Archive for March, 2007

March 31, 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 31, 2007

INTERNET PUBLISHER ANDY MARTIN OFFERS TO PURCHASE [CHICAGO] TRIBUNE COMPANY

(NEW YORK) Internet publisher, broadcaster and media critic Andy Martin will hold a New York City News conference Sunday April 1 to announce he has submitted an offer to purchase the Tribune Company at $35 per share. Martin told independent directors Saturday his proposal was a form of �peoples� equity� instead of “private equity,” and would allow existing shareholders to profit if he succeeded in turning around the media conglomerate. Martin noted he had begun at the bottom in his communications industry experience, as a home delivery newsboy carrying the Hartford Courant each morning. His letter offering to purchase the company is posted at ContrarianCommentary.com: http://www.contrariancommentary.com/community/Home/tabid/36/mid/372/newsid372/99/Default.aspx

�This is a battle for the soul of a city, and a battle to save the soul of a city,� Martin will state. �Chicago bank headquarters have left. Other enterprises have become mere branches. The Tribune company is our remaining crown jewel. It stands in jeopardy of falling to local asset strippers and California ego trippers.

�My proposal will save the company and keep the enterprise intact. The plan carries on the bold, entrepreneurial vision of Colonel McCormick. It is dynamic and it is imaginative. As I told the directors, the Tribune is �well-managed,� but that is part of the problem. At a time of industry wide challenge the enterprise has fallen into the hands of ‘managers’ instead of visionaries. With new media challenges, we need an owner with a vision to run roughshod over the �managers.� I expect to fight and I expect to win,� Martin will state.

Martin is Executive editor and Publisher of ContrarianCommentary.com.

NEWS CONFERENCE DETAILS:

Date/time: Sunday, April 1 1:00 P.M.
Location: SW Corner of Wall & Broad Streets,
New York (New York Stock Exchange)
MEDIA
CONTACT: Andy Martin
(312) 440-4124; (917) 664-9329
Source: Andy Martin Worldwide Communications

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We Got Fooled Again!

March 31, 2007

Nothing Bush has done has invited as many comparisons to Watergate as has the recent US Attorney Scandal.

New Developments in the U.S. Attorney Controversy: Why Bush Refuses to Allow Karl Rove and Harriet Miers to Testify Before Congress, and What Role New White House Counsel Fred Fielding May Play

US Atty Scandal Shines Light on Bush Adminstration Voter Suppression Efforts

Bush Administration’s Stubborn Stonewall Stands In The Way Of The Truth

Gonzales’ former aide rode the fast track

While many Bush abuses may be more ominous from a Constitutional standpoint, a partisan, wholesale firing of US attorneys summons a lot of bad memories. Most notably Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre. Nixon ordered Attorney General Elliot L. Richardson to fire Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. When Richardson refused, Nixon fired Richardson, tapping Solicitor General Robert H. Bork to do the dirty deed.

Nixon abolished the office of the special prosecutor and turned over to the Justice Department the entire responsibility for further investigation and prosecution of suspects and defendants in Watergate and related cases. It was then that we understood the degree to which Nixon was guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors. It was then that his fate was sealed. Eventually, the task of prosecuting Watergate fell to a Texan –Leon Jaworski of Houston:

In July 1974 he argued the case of United States v. Nixon before the United States Supreme Court and won a unanimous decision ordering President Richard Nixon to turn over to the district court magnetic audio tapes that implicated him and members of his staff in a conspiracy to obstruct justice. Shortly thereafter, President Nixon resigned from office. Jaworski published his account of the Watergate prosecution as The Right and the Power (1976).

The Handbook of Texas Online

Watergate is memorable for its Orwellian use of phrases like executive privilege. It is more reasonable to assert that executive privilege is a mere fiction, invented by presidents to enhance their power. The process began with George Washington:

The Constitution nowhere expressly mentions executive privilege. Presidents have long claimed, however, that the constitutional principle of separation of powers implies that the Executive Branch has a privilege to resist certain encroachments by Congress and the judiciary, including some requests for information.

For example, in 1796, President Washington refused to comply with a request by the House of Representatives for documents relating to the negotiation of the then-recently adopted Jay Treaty with England. The Senate alone plays a role in the ratification of treaties, Washington reasoned, and therefore the House had no legitimate claim to the material. Accordingly, Washington provided the documents to the Senate but not the House.

Eleven years later, the issue of executive privilege arose in court. Counsel for Aaron Burr, on trial for treason, asked the court to issue a subpoena duces tecum–an order requiring the production of documents and other tangible items–against President Thomas Jefferson, who, it was thought, had in his possession a letter exonerating Burr.

After hearing several days of argument on the issue, Chief Justice John Marshall issued the order commanding Jefferson to produce the letter. Marshall observed that the Sixth Amendment right of an accused to compulsory process contains no exception for the President, nor could such an exception be found in the law of evidence. In response to the government’s suggestion that disclosure of the letter would endanger public safety, Marshall concluded that, if true, this claim could furnish a reason for withholding it, but that the court, rather than the Executive Branch alone, was entitled to make the public safety determination after examining the letter.

-A Brief History of Executive Privilege from George Washington through Dick Cheney, Michael Dorf, Findlaw

Executives will continue to raise the issue. When the right wing has packed the court, it will raise the issue yet again, hoping that a friendly court will give an ambitious, would-be dictator a favorable ruling on the issue of executive privilege.

In the meantime, the recent scandals remind us that the legacy of Watergate is but the latest in some three decades of GOP corruption, lies, and incompetent mismanagement.

Alas, the lessons that we thought had been learned by Watergate were not learned by the GOP. The GOP learned all the wrong lessons. The GOP learned how not to get caught. Reagan was more successful in hushing it all up than was Nixon. Though it is fondly remembered by the GOP faithful, the Reagan administration put the Nixon White House in the shade. If you are truly concerned about Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program, then you must surely remember that it was Ronald Reagan who armed Iran in a convoluted plan to arm and finance the “contras” in Nicaragua. Arming an avowed enemy of the United States is treason.

Was Reagan himself involved? I believe he was and so did Lawrence Walsh, the special prosecutor charged with investigating what must surely have been a case of high treason:

The underlying facts of Iran/contra are that, regardless of criminality, President Reagan, the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, and the director of central intelligence and their necessary assistants committed themselves, however reluctantly, to two programs contrary to congressional policy and contrary to national policy. They skirted the law, some of them broke the law, and almost all of them tried to cover up the President’s willful activities.

-Lawrence Walsh, Concluding Observations, Final Report of the Independent Counsel for Iran/Contra Matters

The lessons of Watergate were not learned by the GOP. Think of it -with the possible exception of Gerald Ford, a light weight -every Republican President since Richard Nixon has been either a crook or a liar. It is easy to conclude that the GOP, therefore, is not a political party. It’s a crime syndicate, a criminal conspiracy. As Viet Nam was winding down and Watergate heating up, we vowed not ever to be fooled again. What went wrong?

Those who do not remember the past are condemned to relive it.

-Georges Santayana, American Philsopher

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March 31, 2007

From the NewsMax.com Staff

For the story behind the story…
Friday, March 30, 2007 12:13 a.m. EDT
Obama Still Hiding White Grandma

NewsMax�s recent story about Sen. Barack Obama�s white grandmother by independent journalist Andy Martin has created a firestorm across the Web.
In his commentary “Free Obama�s White Grandma,” Martin details how the Obama campaign has “locked his granny away and refused to allow her to be seen.”
Obama�s father was a black Kenyan, and his mother was a white woman from Kansas. His white grandmother, his mother�s mother, is Madelyn Dunham. [Editor’s Note: See photo of Obama’s white grandparents. See Photo Here.] She raised Obama after he returned to Hawaii from Indonesia, where his mother had gone to live after separating from his Kenyan father.
But Martin alleges that the Obama campaign has been hiding Madelyn, while at the same time producing photos showing Obama with his black step-grandmother, Sarah Hussein Obama � even though she never saw the future senator until the 1980s.
Martin maintains that the moves are politically motivated � presidential hopeful Obama is hiding his white background to solidify his support in the black community.
Since publishing Martin�s story, NewsMax has been deluged by pro-Obama bloggers who claim Martin�s report is “racist,” “inaccurate” or just “totally wrong.”
Many direct our attention to a photo that appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times (See Photo Here), purportedly showing Obama with a black woman who is identified by the Times as Madelyn Dunham, Obama�s grandmother.
In fact, the Sun-Times, not NewsMax or Martin, is in error. The woman pictured on the Sun-Times Web site is not Madelyn Dunham, but Obama�s Kenyan grandmother Sarah Hussein Obama.
Readers who are troubled by the coverage of Obama�s grandmothers would do better to send their complaints to the Sun-Times rather than NewsMax.
� NewsMax 2007. All rights reserved.

Bush plays American people for fools, "treads dangerous waters"

March 30, 2007

Now that the Democrats have majorities in both houses, it may be too little too late. For that, we have a timid congress to blame. The GOP congress was eagerly complicit in Bush’s crimes while Democrats fear a frontal assault on Bush abuses. The Bush gang sees Congress as a rubber stamp, or worse.

Now Bush is intent upon ignoring the will of a very large majority of Americans by escalating a failed war, by repeating a failed strategy. Bush doesn’t care that an overwhelming majority of Americans across the spectrum oppose him on almost every issue. An independent Congress might have held a rogue President in check. The case of Richard Nixon is often cited. But even that tends to point up what might prove to be a fatal flaw in the American system of government. The US Constitution clearly states the powers of Congress in a time of war. But, when it counts most, where are the teeth?

Consider the case of Richard Nixon.

In the very early days of the Watergate Scandal, when it had not yet hit the front pages, Nixon was bombing Cambodia and lying to the American public about it.

Some writers have said that it was the Viet Nam war -until Iraq, the most controversial war the United States had ever conducted -which led ultimately to the collapse of the Nixon administration. By the time Nixon targeted Cambodia, the public had already soured on what looked like an endless war, George Orwell’s perpetual war. It is fair to say that Congress found in Watergate a way to check a rogue President.

How does Congress oversee a secret war? Nixon planned to destroy what was called Area 353. To do so, the Pentagon would send 60 B-52s to bomb so-called “legitimate” targets in South Vietnam. But most – 48 of them – would be secretly diverted to Cambodia upon a signal from the Joint Chiefs of Staff.


Nixon lied about about the bombing, he lied about Cambodia’s neutrality, he lied about “winding down the war”. In The Price of Power, Seymour M. Hersh confirmed that rather than checking Nixon’s rogue administrion, Congress, then as now, seemed all too compliant. No congressman wanted to be seen as “weak”. No congressman wanted to oppose plans to “… ferret out the Viet Cong headquarters” as Congress had been told of the “mission”.

Nixon committed atrocities in Cambodia and lied about them. Cambodia was a neutral nation that had not attacked the US and had not taken sides in Viet Nam’s internal conflict. Nevertheless, American and South Vietnamese troops together committed war crimes consisting of the destruction of villages and towns. It does not excuse Congress that Nixon lied to them and got away with it. It does not excuse Congress that no attempt was made at “oversight”. It does not excuse Congress that Presidents have become dictators.

Indeed, it is a pity that a fourth article of impeachment was rejected by a Congress that seemed willing, even in triumph, to subvert its charge and abrogate its duties under the US Constitution. The rejected fifth article of impeachment against Richard Nixon reads:

In his conduct of the office of President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon, in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in disregard of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, on and subsequent to March 17, 1969, authorized, ordered, and ratified the concealment from the Congress of false and misleading statements concerning the existence, scope and nature of American bombing operations in Cambodia in derogation of the power of the Congress to declare war, to make appropriations and to raise and support armies, and by such conduct warrants impeachment and trial and removal from office.

Article V, Articles of Impeachment against Richard M. Nixon

Bush is no Nixon. Less intelligent, he is more dangerous. Nixon had hoped to pacify Congress or, at least, distract it. The war in Viet Nam was said to have been “winding down” as combat roles were transferred to the “government” in South Vietnam, as Bush would love to do now in Iraq but cannot. Like Nixon before him, he will escalate the war; unlike Nixon and more like Hitler, he will do so in “…full view of the world”. ( the phrase …in full view of the world”. was used by Hitler to describe his persecution of Jews) For an unexpurgated history of Nixon’s war crime against Cambodia see: Lying for Empire: How to Commit War Crimes With A Straight Face by David Model.

To be fair, Viet Nam tainted every President since Eisenhower. To be fair, it is not only this Congress that has fallen down on the job. It is not only Republicans who actively conspire with war hawk executives. It is also Democrats who fear to be seen as weak.

It takes courage to oppose a tyrant. Until the Democrats in congress find the courage to oppose a rogue and tyrannical chief executive, the Iraq war will not “wind down” nor will the Iraqi people, blamed unfairly for Bush’s war crime against them, step up to pull Bush’s fat out of the fire.

It is easy to make analogies to Nixon but few are in as good a position to do so as John Dean, White House Counsel to Richard Nixon.


You will find Dean’s book, Conservatives Without Consciences, reviewed on this blog.

And now for something completely different –Oscar Peterson and Andre Previn:

woodstock 1969 santana
Uploaded by fanstes


Peter Nero Plays Gershwin

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Time to impeach, convict, and remove Bush

March 28, 2007

High school attitude ruling the State House

March 28, 2007

Washington may be Hollywood for ugly people, but it’s the bickering beautiful people who reign today in Lansing.

The Capitol is at the mercy of the callow cool crowd from high school � the jocks, cheerleaders and Future Business Leaders of America who made sure their mugs were splattered on every yearbook page.

But they never really did anything.

That’s not going to fly in Michigan right now.

We hold the embarrassing distinction as the only state with a negative credit rating from Standard & Poor’s, because smug legislators slew the $1.9 billion Single Business Tax last year without bothering to replace it.

Right now, we’re running out of time to plug a $900 million hole in this year’s budget. And then it’s off to tackling the $3 billion shortfall projected for next year.

What Michigan needs right now is leadership.

We didn’t get it Thursday.

No, instead we’re treated to the tiresome antics of Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop and Gov. Jennifer Granholm, our very own homecoming king and queen sparring for the spotlight on the tacky gymnasium stage.

On Feb. 8, the immaculately-coiffed Democratic guv smiled at the crowd, trumpeting her budget plan complete with a $500 million business tax cut and a 2-percent tax on services.
Sniggering Republicans said they’d think about it, while House Minority Leader Craig DeRoche slapped a “Kick Me” sign on beleaguered Budget Director Bob Emerson’s back.

Granholm, fresh off a landslide victory for her final term, still seems oddly paralyzed by Sally Field syndrome. She’d rather have people like her than make tough decisions in a truly comprehensive plan to save the state.

On Valentine’s Day, the aqua-eyed Bishop dumped Granholm YouTube ninja style, announcing the GOP-led Appropriations Committee had rejected her executive order out of hand.

Mike felt betrayed by Jen, who would never return his calls. And he wanted his Duran Duran tape back.

The next week, Bishop proclaimed he’d solved the budget crisis sans tax hike in his super-secret plan, evidently ditching that day of history class on Richard Nixon’s fictitious one to get U.S. troops out of Vietnam.

Bishop’s main goal isn’t to solve this fiscal train wreck. He’d rather tag Granholm with this mess and coast to the governor’s mansion in 2010 John Engler-style.

Waiting in the wings is House Speaker Andy Dillon, the slick-haired student body president who’s friends with everyone. He flirts with Jen in calculus but still cracks open a beer with football buddy Mike after practice.

Leaving the role of Granholm’s cheerleader to Senate Minority Leader Mark Schauer, Dillon came out last week with ideas no one can argue with, such as cutting legislator benefits.

Courted mercilessly by both sides, the Democrat clearly is relishing his role as the decider. He’s willing to cut more services than Granholm but raise taxes more than Bishop � as long as the final compromise won’t jeopardize his control of the House next year.

By the end of last week, the homecoming king had stopped talking to the student body president, and both were miffed the homecoming queen had jetted off to Germany.

Thursday, Granholm issued her executive order with $344 million in cuts. Bishop had already determined she didn’t go far enough and led the Senate effort to slash schools by $34 per student. They’re no closer to a deal.

And so the political posturing goes.

The frustrating part is that it doesn’t have to be this way.

Ambitious, astute and all under 50, the Capitol cool crowd isn’t wonting for talent. As a reporter, I’ve found all three eager to talk policy; where they falter is in solutions.

With only 14 years combined state budget experience, the trio needs to book some serious time with the old bulls who have been through this before. Say, the tragically underused members of Granholm’s own bipartisan Emergency Financial Advisory Panel.

They might not look as pretty on TV, but they know Michigan has to reform employee benefits, invest in higher education and restructure outmoded taxes to build a better budget and a stronger state.

One thing is clear: The longer our leaders wait, the worse things get.

Entrepreneurs are refusing to set up shop in a state lacking a clear business tax structure. Poor children don’t know if they’ll still have health care. Students wonder if their schools can afford to stay open. Prison guards don’t know if they’ll have jobs.

Granholm, Bishop and Dillon have to decide if they like playing politics or if they love this state.

It’s one or the other.

Ten million Michiganders await their answer.

March 28, 2007

FREE BARACK OBAMA’S WHITE GRANDMOTHER

CONTRARIAN COMMENTARY FOR MARCH 26, 2007, PART II

OBAMA SUPPORTS GAYS, BUT KEEPS HIS GRANDMA “CLOSETED”

CHICAGO TRIBUNE SAYS “THE OBAMA CAMPAIGN DECLINED TO MAKE MADELYN DUNHAM” AVAILABLE TO THE MEDIA

WELL, WHY?

WHAT GOES HERE, AS OBAMA KEEPS HIS WHITE GRANDMOTHER LOCKED AWAY IN A DUNGEON?

(CHICAGO)(March 26, 2007) If anyone else running for president locked his granny away and refused to allow her to be seen, would the media complain? You betcha.

But America’s media have supinely allowed Barry Obama to pretend he has no white relatives. He has paraded his step-grandmother in Kenya, who never saw him until the 80’s, as his “granny,” and locked the grandmother who actually raised him away in a closet.

Today the Chicago Tribune said “the Obama campaign declined to make [his white grandmother] available.”

Is she sick? Not apparently. Bedridden? Hospitalized? Not apparently. She is the “Prisoner of Obama,” and of Obama’s racist myth that he is “Black” and not “Black and White.”

What a disgrace.

And like whimpering puppies the media do not protest, complain or demand access.

FREE GRANNY MADELYN DUNHAM [OBAMA]!!!

Barack Obama is one of the most racist politicians in America today. And we let him get away with it. We are afraid to confront Obama’s reality, so we pretend that reality is not there, even though it is staring us in the face. Anyone remember “Miss Lillian?” Or Barbara Bush? Or Bill Clinton’s mom, drinking, gambling card-playing gal that she was?

No one else but Obama could get away with pretending that his paternal grandfather’s second or third or fourth wife was his “granny” when she wasn’t.

Maybe that’s the core of the antipathy between grandson and grandmother. Maybe that’s why Obama’s white grandmother is locked in purda. She is offended that Obambi shamelessly highlights his black relatives in Kenya and equally shamelessly pretends his white relatives in Hawaii who actually raised him do not exist. It would hurt me.

No one could get away with pretending his white grandmother didn�t exist except a media witch doctor such as Obama.

I have been attacking Obama for months because of his racist exclusion of his white relatives from the campaign trail.
http://www.contrariancommentary.com/community/Home/tabid/36/mid/366/newsid366/59/Default.aspx

We finally smoked out a picture of Obama’s sister in the Chicago Tribune. She had said she was his “adviser” but refused to be photographed. Did she plan to enter the White house with a paper sack over her head?

But the “segregation” of Madelyn Dunham, Obama’s white grandmother, and only real grandmother, has to be one of the cruelest and most mendacious political kidnappings this nation has ever seen.

Mrs. Dunham lives alone in the same apartment where she has lived for many years. Thus, it is reasonable to assume she is not incapacitated or an invalid.

Granny Dunham told the New York Times she was not well enough to speak, but in reality the Obama campaign maintains Stalinist “control” over potential interviewees. Obama’s minions tried to control access to Obama’s friend who was recently released from prison. Since he became a candidate for U. S. Senator, Obama has locked his remaining white relative away in his racist closet.

Madelyn Dunham raised Barry Obama. It was probably her money that got him admitted to the prestigious Punahou School in Hawaii and paid his fees. Her efforts were formative, perhaps even more so than those of Obama’s mother Ann, Madelyn’s daughter. And yet Madelyn is being hidden away.

All because she is white and Barry Obama is a “black” candidate for president.

What a lie. What hypocrisy. What cowardice. And this man wants to sit in the oval office?

Ironically, locking Madelyn away is going to hurt Obama more with African-Americans than with whites. Whites delight in drinking Obama’s Kool-Aid. Reason and reality will only gradually descend on them.

But Blacks are a lot smarter than whites when it comes to slights, because they have felt racial slights all their lives. Blacks know who Obama is, and they know how he is trying to “pass” and ignore his past.

During the decade when crack devastated the African-American community it was “Black Grannies” who were and are the backbone of the community. These grandmothers helped stabilize disintegrating families ravaged by drugs. Black grannies will not like the fact that their white counterpart is being treated badly by Obama. Black and White grandmothers? My guess is they will stick together on this one. They will be offended by the way Obama is treating the woman who really raised him and was the stabilizing factor in his life, Madelyn Dunham.

I repeat: FREE GRANNY MADELYN DUNHAM [OBAMA]!!!

——————————————Chicago-based Internet journalist, broadcaster and critic Andy Martin is the Executive Editor and publisher of ContrarianCommentary.com. � Copyright by Andy Martin 2007. Martin covers national and world politics with forty years of personal experience. Columns also posted at ContrarianCommentary.blogspot.com; contrariancommentary.wordpress.com. Comments? E-mail: AndyMart20@aol.com. Media contact: (866) 706-2639

March 28, 2007

MEDIA BEGINS TO QUESTION BARACK OBAMA’S FANTASIES:

CONTRARIAN COMMENTARY FOR MARCH 26, 2007, PART ONE

“IT’S GETTING CROWDED ON THE ‘OBAMA SKEPTICS BUS,'” SAYS ANDY MARTIN

OBAMA’S “CULT” BEGINS TO DEFLATE AS REALITY SLOWLY SETS IN FOR NATION’S MEDIA

(CHICAGO)(March 26, 2007) Who’d a thunk it? Tickets on the “Obama Skeptics Bus” are selling like hotcakes.

Somehow Obama the glib Kenyan witch doctor is slowly falling to earth. And not in the White house.

Obama’s cult may still have drawing power among the unwashed masses of the Democratic Party. But among the washed media, skepticism is rapidly setting in.

As if waking from deep winter hibernation, media types have suddenly started demanding the same high standards of candor and accuracy from Barack Obama that they impose on others in public life.

Obama’s father, the Kenyan bigamist/predator who seduced an unsophisticated 18 year-old student, Obama’s mother, stands exposed in today’s Chicago Tribune (March 27) as someone who “never asked about his ex-wife or his son.” Owww. So, as I have written so often in the past two and a half years, Barack Obama, Jr.’s “Dreams From my Father” are really dreams from himself. They are the bleeding wounds and cries of a young child abandoned by a callous and greedy psychopath from Kenya. That explains why Obama is the most fantasy and deception-prone candidate in a long, long time. His real life was utterly unbearable.

Indeed, Washington Post Columnist Richard Cohen performs the ultimate indignity on Barry O today: he compares Obama’s fantasy “movie” to that of the Democrats’ nemesis: President Ronald Reagan. I guess that makes Obama a “Reagan Democrat.” Or at least Richard Cohen thinks so.

Cohen calls Obama a man seeking to “wrap raw ambition,” as a “successful packager of himself” in the service of “manipulating facts” who is “starring in his own movie.” And that from a favorable columnist.

Another newspaper waking from a deep sleep is the Chicago Tribune where today’s “Swamp” catalogues the shift in coverage of Obama from positive to negative. The Obamacrats in the media are starting to abandon ship.
The Tribune goes so far as to expose a forgotten side of Obama’s family life. His mother was “from Kansas,” but her formative teen years were spent on Mercer Island, Washington outside Seattle. Those years are virtually missing from Obama’s compendium. It’s interesting that it has taken the Tribune three (3, count ’em) years to start looking at Obama critically.

Both Tribune reporter Frank James and Mr. Cohen focus on a “Dreams” story extensively examined by the Tribune, in which Obambi claims to have been seared by the sight of a Life Magazine cover. It turns out the entire episode was a fabrication and fantasy of Barry O. Never happened. More ammunition for my forthcoming lawsuit that Obama’s book should be shelved under “Fiction” and not “Biography.”

James notes that at a recent forum Obama said among his qualifications for the White House was his work on “nuclear proliferation.” The claim that Obama has any credentials in the area of nuclear proliferation is even more of a hoot that Al Gore’s claim he invented the Internet. Still, reporters are stating to pick up on Obama’s lies. Better late than never.

Obama was 34 years old when he wrote “Dreams.” And the book is filled with fantasy, fabrication and imagination. Great fiction but not the kind of work that would commend itself to a young lawyer.

Lawyers like facts, precision, accuracy and, above all, “candor to the tribunal.” Obama’ propensity to lie may explain why he has never been before a tribunal in any meaningful way.
Maybe that’s why both Obama and his wife have surrendered their licenses to practice law in Illinois. Too demanding, too detailed-oriented, too lawyerlike for them.

Jennifer Hunter, someone to whom I probably owe an apology for my initial thought she might be an Obama flack on the Sun-Times staff, produced a searing “book review” March 26th of Obama’s second book, “The Audacity of Hope,” calling the tome a “grind,” “cod liver oil,” and “hard to swallow.” Whoa. Hunter says the book “bores me to tears.” I do not think Ms. Hunter would have exhibited such devastating candor a month ago. She is now. Jennifer, if the book moved you to tears, there is more to the Obama fantasyland; keep crying.

Hunter looks like she has peeked at our own ContrarianCommentary.com psychological study of Obama�still the best analysis of his convoluted and conflicted psyche. Hunter says she wants “more answers” about the role Obama’s 18 year-old mother’s struggles played in his anger. Well.

It was only a month ago, during ContrarianCommentary.com’s “Obama Week,” that we were still a lonely voice focusing attention on Obama’s psychological profile and disturbing family history. Aside from me, the “Obama Skeptics Bus” was empty.

Now the seats are filling rapidly.

I produce a newspaper called “ContrarianCommentary.com” precisely because most reporters often miss the real significance of news. They parrot what hucksters like Witch Doctor Obama want them to say. They do not act this way because reporters are necessarily evil; they do so because they are prisoners of the “news cycle.”

CCC has time for a more analytical approach, and over the past 2-1/2 years our efforts have paid off in trend-setting investigative reporting on “The Real Obama.”

Finally, the Internet is a great discipline. A great leveler. A “Great Equalizer,” the Colt. 45 of Communications. You can see what we have written, and what others did not; and you can see what others are writing now, following in our footsteps.

Boys and Girls of the media, “All Aboard the Obama Bus.” There’s more to say, more to investigate, and more to reveal about Mr. Obama, someone who is probably a very decent person but nevertheless totally unfit to sit in the Oval Office.

Of course, if you had paid attention to my comments in 1999, you would have heard me say “George Bush wants to bomb Iraq.” Now where did I get that idea? In 1999?

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Chicago-based Internet journalist, broadcaster and critic Andy Martin is the Executive Editor and publisher of ContrarianCommentary.com. � Copyright by Andy Martin 2007. Martin covers national and world politics with forty years of personal experience. Columns also posted at ContrarianCommentary.blogspot.com; contrariancommentary.wordpress.com. Comments? E-mail: AndyMart20@aol.com. Media contact: (866) 706-2639.

A Challenge for our Time: Would You Rather Die Than Think?

March 27, 2007

Many people would rather die than think; in fact, most do.

Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) wrote extensively and profoundly throughout his long lifetime. He won the Nobel prize for literature for his History of Western Philosophy and co-authored the Principia Mathematica with Alfred North Whitehead.


Two essays, however, are among his monumental contributions; they are must reads for lay people, non-professional philosophers today. One is entitled Ideas That Have Harmed Mankind and the other —Ideas That Have Helped Mankind. Indeed, Russell, despite his frail appearance, was of the “tough minded” school of philosophy and, in that respect, he had more in common with Jean-Paul Sartre than he would ever admit. In this short audio file, Russell states succinctly the stark choice that we faced in 1950 and still face today.

It was in his Autobiography that Russell wrote a fitting prologue for his work as a whole:

Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a great ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair.

And, later, we find the source of much of that despair:

Communists, Fascists, and Nazis have successfully challenged all that I thought good, and in defeating them much of what their opponents have sought to preserve is being lost. Freedom has come to be thought weakness, and tolerance has been compelled to wear the garb of treachery.

-Bertrand Russell,Autobiography

Though much of Russell’s lasting contribution to world culture rests upon his achievements in pure logic, he was primarily a humanist and a humanitarian. Social activism and politics “ran in the family”. He not only wrote about the social issues of his day, he actively tried to influence the tide of history.

Not content to write for academia and other philosophers, Russell would reach a wider public with The Problems of Philosophy (1912) and A History of Western Philosophy (1945). Both books did much to educate several generations -including mine. Russell did not arbitrarily separate education from the pressing issues of the day; rather, he linked progress in education with social progress in general. He is famous for debunking fallacy, propaganda, and, most memorably, superstition and religion. He thought widespread superstition to have unwelcome social consequences.

It is tragic that American society did not take to heart Russell`s simple admonition:

I wish to propose for the reader’s favourable consideration a doctrine which may, I fear, appear wildly paradoxical and subversive. The doctrine in question is this: that it is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true.

That simple doctrine might have replaced political ideologies of all sorts in America. The tragic regime of George W. Bush might have been avoided. We might have avoided the catastrophe that was Ronald Reagan.

It is easy to understand the rise of Reagan. The GOP faithful would say: “He made us feel good about ourselves”. It was an era in which the rapacious greedy felt good about economic plunder. “Greed was good” became a motto. Reagan made it possible for republicans to sleep well at night even as “trickle down” economics was known to displace millions as it exported the very heart of America`s “heavy industry”. Perhaps some people ought not feel good about themselves. Some ought not sleep so easily at night.

It is a mistake to think that Russell died a disappointed man because the world had not and could not live up to his hopes for mankind. Had he foreseen recent developments in modern America he might have. No! Though easily depicted as a “disembodied intellect”, Russell was made of sterner stuff.

This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me.

Prologue to Bertrand Russell’s Autobiography

Russell, though a logician who wrote disparagingly of Sartre’s Existentialism which he considered to be almost incomprehensible, Russell was himself, in the finest existentialist tradition, the architect of his own life. Thus, he was himself an “Existentialist” –if not a cowboy.

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Civilization: Amid Old Triumphs, New Threats from Fascism

March 26, 2007

Bertrand Russell, in his Wisdom of the West, put forward a simple thesis. Western Civilization is essentially Greek civilization.

There is no civilization but the Greek in which a philosophic movement goes hand in hand with a scientific tradition. It is this that gives the Greek enterprise its peculiar scope; it is this dual tradition that has shaped the civilization of the west.

–Bertrand Russell, Wisdom of the West

In support of his thesis, Russell points to the authoritarian, theocratic natures of earlier civilizations –Egypt and Babylonia. Religion, Russell stated, seems inconsistent with the Greek spirit of free inquiry typified most famously by Socrates and the Platonic tradition that followed. It is because Greek civilization was primarily secular, Russell believed, that the spirit of “free inquiry” took root in the west. This spirit, he believed, was incompatible with both authoritarianism and religion itself.

A Renaissance of Western Civilization was associated with the pre-eminence of Lorenzo Di Medici in Florence and specifically his support of a new Plato Academy. Eminent scholars -Marsilio Ficino, Cristoforo Landino, Angelo Poliziano and Demetrios Chalkondyles depicted (above) in Domenico Ghirlandaio’s fresco, Zaccaria in the Temple –refocused European attention on the Greek classics and inspired a renewed interest in learning. The plights of Giordano Bruno and Galileo make clear the fact that despite the Greek revival an Eastern religion, Christianity, was, in fact, at odds with the secular nature of inquiry and learning.

But to point that out gets ahead of the story, a story told by Lord Kenneth Clark in his famous Civilization series for the BBC and, most recently, by Thomas Cahill who authored a short but influential book entitled How the Irish Saved Civilization.

Although we associate our Western civilization with “the new learning”, it was Scholasticism, kept alive throughout the Dark Ages by clerics, that survived well into the Rennaisance. Russell points out that throughout the 7th through the 9th Centuries, Europe witnessed a Papacy walking the treacherous, narrow line between warring barbarians on the frontiers and Eastern Emperors who had inherited the trappings of the Roman Empire -bureaucracy, a rule of law, various standards of civilization. The barbarians, by contrast, ruled by force. Byzantium was at least civilized and would, in fact, survive the Middle Ages, described by William Manchester as A World Lit Only by Fire.

If civilization is best described as a thin veneer over the otherwise rude necessitudes of sheer survival, it fell to clerics to keep alive the more ephemeral ideals -literacy, the rule of law, the faith itself. That story, of course, began well before the 7th century, well before the fall of Rome itself.

It must surely be one of the great ironies of history that the task of saving civilization may have fallen to the monks of Skellig Michael, a steep rocky crag of an island west of the coast of County Kerry, literally, the cold, dank remote reaches of Ireland.

Never immune from barbarian raids, Ireland’s remoteness may have made it the standard bearer of civilization. In one of two surviving documents attributed to Patricius, otherwise known to history as St. Patrick, an interesting tale is told. A young Patricius, having been kidnapped by “wild Irish pirates” at the tender age of 15 years, escaped his captivity in County Mayo. In his “Confession”, St. Patrick tells of sailing to Europe with a band of trader/pirates. On the continent, this unlikely band encountered scenes of desolation, abandoned villages, ruined farms, a worrisome lack of food.

And after three days we reached land, and for twenty-eight days journeyed through uninhabited country, and the food ran out and hunger overtook them; and one day the steersman began saying: ‘Why is it, Christian? You say your God is great and all-powerful; then why can you not pray for us? For we may perish of hunger; it is unlikely indeed that we shall ever see another human being.’ In fact, I said to them, confidently: ‘Be converted by faith with all your heart to my Lord God, because nothing is impossible for him, so that today he will send food for you on your road, until you be sated, because everywhere he abounds.’ And with God’s help this came to pass; and behold, a herd of swine appeared on the road before our eyes, and they slew many of them, and remained there for two nights, and the were full of their meat and well restored, for many of them had fainted and would otherwise have been left half-dead by the wayside.

The “Confessio” of St. Patrick

If ever there was a time for prayer this was it. The faithful will believe that Patricius’s prayer worked.

It is easy to conclude that Patricius and his erstwhile friends had encountered the very twilight of empire, the devastation left in the wake of retreating legions. This is arguably the most concrete picture we have of Europe at that time. It’s a picture of European civilization surviving “…by the skin of our teeth”, clinging desperately to life like the lichens on the barren rocks of Skellig Michael itself.

This is a notion not easily dismissed and too easily romanticized. After all, we are left the Book of Kells, produced by Celtic monks around AD 800. This work is a testament to the stubborn human impulse to rage at seemingly inexorable forces of chaos, decay, and oblivion. Even atheists must recognize the achievements of quiet, impoverished clerics and scholars over a period of several hundred years. But for their efforts, civilization might simply have faded into a highland mist like so many tales of Avalon.

Is it accurate to give so much credit to Ireland? In his book, How the Irish Saved Civilization, Cahill concedes that Greek literature and the Hebrew and Greek Bibles survived independently elsewhere. “Latin literature would almost surely have been lost without the Irish,” he concludes. But, he speculates, “…the national literatures of Europe might not have emerged had the Irish not forged the first great vernacular literature of Europe.”

By the time of the Renaissance, however, it fell to the secular minds of men like Leonardo da Vinci and Galileo to advance the spirit of inquiry. A broader view is taken by Russell who saw a broad departure from ancient priesthoods originating in Greece and taking shape over centuries of European history. He also saw the persistent threat of anti-democratic authoritarianism which would be associated in his time with fascism and Nazism:

“There is over a large part of the earth’s surface something not unlike a reversion to the ancient Egyptian system of divine kingship, controlled by a new priestly caste. Although this tendency has not gone so far in the West as it has in the east, it has, nevertheless, gone to lengths which would have astonished the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries both in England and in America. Individual initiative is hemmed in either by the state or by powerful corporations, and there is a great danger lest this should produce, as in ancient Rome, a kind of listlessness and fatalism that is disastrous to vigorous life. I am constantly receiving letters saying: ‘I see that the world is in a bad state, but what can one humble person do? Life and property are at the mercy of a few individuals who have the decision as to peace or war. Economic activities on any large scale are determined by those who govern either the state or the large corporations. Even where there is nominally democracy, the part which one citizen can obtain in controlling policy is usually infinitesimal. Is it not perhaps better in such circumstances to forget public affairs and get as much enjoyment by the way as the times permit?’ I find such letters very difficult to answer, and I am sure that the state of mind which leads to their being written is very inimical to a healthy social life. As a result of mere size, government becomes increasingly remote from the governed and tends, even in a democracy, to have an independent life of its own. I do not profess to know how to cure this evil completely, but I think it is very important to recognize its existence and to search for ways of diminishing its magnitude.”

-Bertrand Russell, Authority and the Individual, p. 18-19:

Have we come all this way only to lose civilization to a new and corporate dark age?



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