AN unREASONABLE MAN, directed by Henriette Mantel

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Re: AN unREASONABLE MAN, directed by Henriette Mantel

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American Jews and Israel
Dissent, Spring, 2011
TODD GITLIN

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In the world I was born into, Israel was an emotion wrapped in an idea. Simply by existing, the Jewish state was a portal to deliverance, and since I had been carried through that portal at birth, so to speak, a sense of deliverance was my default emotion. I was a war baby, which is to say, born at a moment when the Jews of Europe (including many relatives, though none close) were being slaughtered, and from then on, back to the earliest time when I can remember any awareness of a larger world, raised in the knowledge that I belonged to a people devastated “in the war,” as my grandmother used to say, the horrors not yet having been designated with that wrongly sacralized one-word name “Holocaust.” But, as in the ancient redemptions, the founding of storybook Israel was the lyrical restart moment; the happiest possible ending (or beginning of an ending) to the grimmest possible story.

Today, the state of Israel feels to me like a personal trauma, a huge, heartbreaking disappointment, a world-historical opportunity forgone, a danger to the Jews, a burden—and also a nation to which, like it or not, I am fastened, where people I love and admire carry on an immensely, grievously difficult struggle for decency against tall odds.

Now, truly it is peculiar, even perverse, to speak of being disappointed, or traumatized, by a state. States are social contrivances.

However motivated by ideas, they are not those ideas in themselves, because ideas are incarnated in action, and action is tragic. Certainly states are not paradises, not centers of brotherly and sisterly love. They are systems of power, which means that there are winners and losers. They operate within what social scientists are pleased to call constraints: they are not free. They are institutional; that is, human; that is, fallible. It seems hopelessly romantic, a category error, to feel disappointment in a state or grief and outrage about what it has come to. You’d have to be mightily illusioned in the first place to feel disillusioned. A hard-headed realist would say that any preexisting condition of innocence is begging to be smashed.

And yet, the state of Israel was produced by hearts as well as minds and sustained by both, in particular the hearts of Jews like myself, whose Russian-born grandfather volunteered for the British Army’s Jewish Legion against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. (I cherish a photo of him, taken God knows where, posing in short sleeves and short pants, with two buddies, against a backdrop depicting some generic sort of wilderness.) The portrait of Chaim Weizmann that hung in his living room was a fixture in my mental iconography, too, with Weizmann cast as a liberator and Zionism, his cause, a taken-for-granted, unproblematic good. When I sang “Ha-Tikvah” during my four years in Hebrew school, lumbering among imperfectly memorized and not-much-understood words, the national anthem swept me to devotion, longing, and relief. “Ha-Tikvah” was, to me, far more vivid and rapturous than “The StarSpangled Banner.”

BROWN SHIRTS IN ZION: JABOTINSKY -- THE JEWISH HITLER
by Robert Gessner
February 19, 1935
The New Masses

The Zionist movement is a Jewish Nationalist movement aiming at the establishment of a "Jewish National Home in Palestine." It dates back to the eighties when as a result of a wave of pogroms in old Russia a movement known as the "Lovers of Zion" was established. Political Zionism, however, as it is represented by the present World Zionist Organization, dates back to 1897 when the first Zionist World congress took place in Basle, Switzerland, dominated and led by Dr. Theodore Herzl, a noted Austrian journalist. Dr. Herzl and his followers as late as 1914 were still striving to obtain a "charter" for Palestine from the Turkish Sultan. For this purpose Dr. Herzl sought the aid of the ambassadors and cabinet members of the various rulers of pre-war Europe, the Czar, the Kaiser, etc. A Jewish National Bank was established in order to "buy" Palestine from the Turkish Sultan.

Zionist diplomacy went on the rocks with the birth of the Young Turkey movement in 1908 and with the overthrow of the Sultan in 1910. It was only during the World War, when the British government issued the Balfour proclamation proclaiming Palestine a Jewish National Home in order to win the Jewish masses to the Allies' side that the Zionist movement obtained a new lease on life. The British government, however, generously promised Palestine to the Arabs as well. As a means of drawing in the Arab masses in its war against Turkey, England assured the Arabs that Palestine would be part of a United Arabistan.

This double dealing has had its consequences in a number of racial outbreaks in Palestine. The British government, which still holds the League of Nations mandate over Palestine, is seeking to retain the balance of power and to appear as the "protector" now of the Arabs, now of the Jews. It has been claimed by the Zionists that the outbreaks of August, 1929, when numerous Jews and Arabs were killed, were to a great extent fomented by British agents. The League of Nations recently made a blunt declaration that Palestine will never become a Jewish National Home under the mandate.

A section of the Zionist movement -- the Revisionists -- led by Vladimir Jabotinsky has been accusing the parent Zionist body of playing England's game in Palestine instead of realizing the Herzl objective: the establishment of a Jewish State. The Revisionists have been urging defiance of Great Britain. They aim to secure this Jewish State by force, through organizing the Jewish youth into fascist bands. Jabotinsky recently arrived in the United States in order to gain a favorable hearing for the Revisionist program.

The Jewish members of the revolutionary movement have always fought Zionism as detrimental to the interests of the Jewish masses. A number of their reasons may be formulated as follows:

Zionism is a tool of British imperialism which needs Palestine for its own purposes;

Zionism is dispossessing the Arab peasants and is conducting a colonization by conquest with the aid of British bayonets;

No nation can solve its problems by emigrating to another country, even if Palestine were not so small and so thickly populated;

Zionism draws away the attention of the Jewish masses from the problems of the countries where they live;

Zionism separates them from the masses of other nationalities;

As a chauvinist movement it is a breeding ground for fascism. -- THE EDITORS.

***

HE WAS an ordinary Brown Shirter. Sitting in a cafe in Berlin I asked him, "Why don't you allow the Jews to participate in this reconstruction of the Fatherland?" His ordinary face showed a slight disgust at the naivete of my question. "Jews," he said, "are not Germans. Let them build up their own fatherland."

This is what 300,000 of them are attempting to do today in Palestine. Zionism is the nationalist movement of the Jews. A few have gone to await the second coming of Moses; they may be called Religious Zionists. Many have gone to make money at orange-growing or apartment-house-building; they are Capitalist Zionists. Others have gone to live communally on farms; they are Socialist Zionists, and since these are the Socialist Nationalists of the Zionist Movement they may be partially described as Pink Nazis. The Nationalist Socialists on the other hand are the Revisionists, or the Brown Nazis of Palestine. They believe in the Jewish State 100 percent, with their own Jewish army and even, I might add, a Jewish navy on the Dead Sea! The Fuehrer of the Brown Nazis in Palestine is Vladimir Jabotinsky.

Jabotinsky was born in Eastern Europe, where, it is said, "we have always for the past fifty years thought in terms of nationalism." The Zionist movement had its first following among Eastern European Jews, and today they remain the strongest adherents to the nationalist creed of Zionism. Jabotinsky was a member of Allenby's Jewish Legions that marched into Jerusalem after the departure of the Turks. Today the young, stern-faced legionnaires of Jabotinsky march through the streets and wear shirts, like their nordic brothers in Germany. In Poland I had seen them marching through the streets (side streets in the ghettoes) singing "Poland for Pilsudski, Germany for Hitler. Palestine for Jews --"

From the halo that his young legionnaires had painted about his head I had imagined Jabotinsky to be tall, angular, a Russian giant. From his oratorical reputation I had expected long, expressive hands. Upon returning to America after seven months of observing Jews in Europe, Asia and Africa I heard that Jabotinsky was on board the liner, en route to America for a lecture tour. I climbed to the first class for an interview.

Jabotinsky is no Kerensky. He is a short, squatty, unattractive man. He has large, dark eyes, a snub nose, enormous lips with the lower one protruding and a jaw that acts like the lower lip. His face slants outward, like the Neanderthal Man's.

Image
Vladimir Jabotinsky


He announced he would speak frankly, so that Revisionism would be made clear. The skin under his eyes contracted, his lower lip went out, the jaw stiffened. "Revisionism," he began, "is naive, brutal and primitive. It is savage. You go out into the street and pick any man -- a Chinaman -- and ask him what he wants and he will say 100 percent everything. That's us. We want a Jewish Empire. Just like there is the Italian or French Empires on the Mediterranean, we want a Jewish Empire."

When I inquired into the method of securing this Jewish Empire his voice became hard and determined. "We will take no no for an answer. In your universities in America you teach that a gentleman accepts no for an answer. Well, we don't."

Jabotinsky's idea is to keep asking the English to allow him to have a Jewish Empire until the English are so groggy from saying no that in a semi-conscious condition they will feebly nod their heads in consent. This logic is based upon the belief that English diplomacy is flighty, that is, saying no to everything and then coming around to yes when they have admitted their error.

"After you've gotten the Jewish Empire," I continued, "what is it to be?"

"Palestine is to be the homeland for ten or twelve million Jews."

Palestine is, incidentally, a two-by-four country, two hours wide and four hours long by auto. The 900,000 Arabs have been long complaining, and official England is agreeing, that the 300,000 Jews are making life an unbearable sardine box. Land values have skyrocketed overnight. Dunams, which are about one-fourth of an acre, have already sold for as high as $5,000. Into this sardine box Jabotinsky means to stuff ten or twelve millions Jews. I asked what about the sixteen million in all the world. He answered that in the remaining four million he was frankly not interested! A Jewish Empire of ten or twelve million suited him.

Jabotinsky's empire, like all other empires, has territorial desires. Jabotinsky's opposition to the Jewish Agency, which is the administrative office of the World Zionist Organization, crystalized into the founding of the Revisionist Party over the question of Transjordania. Following the Arab riots of 1920 and 1921 against Jewish colonization, Winston Churchill, then Secretary for the Colonies, wrote one of those famous White papers. To appease the Arabs he divorced Transjordania from Palestine and set it up as a mandatory territory by itself with its own parliament and ruler. The Jewish Agency acquiesced to this bill of divorcement. Jabotinsky, at that time an executive member in good standing in the Agency, refused to stomach this "betrayal" of his compatriots, and consequently launched himself against Dr. Chaim Weizmann, Ben Gurion and the other Agency Judases.

Revisionism is not the proper title for his party, the Fuehrer believes. He explained that the question of a name came up at the hurried last session of his first world congress, when it was decided the last minute to call themselves revisionists because they were for a revision. But personally he believes the title should have been the Jewish State Party. I suggested Fundamental Zionists.

"Yes, we are the pure Zionists," he answered. "We go back to the first Zionists. Herzl was a Revisionist. He believed in the Jewish State."

The German Fuehrer, to establish ancestral purity for his party, called Christ a nordic!

The Jewish Fuehrer believes that since the the time of Herzl, the nineteenth-century inventor of Zionism and the First Revisionist, there have been compromises, with the result that the goal has not been attained. "But I will make no compromises," he said. "I believe in the upbuilding of the Jewish State at any cost. If we must invest three or four generations in this upbuilding then that must be done."

"But in the capitalist economy, which as you know is the basic and ruling economy of Palestine," I asked, "which class of this three or four generations is going to be sacrificed in the upbuilding of a bourgeois society?"

"It will be the workers," he admitted. "But if the Jews accept going to Palestine in the first place, then they must expect to starve, be ready to starve for the sake of the Jewish State. There must be no strikes, because strikes are monkey-wrenches thrown into the machinery reconstructing the Jewish State."

Having heard Jabotinsky's plan to control labor, I asked about the sacrifices of capital for the sake of the fatherland.

"Oh," he said, "capital and labor must suffer alike." He said this so glibly.

On this point the Jewish Fuehrer agrees with the Italian Fuehrer. This cardinal point of Jabotinsky's Corporate Jewish State was recently accepted by the Jewish Labor Party. Those "Pink Nazis," known as the Histadrut or the Jewish Federation of Labor, signed an agreement with Jabotinsky. Histadrut, which has a monopoly of control over 80 percent of all Jewish workers in Palestine, is run by its majority party, the MAPEI or Socialist Zionist Party, which is affiliated with the Second International. The Revisionists are not members of the Jewish Federation of Labor, which numbers 60,000 workers; the Revisionists have about 1,000, who are in great demand by employers, having been forbidden to strike by their Fuehrer. The Revisionists break up strikes inaugurated by Histadrut workers; there is no love lost or found between the factions. The Revisionist youth learn their strike-breaking tactics in semi-military camps, often located beside a Histadrut agricultural commune.

"I do not know why Ben Gurion [leader of MAPEI] signed the agreement," Jabotinsky answered my question. "But to me it was a great advantage, because we are weak and a minority. The Labor Party by warfare could limit us, refuse us entry certificates for our immigrants [The Palestine Government controls Jewish labor immigration by issuing limited entry certificates to the Jewish Agency for distribution]. But the Labor Party has agreed to our principle of obligatory arbitration in questions of pending strikes."

Many of the young workers in Histadrut are disgruntled with this Ben Gurion peace treaty, claiming that he sold out just when they had the Revisionists licked. Undoubtedly the Brown Nazis have been given a new lease on life by the Socialist-Zionists, just as they were given a new lease time and again by the Social Democrats in Germany. It must be remembered that MAPEI is affiliated with the Second International.

Is Jabotinsky grateful for his reprieve? "But," added the Fuehrer, "there can be no coordination between us."

Jabotinsky believes the socialist ideology unacceptable for Palestine. The "communist" colonies are "interesting but too expensive," and are "too small and scattered to have any consequence on the economic structure of Palestine." He pointed out that of the 60 odd million pounds that have been invested in Palestine only eight million have been National Fund money. Private factories, not agricultural "communist" colonies, will allow more workmen to enter and find employment. Consequently, he believes in the system already in action, namely, capitalism.

While in Tel Aviv I called on Jabotinsky's first lieutenant, Ben Horin, for an explanation of the tenets of Revisionism, since his Fuehrer was at that time not allowed to reside in the embryo Jewish State by the dictators of the more mature Empire of Britain. Ben Horin, who runs a news agency and who may be described as the Goebbels of the movement, was even more outspoken than his Fuehrer on capitalism for Palestine. "The capitalist is always in the right," he said, "because he creates jobs for Jews."

The divine right of kings had nothing on the divine right of capitalists in Palestine, because they are, ipso facto, ordained by Moses to prepare the earth for the Second Coming of the Messiah!

"The exploitation of labor," said Ben Horin, "is approved by the principle that it is aiding the establishment of the Jewish State. It is not a question of the standard of living of the Jews in the Jewish State, but of the number of Jews in the State."

The anti-labor ideology of the Revisionists stems from their common hatred of Communism. Most of them left Russia for Palestine during the years of and immediately following the Civil War.

In answer to my question of how he planned to assist the establishment of capitalism in Palestine Jabotinsky outlined his plan. First, to demand of the British tariffs to protect industry. [Palestine is a mandated country free of tariffs although certain duties of a 12 percent level have been levied.] Secondly, to demand a geological survey of waste lands to see what minerals are there for exploitation. Thirdly, to have the Palestine Government control all land settlement, instead of the Zionist Agency.

Of the practical economic future the Fuehrer was frankly stumped. "If the robot comes to Palestine we are finished. The robot will make the proletarians an obsolete class."

"The robot?" I repeated, getting very concerned about this liquidation of the proletariat. "What do you mean?"

"Technocracy, the American brand," he replied.

"Oh," I sighed, relieved. The Palestine proletariat were still safe.

"If technocracy comes to Palestine we are finished, but I do not mention any of that when I make propaganda in my speeches. I am concerned only with the Jewish State."

The American audiences of Jabotinsky will be spared a discussion on technocracy, but will not be barred from hearing the fascist refrain, the magic cure-all: the Jewish State.

"Where do 900,000 Arabs fit into the Jewish State?" I asked.

"In the colonization of any country," the Fuehrer said sadly, "the native has always suffered. There can be no Arab state if there is to be a Jewish State. In the Jewish State we would guarantee them the same rights Jews are guaranteed in other states."

A novel idea. The Arabs under the Jewish State are to be held hostages for all the remaining Jews in the Diaspora, the four million that Jabotinsky is frankly not interested in!

The Fuehrer believes there can be no compromises on the Arab question. "The dickering of Dr. Weizmann and Ben Horin is futile," he said. "You can't buy off the Arab with backshish [an Arab word meaning a tip.] The Arab can understand reason only when we have enough armed Jewish youths to lick him."

After disposing of the Arabs as so many American Indians Jabotinsky attacked the English as idiotic. Inasmuch as they are too dumb to protect the Jews Jabotinsky proposes to do it himself. "If Palestine can be settled peacefully -- all right," he said, "but I say let there be Jewish legions in the British Army in Palestine. I will supply the men and arms."

Jabotinsky was quick to add that he was not anti-British. In all the years previous Jabotinsky has been notorious for his belligerent, uncompromising attack on England. Now he talks like any other diplomat. "We have the same point of view as Britain, even if she doesn't know it. It is best for her to have a highly organized, cultural society, obligated to her because of having received its national opportunity from her, residing on the borders of the Suez Canal."

I reminded the Fuehrer that Palestine does not border the Suez Canal, but that the Canal is in an Arab national territory, Egypt. The Fuehrer made a gesture which was meant to sweep away boundary lines. Having disposed of the south I asked him next how would the expansion of a Jewish State in the north not come into conflict with England's oil pipeline.

"Ah, Haifa," the Fuehrer began, "will be the largest port on the Mediterranean. There will be a new breakwater from Haifa to Acre -- it will make a harbor as large as the Solent." In his enthusiasm he pictured a new Jewish harbor destined to make shadows of Alexandria, Gibraltar, Marseilles, Genoa, Trieste, Venice, Naples and even Constantinople.

Jabotinsky considers his Jewish State the sole protector of Britain's highway to her imperial interests in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. England has no land on the Mediterranean, he speculates, except Gibraltar, which will recede to the Spanish; and the island of Cyprus, which he claims England offered to give back to the Greeks after the war but they won't take it. In his new role of diplomat Jabotinsky forgets that there was a revolt in Cyprus to return to Greece, which the British suppressed; and he also forgets the existence of the naval station at Malta, and that the British have soldiers and airplanes already stationed along the oil line, and in Egypt are quartered 11,000 Tommies, almost as many as the whole Egyptian army. Under the pretense of being England's Mediterranean watchdog Jabotinsky dreams of a Jewish Empire expanding into Egypt to take over the Suez Canal and expanding into Iraq in order to protect the highly valuable oil line.

Jabotinsky's underhand ideology for achieving his goal is no recent tactic. His hatred of the Bolsheviki drove him in 1921 to sign a pact of military co-operation with the White Guard, Ukrainian Nationalist and notorious pogrom-maker, Petlura. Jabotinsky told me that he "would be as proud today as I was then to sign such an agreement."

The Fuehrer of the Jewish Brown Shirt Legions explained his signature as follows:

Petlura had in 1921 15,000 soldiers in a Polish camp waiting for French support in order to attack Soviet Ukraine. Slavinsky, Petlura's foreign minister, called on Jabotinsky who was in Prague at that time. "No more proclamations," Jabotinsky told him. "I or no one else will believe them. There must be some action, not words." To protect the Ukrainian Jews Jabotinsky proposed to organize and arm a Jewish gendarmerie to follow in the rear of Petlura's army and after a Jewish town has been captured protect its population from pogroms.

I pointed out that it had been Petlura himself who had conducted the bloody pogroms on all of his expeditions into the Ukraine. "No," the Fuehrer disagreed, "I don't believe Petlura himself was anti-semitic. He came from a healthy, peasant stock. It was his soldiers who got out of control."

Jabotinsky was and is today proud of having signed a co-operative pact with a general who he admitted had no control over his own pogrom-rioters, while on the other hand the Jewish villages, that he purported to be the protector of, were at that time under the Bolsheviki who had already guaranteed and protected Jewish lives and property. At that time the Bolsheviki had been victorious on all the invaded fronts and had even signed a peace treaty with England. Stability was recognized when France in the same year withdrew her support of Petlura. Why then didn't Jabotinsky in his desire to safeguard the Jews support the Bolshevik Government at a time when it stood in the least possibility of being overthrown? Instead he signed a co-operative pact with a non-existing government, the Ukrainian Nationalists, the leader of which was in Poland, not in the Ukraine. Jabotinsky obviously was more interested in overthrowing the Bolsheviki than in protecting Jews. In fact his plan meant the sacrifice of Jews. Can anyone imagine a Jewish gendarmerie following in the rear and not being drawn into battle, or not being forced to do so by Petlura's uncontrolled bandits? Or can anyone imagine Petlura's pogrom-seasoned brigands being refused their prey by a handful of inexperienced Jewish youths, who had been placidly observing them while they drove off the defenders of the village?

Jabotinsky, because he said he would sign a similar pact today and be proud of it, is more interested in overthrowing the Soviet Government than in protecting Jews. In answer to my question he said he was not interested in whether anti-semitism has been abolished in the Soviet Union. Nor was he interested in the Jewish colonies in Russia. He counts out -- for the present -- the two million Russian Jews [I corrected him in that they are really three million but he insisted on the two] because he doubts if the government is economically sound.

The Fuehrer of the Brown Shirted Legions of Judaism is in America because "Revisionism is the genuinest proletarian movement in the world in that it is the poorest." In America about one percent of the Jews are Zionists. What fraction of another one percent will donate money to the Jewish Hitler?

Image


Now, I read the Israeli news every day, oh boy, and most of it tears me apart. Since my most recent visit last October, I read it obsessively. I subscribe to newsletters that bring, almost every day, bad tidings. The government propaganda insults me. I am supposed to think that Israel is a worthy nation because it is superior to apartheid South Africa and that, because it has murderous enemies, it is deserving. As I sit down to write this melancholy reflection, I come upon this Reuters report based on WikiLeaks diplomatic cables just published in a Norwegian newspaper. Reuters cites an American diplomatic cable from November 3, 2008: “As part of their overall embargo plan against Gaza, Israeli officials have confirmed to [U.S. embassy economic officers] on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy on the brink of collapse without quite pushing it over the edge.” Israel wanted Gaza’s economy “functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis,” Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said, in January of that year, even as he delivered an empty promise not to keep out food for children, medicine, and fuel for essential institutions. And then he said this: “But there is no justification for demanding we allow residents of Gaza to live normal lives while shells and rockets are fired from their streets and courtyards” into southern Israel.

There is no justification for demanding we allow…normal lives… This is the reasoning of terrorists. I cannot read the words without reflecting on the normal-looking Jerusalem streets I saw in October, filled with normal-looking women pushing normal-looking children in strollers, and normal-looking teenagers waiting for normal-looking buses at normal bus stops—while a few minutes away was occupied East Jerusalem, with all the dispossessions and incursions done by Israeli forces at the expense of residents who are very much not permitted to live normal lives. But, says the leadership of the Jewish state, not everybody is entitled to live normal lives.

I take it personally, being a Jew start to finish, which has meant different things for me at different points in my life, but always one or another kind of complicity. During the Six-Day War, in 1967, a new friend, the writer Richard M. Elman, wrote me that he was heading for Israel to volunteer as a soldier. I was mystified and wrote back to say so. What I said to him was that my passion, as an American radical, was to oppose the awful war for which my country was responsible. We were going to build Jerusalem in America’s not-so-green and not-altogether-pleasant land. It didn’t work out that way…certainly not in every respect. But I never doubted, during my youth in the New Left, that it was as a whole human being that I had signed up, very much including my Jewish soul.

Dick Elman felt something I didn’t feel at twenty-four: that an American Jew was obliged to the state of Israel. Love it, loathe it, feel proud of it or disgraced by it, join settlements or peacenik organizations, an American Jew qua Jew carries the weight of it. I came to that sense in my own way and time. In 1973, news that Egyptian forces had crossed the Suez Canal sent me in tears to a San Francisco shul I had never set foot in before, knowing acutely, desperately, that if the state of Israel was going to be destroyed, I wanted to receive the news among Jews. In 1975, driving in San Francisco, when I heard on the radio about the UN General Assembly passing the infamous “Zionism = racism” resolution, written in Orwellian duckspeak, I swore out loud my revulsion that in a world of nations, all of which are founded on mythic ideas with various downsides, one in particular should have been singled out for condemnation. I puffed myself up to declare that Israel wasn’t going to be destroyed: Over my dead body.

Well, the same applies today and for the foreseeable future. Friends don’t let friends destroy themselves if there’s the slightest thing they can do about it.

What should the relationship of American Jews be to the actually existing state of Israel? Doubly serious, doubly sober, doubly burdened, doubly insulted, doubly obliged. We are entangled in two states of emergency. The state of Israel is not the imagined promised land where the Jews are led by Paul Newman or where secure, rugged boys and girls plant trees purchased in the names of boys and girls like me, safely ensconced in the Bronx. It is America’s crazed doppelgänger, careering stupidly into a future that risks both countries and scourges both peoples. We shore it up, subsidize it, apologize for it, care wisely and unwisely about its fate, suffer for it and with it. No one can think that the self-destruction that the state of Israel courts in its myopia, clumsiness, and paranoia—and yes, paranoids have real enemies—takes place outside us.

I was struck by a talk Dissent’s founding editor Irving Howe gave in 1989, arguing that American Jews, their Judaism unserious, were going to wake up one day to discover that their sense of being Jewish was so wrapped up with a connection to Israel that as Israel became less supportable, so would their sense of being Jewish. I fear that the passage of two decades proves him more right than wrong.

It is as an American and a Jew, and an American Jew, that I rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Todd Gitlin has recently published The Chosen Peoples: America, Israel, and the Ordeals of Divine Election (with Liel Leibovitz) and the novel Undying. He teaches at Columbia University.
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Re: AN unREASONABLE MAN, directed by Henriette Mantel

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TODD GITLIN
by The Nation
7/26/15
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TODD GITLIN

Todd Gitlin, a professor of journalism and sociology, is chair of the PhD program in communications at Columbia. His new book, Occupy Nation: The Roots, the Spirit, and the Promise of Occupy Wall Street, is forthcoming in April from HarperCollins.

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Re: AN unREASONABLE MAN, directed by Henriette Mantel

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Morton Mintz covered the Supreme Court for The Washington Post from 1964 to 1965 and again from 1977 to 1980. He is a former chair of the Fund for
Investigative Journalism.

JUNE 19, 2007

Will McCain-Feingold Survive Another Court Test?

By a vote of 5 to 4, in December 2003, the Supreme Court upheld a major provision of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance act that prohibits corporations (and labor unions) from paying for ads that mention the name of a federal candidate, and that are broadcast 60 days before an election or 30 days before a primary.

That narrow ruling is now under challenge and could be overturned in the next few weeks, thanks to President Bush's appointments of John G. Roberts Jr. as Chief Justice and Samuel A. Alito Jr. as an Associate Justice.

The case involves Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc., which campaigned to prevent the re-election of Senator Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), by taking large sums of money from corporations to buy phony "issue" ads on radio and television. The ads attacked Feingold and Herb Kohl, the other Wisconsin Democrat in the Senate, for blocking Bush judicial nominees. Under the 2003 decision, such bogus ads were the "functional equivalent" of campaign ads and thus banned by the McCain-Feingold provision.

MORTON MINTZ

CORPORATIONS JANUARY 28, 2007

Will Congress Reform Wretched Executive Excess?

Outrage over excessive rewards for incompetent executives could spark the Democratic Congress to action.

MORTON MINTZ

CORPORATIONS MAY 31, 2006

Road to Perdition

A nearly forgotten criminal conspiracy by GM, Firestone and Chevron shut down the nation's municipal railways, replacing them with gas-guzzling bus lines, paving the way for global warming and for our energy crisis.

MORTON MINTZ

LAW NOVEMBER 1, 2005

Serious Questions for Samuel A. Alito Jr.

Questions for Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr.: What are the rights of an individual before the law? Are these rights any different from what Alito views as the rights of a corporation?

MORTON MINTZ

LAW OCTOBER 11, 2005

Ten Questions for Harriet Miers

Corporate power and money control our lives and our politics as never before. As the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares for Harriet Miers's nomination hearings, here are ten legal questions worth pondering about corporations, individuals and the law.

MORTON MINTZ
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Re: AN unREASONABLE MAN, directed by Henriette Mantel

Postby admin » Mon Jul 27, 2015 8:51 am

A critique of the press by a veteran reporter
By Morton Mintz
September 18, 2005
mintzm@earthlink.net

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In a talk [by Mintz on Sept. 13, 2005, to the Southeastern Sussex County Democratic Club at Bethany Beach, Del.] Morton Mintz describes what he calls six 'deep-seated, fundamental, and persisting press failings that have enormous impact on our people and our country.'

I came to speak as a journalist, not as a partisan, and that is what I will do.

Let me begin by describing two categories of critics of the mainstream press, as symbolized by, principally, the New York Times and the Washington Post.

One category consists of an army of dirty, rotten scoundrels and crazies. Most are agents of right-wing and Republican causes. For them, most of the time, freedom of the press is a license to agitprop; for their employers, it is a tool to maximize profits.

The scoundrels befoul the word "conservative." They exult without end in equating the word "liberal" with disloyalty, and sometimes treason; and in imputing "liberal bias" to mainstream news organizations—falsely—they sometimes, I suspect, intimidate them.

Their ultimate but unadmitted goal is, I fear, the destruction of nonpartisan journalism that speaks truth to power.

As you've doubtless noted, I've named none of the scoundrels. Might Rush Limbaugh be one? Of course not! If you thought I had him in mind, you must have missed the full-page ad published in Time Magazine last week by an entity calling itself the "Excellence in Broadcasting Network." A photo of "America's Anchorman" dominates it. Stripped across the bottom is a large-type caption that, in capital letters, proclaims: "THE NATION TRUSTS RUSH". I'm a citizen of the nation, right?

I would waste the time of a sophisticated audience were I to dwell on the frauds, liars and lunatics whose idea of a code of ethics is the three-digit number on the back of their credit cards. Instead, my focus will be on the second category. It consists of critics—myself emphatically included—who believe, as Bill Moyers put it last month, "that the quality of journalism and the quality of democracy are inseparable." That's why we applaud and cheer the many quality acts of superb, courageous journalism and investigative reporting done by the mainstream press at home and in dangerous places abroad.

Three very brief examples: In the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the powerful series warning that it was not whether, but when an utterly ruinous hurricane would strike. In the Times, David Barstow's and Lowell Bergman's terrific investigative reporting on the brutal safety and environmental crimes of McWane Inc., the Alabama-based pipe manufacturer. In the Washington Post, Anthony Shadid's brave, brilliant and insightful reporting from Iraq.

The need to improve mainstream journalism

But, in an effort that seems Sisyphean at times, we also criticize this same press, compulsively, constantly, and vigorously. Our goal is the polar opposite of the goal of the scoundrels. It is to improve mainstream journalism. The better mainstream journalism is, the better served is democracy, and the better its ability to withstand and discredit unscrupulous assaults.

It is in this context that I will identify a half-dozen of what I see as deep-seated, fundamental, and persisting press failings that have enormous impact on our people and our country, but that are mostly under the public's radar. Indeed, these failings are seldom discussed by journalists.

FAILING ONE: Right-wing commentators have become extraordinarily powerful influences on our politics, our governance, our society, and our future. They were indispensable to George W. Bush as a candidate and are bulwarks of his presidency and his party. In significant degree, I believe, they have become so influential precisely because in the name of informing the public, they routinely deceive, distort, mislead, and outright lie. Their pollution of civil discourse has been documented by David Brock in his book The Republican Noise Machine, and by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, among others. Indeed, the invaluable MediaMatters.org documents and archives their wretched conduct every weekday.

It is because the scoundrels exert vast power that mainstream news organizations are duty-bound to monitor what they say and do. To be sure, the scoundrels do get occasional hits: Think Frank Rich in the Times. In my view, however, commentary, no matter how much supplemented by MediaMatters, bloggers, and others, is neither a sufficient response nor a good excuse for the enduring failure of the Times, Post, and others to do in-depth, fair-minded, and sustained journalism about this gang. I'm talking about reporting, not invective. I have in mind, for example, careful journalism comparing actual facts with what are alleged to be facts in the torrential outpourings of Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, and Ann Coulter, among many others.

FAILURE TWO: News organizations that have and enforce high ethical standards for their news staffs have low or non-existent and unenforced ethical standards for their commentators. They do unto reporters what they do not do unto pundits. This rarely discussed double-standard is deeply embedded at the Wall Street Journal.

Over a period of years, a former Journal op-ed legal-affairs pundit, L. Gordon Crovitz, falsely quoted court opinions and wrapped quotes around statements that, he would have had his readers believe, came from the opinions, but in fact did not. Stuart Taylor documented a long list of such ethical atrocities in The American Lawyer in 1989. Dow Jones didn't fire Crovitz; it gave him an important assignment in Asia.

A Journal editorial-page editor, John Fund, "has doubled as a member of the Speaker's Advisory Group, a small cluster of [Newt] Gingrich's close advisers. Fund nearly left the Journal a few months ago to become Gingrich's chief spokesman." Jacob Weisberg wrote those sentences in Slate in 1996. In The Hunting of the President, Joe Conason and Gene Lyons document that Fund and fellow Journal editorial writer Micah Morrison were in Arkansas as active co-conspirators in Richard Mellon Scaife's Arkansas project to destroy Bill Clinton. Fund and Morrison continue to editorialize. It is all but unimaginable to me that the Journal would not immediately have fired a reporter who had engaged in any such unethical conduct.

George F. Will is a pundit for several hundred newspapers, including the Post; a Newsweek contributor, and an ABC commentator. In March 2003, in a piece in which he tore into critics of President Bush's plans to go to war against Iraq, Will featured quotes from Conrad Black, who controlled a media empire, the now-insolvent Hollinger International.

"Into this welter of foolishness has waded Conrad Black," Will wrote. What he did not give a scintilla of a hint of was that he was a member of the Board of Advisers of Hollinger, which for one day of conversation a year was paying him $25,000 annually. This jaw-dropping conflict of interest, by the way, was but the latest in a series of what could be called Willful transgressions.

A different standard for George Will

A Times reporter asked Will whether he should have revealed his Hollinger connections to his readers. "Mr. Will said he saw no reason to do so," the reporter wrote. His story went on to quote Will as saying: "My business is my business. Got it?"

Ethical journalism may not be Will's business, but it certainly ought to be the business of those who publish and air him. But rather than criticizing his offenses, they let him go on punditing as if he's done nothing wrong, just as they do Robert Novak and others.

Having been a reporter at the Washington Post for nearly 30 years, I will tell you with total confidence that a reporter found to have taken any dollars at all, or gift, from some corporation, union, whatever, and to have doubly compounded his error by concealing the payment from his editors and writing about the source of the money, would have been fired on the instant for gross breach of trust. And rightly.

FAILING THREE: Imagine that you are an oil company bent on undermining warnings of global warming from the scientific community. Or a tobacco company wanting to persuade the public that the safety of smoking is a matter of genuine scientific controversy. Or a pharmaceutical company wanting to sell the notion that the industry is over-regulated or that the drugs it makes in the United States become unsafe when imported from Canada.

Because you are clearly a party at interest, your argument in each case will be met with a certain skepticism. How to get around this? Simple: Fund think-tanks to deploy personable salesmen who, under an illusory protective halo of scholarly independence, will push your claims 24-7. Most importantly, the think-tank penumbra provides news organizations with a rationale for prominently printing and airing the very claims that they would shun or downplay had they not been not laundered through think tanks.

This is an ugly scam. Why has the falsely-labeled liberal press participated in it? Because, I dare suggest, it's been eager to demonstrate that it is what Fox News pretends to be but certainly is not, which is fair and balanced. The reality is that this brand of fair and balanced is unfair and unbalanced. Defensively, possibly even cravenly, I suspect, the press has been anxious to turn back the onslaught of "liberal bias" and anti-business smears by the scoundrels and their Republican and right-wing accomplices. This crowd is guilty as hell of "conservative bias," or, more accurately, right-wing bias.

My case in point is the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Merely between 2000 and 2003, Chris Mooney reported in Mother Jones magazine, ExxonMobil gave the CEI $1,380,000 (and several million dollars more to some 40 other opinion-influencing groups). Thanks to additional shrewd investments in CEI made by cigarette makers, drug companies and the rest, its annual budget had reached $3 million by 2002.

It's Journalism 101 to follow the money. In the case of think tanks, with few exceptions, the Post, Times and other mainstream news organizations have failed for years to do it. In the case of the CEI, they've repeatedly cringed from describing it as the industry-funded think tank it plainly is. Instead, they've applied such sanitizing labels as "libertarian," "business libertarian," "conservative," and "free-market."

Perhaps the most mealy-mouthed description of all appeared last November in a Washington Post story on new government drug-safety initiatives. The CEI, the article said, is "a nonprofit public policy organization dedicated to the principle of limited government." This is a classic entry in the annals of fact as the enemy of truth.

The news organizations that have been long-time active participants in the think-tank scam have not only effectively misinformed the public about very important matters, but have done so knowingly and willfully. Their complicity is spelled out in an article I did for the Summer issue of Nieman Reports.

A footnote, if I may. I think the money should be followed, period. That's why, in the early 1990s, I wrote extensively about the American Civil Liberties Union taking huge amounts of cash from the tobacco industry, while supporting legislation wanted by the industry and not telling its members of either activity.

Back to global warming. Independent scientists warn that it is a dire and growing threat to the planet. News organizations have routinely quoted Myron Ebell of the, you know, principled, libertarian CEI, trying to discredit them. What qualifies him as an authority on global warming? A master's degree is the pinnacle of Ebell's academic career. His master's degree is...in economics. His master's voice is, well, I'll leave that to you.

Good journalism tries to level with the reader as best it can, always allowing for the possibility of being wrong. The journalism I've just summarized is a continuum of knowing omission and deception.

A word to the press: Get relevant

FAILURE FOUR: Consistently, stories that really matter to people's lives, safety, health and pocketbooks, even to the survival of our country, are ignored, neglected, trivialized, or if covered, covered very late, even when they can be as easily plucked as ripe fruit from a tree. Let me mention just one of dozens I could cite. It is the decline, and in some sectors blatant rejection, of congressional oversight of government fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement. My example is the Food and Drug Administration.

"From the mid-1960s through much of the 1980s"—I’m quoting a 2002 article in The American Prospect—“Congress played an integral role in drug safety. Lawmakers"—principally Reps. L.H. Fountain and Ted Weiss, but also including Gaylord Nelson and Ted Kennedy in the Senate—“meticulously probed the regulatory histories of dubious drugs, uncovered FDA weaknesses and ordered corrections."

Congressional oversight of the FDA began to decline in the late 1980s, while the Democrats still controlled the House. It spiraled sharply downward in 1992-still on the Democrats' watch-with passage of a highly dubious law allowing the industry to pay so-called user fees as a way to speed FDA approval of new drugs.

Oversight collapsed utterly in January 1995, when the Republicans took control of the House and drug and tobacco industry lobbyists and campaign contributors took control of them. Speaker Newt Gingrich called the FDA the "leading job killer in America." He denounced its then-Commissioner, David Kessler, who wanted to regulate tobacco, as "a thug" and "a bully."

The consequences were catastrophic.

In the decade ending in the Fall of 2002, 13 dangerous drugs were pulled from the market after causing many hundreds of deaths and many thousands of injuries. Just seven of the unsafe medicines had caused more than one thousand deaths. Why had the FDA rushed them onto the market? Why had the withdrawals been slow?

In a superb investigative series that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2002, David Willman of the Los Angeles Times found that the FDA had become a partner rather than a supposed watchdog of the pharmaceutical industry. This is an industry that has more lobbyists than Congress has members, that fills the campaign coffers of friendly lawmakers to overflowing, and that dangles the prospect of high-paying jobs before Capitol Hill overseers who don't oversee.

House leaders and committee chairs had no interest in investigating the FDA's role in approving even one of the drugs that caused needless deaths and injuries on their watch. Least of all did they and the other lawmakers who were themselves partners of the industry want to investigate why and how the FDA had become a partner of the industry.

As chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Billy Tauzin had prime FDA oversight jurisdiction but didn't exercise it. Over the course of 15 years, he took $218,000 from the drug industry. In January 2005, the Louisiana Republican became president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. His annual pay package is reportedly worth at least $2 million. Tauzin's successor, Joe Barton of Texas, is cut from the same cloth.

Early last year in the Senate, in startling contrast, Charles Grassley broke from the Republican pack. The chairman of the Finance Committee undertook tough oversight of the FDA, notably including its handling of childhood antidepressants and Vioxx and related painkillers. Moreover, Grassley served notice that he'd protect the FDA's internal whistleblowers, such as medical officer David Graham, who had called Vioxx a "profound regulatory failure" by an agency "incapable of protecting America against another Vioxx."

It's all very well to criticize the FDA and the likes of Gingrich, Tauzin, and Barton. But does the press deserve a pass? No way. For a full decade, it has failed to inform the public of the prolonged, corrupt pre-Grassley abdication of congressional oversight of the agency responsible for the safety of their medicines and of the causes, consequences and implications of that abandonment.

I have yet to see a story in which Billy Tauzin, or Joe Barton, or House Speakers, or House and Senate majority leaders, were asked why, say, there'd not been an oversight investigation into any of the seven drugs that caused the deaths of a thousand Americans. Or a story on why these deaths seemed to matter not at all to them while the death of Terry Schiavo became their be-all and end-all. Or a story in which Senator Mike Enzi was asked why his Health committee hadn't done the FDA oversight done by Charles Grassley's Finance Committee.

The failure here was one of turning a blind eye when the blood of thousands of thy neighbors was being spilled. Unfortunately, much the same story could be told about other agencies and issues.

FAILURE FIVE: In the aftermath of Katrina, the mainstream press, network TV, in particular, is being justly praised for asking tough questions—for speaking truth to power. This is a sea-change, make no mistake about it. Down through the years, thousands of substantive questions should have been but were not asked of the powerful, starting with presidents, government executives, lawmakers, candidates for the White House and Congress, corporate leaders, religious leaders, and on and on.

The United States and Russia together have approximately 4,800 nuclear warheads on hair-trigger alert. These weapons have a combined destructive power nearly 100,000 times that of the atomic bomb which leveled Hiroshima. Within a few minutes, a wrong call about a supposed incoming missile, or, say, a terrorist electronically hacking into a launch-control system, could start a war that would destroy humankind.

A few questions for the President

So here's a question for President Bush: In May 2000, as a presidential candidate you said this: "[F]or two nations at peace, keeping so many weapons on high alert may create unacceptable risks of accidental or unauthorized launch. So, as President, I will ask for an assessment of what we can safely do to lower the alert status of our forces." Mr. President, what have you done to lower the risks that you cited five years ago?

Here's another: Many of your appointees to Cabinet-level and other high regulatory posts had been lobbyists dedicated to weakening or killing the very regulations that on taking office they solemnly swear to enforce. What philosophy underlies such appointments? Have you been appointing foxes to guard the chicken coops?

And one more: Economic inequality in the United States today has for a long time been greater than in any other industrialized country. Yet the gaps in income and wealth have been steadily widening. At 367 leading corporations today, the pay of the top boss averages 431 times that of the production worker. Are the economic inequality and the chasm in income healthy for our democracy?

FAILURE SIX: Mainstream press organizations decided long ago, possibly unwittingly, that in campaign coverage, the issues owed serious, sustained attention are predominantly the issues that the candidates select, usually in their own self-interest. This policy may have served the public interest in, say, the presidential election of 1936. But for decades now, it's served to disconnect a great many issues of highest importance from election campaigns.

The issues I've just mentioned--nearly 5,000 nuclear warheads on hair-trigger alert, lobbyists become regulators, the economic inequality--are but three of a host of examples. George Bush and John Kerry didn't mention them in the 2004 campaign; consequently, they were—for political editors, reporters, and debate moderators—non-issues.

Here are a few more examples of questions of the kind that need to be but don't get asked, not only of presidential candidates, but also of vice-presidential and House and Senate candidates:

§ Why does the United States need nuclear weapons in numbers sufficient to destroy every major city on the planet ten times over?
§ Does every American have a right to basic health care?
§ Why aren't business executives who knowingly and willfully market products that they know will needlessly kill, injure, or sicken people, or who knowingly expose their workers to preventable death, in jury, or disease, criminally prosecuted?

A few illustrations from the past underscore the persistence of the disconnect between issues that really matter and the issues emphasized in campaigns:

In May 1988, while the presidential campaign was revving up, newspapers and television newscasters gave top billing to an alarming report by the Surgeon General of the United States. Cigarettes, warned Dr. C. Everett Koop, an appointee of President Reagan, "are addicting in the same sense as are drugs such as heroin
and cocaine."

Despite countless opportunities between the prominent news coverage and the November election, or indeed in the ensuing 17 years, to my knowledge, and despite the more than 400,000 premature deaths smoking causes every year, political reporters have not asked a presidential or congressional candidate questions such as: Do you accept Dr. Koop's evidence of the addictiveness of cigarettes? If you don't, what scientific evidence supports your position? You don't take money from the cocaine cartel, of course. But how is it moral, or right, to take money from the maker of an addictive but legal product that kills hundreds of thousands of Americans annually?

In 1996, no one asked presidential candidate Bob Dole whether he stood by a statement he'd made in 1983: "When these political action committees give money, they expect something in return other than good government."

In 2000, after a decade of unparalleled prosperity, it was somehow not a campaign issue that 13.5 million children--one out of every five--were hungry; and that three out of four of the hungry children had parents who work. Nor was welfare of $125 billion a year to politically-wired corporations and industries. Nor was the massive transfer of cash, securities and other assets to foreign tax havens. The resultant evasion of U.S. income taxes was in an amount equivalent to, by one unofficial estimate, the sum of "every tax dollar paid by everyone in New York State and New Jersey who earns less than $200,000 a year."

I'll have no income to report to the IRS as a result of being here today, just the pleasure of being with you. Now I'll be happy to take questions.

The above is the text of a talk by Mintz on Sept. 13, 2005, to the Southeastern Sussex County Democratic Club at Bethany Beach, Del.

Morton Mintz (Nieman '64) is a senior adviser to the Nieman Watchdog project.

E-mail: mintzm@earthlink.net
- See more at: http://www.niemanwatchdog.org/index.cfm ... D1YV3.dpuf
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Re: AN unREASONABLE MAN, directed by Henriette Mantel

Postby admin » Mon Jul 27, 2015 9:16 am

Black, white and pink all over
More than a year after the New York Times printed its first same-sex wedding announcement, gay couples debate the need to declare their love in the most public way possible.
by CHRISTOPHER FARAH
DEC 12, 2003

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Since deciding to run same-sex wedding announcements a year and a half ago, the New York Times has actively recruited gay couples to be part of its pages — though it won’t specify how. “We have expressed our interest in hearing from more couples through our many contacts within a wide range of community, religious and social groups,” said Robert Woletz, the editor of the Times’ Society News section, who would agree to be interviewed only via e-mail. Woletz declined to provide figures on how many same-sex couples are accepted or rejected in an average week.

In the past 14 months, there have been a few weeks when no gay couples were featured — which initially prompted some outcry from members of the gay community. But as gay wedding announcements have become a regularly occurring part of the paper — at least 50 gay and lesbian couples have appeared in the pages so far — those criticisms have faded.

Even more impressive, perhaps, than the number of couples who have been featured, is the national impact of the Times’ decision. According to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), which lobbied the Times for a year to include gays in the section, at least 148 papers nationwide have followed suit. Only three states, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Mississippi, still lack a major newspaper that publishes same-sex wedding or commitment ceremony announcements. Even Bride’s magazine — a 70-year-old publication with a circulation of more than 400,000 — ran a feature story on same-sex wedding ceremonies for the first time in its September-October 2003 issue.

Considering that the Massachusetts Supreme Court recently declared the state’s ban on same-sex marriages illegal — while states such as Hawaii, California and Vermont already legalize same-sex unions and Canada officially allows gay and lesbian couples to wed — it seems certain that the number of gay couples appearing on the nation’s wedding pages will only increase.

Predictably, there has been some backlash from conservatives — the Times printed a letter condemning the policy change soon after the first announcement, groups like the Family Research Council published Op-Eds decrying the move, and a representative from the Traditional Values Coalition even appeared on MSNBC’s “Hardball” to condemn the paper. But what’s more surprising is the debate that same-sex announcements have sparked within the gay community itself. While gay couples may be becoming more visible, opinions within the gay community about the significance of being included on society pages remain divided. For many couples, submitting applications announcing their unions is about making a statement, and fighting for a level of normalcy and legitimacy. But others don’t want to be part of a mainstream, some would say elitist, tradition. Still others are fearful of the repercussions of going public.

“There is homophobia in this world, and there’s a safety concern,” acknowledges Glennda Testone, a media director at GLAAD. “These first couples are trailblazers, and coming out on that scale isn’t a step I would force people to make. Eventually, though, we want to make the wedding page an automatic for gay couples, so in preparing for their ceremony, they’ll say, ‘OK, I gotta get the cake, I gotta reserve a wedding hall, I gotta send in the announcement.’”

But some gay activists — and members of committed gay partnerships — say they have better things to do than ape the trappings of heterosexual conventions. Kathy LeMay is 33 years old, a graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and the president of her own social affairs consulting firm in Northampton, Mass. In October, she participated in a commitment ceremony with her partner, Michelle Billings. In other words, LeMay would be a great candidate for the New York Times wedding page.

But she didn’t want any part of it.

“When it comes to where do I choose to put my time to make a real change in society, this isn’t it,” LeMay says. “I don’t feel like I need to put a picture of me and my girlfriend in the Styles section.” LeMay feels that more can be done to advance the status of gays within society by challenging norms, not by being a part of them.

“I think infiltration is one way to do activism, but at a certain level you start to react to what other people have done, rather than setting your own agenda. What if we were to spend time seeing, not how we can be a part of this institution that’s been handed to us, but how can we make things better?”

Sarah Wright, a 36-year-old social work consultant and doctoral student at the State University of New York at Albany, says her decision to stay out of the Times wedding page was more personal than political. Wright has been with her partner, Heather, for more than 11 years. Last year they celebrated their 10-year anniversary by throwing a party with about 40 guests, though they kept the event informal, without a vow ceremony. While she frequently reads the New York Times wedding page — and specifically looks for the latest gay couples who have tied the knot — Wright believes that her private life should remain private.

“I’m happy for other gay couples who decide to be in the wedding section, but for me personally, I’d never aspire to be on the page,” Wright says. “Because it’s so national, it just feels kind of showy, town-criery.”

While activists like GLAAD’s Testone say they respect some couples’ desire for privacy, she thinks there’s a bigger picture to consider. The more gay couples appear in mainstream publications like the New York Times, the more visible homosexuals — and in turn, the rights that they are fighting for — become.

“We won’t know who we are as a community until we allow LGBT couples to tell us who they are,” says Testone. “[Having gay couples featured on the wedding pages] forces politicians at a high level to treat the issues in a human way. Those couples you see in the Times don’t have access to their partners’ Social Security, they don’t have spousal visitation rights, they can’t adopt their partner’s child.”

Some argue that the stories of gay couples meeting, falling in love and forming healthy relationships that appear in the Times each week are, in and of themselves, subversive. In Steven Goldstein and Daniel Gross’ announcement — the first one in the New York Times’ history, which appeared on Sept. 1, 2002 — for example, Gross revealed what it was like to tell his parents that he had fallen in love with another man. “My mom said, ‘You seem like everything’s great,’” [Daniel] recalled. “‘You seem like you’re in love.’ I said, ‘I am.’ They said, ‘That’s great.’ I said, ‘His name is Steven.’ My mother said, ‘Oy,’ and was silent for a while.”

“That was awesome that they put that story in there,” Goldstein says. “It wasn’t just that Buffy Worthington III told her mother she was marrying John Pennington IV, and her mother said, ‘That’s wonderful, darling.’”

Before gay couples started appearing in the Times’ wedding pages, Joe Tom Easley, a legal affairs lecturer who lives in Florida and New York, was never interested in them — even though his longtime boyfriend, Peter Freiberg, loved to read them. Then in August, the two got married in Canada after spending 21 years together. Suddenly, the whole announcement idea didn’t seem quite so silly anymore.

“I always thought of it as the page for indefatigable publicity seekers,” Easley says. “Now I’ve become one of them.”

Their announcement, which appeared on Aug. 24, 2003, provided more than just a moment of fame and self-congratulation. Easley and Freiberg believe their appearance had an impact on people’s attitudes toward gay marriage and homosexuality in general.

“It’s important to let people know that there are gay couples out there in love,” Freiberg says. “Just like straight couples.”


Evan Wolfson is a longtime activist and executive director of Freedom to Marry, a New York group devoted to advancing the cause of gay marriage. Wolfson, long a reader of the wedding page, says that by making a political statement with their presence on the page, gay couples are ensuring that eventually their stories will be looked at as simply human, and not just representative of an embattled minority.

“A straight American will see a picture of a gay couple, and he or she will be forced to ask the question, ‘How am I going to treat this couple? Am I going to discriminate against them, or treat them like everyone else?’” Wolfson says. “Most people’s instinct will be to do the right thing.”

Of course, there will probably always be a certain segment of society that refuses to see gay marriage — and certainly gay couples on the wedding page — as simply normal. Guardians of “traditional” marriage feel that the inclusion of same-sex partners in the wedding section undermines the sanctity of marriage as an institution.

“On the same page, we may have pictures of two guys over here, and a guy and a girl over there. And we can be glad that they all found happiness, but this couple over here just is not the same as that couple over there,” says Glenn Stanton, author of “Why Marriage Matters,” and senior analyst for marriage and sexuality at Focus on the Family. “The implication, however, is that the two pictures are morally equal, which means that either the male or the female member of the heterosexual couple just didn’t matter — they matter as people, but the deepest part of their humanity, expressed in their maleness or femaleness, is diminished.

“By denouncing gender roles,” he continues. “These announcements diminish our humanity.”

So even as conservative opposition to same-sex marriage grows — led by talk of a constitutional amendment banning it — some segments of society are accepting a homosexual role in what has been a traditionally heterosexual institution as par for the course. The acceptance of gays in the wedding pages is just one part of this changing attitude.

Nick Gottlieb, 38, whose marriage to Macky Alston was one of the first gay announcements in the Times, definitely wanted to make a statement. His mother, Linda, who produced the hit movie “Dirty Dancing,” even made a few calls to friends at the paper to make sure her son got in. Not that Nick really needed any help — he graduated cum laude from Yale and earned a master’s in social work from Smith, while “Macky,” or Wallace McPherson Alston III, holds degrees from Columbia and the Union Theological Seminary. But Nick wanted to make a point; he wanted to make sure that their marriage would serve as an example of a gay couple that was just as successful, loving and committed as a straight couple.

The point was made. But something else happened, too. Beyond the politics of the situation, Nick found himself enjoying the moment. For Nick, who grew up in New York, the Times was his local paper. Seeing himself pictured next to his partner on its pages made him feel like a real part of the city he called home.

“With all of the time and attention the paper gave us, it was really nice to feel held up by your community,” Nick says. “We were made to feel very important, which is exactly what you want on your wedding day.”
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Re: AN unREASONABLE MAN, directed by Henriette Mantel

Postby admin » Mon Jul 27, 2015 9:20 am

DEMOCRAT

JOE TOM EASLEY
7/28/15
http://www.zoominfo.com/p/Joe-Easley/69642263

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Idaho About the Faculty

http://www.barbri.com:80, 22 Sept 2011 [cached]
Professor JOE TOM EASLEY, ESQ. Real Property BARBRI Faculty Joe Tom Easley is in his 21st year as a national lecturer for BARBRI. He has taught at several law schools, including the University of Virginia, the University of Georgia, and American University. He is a graduate of the University of Texas law school where he was Managing Editor of the Texas Law Review and elected to Order of the Coif. He specializes in land use planning and related issues in property law.
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Re: AN unREASONABLE MAN, directed by Henriette Mantel

Postby admin » Mon Jul 27, 2015 9:30 am

Nader's Raiders
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http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/unre ... ers_2.html

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In the 1960s and 1970s, a number of dedicated young activists rallied to the side of Ralph Nader, committed to working towards causes such as consumer advocacy. Dubbed “Nader’s Raiders” by the press, these volunteers, student interns and staff members investigated federal bureaucracies; shaped the modern consumer activist movement; and called for protecting the environment, workers rights and limited corporate power. They researched and prepared reports that helped spur legislative change.

Former Nader's Raiders talk about what life was like working with Ralph Nader during the consumer movement.

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Jim Musselman

Jim Musselman was a Nader’s Raider in the 1980s and is now a record producer.

What were your role and day-to-day activities as a Nader’s Raider?

Ralph called me up New Year’s Eve and offered me the job, which is typical Ralph, you know, working on New Year’s Eve, planning out his next year. When I went down there, he basically said, “These are your missions.” It was like, “Get airbags in cars.” He didn’t say how. It was just various different things he had given me to do. But Ralph was a person who trusted people very much. It was like, this is what I want you to do, and you can get started working on it.

What is your job now?

I own a record company called Appleseed that features politically and socially conscious artists, planting seeds of social justice through music. The name was inspired by Ralph. He actually has an Appleseed Foundation. I always thought music was a way to reach people directly. But it was also important for musicians to talk about social issues and also to build bridges between communities—to use music as a way to heal and to give hope to people.

Has your support of Nader changed over the years?

I lost a lot of my business after my support of Ralph in 2000. Then, when he ran for President in 2004, I said, I’ll sit on the sidelines and not do anything about it. In Pennsylvania, there was this movement in the Democratic Party to keep Ralph off the ballot. I got so upset at the tactics that they used, so I wrote an email to about 100 famous musicians and actors, saying, “I’m not saying I’m voting for Ralph. But don’t we need to stand up for democracy at some point and say, ‘Keeping somebody off the ballot is not the American way?’” The personal abuse from the left was mind-boggling.

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Joe Tom Easley

Joe Tom Easley was a Nader’s Raider in the 1970s and is now a law professor.

Tell us about your role and day-to-day activities as a Nader’s Raider?

I was assigned to the Department of Agriculture team. Ralph wanted us to get into this agency and try to find out from talking with people inside and outside the agency everything we could about pesticides regulation—how open was the process; what chemical companies played disproportionate roles in the evaluative and approval process, if any; what role did the public have in this; and finally to what extent did the bureaucrats running that particular operation seem open and interested to receive public opinion and to protect the public health.

What do you think drives Nader?

For Ralph, the overriding issue that really blocks out everything—everything else—is the power of corporations in our public life today, the power of corporations to get their will before Congress, the power of corporations through advertising and the media to present their views or their spin on events. And this power has so distorted the political process that I think it has led Ralph to take some misguided positions recently regarding the 2000 election and the 2004 election.

Many have called Nader an egomaniac. Do you agree?

Nobody is more critical of Nader and what he is doing right now than I am—but I am annoyed with people who criticize him saying, “Oh, this is just an ego trip. He’s just out there for the glamour for the photographs and all that.” I think that is very unfair to him. And given his track record and given his history in this country, I think we should give him some slack on that. We should still criticize him for doing what he’s doing but not just kind of dismiss it as though, oh, he’s just on some ego trip.

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Robert Fellmeth

Robert Fellmeth was one of the original Nader’s Raiders in 1968 and is currently executive director of the Center for Public Interest Law at the University of San Diego and the Children’s Advocacy Institute.

What were your role and day-to-day activities as a Nader’s Raider?

We started that summer working on the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). Turn on the television, you know. Tired blood and Geritol? Every ad I saw I thought was totally misleading. We interviewed a lot of people, and we tried to figure out what it (the FTC) was doing, and we used all of our learning as we developed as young lawyers to try to analyze the legal system and looked at it kind of from the outside, at these deceptive ads going on.

How intimidating was it to be so young taking on this government agency?

When you’re young, you don’t realize you’re doing something you have no business doing. How are you qualified? They’re professors who should be there who have studied the agency for 20 years. What are you doing? It doesn’t even occur to you. And in fact we did write a good critique that stands the test of time. And the year after we wrote it, President Nixon asked the ABA to look at the agency. Sure enough, they came up with the same critique that we did, and it lead to some changes in the statute.

What did you learn from working with Nader?

The key to being an advocate, as Ralph has taught me, is you cannot care what anybody thinks of you. You’ve got to be a little bit arrogant and think what’s important is not what you think of me but what I think of you, and what the people who follow me are going to think of you. You’ve got to have this future perspective. Don’t care what people are saying about you now because they are not as important as the people in the future are, because that’s who you are working for. Those are the core values that I learned and that his behavior reflected.

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Andrew Egendorf

Andrew Egendorf was one of the original Nader’s Raiders in 1968 and co-founded the dotcom start-up Symbolics.com.

In the film, William Greider talks about how Nader originally objected to the term Nader’s Raider. What did you think of it?

Well, I know some of the people, I think particularly Bob (Fellmeth), objected to the term “raider” because it implied we were throwing bombs and going in there with a suit of armor and a sword. But I just thought it was a nice handle. Plus it added more… you were real, now that you had a term that you could be referred to by. So I didn’t personally think it was so terrible. We weren’t raiders in the standard sense. But in the grander, broader sense we certainly were. We went in digging out facts, so we raided it and that’s us.

What did you learn from working with Nader?

Some of the things I learned by working with Ralph were that you always have to use original sources. You can’t rely on anything that is secondary, unless that’s all there is. And then you have to be skeptical of it. He told me when you go to interview somebody, I guess in general meeting people, don’t posture yourself either above them or below them. In other words, being inferior to them or superior to them in some dimension in which you’re going to engage the person, because often that’s wrong and it also affects how you behave.

How would you characterize Nader’s consumer movement in the sixties?

Everyone gives Nader, I think, an unfair reading. Everyone says he’s anti-business, and he wants to tear down the capitalistic system. He’s not like that at all. His view was simply that the interest of the producers ought to be to support the interest of the consumers, because the whole system is based on consumption. So why don’t we have a system that has constraints on it that require the producers interest to be aligned with the consumers interests?

The problem was that the producers were all monopolies or oligopolies, and the consumers were just all individuals with no clout at all. All he wanted to do was level the playing field, give consumers the same kind of clout as an oligopoly.

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James Fallows

James Fallows was a Nader’s Raider in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He went on to become a speech writer for Jimmy Carter and is currently a national correspondent for Atlantic Monthly.

What were your role and day-to-day activities as a Nader’s Raider?

I plunged right into what seemed… could seem dreary moment by moment, but actually it was exciting in the larger perspective, of going through these halls at the Department of Agriculture, where I don’t think anybody other than a bureaucrat or a petitioner had been in centuries, and interviewing people about what they did and why they did it and what larger perspective it had. I can only imagine how much they detested us. You know, these smart-ass kids from fancy schools coming to say, “Why are you doing this? Why are you doing that?” But nonetheless, amazingly, in retrospect, they put up with it.

Do you remember your colleagues from that time?

In addition to this very good relationship with my mentor at the time, Harrison Welford, whom I’ve known since, my day-to-day working partner was a man named Julian Houston, who is now a judge in Boston. He was maybe four or five years older than me. He was from Richmond; I was from Southern California. He was black. I was white. We’d kind of cruise up as this mod squad unit to go into the Ag Department and ask people about things. So I enjoyed it—we had different kinds of amazement at the life in Washington that we were seeing.

What made all of that amazing?

What was probably most exhilarating about the whole thing was the sense of shared, collective—and I don’t mean collective in the ‘60s sense—I mean sort of collective in those terms of cooperative sizing up of what was happening day by day and seeing how things were unfolding. You’d come back to these dingy offices on Q Street or else to the dorm house in George Washington University and say, “I heard this from the guy who’s handing out grants in North Carolina; I heard this about pesticides in Georgia; I heard this about X & Y & Z in Florida, and what we’re beginning to see is the following.” And that was exciting.

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Harvey Rosenfield

Harvey Rosenfield was a Raider in the late 1970s and early 1980s with Congress Watch. He now heads his own consumer watchdog group in Santa Monica, California.

Talk about what you remember from your days at Congress Watch.

I remember my apartment on Capitol Hill, Washington D.C.—the bathroom window overlooked the Capitol and the Capitol dome always has a light on when Congress is in session. We used to say that as long as that light is on, then the American public is in danger. And my job, I felt, was to be the guy who made sure that somebody was always watching Congress. And I would on many nights read the Congressional Record in the bathroom just to watch the light until it went off.

Not many people would be that vigilant.

I think that the people he (Nader) attracted came principally because they wanted the opportunity to work for justice in the country, and he created an environment where you could do that. If you did it well, there was no limit to how much you could achieve. He never stood in the way of anybody. He never demanded the credit if somebody else was doing the work. He was happy to have them get as much credit as they could get from the public or from the news media.

What did you learn from working with Nader?

In the work we do, we have so much information and data that comes in that the real creative aspect of it is to link things that don’t seem to be connected, to develop a pattern that nobody else sees. An important thing that he taught me personally was never to throw anything out. If you look around here you will see that there are files upon files, and we have storage centers where we file even more files. And every time I think that I have to get over this compulsive sense I have of filing something, I will employ that skill that Ralph taught me, which is to reach back into other events and pull out something that is exactly the evidence you need for the latest injustice.
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Re: AN unREASONABLE MAN, directed by Henriette Mantel

Postby admin » Mon Jul 27, 2015 9:36 am

Ralph Nader on Why He Might Run in 2008, the Iraq War & the New Documentary "An Unreasonable Man"
by DemocracyNow!
FEBRUARY 5, 2007

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Consumer advocate and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader says he will decide later this year whether to run for president in 2008. Today he also looks back at his childhood and his new book, "Seventeen Traditions." In addition, film director Henriette Mantel joins us to talk about "An Unreasonable Man." [includes rush transcript]

TRANSCRIPT
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Following one of the bloodiest weekends of the Iraq War, the Senate is set to begin debate today on a nonbinding resolution criticizing President Bush’s decision to send in more U.S. troops. Meanwhile this weekend, Democratic activists gathered at the Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C., for the annual Democratic National Committee winter meeting. The two-day event featured speeches and presentations by all the Democratic presidential contenders. It was the first showcase for the candidates who are already beginning to run for their party’s nomination in what’s set to become the longest primary campaign in history.

In a moment, we’ll take a look at a new documentary about a different kind of presidential candidate. The documentary has just been released. It’s called An Unreasonable Man. It’s about the longtime consumer advocate, lawyer, author and two-time presidential candidate, Ralph Nader. He is also the author of a new book about his own life titled The Seventeen Traditions. Ralph Nader joins us today from Washington, D.C. We welcome you to Democracy Now!

RALPH NADER: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Ralph, before we talk about the movie and your book, I wanted to ask you about the latest news, the devastating numbers of deaths in Iraq — I think it’s a thousand believed over the last week killed — and about today’s debate on the nonbinding resolution around war.

RALPH NADER: Well, the nonbinding resolution is really a very tepid tiptoe, which will serve the purpose of getting Congress off the hook in the following weeks and months, saying, well, they did what they could do. There’s got to be much more aggressive moves by Congress, maybe reflected in Congressman Jim McGovern’s bill, which will deal with the appropriations process and protect the soldiers, as they withdraw. If we don’t withdraw on a timetable, our military and corporate occupation of Iraq, including the oil industry, the bottom will never fall out of the insurgency. In the process of withdrawing, we develop what can be called the Iraq reconciliation plan that Dal Lamagna and CODEPINK initiated with members of the Iraqi Parliament, tribal leaders and victims of torture in Amman last year. The Iraqi hierarchy is still in place. I mean, the place is in chaos in terms of explosions, but the tribal leaders, the religious leaders, the political leaders still command the kind of cohesive authority in the three distinct groups that could provide for a reconciliation plan with international peacekeepers for an interim period, while we continue hiring Iraqis for reconstruction of their devastated homeland, compliments of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think of Russ Feingold saying he is going to vote against the nonbinding resolution, because he doesn’t believe that it will lead to the withdrawal of U.S. troops in Iraq?

RALPH NADER: Well, I think he’s correct. And George W. Bush has in effect said it’s not going to affect him at all. This is outraging Republican Senator Specter from Pennsylvania. So there are other currents on Capitol Hill that may flow from this, but this is basically an escape resolution from congressional responsibility over the White House for this war.

AMY GOODMAN: Are you planning to run for president again?

RALPH NADER: Too early to say. I think we need more voices and choices. I think the speech by former Senator Mike Gravel indicates there’s going to be a wider debate in the primaries of the Democratic Party, along with Congressman Dennis Kucinich. There are lots of people in this country urging Bill Moyers to run in the Democratic primary. He would certainly give it more depth. And I hope more independent candidates and third-party candidates run. We’ve got to break this two-party elected dictatorship that’s being measured by how much money it raises.

AMY GOODMAN: You said on Wolf Blitzer’s show yesterday that if Hillary Rodham Clinton got the Democratic nomination, you would consider running?

RALPH NADER: Well, there would be more need for a broader spectrum of views by more candidates. I don’t think she has the fortitude to stand up to corporate power, whether it’s ripping off Washington by corporations or the bloated military budget or corporate crime, fraud and abuse. It has a lot of roots right in her backyard, in Wall Street, Spitzer prosecution land. I don’t think she has it. And she has this increasingly distasteful habit of pandering and flattering in her public appearances. And she panders to special interest groups that need to be given the straight truth, and she flatters people in her audience. And I think that is a sign that she thinks she’s a frontrunner and she can play cautious.

AMY GOODMAN: So if she were to win the Democratic nomination and the other candidates were to concede and drop out of the race, would you run?

RALPH NADER: Well, there would be more important need to run, but I haven’t decided. And I won’t decide until later this year.

AMY GOODMAN: What would determine it for you?

RALPH NADER: Well, that factor, one, and whether we can get enough petitioners to get on the streets to overcome the likely harassing lawsuits and attrition by the Democratic Party in places like Pennsylvania and Ohio. But, basically, you can’t run a campaign like this unless you get a lot of young people who are contacting you all over the country and who want a new politics in America and who want to develop the skills for future campaigns in their own right. That’s really what we’re looking for now.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go right now to the clip of the documentary that’s just come out about Ralph Nader. And when we come back from break, we’ll be joined not only by Ralph Nader, but by one of the producers of the film. It’s called An Unreasonable Man.

TODD GITLIN: One is always right, one is prefabricated in purity. This is Ralph Nader’s understanding of the world.

ERIC ALTERMAN: The man needs to go away. I think he needs to live in a different country. He’s done enough damage to this one. Let him damage somebody else’s now.

MARK GREEN: In the late ’60s and early ’70s, Ralph would be in national polls as one of the most famous admired Americans.

HENRIETTE MANTEL: People would write to him thinking that he could solve their problem. I think Ralph got more mail than The Beatles.

JOE TOM EASLEY: Ralph had decided to do six or eight teams attacking different agencies.

FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION MAN: Members of the press have referred to you as "Nader’s Raiders."

JOE TOM EASLEY: We were going to make the country what it ought to be by working and pressing the system to work.

DAVID BOLLIER: He had built a legislative record as a private citizen that would have been the envy of any modern president.

JIM MUSSELMAN: Imagine if you got in a car and the airbag said "Ralph Nader," or if the seat belt said "Nader," or you look at the air and it’s cleaner and it says "Nader" on it. If people would see that on a day-to-day basis, they’d understand the effect that this guy has had on their daily life.

ERIC ALTERMAN: Thank you, Ralph, for the Iraq War. Thank you, Ralph, for the tax cuts. Thank you, Ralph, for the destruction of the environment. Thank you, Ralph, for the destruction of the Constitution.

RALPH NADER: I do think that Al Gore cost me the election.

GENE KARPINSKI: That I used to work for that guy. I was so proud of all that, and now, every time I — you know, what’s that crazy guy up to?

RALPH NADER: Maybe if we started talking about civic globalization instead of corporate globalization, the world would move forward.

We don’t have a government of, by and for the people. We have a government of the Exxons, by the General Motors, for the Duponts.

PHIL DONAHUE: They killed him for saying that there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the two parties. And then the Democrats spent the next four years proving that he was right.

JIMMY CARTER: Ralph, go back to examining the rear end of automobiles.

PAT BUCHANAN: I think our democracy is a fraud. It’s a consumer fraud.

JAMES RIDGEWAY: He actually believes in the legal system, and he believes in the marketplace. He believes in all these really American things, and he’s trashed for it.

RALPH NADER: When I was 10, my father said, "Well, Ralph, what did you learn in school today? Did you learn how to believe or did you learn how to think?"

JOE TOM EASLEY: I wouldn’t want this to hurt his legacy.

RALPH NADER: I don’t care about my personal legacy.


AMY GOODMAN: Excerpt of An Unreasonable Man. When we come back from break, the director of the film, Henriette Mantel, and Ralph Nader. Stay with us.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to the co-director of An Unreasonable Man, Henriette Mantel. Ralph Nader still in studio with us in Washington, D.C. Henriette, why did you decide to do this film?

HENRIETTE MANTEL: We just — Steve and myself — wanted to inform people who Ralph is and what happened. I was kind of sick of all the stories going around without people being informed, as to the way the story came down, to who Ralph was all through the ’60s and ’70s and who he still is.

AMY GOODMAN: And talk about how you researched this film, and talk about the different views that you bring out — for example, Eric Alterman.

HENRIETTE MANTEL: Well, this film originally became what it is, because we started on a sitcom idea. We’re both comedy writers. And Steve had a development deal. And we had discussed this over the years — Ralph’s story — and we started to write it as a sitcom, but the more we interviewed people, everybody that had worked around Ralph for years and years, the more it just became obvious that we had to tell the story in documentary form, especially after 2000.

AMY GOODMAN: And the different reactions you got from people you were interviewing?

HENRIETTE MANTEL: Well, we would have loved to get more reactions of people that were, you know, adamantly spreading rumors about Ralph and everything else, but Eric Alterman and Todd Gitlin, my hat’s off to them, because they would go on camera and voice their opinion opposing Ralph. A lot of people would not go on camera. They just wouldn’t. Like, they would talk, you know, to us, but then when we turned on the camera, "Oh, I’m not going to be on camera."

AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, your reaction to the film?

RALPH NADER: Well, I react functionally to it. I think it’s a very compressed and adroit film over 40 years of activity, which really takes a lot of talent to get in there and keep people’s attention. And it’s going to inform tens of millions of younger people, certainly under 40 years. And I hope it will stimulate some of them, and some of the people who watch it in their teen years and their twenties, to say, "You know, we can improve this country and the world. What are we waiting for? Let’s stop rationalizing our own futility and get to work."

AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader came to prominence in the early '60s, when he began to take on powerful corporations and work with local activists on their campaigns. Let's go to another clip of the film, An Unreasonable Man.

JIM MUSSELMAN: Once I got everybody going forward on an issue, Ralph would come in and give a speech to really empower them more and say, "You guys aren’t alone here."

DAVID BOLLIER: When the community of Poletown in Detroit was going to be condemned so that General Motors could build a new Cadillac plant there, Ralph provided direct assistance for them to physically resist the bulldozers.

JIM MUSSELMAN: In Van Nuys, there were a lot of children coming down with leukemia in a neighborhood, and a General Motors plant was there, and they put benzene in the paint, which was causing cancer and leukemia. We got them to change the way that they manufactured the paint.


AMY GOODMAN: An excerpt of An Unreasonable Man. Ralph Nader, can you expand on that, on the early activism and your work around GM, how you started the PIRGs and your organizations?

RALPH NADER: Well, those are the days when the antiwar movement, women’s rights, civil rights movements, provided a backdrop for what we were doing. I mean, they made us look rather modest. And we were working in the environmental, worker, consumer areas. And the Congress opened its doors to hearings. There were members of Congress who actually went to Washington to represent people for a change. And Lyndon Johnson, even Nixon, were willing to sign many of those basic bills, like OSHA and EPA and auto safety, Product Safety Commission legislation.

And, obviously, after time, we realized that there needs to be thousands of young activists, so we formed these teams, not only on federal agencies to expose them and push them to higher heights of performance for folks, like the Food and Drug Administration or the Department of Agriculture. We also went out into the field, and we started student public interest research groups based on student referendums at colleges and putting $4, $5, $6 check-offs on their tuition bill to support these nonprofit groups, which would be run by an elected student board of directors. So you have NYPIRG now in New York City and the rest of the state. You have MASSPIRG — PIRG standing for "public interest research group" — in Massachusetts. There are about 20 of them all over the country. And over the years, they really generate a lot of civic leaders who are now working in their communities — some of them are elected to office — to strengthen our democratic society.

AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, at the same time that An Unreasonable Man has been released, you have a new small book out called The Seventeen Traditions, which is different from the other books that you have written. It’s very much about your family life, how you grew up in Winsted, Connecticut. Can you talk about what the 17 traditions are?

RALPH NADER: Well, there are 17 ways my mother and father raised their four children — two girls and two boys — in this factory town crossed by two rivers and highlighted by a wonderful lake in northwest Connecticut. And I call them "traditions," because I would like to encourage other families to look into their own wisdom and insight and experience in their generation line — say, grandparents and great aunts and uncles and parents — because if those traditions are lost, they’re lost forever, and they’re not transferred to young people who often are adrift in periods of change. So, we have the tradition of learning, was the first one in the book. My mother said you have to learn to listen, and if you learn to listen, then you’ll listen and learn, something I wish George Bush was raised to do. We have a tradition of history. They would always immerse us in history at the dinner table, and we’d have books about history. So, we have stamp collections to teach us geography.

Then there are traditions of charity, traditions of business. My father had a restaurant, where they said for a nickel you got a cup of coffee and 10 minutes of politics. So it was a big restaurant with a lot of politics from the workers in the textile mills, of the jurors on the lunch break from the courtroom, and salespeople and doctors and carpenters, you name it.

Traditions like the tradition of scarcity; they never overloaded us with things so we wouldn’t appreciate them. There was a tradition of simple enjoyments, not commercial enjoyments today, like a $100 Nintendo toy. We had bicycles. We had puzzles. We had hiking in the woods and the fields, etc.

There were tradition of civics. We watched our parents, while they took us to the town meetings and the courtroom. But we watched them active in the community and absorbed that kind of family value. Civic values, they saw, were family values. And so, there were these kinds of traditions of health, for example, and teaching us to take care of ourselves. These are the traditions that raised us.

The other day, watching George W. Bush, it occurred to me that if mother raised George W. Bush, we wouldn’t be in the Iraq War at the present time.

AMY GOODMAN: Both your parents were born in Lebanon?

RALPH NADER: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: And you went back to Lebanon with your brothers and sisters when you were little? Your mother took you there for about a year?

RALPH NADER: Yes. I was about three and a half.

AMY GOODMAN: And how does that influence your worldview today?

RALPH NADER: Well, obviously, it gave us a bigger arc of concern and interest in the world. I mean, we went to the ancient ruins in Baalbek in Lebanon. We obviously were immersed in the culture there. We learned the language. We learned the lore of our background, our great great grandparents. You know, there was an oral tradition there. We learned how to ride donkeys, too.

AMY GOODMAN: The bombing of Lebanon this past summer and the Iraq War, what does your being an Arab American — how do you feel that informs your view?

RALPH NADER: Well, you don’t have to be an Arab American. You just have to be interested in understanding historical precedence. For example, Iran’s prime minister was overthrown by our country in 1953. The U.S. government under Reagan encouraged and supplied Saddam Hussein with the materials to invade Iran and slice it off for — part of it off for Iraq. We have labeled Iran an axis of evil. That has a tremendous impact, especially since we did it to Iraq and invaded them next door, has a tremendous impact on a proud Persian history. I mean, there was a time when they were the dominant force in the world, and they remember those things. And they feel humiliated.

George W. Bush came to the presidency. I think he had been abroad once or twice. He didn’t know anything about world history. And he was proud of saying he didn’t read newspapers. He was proud of his ignorance. And we’re paying the price for that. It’s not just his obsession. It’s not just his messianic militarism. It’s his profound ignorance.

AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, your father used to ask you, "What did you learn in school today?"

RALPH NADER: Yeah. One day I went home and in the backyard, and he said, "Ralph, what did you learn in school today? Did you learn how to believe, or did you learn how to think?"

Another event I remember in the backyard — a beautiful spring day, my parents were there with my siblings — and my mother said, "How much is a dozen eggs?" We knew all the prices, because we were restaurateurs’ children. And so, she said, "How much is a bushel of apples? How much is a pound of butter?" And then she stopped and she looked up, and she said, "Nice cool breeze, isn’t it? How much is that? What’s that sunshine worth? Look at those birds. Hear those birds singing those beautiful songs. What price should we put on that?" That really at an early age taught me that there are certain things that should be never for sale. And that’s, in our democracy, elections should never be for sale. Politicians should never be for sale. Teachers should never be for sale.

So, from those 17 traditions, I developed a linkage with the civic advocacy and things that I wrote and spoke about as an adult. And I think that people are very interested in this book, because it’s personal, it has good stories about life in New England at that time, which will resonate with parents and children in terms of their own recollections. I think people have to recollect more. They have to rebuild the solidarity of their family line in a period of great tumult and change, when they think that everything is out of control around their lives, their jobs and their children.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Ralph Nader, as you were taught to question, I want to go back to the documentary, An Unreasonable Man. This was at the time when you were being shut out of the presidential debates, and it was also the time of your mega-rallies of thousands, of more than 10,000 people. It begins by talking about how the press virtually ignored your Madison Square Garden rally, which drew some 20,000 people in 2000.

JASON KAFOURY: I expected us to be on the front page of The New York Times. And we had a story, but it was buried, you know, 20 pages in. No other political person, Bush or Gore, hadn’t gotten 20,000 people to pay money to hear them speak all campaign. Ralph was the only guy doing it. And yet the establishment media froze us out.

THERESA AMATO: And the kind of coverage that we did get was all about the horse race: How are you going to affect Al Gore? From the very beginning months of the campaign, we knew in 2000 and in 2004 we would have to try to get into the presidential debates.

PHIL DONAHUE: Ralph Nader could visit every city and town in this nation personally and not reach 10 percent of the people who watch the debates.


AMY GOODMAN: Yes, that last speaker, Phil Donahue, and that is from An Unreasonable Man. Henriette Mantel is the co-director, writer and producer — executive producer of An Unreasonable Man. You also were Ralph’s office manager, and you’re in this film.

HENRIETTE MANTEL: Right. Yeah. The reason I’m in the film, though, is because we were practicing trying to use the camera, and then it ended up that I had said a few things. Yes. But I was his office manager. That was my first job in the real world, I guess, when I was 21.

AMY GOODMAN: And what was that like?

HENRIETTE MANTEL: It was interesting, because it was 1979 when Three Mile Island blew up, and so it was very, very, very busy there. And that’s a part of the movie that, in fact, will be on the DVD extra. So many parts, stories that we had to tell — the original version of the movie was three-and-a-half hours, and we had to get it down to about two hours, so that it could be in theaters. And the No Nukes years are a story that we told that will be on the DVD extras.

AMY GOODMAN: You’re a well-known comedian now, Henriette. Why take the time out to do this?

HENRIETTE MANTEL: Because other comedians were yelling at me about Ralph, and I got sick of them. No, I just wanted to inform people as to who the Ralph I knew and why he did what he did and what he had done in the '60s and ’70s, because it felt like so many people just knew Ralph from 2000, and all these, you know, myths and rumors that weren't true about Ralph. So I just wanted to tell a story. I actually — you know, they can decide whatever they want to decide after they see the movie. I just want them to be informed as to what the story is.

RALPH NADER: And I think they saw some of the political bigotry against third-party candidates and how shallow the analysis of people like Eric Alterman were. You don’t measure the impact of one candidate against another after Election Day. It’s the dynamics in the weeks and months before. Pushing Gore more to the left to criticize big corporations actually got Gore far more votes than whatever, quote, "I took from him." Look at that, "I took from him," like a third-party candidate is a second-class citizen, when in the 19th century it was third parties — anti-slavery, women’s right to vote, labor, farmer — that provided the new ideas for the great social justice movements that finally one of the major parties or the other adopted. Now, that’s another benefit of the film.

I think Henriette and Steve should really be gratified, Amy, by the reviews. The reviews have almost been uniformly positive: New Yorker, New York Magazine, New York Times, Village Voice, L.A. Times. It opened in New York on 31st January, and I hope more people see it, and I hope more films are done on many leading activists in our past, like Saul Alinsky and Chavez and others, because we need to put these models, these activities in front of younger people who get very demoralized and give up too early in their lives from changing the country and world for the better.

AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, I wanted to go back to the campaign of 2008 and campaign finance issues, because now the presidential campaign of 2008 — we have just entered 2007 — is in full swing. What does that mean for campaign finance and public financing of campaigns?

RALPH NADER: It’s going to blow it through the roof. I mean, where it is considered incredible that George W. Bush from his corporate buddies raised $140 million in '04, now the press is talking about Hillary and McCain and Giuliani raising $200 million, $300 million. If Mayor Bloomberg gets in the race — and let me tell you, they're talking about it in his circles — he’ll spend half-a-billion dollars from his own fortune, which means that the press not only deals largely with the horse race instead of the substantive issues and the records of the candidates, it deals with like a bar graph. You know, how much did Hillary raise this last week compared to McCain? It’s so rancid. It’s so disrespectful of the voters in this country. We’ve got to urge the press to wake up to its own responsibilities here and cover the substance, the necessities of the American people, the access to the electoral process by candidates, the participation of voters during the campaign in auditoriums around the country.

AMY GOODMAN: Hillary Clinton has pulled out of public financing?

RALPH NADER: Oh, yeah. All the majors are going to pull out. It’s not enough for them.

AMY GOODMAN: And your thoughts on Barack Obama?

RALPH NADER: Well, he’s got more to prove. He’s sprouting a lot of antennas of caution and concern, because when you’re a viable candidate, as he is, they don’t become bolder, they become more cautious. He’s certainly got the intellectual capacity. He was a community organizer among the poor in Chicago. He actually worked with NYPIRG for a short time in New York. But whether he has those personality and characters — characteristics that provide the definition of a real leader, speaking truth to power and really taking those solutions in our country off the shelf and putting them to work, even though the auto companies and the drug and oil companies may squeal and squawk, that is yet to be determined. But he’s got an opportunity to determine it.

AMY GOODMAN: John Edwards taking on the issue of poverty in this country and healthcare?

RALPH NADER: Yeah, very good. Very good, taking on — you know, he’s not just talking about the middle class, which Clinton and Gore always did and ignored tens of millions of poor Americans, not to mention people in the middle class falling into that category these days, as more and more people are pauperized. But he’s got a problem of fortitude, too, on some issues. He’s not that good on some foreign policy issues, like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Iraq War, he was late on. He’s got to raise the whole corporate crime fraud and abuse and the bloated military budget and the misallocation of priorities to a much higher level in his addresses.

AMY GOODMAN: Now that you have said you could run against Hillary Rodham Clinton if she gets the nomination, have her people approached you in the last 24 hours?

RALPH NADER: Oh, no. No. I mean, she’s very aloof. And when it comes to me, there’s probably even a hyperbole of aloof. She wouldn’t debate Jonathan Tasini in the New York run. He got 17 percent of the vote with no money in the primary against her. She wouldn’t debate her own Republican opponent more than once, I think, and very reluctantly. She wouldn’t debate Howie Hawkins. She wouldn’t let him on the debate, the Green Party out of Syracuse, a wonderful community organizer and a person who would have broadened the debate. She is not an example of democratic campaigning. She is a big business example of cash register campaigning.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you, Ralph Nader, for joining us from Washington, D.C. — we’ll say "possible" presidential candidate in 2008 — and Henriette Mantel, comedian, co-director and producer with Steve Skrovan of this new film called An Unreasonable Man. She also played Alice in The Brady Bunch: The Movie. Thanks, both. Ralph Nader’s book is called The Seventeen Traditions.
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Re: AN unREASONABLE MAN, directed by Henriette Mantel

Postby admin » Tue Jul 28, 2015 3:57 am

DEMOCRAT

GENE KARPINSKI, PRESIDENT
by League of Conservation Voters
7/27/15
http://www.lcv.org/about/staff/gene-kar ... oogle.com/

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Gene joined LCV in April 2006 after serving for more than a dozen years as a member of the LCV and LCVEF Boards of Directors and the LCV Political Committee. Under Gene’s leadership, LCV has played a lead role in the environmental community’s efforts to pass clean energy and climate policies. Additionally, LCV’s electoral budget has more than tripled since 2006. Prior to joining LCV, Gene worked for 21 years as the Executive Director of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG), the national lobbying office for state PIRGs across the country, where he led many national environmental issue campaigns. He has served on a number of national boards, including America Votes, Earth Share, the Partnership Project, the Beldon Fund, and the National Association for Public Interest Law. Gene is a graduate of Brown University and Georgetown University Law Center.
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Re: AN unREASONABLE MAN, directed by Henriette Mantel

Postby admin » Tue Jul 28, 2015 9:32 pm

Environmentalists’ campaign spending on midterms to see huge jump this year
By Juliet Eilperin
September 5, 2014

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The League of Conservation Voters will spend $25 million in campaign funding this election season, a fivefold increase over what the group devoted to the last midterm elections, LCV President Gene Karpinski said in an interview.

The spending will be largely devoted to key Senate races but also will go to a handful of gubernatorial and state legislative contests. The increased funding reflects the growing role of environmentalists as political money players. Climate activist and billionaire Tom Steyer has already spent $22 million on federal and state candidates this election cycle and plans to devote at least $26 million more. Steyer is a major LCV funder.

“We are poised to make, by far, the biggest investment we’ve ever made in elections,” Karpinski said in an interview, adding that the group’s efforts are “making climate change part of the conversation” in races across the country.

The group has ramped up its spending in recent years, rising from $5 million in 2010 to $15 million in 2012. It also has joined with another major environmental group, the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund PAC, to run the GiveGreen program, which has raised or contributed $4 million so far this election cycle to individual federal candidates.

The Environmental Defense Action Fund, which has traditionally only given money directly to candidates, has already spent more than $1 million in federal and state races in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan and New York this year.

FTI Consulting senior director Matt Dempsey, whose clients include several fossil-fuel industry interests, questioned whether green groups would be able to sway voters.

“Anti-fossil fuel groups, no matter how much money they spend, face an uphill battle at the ballot box because they simply cannot explain to the public how they plan to meet energy needs without fossil fuels, both now and in the future,” Dempsey wrote in an e-mail.

Dempsey noted that several of the Senate Democrats up for reelection, including Mark Begich (Alaska), Kay Hagan (N.C.) and Mary Landrieu (La.), support the Keystone XL pipeline, which most national environmental groups oppose. LCV is backing Begich and Hagan, as well as Mark Udall (Colo), who describes himself as “a champion of Colorado’s natural gas industry”; the three incumbents support mandatory federal limits on greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change.

Environmentalists’ deeper involvement in both state and federal campaigns represents, to a large extent, a recognition that legislation curbing greenhouse gas emissions on a broad scale will remain out of reach for years without a major political shift in Washington and state capitals.

Elizabeth Thompson, Environmental Defense Action Fund’s president, said in a statement that her organization is “making a major investment to build a bipartisan movement for environmental progress. . . . It won’t be easy or quick, but we’re convinced that solving the biggest challenges will require both parties at the table. Our goal is to show both sides that good climate policy is smart politics.”

The races LCV is targeting — including Senate contests in Alaska, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire and North Carolina, as well as the Maine gubernatorial race, where it is opposing Gov. Paul LePage’s (R) reelection, and state legislative races in Oregon and Washington — all involve significant contrasts between the two candidates on climate change and other signature environmental issues.

It has endorsed just four Republicans this cycle — Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) and three state legislators, all of whom faced primaries. It also intervened in two Democratic primaries, successfully backing Sen. Brian Schatz (Hawaii) and Maine state Sen. Emily Cain, who is trying to succeed Rep. Michael H. Michaud (D).

The issue of climate change has come up in several of these races, such as when former senator Scott Brown (R-Mass.), who is challenging Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), responded to a question of whether “the theory of man-made climate change has been scientifically proven” during a GOP primary debate by saying, “Uh, no.”

Brown spokeswoman Elizabeth Guyton said in a statement that he “believes that the climate is changing by a combination of natural and man-made causes.”

Steyer’s NextGen Climate Action Committee — which is giving money not only to environmental organizations but also to labor, abortion rights, veterans and Latino groups — “will be a seven-figure supporter of our work in 2014,” Karpinski said. The committee has donated $650,000 to LCV’s super PAC this election cycle, which was spent on various races including Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey’s special election.

“There’s not a day that goes by that someone on our team doesn’t talk to someone on the Steyer team,” Karpinski said.

NextGen Climate Action spokesman Bobby Whithorne wrote in an e-mail that his group is canvassing with LCV “in several states and supporting their efforts on the ground in numerous races. We look forward to working together over the next eight weeks to bring climate change to the ballot box.”

The spike in spending by environmental activists has sparked a response from groups aligned with industry and the GOP. The conservative group American Commitment has run ads in Colorado and Iowa questioning Steyer’s support for Democratic Senate candidates, and groups such as American Crossroads, Americans For Prosperity and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have run ads on the Keystone pipeline and energy in that state. Groups affiliated with the libertarian billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch have provided financial support for the opponents of all of the Senate candidates LCV is backing, a fact it has highlighted in five separate ads in four states.

Some of the ads LCV has run so far, such as those attacking Iowa GOP Senate candidate Joni Ernst, address policies on education as much as the environment. Dan Weiss, LCV’s senior vice president for campaigns, said the group highlighted Ernst’s support for eliminating the Education Department and Environmental Protection Agency because “we want to make it clear to Iowans that she doesn’t share their priorities.”

While the ads have been the most visible sign of green groups’ spending, LCV will devote many of its resources to grass-roots efforts. Weiss said the group will have 2,000 people working in 19 offices and will contact 750,000 voters who typically don’t vote in off-year elections in Alaska, Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire and North Carolina.

Juliet Eilperin is The Washington Post's White House bureau chief, covering domestic and foreign policy as well as the culture of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She is the author of two books—one on sharks, and another on Congress, not to be confused with each other—and has worked for the Post since 1998.
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