Search This Blog


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Marble Dots in the Dark

On October 24, 1946, a Vergeltungswaffen Vengeance 2 [or V-2] Aggregat-4 rocket; launched from the Alamogordo White Sands New Mexico Guided Missile Proving Range [or WSMR] by Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory [or APL] principal staff engineer Clyde Holliday; captured grainy, barely legible black and white photos every second and a half from an altitude of 65 miles [343,200 feet]. [7] These were the first photos ever taken of Earth as seen from beyond the atmosphere. [3]
In 1948, University of Cambridge Plumian Chair of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy Sir Fred Hoyle predicted that the first images of Earth from space would change forever our view of our own planet.  
On August 23, 1966 the National Aeronautics and Space Administration [or NASA] Samuel Langley Research Center’s spacecraft “Lunar Orbiter 1” transmitted two crude black and white images to the California Institute of Technology [or CalTech]’s Madrid Deep Space Communications Complex [or MDSCC] in the Community of Madrid, Spain. These were the first photos of Earth from the distance of a spacecraft in the vicinity of the moon.   
On the evening of December 24, 1968, during a live Christmas Eve television broadcast, the most-watched television program ever at the time,  Apollo 8 Lunar Excursion Module [or LEM] pilot William Anders, one of the first three human beings to ever leave low Earth orbit, took NASA image AS8-14-2383, of the Earth’s terminator touching the lunar horizon. [6] “The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring;” Said Apollo 8’s Command Service Module [or CSM] 103 Pilot James Lovell in the Christmas Eve broadcast; “And it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth.”  In early 1969, NASA’s Lyndon Johnson Manned Spacecraft Center Operational Applications Office Photographic Technology Laboratory Manager Richard Underwood gave AS8-14-2383 the name “Earthrise”. [1]
In Life Magazine’s August 1, 2003 book “100 Photographs that changed the World”, Sierra Club Ansel Adams Award for Conservation Photography winner and International League of Conservation Photographers Honorary Fellow Galen Rowell called “Earthrise” “The most influential environmental photograph ever taken”. [4]
On December 7, 1972, University of Wisconsin—Madison Adjunct Professor of Engineering Physics Harrison Schmitt [B.S., Geology, California Institute of Technology; Ph.D, Geology, Harvard University]; pilot of the Lunar Module 12 “Challenger” for Apollo 17, the sixth and final Apollo lunar landing and the last mission of the Apollo program; took NASA photograph AS17-148-22727, or “The Blue Marble”.  [5] It was the first image to show a fully illuminated Earth; at a distance of about 28,000 miles [147 million feet], at 5:39 AM Eastern Standard Time [or EST], 5 hours and 6 minutes after the 12:33 AM EST launch of Apollo 17 from John Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39 [or LC-39], and 1 hour and 54 minutes after leaving Earth orbit.  Mike Gentry of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration speculates that “The Blue Marble” is the most widely disseminated image in human history. [2]
On February 14, 1990, the California Institute of Technology Jet Propulsion Laboratory [or JPL]’s spacecraft “Voyager 1”; when it reached the edge of the solar system at a distance of 40.11 Astronomical Units [3.7 billion miles] having completed its primary mission on November 20, 1980; was commanded by Caltech’s Candice Koharcheck and University of Colorado—Boulder Pace Science Institute Adjunct Professor Carolyn Porco to photograph 60 frames of the Earth at the Request of Cornell University Professor of Astronomy and Center for Radiophysics and Space Research Laboratory for Planetary Studies Director Carl Sagan [B.S., M.S., Physics; Ph.D. Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Chicago].
In one of these grainy photographs, composed of 640,000 individual pixels, the Earth shows up as a fraction [0.12] of a single pixel in size in the center of one of the scattered light rays. Traveling at the speed of light, the image took 5 hours and 30 minutes to reach CalTech’s NASA Deep Space Network [or DSN]. In his 1994 book “A Vision of the Human Future in Space”, Sagan named this image the “Pale Blue Dot”:   
            “From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not—even to a very advanced alien being—seem of any particular interest.” Wrote Sagan in “Pale Blue Dot”.  “But for us, it’s different. Consider again this pale blue dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On that dot everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you’ve ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. Every act of human heroism or betrayal, the sum total of human joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar”, every “supreme leader”, every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there—on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena.” Sagan says. “What is the glory and triumph of the greatest conquerors and builders of empires? Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those general and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a blue dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity—in all this vastness—there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere outside to save us from ourselves. Doing that is up to us.”
 “The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbor life.” Sagan wrote in 1994. “There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.” [8]

I remember as though it were just last month the day when I saw Schmitt’s “Blue Marble” image for the first time. I remember it in part due to the fact that, visually, it was severely disorienting for me. Every single map and globe of the Earth that I had ever seen up until that point has had the borders between nations and states clearly drawn, and had labels naming them. Every map and globe had dots and labels where cities were, and lines where roads went.
Even though the different continents and oceans are clearly visible in the “Blue Marble”, one will never find a single national boundary anywhere on it. No cities or roads are visible either. Looking at the image, one has little choice to wonder, as I did at the time, why it is that the borderlines that are drawn on every map and globe appear nowhere on this image.
The answer is, of course, that they do not actually exist in reality. All borderlines are nothing more than imaginary lines drawn across a planet with no nations or states. The only boundaries dividing the Earth are those which have separated people throughout the overwhelming majority of human history: oceans and mountain ranges.  But oceans only divide continents from one another, not countries, and many countries including and especially our own span entire continents across multiple mountain ranges.
So why draw imaginary lines in the dirt? An answer that is at all rational or logical always has and continues to elude me. Nevertheless, I believe answering this question to be the quintessential starting point for any discussion or study of international relations. Paradoxically, in order to make any sense of how different nations interact with one another, I find it is frequently helpful to keep in the forefront of one’s mind the reality: That none of the nations you are studying actually exist at all.
As English songwriter John Lennon wrote in his October 11, 1971 song “Imagine”:
Imagine there are no countries. It isn’t hard to do.”
And why did Lennon believe it was so easy to imagine that countries aren’t real? Because they aren’t.
Once one comes to terms with the concept that all of the borders separating nations are entirely imaginary, I find that all of the various interactions between the people of those countries that Sagan lists in “Pale Blue Dot” begin to make a lot more sense.
While buying into these imaginary borders is, admittedly, a prerequisite for studying what is, somewhat arbitrarily therefore, referred to as “foreign” policy; I think trying to make any sense of out of international interactions is not helped by the presupposition that the relatively petty and superficial differences the citizens of different countries draw between themselves and those of other countries have any objective basis in perceptible reality.
This is best illustrated, I believe, by the current “crisis” on the Southwestern border of the United States with the neighboring country of Mexico. This border is, like all others, entirely imaginary and somewhat arbitrarily drawn. However, as Sagan mentions in “Pale Blue Dot” what constantly both astounds and disgusts people such as myself is the blind dogmatic zealotry of the hatred and vitriol felt by citizens of this country toward those of the neighboring ones. Thought about from any objective perspective, such as that the alien intelligence Sagan mentions, it strikes one as unreasonable to the point of delusion for an American citizen of a border state such as Arizona, California, New Mexico or Texas to so fervently despise a child born perhaps only couple of dozen miles to the South on the other side of the imaginary borderline, and thereby, through no fault of their own, in a different country than the person who hates them was.
I remember that my Race, Ethnic, and Diversity Studies Professor once showed the class a video which asserted that the solution to racism was to become more aware of racial differences. I remember it in part because of how passionately I did then and do now disagree with such a statement. As, on any biological or physiological level, there exists only one human race, the logical conclusion is that race, and therefore by extension racism, only exists because we say it does. Therefore, buying in more to the myth of there being different races does not alleviate the problem of racism, it perpetuates and exacerbates it
The same, I believe, is true of national borders. Since, as Schmitt’s “Blue Marble” image clearly shows, there really are no such thing as nations or countries, it is logical to conclude that the number one cause of all international conflicts such as the one on America’s Southwestern border with Mexico is, above and beyond all else, people buying into the myth that imaginary lines drawn on a map are somehow not only real but, as Sagan notes, worth killing over.

1.      Connor, Steve. “Forty Years since the First Picture of Earth from Space”. The Independent. Saturday January 10, 2009.
2.      Cosgrove, Ben. “Home Sweet Home: In Praise of Apollo 17’s “Blue Marble”. Life Magazine. 2014.
3.      Garber, Megan. “The First Image of Earth Taken From Space”. The Atlantic. August 6, 2012.
4.      Klueger, Jeffrey. “Earthrise on Christmas Eve: The Picture that Changed the World”. Time Magazine. December 24, 2013.
5.      Monamney, Terence. “No Place like Home”. The Smithsonian Institution. December 2002.
6.      Neuman, Scott. “On Anniversary of Apollo 8, How the “Earthrise” Photo Was Made”. National Public Radio. December 23, 2013.  
7.      Reichardt, Tony. “The First Photo from Space”. Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum. November 2006.
8.      Rosen, Rebecca. “An Early Draft of Carl Sagan’s Famous “Pale Blue Dot” Quote”. The Atlantic. February 3, 2014.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Media Bias

Perhaps the most damaging myth concerning bias in the media is the persistence and propagation of the false dichotomy between Saudi Arabian petrochemical billionaire prince Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud’s Fox News Channel and NBC Universal, and the implied parody between far-right-wing talk radio hosts such as Glenn Beck, Alex Jones and Rush Limbaugh and National Public Radio, American Public Media, and Public Radio International.
The fallacy underlying this dichotomy is relatively elementary to demonstrate.

On Friday November 5th and Saturday 6, 2010, CNN [17], NPR News [29], ABC News [8][23][24], CBS News [43], CNS News [11], Fox News [7][15], and even NBC News [5][40] itself reported; as did USA Today [14], The New York Times [13][52][53], The Los Angeles Times [16][36][37], The Washington Times [33], The Washington Post [4][42], the New York Post [49], and the Huffington Post [40][51]; that Keith Olbermann, the host of MSNBC most popular primetime news show “Countdown”, had been “suspended indefinitely [7][35] without pay [40][51]” by NBC for donating $2,400 [under Federal Election Commission rules the most an individual donor can give to a candidate per general election campaign] to the reelection campaigns of Democrat Representative Raul Grijalva of the Arizona 3rd Congressional District and Arizona Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords [4] on October 28, 2010 for the 2010 Midterm Congressional Elections:
One week ago, on the night of Thursday October 28, 2010;” Olbermann wrote on November 5th; “After a discussion with a friend about the state of politics in Arizona, I donated $2,400 dollars each to the reelection campaigns of Democratic Representatives Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords.” [4]

Grijalva was declared the winner in his race on Thursday, November 4, 2010. [4]
Giffords is most popularly known for having been shot in the head [2] and through her brain [38] at point-blank range; along with 18 other people including her district director, then-future Arizona Democratic Congressman Ron Barber [26]; in a mass-shooting that killed the Chief Judge for the United States District Court for Arizona and 5 others; including nine year old Christina Green [who was born on the day of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks] [39]; in the parking lot outside a Safeway supermarket [1] [2] North of Tucson, Arizona on January 8, 2011 by high school dropout, 9/11 conspiracy theorist, supporter of now-former Congressman Ron Paul (R—TX) and Glenn Beck and Alex Jones fan Jared Lee Loughner [19][31] with a legally-purchased [3] 33-round magazine [28][32] semiautomatic [25].

In NBC’s statement, MSNBC President Phil Griffin stated [47] that NBC’s policy prohibits its employees from working on or donating to political campaigns, considering it a breach of journalistic independence to contribute to the candidates they cover:
Anyone working for NBC News who takes part in civic or other outside activities may find that these activities jeopardize his or her standing as an impartial journalist because they may create the appearance of a conflict of interest. Such activities may include participation in or contributions to political campaigns or groups that espouse controversial opinions.”
In his admission of guilt, Olbermann stated that he wasn’t using his influence to solicit any donations for the candidates:
I did not privately or publicly encourage anyone else to donate to these campaigns, nor to any others in this election or any previous ones, nor have I previously donated to any political campaign at any level.”
Countdown”’s 8:00 PM Central primetime time slot on MSNBC was filled by Olbermann’s frequent substitute anchor Rachel Maddow [12] [21] [48], with Maddow’s 10:00 Eastern time slot, now entitled “The Last Word” being filled by Lawrence O’Donnell, formerly the writer of Seasons 6 and 7 of the Emmy Award Winning NBC television drama “The West Wing”, created by Aaron Sorkin.

            “The ownership of Fox News contributed millions of dollars to the Republican Party” Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont pointed out [32]. Australian billionaire Rupert Murdoch contributed two million dollars to Republicans [22] [30] [34] [49] [54], according to Ewen MacAskill of The Guardian on Friday November 5, 2010 [35]. “A number of Fox commentators are using the network as a launching pad for their presidential campaigns and are raising money right off the air.” [34]
As “News Night” anchor Will McAvoy says on the first season finale of HBO’s drama “The Newsroom”: “And that brings us to tonight’s second story.”

1.      Fast facts: 2011 Tucson Shooting: Arizona Shooting Fast Facts”. CNN. August 7, 2012. 
2.      Gabrielle Giffords Shot: Congresswoman Shot in Arizona: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona Was shot in the Head Saturday When an Assailant Opened Fire outside a Grocery store During a Meeting with Constituents, Killing Six People and Wounding 13 Others”. The Huffington Post. January 8, 2011. 
3.      Gun Used In Ariz. Shootings Purchased Legally”. CBS News. January 8, 2011.
4.      Keith Olbermann Suspended For Campaign Contributions To Grijalva, Giffords and Conway”. The Washington Post. Friday November 5, 2010.
5.      Keith Olbermann Suspended Over Political Donations: MSNBC TV Host Gave Cash to 3 Democratic Candidates in Apparent Violation of NBC Ethics Policy”. NBC News. November 5, 2010.  
6.      MSNBC’s Olbermann Returns to Work”. CNN. November 10, 2010.
7.      MSNBC Suspends Keith Olbermann Indefinitely For Contributing To Democratic Campaigns”. Fox News. November 6, 2010.
8.      MSNBC Suspends Olbermann For Political Donations”. ABC News. November 6, 2010.
9.      Olbermann Suspension Ending Tuesday: MSNBC TV Host Violated Rules about Political Donations”. NBC News. November 7, 2010.
10.  Tucson Shooting Timeline”. The Washington Post. January 14, 2011.
11.  Bauder, David. “NBC Suspends Olbermann For Donations”. CNS News. November 5, 2010.
12.  Bauder, David. “Keith Olbermann Fired? MSNBC Relationship was “Failing for a Long Time”. The Huffington Post. January 22, 2011. 
13.  Carter, Bill and Stelter, Brian. “Olbermann of MSNBC Suspended Over Donations”. The New York Times. November 5, 2010.
14.  Christie, Bob. “MSNBC Suspends Olbermann For Political Donations”. USA Today. November 5, 2010.
15.  Christi, Bob.MSNBC Suspends Keith Olbermann For Political Donations”. Fox News. November 6, 2010. 
16.  Collins, Scott. “Keith Olbermann Suspended From MSNBC Over Democratic Donations: Olbermann Suspension Ignites Debate: Punishment of MSNBC Host Over Donations To Democrats Has Some Asking If Rules Meant to Protect Journalistic Objectivity Apply when a Channel or Show Lets Opinion Flow Freely”. The Los Angeles Times. November 5, 2010.
17.  Desola, David and Mooney, Alexander. “Olbermann Suspended For Dem Contributions”. CNN. November 5, 2010.
18.  Dolak, Kevin and Goldman, Russell. “Olbermann to Be Back on the Air Tuesday”. ABC News. November 7, 2010.
19.  Fahrenthold, David. “Jared Loughner’s Behavior Recorded by College Classmate in E-Mails”. The Washington Post. January 9, 2011.
20.  Farhi, Paul. “MSNBC Ends Suspension of Host Keith Olbermann”. The Washington Post. Monday November 8, 2010.
21.  Farhi, Paul. MSNBC Axes Popular TV Host: Keith Olbermann and MSNBC Part Ways: Olbermann’s Split with MSNBC May Have Been Long in the Making”. The Washington Post. Saturday January 22, 2011.
22.  Folkenflik, David. “Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp Gives Big to GOP”. National Public Radio. August 18, 2010.
23.  Goldman, Russell.Olbermann Sidelined From MSNBC For Making Political Contributions”. ABC News. November 5, 2010.
25.  Grow, Doug. “Semi-Automatic Pistol Used In Arizona Shootings Is Available In Minnesota, Too”. Minnesota Post. January 11, 2011.
26.  Gutierrez, Thelma. “Giffords Leads Crowd In Pledge At Vigil Marking One Years Since Shooting”. CNN. Monday January 9, 2012.
27.  Hartfield, Elizabeth. “Ron Barber, Former Giffords Aide, Wins In Giffords Old District”. ABC News. June 13, 2012.
28.  Isikoff, Michael. Tucson Shooting With High-Capacity Magazines Reignites Gun Debate”. NBC News. Sunday January 9, 2011.
29.  James, Frank.MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann Suspended, Angering Liberals”. National Public Radio. November 5, 2010.
30.  Kurtz, Howard.News Corp Defends $1 Million Donation To Republican Governors Association”. The Washington Post. Wednesday August 18, 2010.
31.  Lah, Kyungh and Martinez, Michael.Loughner Pleads Guilty To 19 Counts In Tucson, Arizona, Mass Shooting”. CNN. Wednesday August 8, 2012.
32.  Lautenberg, Frank. Ban High-Capacity Gun Magazines like One Used in Tucson”. CNN. January 12, 2011.
33.  Lengell, Sean. “Sanders Backs Olbermann in Tussle with MSNBC”. The Washington Times. November 5, 2010.
34.  Lichtblau, Eric and Stelter, Brian. “News Corp Gives Republicans $1 Million”. The New York Times. August 17, 2010. 
35.  MacAskill, Ewen. “US TV Anchorman Keith Olbermann Suspended for Donating to Democrats: MSNBC Journalist Held To Be In Breach of Company Rules After He Admitted Giving money To Three Candidates in Midterm Elections: Keith Olbermann, Host of Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Has Been Suspended Indefinitely by MSNBC”. The Guardian. Friday November 5, 2010. 
36.  Maertz, Melissa. “Keith Olbermann’s Suspended Suspension: Why Did MSNBC move So Fast?” The Los Angeles Times. November 8, 2010.  
37.  Malcolm, Andrew. “Keith Olbermann, Worst Person in the World, Suspended By MSNBC”. The Los Angeles Times. November 5, 2010.
38.  McKinnon, Shaun. “Gabrielle Giffords Shooting: At the Edge of Mayhem”. USA Today. February 8, 2011.
39.  Meyers, Amanda and Neergaard, Lauran. “Congresswoman’s Condition Stable; 8 Still Hospitalized”. Chicago Sun Times. January 10, 2011.
40.  Mirkinson, Jack. “Keith Olbermann Donated To Three Democrats: Olbermann Suspended: Keith Olbermann Has Been Suspended Indefinitely Without Pay For His Donations To Democrats”. The Huffington Post. November 5, 2010.  
41.  Montandon, Mac. “Countdown” And Out: Keith Olbermann Suspended Over Political Donations”. NBC News. Friday November 5, 2010.
42.  Montgomery, David. “MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann Suspended for Contributing to 3 Democratic Candidates”. The Washington Post. Saturday November 6, 2010.
43.  Montopoli, Brian. “Keith Olbermann Suspended From MSNBC: Keith Olbermann Donations to Democrats May Have Violated NBC Ethics Policy”. CBS News. November 5, 2010.
44.  Mooney, Alexander. “News Corp Gave $1M To Chamber of Commerce”. CNN. October 1, 2010.
45.  Moraes, Lisa. “MSNBC Has Big Ratings Night with Keith Olbermann’s Return”. The Washington Post. Thursday November 11, 2010.
46.  Petri, Alexandra. “I Know Why Keith Olbermann’s Suspension ended so quickly”. The Washington Post. November 7, 2010.
47.  Rose, Adam. “Keith Olbermann to Return Tuesday, Phil Griffin Announces”. The Huffington Post. November 7, 2010.
48.  Rupar, Terri. “Olbermann Signs Off From “Countdown”. The Washington Post. January 21, 2011.
49.  Rutenberg, Jim. “With Another $1 Million Donation, Murdoch Expands his Political Sphere”. The New York Times. October 1, 2010.
50.  Sanderson, Bill. “Keith Olbermann Suspended At MSNBC Over Political Donations”. The New York Post. November 6, 2010.
51.  Shea, Danny. “Keith Olbermann Suspended From MSNBC Indefinitely Without Pay”. The Huffington Post. November 5, 2010.
52.  Stelter, Brian. “Maddow Says Olbermann’s Suspension Shows Difference between MSNBC and Fox News”. The New York Times. November 5, 2010.
53.  Stelter, Brian. “2nd MSNBC Host Suspended Over Campaign Donations”. The New York Times. November 20, 2010.
54.  Weiner, Rachel. “Fox Parent News Corp Donates $1 Million To Republican Governors Association”. The Washington Post. August 17, 2010.
55.  Williams, Pete.  “New Threat Note Found In Tucson Shooting: Recovered Cases Confirm 31 Shots Fired; Pistol Sales Jump in Arizona”. NBC News. January 11, 2011.    

The ownership of Fox News contributed millions of dollars to the Republican Party
-Senator Bernie Sanders (I—VT)

ü  On December 3, 2012, Bob Woodward [17]  reported for the Washington Post [18] that eighteen months before, on April 27, 2011, Fox News Founder and Chairman Roger Ailes told General David Petraeus; Commander of United States forces in Afghanistan, that he should resign from the military [15] in six months and run for the Presidency of the United States [7][8][9], telling Petraeus that he would run his Presidential campaign [4] and that Australian billionaire Rupert Murdoch; head of Fox News’s owner NewsCorp; would bankroll the campaign [2]. “Everybody at Fox loves you.” Ailes’s spokesperson; former senior Republican Henry Kissinger national security aide and Reagan Pentagon spokeswoman and Fox News national security analyst [12] Kathleen McFarland; told Petraeus in his office in Kabul, Afghanistan [6]. “The one who’s bankrolling it is the big boss;” Referring to Murdoch; “Roger’s going to run it [16]. And the rest of us are going to be you’re in-house.” [13]
ü  Gabriel Sherman reported in Salon on Wednesday January 15, 2014 that in the summer of 2010, Ailes set out to recruit Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to run for President. [14]
ü  It was reported on Sunday February 2, 2014 that after 2012 Republican Presidential nominee Willard Romney introduced his Vice Presidential running mate; Republican Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan; during the final months of the 2012 Presidential campaign, Ailes referred Ryan to Ailes Communications speech coach Jon Kraushar. Ailes directed his network, the Fox News Channel, to begin overtly comparing Ryan to former Republican President Ronald Reagan.

A number of Fox commentators are using the network as a launching pad for their presidential campaigns and are raising money right off the air.”
-Senator Bernie Sanders (I—VT)

ü  The Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity gave $5,000 to the leadership political action committee, called Many Individual Conservatives Helping Elect Leaders Everywhere [MICHELEPAC], that supported now-former Minnesota Republican Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann,; as did his wife Jill; and did not disclose it.[3]
ü  On April 11, 2014, it was reported that Hannity had endorsed Jack Kingston in the Georgia Republican Senate Primary on March 27, 2014. [19]
ü  On June 20, 2014, it was reported that Hannity had endorsed Republican two-term New York State Assemblywoman and Congressional Candidate Claudia Tenney.
ü  On June 9, 2014, it was reported that Hannity had endorsed Republican Mississippi State Senator and United States Senate candidate Chris McDaniel.
ü  On September 13, 2010 Hannity touted Republican North Carolina Congressional candidate Ilario Pantano on his Fox News Program.
ü  On September 20, 2005, Hannity promised on his nationally-syndicated radio show to give the maximum contribution to New York United States Senate candidate Jeanine Pirro and urged his listeners to donate as well, promising to provide a link to her campaign website; which features a photograph of her with Hannity a local event held in her honor in February 2005; on his own web page. Hannity donated $4,200 to Pirro.
ü  In late June, 2010 Hannity arranged to fly former Republican Georgia Congressman Newt Gingrich in to headline a fundraiser for New York Congressional candidate John Gomez. On March 7, 2010 it was reported that Hannity had promised Suffolk county Republican Party Chairman John LaValle and Conservative Party Chairman Edward Walsh in February 2010 that he would “do all he could” to help promote Gomez; his friend since third grade in Hempstead, New York;  fundraise and bring in headliners for events. On September 24, 2010 Hannity helped Gomez solicit donations on his radio program. In May 2010, Hannity and his wife donated the legal maximum of $9,600 to Gomez’s primary and general campaign, according to the Federal Election Commission. In July, 2010 Both Hannity and Bachmann touted Gomez on his Fox News program the day before Bachmann appeared at a rally and fundraiser; touted by Hannity on his Fox News program [11] the day before; for Gomez in Long Island, New York.
ü  On October 5, 2010, Hannity told Meg Whitman that he hoped she wins for Governor of California on his radio program.
ü  On September 4, 2008, the Cincinnati Plain Dealer  and the Dayton Daily News reported that Hannity, in encouraging former nine-term Republican Ohio Congressman John Kasich to run for Governor of Ohio, “pledged to give $10,000 to Kasich’s campaign should he run, as well as have his wife give another $10,000.” Hannity scheduled an April 2010 fundraiser for Kasich. On October 9, 2009, Kasich brought Hannity to a high dollar fundraiser, tickets to which cost between $500 and $5,000, at the home of Republican millionaire industrialist Ed Crawford in Kirtland Hills in Northeast Ohio. [10]
ü  On October 13, 2010 Hannity urged West Virginians to help John Raese for Senate.
ü  On August 9, 2007, Hannity fundraised for Republican New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani [1][5] at a closed-door, 250-per head fundraiser in Cincinnati, Ohio.
ü  On May 18, 2012, Hannity endorsed Ted Cruz on his radio program and supported Cruz on his Fox News show on May 21, 2012.

1.      He’s ready! Rudy Giuliani Talks With Sean Hannity”. Fox News. February 6, 2007.
2.      Bernstein, Carl. “Why The US Media Ignored Murdoch’s Brazen Bid To Hijack the Presidency: Did the Washington Post and Others Underplay the Story through Fear of the News Corp Chairman, Or Simply Tin-Eared Judgment? The Ailes/Petraeus Tape Made Clear to Many That Murdoch’s Goals in America Have Always Been Nefarious”. The Guardian. Thursday December 20, 2012. 
3.      Elliott, Justin. “Sean Hannity Gives $5,000 To Michele Bachmann: The Fox Host And His Wife Each Donated To The Conservative Congresswoman From Minnesota In August”. Salon. Thursday September 23, 2010.  
4.      Garofoli, Joe. “Fox’s Chair Roger Ailes Told Petraeus He’d Quit to Manage His Prez Campaign”. Albany Times Union. December 4, 2012.
5.      Koppelman, Alex and Renzas, Erin. “Rudy Giuliani’s Ties to Fox News: Judith Regan’s Lawsuit against News Corp Alleges That Rupert Murdoch’s Firm, Which Owns Fox News, Wants Giuliani to Be President. A Look at Links between the Candidate and the Company”. Salon. Thursday November 15, 2007.   
6.      McFarland. K. “My Petraeus Interview firestorm Silly, Off-Base”. Fox News. December 4, 2012.
7.      Meresca, Clara. “President Petraeus? Fox Chairman Liked The Sound Of It”. NBC News. December 4, 2012.
8.      Miller, Jake. “Fox News Chief Urged Petraeus To Run For President”. CBS News. December 4, 2012.
9.      Mirkinson, Jack. “Roger Ailes Tried To Get David Petraeus To Run For President”. The Huffington Post. December 4, 2012.
10.  Naymik, Mark. “GOP Gubernatorial Candidate John Kasich Turning to Sean Hannity to Help Raise Campaign Money in Northeast Ohio”. Cleveland Plain Dealer. October 1, 2009.  
11.  Pareene, Alex. “Fox Democrat Doug Schoen to Be Special Guest at GOP Fundraiser: The Pollster Is Scheduled to Be a Guest at a Party for One of Hannity’s Favorite Republican Candidates”. Salon. Thursday October 7, 2010.  
12.  Pilkington, Ed. “Roger Ailes Reportedly Urged David Petraeus To Run For President In 2011: Bob Woodward Reports On Recorded Conversation In Which A Fox News Analyst Relayed Offer From Ailes and Rupert Murdoch: The Discussion Behind Woodward’s Story Takes Place In the Then-General’s Office In Kabul Before Petraeus Became CIA Director”. The Guardian. Tuesday December 4, 2012. 
13.  Rayfield, Jillian. “Fox News President Reportedly Tried To Get Petraeus To Run For President: “It’s Never Going to Happen.” Petraeus Says In An Audio Recording”. Salon. Tuesday December 4, 2012.
14.  Sherman, Gabriel. “Fox News’ Greatest Failure: Roger Ailes, Chris Christie And The Quest For A Republican President: Fox Honcho Roger Ailes Started 2012 Dreaming Of A Christie Presidency. By The End, His dreams Had Become Nightmares”. Salon. Wednesday January 15, 2014.
15.  Wemple, Erik. “Five Takeaways from the Fox News—David Petraeus Conspiracy”. The Washington Post. December 4, 2012.
16.  Wong, Alex. “Murdoch Wanted To Bankroll Petraeus’ Presidential Campaign; Fox News Chief Wanted To Run It”. RT. December 4, 2012.
17.  Woodward, Bob. “Fox News Chief’s Failed Attempt to Enlist Petraeus as Presidential Candidate”. The Huffington Post. December 3, 2012. 
18.  Woodward, Bob. “Fox News Chief’s Failed Attempt to Enlist Petraeus as Presidential Candidate”. The Washington Post. December 3, 2012.
19.  Young. Camie. “Hannity Endorses Kingston In Senate Race”. Gwinnett Daily Post. Wednesday April 16, 2014.

To anyone who identifies MSNBC as the "left-wing equivalent" of The Fox News Channel; or who posits that any liberal or progressive "parallel" to Fox News even exists at all; the appropriate response is the one that now-former Congressman Barney Frank (D--MA) gave to Teabagging Partiers attempting to disrupt his August 2009 town hall: 
"In what universe do you spend the majority of your time?"

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

“Ethos: A Time for Change” Film Response

The film “Ethos: A Time for Change”; though written, directed, and produced by Pete McGrain of Los Angeles’s Gypsy Film Company; could just as easily have been dictated to McGrain straight from the mind of Alex Jones, of “Info Wars” and “Prison Planet”, himself.  To be certain the film displays a mixture of misinformation and paranoid delusion that Jones and The Fox News Channel’s Glenn Beck have made their brand.
This is demonstrated when, within the first fifteen minutes of the hour-long film, McGrain has “host“ and narrator Woody Harrelson discussing the concept of unspecified “alternatives” to governance and government.
It also shows its pro-conspiracy–theory bent by featuring prominently representatives from the Center for Public Integrity [which was demonstrated in a previous paper from Tuesday June 24, 2014 to be little or nothing more than a haven for 9/11 “Truthers” and other InfoWars-like anti-government conspiracy theorists] and the like-minded Institute for Public Accuracy [which could just as easily be a clone of CPI].
Near the end of the film, McGrain plays an audio clip from an August 2007 Alex Jones interview with 2004 Libertarian Party Presidential Candidate Aaron Russo in which Russo claims not only that the terrorist attacks on New York City and the District of Columbia on September 11, 2001 were “a lie”, but also that in November 2000, someone by the name of “Nicholas Rockefeller”; supposedly a member of the family of philanthropist John Rockefeller; told him all about the Boeing 767 twin-engine jet airliners; American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 from East Boston, Massachusetts’ General Edward Lawrence Logan International Airport; that were hijacked and crashed into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan on the morning of September 11th [22].  
Among the numerous flaws with this claim is the fact that there exists no record of anyone with the first name Nicholas within the Rockefeller family.

Throughout the first half-hour of the film, McGrain repeats over and over again and again the claim that the Federal Reserve either is itself, or is owned by, a “banking cartel” and is not a “government organization”, a “group of private bankers” that are unelected and “unregulated”.
This, of course, is demonstrably untrue. The main governing body of the Federal Reserve System is the Board of Governors. The seven governors are appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the United States Senate. The Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Board are appointed by the President from among the sitting members. Governors are appointed to 14-year terms that, like those of Justices of the United States Supreme Court, span multiple Presidencies. However, unlike Supreme Court Justices, members of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors are term limited, and not eligible for reappointment. Members can be removed from the board by the President of the United States [2].
McGrain at one point has Harrelson refer to the Federal Reserve “cartel” by saying “whoever these men are” and finishing with “but we don’t know who they are”.
This, too, is a lie. The last four Chairman of the Board of Governors have been Paul Volcker [A Democrat, appointed by 39th President of the United States James Carter on August 6, 1979], Alan Greenspan [A Republican, appointed by 40th President Ronald Reagan on August 11, 1987], Ben Bernanke [A Republican, appointed by 43rd President George Walker Bush II on February 1, 2006], and Janet Yellen [A Democrat, appointed by 44th President of the United States Barack Obama on October 9, 2013]. [15]

To “support” his claim that the Federal Reserve is some mysterious cartel, McGrain quote-mines the character of Sidonia, [based on British politician Lionel Rothschild] speaking to the character of Coningsby [based on German Jewish financier Nathan Mayer], from Book IV Chapter 15 of two-time British Conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli’s 1844 novel “Coningsby: The New Generation”:
So you see, my dear Coningsby, that the world is governed by very different personages from what is imagined by those who are not behind the scenes.” [8]
The film then displays on-screen the following “interesting quote” from Michigan industrialist Henry Ford:
The one aim of these financiers is a world controlled by the creation of inextinguishable debt.”
However, it should be noted that no record can be found anywhere of Ford ever having said or written any such thing at any time, leading to the suspicion that the “quote” in question may very well have been fabricated.

The film then claims that; at a “secret meeting” in 1910 at the “estate” of American financier and philanthropist John Morgan on Jekyll Island in Glynn County, Georgia; this supposedly mysterious “cartel” of bankers, the few of whom that are named include Morgan and Rockefeller, wrote the Federal Reserve Act [19]. 
There is very little about this claim that bears any resemblance to reality. The meeting was not secret; it did not take place at Morgan’s “estate”, and had little if anything to do with the writing of the Federal Reserve Act [11].
The first claim, that this meeting was held “in secret”, is patently absurd; as the event was widely covered on the front pages of local Glynn County, Georgia newspapers at the time.
Secondly, the meeting also did not, as McGrain claims in the film, take place at the “estate” of John Morgan on Jekyll Island. It took place at the Jekyll Island Club, of which Morgan was only one member [18]. In fact, neither Morgan nor Rockefeller was even in attendance at the meeting in question. Morgan was represented at the meeting by investment institution J.P. Morgan and Company’s Senior Partner, philanthropist Henry Davison. Rockefeller was represented by former Assistant United States Secretary of the Treasury Frank Vanderlip and Republican Rhode Island United States Senator Nelson Aldrich, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance and a Uniform National Currency [Later the Committee on Banking and Currency; Now the Senate Finance Committee]. [19]
Thirdly, the Federal Reserve Act was not introduced on the floor of United States House of Representatives until August 29, 1913; by Democratic Virginia Congressman Carter Glass, the Chairman of House Committee on Banking and Currency [Now the House Financial Services Committee]; [21] nearly three years after the November 1910 meeting at the Jekyll Island Club in Georgia. From this incongruence, it is difficult to imagine just how exactly McGrain came to the conclusion that those at the 1910 meeting on Jekyll Island in Georgia “wrote” the Federal Reserve Act that the Virginia Congressman would introduce more than three years later [3].
The film also claims that these bankers, again including Morgan and Rockefeller by name, singlehandedly elected 28th President of the United States Woodrow Wilson solely on the condition that he would sign the Federal Reserve Act into law if elected. It is once more difficult to conceive of just how exactly one might come to this conclusion, as Congressman Glass would not introduce the Federal Reserve Act to the House of Representatives until more than five months after Wilson became President on March 4, 1913 [7]; and nearly a year after the Presidential election of November 5, 1912 [6] in which New Jersey Democrat Wilson defeated New York Progressive Party nominee Theodore Roosevelt and Ohio Republican William Taft [17].
The film claims that President Wilson felt great remorse and regret after signing the bill, and quotes the 28th President as writing:
I have unwittingly ruined my country. Our great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Therefore all of our activities are in the hands of a small group of men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, completely controlled and dominated governments in the world. No longer a government of the majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men.” 
Here, “Ethos” takes the leap from mere intellectually-dishonest quote-mining into the realm of full-blown quote fabrication.
The first part, about having “unwittingly ruined my country” is actually a quote about American President Wilson from two-time Italian Liberal Party Prime Minister Sidney Sonnino [4]  at the January 18, 1919 Peace Conference in Paris, France, which resulted in the January 10, 1920 Treaty of Versailles [5].
One of the few parts of the quote that is actually from the writings of Wilson himself;
all of our activities are in the hands of a small group of men”; is an out-of-context quote mine from page 185 of the 1912 Section VIII: “Monopoly, Or Opportunity?” of Wilson’s 1913 book “The New Freedom: A Call For The Emancipation of the Generous Energies of a People”.  The full in-context quote reads as follows:

A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is privately concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men who, even if their action be honest and intended for the public interest, are necessarily concentrated upon the great undertakings in which their own money is involved and who necessarily, by very reason of their own limitations, chill and check and destroy genuine economic freedom. This is the greatest question of all, and to this statesmen must address themselves with an earnest determination to serve the long future and the true liberties of men.” [12]
However, it should be noted that, in “Monopoly or Opportunity?” Wilson was criticizing the situation before the Federal Reserve was created. As University of Wisconsin—Madison College of Letters and Sciences Department of History Chairman and William Francis Allen Professor Emeritus of History John Cooper [M.A, Ph.D.; Columbia University]; the 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist author of “Woodrow Wilson: A Biography”; told Salon staff writer Andrew Leonard for his Friday December 21, 2007 article “The Unhappiness of Woodrow Wilson: Did the President Lament the Day He “Unwittingly Ruined” His Country By Creating the Federal Reserve?”:
“I can tell you categorically that this is not a statement of regret for having created the Federal Reserve. Wilson never had any regrets for having done that. It was an accomplishment in which he took great pride.” [16]
The same is true for the quote: “We have come to be one of the worst ruled, completely controlled and dominated governments in the world.” It, too, is an out –of-context quote mine from Wilson’s “The New Freedom”, this time from page 201 of the 1912 Section IX: “Benevolence, Or Justice?” The full in-context quote reads as follows:
We are at the parting of the ways. We have not one or two or three, but many, established and formidable monopolies in the United States. We have, not one or two, but many, fields of endeavor into which it is difficult, if not impossible, for the independent man to enter. We have restricted credit, we have restricted opportunity, we have controlled development, and we have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated, governments in the civilized world—No longer a government by free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and the duress of small groups of dominant men.” [12]

Moving into what is, for Beck, Jones, and McGrain alike, more familiar territory, at the 55th minute “Ethos” has Harrelson saying with a straight face to the camera: “
The right to the freedom of speech, the right to the freedom of assembly and the right to a fair trial are no longer protected by law.”
The very fact that McGrain was able to write such a thing, and Harrelson to say such a thing, proves the statement to be fallacious at best. Nevertheless, McGrain continues, in a monologue seemingly plagiarized directly from one of Jones’s paranoid conspiratorial anti–government “Prison Planet” rants:
Any action, speech or protest against the government can be construed legally as terrorism. In 2005, Congress passed the Real ID Act. Soon we will be required to carry ID cards by law. There are plans to equip these cards with RFID tracking chips that will be able to track your every move, already in all new passports. Many believe this will eventually lead to the implanted chip which is already being used in many places in our society. It is not difficult to see a future where we are all locked into a monitored control group where ort every move, all transactions will be tracked, monitored and recorded and if anyone gets out of line they can just turn off their chip.” [9]
            The Real ID Act of 2005 was introduced on the floor of the House of Representatives on January 26, 2005 by Republican Wisconsin Congressman Frank Sensenbrenner, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and the Committee on Science, Space and Technology [13]. The Act reads as follows:
To establish and rapidly implement regulations for state drivers license and identification document security standards, to prevent terrorists from abusing the asylum laws of the United States, to unify terrorism-related grounds for inadmissibility and removal, and to ensure expeditious construction of the San Diego border fence.” [14]
            Title II of the Act establishes new federal standards and requirements pertaining to security, authentication, and issuance procedures for the state-issued driver licenses and non-driver identification cards to be accepted by the federal government for “official purposes”, as defined by the United States Secretary of Homeland Security; currently defined as presenting state drivers licenses and identification cards for boarding commercially operated airline flights and entering federal buildings and power plants [20]. Three of four planned phases apply to areas that affect relatively few United States citizens—The United States Department of Homeland Security headquarters on Nebraska Avenue in Washington D.C., nuclear power plants and restricted and semi-restricted federal facilities. Phase 4 applies to boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft. Implementation of Phase 1 would begin following a period of “deferred enforcement” “To ensure that the public has ample advanced notice” [10]. The Act was signed into law by Republican President George Walker Bush II on May 11, 2005 and was effective May 11, 2008. Implementation of Phase 1 began on January 20, 2014. Phase 4 will not be implemented before January 1, 2016 [13].
            Considering the fact that the Real ID Act was passed by Congress nearly a decade ago, what McGrain might have meant by his use of the term “soon” for something [everyone being required to carry government-issued identification cards with tracking chips in them] which still has not happened yet nor looks likely to happen at any time in the even remotely foreseeable future, is anyone’s best guess.
Over the part of his monologue wherein he mentions passports, the image that is projected onscreen is not that of an American passport, but rather of a German electronic passport [1], a fact evident by the German name “Bundesdruckerei” [“Federal Printer”] embossed in brightly shining letters on its cover.
At the film’s 57th minute; immediately after warning his audience that, in the paranoid delusional dystopian future hellscape that he has just imagined aloud, the government would be capable of simply “turning off” someone’s chip [whatever that might mean] if the person got “out of line”; McGrain has Harrelson tell his audience, without the slightest hint of any sense of the inherent irony, that:
Many of our fears are manufactured for us.”
2,560 Words

1.      Alcala, F.; Arendt, H.; Beel, J.; Brown, K.; Burchardt, U.; Czura, B.;  et. Al. “EPassport: The World’s New Electronic Passport—A New Report about the EPassport’s Benefits, Risks and its Security”. Otto-Von-Guericke University—Magdeburg.
2.      Allexon, A.; Allison, H.; Alvarez, S.; Anderson, T.; Bennett, A.; Boyer, L.; Braunstein, S.; Carpenter, S.; Cooper, Y.; et. Al. “The Federal Reserve System Purposes and Functions” Ninth Edition. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. June 2005.
3.      Bagwell, Tyler. “The Jekyll Island Duck Hunt That Created The Federal Reserve”. Jekyll Island History: Stories of the Famed Island and the Surrounding Area. 2008. 
4.      Ball, Christopher. “Woodrow Wilson and the American Myth in Italy: Culture, Diplomacy and War Propaganda”. Harvard Historical Studies. June 29, 2008.
5.      Blukacz-Louisfert, Balndine. “Chronology 1919”. Indiana University Center for the Study of Global Change.
6.      Blum, John. “Win The Election of 1912”. Community Television of Southern California. 2001. 
7.      Blum, J.; Brown. V.; et. Al. “Wilson’s Legacy”. “American Experience”. 2001.
8.      Disraeli, Benjamin. “Coningsby or the New Generation” Book 4, Chapter 15. 1844.
9.      Boyd, J.; et. Al. “Privacy, Surveillance and the Real ID Act”. Purdue University Graduate School Center for Education Research in Information Assurance and Security. March 2, 2009.
10.  Garcia, M.; Lee, M.; et. Al. “Analysis of the Provisions of the Real ID Act of 2005”. Congressional Research Service. May 25, 2005.
11.  Griffin, Edward. “The Creature From Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve” Seventh Printing. American Media. May 1998.
12.  Hale, William and Wilson, Woodrow. “The New Freedom: A Call for the Emancipation of the Generous Energies of a People”. June 1913. 
13.  Husch, Ben, et. Al. “Countdown to Real ID”. National Conference of State Legislatures. February 7, 2014. 
14.  Kuntz, Michele; et. Al. “2005 Real ID Act”. University of Washington—Bothell. May 11, 2005.
15.  Lambert. M.; Liu, M.; et. Al. “The Composition of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors”. Conference of State Bank Supervisors. October 2013. 
16.  Leonard, Andrew. “The Unhappiness of Woodrow Wilson: Did the President Lament the Day He “Unwittingly ruined” his country by creating the Federal Reserve?” Salon. Friday December 21, 2007.
17.  Linky Donald and Weingart, John. “Woodrow Wilson and the Election of 1912”. Rutgers State University of New Jersey Eagleton institute of Politics. 2014.  
18.  Mace, Lesley. “The Not-so Strange Case of Jekyll Island: The 1910 Plan to Create a Central Bank”. Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. November 6, 2013.
19.  Mullins, Eustace. “Secrets of the Federal Reserve”. The London Connection. 1991.  
20.  Randolph, Susan. “Collaborative Versus Prescriptive Legislating and Rulemaking: A Case Study of the Driver’s License Provisions in the Real ID Act of 2005”. The George University Journal of Public Policy and Public Administration Volume 14. 2007.    
21.  Rothbard, Murray and Salerno, Joseph. “A History of Money and Banking in the United States: The Colonial Era to World War II”. Quarterly Journal of Australian Economics Volume 2 Number 3. Friday November 13, 2009.

22.  Watson, Paul. “Rockefeller Admitted Elite Goal Of Microchipped Population”. Prison Planet. Monday January 29, 2007.