Has human rights group B’Tselem ended its role in Israel’s propaganda? | The Electronic Intifada

via Has human rights group B’Tselem ended its role in Israel’s propaganda? | The Electronic Intifada.

Ali Abunimah – Lobby Watch – 28 June 2015

Israeli war crimes fugitive Tzipi Livni speaking at the September 2013 J Street conference in Washington, DC, in which B’Tselem was a “strategic partner.” (J Street/Flickr)


The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem has distanced itself from comments attributed to the former director of its US office that it sought to assist Israeli government propaganda against the movement for Palestinian rights and accountability for Israeli crimes.

Uri Zaki, who was initially identified by Ynet as the director of B’Tselem USA, told the Israeli publication that his organization’s efforts to help combat the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement had been rebuffed by the government, which only wanted to work with more right-leaning organizations.

“Uri Zaki’s term of employment at B’Tselem USA ended in May 2013,” B’Tselem spokesperson Sarit Michaeli told The Electronic Intifada in response to an inquiry about the Ynet report. “If quoted accurately, his comments were not expressed on behalf of either B’Tselem or B’Tselem USA, nor do they reflect the policies of either.”

Ynet later updated its article to describe Zaki as the “former” director of B’Tselem USA.

Michaeli did not elaborate on why Uri Zaki left the organization but the former staffer’s comments nevertheless raise troubling questions about how B’Tselem’s US advocacy arm has functioned, even after his departure.

Driving a wedge

The 28 June Ynet article titled “Rift in Foreign Ministry prevents effective fight against BDS” looked at philosophical differences within Israel’s state hasbara, or propaganda, apparatus on how best to block the momentum of the Palestinian rights movement.

In a 2010 strategy paper that shaped the approach of Israel and its international lobby, the Reut Institute, a think tank with close ties to the government, argued that Israel should work closely with mild, liberal critics of the country’s policies the better to isolate so-called “delegitimizers” – those who support BDS.

According to Ynet, Reut’s director of policy and strategy Eran Shayshon “has been explaining to government representatives over the past few years that it is important to divide and drive a wedge between the leaders of the BDS campaign, but they were unable to reach a consensus on the issue, especially when it came to the political echelons.”

“To achieve this goal,” Shayshon says, “we explained to the government representatives that we have to operate with as large a base as possible; meaning, recruit not only right-wing agencies and groups to the fight, but also left-wing groups who criticize the government.”

“Israeli patriot”

B’Tselem and the US Israel lobby group J Street are offered as prime examples of such “left-wing” assets in Israel’s fight against BDS.

“Among other things, meetings were held in Washington and in Israel between representatives of the Foreign Ministry and the Strategic Affairs Ministry with J Street (which represents the Jewish left in the US), B’Tselem and others,” Ynet reports.

B’Tselem spokesperson Sarit Michaeli did not respond to The Electronic Intifada’s question about the group’s participation in such meetings.

The Ynet report continues:

“It’s a major missed opportunity,” B’Tselem’s former US Director Uri Zaki says. “I went to universities in the United States, specifically on Apartheid Week, in order to explain that I was an Israeli patriot, and to oppose the boycotts. Like the Jewish left-wing groups in America who joined the fight against the boycott, our position has great influence. It is true that we will not fight a boycott of settlement products, but our efficacy in the fight over sovereign Israel’s good name is very obvious, much more than that of right-wing groups.

“It’s a shame that those who took over the hasbara efforts are excluding us for political reasons,” he adds.

Incidentally, B’Tselem has already proven its contribution when it strongly criticized the Goldstone Report, which greatly embarrassed South African jurist Richard Goldstone. Even now, after the release of the UN report on Operation Protective Edge, the fight against the boycott would surely be more effective if a way can be found to include Israeli human rights groups.

The Goldstone report, an independent inquiry commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council, found evidence of extensive war crimes and crimes against humanity by Israel during its 2008-2009 invasion of Gaza.

“Proud sponsor”

In 2012, B’Tselem and its US office came under strong criticism from Palestinian human rights organizations for proclaiming that it was a “proud sponsor” of a J Street gala featuring former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert as a keynote speaker.

Olmert had been in charge during Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon and the 2008-2009 attack on Gaza which, together with other actions by Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank and Gaza during his term of office, killed more than 3,000 Lebanese and Palestinians.

In an effort at damage control, B’Tselem’s then executive director Jessica Montell had claimed that the email announcing the organization’s sponsorship of the Olmert gala had been a “mistake.”

But Montell also angrily scolded Palestinian human rights organizations for their “conduct” in speaking out against B’Tselem’s participation in the gala.

Yet B’Tselem did not apparently learn anything from the “mistake.” In September 2013, B’Tselem USA once again openly aligned itself with Israel lobby efforts to defeat the Palestinian rights movement.

It touted its “strategic cooperation with J Street” and promoted its participation in the J Street conference. “We are encouraged to know that this conference will feature remarks by US Vice President Joe Biden and many other distinguished partners and allies and proud [sic] to share the stage with them,” B’Tselem USA proclaimed.

Biden, a staunch defender and abetter of Israeli crimes as part of the Obama administration, was joined at the conference by Israeli war crimes fugitive Tzipi Livni.

This was four months after Uri Zaki’s departure, indicating that B’Tselem’s “strategic” alignment with anti-Palestinian groups was not the product of a lone individual’s vision.

J Street has a long record of staunchly supporting Israeli military attacks on Palestinians including all the major assaults on Gaza, opposing key Palestinian rights including the right of return, and proclaiming itself a leader in the battle against BDS.

Signs of change?

Jessica Montell stepped down as the director of B’Tselem in March 2014 and was replaced by Hagai El-Ad.

Although a B’Tselem USA representative participated in J Street’s 2015 conference, B’Tselem is not listed as aconference sponsor.

Nonetheless, B’Tselem USA continues to count among its advisors such figures as “liberal” Zionist pundit Peter Beinart, who is on record opposing “full, equal citizenship” for Palestinian citizens of Israel.

There is no doubt that over the years B’Tselem has done important documentation of Israel’s crimes in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. But such work is entirely incompatible with taking any sort of role in Israeli state propaganda and requires explicit condemnation of such whitewashing.

Even if it has yet to make a clean break, B’Tselem’s new leadership may have become more reluctant to align itself so publicly with Israeli war criminals and anti-Palestinian lobby groups.

There is no doubt B’Tselem must do more if it is to retain any credibility.


How big business invented the theology of ‘Christian Libertarianism’ and the Gospel of free markets

via How big business invented the theology of ‘Christian Libertarianism’ and the Gospel of free markets.


10 JUN 2015

Jesus casts the moneychangers out of the Temple (Shutterstock)

Jesus casts the money changers out of the Temple (Shutterstock)

dropped d (red)uring the Great Depression, big business needed rebranding.  Blamed for the crash, belittled in the press, and beset by the New Deal’s regulatory state, corporate leaders decided they had to improve their image, and soon. “The public does not understand industry,” an executive complained, “because industry itself has made no effort to tell its story; to show the people of this country that our high living standards have risen almost altogether from the civilization which industrial activity has set up.”

Accordingly, corporate leaders launched a public relations campaign for capitalism itself. In 1934, the National Association of Manufacturers hired its first public relations director in its four decades of existence, expanding its annual budget in that field from just $36,000 to nearly $800,000 three years later, a sum that represented half of its total budget. NAM marketed the miracles of “free enterprise” with a wide array of advertisements, direct mail, films, radio programs, a speakers’ bureau, and a press service that provided prefabricated editorials and news stories for 7500 newspapers. Ultimately, though, the organization’s efforts at self-promotion were generally dismissed as precisely that.

While old business lobbies like NAM couldn’t sell capitalism effectively, neither could new ones created especially for the cause. The American Liberty League, founded in 1934, originally seemed business’s best bet. It received lavish financial support from corporate leaders, notably at Du Pont and General Motors, but ultimately their prominence in the group crippled its effectiveness. Jim Farley, then head of the Democratic Party, famously joked that it ought to be called the “American Cellophane League” because “first, it’s a Du Pont product and second, you can see right through it.”

As the 1930s came to a close, corporate leaders looked over the returns on their investment and realized the millions spent had not swayed public opinion in the slightest. The image of big business still needed repackaging. In a 1939 address to the US Chamber of Commerce, H.W. Prentis of the Armstrong Cork Company proposed the way forward. “Economic facts are important, but they will never check the virus of collectivism,” he warned; “the only antidote is a revival of American patriotism and religious faith.” Prentis’ speech thrilled the Chamber and boardrooms across America. Soon propelled to NAM’s presidency, he continued to tell corporate leaders to get religion. His 1940 presidential address, promoted heavily in the Wall Street Journal and broadcast live on both ABC and CBS radio, promised that business’s salvation lay in “a strengthening of the spiritual concept that underlies our American way of life.”

Accordingly, corporate America began marketing a new fusion of faith, freedom and free enterprise. These values had been conflated before, of course, but in the early 1940s they manifested in a decidedly new form. Previously, when Americans thought about the relationship between religion, politics and business, they gave little thought to the role of the national state, largely because it was so small it gave little thought to any of them.  But now that the federal government had grown so significantly, corporate leaders sought to convince Americans that the New Deal threatened not only the economic freedoms of business leaders, but the religious and political freedoms of ordinary citizens as well. They worked tirelessly throughout the 1940s and 1950s to advance a new ideology that one observer aptly anointed “Christian libertarianism.”

Initially, businessmen outsourced this campaign to an unlikely set of champions: ministers. Though this decision seemed unorthodox, the logic was laid out clearly in private.  “Recent polls indicate that America’s clergymen are a powerful influence in determining the thinking and acting of the people in the economic realm,” noted one organizer, and so business leaders should “enlist large numbers of clergymen” to “act as minutemen, carrying the message upon all proper occasions throughout their several communities.”

Over the second half of the 1940s, corporate leaders lavishly funded new organizations of ministers who would make their case for them.  Some of these groups secured donations from a broad array of businessmen. Reverend James W. Fifield’s Spiritual Mobilization, for instance, amassed millions in corporate and personal checks from leaders at companies such as General Motors, Chrysler, US Steel, Republic Steel, International Harvester, Firestone Tire and Rubber, Sun Oil, Gulf Oil, Standard Oil of New Jersey, Colgate-Palmolive-Peet and countless more.  Others leaned heavily on the generosity of a single patron. The Christian Freedom Foundation, created by Reverend Norman Vincent Peale and then led by layman Howard Kershner, was sustained almost single-handedly by Sun Oil President J. Howard Pew. The Pew family’s contributions to the organization averaged more than $300,000 a year for twenty-five years.

With this generous funding, ministers in these organizations spread the arguments of Christian libertarianism. “I hold,” Reverend Fifield asserted, “that the blessings of capitalism come from God. A system that provides so much for the common good and happiness must flourish under the favor of the Almighty.” But concern for the “common good” was uncommon in their arguments, which tended instead to emphasize the values of individualism. In their telling, Christianity and capitalism were indistinguishable on this issue: both systems rested on the fundamental belief that an individual would rise or fall on his or her own merit alone. Just as the saintly ascended to Heaven and sinners fell to Hell, the worthy rose to riches while the wretched were resigned to the poorhouse.

Any political system that meddled with this divinely prescribed order of things was nothing less than a “pagan” abomination. Indeed, they argued, the welfare state stood in direct opposition to the Ten Commandments. “We emphasize the interdependence of freedom and Christianity,” the Christian Freedom Foundation announced in its founding statement. “When the First Commandment ‘Thou shalt have no other Gods before me’ is violated and the state is exalted to take the place of God as the highest authority over the actions of man, freedom is suppressed.  Conversely, Christianity can thrive only where human beings live under a system of free institutions and government by the people.”  The welfare state, a CFF member argued elsewhere, violated the eighth and tenth commandments by encouraging the poor to covet what the wealthy had and “forcibly taking the wealth of the more enterprising citizens for distribution to others.”  And because it spread scurrilous rumors about the rich and made extravagant promises to the poor that it could never deliver, the New Deal violated the ninth commandment’s injunction against bearing false witness, too.

Armed with this framework, and the ample funding of their financial backers, these organizations spread the gospel of Christian libertarianism.  In publications like Faith and Freedom and Christian Economics, they introduced tens of thousands of clergymen to the work of prominent libertarian thinkers including Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Percy Greaves, George Koether, Garet Garrett, Henry Hazlitt, Frank Chodorov and Clarence Manion, presenting their originally secular arguments in a new sanctified light. Spiritual Mobilization went further, proselytizing the general public over the radio. Corporate sponsors, such as Republic Steel, secured airtime for its weekly program “The Freedom Story” and spread its warnings about “creeping socialism” over more than 800 radio stations nationwide.

Spiritual Mobilization’s greatest success came in 1951, with a coordinated series of celebrations for the Fourth of July arranged by its Committee to Proclaim Liberty.  Businessmen dominated the committee’s ranks, from household names like Harvey Firestone, Conrad Hilton, E.F. Hutton, James L. Kraft, Henry Luce, Fred Maytag, J.C. Penney, and J. Howard Pew, to lesser-known heads of major corporations like General Motors, Chrysler, US Steel, Republic Steel, Hughes Aircraft, Eastern Airlines, United Airlines, Gulf Oil, Marshall Field, and more. Leaders of the National Association of Manufacturers and the US Chamber of Commerce served, as did heads of free enterprise advocacy groups like the Foundation for Economic Education. Together, they advanced a series of coast-to-coast celebrations on the new Christian libertarian slogan of “freedom under God.” The 17,000 ministers who belonged to the group were encouraged to compete for prizes by making sermons on the theme, while governors and mayors issued proclamations calling on ordinary citizens to do so as well. On the Sunday before the Fourth, the group broadcast an all-star “Freedom Under God” spectacular on CBS’s national radio network. Organized by Cecil B. DeMille, it featured Hollywood stars like Jimmy Stewart, Bing Crosby and Gloria Swanson.

Although corporate leaders continued to outsource the Christian libertarian campaign to organizations such as Spiritual Mobilization, they encouraged its growth directly, too. In 1949, for instance, businessmen banded together to form the Freedoms Foundation. (Despite some similarities in its name and agenda, this new organization stood apart from the Christian Freedom Foundation.)  The Freedoms Foundation believed that those who promoted “a better understanding of the American way of life” and the central role played by “the American free enterprise system” in making the nation great should be singled out for prizes and praise.  Fittingly for an organization devoted to promoting big business, its president was Don Belding, head of a national advertising agency whose clients included Walt Disney and Howard Hughes.  The advertising legend was supported by an impressive board of directors drawn from the highest ranks of corporate America, including leaders of General Foods, General Motors, Maytag, Republic Steel, Sherwin Williams, Union Carbon & Carbide, US Rubber, as well as individuals such as Sid Richardson, an oilman who was one of the richest men in America.

While these corporate leaders and like-minded conservatives sat on the board, Dwight D. Eisenhower set the agenda. Eisenhower had enthusiastically supported Belding’s initial plans for the foundation and even helped articulate its central arguments. “The Credo of the American Way of Life” that he crafted appeared in Reader’s Digest in March 1949, and soon elsewhere. The Credo was usually depicted in graphic form, a soaring monument topped with two tablets etched with references to the Bill of Rights and other rights designed for business, including the “right to own private property,” the “right to engage in business, compete, make a profit,” the “right to bargain for goods and services in a free market,” the “right to contract about our affairs,” and, last but not least, the “right to freedom from arbitrary government regulation and control.” Together, these political and economic rights rested on a pedestal of “Constitutional Government designed to Serve the People.” That, in turn, stood on a more substantial foundation: “Fundamental Belief in God.”

For the Freedoms Foundation, the Credo of the American Way of Life was more than a list of political and economic rights. It was rather, as its name indicated, a creed—a statement of religious belief and commitment to a sanctified cause. As the organization repeatedly noted, faithfulness to the Credo would be “the sole basis” in determining the winners in its annual awards program. A major gathering for corporate and conservative leaders, the ceremonies took place at the foundation’s offices in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, a 54-acre property purchased by board member E.F. Hutton and leased to the foundation for a dollar a year. In the first ceremonies, in November 1949, Eisenhower granted honors and gold medals to a number of distinguished conservatives, including former president Herbert Hoover, conservative Republican Senator Robert Taft of Ohio, and his own future Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. In all, he doled out prizes totaling $84,000, which organizers emphasized was more money than either the Pulitzer or Nobel Prizes bestowed. Moreover, the general gave his blessing to the work done by the honorees. “Here in this spiritual temple of the greatest of all Americans,” he said, “you winners of these awards become marked as among America’s disciples.  You have issued your defiance to all who would destroy the American dream.”

With the prize pool steadily increasing, the competition was swamped with tens of thousands of nominations each year. Categories for awards steadily expanded, with prizes offered for the best expression of the Credo in everything from ad campaigns, radio programs, cartoons, editorials, television programs and films to sermons, speeches, employee publications, community programs, and commencement addresses, both college and high school. In only its second year, the foundation awarded nearly two dozen cash awards in each of 17 categories, with another 300 medals and 200 certificates distributed as well. Organizers believed their work had transformed the nation. “Now,” one noted in 1951, “teachers, preachers, business men, citizens at work everywhere have the task of building an understanding of our free-market capitalistic system based on a fundamental belief in God, on Constitutional government designed to serve and not to rule the people, and on our indivisible bundle of political and economic rights, or surrender to statism.”

Beyond the Freedoms Foundation, the Credo of the American Way of Life played a prominent role in the presidential campaign of 1952. Notably, Eisenhower led a drive that year to have a monument in its likeness erected in Washington, DC. Doing so, the Republican nominee noted, would honor the American ideal of “permitting the creative spirit of man made in the image of his Maker to reach its highest aspirations.” While the monument never manifested, its message still spread widely in a massive get-out-the-vote campaign coordinated by the Freedoms Foundation and the Boy Scouts of America.  Together, the two organizations put up a million posters in store windows and plastered another 90,000 cards on trains and buses. On the Saturday before the election, they placed over thirty million more pieces of literature on doorknobs across the country. Shaped like the Liberty Bell, these door hangers featured the Credo on one side and earnest-looking scouts asking recipients to “Think when you Vote” on the other.

Soon after his landslide victory, President-Elect Eisenhower made a triumphant return to the annual board meeting of the Freedoms Foundation at the Waldorf-Astoria. “These days I seem to have no trouble filling my calendar,” he told them. “But this is one engagement that I requested. I wanted to come and do my best to tell those people who are my friends, who are supporters of the idea that is represented in the foundation, how deeply I believe that they are serving America.” As reporters hastily took notes, the incoming president urged the crowd and the country to embrace spiritual renewal. In the key passage, he called their attention to the invocation of “the Creator” in the preamble of the Declaration of Independence. He then insisted, in what quickly became a famous line, that “our form of government has no sense unless it is founded in a deeply felt religious faith, and I don’t care what it is.”

It was no accident that Eisenhower introduced this idea to the Freedoms Foundation. As he knew from his long association, the audience arrayed before him appreciated the power of appeals to piety and patriotism. Founder Don Belding was a close ally of Reverend Fifield, whom he personally praised as “Freedom’s Crusader” in a 1950 ceremony honoring the minister; the ad man had been active in Spiritual Mobilization and served as a founding member of the Committee to Proclaim Liberty. Not surprisingly, early recipients of his foundation’s awards included not just Reverend Fifield, but also Howard Kershner of the Christian Freedom Foundation, several regular contributors to Faith and Freedom and Christian Economics, producers of “The Freedom Story” radio program, and, lastly, all of Belding’s fellow members on the Committee to Proclaim Liberty, who were honored as a group and, in several instances, honored once again as individuals. As the Freedoms Foundation crowd heard Eisenhower talk about the foundational role of religion in American life, they believed Christian libertarianism had finally come into its own. The new Eisenhower administration, they assumed, would use that religious rhetoric to roll back the regulatory state. They were wrong.

When he took office, Eisenhower parted ways with his earlier allies. Although the president was personally sympathetic to their complaints, he concluded that “the mass of the people” disagreed. And so, to the consternation of Christian libertarians, Eisenhower gave a bipartisan stamp of approval to the New Deal and, indeed, even expanded its reach over his two terms in office. He significantly enlarged Social Security, increased federal education funding, and launched the greatest public works program of the postwar era: the interstate highway system. By the end of his administration, many libertarians would agree with Senator Barry Goldwater’s assessment that his presidency had been little more than a cheap imitation of the Democratic agenda. It was, he famously charged, “a dime-store New Deal.”

That said, Eisenhower had incredible success with one of the goals he had shared with these supporters: promoting the politics of piety and patriotism. Uncoupling their religious rhetoric from its origins in the fight against the New Deal, he broadened its appeal considerably and helped usher in a national religious revival that was embraced across the political spectrum. He introduced new religious rituals to American politics, ranging from the ritual of prayers at Cabinet meetings, the State Department and Pentagon to annual rites like the National Prayer Breakfast. He inspired others throughout government to inaugurate new religious symbols and ceremonies of their own. Most significantly, Congress added the words “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954 and made “In God We Trust” the country’s first official motto in 1956.

Unlike the Christian libertarians, who presented God and government as rivals, Eisenhower managed to fuse the two together into what the first National Prayer Breakfast hailed as a wholesome “government under God.” The American nation was now officially suffused with religion, and so it would remain.



The Dangers of Selfie Sticks PSA – YouTube

via The Dangers of Selfie Sticks PSA – YouTube.

It’s a rare event, indeed, as regular visitors to my site will appreciate, that I give precious time and attention to shameless advertising and marketing; it’s usually the more subtle variety which suckers me into sharing.  This particular advert, however, from Pizza Hut has yet, I believe, to reach the UK and remains new to me…as well as hilarious.


Published on 20 May 2015

The Big Flavor Dipper Pizza: you’re gonna need a bigger selfie stick.

Order now at http://pizzahut.com

Please Selfie Responsibly. These egotistical specimens of visual self-obsession are in danger. Help protect them by sharing this video with any fabulous narce artists who suffer from selfie stick abuse. Pizza Hut is a supporter of those suffering from selfie stick abuse.

Watch the Behind the Scenes video here: https://youtu.be/2KvLP8-H7JA

Connect with us!

Created, produced and distributed by Shareability. http://shareability.com


fallout shelter

via A Jug Of Wine, A Loaf Of Bread, And Virtual Thou • fallout shelter.

The sadly shocking thing, for those who didn’t live through these times, is any number of these or similar home installations were probably sold.  Note the apparent absence of food and drink storage, ventilation or sanitation and plumbing arrangements for this device.  Who needs plumbing if you’re going to die of asphyxiation within a couple of hours?  Meanwhile, as the world he knows is ending, Father is still wearing his tie.

(via jsbirds)


GCHQ’s Rainbow Lights: Exploiting Social Issues for Militarism and Imperialism – The Intercept

via GCHQ’s Rainbow Lights: Exploiting Social Issues for Militarism and Imperialism – The Intercept.


Over the weekend, the British surveillance agency GCHQ — the most extremist and invasive in the West — bathed its futuristic headquarters with rainbow-colored lights “as a symbol of the intelligence agency’s commitment to diversity” and to express solidarity with “International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.” GCHQ’s public affairs office proudly distributed the above photograph to media outlets. Referring to Alan Turing, the closeted-and-oppressed gay World War II British code-breaker just memorialized by an Oscar-nominated feature film, Prime Minister David Cameron’s office celebrated GCHQ’s inspirational lights:

This is so very moving. Gay Brits are now just as free as everyone else to spy on people, covertly disseminate state propaganda, and destroy online privacy. Whatever your views on all this nasty surveillance business might be, how can you not feel good about GCHQ when it drapes itself in the colors of LGBT equality?

This is all a stark illustration of what has become a deeply cynical but highly effective tactic. Support for institutions of militarism and policies of imperialism is now manufactured by parading them under the emotionally manipulative banners of progressive social causes.

The CIA loves this strategy. It now issues press releases hailing LGBT Pride Month and its “Agency Network of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Officers and Allies (ANGLE),” which “heralded the start of Pride Month by unveiling a photography exhibit at CIA Headquarters showcasing LGBT officers, allied employees, and their families.” Last month, the spy agency actually set up a recruiting tent at the Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade. Also last month, it summoned Maureen Dowd to Langley to interview female agents — ones whom the NYT columnist hailed as a “perky 69-year-old blond” and a mid-30s “chic analyst” — to produce a glowing portrait of “the C.I.A. sisterhood.” What Good Progressive could possibly view such such a pro-gay and feminist institution with disdain?

Neocons have long adeptly exploited this tactic and are among its pioneers. Before the invasion of Afghanistan, Americans were inundated with stories about the Taliban’s oppression of women: as though feminism was part of the cause of that war. To help justify the invasion of that country, the Bush State Department suddenly discovered its profound concern for the plight of “Afghan women and girls.” Some American feminist groups dutifully took up the cause as U.S. bombs were falling and U.S. soldiers were invading that country, as though it were some sort of War for Feminism and the Liberation of Afghan Women.

What Good Progressive could oppose a war like that? The fact that the U.S. not only refrained from invading, but lavishly supported, all sorts of regimes that were at least as repressive to women as the Taliban went unmentioned. That might suggest that liberation of women was merely a propagandistic pretext for that war rather than an actual desired outcome — just as Saddam Hussein’s “gassing of his own people” and other human rights abuses (committed when he was a close U.S. ally) had exactly zero to do with that war other than providing a feel-good means for liberals to support it.

These days, animosity toward leading U.S. adversaries — Vladimir Putin and Iranian mullahs — is bolstered through a sustained focus on their maltreatment of their LGBT citizens. The most war-craving neoconsendlessly focus on the plight of gay Iranians — as though that’s what motivates their hostility, as though neocons care about any of that in the slightest — while completely ignoring brutal LGBT suppression byregimes that are highly deferential to the U.S. and Israel. All of this, though blatantly manipulative, is also a remarkably effective tactic: Obama-aligned gay groups in the U.S. such as Human Rights Campaign regularly churn out anti-Russia screeds, and do the same for Iran.

Like any effective propaganda, all of this is grounded in some semblance of truth. The Taliban really are grotesquely oppressive to women; Saddam really was a severe human rights violator; Iran really does punish and sometimes even executes its gay citizens, while Putin has cultivated an anti-gay climate for domestic political benefits.

But none of that has the even the remotest connection to U.S. foreign policy or to the reasons these countries are deemed American adversaries. Just as is true for the Taliban’s treatment of women, the regimes the U.S. loves andsupports the most are at least as oppressive to LGBT individuals as Iran is (or, when compared to Russia’s actual record on gays, far more oppressive). The U.S. government doesn’t mind in the slightest if a government is oppressive to its gay or female citizens: quite the contrary, as a look at its closest allies proves. It just exploits those social issues as a means of propagandizing the public into hating the regimes that oppose its dictates, and well-intentioned people then dutifully march into line (just as some Iraq War supporters, and Libya War supporters, genuinely got convinced that invading and bombing those countries would somehow improve “human rights” — as though that were the goal or the likely outcome).

As a general matter, this tactic for Washington is far from new. The U.S. media has long hyped human rights and civil liberties abuses when perpetrated by governments disliked at the moment by the U.S. government, while ignoring far worse ones committed by subservient regimes. That’s why “Pussy Riot” has become a household name among Americans, and why the U.S. media developed an acute interest in the press freedom record of Ecuador as soon as it granted asylum to Julian Assange, but there is almost no interest in hearing about the systematic abuses of the Gulf tyrannies most commonly hailed by the U.S. media as “Our Friends and Partners in the Region.” This is human rights concerns as a cynical propaganda tactic, not anything remotely approaching an actual belief.


But the exploitation of these specific progressive social issues — especially women’s and LGBT rights — is a relatively new modification of this long-standing tactic. It has found expression in the “pink washing” of Israeli aggression: all Good Progressives are supposed to side with Israel because they provide better treatment to LGBT citizens than Palestinians do. Anti-Muslim fanatics use this same tactic constantly (literally every day, I’m told I should never oppose persecution and imperialistic aggression against Muslims because of “their” anti-gay fanaticism: why are you defending “them” since “they” would throw you off a roof, etc.). Similarly, the (genuinely exciting) milestone of the first African-American president was effectively used to obscure what the CIA itself in 2008 regarded as Obama’s irreplaceable value in protecting status quo militarism, while the milestone of the first female president will be used to obscure Hillary Clinton’s similar role.

Figuratively dressing up American wars in the pretty packaging of progressive social causes, or literally decorating pernicious spy agencies with the colors of the LGBT cause, should leave no doubt about what this tactic is. Militarism and aggression don’t become any more palatable because the institutions that perpetrate them let women and gays participate in those abuses, nor do American wars become less criminal or destructive because their targets share the same primitive social issue stances as America’s closest allies.

Photo: GCHQ/Public Affairs Office

Email the author: glenn.greenwald@theintercept.com

Everyday racism: what should we do? Akala | Comment is Free – YouTube

via Everyday racism: what should we do? Akala | Comment is Free – YouTube.

The Guardian

Published on 18 Mar 2015

Racism is a business. Its marketing is so successful that even Akala looks sideways at a young black man holding a lot of cash.
Subscribe to The Guardian ► http://is.gd/subscribeguardian
These racial assumptions lead to ‘everyday’ racism – daily encounters and micro-agressions. It’s time to recognise the relationship between top-down propaganda and the bias that we all carry.

Guardian website ► http://is.gd/guardianhome

Endboard videos:
Prisons in America are broken | Eric Schlosser ► http://bit.ly/prisonsus
There’s a lot wrong with the world, isn’t threr? | David Mitchell ► http://bit.ly/davidmitchellcif

Guardian playlists:

Comment is Free ► http://is.gd/cifplaylist
Guardian Docs ► http://is.gd/guardiandocs
Guardian Animations & Explanations ►http://is.gd/explainers
Guardian Investigations ► http://is.gd/guardianinvestigations

Other Guardian channels on YouTube:

Watch Me Date ► http://is.gd/watchmedate
Guardian Football ► http://is.gd/guardianfootball
Guardian Music ► http://is.gd/guardianYTmusic
Guardian Australia ► http://is.gd/guardianaustralia
Guardian Tech ► http://is.gd/guardiantech
Guardian Culture ► http://is.gd/guardianculture
Guardian Wires ► http://is.gd/guardianwires
Guardian Food ► http://is.gd/guardianfood

More Guardian videos:

Mos Def force fed in Gitmo procedure ► http://is.gd/mosdef
Edward Snowden interview ► http://is.gd/snowdeninterview2014
Bangladeshi Sex Workers take steroids ► http://is.gd/sexworkers
How your phone spies on you ► http://is.gd/phonespying
What is freedom today? ► http://is.gd/zizekcif
30 Stone man enters Mr Gay UK ► http://is.gd/stavros
Fighting Isis in Kobani ► http://is.gd/fightingisis
How does Ebola kill? ► http://is.gd/ebolakills
The SlumGods of Mumbai ► http://is.gd/slumgods
Jesus “would have been an atheist” ► http://is.gd/dawkinsjesus
The new global menace ► http://is.gd/owenjonescif


( good for internal irritations and chafing, apparently…:)

via A Jug Of Wine, A Loaf Of Bread, And Virtual Thou • vintagemedicinecabinet: Just because you can eat….


Just because you can eat Vaseline doesn’t mean you should, of course.


Mmm, I remember waking up to hot, steaming bowls in Vaseline on a cold morning.

The logic: purity= good. Ergo, you can eat it.  ?

(via modernizor)

Source: brendurbanist


“Dr. Evil” Turns out to Be “Dr. Silly” on Creators.com

via “Dr. Evil” Turns out to Be “Dr. Silly” on Creators.com.

by Jim Hightower

Big Oil, labor exploiters, industrial food factories, frackers and other corporate profiteers have been paying a lot of money to a man that celebrates himself “Dr. Evil” — the scourge of all progressive groups!

But Rick Berman is not a doctor, not evil and not a scourge. While he is a wholly unprincipled little man, he’s just a self-serving huckster who grubs for corporate dollars by offering to do their dirty PR work. His specialty is taking secret funding from major corporations to publicly slime environmentalists, low-wage workers and anyone else perceived by his corporate clients as enemies.

Berman’s modus operandi is not exactly sophisticated. Taking money from the likes of Phillip-Morris, Monsanto and Tyson Foods, he sets up tax-exempt front groups (with non-descript names like Center for Consumer Freedom, Employment Policies Institute and Environmental Policy Alliance), posing them as independent research and academic outfits. Each one is an empty shell, run by his small staff of political hacks out of his Washington, D.C., office, and, using the names of the front groups, Berman and Co. buy full-page newspaper ads and write opinion pieces filled with made-up facts and manufactured horror stories for clueless media outlets that amount to raw hatchet attacks on whatever progressive groups or public policies the corporate funders want to kill.

His mad dog style is hardly worrisome to those targeted, for rather than drawing converts to the corporate funder’s cause, it merely rallies the usual anti-labor, anti-enviro, anti-“fill in the blank” crowd. But it still appeals to brand-name corporate clients, for Berman promises to spew their message into the media without having any of the nastiness stick to them. “We run all this stuff through nonprofit organizations that are insulated from having to disclose donors,” he assured energy executives last year.

“There is total anonymity,” he bragged. “People don’t know who supports us.”

And can you even imagine a political PR campaign against environmentalists that was so negative, so ridiculously slanted and downright dirty, that it actually repulsed executives of some of America’s biggest fracking corporations?

Wow — it’s got to take a big wad of ugly to gag a fracker! But in the gross world of political rancor, few cough up hairballs as foul as those produced by Berman. Last year, he was in Colorado Springs, speaking at a meeting of Big Oil frackers about his down and dirty plan to smear and ridicule the grassroots enviros who’ve dared to oppose the fracking of Colorado’s land, water, people and communities. Dubbing the campaign “Big Green Radicals,” the Berman team revealed that their PR firm had dug into the personal lives of Sierra Club board members, looking for tidbits to embarrass them. Gut it up, Berman cried out to the executives, “You can either win ugly or lose pretty.” The Little Generalissimo then urged them to pony up some $3 million for his assault, saying they should “think of this as an endless war,” adding pointedly, “and you have to budget for it.”

Unfortunately for the sleaze peddler, one appalled energy executive recorded his crude pitch and leaked it to the media. “That you have to play dirty to win,” the executive explained, “just left a bad taste in my mouth.” Even Anadarko, an aggressive fracking corporation with 13,000 fracked wells in the Rockies, publicly rejected Berman’s political play, telling the New York Times: “It does not align with our values.”

Berman likes to be called “Dr. Evil,” but he’s so coarse, strident, bombastic and clownish that he’s become known as “Dr. Silly.” And oops, not only is this huckster an ineffectual fake, but big holes in his curtain of anonymity are now revealing some of the corporations hiding behind it and his big funders want no part of that. To take a peek, go to www.BermanExposed.org.

To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Webpage at www.creators.com.

“The people who truly deface our neighborhoods are the companies that scrawl giant slogans across buildings and buses trying to make us feel inadequate unless we buy their stuff.” – Banksy

via “The people who truly deface our neighborhoods are… | Paul John Moscatello.

Rush Limbaugh Admits Defeat On Facebook – ‘Talk’ Of Being Dropped In Chicago Circulates

via Rush Limbaugh Admits Defeat On Facebook – ‘Talk’ Of Being Dropped In Chicago Circulates.

THU MAR 05, 2015

by Leslie Salzillo

Radio show host Rush Limbaugh speaks at a forum hosted by the Heritage Foundation, on the similarities between the war on terrorism and the television show

Reports are flying that the large Chicago Cumulus radio station WLS 890 am is about to drop Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh. Cumulus is denying the leak, however today’s industry rumor closely follows a very out-of-character post by Limbaugh on his officialFacebook page.

‘Now that I’ve outgrown the 25-54 demographic, I’m no longer confident I see the world as everybody else does.’ Hold the phone, what? It’s hard to believe these defeatist words would come from El Rushbo, the self-proclaimed, ego-driven, ‘Mayor of Realsville’. Rush Limbaugh’s post was published not even 24 hours before media veteran Robert Feder came out with his article reporting a WLS ‘leak’ that Limbaugh is being dropped, after being with the station for 25 years.

There are hard facts here. The network continues to lose money in big numbers. WLS’s revenue dropped from $13 million in 2013 to less than $9.5 million in 2014. The article also states that the overall market was down 10 percent last year. Feder adds:

If all goes as planned, Limbaugh’s syndicated talk show, which airs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, will be dropped by the end of March, according to insiders at WLS.

A Cumulus Media spokeswoman [at first] declined immediate comment. But a source familiar with the decision said it was based on the show’s diminished ratings andfailure to generate advertising revenue for the station, adding: “It’s impossible to sell.”

This is not to say Rush Limbaugh will not show up on another Chicago station. We’ve been through this before with Cumulus crying poverty and whining that the Rush Limbaugh boycotts were dragging their revenue down. Then in August of 2013, media rumors lit up social mediaafter Politico ‘leaked’ Limbaugh was being dropped by the network. Two weeks later, Cumulus and Limbaugh signed a new deal. It may have been a publicity stunt, or possibly a way for Cumulus to drive down the cost of a new deal with Limbaugh. Only the knowing parties are privy to that information.

This, however, seems different. Time Magazine and The Wall Street Journal now confirm the ‘failure to generate ad revenue’ is, in fact, due to social media campaigns like StopRush/BoycottRush/FlushRush. Limbaugh is not only in trouble himself; he has also become a huge ball and chain to the radio industry. Last week, IHeart Media (formerly Clear Channel) which carries the Rush Limbaugh Show on over 500 stations, reported a quarterly loss of $309 Million, adding to there billions of debt. It continues to look grim for the aging media bully, well known for hate speech, racism, misogyny, and homophobia.

A new surge in the Limbaugh protest is taking place. In addition to the Time and WSJ articles, the Rush Limbaugh Sponsor Boycott Petition reached 126k signatures last week, gaining over 20,000 new signees in 10 days. Real live people are publicly giving their names, addresses, and email addresses to Change.org in order to let Limbaugh sponsors know these consumers refuse to buy from companies that support hate speech/hate radio. And it’s working. It’s been working, due to hundreds of thousand of protestors/petitioners/boycotter and some very hard-working StopRush/FlushRush volunteers. The fruits of their labor might just now be ready to reap.

Talk radio’s hate-monger has good reason to admit words of defeat on his Facebook page. Rush Limbaugh is losing. The American public is winning. How great is that.

Updates Will Follow

Here is how everyday people have gotten involved with this highly effective protest against Rush Limbaugh and Hate Radio:

    Sign: Limbaugh Sponsor & Clear Channel Petition
Visit/Like: BoycottRush Facebook Group
Join: The Fight To Flush Rush
Visit: StopRush.net for an extensive list of Limbaugh Sponsors
Twitter: #FlushRush and #StopRush

Special thanks to Margaret A. from BoycottRush, and Freya Malin for your continued work and dedication to this cause.

And thank you, Daily Kos Diarist Richard Myers. Rest in peace, brother. We miss you, and we will finish this.