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• • •
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"The good news: I thought Our Kampf was consistently hilarious. The bad news: I’m the guy who wrote Monkeybone."—Sam Hamm, screenwriter, Batman, Batman Returns, and Homecoming

November 17, 2010


Despite what it seems like, I haven't died. I'm just very, very tired. I'll be here more soon, and in the meantime, I hope you can check out what's happening here, and especially here.

There will be more over there shortly about Wendell Potter. I urge anyone who wants to understand how the world works to read his book Deadly Spin, and when you're done with that, Merchants of Doubt, which covers the scumbag corporate propaganda world more broadly.


—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at November 17, 2010 10:45 PM

I notice that the full title to Wendell Potter's book is "Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans."

Wouldn't "killing health care" also imply, in at least some cases, "killing Americans"?

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at November 18, 2010 11:59 AM

"Wouldn't "killing health care" also imply, in at least some cases, "killing Americans"?

Obama has already claimed the right to kill Americans and hardly anyone has complained. There is no doubt that Americans are dying from lack of health care but that is the corporate way, it's not personal.

Posted by: Rob Payne at November 18, 2010 12:47 PM

I would like to hear Michael Moore explain why the hell he didn't endorse Dennis Kucinich see video when he had the chance. What a discraceful missed oportunity. And as the economy got even worse, you know Kucinich could have won.

Posted by: Tom Murphy at November 18, 2010 04:43 PM

Dennis Kucinich had about as much chance to be President as Dick Cheney had to be extradicted to The Hague for trial as a war criminal. I love Kucinich, and by the way he also wins the hottest wife award hands down, but you might as well blame Michael Moore for not supporting Jesus Christ for President.

Yes, mistah charley, killing health care is the same as killing Americans. I've recently started my own legal war against the health care control fraud machine, and as long as I'm still drawing breath, i'm going to be an asset-depleting nuisance to them. I might even have to start exercising more so that I can drag that out a while.

Posted by: N E at November 20, 2010 02:00 PM

N E,

Really? Did you see what I wrote? As the economy got even worse, you know Kucinich could have won. You claim that Kucinich had no chance to be President but you ignored what I wrote. I talked about supporting Kucinich in the Democratic primary. Are you really arguing that had Kucinich won the Democratic primary that he would still have had no chance to win the general election? I'll tell you what made it sure Kucinich couldn't win the general election and that was those who refused to help him win the Democratic primary.

Posted by: Tom Murphy at November 20, 2010 02:31 PM

One might concider that ANY insurance policy written and underwritten in The USA as basic fraud at this point. ESPECIALLY if that insurance corp. is backed by those rock solid mortgage backed securitied, yummy.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at November 20, 2010 05:14 PM

"How the World Works" - The viral email The Religion of Peace

My father was a Methodist, my mother a Unitarian, my spouse missus charley, m.d. is a Roman Catholic, and my older brother, like his wife, is a Baptist.

I will be seeing my brother and his family on Thanksgiving, and in the process of arranging the details he sent me the following a couple of days ago:

What do you think of this?  My men's church group seems to have a running debate about Islam.  Looking forward to seeing you and Odette at Thanksgiving.

Subject: Fwd: FW: The religion of Peace

German View of Islam

This is by far the best explanation of the Muslim terrorist situation I
have ever read. His references to past history are accurate and clear.
Not long, easy to understand, and well worth the read. The author of
this email is said to be Dr. Emanuel Tanay, a well-known and
well-respected psychiatrist.

A German's View on Islam

A man, whose family was German aristocracy prior to World War II,
owned a number of large industries and estates. When asked how many
German people were true Nazis, the answer he gave can guide our attitude
toward fanaticism. 'Very few people were true Nazis,' he said, 'but many
enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care.
I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So,
the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew
it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had
come. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp and
the Allies destroyed my factories.'

We are told again and again by 'experts' and 'talking heads' that
Islam is the religion of peace and that the vast majority of Muslims
just want to live in peace. Although this unqualified assertion may be
true, it is entirely irrelevant. It is meaningless fluff, meant to make
us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the spectre of fanatics
rampaging across the globe in the name of Islam.

The fact is that the fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history. It
is the fanatics who march. It is the fanatics who wage any one of 50
shooting wars worldwide. It is the fanatics who systematically slaughter
Christian or tribal groups throughout Africa and are gradually taking
over the entire continent in an Islamic wave. It is the fanatics who
bomb, behead, murder, or honour-kill. It is the fanatics who take over
mosque after mosque. It is the fanatics who zealously spread the stoning
and hanging of rape victims and homosexuals. It is the fanatics who
teach their young to kill and to become suicide bombers.

The hard, quantifiable fact is that the peaceful majority, the 'silent
majority,' is cowed and extraneous.

Communist Russia was comprised of Russians who just wanted to live in
peace, yet the Russian Communists were responsible for the murder of
about 20 million people. The peaceful majority were irrelevant. China 's
huge population was peaceful as well, but Chinese Communists managed to
kill a staggering 70 million people.

The average Japanese individual prior to World War II was not a
warmongering sadist. Yet, Japan murdered and slaughtered its way across
South East Asia in an orgy of killing that included the systematic
murder of 12 million Chinese civilians; most killed by sword, shovel,
and bayonet.

And who can forget Rwanda , which collapsed into butchery. Could it
not be said that the majority of Rwandans were 'peace loving'?

History lessons are often incredibly simple and blunt, yet for all our
powers of reason, we often miss the most basic and uncomplicated of points:

Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by their silence.

Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don't speak up,
because like my friend from Germany , they will awaken one day and find
that the fanatics own them, and the end of their world will have begun.

Peace-loving Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Russians, Rwandans, Serbs,
Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians, Somalis, Nigerians, Algerians, and many
others have died because the peaceful majority did not speak up until it
was too late. As for us who watch it all unfold, we must pay attention
to the only group that counts--the fanatics who threaten our way of life.

Lastly, anyone who doubts that the issue is serious and just deletes
this email without sending it on, is contributing to the passiveness
that allows the problems to expand. So, extend yourself a bit and send
this on and on and on! Let us hope that thousands, world-wide, read this
and think about it, and send it on.

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at November 21, 2010 11:46 AM

The Religion of Peace Propaganda Piece - Who Wrote It, What It Leaves Out, and Some Harsh but Accurate Words that the "Peace-Loving Majority" of Americans Should Hear

I wrote my brother:

My response to this has three focuses: (a) who really wrote it, and why the mistaken authorship wasn't corrected; (b)what it says; (c) what it leaves out.


The real author is NOT retired forensic psychiatrist Dr. Emanuel Tanay, author of PASSPORT TO LIFE: Autobiographical Reflections on the Holocaust. It was written by Canadian Paul E. Marek, and first published on his blog "Celestial Junk" on 20 February 2006 under the title "Why the Peaceful Majority is Irrelevant." A follow-up at his blog, "Why the Peaceful Majority Might be Dangerous", published 16 November 2009, clearly states Marek's view about the dangers to Canada and other Western countries of Muslim immigrants who maintain their social customs: "Being a 'good person' is irrelevant when it comes to the survival of Western values."  

Dr. Tanay DID read and forward the article, and so a mistake about who wrote it can initially be attributed to sloppiness by those who re-forwarded it, which often happens to a "viral e-mail."  Unfortunately, this version you've received has incriminating weasel wording here: "The author of this email is said to be Dr. Emanuel Tanay, a well-known and  well-respected psychiatrist." This shows that somewhere along the line someone knew or suspected that Dr. Tanay was NOT the author. Rather than being honest and checking into it (the work of a minute, thanks to Google or similar software) they decided to pass on "the skin of the truth stuffed with a lie" - yes, people said Dr. Tanay wrote it; but no, they were wrong.  It's obvious why this deception took place - there's more oomph behind it if Dr. Tanay said it than if it's just the opinion of a random Canadian blogger.  This negligent or intentional "mistake" is similar to the kind of dishonesty that recently led Ergun Caner to lose his job as Dean of the Baptist Theological Seminary at Liberty University.


Marek's basic theme: "We are told again and again by 'experts' and 'talking heads' that Islam is the religion of peace, and that the vast majority of Muslims just want to live in peace. Although this unquantified assertion may be true, it is entirely irrelevant. It is meaningless fluff, meant to make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the specter of fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of Islam."  He urges us to focus our attention on the danger posed by the fanatics.  Those who love peace are irrelevant.


As the poet pointed out, "Man's inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn", and this continues today.  Of the many regrettable episodes of mutual destruction mentioned by Marek, most have religious, ideological, or ethnic conflicts at their root.  In trying to understand our current situation, however, we should look beyond the hostility that Muslims aim at us - not to excuse it, but to understand it, and to understand how it might be possible to de-escalate the vicious cycle.

Marek leaves out the fact that Muslim hostility to the West has a great deal to do with the situation of the Palestinians under Israeli occupation.  Another increasingly important cause of this hostility is U.S. military action in Islamic countries.  On 9/11, planes taken over by Islamic extremists attacked the U.S. and killed thousands.  But earlier, in the first Gulf War, and subsequently in the 21st century, many, many more thousands - hundreds of thousands - of Muslims have been killed by the U.S. Air Force and the consequences of our invasions and occupations.  The majority of the hijackers were Saudi Arabians.  None were Iraqis.  And yet Iraq, and now Afghanistan and Pakistan, are fields of U.S. military operations.  The violence that they have done to us is far exceeded by the violence that we have done to them.  As for the hypothetical threat that Iran might pose if their nuclear energy program resulted in a nuclear weapons capability - obviously the Iranians know, as every country with nuclear weapons knows, that to use them would be suicidal.  Keep in mind that, in the history of the modern world, NO country with nuclear weapons has EVER used them against an enemy population.

Well, that is, no country except ours.

I'm pretty sure you remember Edwin Starr's 1970 hit song, "War! What is it good for?"  Starr’s reply is “Absolutely nothing!” This is emotionally satisfying in the context of the song, but of course, war persists because it DOES have its uses. It helps concentrate power and increase profits for the military-industrial-congressional-financial-corporate media complex, for example. (See Eisenhower’s Farewell Address in 1961). In Chris Hedges’ book title, “War is a force that gives us meaning.”  And Ernest Becker argues, in his book Escape from Evil, that religious war emerges from our fear of death – our uncertain faith in our own religion’s promises of immortality make us want to kill those who say we’ve got it wrong.  That's probably what's going on with those fanatical Muslims - but not only them.

See for further info about what's left out of the "scary muslims" opinion piece - and I want to be clear, I do believe there are scary muslims, and we - the U.S. - must take precautionary measures - but smart ones, not stupid ones.  And it is both stupid and evil to continue current policy of sending military forces to foreign countries to kill people.

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at November 21, 2010 11:57 AM

mistah charley, ph.d. : ENDS= stoneage, MEANS= bomb them to it, REASON= We don't know how to mind OUR OWN business. The whole world's got to be JUST LIKE US. (Steppenwwolf)

YOUR Brother will love the good news, I suspect.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at November 21, 2010 01:56 PM

Mike: Is the "good news" that it would be O.K. for the U.S. to mind its own business? If so, I'm not as confident as you may be that my brother will be glad to learn it.

Nevertheless, he DID ask what I thought.

I love the band Steppenwolf, especially the album Monster. These lyrics are from 1969, but the fundamental things apply, as time goes by:

"The cities have turned into jungles,
and corruption is stranglin' the land.
The police force is watching the people,
and the people just can't understand.
We don't know how to mind our own business,
'cause the whole world's got to be just like us.
Now we are fighting a war over there.
No matter who's the winner, we can't pay the cost.
'Cause there's a monster on the loose,
it's got our heads into the noose.
And it just sits there... watching."

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at November 21, 2010 02:16 PM

Tom -- you are, of course, aware that when a commentator endorses a candidate, he expends some of his sacred vis, the essence of himself, and, as such, cannot give such blessings likely lest he overexpend and shrivel into a and I can't keep this shit up, though I managed to make someone think I was crazy due to my laughing-while-typing.

It was a bad decision on Moore's part. Failure to use such low-cost methods for good, due to social conventions, is dumb. However, we have so few decent people in our political class that any error they make seems especially keen. Hell, I don't even think as much of Kucinich as most, but I'd enthusiastically back him for president: saying no to mass murder makes that an easy one.

N E was wrong. Kucinich couldn't become president because. . . Kucinich couldn't become president. It was a deliberately self-fulfilling prophecy maintained by "progressives" -- that is, assholes backing Obama and Clinton in fierce denial and suppression of clear evidence why they shouldn't -- all throughout the primary, using logic that ceased to matter once it came down to McCain versus whoever.

That primary was important for reasons most people doggedly failed to realize. It wasn't about changing America. It wasn't about throwing out the Repugs -- what, will they spontaneously combust once they lose the White House? Did I miss the memo that said all Democrats in office will cease to be rightwingers?

No, that primary was about making the term "progressive" mean something within liberal thought, and the most popular left-wing sites joined hands to make sure that, for at least the next eight years, the word meant shit.

That said, though, I don't think that Moore actively and aggressively acted to make the primary about Obama and Clinton, so I'm not laying that mess at his feet. Failure to make a good strategic move was mere foolishness. (IIRC, he was, in fact, holding out to drag Gore into the race -- which was more foolishness, but again, not wretched moral turpitude.)

Posted by: No One of Consequence at November 21, 2010 03:26 PM

"Marek leaves out the fact that Muslim hostility to the West has a great deal to do with the situation of the Palestinians under Israeli occupation."

mistah charley, I'd say that "Muslim hostility" has something to do with the situation of the Muslims under Muslim occupation too. We've been a big help in developing their fine leadership.

Tom Murphy and company

I wish I had known Kucinich would have won if I had supported him. I supported Tom Harkin once and I think that almost pushed him over the top.

Posted by: N E at November 22, 2010 09:28 AM

I was a DK supporter during the primary and yet never expected him to win. I did, however, know if he could get the 'magical' 15% he could set the terms for the winner wrt health care, war, and the economy. I argued this point throughout the primaries on every lefty blog I could find (to the point I was deleted by digby, who seemed to think Wes Clark then Cris "the dud" Dodd was the ticket). But, just as our masters wanted, the primary for the socalled left had almost nothing to do with actual policies and, instead, ended up a personality/ black vs woman he said-she said contest. What did Malcolm X say? You been bamboozled , took, had ..
I do not think DK can ever be president, but he could lead a movement within ( or outside) the dem party to save this counties ass, if people who call themselves liberals or progressives gave him more than lip service.

Posted by: john in california at November 22, 2010 04:15 PM

Having been DELETED from digby several times myself over various opinions not central to Party Line I see how that might have happened. Digby certainly seemed to favor Clark. DK wouldn't make a scratch in what's going on at present. THIS SITUATION WE are living IS A DIRECT RESULT from FAILURE of America to QUESTION the 2000 election. WE SWALLOWED George and Dick hook, line, and sinker and are now being reeled into the boat. Also, how would DK change the fact that BOTH PARTIES in Congress are OWNED by various and sundry corporations. Kucinich COULD NOT even get a petition to IMPEACH Bush/Cheney to the table with THOUSANDS of signatures. I suspect that should Kucinich have obtained the Presidency he would do much the SAME as Obama as that IS the Democratic Party Line.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at November 22, 2010 07:59 PM

Michael Moore swore that he would be done with the Democrats if they moved (quote) "one more inch" to the right. He had a petition up saying that as part of his GOTV effort.

I have been trying to prompt him on this since the election as (of course) the Democrats have continued to move right. I would like to see Moore abide by his promise and say he will no longer vote Democratic.

for more info:

Posted by: DavidByron at November 23, 2010 12:29 PM

Those who STILL support the Dems ARE much like those "Peace Talkers in Afghanistan"---suckers talking to the WRONG dog.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at November 23, 2010 03:06 PM