now engaged in a “global and generational struggle of ideas” which it is rapidly losing. In order to reverse the trend, the US must make “strategic communication” – which includes the dissemination of propaganda and the running of military psychological operations – an integral part of national security. The document says that “Presidential leadership” is needed in this “ideas war” and warns against “arrogance, opportunism and double standards”.

In other words, double that dosage of Kool-Aid.

“We face a war on terrorism,” the report says, “intensified conflict with Islam, and insurgency in Iraq. Worldwide anger and discontent are directed at America’s tarnished credibility and ways the US pursues its goals. There is a consensus that America’s power to persuade is in a state of crisis.” More than 90% of the populations of some Muslims countries, such as Saudi Arabia, are opposed to US policies.

“The war has increased mistrust of America in Europe,” the report adds, “weakened support for the war on terrorism and undermined US credibility worldwide.” This, in turn, poses an increased threat to US national security.

America’s “image problem”, the report authors suggest, is “linked to perceptions of the US as arrogant, hypocritical and self-indulgent”.

Only correct. But “only connect”? Not advisable as far as the administration is concerned.

The White House “has paid little attention” to the problems.
The report calls for a huge boost in spending on propaganda efforts as war policies “will not succeed unless they are communicated to global domestic audiences in ways that are credible”.

American rhetoric which equates the war on terror as a cold-war-style battle against “totalitarian evil” is also slapped down by the report.

But that’s all that BushCo’s got — Second verse same as the first.

Muslims see what is happening as a “history-shaking movement of Islamic restoration … a renewal of the Muslim world …(which) has taken form through many variant movements, both moderate and militant, with many millions of adherents – of which radical fighters are only a small part”.
Rather than supporting tyranny, most Muslim want to overthrow tyrannical regimes like Saudi Arabia. “The US finds itself in the strategically awkward – and potentially dangerous – situation of being the long-standing prop and alliance partner of these authoritarian regimes. Without the US, these regimes could not survive,” the report says.

Every knock’s a boost

“Thus the US has strongly taken sides in a desperate struggle … US policies and actions are increasingly seen by the overwhelming majority of Muslims as a threat to the survival of Islam itself … Americans have inserted themselves into this intra-Islamic struggle in ways that have made us an enemy to most Muslims.

Cue Hitchens and Sully with their ceaseless bleating about “Islamofascists.”

“There is no yearning-to- be-liberated-by-the-US groundswell among Muslim societies … The perception of intimate US support of tyr-annies in the Muslim world is perhaps the critical vulnerability in American strategy. It strongly undercuts our message, while strongly promoting that of the enemy.”

The report says that, in terms of the “information war”, “at this moment it is the enemy that has the advantage”. The US propaganda drive has to focus on “separating the vast majority of non-violent Muslims from the radical- militant Islamist-Jihadist”.

According to the report, “the official take on the target audience [the Muslim world] has been gloriously simple” and divided the Middle East into “good” and “bad Muslims”.

And now the “money quote”:

“Americans are convinced that the US is a benevolent ‘superpower’ that elevates values emphasising freedom … deep down we assume that everyone should naturally support our policies.

Yet the world of Islam – by overwhelming majorities at this time – sees things differently. Muslims see American policies as inimical to their values, American rhetoric about freedom and democracy as hypocritical and American actions as deeply threatening.

In ways that a great many sequences of Michael Moore’s excellent — and wildly misrepresented Fahrenheit 9/11 makes clear. I’m thinking in particular of the scenes in whihc Iraqi civilians search through the rubble of the buildings we’ve just bombed to retrieve parts of their loved-one’s bodies.

“In two years the jihadi message – that strongly attacks American values – is being accepted by more moderate and non-violent Muslims. This in turn implies that negative opinion of the US has not yet bottomed out

Equally important, the report says, is “to renew European attitudes towards America” which have also been severely damaged since September 11, 2001. As “al-Qaeda constantly outflanks the US in the war of information”, American has to adopt more sophisticated propaganda techniques, such as targeting secularists in the Muslim world – including writers, artists and singers – and getting US private sector media and marketing professionals involved in disseminating messages to Muslims with a pro-US “brand”.

This sounds like a job for Brittany Spears!

The Pentagon report also calls for the establishment of a national security adviser for strategic communications, and a massive boost in funding for the “information war” to boost US government TV and radio stations broadcasting in the Middle East.

The importance of the need to quickly establish a propaganda advantage is underscored by a document attached to the Pentagon report from Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defence secretary, dated May.
It says: “Our military expeditions to Afghanistan and Iraq are unlikely to be the last such excursion in the global war on terrorism.”

So we’ve “learned from our mistakes” — by planning to make them matters of policy.


Meanwhile in Laramie Wyoming a former police chief comments on a previously FaBlogged story

“Only three people know what really happened that night,” retired Laramie Police Chief Dave O’Malley said. “One of them is dead and the other two are known liars and convicted felons — murderers.”

And to ABC news, they’re “gets.”

O’Malley was a detective with the Laramie Police when 21-year-old Matthew Shepard was brutally murdered six years ago. He was one of several people interviewed for ABC’s 20/20 that aired Nov. 26. He said that the interview and the way the show was ultimately put together has left him angry.

O’Malley was notified about a week in advance of the ABC crew’s arrival for the interview. He invited them into his home and they stayed for “maybe three to four hours.” He did not see the tape until the night the show aired.

The people interviewed for the show did not surprise him. He was, however, surprised that “a production as popular as 20/20 would hinge all of their support for their theory on meth addicts, Doc O’Connor and two convicted murderers … it did not surprise me the way the thing came out.”

Who are all now avatars of Truth now that the voters have declared “moral values” to be of such enormous import.

Well at least that’s what the “mainstream” media keep claiming they do.

O’Malley said that he found out what the focus of the show was shortly after the interview was over and the crew left Laramie. Someone with the crew had left copies of e-mails on his dining room table — 10 pages of information discussing the overall focus of the program and “their pre-conceived focus that this was not a hate crime. This was a drug crime. That’s what they went with,” he said.

When he was approached by the producers of this particular segment, O’Malley said he had a weird feeling. “After 30 years, you learn to trust your gut instinct. I asked them specifically if they were coming to do something from a particular angle … I wanted to be able to answer intelligently, think things out.” In the conversation with the producers, O’Malley was assured that the report would be objective, six years after the actual event.

Six years is a long time for the “mainstream.” Long enough for it to rearrange the crime scene, obfuscate the motive, and eradicate the victim.

“Prior to the arrival of the 20/20 crew, he had heard that the show might be more about the methamphetamine issue. When they arrived at his home, O’Malley asked a few questions of his own. “I was trying to be comfortable … and I felt comfortable. But when Elizabeth Vargas got into the methamphetamine portion of it, it surprised me,” he said. “Actually, it made me extremely angry, and in my opinion, these guys lied to me.”

Imagine that.

So do keep in mind that this is a news story supplied by a small town paper, not a Major News Organization like ABC.

So who do you trust?

Not a hard question to answer, is it?

During the segment of the 20/20 program, O’Malley said he believed that Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, the two Laramie men convicted in Shepard’s death, intended to rob the University of Wyoming student. But for reasons only McKinney and Henderson know, something happened and the killing became a hate crime based on Shepard’s sexual orientation.

Only in the world of the “mainstream.” The crime was prosecuted as a straigthforward murder. What was different about it was the fact that the state considered killing a gay man to be a crime.

““My feelings have been that the initial contact was probably motivated by robbery because they needed money,” O’Malley said. “What they got was $20 and a pair of shoes. … then something changed and changed profoundly.” McKinney told investigators that “he only had to hit Matt once to get his wallet,” O’Malley said. “But, we will never, ever know because Matt’s dead and I don’t trust what they (McKinney and Henderson) said.”

One of the things O’Malley said during his interview with Vargas was kept in. However, he said, “I think the only reason they put in the part about the transformation I may have had personally was because they were trying to show there was some good, regardless of what happened, that had come out of Matt’s death,” he said.

Good for whom?

“O’Malley said that if the 20/20 crew had been objective, they would have learned that a lot of what was said by Kristen Price early in the investigation was corroborated. Price also told authorities that McKinney and Henderson had not used methamphetamines for several days because there was no money.

So they weren’t high on drugs.

Just on power — and their percieved right to kill a fag.

“That night (Oct. 6), they bought two pitchers of beer with pennies, nickels and dimes,” he said. “Also, after they were arrested, they exhibited no withdrawal symptoms whatsoever. A person who has been on a meth binge, there will be withdrawal symptoms apparent.”

20/20 did not discuss the expertise of the arresting officer. “Flint Waters is a trained narcotics officer … in controled substances,” O’Malley said. Waters reported that Henderson exhibited no signs of being under the influence of meth, just an odor of alcohol.

O’Malley said that 20/20 failed to report on the jailhouse letters that McKinney had written — letters with added information that this could have been a gay-hate crime. The 20/20 segment with McKinney indicated that he, along with his lawyers, had concocted this gay panic issue, but according to O’Malley, police interviews with McKinney showed that he had already started that (the gay panic issue) without the benefit of counsel.

Let’s run that bit again, shall we?

“The 20/20 segment with McKinney indicated that he, along with his lawyers, had concocted this gay panic issue, but according to O’Malley, police interviews with McKinney showed that he had already started that (the gay panic issue) without the benefit of counsel.”

“The statements he made, the fact that after he was sentenced he was high-fiving other inmates and signing autographs in the jail — if it wasn’t motivated by bias, he was sure eating that up.” O’Malley said.

Shepard was struck between 19 and 21 times, all to the face and head area. “It was a concentrated effort to destroy somebody,” O’Malley said. “I believe it was triggered because Matt was gay. I’ll go to my grave believing that.”

And so will anyone else with an ounce of sense.

Those without sense will of course persist in claiming otherwise.

O’Malley said that “It is abysmal that they (20/20) don’t present the other side of the issue … to be objective in their reporting.”

“Objectivity” is a weapon in the hands of those in power.

Nothing more.

Elsewhere in Mediaville (a suburb of Alphaville) :

Cognative Dissonance Goes Gay

Gay Rights Group Appoints Straight Man Co-Chair
by Doreen Brandt Washington Bureau

(Washington) Three days after it ousted its president the Human Rights Campaign Friday announced it was appointing a heterosexual man co-chair of its board of directors.
Michael Berman will serve with lesbian Gwen Baba in leading the HRC.
Berman is President and one of the founders of The Duberstein Group, a government affairs consulting group. Prior to that he served as Counselor and Deputy Chief of Staff to Vice President Walter Mondale.

And who’s the first name that comes to mind when thinking about Gay Rights?

Walter Mondale, right?

“This choice sends a strong message that the fight for equality can unite all fair-minded Americans,” said Baba.

It sends a strong message, alright. The borderline-useless HRC is now the avowed enemy of the glbt community

Berman has been involved in HRC since 1992 and joined the board in 1998. For the last several years, he has served as a co-chair of the Public Policy Committee, helping to spearhead HRC’s legislative work.
“As an ally to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, Mike Berman brings a unique and needed perspective to the Human Rights Campaign,” Baba said. “Straight Americans are a crucial part of the fight for equality. Mike is one of those leaders and will do an exceptional job bringing more Americans to the table.”

The straight table, of course. One wonders if even the “straight-acting/straight-appearing” will be welcome.

Berman said that one of his priorities will be reaching out to the GOP.
“As an active political leader, I know how crucial Republican support is to achieving our goals. We must do a better job of not only reaching out beyond the GLBT community but also to our allies in the Republican Party. There can be no party-line in the quest for equal rights.”

And of course we’ve all seen how successful the Log Cabin Republicans have been in making gay rights a Republican party priority.

Why they’re even pushing a Constitutional Ammendment about it!

On Tuesday, HRC President Cheryl Jacques left the organization in what was called “a difference in management philosophy.” There had been friction for some time between the Board and Jacques.

Yep. Gotta get rid of those pesky lesbians. Even ones like Cheryl Jacques.

Meanwhile, as always, the gay rights movement marches on as it always has through the grass roots.

WEST JORDAN, Utah (AP) — A principal who wants gay couples to get permission slips from their parents before they can attend school dances promised to re-evaluate the policy after protesters held four days of protests.

Copper Hills High School Principal Tom Worlton issued the policy last month but agreed to revisit it Friday. He said he saw the policy as a way to alert the parents to the dangers their children might face.
Jason Atwood, 17, his boyfriend, Tom Tolman, 15, who attends another school, and small circle of friends held protests across the street from the suburban Salt Lake City school before they met with Worlton. The protesters said they were subjected to insults, obscene gestures, egg throwing and snowballs from passing cars during the four days.
“I’m so proud of you,” Tolman’s mother, Patricia Gilley, said after dropping him off. “You can’t help who you love.”
Atwood’s father, Quovaudis Atwood, said he feared Worlton’s policy would absolve the school of responsibility if anything were to happen to his son.
“I’m not at the dance with Jason. … How could I be responsible for my son?” he said. “As long as I’m paying taxes to support that school, my son deserves every bit of protection, education, whatever that school has to offer.”
Worlton said the policy stemmed from students’ concerns about potential harassment. “That was not an attempt to get out of liability and not a response to deprive them from coming to the dance,” he said.
Worlton said he will make a decision on the policy in time for the prom.

Let’s hear it for Jason and Tom.