Backtalk, June 24, 2008

Enough Already!

Dear Mr. Raimondo,

Your caveat about Tim Russert is well taken, painful as it is in a time of grieving. But the problem goes much deeper than a self-congratulatory press corps. The problem, it seems to me, is that our so-called free press is in fact a commercially censored press that receives advertising revenue from the very enterprises that have already benefited so handsomely from the war.

Let me turn from the war, for the purposes of making a point, to the housing boom/bubble/bust. The press should have been asking whether an economy based on buying and selling houses to each other with Chinese money was a sound economy. The press should have been challenging the presumption that all development is good – witness the California water debacle. The press should have been challenging such an easy credit environment. Why didn’t it? The press was a major beneficiary of developers, lenders, realtors, and suppliers through advertising. The press’ silence was bought and paid for. Not just the Washington press, but the local press, which is now largely owned by absentee conglomerates that don’t give a damn about community. All over the country developers have corrupted local government, pushing environmentally unsound projects, and the press has worn its muzzle to the bank.

So the problem is not just the pathetically tame talking heads and the inane anchors, the problem is their corporate overlords. The public, while not trusting the press, has nonetheless bought the lie that it is a free press. It has also bought the press’ lie that it is giving the public what it wants, namely trivia, celebrity misbehavior, he-said, she-said journalism. This is not what the public wants, as Pew researchers have shown, but trivia is cheap to serve up, while thoughtful, investigative journalism is costly. Hence the Fourth Estate, granted certain privileges by the First Amendment, shortchanges the electorate out of corporate greed. …

~ Djelloul Marbrook

The late Mr. Russert certainly deserved the criticism for letting himself be used by the administration and being a neocon enabler during the run up to the Iraq War. However, I listened to the whole Ron Paul interview and do not believe that it was disgraceful. Russert was his usual aggressive self, as a questioner, and in no way was easy on Paul. However, Paul was quite up to the challenge, laid out his position and philosophy very well, and benefited enormously from the exposure. I am sure that Paul came off better from an interview that was tough than he would have from one that pulled punches.

~ Joel Parshall

Who Would Jesus Kill?

Thanks, Doug, for your article. This unjust war and has broken my heart. The sight of Iraqi men women and children constantly being killed and permanently maimed is detestable and totally opposite to the teachings and values of Christ. The very fact that some church leaders have been advocates of this so-called intervention (a term commonly used here by a number of our political masters) is beyond belief. Don’t these people know anything about history and people with vested interests? And more importantly, don’t they have any understanding of Jesus’ words, “You have heard it said… but I say unto you.”

Please, Doug, continue to be a voice and educator!

~ Ian Docker

Lebanon Intrusion

Stephen Zunes’ commentary is helpful but misses the key issue – that Hezbollah now is in a position to launch 600 missiles, by Israeli estimate, as far south as Tel Aviv in the event of an Israeli/American attack upon Iran. This may well give the hawks pause. See my “Letter from Beirut: Hezbollah Holds the Balance of Power.”

~ James Houle

Stephen Zunes replies:

Good point. This is why the Bush administration has been pushing Israel so hard to go after Hezbollah, as it did in 2006. See my article: “Sometimes the Dog Wags the Tail.”

The Ackermans, the Bermans the Liebermans, etc., will always use the U.S. government to protect the state of Israel at any cost. When will Americans wake up to the fact that the Iraq war, the threat of war with Iran, the policy of non-engagement with Hamas and Hezbollah, etc., only benefits Israel and places the USA against the legitimate rights of several Middle Easterners? And to think that all this policy is implemented with the dollars of our children and grandchildren (added to the current debt) is shameful. AIPAC is laughing all the way to the bank.

~ Don Bev

Stephen Zunes replies:

In reality, “the Iraq War, the threat of war with Iran, and the policy of non-engagement with Hamas and Hezbollah” have actually hurt Israel.

In terms of U.S. taxpayer-funded military aid to Israel, almost all of it goes to U.S. arms manufacturers, and for every dollar of military aid earmarked for Israel, the Israelis have to spend two to three additional dollars on personnel, training, and spare parts. Furthermore, the total annual amount of U.S. economic aid annually given to Israel by the United States is about what Israel owes U.S. banks in interest on loans for the earlier purchases of U.S. weapons.

So, such policies aren’t exactly doing Israel a favor.

Did AIPAC play a role in getting that non-binding resolution on Lebanon through? Probably.

Does that mean that Israel controls U.S. policy in the Middle East? No.

The Bush administration has its own twisted reasons to pursue such policies.

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