Friday, November 23, 2007
by David Swanson
It's remarkably common for a grandson to take up his grandfather's major project. This occurred to me when I read recently of Thor Heyerdahl's grandson taking up his mission to cross the Pacific on a raft. But what really struck me was the BBC story aired on July 23rd documenting President George W. Bush's grandfather's involvement in a 1933 plot to overthrow the U.S. government and install a fascist dictatorship. I knew the story, but had not considered the possibility that the grandson was trying to accomplish what his grandfather had failed to achieve.
Prescott Sheldon Bush (1895 to 1972) attended Yale University and joined the secret society known as Skull and Bones. Prescott is widely reported to have stolen the skull of Native American leader Geronimo. As far as I know, this has not actually been confirmed. In fact, Prescott seems to have had a habit of making things up. He sent letters home from World War I claiming he'd received medals for heroism. After the letters were printed in newspapers, he had to retract his claims.
If this does not yet sound like the life of a George W. Bush ancestor, try this on for size: Prescott Bush's early business efforts tended to fail. He married the daughter of a very rich man named George Herbert Walker (the guy with the compound at Kennebunkport , Maine , that now belongs to the Bush family, and the origin of Dubya's middle initial). Walker installed Prescott Bush as an executive in Thyssen and Flick. From then on, Prescott 's business dealings went better, and he entered politics.
Now, the name Thyssen comes from a German named Fritz Thyssen, major financial backer of the rise of Adolph Hitler. Thyssen was referred to in the New York Herald-Tribune as "Hitler's Angel." During the 1930s and early 1940s, and even as late as 1951, Prescott Bush was involved in business dealings with Thyssen, and was inevitably aware of both Thyssen's political activities and the fact that the companies involved were financially benefiting the nation of Germany. In addition, the companies Prescott Bush profited from included one engaged in mining operations in Poland using slave labor from Auschwitz . Two former slave laborers have sued the U.S. government and the heirs of Prescott Bush for $40 billion.
Until the United States entered World War II it was legal for Americans to do business with Germany , but in late 1942 Prescott Bush's businesses interests were seized under the Trading with the Enemy Act. Among those businesses involved was the Hamburg America Lines, for which Prescott Bush served as a manager. A Congressional committee, in a report called the McCormack-Dickstein Report, found that Hamburg America Lines had offered free passage to Germany for journalists willing to write favorably about the Nazis, and had brought Nazi sympathizers to America . (Is this starting to remind anyone of our current president's relationship to the freedom of the press?)
The McCormack-Dickstein Committee was established to investigate a homegrown American fascist plot hatched in 1933. Here's how the BBC promoted its recent story:
"Document uncovers details of a planned coup in the USA in 1933 by right-wing American businessmen. The coup was aimed at toppling President Franklin D Roosevelt with the help of half-a-million war veterans. The plotters, who were alleged to involve some of the most famous families in America , (owners of Heinz, Birds Eye, Goodtea, Maxwell Hse & George Bush’s Grandfather, Prescott) believed that their country should adopt the policies of Hitler and Mussolini to beat the great depression. Mike Thomson investigates why so little is known about this biggest ever peacetime threat to American democracy."
Actually, if you listen to the 30-minute BBC story, there is not one word of so much as speculation as to why this story is so little known. I think a clue to the answer can be found by looking into why this BBC report has not led to any U.S. media outlets picking up the story this week.
The BBC report provides a good account of the basic story. Some of the wealthiest men in America approached Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler, beloved of many World War I veterans, many of them embittered by the government's treatment of them. Prescott Bush's group asked Butler to lead 500,000 veterans in a take-over of Washington and the White House. Butler refused and recounted the affair to the congressional committee. His account was corroborated in part by a number of witnesses, and the committee concluded that the plot was real. But the names of wealthy backers of the plot were blacked out in the committee's records, and nobody was prosecuted. According to the BBC, President Roosevelt cut a deal. He refrained from prosecuting some of the wealthiest men in America for treason. They agreed to end Wall Street's opposition to the New Deal.
Clearly the lack of accountability in Washington, D.C., did not begin with Nancy Pelosi taking Dubya's impeachment off the table, or with Congress' decision to avoid impeachment for President Ronald Reagan (a decision that arguably played a large role in installing Prescott Bush's son George H.W. Bush as president), or with the failure to investigate the apparent deal that George H.W. Bush and others made with Iran to not release American hostages until Reagan was made president, or with the failure to prosecute Richard Nixon after he resigned. Lack of accountability is a proud tradition in our nation's capital. Or maybe I should say our former nation's capital. I don't recognize the place anymore, and I credit that to George W. Bush's efforts to fulfill his grandfather's dream using far subtler and more effective means than a military coup.
Bush the grandson took office through a highly fraudulent election that he nonetheless lost. The Supreme Court blocked a recount of the vote and installed Dubya.
Prescott 's grandson proceeded to weaken or eliminate most of the Bill of Rights in the name of protection from a dark foreign enemy. He even tossed out habeas corpus. The grandson of Prescott, that dreamer of the 1930s, established with very little resistance that the U.S. government can kidnap, detain indefinitely on no charge, torture, and murder. The United States under Prescott Bush's grandson adopted policies that heretofore had been considered only Nazi policies, most strikingly the willingness to openly plan and engage in aggressive wars on other nations.
At the same time, Dubya has accomplished a huge transfer of wealth within the United States from the rest of us to the extremely wealthy. He's also effected a major privatization of public operations, including the military. And he's kept tight control over the media.
Dubya has given himself the power to rewrite all laws with signing statements. He's established that intentionally misleading the Congress about the need for a war is not a crime that carries any penalty. He's given himself the right (just as Hitler did) to open anyone's mail. He's created illegal spying programs and then proposed to legalize them. Prescott would be so proud!
The current President Bush has accomplished much more smoothly than his grandfather could have imagined a feat that was one of the goals of Prescott 's gang, namely the elimination of Congress.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
1. Watch the video2. Sign the pledge3. Call FOX's advertisers
That was FOX's classy response to the half a million viewers who saw our FOX Attacks: Decency video.
Looks like we got to FOX this time, and it wasn't a debate about policy in Iran that did it, or a video displaying their racism, or even our coverage of their abject hypocrisy on environmental issues.
No, what got the attack dogs at FOX hungry and looking for flesh was none other than an exposÃ© of their smut peddling! It makes sense in a way, because advertisers tend not to like their products being promoted between segments of soft porn. And a large part of their conservative base hates this as well, which might be why one Christian organization compared the way women were dressed on FOX to the manner in which "hookers" are attired.
So what did we do?
With the News Hounds help, we found enough FOX lasciviousness for a whole porn site!!
Really, we did. And it wasn't that hard to do. In fact, if you thought FOX Attacks: Decency was a glimpse into the lustful thoughts of your favorite FOX anchor, you ain't seen nothing yet.
Watch the video: http://foxnewsporn.com/?utm_source=rgemail
Satire and parody aside, we think this is extremely objectionable, misogynistic content. We still don't understand how FOX is allowed to call this "news." So let's make this campaign count, and hit FOX where it hurts -- their Fair and Balance Sheet.
Many of you have been helping to create a massive database of local FOX advertisers. Now it's time to start calling them. Pick one or two to call and ask them to please not advertise on a channel that shows Girls Gone Wild during prime time, and exploits women 24/7. Let them know in very personal terms why this matters to you.
Click for a list of FOX advertisers near you: http://foxattacks.com/attacker/?utm_source=rgemail
And please let us know how it goes! When you click on the 'call' or 'email' advertiser link, you'll get an example script, and a form where you can describe what happened. Fill it out so we can all share information on how advertisers are reacting to the campaign. Plus, others will be inspired to act and we can keep the pressure on these merchants of immorality. Be creative make it personal and express how you feel.
Robert Greenwald, Cliff Schecter, and the Brave New Films team.
P.S. It's getting close to gift-giving time, so we've put together a special edition DVD of Outfoxed with all the FOX Attacks videos and other bonus features. The perfect stocking stuffer for that special conservative in your life. Get one for $12.95 or a 5 pack for $50.
---Brave New Films creates videos and campaigns for social change. We are located at 10510 Culver Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232 and email@example.com. You can get us on iTunes and Facebook.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Posted November 9th, 2007 at 9:50 am
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It’s hard to say for sure when the “silly season” started in the media’s coverage of the presidential campaign. If there was a “serious season,” it was exceedingly short. I’m afraid I missed it.
But yesterday was unusually inane. A waitress at an Iowa diner noted that Hillary Clinton and her campaign aides had recently stopped by, but didn’t leave a tip. NPR picked up on the “story,” the New York Times called it a “potentially embarrassing mini-scandal,” and Drudge blared it above the fold. Soon after, NBC News and ABC News were trumpeting the story.
Clinton didn’t leave a tip? Does she hate working people? Is she out of touch? What does this say about her economic plan? What do her rivals think about this? Why won’t Barack Obama attack her over the issue? Is it too soon to put a poll in the field gauging the public’s reaction?
All of this breathless fascination was for naught. It turned out Clinton’s campaign did leave a tip with the manager for the entire serving staff. Clinton’s individual waitress didn’t know that, so there was a simple misunderstanding.
Reporters ended up contacting the waitress, Anita Esterday, at her home in Iowa yesterday.
Ms. Esterday said she did not understand what all the commotion was about.
“You people are really nuts,” she told a reporter during a phone interview. “There’s kids dying in the war, the price of oil right now — there’s better things in this world to be thinking about than who served Hillary Clinton at Maid-Rite and who got a tip and who didn’t get a tip.”
Thank you, Anita Esterday. “You people are really nuts” may actually be the most helpful and poignant media criticism I’ve seen this year. It has the added benefit of being true.It’s also a reminder of just what it takes to get some political reporters excited. Last week, Rudy Giuliani unveiled a campaign ad in Iowa with an obvious, demonstrable lie. Many of us begged reporters to take it seriously, and give it the full-court press.
Some columnists noted the problem, but most outlets followed the AP’s lead: “No one argues that Rudy Giuliani was diagnosed with prostate cancer, underwent treatment and survived. Yet there is a dispute about the statistics he quotes about his chances of survival.”
A “dispute,” as if there was some question about whether Giuliani had intentionally lied to voters in an ad.
Was there a media freak-out? Not even a little. A leading candidate deceiving the public about cancer just isn’t sexy enough.
And what is? In recent months, the most prominent media frenzies have dealt with John Edwards’ hair, Hillary Clinton’s laugh, Rudy Giuliani’s cell phone, and now Clinton’s approach to gratuities.
“You people are really nuts” sums the situation up nicely, doesn’t it?
Friday, November 09, 2007
October 27, 2007
Salt Lake City, Utah
Today, as we come together once again in this great city, we raise our
voices in unison to say to President Bush, to Vice President Cheney, to
other members of the Bush Administration (past and present), to a
majority of Congress, including Utah's entire congressional delegation,
and to much of the mainstream media: "You have failed us miserably and
we won't take it any more."
"While we had every reason to expect far more of you, you have been
pompous, greedy, cruel, and incompetent as you have led this great
nation to a moral, military, and national security abyss."
"You have breached trust with the American people in the most egregious
ways. You have utterly failed in the performance of your jobs. You have
undermined our Constitution, permitted the violation of the most
fundamental treaty obligations, and betrayed the rule of law."
"You have engaged in, or permitted, heinous human rights abuses of the
sort never before countenanced in our nation's history as a matter of
official policy. You have sent American men and women to kill and be
killed on the basis of lies, on the basis of shifting justifications,
without competent leadership, and without even a coherent plan for this
"We are here to tell you: We won't take it any more!"
"You have acted in direct contravention of values that we, as Americans
who love our country, hold dear. You have deceived us in the most
cynical, outrageous ways. You have undermined, or allowed the
undermining of, our constitutional system of checks and balances among
the three presumed co-equal branches of government. You have helped lead
our nation to the brink of fascism, of a dictatorship contemptuous of
our nation's treaty obligations, federal statutory law, our
Constitution, and the rule of law."
"Because of you, and because of your jingoistic false `patriotism,
' our world is far more dangerous, our nation is far more despised, and
the threat of terrorism is far greater than ever before.
It has been absolutely astounding how you have committed the most
horrendous acts, causing such needless tragedy in the lives of millions
of people, yet you wear your so-called religion on your sleeves,
asserting your God-is-on-my-side nonsense - when what you have done
flies in the face of any religious or humanitarian tradition. Your
hypocrisy is mind-boggling - and disgraceful.
What part of "Thou shalt not kill" do you not understand? What part of
the "Golden rule" do you not understand? What part of "be honest," "be
responsible," and "be accountable" don't you understand? What part of
"Blessed are the peacekeepers" do you not understand?
Because of you, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, many
thousands of people have suffered horrendous lifetime injuries, and
millions have been run off from their homes. For the sake of our nation,
for the sake of our children, and for the sake of our brothers and
sisters around the world, we are morally compelled to say, as loudly as
we can, `We won't take it any more!' "
"As United States agents kidnap, disappear, and torture human beings
around the world, you justify, you deceive, and you cover up. We find
what you have done to men, women and children, and to the good name and
reputation of the United States, so appalling, so unconscionable, and so
outrageous as to compel us to call upon you to step aside and allow
other men and women who are competent, true to our nation's values, and
with high moral principles to stand in your places - for the good of our
nation, for the good of our children, and for the good of our world."
In the case of the President and Vice President, this means impeachment
and removal from office, without any further delay from a complacent,
complicit Congress, the Democratic majority of which cares more about
political gain in 2008 than it does about the vindication of our
Constitution, the rule of law, and democratic accountability.
It means the election of people as President and Vice President who,
unlike most of the presidential candidates from both major parties, have
not aided and abetted in the perpetration of the illegal, tragic,
devastating invasion and occupation of Iraq. And it means the election
of people as President and Vice President who will commit to return our
nation to the moral and strategic imperative of refraining from
torturing human beings.
In the case of the majority of Congress, it means electing people who
are diligent enough to learn the facts, including reading available
National Intelligence Estimates, before voting to go to war. It means
electing to Congress men and women who will jealously guard Congress's
sole prerogative to declare war. It means electing to Congress men and
women who will not submit like vapid lap dogs to presidential requests
for blank checks to engage in so-called preemptive wars, for legislation
permitting warrantless wiretapping of communications involving US
citizens, and for dangerous, irresponsible, saber-rattling legislation
like the recent Kyl-Lieberman amendment.
We must avoid the trap of focusing the blame solely upon President Bush
and Vice-President Cheney. This is not just about a few people who have
wronged our country - and the world. They were enabled by members of
both parties in Congress, they were enabled by the pathetic mainstream
news media, and, ultimately, they have been enabled by the American
people - 40% of whom are so ill-informed they still think Iraq was
behind the 9/11 attacks - a people who know and care more about baseball
statistics and which drunken starlets are wearing underwear than they
know and care about the atrocities being committed every single day in
our name by a government for which we need to take responsibility.
As loyal Americans, without regard to political partisanship -- as
veterans, as teachers, as religious leaders, as working men and women,
as students, as professionals, as businesspeople, as public servants, as
retirees, as people of all ages, races, ethnic origins, sexual
orientations, and faiths -- we are here to say to the Bush
administration, to the majority of Congress, and to the mainstream
media: "You have violated your solemn responsibilities. You have
undermined our democracy, spat upon our Constitution, and engaged in
outrageous, despicable acts. You have brought our nation to a point of
immorality, inhumanity, and illegality of immense, tragic, unprecedented
"But we will live up to our responsibilities as citizens, as brothers
and sisters of those who have suffered as a result of the imperial
bullying of the United States government, and as moral actors who must
take a stand: And we will, and must, mean it when we say `We won't take
it any more.'"
If we want principled, courageous elected officials, we need to be
principled, courageous, and tenacious ourselves. History has
demonstrated that our elected officials are not the leaders - the
leadership has to come from us. If we don't insist, if we don't persist,
then we are not living up to our responsibilities as citizens in a
democracy - and our responsibilities as moral human beings. If we remain
silent, we signal to Congress and the Bush administration - and to
candidates running for office - and to the world - that we support the
Silence is complicity. Only by standing up for what's right and never
letting down can we say we are doing our part.
Our government, on the basis of a campaign we now know was entirely
fraudulent, attacked and militarily occupied a nation that posed no
danger to the United States. Our government, acting in our name, has
caused immense, unjustified death and destruction.
It all started five years ago, yet where have we, the American people,
been? At this point, we are responsible. We get together once in a while
at demonstrations and complain about Bush and Cheney, about Congress,
and about the pathetic news media. We point fingers and yell a lot. Then
most people politely go away until another demonstration a few months later.
How many people can honestly say they have spent as much time learning
about and opposing the outrages of the Bush administration as they have
spent watching sports or mindless television programs during the past
five years? Escapist, time-sapping sports and insipid entertainment have
indeed become the opiate of the masses.
Why is this country so sound asleep? Why do we abide what is happening
to our nation, to our Constitution, to the cause of peace and
international law and order? Why are we not doing all in our power to
put an end to this madness?
We should be in the streets regularly and students should be raising
hell on our campuses. We should be making it clear in every way possible
that apologies or convoluted, disingenuous explanations just don't cut
it when presidential candidates and so many others voted to authorize
George Bush and his neo-con buddies to send American men and women to
attack and occupy Iraq.
Let's awaken, and wake up the country by committing here and now to do
all each of us can to take our nation back. Let them hear us across the
country, as we ask others to join us: "We won't take it any more!"
I implore you: Draw a line. Figure out exactly where your own moral
breaking point is. How much will you put up with before you say "No
more" and mean it?
I have drawn my line as a matter of simple personal morality: I cannot,
and will not, support any candidate who has voted to fund the atrocities
in Iraq. I cannot, and will not, support any candidate who will not
commit to remove all US troops, as soon as possible, from Iraq. I
cannot, and will not, support any candidate who has supported
legislation that takes us one step closer to attacking Iran. I cannot,
and will not, support any candidate who has not fought to stop the
kidnapping, disappearances, and torture being carried on in our name.
If we expect our nation's elected officials to take us seriously, let us
send a powerful message they cannot misunderstand. Let them know we
really do have our moral breaking point. Let them know we have drawn a
bright line. Let them know they cannot take our support for granted -
that, regardless of their party and regardless of other political
considerations, they will not have our support if they cannot provide,
and have not provided, principled leadership.
The people of this nation may have been far too quiet for five years,
but let us pledge that we won't let it go on one more day - that we will
do all we can to put an end to the illegalities, the moral degradation,
and the disintegration of our nation's reputation in the world.
Let us be unified in drawing the line - in declaring that we do have a
moral breaking point. Let us insist, together, in supporting our troops
and in gratitude for the freedoms for which our veterans gave so much,
that we bring our troops home from Iraq, that we return our government
to a constitutional democracy, and that we commit to honoring the
fundamental principles of human rights.
In defense of our country, in defense of our Constitution, in defense of
our shared values as Americans - and as moral human beings - we declare
today that we will fight in every way possible to stop the insanity,
stop the continued military occupation of Iraq, and stop the moral
depravity reflected by the kidnapping, disappearing, and torture of
people around the world.