Monday, June 18, 2012

Poor Sally Quinn, Hypocrisy of Awarding of Presidential Medal of Freedom and New York Times & Leaking Leaks Galore

Poor Sally Quinn. Of course, she's still worth millions, but no longer powerful as real money talks and walks  (across a different stage) now. And she'll whine about it. Just you listen.

In April, at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, my husband, Ben Bradlee, and I found ourselves sandwiched between the Kardashians and Newt and Callista Gingrich. Heavily made up and smiling for the cameras, the reality TV family and the political couple were swarmed over by the paparazzi, who were screaming and shouting the celebrities’ names to make them look toward the cameras for that million-dollar photograph.

I was shoved up against Callista’s hair and nearly broke my nose. It was scary. I felt as if I had been caught in a crowded theater and someone had yelled fire. Ben and I (he spouting expletives all the way), grabbed onto each other and managed to escape to the equally crowded hallway where desperate celebrity guests were heading toward the ballroom, murmuring to us as they passed, “Get me out of here.”

. . . The decline of power has been happening for a while. In 1987, I wrote a piece for this magazine called “The Party’s Over.” In it, I chronicled the demise of the Washington hostess. That was 25 years ago, and people were complaining even then that Washington would never be the same.

But power still trumped money in those days. Today, money trumps power. If Katharine Graham, the late publisher of The Washington Post, were having a party today, and politicians or statesmen received a conflicting invitation to a party put together by Sheldon Adelson (Gingrich’s super PAC guy), where do you think people would go? Adelson. No question. . . .

Power in Washington used to be centered on the White House, the Congress, the Cabinet, the diplomatic corps and the journalists. Today, all of those groups depend on money for their very existence. The real power lies with the lobbyists, the money-raisers, the super PACs, the bundlers, the corporations and rich people. The hottest ticket on the planet is not an invitation to the White House but an invitation to the World Economic Forum in Davos.
The irony is that in New York, I’m told, people are interested in power. In Washington, people are interested in money. . . .

Could Obama win or lose the presidency because he has dissed the Washington community? I suspect the answer is no. It doesn’t matter anymore.

What he needs to win is big bucks, and he can see the people with that privately.

. . . ultimately, a Washington party rises and falls with its power quotient. This has always been the case.”

Ain’t no mo’.

First of all, the senators are probably out trolling for money. When a senator or congressman walks into a room now, you don’t think power. You think, “Poor guy or gal, what a nightmare life that is.” They are beholden to so many people. They can’t get anything done on the Hill because of the hideous lack of bipartisanship. And they don’t even have the advantage of being treated especially well publicly, because they are not seen as having power. People on the Hill have the power to stop things, to investigate things, but not to get anything done. We used to celebrate the great compromisers. Now, they’re all denigrated.

The diplomats, too, have no power. The good ones, such as the British and the French, are more interested in economics than in power. They follow the money, as well.

. . . Journalists used to be powerful. But now there are so many 25-year-old bloggers, many of them showing up on the TV talk shows, that the old-timers are struggling to catch up, tweeting their hearts out and using hip language like “hashtags.” And those young bloggers care about money, too. There aren’t enough jobs, and newspapers and Web sites are struggling to make profits. Even the people on top are insecure. Nobody knows when he or she is going to be let go; the guillotine drops on media stars with alarming frequency.

Interest groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,Citizens United and American Crossroads have become more and more powerful, beating out everyone else in the game.

In the New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin writes that the Supreme Court decision on Citizens United, allowing corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts of money to support or oppose political candidates, will change things dramatically: “The Roberts Court, it appears, will guarantee moneyed interests the freedom to raise and spend any amount, from any source, at any time, in order to win elections.”

There you have it. Money is power. The fundraiser has replaced the Washington dinner party.

Washington has become a community of small groups of people, mostly staying within their circles, occasionally making a foray out into the bigger world to large events, only to be turned off by the endless corporate “fundraiserness” of it all. How special can you feel when you know you have to pay to go to an event and then get a bad seat on top of that?

Could it be that the Obamas, not knowing Washington, think that’s all there is to the social life here? Who wouldn’t want to stay away? On the other hand, he is the president of the United States and, whether he likes it or not, the leader of social as well as political Washington.

But maybe this small-group trend is not such a bad thing. Maybe, as in one of those post-apocalyptic movies where the planet has been destroyed by war, people will begin to make their own lives.

That’s what Ben and I have done. In the past, we might have attended five-course dinners a couple of nights a week, with a different wine for each course, served in a power-filled room of politicians, diplomats, White House officials and well-known journalists. Those gatherings don’t exist anymore. Now, we host and go to small dinners with close friends, dinners with some meaning to them, dinners that are celebrations of something. These evenings are sacred to me. They are filled with love and respect and caring. People are never looking over their shoulders to see who is more powerful, or, more likely, richer.

For just a few hours on those nights, we enjoy one another’s company — and forget about the money.

Boo hoo. The poor powerless rich. Having to eat alone . . . now. And not a word about the wanton Republican behavior that has mainly been responsible for the lack of that much-whined-about and now highly-valued "bipartisanship" of old.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Stephen Lendman always writes a morally-challenging (if I may be forgiven for using that controversial modifier) and consciousness-riveting essay. Here are two that will certainly challenge almost anyone's calm reliance on the truism that just getting out the vote for the next election will be sufficient. And, yes, there are lots of people who agree with Lendman's reasoning and who aren't rightwingnuts.

Stephen Lendman

On July 6, 1945, Harry Truman authorized awarding the Medal of Freedom "to any person .... who, or on after December 7, 1941, has performed a meritorious act or service which has aided the United States in the prosecution of a war against an enemy or enemies and for which an award of another United States medal or decoration is considered inappropriate."

On February 22, 1963, Jack Kennedy ordered it be replaced by Presidential Medal of Freedom.

It's awarded "for especially meritorious contributions to (1) the security or national interests of the United States, or (2) world peace, or (3) cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."

The Presidential Medal of Freedom mocks what it claims to represent.

It replicates Nobel hypocrisy. Unworthy Peace Prize recipients include war criminals and genocidists. Anyone can be nominated.

Adolph Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin and George W. Bush were past nominees. So were Tony Blair and Rush Limbaugh.

Shimon Peres was a past honoree. He's a war criminal and genocidist. He deserves prosecution and imprisonment, not awards. 

Instead, fellow war criminal/Nobel winner Obama honored him.

On April 26, a White House press release headlined "President Obama Names Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipients." Thirteen winners were announced.

Madeleine Albright was one. As UN envoy and Secretary of State, she prioritized war and genocide. She believed NATO should intervene militarily regardless of international law restrictions. 

She was criminally involved in America's Balkan wars.

She was part of an administration guilty of genocide against Iraqi civilians.

In 1996, 60 Minutes host Lesley Stahl interviewed her. She asked:

"We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?"

Albright replied: "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price - we think the price is worth it."

Throughout the 1990s, Iraq sanctions caused about 1.5 million Iraqi deaths. Most were young children. Former UN humanitarian coordinator Dennis Halliday resigned in protest. He refused to be part of what he called "genocide."

Sanctions killed up to 7,000 Iraqi children monthly. It was one of history's greatest crimes. The Clinton administration bore main responsibility. As UN envoy and Secretary of State, Albright was criminally involved.

Halliday called the oil for food program genocidal. He held Washington responsible. He said:

"This is about America's imperialistic need to control the Arab economy, money and oil. The invasion of Kuwait was an invitation to (GHW) Bush to destroy Iraq."

"We cannot remain silent and allow the UN to kill the children of Iraq. In the Arab world you cannot allow the US to dictate the conditions and the needs of the Arab people and the people of Iraq. You cannot afford to have the UN further corrupted."

"The UN Charter talks about the well-being of mankind. But the charter has been corrupted by the sanctions. The fundamental human rights of the Iraqi people - rights to employment, healthcare, education, jobs, housing, the right to live - all have been destroyed by the UN."

Washington uses it as a dagger. It's plunged into humanity's heart. At issue is unchallenged global dominance.

NATO is used the same way. It's an imperial tool. Neither organization represents peace, stability, and democracy. These and other popular issues are deplored.

Throughout her tenure, Albright was complicit in mass murder.
On June 13, Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Throughout his tenure in government, Shimon Peres bore direct responsibility for numerous crimes of war and against humanity.

Since 1959, he served in many government posts. They included Knesset membership, Deputy Defense Minister, Defense Minister, Foreign Minister, other ministerial positions, Vice Premier, Prime Minister, and Israeli President.

With other top officials, he's responsible for decades of pernicious colonialism, apartheid, occupation, and regional wars of aggression.

He pioneered Israel's nuclear program.
In his memoirs, "Battling for Peace," he said:

"My contribution (in its development is) something that I still cannot write about openly for reasons of state security."

He oversaw Dimona's construction and operations. It's Israel's nuclear weapons development and production facility.

In June 1967, he supported Israel's settlements project. They're built on stolen Palestinian land.

In 1985, as prime minister, he criminalized contact with PLO representatives. At issue was spurning peace and reconciliation.

In March 2011, the Swiss-based Rights for All groups issued a press release stating:

Swiss authorities "are obliged to arrest Peres on the grounds of the crimes he has committed in the wake of the 22 day Israeli war on Gaza which killed more than a 1,450 Palestinians, most of whom were women and children.

"The UN Goldstone report into the war accused Tel Aviv and its leaders of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity."

On March 29, 2011, more than 20 human rights groups and other organizations demonstrated in front of Swiss government offices in Geneva. They protested against Peres' visit. They wanted him arrested, not feted.

His criminal record is notorious. It includes crimes of war, against humanity, and genocide. He helped institutionalize militarism, state terror, fascism, colonialism, apartheid, occupation harshness, targeted assassinations, racism, and what Edward Said called "refined viciousness."

In April 1996, as prime minister, he launched Operation Grapes of Wrath. For 16 days, hundreds of air and ground attacks terrorized South Lebanon, Beirut, its surrounding areas, and the Bekaa Valley.

Beirut, Sidon and Tyre were blockaded. Dozens were killed, many more injured. Around 400,000 Lebanonese were displaced.

On April 18, Qana's UN shelter was shelled. Over 100 civilians were slaughtered. They were mainly women, children, and elderly occupants. Many more were injured.

Operation Grapes of Wrath was premeditated aggression. Human rights groups accused Israel of crimes of war and against humanity. Peres said:

"In my opinion, everything was done according to clear logic and in a responsible way. I am at peace."

He's a serial killer. The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel condemned him as follows:

He's "on record for being responsible for other war crimes, from building colonies on occupied Arab land to endorsing a policy of extra-judicial killings, which murders Palestinians and other Arabs without the benefit of a trial or, in fact, any proof other than that provided by Israeli Intelligence, the Shin Bet."

"He also supports the siege on Gaza, the destruction of its airport, and the elaborate system of checkpoints all across the West Bank."

"He defends the demolition of Palestinian homes, and he justified the atrocities committed by the Israeli army in its recent war on Lebanon in 2006."

"Peres is also on record for defending land gained during war, claiming that Israel has the right to the Golan Heights because it was gained during war."

On May 28, the Union of Islamic World Students called awarding him the Medal of Freedom "regrettable."

Hamas member Izzat Rishq denounced the award, saying:

Obama's "decision attempts to gain Zionist support at the expense of our people and our legitimate rights."

He added that honoring Peres shows US support for occupation harshness.

As much as anyone in Israel, Peres reflects its institutionalized contempt for humanity.

He bears direct responsibility for crimes too grave to be ignored.

He never once said he's sorry.

He deserves prosecution and imprisonment, not awards.

On June 13, injustice took center stage in Washington. It shows up often.

(Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at His new book is titled How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War.)

Scoundrel Media Support for Obama

Stephen Lendman

Jun 17 2012

Months before November’s election, NYT editors made their choice: Obama in 2012. Expect an official endorsement to follow. Editorial support signals it. On Jun 14, the NYT headlined “The Political Contrast,” saying:

Obama’s recent Cleveland community college speech contrasted his goals and the failed Bush-era policies that Romney is trying to resurrect. He claimed there was no meaningful difference between the trickle-down economics of Bush 43 and the plans supported by Romney and his Republican allies in Congress. All the elements are there, from the slavish devotion to tax cuts for the rich, to a contempt for government regulation, to savage cutbacks in programs for those at the bottom.
Fact check:  Earlier, NYT editors supported Bush era politics they now call “failed.” They endorsed the fraudulent 2000 election results. They downplayed Bush’s National Guard record, his alcoholism and drug abuse, his explosive temper, and unimpressive academic record. They ignored his family ties, his record as Texas governor, and unbridled pro-business support.

Ten months after he took office, they claimed recount totals showed he won Florida when he lost. They said the Supreme Court “did not cast the deciding vote” when, in fact, it annulled popular and electoral totals to anoint their choice. They reported a litany of misinformation. Kernels of truth were buried multiple paragraphs into texts. Few readers saw them. What NYT editors supported earlier they now oppose. Why they’ll have to explain. Both parties are in lockstep on major issues mattering most. Not a dime’s worth of difference separates them. NYT editors know but won’t say.
Instead they quoted Obama saying:

If you want to give the policies of the last decade another try, then you should vote for Romney You should take them at their word, and they will take USAia down this path. And Romney is qualified to deliver on that plan.
They cited Romney denouncing virtually all forms of regulation, from ones cleaning the air to those preventing banks from engaging in the same destructive behavior that produced the Great Recession on Bush’s watch. If only the government would get out of the way, Romney suggested, and stop trying to cover those without health insurance, or keep the groundwater clean, then jobs would magically reappear. Obama’s proposals “are more likely to put people back to work.” Romney’s “free-market ideas are bankrupt.” “Breaking the grip of these ideas truly is, as Obama said,’a make-or-break moment for USAia’s middle class.”

Unexplained is that both candidates support similar policies. Pretending one differs from the other is false, duplicitous, and pernicious. Perhaps George Bernard Shaw had Obama in mind when he said:

Democracy is a form of government that substitutes elections by the incompetent many for the appointment of the corrupt few.
Throughout his tenure, he’s done what supporters thought impossible. He governs to the right of George Bush. He wages multiple imperial wars, numerous proxy ones, and plans more at the expense of homeland needs. He looted the nation’s wealth, wrecked the economy, and consigned growing millions to impoverishment without jobs, homes, hope or futures. He institutionalized tyranny. He presides over a bogus democracy under a homeland police state apparatus. He targets whistleblowers, dissenters, Muslims, and environmental and animal rights activists called terrorists.

He spends more on militarism than the rest of the world combined at a time USAia has no enemies except the ones it invents. He partners with Israeli state terror, occupation, and imperial aggressiveness. He uses NATO as an imperial tool killing machine. He plunges it like a dagger into humanity’s heart. He supplements with death squad diplomacy.

He gave Wall Street crooks trillions of dollars while popular needs go begging. He presides over the most massive wealth transfer in history. It’s the most egregious form of grand theft. Debt reduction and austerity are scams to continue it. He targets independent leaders for regime change. At the same time, he supports some of the world’s most ruthless, corrupt despots.

He governs lawlessly for monied interests that control him. He supports wealth and power. He spurns vital populist interests. He deplores progressive change. He broke every major promise made. He exceeds the worst of Bush 43. He governs by diktat authority. He decides who’s free or imprisoned. He chooses who lives or dies.

His kill list institutionalized murder as official administration policy. He promised to end torture but continues it. He spurns human needs, rule of law principles, other democratic values, and right over wrong. He spies on USAians more aggressively than any previous president. 

He supports ending Net Neutrality for greater corporate control and enrichment. It’s also about suppressing freedom of thought and expression. He’s waging class warfare against millions of ordinary USAians. He supports austerity for those least advantaged at the same time greater wealth gets earmarked for corporate favorites and rich elites. He plans eliminating New Deal and Great Society gains. He’s eroding Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security en route to ending them altogether. 

He wages war on truth through aggressive media control. He’s commodifying education. He plans ending government’s responsibility for it. He wants it as another business profit center. He’s destroying decades of hard won labor rights. He endorses USAia’s race to the bottom. He’s heading it for banana republic harshness and impoverishment.

His financial reform is stealth theft and consolidation for global monetary control. His healthcare plan taxes more, provides less, places profits above human need, leaves millions uninsured, many more underinsured, and makes a dysfunctional system worse. His agribusiness empowerment policies benefit corporate giants at the expense of small farmers and consumers. He promised change after eight Bush/Cheney years. Voters believed him. He won the most sweeping non-incumbent victory in over 50 years. He gained Democrat majorities in both Houses. He’s USAia’s first Black president. Nation magazine editor Katrina vanden Heuvel hailed the result, predicting:

This will be a transformational presidency, a new era of possibility, a historic opportunity for a progressive governing agenda and a mandate for bold action. Tonight we celebrate.
Despite betrayal and failure throughout his tenure, Nation magazine still supports him. Recent articles asked “What Do We See in Obama?” saying:

He sounds like the politician many liberals thought they had voted for: principled, smart and commanding. That many on the right have distorted Obama’s record beyond recognition is predictable. Like any elected politician he must navigate the situation he inherited. You don’t know what’s in his heart. He’s the best that could be elected last time, and this time.
Another article headlined “Obama Has a Jobs Plan. Romney Doesn’t,” saying:

Romney’s prescriptions for the economy would only make a bad situation significantly worse.
Throughout his tenure, Obama did more to destroy jobs, not create them. His Jobs Act is a sham. It does nothing to create jobs. It consists of corporate handouts, greater deregulation, and more austerity. It facilitates greater fraud. It exacerbates earlier policies. They replaced higher paying, full-time jobs with low-wage part-time/temp ones. Still another article headlined “A Politics for the 99%,” saying:

This year will feature the most ideologically polarized election since the Reagan-Carter face-off of 1980. A radical-right Republican Party, backed by big-money interests, has made itself the tribune of privilege and will do significant damage if it takes control in Washington. Staving off that outcome depends on mobilizing the Democratic base.

Progressives must expand the limits of the current debate, even as they rally against the threat posed by a Republican victory. No one should discount the potential destructiveness of a victory for Mitt Romney. A Romney victory would buoy a Republican right eager to roll back social progress, constrict voting rights and exacerbate racial divides in an era of middle-class decline. The offensive against labor and workers’ rights would escalate. And Romney’s bellicose foreign policy would make Bush 43 look dovish.
If Romney wins, we will spend four years fighting to limit the damage he will inflict on the nation. Obama has indicted the right’s extremes, arguing eloquently for public initiatives to save the middle class and revive the USAian dream. He’s made inequality a central theme of his campaign, and he will defend tax hikes on the wealthy and investments in areas vital to our future, from education to new energy.

He proposed moderate measures in critical areas: an economic stimulus, plus reforms in the healthcare, energy and financial sectors. Democrats urge activists to swallow their disappointment with the president and pull together to get out the vote. In 2012 progressives have little choice. Now we must reach out, teach, engage and mobilize millions of USAians. We must provide them with a sense of hope, a story of possibility, and enlist their support.
These and other Nation articles show contempt for ordinary people. They’re suffering through USAia’s worst-ever economic crisis. Obama inherited dire conditions and exacerbated them. Nation editors ignore Obama’s imperial lawlessness. They support a man they should denounce. Their blind idolatry and contempt for truth betrays readers.

Despite governing to the right of Bush 43, breaking every major promise made, uncompromisingly supporting wealth, power, and permanent imperial wars, consigning growing millions to poverty, unemployment and despair, and betraying his core supporters, Nation editors still place Democrat party politics above principles.

Obama mirrors the worst of right-wing policies. His administration inherited hard times and worsened them. Republicans promise no better. USAia’s duopoly system is too corrupt to fix. So-called progressive editors are blind to reality. Radical change only offers hope. Obama’s record reveals his anti-progressive agenda. Believing a second term promises change is shameless, unprincipled arrogance. Rhetoric alone separates him from Romney.

Ideologically, each mirrors the other. Corrupt political decay defines duopoly power. It’s too malignant to fix. Change depends on tearing it down and starting over. Obama backers ignore reality. His entire record reflects betrayal and irreparable harm to millions. Early hope became disillusion, frustration, and anger.

Imagine what’s coming post-November. Obama or Romney makes no difference. Expect the worst of all possible worlds. The only solution is world revolution.

(Visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.)

Leaking is explored in toto by Sardonicky, best blog in blogtopia:

Friday, June 15, 2012

Leaking on the Leaks

Drip, drip, drip.

Some leaker just leaked to Reuters that the drone strike and Obama Kill List leaks are not part of the leak investigation. This is because the CIA, which ostensibly is in charge of the drone program, must first file a criminal complaint bitching about somebody blowing the whistle on their top-secret shadow war. They have not yet done so, because the drone strike policy officially does not even exist. The leaks (actually better described as epic floods) coming from three dozen White House sources do not count in the grand scheme of leakdom, apparently.

The usual suspects - "sources familiar with the inquiries" requesting anonymity because their information is "sensitive" - told Reuters that the government is interested only in pursuing the copycat underwear bomb plot and allegations about the Stuxnet virus being unleashed on Iranian nuclear facilities:

By contrast, the CIA did file a "crime report" following publication by the Associated Press last month of a report disclosing the foiling of a plot by Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to attack an airliner using a newly designed underwear bomb, sources said.

Officials said the second leak investigation involves a series of revelations in a book and article by a New York Times journalist about the alleged role of U.S. agencies in cyber-warfare activities against Iran. These include the creation and deployment of a virus known as Stuxnet which attacked Iranian uranium enrichment equipment.

Marcy Wheeler has written an intriguing post about the possible role that petty jealousy is playing among Congress critters who were blindsided by the revelations in David Sanger's book about the cyberwars. Dianne Feinstein, for example, is royally miffed that a mere reporter knows more about the intrigue than she herself. We peasant apparently don't have the right to know that there was some pretty sleazy foreign and domestic intrigue in the first place.
It appears that Israel may have dished to Sanger about possibly letting Stuxnet go rogue without also dishing to Congress. Ergo, the investigation by the Justice Department. When the elites are kept out of the loop, they get irate. It there is anything they can't stand, it's the annoying sound of a dripping faucet. It disturbs their beauty sleep.

Feinstein, writes Wheeler, has grossly misplaced her concerns:

The US, in partnership with Israel, released a WMD to anyone who could make use of it. And the people in charge of overseeing such activities got fewer details about the WMD than you could put in a long-form newspaper article.

And DiFi thinks there’s too little secrecy?
They only go after leakers and whistleblowers who cause them some major embarrassment - such as Bradley Manning, with his revelations of war crimes and State Department petty intrigues via WikiLeaks.

The drone program leaks, on the other hand, are a source of great pride for the American exceptionalists, and are therefore immune from prosecution. For one of the most opaque and secretive Administrations in recent history, their actions are painfully and politically transparent.

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