Program Notes for Left Out February 22, 2005

Left Out is a public affairs program produced by WRCT 88.3FM that discusses the news from a perspective left out of the mainstream media. Left Out is co-hosted by Bob Harper and Danny Sleator. Today's program is produced by Dan O'Neill. Listeners are welcome to call us at (412) 268-WRCT (9728), or send us email.


Be sure to listen to Democracy Now every weekday morning at 8am on WRCT.


Listen to the broadcast (requires MP3 player).

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Guest: Dave Tessitor

Dave is an expert in local politics, local media, and how things actually work in our city and county. He's been an activist for many years, and he's been on the Southwestern PA Planning Commission Citizen Advisory Board Here are some topics to discuss with him:

The Eason Jordan Affair

On Feburary 11, Eason Jordan, who was CNN's chief news executive, resigned amid a furor about his remarks to the World Economic Forum. (CNN Story) Although the words and context have not been published (it was an "off the record" session), he apparently alluded to the possibility that the US military has targetted journalists in Iraq.

So we are to conclude that even speculation about something so unflattering to the Bush administration will get a news executive fired. (We've talked before on Left Out about the perils of anybody in the media saying anythign unflattering about this administration --- witness the aftermath of the CBS report about Bush's National Guard service.)

The other interesting thing to note is the abscence of any serious reporting on the actual question being raised: Is the US military targetting journalists or not? Typical of the way the media reported on this is this interview with Danny Schechter who has just released a new film Weapons of Mass Deception, which contains a segment documenting precisely this -- the targetting of journalists by the US military.

Schecter was interviewed on FOX. You can listen to the interview by following this link and scrolling up a little to the February 9 "Blood in the Water" entry.

It's interesting to note how outraged OUTRAGED they are at the very suggestion that the US military might have targetted journalists. This attitude is bizarre in the light of the atrocities committed by the US in Falujah. The first thing they did in Falujah was to bomb the hospitals. And the reason was that a hospital is a place a reporter can go to see the carnage and count dead people. The bombing of hospitals is barbaric, and, of course, a war crime. Are the reporters in denial about these undisputed facts?

Santorum Tries to Sell Bush's Social Security "Solution"

From an article in Today's Post-Gazette:

JOHNSTOWN -- Sen. Rick Santorum launched a 10-stop tour of Pennsylvania yesterday to advocate for changes to the Social Security system, but landed -- even at his very first stop -- at the center of an already-roiling debate about the proposals.

. . . . .

But minutes into Santorum's first presentation at Duquesne University, jeers and skeptical questioning arose from a considerable segment of the crowd. Some of the most pointed questions came from older workers whose benefit payouts would not be altered under the president's plan.

. . . . .

The heated tenor of the debate at Santorum's public forums yesterday in Pittsburgh and later in Johnstown had echoes of the 2004 presidential campaign and illustrated how difficult it may be for Republicans to pass a Social Security overhaul this year while political ideologies still deeply divide the country.

It was clear from some questions posed by the audience, and especially by the off-microphone mumbling within the crowd, that beneath the opposition to Bush's Social Security plan, anger is still smoldering about the mounting costs of the Iraq war, the $1.9 trillion in tax cuts that Bush aims to increase by making them permanent, and the president's 2003 Medicare prescription drug benefit.

Those concerns led to several outbursts while Santorum was talking yesterday. At one point, when he showed charts illustrating the causes of the nation's rising deficits and referred to discretionary spending on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan as one-time costs, audience members responded loudly with boos and catcalls.

Krugman on Social Security

Paul Krugman has written an excellent article in the New York Review of Books entitled "America's Senior Moment". Ostensibly a review of The Coming Generational Storm: What You Need to Know About America's Future by Laurence J. Kotlikoff and Scott Burns. Krugman presents a scatheing analysis of the nonsense being promulgated by the Bush administration in its drive to eliminate the Social Security System.

Finally Some Opposition

The El Paso County legislature (home of Colorado Springs) passed this resolution in opposition to the attempt to eliminate the Social Security System.

The Rise of Fascism in America

Here at Left Out we've spoken often of the fascistic elements of the Bush administration's policies, David Neiwert has written an excellent series of articles on the topic called "The Rise of Pseudo Fascism: An Essay" that summarizes the case very well. We recommend Neiwert's writing, and intend to discuss this further in a future edition of Left Out.

John Negroponte and Honduras

In his A Carefully Crafted Deception, Gary Cohn and Ginger Thompson published, in 1995, an analysis of John Negroponte's role in the U.S. sponsored terrorism in Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador during the Reagan and Bush administrations. Yet there is hardly a mention of any of this in response to Negroponte's nomination as director of intelligence for the U.S. government (or his previous appointment as U.S. Ambassador to Iraq).

Added later: One day before this program, the Post-Gazette endorsed Negroponte in an editoral. In response, I (Danny Sleator) wrote the following letter to the editor, which was not published:

To the Editor,

I was surprised and to read your endorsement [editorial, February 21] of John Negroponte, who has been nominated by President Bush to be the Director of National Intelligence. You state that "he is likely to perform ... with distinction". and that "Mr. Negroponte [is] just what the doctor ordered for this president, for this country".

What you're forgetting (and what seems to have been forgotten by the rest of the mainstream media) is Negroponte's deep involvement in some of the worst US foreign policies in the last 30 years. In view of what he did, Negroponte is an absolutely terrible choice.

There are many examples to choose from. But to keep this letter brief, consider what happened in Honduras in the early 1980s while Negroponte was the US ambassador there. The Baltimore Sun published in 1995 a series of stories entitled "A carefully crafted deception" detailing this story. One of the authors, Gary Cohn, was awarded the 1998 Pulitzer prize for this work.

The article (which is available on the Sun's web site) describes in detail the murders, disappearances, and torture that were carried out by the Honduran Army during that time. Negroponte knew all about this. In addition to being covered in the local newspapers, many torture victims and their families pleaded directly with the US embassy for help. Not only did Negroponte and the embassy not help them, but he has subsequently denied that any of this happened. In 1998 testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Negroponte said "I have never seen any convincing substantiation that they were involved in death squad-type activities".

Negroponte did nothing to prevent the atrocities going on all around him in Honduras, and then he lied about it. What he has done proves that he has no integrity. And it proves his loyalty -- above all else -- to those in power. He is the perfect man to twist intelligence any way necessary to make it fit the Bush agenda. Is this really what we need?

Danny Sleator


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Last modified: Wed Mar 2 11:36:34 2005