The Way Forward
Friday, February 21, 2014
Friday, August 19, 2011
19 August 2011: If my understanding is correct, then we are going to see a huge plunge in the stock markets soon. This plunge might bring down gold mining shares, such as happened in the period from July-October 2008. Those same stocks recovered back to their July 2008 peaks by April of 2011, and have been flat since. During that same period (July 2008 to now), the price of gold increased 80%; mining stocks haven't realized any of that 80% gain, but will if and when investors come generally to recognize that the gold-price rise is for real and not merely "just another bubble."
If this market-plunge doesn't bring down gold mining stocks like it did last time, then there is still 80% of the gold-price-rise that's yet to be accounted for in the future price of gold mining shares. This is an enormous potential profit that's still waiting to be exploited by investors.
If this market-plunge does bring down gold mining stocks, then there will be an even higher potential profit to be made by purchasing gold mining shares at that time; that is, in the immediate wake of the stock market collapse.
In either instance, you'll need to have accumulated/saved cash ready to invest in gold mining shares at that time (if you'll not have already done so prior to then).
Between now and then, it therefore makes sense to be investing in either a money market fund, or gold, or gold mining shares, or some combination of these three. All other possible investments will succeed or fail for reasons that are independent of the economy's fundamentals, and are therefore intrinsically riskier, if my understanding of those economic fundamentals turns out to be true. We will know whether my understanding was right or not, depending upon whether or not there is a market-collapse between now and May of 2012.
If there does turn out to be a market-collapse between now and May of 2012, then my understanding of the economy was true, and there will therefore be immense profits to be made by investing in gold mining shares at that time.
After such a market collapse, such a high proportion of investors will already recognize that the gold-price rise is no mere "bubble," so that gold mining shares will be skyrocketing in value, faster and longer than the gold price ever has -- just in order to regain the undervaluation of gold-mining shares prior to this final collapse. The best time to sell those shares will be any time before the economy has recovered from its rape by conservatives, and I expect that this recovery will take decades. During this period, the people who own virtually all (more than 99%) of the nation's wealth (the wealthier half of the U.S. population, including virtually all of the nation's conservatives) will be competing so fiercely for gold, so that the price-levels per ounce of gold will seem insane today. Gold will replace the U.S. dollar as the international currency; so, all of international trade will be denominated in gold.
That's if my understanding of economics is correct. Otherwise: just ignore what I have said.
PS: It is now recognized that "peak gold," or the year in which global gold production peaks, occurred in the year 2000. The cost to mine an ounce of gold is going to cross over the market-price for an ounce of gold, at which time there will be no more companies mining gold, though there will be companies trading gold. That time has not yet nearly come. Moreover, it won't come anytime soon, if the price of gold keeps going up for a long time to come. Virtually all of the gold that will ever be extracted from the ground has already been mined. This, in fact, is one of the reasons why gold even will qualify to be considered to be used as the international currency. (There are, of course, other reasons, as well; but this is one.)
Sunday, August 13, 2006
How Dangerous Religion Is
In order to understand how dangerous religion is, one must first understand what religion is, and what it is not. The biggest barrier to understanding such things is the common tendency to view religion as a subject-area, instead of as an epistemology. Every statement about religion which views it as a subject-area tends to see spirituality as being intrinsic to it, and this is especially misleading.
Religion is not spirituality, although some proponents of religion falsely equate the two.
Religion is faith. Anyone who lacks faith lacks religion.
Faith can be held in practically anything. But when it’s held in some Scripture that’s alleged to come from The Almighty, or God, we’re talking about organized religion, and many people falsely equate religion with organized religion, as if a person cannot be religious unless a member of some organized group that believes similarly to himself.
In some organized religions, The Almighty is held to be nature, or called “the laws of nature.” Organized religions of this kind are falsely denominated as “atheistic,” as if the only god that were suitable for worship were a “supernatural” one.
For a prominent modern example of such nature-deification: Marxist Communism held the laws of nature to constitute, themselves, The Almighty, and held that the essence of virtue was to flow with these laws, which, according to Marxist Scripture, meant to let the proletariat become dictators over the means of production.
What separated Marxist Communism, or any such “atheistic” faith, from science, was that, like any organized religion, its criterion for truth was some Scripture, not experience. The Marxist Scripture was Das Kapital. Karl Marx became the prophet in his own organized religion. Anyone who didn’t possess faith in Das Kapital as representing laws of nature regarding politics and economics couldn’t authentically be a Communist—no more than anyone who doesn’t have faith in the Bible as representing The Word of God can authentically be a Christian.
It is important to understand the essence of religion. Atheistic religion not only is possible; it exists. Furthermore, religion is not first and foremost a community, as is commonly asserted; it is a belief. The belief makes the community, not vice versa. However, it is important to understand that what makes this belief is faith—an epistemology. This epistemology, faith itself, is the essence of religion. Any given religion is a specific faith—that is, faith in a specific Scripture.
Since the essence of religion is faith, no religion is merely hereditary. If an individual who is raised within a given faith comes to reject that faith, he’s no longer authentically a member of that faith-group or organized religion, not even if he pretends to be still a member in order to be accepted within the faith-culture in which he was raised. To hold the contrary view—to hold that religion is defined by descent—is to hold a purely Tribal, or “racist,” concept of Religion: that a religion is merely hereditary. But religion is, above all, not a matter of mere heredity, but one of personal belief. Specifically, it is a person’s belief which is based upon faith in some Scripture.
The basic attribute of Scripture, since it originates from The All-Powerful, is that it’s inerrant. The expressions from The All-Powerful have necessarily got to be True, because the only thing that’s required in order to make them true is that The All-Powerful wills them so. Otherwise, The All-Powerful would not be The All-Powerful: What the All-Powerful wills, happens necessarily. By definition of the All-Powerful’s being The All-Powerful, whatever the All-Powerful asserts to be the case has got to be the case; and any exception from this would vitiate or destroy The All-Powerful’s being all-powerful. This is why any religion is based upon its Scripture being inerrant—inerrancy follows from religion’s worshipping The All-Powerful.
The difference between a religious conservative, or “fundamentalist,” and a religious liberal, is that the fundamentalist really believes this way. By contrast, a religious liberal isn’t entirely certain it’s so—a religious liberal possesses less faith in Scripture. In other words, a religious liberal is simply weaker in his faith than is a religious conservative. The religious liberal might not want to acknowledge this, and he might wish to be a member of a congregation of others who are similarly weak in their faith, but this doesn’t change the situation. If these people were more rational, what they’d be ashamed about is not that they hold their faith weakly, but instead that they hold their faith—or any faith—at all.
The opposite of faith is skepticism. This skepticism is not—as religionists commonly maintain—the same thing as cynicism. Skepticism is simply a systematic questioning and analysis of all allegations, irrespective of their source; it is the holding that nothing possesses authority. Another term for this epistemology is “science.”
In science, there are experts, but there are no authorities. An expert is demonstrated by a past record of achievement which is a high percentage of confirmation of his past predictions. (For example, a person such as U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, who was renowned for his long record of predictions which subsequently proved to be false, might nonetheless constitute an authority to conservatives, but he is thoroughly discredited as an “expert” by scientists.) And an expert, unlike an authority, is constantly questioned and challenged by other scientists in his field, and takes no offense at being questioned, simply because he is a scientist, and because, in science, authority simply does not exist; only expertise does.
Unlike a person of faith, there exists no Scripture for a scientist. This is necessarily the case, because there is no inerrancy—anyone might be wrong on a given allegation, and skepticism constantly reigns among scientists, on all subjects.
A scientist is not an atheist, because a scientist does not make assertions about issues that aren’t yet even properly formulated. For example, if a scientist is asked “Does God exist?” a more basic question is automatically raised, in the scientist’s mind, as to whether there might possibly be something other than The All-Powerful which might qualify (according to some rational set of rules) as constituting a god, or even as constituting The God. For example, a scientist might assert in reply to such a question: “I worship truth, not power, and certainly not the very personification of power, which is The All-Powerful One; but I would call truth God, even though this is not Truth—not the assumedly inerrant Word of The All-Powerful One, since that does not exist. So, I worship truth but not Truth. And thus, since I worship something, I’m not an atheist.”
For a scientist, the very question as to whether a god exists is unanswerable as of yet in human history, for the same reason that a question of whether the earth circled around the sun or the sun circled around the earth was unanswerable before physics became scientific with Galileo: human culture has not yet reached the stage when such a question is answerable from the standpoint of scientific epistemology. Thus, a scientist is not an atheist, but an agnostic.
Therefore, the difference between religion and science is not two different subject-areas, as religionists maintain, but two different epistemologies—one, faith; the other, skepticism. And liberal religious persons are somewhere in transition between those two polar opposite epistemological positions.
The key thing to understand about organized religion is its worship of the very personification of power, The All-Powerful. Power-worship leads to the problems which culturally immensely infect the world of today; it constitutes a cultural disease that inevitably produces massive bloodshed and misery, including wars in many regions of today’s world—northern Ireland, the Middle East, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Nigeria: the list goes on and on.
Furthermore, religion is, by its very nature, opposed to findings by science, in numerous areas, such as evolution, abortion, homosexuality: the list goes on and on.
Consequently, the embodiment of religion in politics, which is commonly and accurately known as “conservatism,” constitutes a form of terrorism against scientists during the present Age in history, the Religious Age. Scientists during the Religious Age are so terrified by religionists, that scientists cannot openly even assert that religion and science are fundamentally and irrevocably opposed to one another; scientists have to assert, to the exact contrary, that, rather than being two opposite epistemologies (which they are), religion and science are merely two different subject-areas. Even today, scientists remain, to a large extent, under the religious curse, as was Galileo, and as was
This is not, however, to assert that mankind has made no substantial progress. Before the Religious Age, there was the Tribal Age, which was even more barbaric.
In a Tribal Age culture, the moral authority of the laws is ancestors, and a person’s individual merit derives from his having “good” ancestors. In a Religious Age culture, the moral authority of the laws is God’s will, and a person’s individual merit derives from his being approved by God. In a Scientific Age culture, the moral authority of the laws will derive from the extent to which they improve the welfare (well-being or long-term happiness) of the ruled, and a person’s individual merit will derive from the extent to which he serves that end.
As of today, we remain in the Religious Age, and therefore the world is today cursed by massive wars and oppression, stupidity regnant, and scientists aren’t even free to assert that this is the case, if they even understand that it is, and why it is.
Mankind’s progress from the Dark Ages is far less than is commonly thought, and we might be yet thousands of years from reaching the Scientific Age—if we’ll ever reach it at all.
Sunday, December 05, 2004
The Way Forward
by Eric Zuesse
The e-mails below are a succession of notes to Phil Cubeta in which I was setting forth my vision of "the way forward" after the disaster of November 2nd of 2004.
The historical background of these notes is that after the landslide defeat of the far-rightwing Republican Barry Goldwater by the liberal Democrat Lyndon Johnson in 1964, two fascist aristocrats, two conservative heirs of vast fortunes, Joseph Coors the co-founder of the John Birch Society and supporter of the KKK, and Richard Mellon Scaife, the CIA-connected heir of the Gulf Oil and Alcoa Aluminum fortunes, both of whom had been passionate supporters of the losing candidate Goldwater, decided to construct the intellectual infrastructure that would subsequently transform the then-existing marginal semi-fascist ideology of conservatism to become ultimately the dominant ideology of the Republican Party and then the dominant political movement in the United States, and so to take over ultimately the control first of the Republican Party, and then of the U.S. Government.
Their plan was brilliant: They would establish the nation's first ideologically partisan think tank, the Heritage Foundation, to achieve respectability for their neo-fascist ideology under the guise of its being "free-market" in opposition to the "socialist" and "leftist" views of the Democratic Party, and they would reinterpret the U.S. Constitution and the "original intent" of America's Founding Fathers as having been supportive of this fascist vision for the United States of America. They would bring the fundamentalist Christian churches into their movement just as Adolf Hitler had brought the most conservative German church leaders to support the Nazi Party, by fusing Church and State together into one tightly clenched fascist fist holding and controlling and (where necessary) strangulating not only the government but also the culture of the nation. During the following decade, the mission of Coors and of Scaife in the latter Church/State-fusion effort was supplemented by the creation of two more organizations: one the Federalist Society to re-interpret the U.S. Constitution as if it were intended to be the kind of fascist document that Coors and Scaife and other aristocratic fascists such as the Bradley family, the Koch family, and the J.M. Olin interests, were by now already financing with millions of dollars annually; and the other the Moral Majority to demagogue millions of fundamentalist Christian fools into supporting this Church/State fusion. For example, Coors's agent Paul Weyrich, who in 1973 had founded the fascist Heritage Foundation with $250,000 in Coors seed capital and several millions immediately thereafter from Richard Mellon Scaife, provided to his friends the preachers Jerry Falwell and Tim LaHaye the name "Moral Majority," and also this new organization's basic concept and far-right aristocratic seed-capital donations.
References for all of this background can be easily found by web searches for the principal persons and organizations that I've just mentioned, and especially at www.mediatransparency.com/. There is nothing new in what I have set forth here: it's the basic history of the origins of the George W. Bush U.S. Presidential Administration. George W. Bush has been culminating the brilliant work that was started by Coors and by Scaife.
The following e-mails to Phil Cubeta, who is an extremely knowledgeable person about these matters, continue and extend this perspective concerning my thoughts about what ought to be "the way forward" towards reversing and ultimately defeating this fascist American Counter-Revolution of conservative American aristocratic/theocratic traitors:
Heritage Foundation was intended to be the restoration of aristocracy with the support of the clergy; Moral Majority was intended to be the restoration of the clergy with the support of the aristocracy. It has worked perfectly.
Unfortunately, John Podesta [founder and head of the Center for American Progress, which was created in recent years as the supposed Democratic Party counterpart to the Republican Party's Heritage Foundation] is no match for the brilliant Weyrich--Podesta is a waste of his investors' money.
I knew back in 1980 what Weyrich had achieved, and I knew then that the Democratic Party needed to duplicate the achievement, but I never received any interest. When I contacted Steve Grossman, at the time I wrote him the head of the DNC, he dismissed my concerns, and said that liberals could never get funders like Scaife and Coors, because it would be contrary to the class-interests of such a wealthy person.
I don't know whether Omidyar, or Soros, or somebody else, might be possibilities, but somehow it seems to me that there must be somebody out there who is smart and sophisticated enough to recognize that the biggest philanthropic impact per dollar is achieved when somebody does what Coors and Scaife did, and turns an ideology into a real political movement.
I never agreed with Grossman that Coors and Scaife were investing in Heritage etc. for ultimately selfish purposes. The real issue here is and always was values--and Democrats still don't get it.
We need to find wealthy people who are as smart and sophisticated and dedicated to their progressive values as Coors and Scaife were regarding their deeply held arch-conservative or fascist values.
Then we can start to do what we ought to have done decades ago--and dump those fascists.
The reason I'm trying yet again is that Republican misrule is heading again for a huge crash like in 1929, and so the country is going to become receptive to progressive ideas like it hasn't been in nearly a century. The path forward will still be enormously difficult, and what will be critically important is to have the intellectual infrastructure in place for when that time comes, so that the progressive hegemony will, this time, never again be turned back.
Who has money and such a big vision? If Coors and Scaife could do it in the 1970's, then isn't there a progressive today who can repeat it--this time, for us, instead of against us?
This is an opportunity for some super-smart person with money to out-do Joe Coors and Richard Mellon Scaife, who, thus far in history, got a bigger bang for their philanthropic bucks than anybody else--far bigger than such more recent people as (in the U.S., I'm speaking of) Bill Gates, Pierre Omidyar, Peter Lewis, and George Soros.
Coors and Scaife placed their philanthropic bucks where their philanthropic values were, and did it so intelligently that they transformed their then-minority moral vision from what it had previously been--a laughing stock amongst the Establishment, who derided this same aristocratic/theocratic vision when its only major proponent was the kooky John Birch Society--to become the new Establishment: the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority, the Federalist Society, the Council for National Policy, and all the other "railroad cars" of the theocratic/aristocratic freight train that's since been smashing through and destroying what America's great Founding Fathers had so carefully laid the foundations to construct via the U.S. Constitution: "We, the People ... do hereby ordain and establish this Constitution"--our nation's all-important sovereignty clause, which meant that (for the first time in human history) no longer was God the sovereign in this new land, and that even the separate states weren't any longer sovereign; but only "We, the People" were, and are. American democracy therefore now stands perilously close to ruin, simply because of what Coors, Scaife, and a very few others (the Kochs, Bradleys, Olins, Ahmansons, etc.) so systematically have done during the past 40 years.
The challenge now is to reconstruct, on a more careful and self-aware basis than FDR did after the last great crash, the great edifice of American democracy that America's Founders so painstakingly established. This way, the royalists/aristocrats/theocrats--the true ideological heirs of Britain's King George III, who are today known as simply fascists--will not be able to destroy it so easily and to mount a successful American Counter-Revolution, such as Coors, Scaife, et al, have tragically done.
What is at stake here is to finally establish a SECURE democracy.
America's great Founders did all that they possibly could achieve in their time, but they left two unfinished parts because the culture of their time was tragically not prepared to pass it: the abolition of slavery, and the clear endorsement of science over faith as the new nation's epistemology, signaling the real and effective end of mankind's Religious Age, and the authentic beginning of the Scientific Age, in human history.
The Civil War of 1860-64 completed the first part of that unfinished American business. We, today, in our generation, will have to finish the second, final, part of it, when the second Great Crash arrives.
If we fail to handle this challenge effectively, then an American Hitler, a Christian version of bin Laden, will rise from the ashes of America's former democracy, and a new Dark Ages will emerge; our generation will have simply failed to meet the biggest challenge of our time.
Will anyone, who possesses the money and the vision, step up to the plate and take a swing at the most important pitch offered yet by history?
I think that that is the great question, and that the future of mankind might well depend upon its answer.
What I have in mind is a virtual think-tank, in two parts:
By "virtual" I refer to a situation in which the "Experts" or "Fellows" in each of these two foundations or think-tanks stay in their existing locations and participate or consult online, like teachers at a "virtual campus" at online universities, etc. This will reduce the expenses. These Experts will be present in Washington at only special occasions when pre-arranged conferences are held in rented hotels, etc., to which will be invited congressional and agency staffers, as well as news media. This can be dynamite that blows Heritage out of the water. The conference rooms will be for the main presentations; a small number of additonal hotel/etcetera rooms will be for pre-scheduled private consultations with interested congressmen and congressional staffers, etc.
The purpose is to funnel the right Experts to the right congressmen, etc., to facilitate and expedite the right information getting to the right people at the right time, so as to leverage progressive policies onto the right governmental pivots, and so improve the efficiency of the machinery of progressive policymaking. A supplementary arm of the operation will be a speakers' bureau, to funnel these Experts onto TV and radio news shows as expert commentators within their respective fields of expertise, propounding progressive comments and analyses on the issues of the day.
Any liberal snobs who think that this partisanship is beneath them are beyond the pale and are enemy assets, not ours. But every authentic progressive knows that government needs to be based on science instead of on myths ("religious" or otherwise) and so will eagerly support this essential enterprise to bring about that necessary outcome, the only path toward which is a vigorous partisanship on our side to engage and defeat the longstanding vigorous--and now successful--partisanship from our enemies.
This is why I have tentatively named one of these two conjoined think-tanks the American Patriots' Foundation, to bring to bear upon federal policymaking the vision and intent of America's great Founders, and so to restore the nation to its original progressive path.
For example, regarding numerous Republican initiatives to impose their narrowly Christian beliefs upon the whole of American society, and to force non-Christians to pay via their tax contributions to sustain "faith-based initatives" etc., by means of which non-believers and Moslems and Jews end up being taxed to pay tax-exempt Christian organizations to, in effect, ply for converts from the poor and from other federal beneficiaries, Thomas Jefferson has said:
"Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear. " To (his nephew) Peter Carr, August 10, 1787.
"Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting 'Jesus Christ,' so that it would read 'A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;' the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination." Autobiography, 1821; a reference to the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom.
"The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god." Notes on Virginia, 1781-2, Query 17
"[I am] happy in the restoration, of the Jews, particularly, to their social rights. ... [I have] ever felt regret at seeing a sect, the parent and basis of all those of Christendom, singled out by all of them for a persecution and oppression." To Jacob De La Motta, August 1820.
"What an effort, my dear Sir, of bigotry in politics and religion have we gone through! The barbarians really flattered themselves they should be able to bring back the times of Vandalism, when ignorance put everything into the hands of power and priestcraft. All advances in science were proscribed as innovations. They pretended to praise and encourage education, but it was to be the education of our ancestors. We were to look backwards, not forwards, for improvements." To Joseph Priestly, March 21, 1801.
"All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate which would be oppression." First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801.
"Millions of innocent men, women and children since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support rogeury and error all over the earth." Notes on Virginia, 1781-2
"But a short time elapsed after the death of the great reformer of the Jewish religion, before his principles were departed from by those who professed to be his special servants, and perverted into an engine for enslaving mankind, and aggrandising their oppressors in Church and State." To Samuel Kercheval, January 19, 1810.
"Among the sayings and discourses imputed to Him [Jesus] by His biographers, I find many passages of fine imagination, correct morality, and of the most lovely benevolence; and others, again, of so much ignorance, so much absurdity, so much untruth, charlatanism and imposture, as to pronounce it impossible that such contradictions should have proceeded from the same Being." To William Short, April 13, 1820.
"In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. It is easier to acquire wealth and power by this combination than by deserving them." To Horatio Spofford, March 17, 1814.
"They [the clergy] believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly: for I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: and enough too in their opinion." To Benjamin Rush, September 23, 1800.
"History I believe furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance, of which their political as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purpose." To Baron von Humboldt, December 6, 1813.
"We should all then, like the Quakers, live without an order of priests, moralize for ourselves, follow the oracle of conscience, and say nothing about what no man can understand, nor therefore believe." To John Adams, August 22, 1813.
"I never told my own religion, nor scrutinized that of another. I never attempted to make a convert, nor wished to change another's creed. I have ever judged of others' religion by their lives, ... for it is from our lives and not from our words, that our religion must be read." To Mrs. S.H. Smith, August 6, 1816.
"My answer [to a letter from a mutual friend] was: 'Say nothing of my religion. It is known to God and myself alone. Its evidence before the world is to be sought in my life; if that has been honest and dutiful to society, the religion which has regulated it cannot be a bad one." To John Adams, January 11, 1817.
"I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know." To Ezra Stiles (President of Yale), June 25, 1819.
"I never will, by any word or act, bow to the shrine of intolerance, or admit a right in inquiry into the religious opinions of others." To Edward Dowse, April 19, 1803.
"Let us reflect that having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions." First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801.
I owe you a succinct statement of what I have in mind, and now I'm going to provide that.
Here's the specific context in which I came up with this summary. By the context, you'll see some of the problems I've been facing--the kind of resistance I come up against:
A few days ago, I was e-mailing with a person who had exhibited some interest in my ideas, but who didn't accept their political partisanship. Like many liberals, he insists upon political nonpartisanship; perhaps he voted for Nader. I tried to communicate to him that conservatives have achieved their dominance by proudly asserting their conservatism, and that there is no hope of turning back their fascist tide unless and until non-fascists cast off our prevailing silly aversion to partisanship and do as our enemies have so successfully done--assert our ideological partisanship not only unapologetically but proudly, and thereby make "liberal" and "progressive" into positive terms widely associated with American patriotism and with traditional American values, just as Paul Weyrich achieved by establishing his Heritage Foundation and his Moral Majority, which, together, did that (though by the use of lies, which we won't need to do) to conservatism."
I told him that I had had an extensive e-mail exchange with the [billionaire X] about this, and that [X] ended up being apparently uninterested, for some reason ([X] said little), but that I still feel that this concept is valid.
Here is the way I boiled the concept down to this person, summarizing what I had been proposing to [X]:
"What I have in mind is a virtual think-tank, in two parts:
[The first part,] "American Patriots' Foundation would enlist progressive-minded historians and policy-wonks who seek to interpret the U.S. Constitution in line with the beliefs of the great Founders. I sent you only [Thomas] Jefferson, but that's a good start, and it'll give you the drift. The purpose here is to re-define 'original intent' as being progressive: anti-conservative instead of conservative. This will be intended to defeat the Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society.
[The second part,] "Advocacy for Science Foundation would butt heads against the Creationists, etc., and reassert the moral rightness of addressing such issues as global warming from the scientists' standpoint, and no longer based on faith in the benevolence of The Almighty. Scientific panels are simply shunted aside by the Republicans. We have to show that that's immoral. This will be intended to defeat the rest of the Christian Right.
"As I see it, the challenge for progressives is to take over the Democratic Party, because if we fail at that, then we certainly won't be able to take over America. Ralph Nader is not on this path, and is destructive toward our ends, because he is making our ends less likely to be achieved--not more likely."
That's the most succinct statement I've yet come up with describing what I have in mind.
I hope that you'll find something useful in it.
Cost points: Since execution of such a thing is not in my background, I don't know whether I've got the right ideas for that. Perhaps I should work with someone who possesses relevant experience and who would be a colleague, maybe only to get this started. Perhaps that's not necessary. Others will decide.
For what it's worth, then, here are the execution ideas that come immediately to my mind:
Heritage started with $250,000 seed capital from Joseph Coors, but Richard Mellon Scaife came in with a few million after Weyrich had something to show. Heritage also received the donation of a 65,000-foot office building, as I recollect. Heritage was, of course, started as a bricks-and-mortar think tank, with its own meeting facilities and substantial staff. I don't think that that would be necessary today, but would prefer a virtual think-tank, like a virtual college campus. The vital part of this think tank, in any event, would be not its staff, so much as its Experts, each of whom would already be either employed elsewhere, or else retired, and, in either case, therefore independently equipped. For each of these Experts, the foundation would constitute an additional promotional agent, speakers' bureau, career credit, and back office.
I figure that there should be a six-room office near the Capitol--three rooms for each of the two foundations. One room for general office work, with a secretary/bookkeeper, computer, printer, copier, phone/fax/answering-machine, and file cabinet. Another room for a press and PR officer, similarly equipped, who would schedule which Expert will speak where when, and book space for conferences, etc. A third room for a fundraiser, similarly equipped.
Each Expert will split 50/50 his speaker's fees, consultancy fees, retainer fees, etc., that are arranged through the foundation.
My office should probably be where I am, and my primary function, since the Experts will be the make-or-break core of each of the two foundations, should probably be to find and engage the Experts, which would not require my living permanently in Washington. I would live in DC, however, for the first few months to get the office up and running. Beyond that, I might not need to be involved in DC full time. If not, I would still be visiting the DC office unannounced to check up on things; I would meet in DC (pre-arranged, of course, from my home office) with press and government people who are interfacing with our office, and with prospective donors, and would monitor the DC office and check the books. I would also attend each monthly meeting of the trustees, in DC. Other than that, when I'm not in DC, I would be communicating with the office every day by phone and e-mail.
If a bricks-and-mortar foundation is established instead, then a big question up front will be whether someone is willing to contribute an office building.
Success, in either case, will depend, more than anything else, on getting the right Expert to handle each executive agency and each major congressional committee. Each cabinet-department and major-agency Expert will be responsible for one chapter in the foundation's quadrennial master manual, our equivalent of Heritage's MANDATE FOR LEADERSHIP, and will be our favored person we'll promote to lobbyists and others, to take over that department or agency in the next Democratic administration. The name of this master manual would, of course, be yet to be determined, but I would prefer something bottom-up to contrast against Heritage's top-down "Mandate for Leadership." How about "SERVING AMERICA'S VOTERS," for the American Patriots' Foundation, and "SCIENCE FOR AMERICA," for the Advocacy for Science Foundation? Conceptually, the manual's title should contrast as strongly as possible with "Mandate for Leadership." Service to the people should be the guiding principle of everything that each of the two foundations does. Heritage, by contrast, with "Mandate for Leadership," has a really ugly top-down orientation. Anyway, those are the ideas off the top of my head.
I have not worked up a business plan, but the operational outlines above would guide the business plan if the funding source approves of the general approach I have outlined. Anyway, I doubt that there's much point to doing a business plan if the concept and its operational outlines aren't agreed upon first.
A physical presence in Washington is crucial. Even if this is going to be a virtual foundation, it's crucial. Conferences must be held in DC, and a DC mailing address is also necessary.
Finally, I should mention that there fortunately do already exist several scientific policy-organizations, such as the [--], which the Advocacy for Science Foundation would work with hand-in-glove so as to amplify their impacts in both the media and government. Each of the proposed two foundations, Advocacy for Science and American Patriots', would have natural pre-existing mutually beneficial networks already existing in place. Any foundation that might want to consider sponsoring either or both of these new foundations would probably be especially attentive to that, and might already be involved with some pre-existing symbiotic foundations.
Here is a U.S. Senator who is already so passionately committed to the mission of the American Patriots' Foundation, that he's now trying to advance this mission from his seat in the U.S. Senate. Does his commitment give you any ideas? I think that Senator Byrd might be able to help us start the APF:
Mission to Mandate Teaching of Constitution Inserted Into Bill
Some groups fear the measure by Sen. Robert C. Byrd would overstep Congress' authority.
By Richard Simon And Emma Schwartz
(Los Angeles) Times Staff Writers
December 4, 2004
WASHINGTON — Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), promoting his lifelong passion for the U.S. Constitution, has inserted into a massive federal spending bill a requirement that schools devote at least part of a day each year to teaching about the document.
The provision would apply to all schools, elementary through college, that receive federal aid. Education groups worry that the provision could be the opening wedge in a campaign by Washington to influence what schools teach.
Byrd carries a copy of the Constitution in his breast pocket — over his heart — and often waves it on the Senate floor. He lamented in a recent speech that even some of his colleagues in Congress didn't know fully what it said. "An informed public is our best defense against tyranny," he said.
The provision he inserted in the spending bill, which is expected to clear Congress next week, would require schools that receive federal funding to teach about the Constitution on Sept. 17 — a day that Byrd has sought, in separate legislation, to declare a national holiday to mark the anniversary of the document's signing in 1787. The provision also would require federal agency heads to include information about the Constitution in every new federal employee's orientation.
The legislation took education officials in the capital by surprise. While they did not contest the importance of teaching the Constitution, many expressed concern that Congress was overstepping its authority.
"It's the kind of intervention from the federal level that really has no place in our system of education," said Vincent Ferrandino, executive director of the National Assn. of Elementary School Principals. "If there is concern on the part of members of Congress that the Constitution is not being taught in our schools, I think that's an issue that ought to be raised in other venues."
The problem is magnified, said Dan Fuller, director of federal programs for the National School Boards Assn., by the "stringent federal requirements" of the No Child Left Behind Act.
"If the federal government starts mandating additional curriculum and additional requirements and items that take away from classroom time," Fuller said, "it's going to make it increasingly difficult for schools to fulfill the requests."
Mary Kusler, senior legislative specialist for the American Assn. of School Administrators, said: "We think it's great that Congress really wants to make sure that every child understands the Constitution. But we hope that members of Congress will remember the Constitution itself when they make policy. And the 10th Amendment clearly states that education is a state's right."
The Constitution requirement, first revealed by the Chronicle of Higher Education, is one of several extraneous provisions that have come to light in the weeks since Congress passed the 3,320-page bill hours after most lawmakers received copies of it. One provision that set off a furor would have allowed the chairmen and staffs of the House and Senate appropriations committees to examine individuals' income tax returns. The Senate stripped the bill of the provision, and the House is expected to follow suit next week.
The watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense wrote congressional leaders Friday urging them to scrap the bill and start over.
"When a bill of this size is cobbled together behind closed doors by a few and rammed through at the last minute, it is a license for legislative mischief," wrote Jill Lancelot, the group's president.
The cost of implementing Byrd's provision has yet to be calculated, but an aide to the senator asked, "How much cost is there in bringing kids into the auditorium and having a presentation on the Constitution?"
Byrd said on the Senate floor in September that few Americans took note of the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution.
"The flag is a potent symbol of our nation, but this Constitution which I hold in my hand is the soul of the nation," he said. "Practically everything you do is made possible by or is guaranteed or is protected by this Constitution. It is the prism through which each act of our government should be examined and judged."
Thursday, November 11, 2004
The Dangerous Right-Wing Bias of the New York Times
The United States invaded Iraq under the false pretext that Iraq was hiding massive quantities of banned weapons of mass destruction (WMD). To whom ought guilt be assigned for this deception of the American people? Of course, the Bush Administration has to be the chief culprit: they made clear from the outset that they were determined to achieve “regime change” in Iraq. But the American press was complicit as well, and especially The New York Times.
As the Times has now implicitly acknowledged in their long-delayed 26 May 26 2004 mea culpa article “The Times and Iraq,” about their shameful reporting on the existence of Iraq’s actually non-existent WMD, much of the bogus “intelligence” upon which this invasion was based was palmed off onto the unsuspecting American public by the Times’s Pulitzer-Prize-winning reporter Judith Miller. Her “authoritative” stories ricocheted throughout the nation’s newsrooms, where these “scoops,” which came actually from the now discredited Ahmad Chalabi and his friends, were broadcast as “news,” even though they were actually unvetted propaganda coming from the Bush Administration and its Iraqi flaks and hacks.
These Bush Administration PR feeds to the public, fed deceptively via the unwarrantedly respected “news” pages of The New York Times, were clearly intended by the Bush Administration and its friends (auch as Chalabi himself) to pump up American public support for invasion and “regime change” in Iraq, and they amply succeeded at doing just that. Thus, the supposed “authority” of The New York Times became prostituted toward this political objective of manipulating American public opinion into invading Iraq. The New York Times served as a crucial propaganda organ for the Bush White House in this public deception.
The American people will now be in hock many hundreds of billions of dollars for this invasion and reconstruction, and American troops are losing blood and limbs there, while this nation earns the soaring hatred of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims for the invasion and ongoing occupation, and thereby exacerbates anti-U.S. Islamic terrorism. On the day prior to the Times’s mea culpa editorial, London’s respected International Institute for Strategic Studies issued a report saying that the American war in Afghanistan had killed or disabled only less than ten percent of Al Qaeda’s trained terrorists, and that the subsequent invasion of Iraq had caused soaring new recruitments into Al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist organizations. Numerous other military authorities have concluded, as well, that the invasion of Iraq sapped vitally needed U.S. forces away from the real war against terrorism.
This invasion was consequently no small crime that The New York Times was assisting the Bush Administration to perpetrate against Iraq and against the American people, and in favor of the world’s terrorists.
Just a few days earlier, on May 19th, in the trade journal of the U.S. newspaper industry, Editor & Publisher magazine, William E. Jackson Jr. asked pointedly, “Who at the Times protects Miller from the consequences that should have flowed from the highly irresponsible reporting she did on WMD?”
Jack Shafer at Slate.com, and I, in my own new book, Iraq War: The Truth, have likewise sought to track the executive responsibility at The New York Times for these journalistic horrors of Judith Miller. However, the best evidence for where the ultimate executive guilt at the Times rests in this tragic affair had already appeared earlier in E&P.
I pointed out, in a letter to the editor of E&P published on March 25th (a web-search for the two terms zuesse sulzberger brings it up), that comments by Times publisher Arthur Ochs. Sulzberger Jr., in which he defended this outrageous reporting by Judith Miller, proved that he was, himself, the ultimate guilty party at the Times.
I was responding to an article by E&P reporter Sonya Moore, “Sulzberger on Blair, Miller ...,” which had appeared in E&P on March 22nd. She quoted Sulzberger’s defense of Miller’s WMD “journalism” (actually just Bush Administration hacking). I noted that Sulzberger was, in that incident, asserting the journalistic standard by which he judges the journalistic performance of his newspaper.
This is very important: the virtual owner (his family controls 70% of the company’s board seats even though they own only .6% of the stock) of the nation’s newspaper of record was here stating, publicly for the very first time anywhere, his institution’s standard of journalism, which defacto becomes America’s standard of journalism. This standard was so bad it’s simply shocking, and it explains why a large percentage of the U.S. public still believes that Saddam was hiding WMD before we invaded Iraq.
Sulzberger said that it is definitely not the function of a news reporter to investigate the truth or falsity of his sources, and that, if a given source turns out to be false, then the blame belongs solely to that source, and not also to the “news” organization that disseminates the source’s falsehoods to the public. Mr. Sulzberger even had the audacity to fob off all the blame onto Miller’s sources, by saying, “I blame the administration for believing its own story line.”
The reality is that we don’t actually know whether the Bush Administration believed “its own story line”—they (Wolfowitz and others) have pretty much indicated that WMD were, for them, largely a pretext for their invasion. However, The New York Times obviously did accept it—without any investigation—and that’s profoundly wrong; it’s journalistically unprofessional.
If you’re a PR person, then you must trust your sources, because that’s what you’re being paid to do—your sources are paying you to distribute their propaganda. But not if you’re an authentic journalist. A journalist is paid to be constantly skeptical of his sources, to use them for leads, and not for mere feeds as a public relations agent is inevitably being paid to do.
The newspaper’s readers don’t buy their newspaper for mere regurgitations of its sources by its “news reporters.” A reader is paying for real journalism, not the fake kind. To sell PR as “news reporting” is to violate the reader’s trust; he expects more, and he has paid for more. Otherwise, the “newspaper” ought to be given away to him free.
The reader expects free literature to be trash—especially if it contains advertisements, which any newspaper does. But if he pays for the newspaper, he expects the news in it to be authentic—that’s what he’s paying for. The advertisers pay for their space. The newspaper’s readers pay for the rest of the newspaper—the news reports in it.
When the newspaper’s news reports are actually only government (or other) propaganda, the reader is being profoundly cheated—and so too is the nation; so too is democracy itself, which is why George W. Bush was able to remain in the White House after 2 November 2004.
Arthur O. Sulzberger, by his own testimony, has, in effect, expressed that he is satisfied to be in the propaganda business for the Bush Administration. He has stated that The New York Times is, and ought to be, a vehicle for the dissemination to the public of unverified, uncorroborated, allegations from the U.S. Government, and from the Government’s paid agents such as Ahmad Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress.
The very first criterion of professional journalism is for all reporters to be skeptical of all of their sources. The Times wasn’t skeptical (except of sources who challenged the White House’s “intelligence”); the Times’s publisher says that that’s okay; and yet the Times continues to be respected as being not only professional, but “the newspaper of record” in the United States. The New York Times’s publisher, by his own statements about Judith Miller’s reporting concerning Iraqi WMD, has therefore disqualified his operation as an institution of journalistic professionalism.
From the standpoint of journalistic integrity or competence, I can’t see any conclusion but that Mr. Sulzberger ought to resign or be fired from the Times. But unfortunately, his family controls the company, so that’s impossible. The only possible solution is for the rest of America’s Fourth Estate to become vastly more skeptical of the honesty of the “news reports” that appear in The New York Times.
To accept PR-mongering as being “news reporting” is an embarrassment to, and is beneath, the profession of journalism, regardless of whether the journalistic “profession” in the United States even cares about its professionalism. Degrees from journalism schools are irrelevant to real professionalism: American journalism exhibits the lowest actual standard of professionalism outside of acknowledged dictatorships. That’s the reason why the U.S. public was the only public in the world that bought the Bush line on WMD and that therefore favored a pre-emptive invasion of Iraq—a nation that actually posed no major threat to U.S. national security. The public in every other nation (except Israel) was opposed to this invasion.
However, the public deception of the U.S. is even worse than this: According to a study reported May 23rd by the Pew Research Center at www.people-press.org, “Press going Too Easy on Bush: BOTTOM-LINE PRESSURES NOW HURTING COVERAGE, SAY JOURNALISTS,” the single news-medium that America’s journalists consider to be the most “liberal” is The New York Times. In my book on the Iraq war, I argue that this widespread impression is false—the result of a carefully calculated and longstanding policy at the Times to have a liberal editorial page in order to fool their predominantly liberal hometown readers that the paper’s news slant is liberal, and thus to maintain reader loyalty amongst their NYC base, while at the same time having actually a far-right-wing slant to the Times’s news reporting. This duplicity helps to encourage the desired false impression that any question about the paper’s news slant ought to be judged in favor of conservatives, in order to compensate for the Times’s supposed slant against conservatives. This has been a terrifically effective policy—the Pew study indicates that it has had what one might reasonably assume to have been the desired effect: newsrooms across America erroneously believe that, to the extent that the news reporting in the Times has a slant at all, the paper’s news slant is liberal. Very few readers can distinguish between a newspaper’s editorial slant and its news slant, and the latter is vastly more powerful in shaping political outcomes than is the former.
The way that this policy worked specifically regarding the WMD issue is that America’s newsrooms felt confident that, if The New York Times was reporting that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was hiding massive quantities of WMD, then it must be true, because the Times’s slant, to the extent that the paper had a slant, would (so the naive reader would assume) be to the exact contrary. The Times’s liberal editorials thus powerfully assisted the publisher’s far-right-wing actual agenda—and simultaneously kept the circulation of this right-wing propaganda organ high in liberal New York City (quite a feat).
Throughout the journalistic “profession” (such as it is in the U.S.), the conservative bias of Fox News is widely recognized, because Rupert Murdoch’s distinctive business model can be successful even without winning the “professional” respect of his “journalistic” peers. This is the reason why, in a very important sense, the invasion of Iraq was actually due more to Arthur Ochs Sulzberger than to Rupert Murdoch, even though Murdoch was much more honest about his support of the Bush Administration and of its pet overseas project.