Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Why I Trust Oliver Stone over Bob Woodward

Quick! Trick question here: What is the fastest way to get a Beltway Goombah's ripe head to explode in front of you? Give up? Come on now, only ten seconds left! It's to inform the Goombah with a totally straight face that you trust Oliver Stone more than Bob Woodward, in terms of politics and recent history. As you do that you will behold the expression of the Goombah change before your eyes from stark disbelief to visible pain. "STONE! AWWW NOOOO! EGAD MAN! WHAT'RE YOU ON!"

Actually, reality....that's what I'm on, as opposed to the D.C. bubble fodder fed incessantly to pinheads in the Beltway! Much of it by 35+ year Über hack Bob Woodward,  who is treated like some kind of prescient Guru or Washington Wizard with powers beyond those of Harry Potter, Spiderman and Superman combined. Why any President would kowtow to this numskull is beyond me, as he's devolved into a total sellout hack unlike his other Watergate half, Carl Bernstein. Bernstein has at least done yeoman, serious journalistic work, worth reading as opposed to using for emergency firewood.

As documented by Kathryn Olmstead: 1996,Challenging the Secret Government: The Post-Watergate Investigations of the CIA and FBI,  1996, Univ. of North Carolina Press, who notes that Watergate investigative reporter Carl Bernstein found (p. 21) " that the total number of U.S. journalists who worked for the CIA was actually much higher. In a controversial article in 'Rolling Stone', Bernstein showed that more than 400 American journalists secretly carried out assignments for the CIA from the early 1950's to the mid-1970's. The 'New York Times' alone, Bernstein insisted, provided cover for ten CIA officers from 1950 to 1966."

Is that not MUCH more substantive, of vastly more need -to know import than presidential "atmospherics" or  how Bush teased his dog Barney, or the so-called goings on and gossip at presidential confabs? So why is it that Carl Bernstein's work (like Oliver Stone's) is apt to set off  apoplectic reactions but not Woodward's? Curtis White, author of The Middle Mind offers a clue (p. 12):

"We have the lovely pretense of serious inquiry: no one gets hurt and no one has to worry that something undesirable might come of it. Like a demand for real thought. We are free to say anything we like so long as what we say does not suggest...that the ruling order has no right to rule"

Well, I think he hit pay dirt, or at least close to the truth! Thus, those like Bernstein and Stone have in their work (in Stone's case, the new Showtime series, 'The Untold History of the United States') exposed the ruling order's hands, while those Neoliberal propagandizers like Woodward (And Fareed Zakaria, Tom Hanks etc.)  are there to protect the ruling order. The Overclass or ruling order are protected from any historical content challenges as well as economic incursions (hence the yen for the once FDR Dems to now give the Repukes the Chained CPI) and to protect them from any serious investigative inquiries into the reasons for their power, or political assassinations - which we are expected to believe are all accomplished by "lone nuts".

And woe betide your sorry ass if you don't 100% buy into the PR spun by these Neolib protectors of the establishment! You are then deemed a "crazy", a "whacko", a "conspiracy nut, a "commie", a "terrorist" or worse. All because you are truly invested in deep politics, have done decades of research on your own - without being spoon fed - and are prepared to think for yourself.  The extent of much of the U.S. Media -Corporate PR industry I laid bare in a series of blogs in January, 2010, e.g.

And what about Stone? In the second instalment of the blog series referenced above I noted the WaPo spinoff mag NEWSWEEK, in its Dec. 23, 1991 cover - for example- fairly screamed: The Twisted Truth of 'JFK': Why Oliver Stone's Film Can't Be Trusted'  

The actual article, bordering on the hysterical and penned by a Kenneth Auchincloss, lambasted Stone for attempting to "recreate history", and concluded that anything which does , "distorts history".  Now, this is intriguing because it's very close to what the assorted mainstream corporate media critics have written concerning Stone's new Showtime series. My question here is: Why the need to go almost ballistic? Are you so insecure with your own version of history you're unable to tolerate any challenge?

At one point Auchincloss asks: "Was it true that Kennedy was planning a pullout from Vietnam?" - the answer given so definitively by Auchincloss presumed that in no way was this the case.  

However, just six years later, with the benefit of Freedom of Information Act released files (thanks to Stone's film 'JFK' by the way), The Baltimore Sun featured this story: Declassified Documents Hint at Plan to Bring Troops Home in 1965, (Dec. 23, 1997, p. 3A). A subsequent book by Lt. Fletcher Prouty, 'JFK and Vietnam', disclosed this was not merely a "hint" but an actual, hands-on plan to remove all personnel by the issuance of National Action Security Memorandum 263. Hence, it was clear that Stone was spot -on correct in his prescient selection of at least one motive for the assassins.  Egg on the face? All over Auchinchloss!

Many in the Beltway- New York Media axis still harbor a grudge at Stone for his movie 'JFK'. They hysterically assert he "defiled history", "lied about the assassination" and "misled moviegovers" - much like the flak Stone is catching now for his Untold History. But is it true? I have at least three Stone interviews on video tape from 1991, including one on CNN's then 'Larry King Show' in which Stone clearly states - for the record and anyone paying attention- that the film was never intended to be a faithful historical reproduction but "a countermyth to the myth of the Warren Commission". And believe me, friends, by postulating 7 wounds in two men made by one bullet and it ending up near pristine on a Parkland stretcher, the Warren Commission is indeed a myth! So why the hell make such a big deal if Stone portrays a counter myth showing multiple interests, assassins? Why such a big deal? Because it's on film? Grow up already! But again, it discloses the infantile level to which our media have devolved that they feel it incumbent on them - as big daddies - to protect us from Oliver Stone's "Theories".

Then there's the other canard that Stone's film was befouled because he relied overly much for his source material on Jim Garrison and his trial of Clay Shaw. No one, not any critic I've met, has ever done the necessary background reading that showed in fact that Garrison's case was upended by the judge (Haggerty) who peremptorily excluded any mention or use of Clay Shaw's alias "Clay Bertrand". This is crucial since without it, Garrison couldn't make his case that Shaw was working for the CIA and had a  supportive role in the hit.

Years later, with release of files under the JFK Records Act, it would become evident that Shaw was indeed a CIA Contract Agent. As CIA Doc. (JFK 1993: notes:

"A memorandum marked for files says that J. Monroe Sullivan, #280201, was granted a covert security approval as of 10 December 1962 so he could be used in Project QKCHANT [Clay L. Shaw has #402897]"

And "Clay Bertrand" was tied to this Project ID.

And what of Bob Woodward? The guy at the time of Watergate (ca. 1973) was actually a real reporter, and had the yen to challenge the power order, as he did Nixon's White House, along with Carl Bernstein. Had it not been for their first class detective work and fearless journalism,  Nixon's nefarious plans might never have been exposed. However, since the assorted Washington Post buyouts, and executive changes, especially after Phil Graham took control, Woodward became more and more a sellout, mainly to the meme of Presidential Neoliberalism, pushing it - while making loads of money with his assorted books (the latest 'The Price of Politics' on Obama .)

So why waste time and reap few rewards and little money, like a real reporter - say of the Carl Bernstein mold- when you could make thousands of times more with goofy, PR pabulum in a sequence of well-received  "President" books?  Especially when you posture and pose as an "insider" and imply all informed and educated people will take you seriously. (Because this D.C. wannabe "insider" lot mainly doesn't know any better!)

A case in point is Woodward's latest book, ‘The Price of Politics’ , in which Woodward blames Obama for failing to be "presidential enough" for failing to finally solve what all true people in the know understand is the REAL, REAL problem:

"Unsustainable entitlement spending on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security as highlighted by Republican House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan and familiar to all informed politicians and economists....has been left largely unaddressed."

This is critical because we see the sure signs of Neoliberal hackism all over the remark (See also my blog on Fareed Zakaria earlier). The problem for us, the average citizens, is presidents tend for whatever reason to take this hack's books on them seriously. Is Obama doing so? Well, since Woodward makes such a big deal out of the "Grand Bargain" one could argue that Obama has been caught in the trap. Last I read he appears prepared to give away the store by giving Boehner and the 'pukes the horrific "chained CPI" to cut Social Security via the back door in return for tax increases only on income above $400,000. As Bernie Sanders put it yesterday on the Ed Schulz show, this is a travesty since the revenue won't be enough and there are much better ways to deal with Social Security like raising the payroll tax cap.

But is Woodward merely echoing what the Beltway jerks want to hear, or is he being original with this "entitlement hysteria"? The true fact is that he's likely merely echoing the Neoliberal palaver which has been spouted by BOTH parties since the 1980s. The Dems, make no mistake, are as bad as the repukes.  Some perspective on this is provided by Robert McChesney in his excellent book, ‘The Problem of the Media’, Monthly Review Press, 2004, p. 49:

"With the election of Ronald Reagan, the neoliberal movement had commenced. Neoliberal ideology became hegemonic not only among Republicans but also in the Democratic Party of Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and Joseph Liebermann. Differences remained on timing and specifics, but on core issues both parties agreed that business was the rightful ruler over society.

It was a return to the 1920s - if not the Gilded Age of the late nineteenth century. Few industries seized the neoliberal high ground as firmly as the media and communications industries."

  Thus, Woodward's shtick is not original but one must admit that he IS a very powerful voice for the Neoliberal "cut the fuckin' entitlements" idiom, because so many take his word seriously, almost as seriously as fundies take their biblical inerrancy. That both parties have fallen into this pervasive trap is also no surprise, since both parties get the bulk of their funding from corporate sources whose interests are served by going after social insurance. These assholes don't give a flying fuck about any election results or "mandates", they want the rich - including all their investors, to keep getting the major benefits of society's wealth because they believe in their little hearts they are the "producers". Short of a people's action, as advocated incidentally in 'The Declaration of Independence' (to forge "new government whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends") nothing will change that. Voters will keep getting shafted year after year after year.

This is why we need now more than ever courageous voices like Oliver Stone's (in his 'Untold History of the United States')  to remind us just how badly we've been shit on in the real history of the country (see also 'A People's History of the United States' by Howard Zinn), not the vanilla  PR substitute junk fed our kids in high schools - which is why most hate history, as they rightfully should. Hell, I'd hate history if I was in a high school class today being taught the far out American exceptionalist bullshit that these kids are. No hint of conflicts, of contradictions, of plots. Do these kids even know about the Haymarket riot in Chicago, or the Bonus Army confrontation in 1932? No, wait, they're probably still also taught that Lee Oswald killed JFK in 1963! No wonder Americans are so pathetically and profoundly clueless on their own history. They ape and eat the crappola fed them by the propagandizers.

My best advice to any H.S. kid reading this: Put down your U.S. history text and get hold of Zinn's text, and try to watch Stone's Untold History of the United States! Your brain may yet be salvaged! More importantly you may then actually aspire to be a REAL CITIZEN as opposed to a mere "consumer" and PR puppet.

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