Tuesday, October 14, 2008

W. Leon Smith - The Iconoclast

The Melinda Show
October 15, 2008
Guest: W. Leon Smith
Host: Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

Hear W. Leon Smith, editor of the Iconoclast, talk about what must be done to save America on The Melinda Show, hosted by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster, at The Micro Effect, Wednesday, October 15th at 11am Pacific time. The count down to fascism went off last weekend.
The Melinda Show shows you how to take back your own life and liberty. The answers are out there, you know need to know. Listen like your life depends on it.

Sometimes a movie has more to say that you could have imagined possible. Let this one speak to you about freedom, courage, and America.
W. Leon Smith, Editor of the Iconoclast, will be a guest on The Melinda Show Wednesday, October 15th, at 11am Pacific Time at The Micro Effect, the show is hosted by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster.
Don't miss it.
The documentary about the small town in Texas chosen by Bush for his new home just months before the election in 2000 provides insights that bring its people into focus along with the conflict between hope and the slowly unfolding reality of the Bush presidency. The film provides a sense of connection that grows stronger as you grow to know the town and its people.
Watch it and be prepared to cheer, laugh and cry as you come to know Crawford Texas and the moments, now history, that unfolded there.

There was one moment in the 2004 campaign when the truth won through. W. Leon Smith, Editor of the Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, endorsed John Kerry for reasons that were objective and honest. Today those reasons are starkly underscored by four more years of Bush. Americans have, like the proverbial frog, been boiled in lies. One small paper spoke out and made the difference.

When Bush was inaugurated in 2001, America had a budget surplus. By September of 2004 Americans faced the worst budget deficit in history, were mired in war, seeing its sons and daughters returned home maimed or in coffins, and facing a rapidly deteriorating economy.

With his co-editors, Smith sat down again to go over the issues. The paper always made endorsements. Their editorial policy was not focused on partisan politics but on simply doing the right thing. Smith ignores the registration of candidates. What matters, he says, is character and keeping faith with those who elect them.
George Bush's popularity had waned in other parts of the country, but in Texas his approval rating still stood at over 80%. Smith knew the risks.
On September 29, 2004 , the Iconoclast endorsed John Kerry with a half-page editorial that would be downloaded and reprinted millions of times over the next months.
Over and over again the Iconoclast's servers crashed because of the volume. The three phones in the Iconoclast's offices were not still for weeks. At first, most callers were angry, abusive, obscene with whoever answered the phone. Death threats were made; advertising dried up. Then, a change started to take place. The number of calls continued to keep the phones busy around the clock but the reason for the calls changed. People from Texas and across the country and then the world began to express their gratitude.
Courage came to Leon Smith from birth.
If you have heard of The Alamo you know about the Smith heritage. During the course of the Texas War of Independence his ancestor Erastus Smith would earn the deep respect and gratitude of Stephen Austin and Sam Houston. His work as a spy for the Texans would provide the information that won Texas 's independence. It was Erastus who discovered the fate of those at the Alamo and who escorted Susanna W. and Angelina E. Dickinson, now widows, to safety. It was Smith who later raised the cry, “Remember the Alamo.”
The Smith family did what needed doing. As Mayor of Clifton, Texas Smith did his duty to his community. Now he would do his duty to his fellow Americans.
The Editorial, as it came to be known, set the issues that would be raised during the Presidential debate then pending. That editorial began by pointing out that few Americans would have voted for Bush if they had realized he would:
  • Empty the Social Security trust fund by $507 billion to help offset fiscal irresponsibility and at the same time slash Social Security benefits.
  • Cut Medicare by 17 percent and reduce veterans’ benefits and military pay.
  • Eliminate overtime pay for millions of Americans and raise oil prices by 50 percent.
  • Give tax cuts to businesses that sent American jobs overseas, and, in fact, by policy encourage their departure.
  • Give away billions of tax dollars in government contracts without competitive bids.
  • Involve this country in a deadly and highly questionable war, and
  • Take a budget surplus and turn it into the worst deficit in the history of the United States , creating a debt in just four years that will take generations to repay.”
The Editorial was reasoned and well documented. It had needed to be said; no one else had said it.

Smith found himself working around the clock, even giving interviews at 4 in the morning. Work on the paper backed up but always, finally, went out. Smith found himself hammered; every statement made in the Editorial scrutinized and questioned in exhausting detail. But he knew that he needed to be available. To do otherwise could be deemed as backing away from the truth. Leon Smith would never abandon the truth.
On November 3rd, the Iconoclast ran a story on overcharging by Halliburton.
On November 17th, the paper reported voting irregularities.
On December 1st it reported the Congressional investigation of voting irregularities.
On December 12 the report of the offer off $100,000 from Jimmy Walters for proof that the World Trade Center had collapsed as reported by the governmental investigation was on the front page.
January 5, 2005 Rep. Conyers Asking Senators To Object To Certification Of Election
February 9, 2005 Unexpected Illness, Medical Bills Cause Half Of All Bankruptcies
March 2, 2005 Lessons of My Lai:Army Whistleblower Urges Public To Do The Right Thing
March 9, 2005 Underwater Noise Pollution Will Dolphins And Whales Go The Way Of The Dinosaur? - The Velvet Revolution: Divestiture For Democracy 87 Citizen Groups Launch Nationwide Campaign To End Secrecy In U.S. Voting Machine Companies
March 23, 2005 Texas House Proposes Tax Cuts For The Wealthy With School Finance Plan
In the next months the readership of the Iconoclast would change. Few now subscribed from the local area, but the on-line edition was read across the country and internationally. As corporately owned media within the United States was stifled and issues that were public knowledge in Europe and elsewhere globally, Americans could find the truth reliably on the pages of the Iconoclast.
The Iconoclast became the newspaper for Americans who want the truth and for those in other countries who wanted a real American paper. Print copies began to be mailed out around the world.
The migration of Depleted Uranium came to the attention of Americans through the Iconoclast as did other issues that otherwise would have remained unknown to the general public. Where mainstream American media had been silenced there was still a voice for truth.
Editor Smith had begun to receive e-mails and phone calls from people deep within the Bush Administration and in multinational corporations who had information they knew should be available to the public. They knew he was trusted because of his unwavering stance. Stretching his resources to the limit Smith worked around the clock to make as many of these stories available as possible while still ensuring that the documenting research would be available to protect the paper's continued existence.
Over and over again it would be an article in the Iconoclast that would awaken Americans to issues that did not appear in the mainstream media. But Smith faced the frustration of limited resources. Not all of these invaluable leads could be followed up. The sources were unwilling to go elsewhere; they knew Smith was to be trusted and many were putting their lives and livelihoods on the line.
In August of 2005 Cindy Sheehan went to Crawford , Texas to confront George Bush. Camp Casey sprang into being; the media arrived ready to shoot at their usual awning created with a farm background with a bail of hay, not because of the protesters, those had become routine, but because Bush was in residence at his ranch..
For the major media it looked to be another boring time in Crawford. Events would prove them wrong.
The Iconoclast had covered a Sheehan story recently, but now Smith and one of his fellow editors decided to follow the events in detail, through cell phones providing hour-by-hour or even minute-by-minute coverage of the drama playing out at Camp Casey and at the Crawford Peace House.
The action was reported on the Iconoclast pages online. As major mainstream media saw the Iconoclast following the action they ramped up their own coverage. Finally, the mainstream had competition, limited but on point.

Then, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and Americans received a closer look at the lack of compassion of the Bush White House. The stories flowed out to America.

In the following months the use of cell cameras and links to video and audio would flesh out the approach the Iconoclast had pioneered while the choke hold of corporate ownership continued its drive to cut activists off from the mainstream. The case of a student at UCLA, battered by campus police, would gain visibility through observers using their personal devices. In Iraq the use of camera cell phones was banned.
Freedom needed a voice; that voice came through The Iconoclast and W. Leon Smith. But more was needed; more is needed today.

The Iconoclast is not just a newspaper. Think of it as the first in the new wave of media for America. Over the last nearly eight years more Americans every day learn the truth and reaching out find the means for enacting change. Right now may seem like the darkest hour but it is the time when Americans are waking up. As that happens they will find the will to resist; to rediscover themselves and what really matters. That will begin with community. When the people govern themselves it begins there.
In Crawford the movie you saw what one community learned through their own eyes and senses. You saw their faces, heard their words. Life holds no promises, they learned that as all of us are learning. Once you know you take action. To bring America back to its founding vision of individual rights, justice, and prosperity we need a voice for the truth. The Iconoclast is that voice. Donate or subscribe today and let freedom ring in your heart.