Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Race-and-red-baiting Obama

In case you have any doubts about the GOP's plans to run a toxic campaign of racial and ideological innuendo against Obama in the Fall, read this chesnut, which rehearses the old chesnut about how race mixing is always at bottom a communist plot.

If the Democrats nominate Obama, expect the ugliest political season since the Civil War.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...



Conservative opponents of Barack Obama face a dilemma. Some are determined to stop him by any means necessary, but most know that direct appeal to racial prejudice is unacceptable in the 21st century. Because Obama is a relative newcomer to the political scene, he does not have enough of a voting record to make him vulnerable in that area. As a last resort, they are trying to convince voters that he is unfit to be President by making false accusations regarding his character.

Spreading false information about your opponent is as old as politics itself. Unlike the swift boating of John Kerry in 2004, in which his heroism was questioned, current attacks against Obama take a more sinister tone. They are trying to convince voters that Obama is anti-American based on the radical behavior of some of his friends many years ago. To make these false accusations stronger, conservatives exaggerate the radical behavior of these old friends, and exaggerate the influence they had over Obama. Thus, they attempt to portray Obama as being just as radical.

Intentionally spreading false information is “disinformation.” It should not be confused with “misinformation,” which is merely false information spread by mistake. “Disinformation” is deliberate misrepresentation. “Misinformation” is accidental misrepresentation. According to wikipedia:

- “It may include the distribution of forged documents, manuscripts, and photographs, or propagation of malicious rumors and fabricated intelligence. In the context of espionage or military intelligence, it is the deliberate spreading of false information to mislead an enemy as to one's position or course of action. In the context of politics, it is the deliberate attempt to deflect voter support of an opponent, disseminating false statements of innuendo based on the candidates vulnerabilities as revealed by opposition research. In both cases, it also includes the distortion of true information in such a way as to render it useless.”

- “Unlike traditional propaganda and Big Lie techniques designed to engage emotional support, disinformation is designed to manipulate the audience at the rational level by either discrediting conflicting information or supporting false conclusions.”

- “A common disinformation tactic is to mix some truth and observation with false conclusions and lies, or to reveal part of the truth while presenting it as the whole.” [17]
DISINFORMATION IN HISTORY: Disinformation is one type of deception. According to the ancient philosopher Sun-Tzu, whose Art of War is still studied by military professionals, “all warfare is based on deception.” [18]
1. Pre-Gulf War:
- The “Trojan Horse” used deception, as did the WWII special plan “Operation Fortitude,” which convinced the Germans that the D-Day invasion of France would occur in the Pas de Calais rather than Normandy. [19] While Operation Fortitude used disinformation and other forms of deception, a textbook case of disinformation itself ocurred in special plan Operation Mincemeat, a 1943 British Intelligence plan to deceive the Axis powers into thinking Operation 'Husky', the Allied invasion of Sicily, would take place elsewhere. “The Man Who Never Was,” a 1954 book and 1956 movie, was based on Operation Mincemeat. From wikipedia:
“Operation 'Mincemeat' involved the acquisition of a human cadaver, dressing it as a 'Major William Martin, R.M.' and putting it into the sea near Huelva, Spain. Attached to the corpse was a brief-case containing fake letters suggesting that the Allied attack would be against Sardinia and Greece. When the body was found, pro-German Spaniards passed the papers to the German Intelligence Service who passed them on to their High Command. The ruse was so successful that the Germans still believed that Sardinia and Greece were the intended objectives, weeks after the landings in Sicily had begun.” [20]
- Another textbook use of disinformation was the Russian and Nazi use of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” a fraudulent antisemitic tract alleging a Jewish and Masonic plot to achieve world domination.” [21]
2. Operation Desert Storm and Beyond:
- Military deception is tightly controlled within the Department of Defense by the Joint Staff. “Joint Pub 3-58, Joint Doctrine for Military Deception,”[27] was published in 1996, and replaced by “Joint Pub 3-13.4, Military Deception” on 13 July 2006. [28]
- During Operation Desert Storm in 1991, a massive deception campaign was coordinated by the Joint Staff to convince the Iraqis that Coalition forces would invade Kuwait through an amphibious landing [25], [29]. Instead, Operation Left Hook allowed Coalition forces to outflank lightly defended Iraqi forces in Kuwait from the west. [26]
- In 2002, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld created a new position of deputy undersecretary for "special plans," a euphemism for deception operations. [24] According to the Senate Intelligence Committee, the DoD “Office of Special Plans” (DoD/OSP) was “created” the same year [23], although a Joint Staff agency by the same name was active during Operation Desert Storm.
- The Bush administration used a masterful disinformation campaign to inflate the threat from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Unlike the single briefcase found on the cadaver in Operation Mincemeat (above), false information from multiple sources was planted in this disinformation campaign. Expertly planned and executed, it created the illusion that Iraq was a WMD threat despite U.N. inspections, and that Iraq had significant links to Al Qaeda.
- Although the Intelligence Community discounted the Al Qaeda link and had reservations about the WMD reports, the Bush administration deliberately misrepresented the Iraqi threat before the invasion in order to convince the public to support their actions. [22], [23] The actual origin of some fabricated “intelligence” has yet to be identified.
A conservative disinformation campaign is currently smearing Barack Obama on a variety of subjects, and will probably intensify. Among the political, religious and ethnic disinformation in various emails and websites, redbaiting attacks deliberately misrepresent him as being unduly influenced by communists and other radicals through classic guilt-by-association. These redbaiting attacks occur on two main fronts. Not only are his Chicago relationships examined, but his teenage relationships in Hawaii are also considered fair game. Despite playing to a Cold War mentality in the 21st century, redbaiting may still strike a chord with undecided voters.


Such political smears originate in professional advocacy groups such as Cliff Kincaid’s “Accuracy In Media” (AIM)[1], where he serves as editor. AIM is ostensibly dedicated to “fairness, balance and accuracy in news reporting,” but seems to function more like George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth. Kincaid is also the president of sister organization “America’s Survival, Inc.,”[2] which ironically accuses others of mimicking a “KGB disinformation campaign.”

According to America’s Survival: “Cliff Kincaid is an investigative journalist who specializes in analyzing the effects of communist and terrorist influence on the U.S. media. He is founder and president of America's Survival, Inc., and editor of Accuracy in Media's AIM Report. He is the author or coauthor of nine books, including WHY YOU CAN'T TRUST THE NEWS, and was instrumental in denying access to the U.S. media market to the Islamic terrorist Al-Jazeera television channel.”

Kincaid’s colleagues include conservative pundits such as the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s associate editor Bill Steigerwald and New Zealand’s Trevor Loudon, and experienced information warriors such as Herbert Romerstein, an author and investigative journalist, who (also according to America’s Survival) “served as an investigator for the much-feared U. S. House Committee on Un-American Activities, the House Committee on Internal Security, and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He was head of the Office to Counter Soviet Disinformation for the United States Information Agency. One of his recent books is the acclaimed THE VENONA SECRETS: EXPOSING SOVIET ESPIONAGE AND AMERICA'S TRAITORS.”


The redbaiting attacks occur on two fronts: Chicago and Hawaii. The Hawaii disinformation campaign focuses upon Obama’s teenage relationship with Frank Marshall Davis, whom Kincaid dubs “Obama’s Communist Mentor.” This attack has three distinct elements: misrepresenting Davis’s background prior to meeting Obama in the 1970’s, misrepresenting Davis’s influence on Obama, and misrepresenting Obama’s mention of Davis (“Frank”) in “Dreams From My Father.”

Conwebwatch has tracked Kincaid’s broader disinformation campaign since 2007, and reported “Anti-Obama Frenzy: The Case of Cliff Kincaid” [12] on 5/15/2008, and “Cliff Kincaid Anti-Obama Frenzy Watch” [14] on 6/22/2008.


- 29 March 2007: Trevor Loudon fired the first major shot with an attack blog entitled “Barack Obama’s Marxist Mentor”[3].

- 18 February 2008: Cliff Kincaid expanded Loudon’s attack with “Obama’s Communist Mentor”[4]), now linked to thousands of websites.

- 30 April 2008: Kincaid released “Obama’s Red Mentor Praised Red Army [15]

- 22 May 2008: Kincaid released “Communism In Hawaii & the Obama Connection”[5] and “Communism In Chicago & the Obama Connection”[6] at an America’s Survival briefing in Washington, D.C. [7].

- 7 June 2008: Bill Steigerwald interviews Cliff Kincaid in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review [8]

- 1 July 2008: Kincaid follows up with “Media Excuse Obama’s False Advertising” (13]


These articles contain distinct disinformation themes, each “supported” by direct misrepresentation. (Loudon and Kincaid both reference an article by Gerald Horne in the Communist Party USA organ Political Affairs [9]).

1. Davis’s Background:

- Disinformation 101: Kincaid/Steigerwald interview claims Davis was a “lifelong member of the Communist Party USA” [8]. FACTS: No proof, but some credible claims that he joined the CPUSA during WWII. Kincaid cites the claim by John Edgar Tidwell, a University of Kansas professor who has edited several books of Frank Marshall Davis's writings, that Davis joined the party during WWII [4], and that he was a “closet” member [15]. No evidence has been produced to support “lifelong membership.”

- Disinformation 102: Kincaid claims Davis was a “Stalinist,” because “He stayed with the Communist Party even after the Hitler-Stalin pact. That's why I refer to him as `a Stalinist agent’.” [8]. “His values, passed on to Obama, were those of a communist agent who pledged allegiance to Stalin” [13]. FACTS:
o Davis could not have “stayed with” the party after the pact when he was not even a member of the party before WWII.
o There is no evidence that Davis was an agent or that he pledged allegiance to Stalin.
o CLASSIC DISINFORMATION PARADIGM: This “Stalinist” issue is the perfect example of the disinformation process, whereby a grain of truth is transformed into mountain of deliberate misrepresentation. In four stages, Kincaid transforms Davis from a “closet” member of the Communist Party USA into a “communist agent who pledged allegiance to Stalin”:
§ Credible external report that Davis joined CPUSA during WWII (1941-1945) as a “closet” member. [4], [15]
§ Claim that Davis was “lifelong member” of the CPUSA.” [8]
§ Claim that Davis “stayed with” CPUSA after 1939 Hitler-Stalin pact. [8]
§ Claim that Davis was Stalinist BECAUSE he “stayed with” CPUSA after 1939 pact.
§ Claim that Davis was “communist agent who pledged allegiance to Stalin”. [13]

- Disinformation 103: Kincaid claims that Dr. Kathryn Takara, a University of Hawaii professor who has written extensively on Frank Marshall Davis's years in Hawaii, described Davis as a “socialist realist.” [4] FACTS: Takara actually described him as a "social realist,” which is completely different. [10] She has recently reported that Kincaid twisted her words [11].

- Disinformation 104: Kincaid claims Davis was “anti-American” and “pro-Soviet” based on his poetry [15].
o As evidence, Kincaid claims Davis’s poem, “To the Red Army,” says that “rich industrialists” in Washington and London wanted Hitler to win and “wipe Communism from the globe.” [15] FACT: There were some rich British and American Nazi sympathizers, such as Henry Ford. [30]
o Kincaid claims “Peace Quiz for America,” in which Davis ASKS why was he is sent to fight the Axis when he may be lynched at home, is “anti-American.” FACTS:
§ The poem is anti-lynching. It is not "anti-American," unless you consider lynching to be "pro-American."
§ It is possible that someone could reasonably consider his anti-lynching poem to be “anti-American,” without considering lynching to be “American,” if (and only if) there were other (non-lynching) elements of the poem that he considered to be anti-American. I have been unable to find any other such elements. The only salient theme I could discern in this poem is anti-lynching.
§ The federal, state, and local governments all shared responsibility with mainstream society in general for the culture of abuse. The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits states from denying any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, including laws against murder. The federal government failed to ensure that states protected blacks from lynching, and was therefore culpable.
o Kincaid claims Davis was pro-Soviet because he praised the Red Army. FACT: The Soviets were an ally of the United States. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Both Roosevelt and Churchill praised Stalin. [31] Praising your Soviet ally does not make you “pro-Soviet” or “anti-American.” Praising your ENEMY at the expense of your own country, on the other hand, may actually have that effect.
o Davis was accused of being a Communist anti-American because he wrote “Democracy today lies weak and slowly dying from the poison administered by the divident doctors in Washington and Wall Street who have fooled a trusting public into believing that they are the specialists who would save us from the dread diseases of socialism and communism. They hope to hand us fascism disguised as the healed democracy.” [15]
§ Davis’ criticism of “divident doctors in Washington and Wall Street” cannot logically be construed as anti-American. He LOVED America because of its promise and potential, but despised the leadership he felt was poisoning America. He warned that America was heading into fascism to escape socialism and communism. This rejection of fascism does NOT endorse socialism or communism. There is a middle path, which America has wisely taken.
§ If you deconstruct the poem and closely examine his metaphors, you may recognize that:
· Democracy is the patient
· Socialism and communism are the dread diseases
· Political and economic leaders are the “divident doctors”
· They fooled the public into believing they are specialists
· They cannot protect against the diseases because their policies are actually poison
· The outcome for THEIR policies would be fascism instead of socialism, communism, or a healed democracy
§ Even today, some pundits misrepresent criticism of national leadership as being unpatriotic. Most such critics love America, but (especially today) disapprove of the Bush administration. (Curiously, the same pundits may not have considered such criticism “unpatriotic” during the Clinton administration, suggesting double standards.) Such misrepresentation may have been conventional wisdom decades ago, but many people today are much wiser.
§ A parallel may be drawn with criticism in human relations. Parents and supervisors are taught that effective criticism must distinguish between unacceptable behavior and unacceptable people. Reject the behavior but accept the person until their flaws become fatal to the relationship. Unless criticism is carefully made, such distinctions may be difficult to make. Hence, people may conclude that the target is rejected when the critic is only targeting certain behavior of the target. Davis’ criticism should be viewed in the same vein.

2. Davis’s Influence on Obama:

- Disinformation 201: Loudon blogs “Now the Communist Party USA is claiming Barack Obama as its spiritual heir” [3]. FACT: Gerald Horne made no such claim in the referenced article [9])

- Disinformation 202: Claims of mentorship:
o Loudon calls Davis “Barack Obama’s Marxist Mentor” [3]
o Kincaid calls Davis “Obama’s Communist Mentor” [4}
o Kincaid claims Horne “noted” that Davis “became the young man's mentor” and influenced Obama’s “career moves” [4], [15]. FACT: Horne actually said that Davis gave Obama career advice, rather than influencing his career moves, and did NOT state that Davis became Obama’s “mentor,”[9].
o AIM email now claims that Obama called Davis his mentor in “Dreams From My Father.”
o Kincaid claims “Dreams From My Father” confirms that a mysterious “Frank” was a mentor [13]. FACT: “Dreams from My Father” does NOT confirm that Frank was his mentor.

3. “Dreams from My Father”

- Disinformation 301: Kincaid claims Obama “developed a close relationship, almost like a son, with Davis” [4], [15]. FACT: Book does not support claim.

- Disinformation 302: Kincaid claims Davis gave Obama advice that "black people had a right to hate white people" [8]. FACT: Obama's book says that Davis told him that black people have a REASON to hate white people, which is entirely different. (Japan had a REASON to bomb Pearl Harbor, not a right. Al Qaeda had a REASON for 9/11, not a right. Bank robbers have a REASON to rob banks, not a right. There is a world of difference between a reason and a right.) A later Kincaid blog changed “right to hate” to “reason to hate” [13].” Kudos!

- Disinformation 303: Kincaid claims “Obama had covered up the true identity of this "Frank" [8]: FACT: There was no “cover-up.” There cannot be a “cover-up” unless there is knowledge of a problem, an obligation to disclose the problem, and a failure to disclose the problem.
o Memoirs, more so than other autobiographical forms, often refer to casual acquaintances just by their first names.
o Obama was a teenager. There is no evidence that Obama even knew of any accusations that Davis was a communist, especially because Davis did not claim to be a communist.
o Davis was accused of being a communist long before Obama was born.
o Even if Obama knew of such accusations, he was under no obligation to disclose such accusations against a friend in a memoir.


We won the Cold War, but it seems that professional advocates like Cliff Kincaid cannot accept victory. The “raison d’etre” of these Cold Warriors is fighting communism, just as the “raison d’etre” of old school civil rights activists is fighting racism. Both groups have been relegated to fighting shadows in anachronistic bids to retain relevance.

Although such groups routinely inflate various threats to justify their own existence, Kincaid’s flagrant fabrications rise to the next level of significance. They deserve special scrutiny because they are intended to sway a presidential campaign.

They vilify a dead poet who was more likely to teach random acts of kindness than disloyalty to young Barack Obama. They deliberately misrepresent the values Obama may have internalized through this relationship, in a transparent attempt to smear Obama’s character.

Like weeds in a garden of truth, such disinformation must be removed at their roots. Unfortunately, Kincaid’s Internet brigade is very efficient at spreading this disinformation. Fortunately, his credibility can be easily destroyed through irrefutable proof of his deliberate misrepresentation.

“The best defense is a good defense.” Inadequate response to conservative disinformation wounded John Kerry’s campaign. We cannot allow the same to happen to Obama. Now that the Obama campaign has activated a smear-fighting team [16], it behooves EVERY concerned American to report presidential campaign smears from BOTH sides.

1. http://www.aim.org
2. http://www.usasurvival.org
3. http://newzeal.blogspot.com/2007/03/barack-obamas-marxist-mentor.html
4. http://www.aim.org/aim-column/obamas-communist-mentor
5. http://www.usasurvival.org/docs/hawaii-obama.pdf
6. http://www.usasurvival.org/docs/chicago-obama.pdf
7. http://www.usasurvival.org/ck05.14.08.html)
8. http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/mostread/s_571431.html
9. http://www.politicalaffairs.net/article/articleview/5047/1/32/
10. http://www2.hawaii.edu/~takara/frank_marshall_davis.htm
11. http://starbulletin.com/2008/06/29/news/heckathorn.html
12. http://conwebwatch.tripod.com/stories/2008/obamakincaid.html
13. http://www.aim.org/aim-column/media-excuse-obamas-false-advertising/
14. http://conwebwatch.tripod.com/blog/index.blog?entry_id=1822493
15. http://www.aim.org/aim-column/obamas-red-mentor-praised-red-army/
16. http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/fightthesmearshome/
17. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disinformation
18. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/s/sun_tzu.html
19. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Fortitude
20. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_Who_Never_Was
21. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Protocols_of_the_Elders_of_Zion
22. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/06/05/divided-senate-committee_n_105374.html
23. http://intelligence.senate.gov/080605/phase2a.pdf
24. http://www.globalissues.org/Geopolitics/WarOnTerror/InfoWar.asp
25. http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/ndu/deception.pdf
26. http://usacac.army.mil/CAC/milreview/English/NovDec01/NovDec01/breazell.pdf
27. http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/jel/new_pubs/jp3_58.pdf
28. http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/jel/new_pubs/jp3_13_4.pdf
29. http://www.rand.org/pubs/monograph_reports/MR1132/MR1132.chap3.pdf
30. http://www.traces.org/henryford.html
31. http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig/raico-churchill4.html