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Andrew Breitbart Takes A Final Bow, Senate Blunts Blunt, Students March Against Debt

March 2nd, 2012 - by:

Today on News Dissector Radio 1-2 PM on PRN.fm: Former Marine Sargeant Shamar Thomas. Remember his confrontation with the NYPD?: Also Priya Reddy, discussing anarchism and The Earth Liberation Front

WATCH: I Was a Guest Yesterday on RT’s Excellent Capital Account Program With Lauren Lyster

<iframe width=”420″ height=”315″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/UyqKA8KFIhA” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

Press TV: Commenting on Warrantless Surveillance of Cell Phones

NYTeXaminer.com: Dissecting Stories Via Skype from The NY Times

What Killed Andrew Breibart, 43?

He was one of the most contentious and polarizing figures on the American right, His well funded websites were on a war footing against  his fears of the the liberal menace. An hour before he died, he was in a LA bar accusing liberals of changing the GOP campaign focus on to social issues like contraception.

The Hollywood Reported reported: “There, he struck up a conversation with Arthur Sando, a marketing executive who didn’t know Breitbart but likely was the last person to talk extensively with him before he died.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Sando says he arrived at the bar in the tony Brentwood section of L.A. around 10 p.m. and soon the empty seat next to his was filled by a man with a familiar face.

….”He was friendly and engaging,” Sando recalls. “I said, ‘You can’t be very happy with the slate of Republican candidates’ and he said, ‘Why would you say that?’ I said, ‘Well, they’re talking about contraception,’ and he said, ‘The conversation is being framed by the liberal media.’ I said, ‘Well, the media isn’t writing Rick Santorum’s speeches for him.’ We had a back-and-forth for awhile until we said we weren’t going to agree on some things.”

….Sando says he was “shocked” to read Thursday morning that Breitbart, who had a history of heart problems, had collapsed while on a walk near his home in the same neighborhood as the bar. Breitbart was rushed to a hospital and pronounced dead at 12:19 a.m., according to Reuters, less than an hour after leaving The Brentwood.’
The exact cause of death has not been revealed but initial reports said it was natural causes. “There were no signs that anything was wrong,” says Sando. “It’s very sad.” As it turns out, the people who said he had no heart were wrong, but he did have a heart condition.

Here’s my essay on the subject: Olympia Snow and Andrew Breitbart: Is It The End of An Era?

There was an eerie synchronicity between the pending resignation of veteran Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, a Republican who had more than she could take of hyper-partisan “conservative” correct-lineism in Congress and the death of Andrew Breitbart, the right-wing provocateur who did his very best to create the dynamic that Snowe was rejecting.

She would never use the language of her Party-mate Rick Santorum who confessed that some policies he disagreed with made him want to throw up, but if we lived in the age when all roads led to Rome. Congress would surely have its own vomitorium in the basement and it would be well attended.

Breitbart’s unexpected passing of “natural causes” at might foreshadow the death of his political brand just as Snowe’s retreat to the State lobsters made famous may mark the end of the center in the GOP.

There was nothing natural about Andrew’s angst and activism as he smeared and bullied political opponents with the full support of the extremist echo chamber that helped him build his career.

There was no tactic that was too unethical in his aggressive arsenal that relished embarrassing and exposing enemies with videos and bombast,

After he died, the likes of Matt Drudge and Michelle Mallkin were there with teary condolences as was his adoring staff members who posted this testimonial:

“Andrew lived boldly, so that we more timid souls would dare to live freely and fully, and fight for the fragile liberty he showed us how to love.”

What he did love was to retweet every criticism he received as badges of honor in his what seemed like an endless self-promoting crusade. No wonder, the right wing blogosphere is in mourning, echoing each other’s laments.

Breitbart’s spirit was animated by a large dose of Staliniism.

Conservative Ron Deher wrote, “I couldn’t stand some of what Breitbart did, and criticized certain of his stunts on this blog. But Lord have mercy, a 43 year old man dropped dead and left a widow and four fatherless children. He was a provocateur, not a criminal. The thing Breitbart suffered from is the same thing … too many of us suffer from: making ideology more important than basic human decency.”

David Frum, the man who coined the phrase axis of evil was honest enough to admitthat to speak only “good” of Breitbart would be to misunderstand the man. The good was there. Breitbart was by all accounts generous with time and advice, a loving husband and father, and a loyal friend. Yet perhaps Breitbart’s most consequential innovation was his invention of a new kind of culture war, and it’s difficult to assess his impact on American media and politics if you withhold an objective evaluation of his career—a career that was so representative of his times.”
It was that “culture war” that offended a cultured Senator like Olympia Snowe who said she was through with the spirit of confrontation and polarization that drives politics, fed up with an environment which has no room for individual conscience or dissent.

NPR reported, “Politico‘s Jonathan Allen published a piece that epitomizes this genre today. The article, “The center crumbles,” laments that “Congress can’t find the middle ground because no one’s willing and able to stand there anymore.”

For some like Snowe, the question is, why bother? The prospect of running hard to win another term — particularly a six-year Senate term — is less and less attractive for folks who came to Washington to make things happen only to find out there’s no common ground to get things done, only partisan point-scoring that leads to paralyzed politics.”

Some years ago when I was making the film In Debt We Trust, I spent a long night in Congress waiting to interview Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee who was then speaking on the floor against Republican demands that the United States seal both our Southern and Northern borders with a fence or East Berlin-like high wall to stop illegal immigrants.

She very calmly challenged the idea with facts and figures that seemed very rational and to the point.

But when the vote came, all of the Republicans were looking down at their blackberries where they were being instructed on how to vote by their leadership.

Despite some agreement in the debate with her some of her points, the GOP voted as a block, no deviations! That was before the Tea Party fanatics moved in and frequently rejected the advice of their whips because it was not obstructionist enough.

That was Breitbart’s ideas in action. The LA Times praised him for turning media manipulation into an art:

“Breitbart was a revolutionary eager to overthrow a media establishment that he viewed as a front for left-wing social causes. Always brimming with righteous indignation — before he died, his final tweet offered an explanation for why he’d called an adversary a “putz” — he had contempt for anything that smacked of liberal do-gooderism or hypocrisy.”

In his last known conversation in an LA bar he blamed liberals for forcing the GOP to debate social issues so they could challenge them.  To him like generations of anti communists before him, there was always a liberal (his version of communist) under every bed.

Noted writer Patrick Goldstein, “Breitbart would’ve been a marginal figure if he had simply been a media gadfly. His genius was rooted in the realization that in the new media universe, being outrageous often gets far more attention than being authoritative. After Ted Kennedy died in 2009, when everyone else was lionizing the great liberal crusader, Breitbart ripped him as a “duplicitous bastard” He also called him a “prick” and “a special pile of “human excrement”

Personally, he went from a liberal family to join a reactionary community. He helped found Huffington Post. Appearances on Bill Maher’s shows and Fox News programs helped build his national celebrity even as he co-wrote a book criticizing the celebrity culture that propelled him into national visibility.

Many on the left lacked his sophistication and were unprepared to respond to his attacks. Organizations like ACORN, known for grass roots organizing and voter registration, were destroyed by Breibart’s  calculated shock tactics, partly because his undercover gang with video cameras understood its vulnerabilities and played on its naiveté. Rather than defending them, many Democrats rushed to distance themselves and in the process defunding an important organizing force.

He was less effective in his campaign against Occupy Wall Street but what he lacked in invective, local police forces more than made up for with spying, surveillance and physical attacks on Occupy.  He was a cheerleader for this repressive response.

He did seem to have some loose screws, according to Wikipedia, “ At the Conservative Political Action Conference convention in Washington, D.C., on February 10, 2012, a belligerent Breitbart was captured walking with a glass of wine, screaming a diatribe at protesters, including repeatedly calling them “filthy freaks” and “murderers,” demanding that they “stop raping the people.” He was restrained by convention hotel security, resisting as they physically pushed him away from the demonstration.”

He wanted his enemies to hate him, and, no surprise, many reciprocated in kind.

“Wikipedia also noted, “Breitbart often appeared as a speaker at Tea Party movement events across the U.S. For example, Breitbart was a keynote speaker at the first National Tea Party Convention at Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville on February 6, 2010.

Whats the lesson for the left?

No one would suggest emulating his deliberately deceptive methods but perhaps, his example argues that the activists he sought to destroy need more audacity, more discipline and  more cleverness in exposing right-wing media with better alliances and  collaborations. They need to create mutually supportive echo chambers that go on the offense as opposed to just reacting to attack.

They also need to try to seize the national stage, not shrink from it for fear of being co-opted.

Olympia Snow deserves our respect for taking the stand she did. Andrew Breitbart didn’t deserve to die at age 43, but, who besides acolytes and his own ditto heads including many haters, will really honor his legacy?

He was a one-man attack machine, not above invading press conferences to flay his “enemies.” The media reaction was probably more respectful than he deserved, but many on the left couldn’t contain their joy at his passing. That prompted Jesse Jackson’s daughter to get upset because he had a family with children Members of the staffs of his Big Government and Big Media blogs spoke of him like a Saint.

DXM writes: Forget his outing of New York City Congressman Anthony Weiner, no   matter what else Andrew Breitbart did, or why, Breitbart’s concerted   effort to destroy ACORN, no different than the right’s assault on   Planned Parenthood, was a socially irresponsible attack on   neighborhoods; working against the furtherance of community well   being and survival. That’s too much for one tombstone, so try   “chickenshit” instead.

With less than 24 hours to go before the vote, only Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe had confirmed that she would vote against the measure. … Snowe’s surprise declaration that she would be stepping down from her seat after three terms because of the ‘atmosphere of polarization and ‘my way or the highway’ ideologies’ served to crystallize the debate over the Blunt amendment.”

Russ Baker: Is Jeb Bush Waiting In The WIngs?
Undernews: Economy – not social issues – is what matters to voters

John Walker, Firedog Lake – Voters are telling pollsters that the election this year will be all about jobs and the economy. With the economy still in bad shape, the so called “social issues” such as marriage equality and abortion barely even register with voters.

The economy is the number one issue for voters, followed by unemployment. Social issues ranked as the least important of all the issues listed in the upcoming presidential election.

Fluent:  ‘Judge Who Sent Obama Email Asks for Review’

Occupy News

WSJ: Students March Across Brooklyn Bridge

Rev Billy comments: “I’ve been under the weather, flu and depression, etc. – but then raised to sunny optimism by my hair. Elvis impersonation is the surest route to resurrection, I say. The student debt scandals – fantastic work in California – roused me to the fulminating heights. Exorcised the debt from a group of students yesterday in Brooklyn. They rallied earlier a the Dept of Ed in Manhattan, then marched over the Brooklyn Bridge, glowing under the gray clouds, accompanied by far too many police, lights popping everywhere — Occupy Student Debts!”

Fox News: Professors Travel to Iran To Discuss Occupy

The editor of Iran’s Fars News Agency tells me: “I also met them. They are sociologists and they were speaking more about  the US in general then Wall Street.”

Catherine Watters did a short interview with me at a Union Square rally supporting Occupy. Watch.

Rolling Stone: Obama’s War On Pot

AP/Boston Globe: Despite Backlash, Banks Still Imposing Fees

AP: Big banks, facing declining revenues and a regulatory climate that leaves them fewer creative ways to make money, are quietly introducing or experimenting with fees that are sure to outrage customers.

Bank of America was shouted down by angry customers last fall when it tried to impose a $5 monthly fee for using a debit card. JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo backed off plans to impose their own fees.

But the major banks have imposed or are testing other fees.

David Lindorff on Those Hyped Unemployment Numbers

“The US stock market jumped up today on word that the number of new unemployment applications fell to the lowest level in four years. Sounds good, right? It’s meant to sound good, but if you look at the number, and if you think about what it really means, it’s not good news at all.
What the US Labor Department reported was that new unemployment claims filed for the week ended Feb. 24 totaled 351,000, which was slightly lower than the 353,000 new claims filed the prior week. “Slightly indeed! a better term for this 0.57% decline is “statistically insignificant!
The idea that such a “drop” in new claims would spark a jump in the Dow or the S&P shows how completely divorced from reality investors really are.”

Release: North Korean Defector To Testify Before Congress

WASHINGTON, DC -  North Korean defector Jinhye Jo will testify before Congress on Monday, March 5, about her experience of being repatriated from China — including torture and starvation — in the hopes of saving the lives of 31 North Korean refugees currently being held in China.

Jo has joined 150,000 people supporting an explosive campaign on Change.org to save the 31 refugees. North Korean activists say this petition represents the first time the international North Korean refugee community has used social media at this scale to connect with each other and speak out in solidarity with defectors.

Unions Plan To Re-enact March

AFL-CIO Launches New Website (Afl-Cio.org) and announces: This Sunday, AFL-CIO union members and allies will begin a five-day re-enactment of the historic 1965 Selma to Montgomery, Ala., civil rights march to focus attention on new attacks on voting rights, workers’ rights and more.

Media Under Assault

John Ribeiro,  ET Computer World: Pakistan plans system to filter and block websites

The move is the latest by Pakistan to curb Internet freedom ahead of elections in the country, say activists

IDG News Service – Pakistan has floated a request for proposal for a system to filter and block websites, some months after curbing the use of encryption on the Internet, and toying with the idea of filtering and blocking SMS (short message service) messages in the country.

With the country scheduled to hold elections in 2013, the Internet is likely to be a key casualty, said Shahzad Ahmad, country coordinator for Bytes for All, Pakistan, via email on Sunday. Bytes for All is a human rights organization focused on Internet freedom.

Still Blocked In Most of the USA, land of “free” media, but AlJazeera explands reach

EJC: A new deal for transponder capacity on the Eutelsat 7 West A satellite will allow Al Jazeera Network to extend its coverage across North West Africa to Morocco and Nigeria,

Golden Pen of Freedom

Anabel Hernandez, a Mexican journalist and writer known for her investigative reporting on corruption and the abuse of power in Mexican politics, has been awarded the 2012 Golden Pen of Freedom, the annual press freedom prize of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).

False Alarm At The Ditto House

FEMINAZI NEWS HEADLINE: The bomb squad swept through Rush Limbaugh’s Palm Beach home after his security team conveniently discovered a suspicious package on the scene.

☛ http://bit.ly/yNbX2q

Explanation From Iran’s Fars News Agency “its not like that Danny, it was a mistake by the translator not the news agency”

This was the story: “Iranians are overjoyed with the news that Asghar Farhadi’s film “A Separation” was awarded an Oscar for best foreign language film. Farhadi’s acceptance speech attracted even more attention after Fars News, a semi-official news agency added their own words to the transcript.”

Film In South Africa Compares Apartheid with Israeli Policies

The Tri-Continental Film Festival (www.tcff.org.za), IAW South Africa Team and BDS South Africa have secured permission to premiere the film, Roadmap to Apartheid (www.roadmaptoapartheid.org). The movie will be screened from 5 to 11 March at several South African universities, schools and community centers as one of the official 2012 Israeli Apartheid Week events (see below for schedule). ‘Roadmap to Apartheid’ is a full-feature film that explores the comparison between former South Africa and current Israel.

‘Roadmap to Apartheid’ involves some interesting personalities: Ana Nougeira (a South African woman) and Eron Davison (born in Israel but now living in USA) are the directors, and Alice Walker (the acclaimed author of, “The Color Purple”) is the narrator. T

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has seen the film, and commented: “Roadmap To Apartheid is very powerful and compelling, and the visuals of house demolitions are appalling.  Religion is repeatedly misused by politicians. One of the lessons of Jewish history is that God is always on the side of the oppressed.  Another is that those who dehumanize others, dehumanise themselves.”

Haiti: Business as Government: Capitalizing on Disaster in Post-Earthquake Haiti
By Deepa Panchang and Beverly Bell

NYTimes Carries Israel Propaganda Argument as Op-Ed Piece

Chirstina Tobin of Free & Equal on Iran:

The recent passage of the NDAA codified into law the disturbing notion that the United States should approach the entire world, including its own territory, as a battlefield. Our sprawling international military reach, our loose regard for national borders, and the fading of our own Constitutional rights continues, because our politicians claim that these steps away from our freedom are necessary to prevent future terrorist attacks…against our freedom!
But has this policy, the diplomatic equivalent of shooting first and asking questions later, really resulted in the lessening of violent Islamic extremism in the Middle East?”

Honoring Journalist Anthony Shadid:

Anthony Shadid’s Oklahoma City memorial service will be streamed live by the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication on Saturday, March 3 at 2 p.m. (Central Time). The stream can be viewed from our website at http://gaylord3.ou.edu/live.

Shadid, an Oklahoma City native, briefly attended the University of Oklahoma in the 1980’s before graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Shadid talked about his career and forthcoming memoir, House of Stone, with Matt Carney, a 2011 OU Professional Writing graduate. The interview will be featured in the March 2012 issue of World Literature Today which can be viewed online.

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