Monday, August 28, 2006

Media Notes

I'm not sure if the RSS feed circulated for the most recent prior WDNC post, San Diego Voters' Lawsuit Changing the Dialog (now at too). At the end of that piece I included a letter to the editor of the Eureka Times-Standard submitted by five members of the Voter Confidence Committee. The letter thanks the T-S for printing news of the Zogby poll showing 92% of Americans believe we have the right to know and see how votes are counted. The letter also takes the T-S to task for an error they should have caught. In response to the letter, political writer James Faulk sent me the following comments. My reply is pasted below.

-----Original Message-----
From: James Faulk []
Sent: Sunday, August 27, 2006 9:49 AM
Subject: Re: Letter To the Editor, re: Zogby Poll on Elections

You send us an incorrect press release, then attack us for printing your mistake? That reflects on your credibility, Mr. Berman. One change will occur out of this — we'll think long and hard about publishing information sent to us by you.

James Faulk
Political Writer

* * *

We did not send you an incorrect press release. Information beyond our control was changed without notice. Nothing in our release (or common sense) should have given you the impression that we have control over the behavior of an international corporation. It would seem the primary obligation of any media is to ensure/confirm/verify that its content is accurate. Our letter is commenting that standard practice at the T-S does not seem to meet this obligation.

If it is supposed to be a threat to "think long and hard about publishing information" then perhaps you have gotten the message after all. You shouldn't blindly publish anything submitted to you, even when it comes from the VCC or me personally. But nor should you take factual reports provided to you, such as GAO investigations of election conditions, and treat that as if it were opinion to be counterbalanced by the unsupported and unsupportable views of our elections department officials.

It is really too bad you feel attacked, James. This letter is a public service that enables the community to see a higher standard to which it should hold the T-S and all media.

Dave Berman
* * *

On Friday, Rebecca Bender filed an excellent article for the Eureka Reporter about SB 1720, the Veterans’ Health and Safety Act of 2006. This bill cleared the CA Senate unanimously and awaits the Governor's signature to become law. SB 1720 mandates screening veterans for exposure to depleted uranium. Congratulations to my friends in Veterans For Peace Humboldt Bay Chapter 56 for their tireless efforts to make this happen.

Sunday's Reporter had more good news for area veterans.
In October, Humboldt County will be participating in a Vietnam War-inspired, nationally recognized tradition: A Stand Down.

Shelley Woods, case manager for the North Coast Veterans Center's Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program, described what a Stand Down is.

"During Vietnam, when the (soldiers) were in the bush — when they were out in combat — they were there sometimes months at a time," Woods said. "Then, when they could finally come back (to a safe zone), where there was a rest area and booze and (facilities), they had a three-day stand for rest ... for (rest and relaxation)."


Among the available resources will be medical care, legal assistance, food, clothing, government surplus/supplies, womens' and children's services, veterans benefits information, showers, toiletries and social security information, Woods said.

* * *

Ten days ago, Shawn Warford, publisher of the Humboldt Advocate, posted a letter on the paper's website saying he will print his last paper in September. The business is for sale. I've heard unflattering comments about the Advocate from time to time, some of it even fair criticism. But I credit them for always covering election issues (.pdf) and making space for my guest columns (.pdf) whenever I offered something. Less local media can never be better than more local media and I for one will miss the Advocate.

* * *

The San Diego Union-Tribune has not been too supportive of the legal challenge to the June 6th election for the 50th District Congressional seat. Some of its coverage does not even appear on its website. One such piece prompted this great letter to the editor from Voter Confidence Committee member Kathryn Hedges:
Dear Mr. Kittle:

I am dismayed that today's story by Philip J. LaVelle about the 50th Congressional District court battle failed to mention an important detail: Congress does not have the authority to select our representatives before the election results are final (certified). Bilbray's attorneys conveniently ignored other sections of the Constitution that specify our representatives are elected by the People.

It was bad enough that voting security was compromised, but this legal argument that Congress can select its members independently of bonafide election results undermines the whole principle of democratic elections. Reducing this to a "fair and balanced" counterpoint of opinions cheats your readers by overlooking what is at stake here: not just the winner of one race, but whether we have free democratic elections or election theatre with predetermined results.

Your readers should be interested in this issue, since 92% of Americans believe voters have the right to transparent and verifiable elections. Presumably they take it for granted that our government will wait for all the votes to be counted and certified before confirming the winner.

I look forward to reading the Union-Tribune's analysis of this audacious attempt to steal democracy.

Kathryn Hedges
Arcata, CA
Former San Diegan

* * *

I recently took exception to Mr. Bush's use of the term Islamic fascists. Many other writers have dismantled this propaganda. Here are a few samples:
August 25, 2006 at 05:55:56
Who is the Fascist Here?
by Charles M. Evans

Recent public references to "Islamic fascists," a term used by George W. Bush and repeated often in the print media, suggest that the President and many writers have an inaccurate or at least incomplete understanding of fascism. This is not to suggest that there are no Islamic fascists, rather to point out that the people on whom Bush wishes to hang the term do not fit the description.

# # #
The Trouble with Bush's 'Islamofascism'
By Katha Pollitt, The Nation.
Posted August 26, 2006.

If you control the language, you control the debate. As the Bush Administration's Middle Eastern policy sinks ever deeper into bloody incoherence, the "war on terror" has been getting a quiet linguistic makeover. It's becoming the "war on Islamic fascism."


"Islamo-fascism" looks like an analytic term, but really it's an emotional one, intended to get us to think less and fear more. It presents the bewildering politics of the Muslim world as a simple matter of Us versus Them, with war to the end the only answer, as with Hitler.

# # # (Also here).
Welcome to Neo-Fascism 101
Andrew Bosworth, Ph.D.

Neo-con pundits follow a clever strategy of deflection. They employ the term "Islamo-Fascism" when "theocracy" or "dictatorship" or "fundamentalist movement" would be more historically accurate. Why do they do this? Their political epithets are inspired by a subtle conditioning campaign.

Perhaps it's subconscious projection. "Projection," of course, is a defense mechanism that kicks when someone is threatened by, or afraid of, their own impulse. So they attribute these impulses to someone else. Do not be neo-conned.

* * *

Astute readers of WDNC and long-time readers of GuvWurld will recognize the notion of projection as equivalent to what I have called Black Kettles: Statements that would be more true if the speaker was referring to himself. There are abundant stories illustrative of America's current condition being more consistent with fascism than democracy. Here are two rather dramatic ones I found over the weekend:

Military lawyers see limits on trial input

By Charlie Savage, Globe Staff | August 27, 2006

WASHINGTON -- Despite assuring Congress that career military lawyers are helping design new trials for accused terrorists, the Bush administration has limited their input on their key request, that any tribunals must give detainees the right to see the evidence against them, officials said.

After the Supreme Court struck down the White House's military tribunals system in June, government lawyers began drafting legislation that would set new rules for trials of terrorist suspects. A central issue is whether prosecutors will be allowed to introduce secret evidence, which detainees would not be able to defend against.

Most military lawyers strongly oppose allowing secret evidence, arguing that such a plan would probably violate the Geneva Conventions and create a precedent for enemies of the United States to use show-trials for captured Americans. But administration lawyers maintain that classified evidence may be crucial to a case, and revealing it would compromise national security.

# # #

The Ministry of Truth Strikes Again, and Again, and Again...
By Carl Pope

The Environmental Protection Agency has been ordered by the White House to "shut down [its] libraries, end public access to research materials and box up unique collections on the assumption that Congress will not reverse President Bush’s proposed budget reductions." Fifteen states will lose library service immediately, the rest will follow, and the public is to be turned away as soon as possible.

Unsurprisingly, EPA scientists are protesting, saying that the lack of access to data will impair their research and scientific capabilities. The Administration says its plan is to "centralize" control of all data; EPA scientists say the real goal is to "suppress information on environmental and public health-related topics." The Administration is not yet burning books, but they are getting very close.

They're not much fonder of telling the truth -- the whole truth -- over at the Defense Department. The Department has refused to complete congressionally ordered studies of the potential security threat to radar systems from wind turbines. Until it finishes that study, Defense is blocking all new wind turbines that might help reduce our dependence on what the President calls our "addiction" to oil and natural gas "often from insecure places."

Posted by Dave Berman - 1:55 AM | Permalink
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On your fascism point: Out of the many examples, this one (from Saturday) really caught my attention -

2 Lodi residents refused entry back into U.S.
- Demian Bulwa, Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, August 26, 2006

"(08-26) 04:00 PDT Sacramento -- The federal government has barred two relatives of a Lodi man convicted of supporting terrorists from returning to the country after a lengthy stay in Pakistan, placing the U.S. citizens in an extraordinary legal limbo.

"Muhammad Ismail, a 45-year-old naturalized citizen born in Pakistan, and his 18-year-old son, Jaber Ismail, who was born in the United States, have not been charged with a crime. However, they are the uncle and cousin of Hamid Hayat, a 23-year-old Lodi cherry packer who was convicted in April of supporting terrorists by attending a Pakistani training camp.

"Federal authorities said Friday that the men, both Lodi residents, would not be allowed back into the country unless they agreed to FBI interrogations in Pakistan. An attorney representing the family said agents have asked whether the younger Ismail trained in terrorist camps in Pakistan."

Rest of story at:

This is another version of "who has to ride in the back of the bus?" with a new twist: If we don't like your friends or your family, then you can't come home. Do the terrorists now hate us for our different categories of "selective" freedoms or do they rejoice at this further evidence of the implosion of democracy?


Posted by Blogger Jane Allen @ Aug 28, 2006, 4:25:00 PM
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