Author Archive | Danny Schechter

Back To Iraq, And Welcome To The Suicide State

Baghdad SignI feel like an Iraq war veteran not because I served in that still ongoing war.

No one thanked me for my service, and all praises be, I was not among those who were killed, wounded or traumatized on our side or theirs?

I was a veteran in the same sense that I was, as a journalist, for years, totally absorbed in the war from the building to the first shots fired and bombs dropped, as a daily blogger, a film maker that made WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception about the media war that was fought alongside the invasion and two books discussing that coverage in detail. Embedded (Prometheus Books, 2003) and When News Lies: Media Complicity and the Iraq War (Select Books, 2006). I later commented on the issues for Al Jazeera’s global website.

After such a deep immersion, I was burned out and delighted to focus on another issue, the war at home–the Financial Crisis.… Read the rest

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ISIS: More of a Corporation Than Gang of Brigands?

Territorial control of the ISIS

Territorial control of the ISIS

What The Media Misses: “The Barbarians Are At The Gates”

So writes Patrick Cockburn, the veteran Middle East correspondent for The Independent in London. A fierce critic of the US-British War on Iraq he is now urging the US and Iran to collaborate in stopping the ISIS or ISIL forces that are sweeping through Iraq, a country he loves more than any of the despotic politicians who have run it now or then.

The American media has taken up the cry—not for cooperation with Iran that has heartily denounced the latest round of US intervention in the country it warred with for seven years—but with lurid coverage of the force at first labeled “terrorists,” and now ”insurgents or just “militants.” The difference is that ISIS/ISIL seizes and holds territory operating like an army, not hit and run faction.

It is said to be connected to Al Qaeda but we don’t know how or if Qaeda still exists.… Read the rest

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Far Above Cayuga’s Waters: Cornell Reprises Race At The Big Reunion Weekend

Cornell University SlopeIthaca, New York: How can you be in the past and present at the same time?

Go to your college reunion.

I did, this past weekend, up on the forever beautiful and very green Cornell campus in Ithaca, New York. About 350 members of a class of 2400 trekked back to remember how we were, and to see how the ravages of age and affluence have affected us. I probably hadn’t bonded with as many fellow students because I was an independent, and not in a fraternity or athletic team. I was an early responder to activism.

We also had a moving memorial for more than a hundred, of the fallen, including my late friends Bernie Moss, Daniel Patrick Cassidy and Robin Williams. My co-editor Kenneth Barry Rubin of Dialogue Magazine was not on the list because he had dropped out earlier.

There were many people there I didn’t know then, and perhaps didn’t want to know, but I did run into some old friends and was thrust back into discussions of the racial /civil rights issues that mobilized us to care in our college years, and still top the list of the University’s and the country’s unfinished business.… Read the rest

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Sunshine On A Cloudy Day: A Screed

Mary Wells

Mary Wells

Mary Wells, where are you?

I need that Motown chanteuse again to bolster my spirits in this month of the missing American Spring of 2014. I am still barely singing along to her “My Guy:”

I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day

When it’s cold outside

I’ve got the month of May

The month of May is here and will soon be gone, with a May winter every other day here in New York following every occasional outbreak of seasonal warmth. We know the planet is warming, but I have yet to feel it with any regularity in my neighborhood.

Worse that that, the cold outside is not just the zigzagging temperatures, but the sense that we are stuck in a political Ice Age where change of the kind that we will soon be discussing, again and again, ad finitem, at yet another Left forum is more remote than ever.… Read the rest

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Oh, George (Orwell)

Review: Glenn Greenwald, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State, Metropolitan Books, 2014

Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. – George Orwell

George Orwell press photo

George Orwell

Oh, George

We need you now,
more than ever, ever
to help us wade through
new words of war by wankers
high on high tech
& fudged perceptions
in a security bubble of insecurity

We need help, George,
penetrating acronyms
of government gone wild
of spies & lies
and the madness
of the overtly clever
and covertly maniacal

Hey, Hey, NSA
How many emails did you ‘process’ today?
How many calls did you convert
into acres of unread metadata
stored somewhere in Utah
until the big roundup
that’s coming soon

Hey, Hey, NSA, why do you play
with code names
coined with a clear intent
to maim
and restrain?… Read the rest

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Can We Stop America’s Surveillance State?

crazy eddieWith the publication of Glenn Greenwald’s new book on Edward Snowden and the NSA, the state surveillance issue is back in full force as if it ever went away.

Purloined formerly top-secret NSA documents are now there for the downloading, even as the calls for truth and privacy buttressed by irrefutable information, has run up against the institutional armor of the surveillance state that has little respect for public opinion or calls for “reform.”

Every day, there are new stories showing duplicity in high places and revealing the existence of new tracking technologies and forced and voluntary collusion between the secret agency and its many “partners” in the private sector. PBS Frontline is out with one more expose.

Just as the publication of the Pentagon Papers in l971 did not end the Vietnam War, the leaks from a world of questionable ‘intelligence” has only made our Spymasters more determined.

There was four more years of carnage after Daniel Ellsberg dropped the hidden history of our intervention in Vietnam showing how officials knew the truth even as they fed the public a litany of lies to keep a profitable if murderous enterprise going.… Read the rest

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Tanked: The Financial Crisis is Still With Us With No End In Sight. It May be Time to Give War A Chance Once Again

Seal of Federal Reserve SystemEvery month, rise or shine, the Federal Reserve Bank, an institution that most Americans believe is a branch of government, or a federally run Central Bank has one of its computers add $55 billion—that’s dollars with a B—to its ledger and balance sheet.

In actual fact, the FED, as its known is actually a private institution in government trappings,  owned by,  and run by,  the very banks it is thought to regulate.  It actually has kept the economy afloat since August 2007 when the financial crisis began (not 2008 as most media outlets have it with a printing press with an infusion of $3.4 TRILLION.

At first, the Fed’s Economics Professor turned Bank president,  Ben Bernanke was called “Heliopter Ben” in an allusion to all the money he was bombing the economy with His term ended, but the practice, now barely questioned, goes on.

And why is that? To put it simply, the financial crisis is still with us, whatever talk there is of “recovery” because of structural realities that haven’t changed.… Read the rest

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That ‘Iron Law’ Of Oligarchy Is Back To Haunt Us

The word “oligarchy” has finally come home.

For years, it was a term only used in connection with those big bad and sleazy Mafioso-type businessmen in Russia.

Russia had oligarchs; we didn’t. That became a big difference between the official narrative of what separated our land of the free and the home of the brave from THEM, the snakes in the shades and private planes, in the post-Soviet period.

Actually, I first heard the term oligarchy when I was studying labor history at Cornell a half a lifetime ago. We were taught about something called the “Iron Law of Oligarchy.”

It was a concept coined by Robert Michels, a friend of sociology guru, Max Weber, way back in 1911. Here’s how it was defined in that relic of another age: The Encyclopedia Britannica:

“Michels came to the conclusion that the formal organization of bureaucracies inevitably leads to oligarchy, under which organizations originally idealistic and democratic eventually come to be dominated by a small, self-serving group of people who achieved positions of power and responsibility.  This can occur in large organizations because it becomes physically impossible for everyone to get together every time a decision has to be made.”

So, oligarchies have been with us seemingly forever—it’s an “iron law,” says he–but in current usage the term references the small elite—the 1% of the 1% that dominates economic and political decision making.… Read the rest

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Beyond The ‘McCutcheon’ Decision

The Roberts Court

The Roberts Court

Everyone’s taking about the Supreme Court’s perfectly predictable “Citizens United 2” McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission decision.  It’s what we are NOT talking about that worries me.

Ironically, the far right that many on the left see as the only beneficiary of a decision that treats money and free speech as if they are the same thing, is also not happy with it. They wanted, and may still get, the end of all campaign finance reform.

This decision keeps individual giving caps in place and, in the Right’s view doesn’t go far enough, although in their war of many slashes and cuts, they clearly see laws and policies trending in their direction.

If the escalation of the email that has inundated my in-box is any indication, Dems and the progressives see it in apocalyptic terms–the end of democracy as we know and the final nod towards plutocracy, if not fascism.… Read the rest

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Stressed: What Are They Trying To Tell Us?

CitibankOk, I have to admit it, I feel as though my faith in economic justice is being tested with these stress tests. Truth is, I  am becoming more stressed than ever.

The reason: despite all the “regulations” in the Dodd Frank Financial “reform” and the Volcker Rule and The Fed’s “oversight:’ the banks seems to have free reign to do what they will despite the financial crisis, and the pathetic “recovery.”

There have been fines and settlements but nothing is settled. None of them have or will go to jail.

Economic conditions continue to stress out millions even as the Fed announces “stress tests” that appear on the surface to be a way of insuring that big banks won’t need more bailouts.

Sad to say, it’s more of the charade. Partially that’s because the banks dominate the Federal Reserve, a private, not public, institution.

And, partially, because when it comes to economic crises, the stories are buried in the business pages and rarely surface as topics of concern on popular talk shows and media that most folks watch.… Read the rest

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