The Watch

The Watch is concerned about the increasing pressure towards feudalism in the United States from corporations, social regressives, warmongers, and the media. We also are concerned with future history concerning our current times, as non-truths which are “widely reported” become the basis for completely false narratives.

Friday, February 28, 2003

The people of the world reply to Bush's war

Iraq Watch

Jack Beatty ponders the horrors of an American victory in Iraq in "The Road Better Not Taken"

What's interesting about the conservative bias in the media is not that stories containing damning information do not get published. They just don't get "picked up on", the process whereby the ideas therein get accepted by a large group of journalists, passed on, talked about, become part of the national dialog. We have talked at length about Clinton's sex life and Clinton's business dealings, but not Joe Scarborough's sex life or Bush's business dealings. I mean, even after all those articles on Bush's illegal insider trading at Harken came out, does anyone feel like that subject has really been fully explored?

Anyway, here is an article indicative of that phenomenon. Newsweek publishes an article citing a credible Iraqi source saying that all Iraqi nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs were destroyed in 1995. The response of the rest of the media?: The sound of crickets chirping. It's not that the stories aren't out there - it's just that everyone knows to ignore them until they go away. Then they can credibly claim ignorance of the facts if they are brought up later.

Here's another bit of evidence that Feinstein is waking up. Also, she seems to have made this speech on the day of the virtual march. I'm rather pleased to think that all of those phone calls, emails, and faxes may have in fact made some kind of difference. Amazing that that is what it takes to make people wake up, but at least some politicians still respond to their constituencies.

Jill Nelson's "Lust for Empire" describes her fears about the coming war.

Democracy Watch

Here is a website from an activist who is trying to address the problems of electronic voting through local and state activism. Give his site a visit, and see if there are ways you can help.

Media Watch

Via MediaWhoresOnline, this review of Eric Alterman's book "What Liberal Media?", "All conservative, all the time" is a must read if you wonder why more progressive voices don't get on the airwaves. It's not a pretty picture. David Talbot also reviews some of the goings on in the 2000 election. Salon requires a short commercial before you view the full article, but it is well worth it.

Bush Watch

William Thomas probes the essential question, "Is Bush Nuts?"

Bartcop Watch

Great rant today at Bartcop. Here's an excerpt:

The military DOES love the Wanker in Chief.

Among the reasons Gore lost Florida was our military guys were flooding Florida with multiple ballots as late as early December, and they were mostly pro-Monkeyboy.

Sometimes I sprinkle mix in with the truth, but I'm not kidding when I say most military families would rather their son die from the AWOLer's bumbling than have him come home happy and healthy and raise grandkids under that evil Clinton monster. (After all, Clinton had sex!! Who wants their kids to come home under Clinton?)

More proof is the loss of the American dream.

Clinton's paradise of peace and riches has turned to crap under AWOLboy, but people still give the moron a high approval rating for doing what? Constantly taking monthlong vacations when the FBI/CIA told him there was increased Al Qaeda traffic in August 2001? Clinton was the hardest working president we ever had and the results proved it.

For giving Clinton's $5TRIL and another $6 TRIL we don't have to his rich friends as bribes so he can get elected for the first time in 2004?

Nobody talks about the 220 marines we lost when Reagan bungled in Lebanon, but we hear "Remember Somalia" every day, because 20 men died when Clinton inherited with another Bush bungle in the Middle East

Clinton worked his way to the top with brains and skill, while AWOLboy laid back and had everything handed to him by his rich, crooked daddy, including the presidency. And the coke-snorting, uncurious drunk has a high approval rating?

What the hell is wrong with this country?

Humor Watch

Check out this page. Look carefully before you click "back".

Thursday, February 27, 2003

Chickenhawks "understand" the price of freedom

Thanks to Melissa for this article, which is a nice little feature on the success of yesterday's virtual march. I would point out the lame quote from Diane Feinstein at the end. It seems she has decided that there actually might be "really a movement" against the war. Good for you, Diane. Way to be out ahead on the moral issues, and way to represent your constituency. (/sarcasm).

Iraq Watch

Digby has a MUST READ post on the illogic of this war.

John Judis tries to answer the question "Why Iraq?". I love how the rest of us keep scratching our heads and trying to find some great motivation for this war, which is so obviously ill-advised.

See this excellent analysis of how the media is trying to sell the war by the rhetoric they use and the pictures they show.

ChickenHawk Watch

Check out this amazing article about a pro-war rally in Indiana. Here is a most amazing quote from the article:

Things got contentious at the end of the less-than-hourlong demonstration when some at the rally confronted a group calling itself Vietnam Veterans for Peace. "Go home and eat your wine and cheese, you sissies," William G. Rice, 40, yelled at the group of about 20 people as they walked away. "Cowards." Rice, a laborer, said that although he had no military experience, he thought he understood the political situation better than the veterans. "I seem to have a better understanding of the price of freedom than they do," he said.

That bears repeating: Mr. Rice, who was 10 years old when Vietnam ended, feels he has a better understanding of the "price" of freedom than Vietnam Veterans do. He feels that he knows the price in horror and death that "he" is willing to "pay" for "freedom" better than men who actually fought in that horrible war, and he is willing to pay that price. Good for you, Mr. Rice.

Then comes the ironic twist. This quote, at the end of the article from former Republican congressman David McIntosh:

"The antiwar protesters must be careful not to let our troops down," McIntosh said. "We must remember how our soldiers in Vietnam were shunned."

McIntosh must not have been aware of the earlier part of the article, in which a pro-war protester shunned soldiers from Vietnam. He must have missed the part where soldiers from Vietnam were trying not to "let our troops down", by trying to get them the hell out of Iraq.

There was a lot of ugliness in Vietnam. People were angry that war crimes were being committed in our collective names, and the politicians were involving us in a horrible war without regard to the public sentiment or the lives of the soldiers. And the servicemen were caught in the middle of that debate. Shunning the victims of the war was a horrible thing for anti-war protesters to do.

But how can McIntosh possibly think that not wanting our troops to be shot at, gassed, maimed, or otherwise killed is "letting them down"?

Uniter/Divider Watch

In this article, "U.S. Officials Say U.N. Future At Stake in Vote", we learn that the US is ready to pitch over the UN Security council as irrelevant if they don't line up and support Junior's war. Particularly chilling is this quote:
"You are not going to decide whether there is war in Iraq or not," the diplomat said U.S. officials told him. "That decision is ours, and we have already made it. It is already final. The only question now is whether the council will go along with it or not."
So, contrary to Bush's insouciant protests that he "hasn't made up his mind yet" about whether we are going to war, it seems that his little mind _has_ already been made up. No surprises there. I'm so glad the Democrats made Bush go to the U.N. before giving Bush carte blanche to declare war. That seems to really have made a lot of difference - not. So, like much of this administration's dealing with other parts of international law, we find that the U.N. is just another piece of paper to be torn up, along with the Kyoto treaty, anti-ballistic missile treaties, and our arrangement with North Korea which kept them from developing nuclear weapons. Way to go, Junior! Of course, one could argue that he is bringing so many peoples together in their hatred of the U.S. that he can still claim to be a uniter.

Josh Marshall on how Smirk has turned almost every country on earth against us.

South Knox Bubba has a little more to say on Dim Son and our relations with the rest of the world.

Conservative Media Watch

See this interview with Greg Palast, who knows more than anyone what happened in Florida in 2000, at Liberal Oasis. Palast also knows the score about the U.S. attempted coup in Venezuela, and has been following the unsavory business dealings of the Bush crime family for years.

See Hesiod on why Phil Donahue's show was cancelled. It seems that NBC was worried that his show would become "a home for the liberal antiwar agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity." Horrors!

Finally, this troubling story from Barry Crimmins, who was asked by an NPR show to ridicule the field of Democratic candidates, includes his response, and his frustration with NPR.

Afghanistan Watch

PBS's NOW interviews investigative journalist Seymour Hersch, who explains, among other things, how Al Qaeda and the Taliban fled from Afghanistan (with help from the Defense Department), and the dangers inherent in the situation in Pakistan.

Ari Fleischer Watch

Fleischer is so full of crap, he needs his own category. Today, I'd like to point you to "Ari & I", a series of exchanges between Russell Mokhiber and Ari Fleischer which are taking place at white house press conferences. Mokhiber seems to be one of the only individuals, along with Helen Thomas, who makes a habit of asking pointed questions of Ari. Mokhiber's goal seems to be to make Ari look ridiculous by pointing out the stupidity of Bush policy, and I say more power to him.

Bush Watch

Interesting Times has an interesting commentary on a study about incompetence, and relates it to a certain world leader . . .

Welfare for wealthy Corporations Watch

An article of that greatest of all boondoggles, "Missile Defense".

Economy Watch

Here's a good one for your "Bush lies" files.

Vaterland Security Watch

This little article wins the award for most cynical explanation for the "duct tape" advice of Tom Ridge.

Humor Watch

Thanks to Greg for this Onion article on new Orange Terror alert measures.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Bush: insane or merely hypocritical?

Iraq Watch

Thanks to Jake for this link to a very rational anti-war message from Dave Matthews.

You may recall that we warned about this administration lying to justify its war before Powell testified at the UN, based on the same behavior they exhibited during Poppy Bush's presidency. They lied before with faked satellite pictures and a false story about infants torn from incubators. This time, it seems that they used falsified transcripts. The taped phone conversations of Iraqi soldiers were apparently much less incriminating than stated by Powell. It is a testament to their amazing hubris that the true translation was easily available from the State Department. Apparently they knew that most of the well-behaved conservative media would never report on this, even if they knew the truth.

Also, here is an article on the rationality of deterrence when it comes to Saddam, and his history of being deterred. This article is important in that it reminds us of the actions of our Iraq Ambassador April Glaspie, who gave Saddam our tacit approval in his invasion of Kuwait.

Via Tom Tomorrow, Max Sawicky writes a thoughtful and cogent analysis of why this war may or may not be "all about the oil".

An article in the LA Times announces that the cost estimates for Bush's war have suddenly escalated.

Democracy Watch

Salon has just published a must see article on those electronic voting machines.

Bush Watch

An incredible article by Paul Krugman on Bush's credibility gap. Why is this not more reported?

In this article, Gene Lyons ponders whether Bush is really religiously insane or just a hypocrite. In either case, he explores the relationship between Bush's espoused fundamentalism, and that of Bin Laden.

Rights Watch

Here is an article flagging the beginning of the dismantling of a woman's right to choose. It was clear that this was going to happen, but still it is disappointing and scary to see it going forward. I hope that women's advocacy groups are paying attention and come out against the Republicans in high numbers in 2004. All we can do is hope at this point.

Humor Watch

Tom Tomorrow on racism.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Huh . . turns out the media doesn't like Al Gore very much

History Watch

The publication of Eric Alterman's book "What Liberal Media?" will cause a small ripple of public commentary about which way our media is skewed. That the media is liberal, the convenient lie, is being shouted by our very conservative press. That it is not should be fairly obvious in the way the media treated Al Gore through 1999 and 2000. They worked very hard to "misinterpret" every Gore utterance as a lie, while at the same time remaining silent about Bush's verbal gaffs, the obvious and scary lacunae in his experience, his criminal past, his feckless military "career", his callowness, his lack of depth, the anemic rationales for his stated policies, and his crooked business dealings. They had to work very hard to somehow miss all of those things about candidate Bush, while picking through every Gore statement which could be twisted as a lie, like a gaggle of moralizers in a church basement, playing Elvis slowly on their turntable and listening for naughty words. But they really came through for Bush. Very little was said about the behavior of the media by the media at the time. The best archive for all of this malfeasance can be found at The Daily Howler, a very important site now that the next campaign is gearing up and it is once again open season on Democrats.

However, it is important to understand what Gore was up against in his campaign, to watch for that behavior again. Here are some of the surprisingly few resources which describe the screwing that Gore took by the media, apart from the Daily Howler. Read the playbook, and watch for the plays. .

Environment Watch

Thanks to Gary for this article, a well-balanced and informative look at the Bush administration's record on the environment. Loosening environmental regulations and lax enforcement is a two-fold win for Bush. First, it is political payback for polluting campaign contributors. Second, as the environment gets worse, more people are sickened, impoverished, and marginalized by our terrible system of healthcare. You can't concentrate on how the rich are making themselves richer if you have to fight for healthcare.

Iraq Watch

A brief article about the political fallout for Tony Blair and the damage done to NATO by Andrew Murray, "No Mandate to go to War".

Monday, February 24, 2003

Who's counting the votes?

Ok, strap on your tin-foil helmets so you can block out the signals from the mother ship. Today we are going down into the dark tunnel of conspiracy theory.

As we've seen before, the goal of our current leadership is to un-empower individuals and to empower corporate entities, or oligarchies of individuals who control those corporations. The root of individual political power in this country is the franchise. Vast sums of money and time are spent trying to win people's votes (or to keep them at home, not voting). That seems like such a messy system from the point of view of the oligarchs. Who are these unwashed masses to vote their leaders (some of whom have been annointed by God to lead us through these treacherous times) into or out of office, as if the leaders didn't know what was best for them? How dare they select a philandering Rhodes scholar over Poppy Bush? How dare they select a triple amputee war hero over a Republican draft dodging ChickenHawk? Don't they know who Baby Jesus would vote for?

Our political power in this country rests on the quaint (and surely antiquated, from the point of view of the oligarchs) custom of having John and Jane Q. Public trotting off to a community center and registering a vote. Really, now, that's not a way to run a country, is it? Not when the people in charge are used to wielding frightening power over us. So what is a good oligarch to do?

Clearly something has to be done to protect the public from its own foolish choices. One way to do this is to demoralize the public from voting (check). Voter turnout has to be kept low, so that only more easily controlled groups of voters can dominate the outcome by voting against everyone else's best interest (check). Real differences in the policies of the candidates have to be played down by the media, so that they can focus on "what a great guy" the oligarch candidate is (check). Candidates who would represent the best interest of the public at large must be ridiculed, marginalized, and smeared (check).

They are doing a good job of reducing the power of individual votes. But this plan is obviously not foolproof. Look what happened in the last big election, where Gore almost won it by a margin which would have made it un-stealable. Whew! That was close. And even after the oligarchs tried to abort the people's choice of Clinton by staging an egregiously trumped-up witch hunt and impeachment circus, his approval ratings stayed high. Clearly more has to be done.

The question today is: has more already been done? Let's talk briefly about exit polling. Because we keep no record of our vote, in order to keep voting anonymous, usually the only way to catch malfunctioning voting equipment is through the use of exit polling. (Never mind exit polling's more annoying use, to predict winners and losers by the media even before the polls close). When exit polls differ vastly from election results, investigations have often shown a problem with the vote counting apparatus. Exit polling (and simple logic) highlighted the absurdity of the "Jews for Buchanon" vote on the butterfly ballot in 2000. And exit polls showed Gore winning Florida by a comfortable margin, which led to the first announcement of Gore's Florida victory on that horrible night in 2000. But Voter News Service (VNS), the coalition of media services which did exit polling in 2000, did not do exit polling in 2002, ostensibly due to some kind of computer glitch. There were no exit polls taken in Florida for the governor's race in 2002, for example. And not having VNS there in 2004 due to another "computer glitch" would be a huge risk.

With exit polling out of the way, we are forced to accept whatever outcome we are given by the media, with no evidence to raise our suspicions that fraud is happening. With punch cards and other forms of paper voting, we at least have a record of the votes so that they may be examined by balanced teams of counters, with observers to check the process.

Here's where the tinfoil will come in handy. Many poling places are moving more and more towards electronic voting machines, which keep no record of votes, issue no receipts, and leave no trail of fraud. (The discrediting of paper-based voting equipment in 2000 was surely icing on the cake for vote- riggers). There are three peculiarities about electronic voting machines which should cause a shiver down the spine of anyone who wants to hold on to even that smallest bit of political power, their vote.

  • They are insanely easy to tamper with by subtle adjustments to their internal software. Programmers for these machines could easily add bits of code to switch every 100th vote for a Democrat over to the Republican, or to adjust the final tally to some preset margin of victory for the Republican candidate. (You can read in this essay about how at least 3 Republican candidates won their elections in 2002 by exactly 18,181 votes. Unfortunately, the original article from a San Antonio paper is no longer online - I'm still looking for a saved copy - you can find more articles like this by entering "18181 votes" in Google). These special instructions could be written to only occur on first tuesdays after the first mondays in november in even years, and would be undetectable in other testing trials. This could be done without even the manufacturer knowing about it, in the form of "easter eggs" hidden cleverly within the software.
  • Neither the government nor citizen watchdog groups can get access to the actual software which runs these machines, as they are protected as "trade secrets" by the manufacturers.
  • Many of the largest manufacturers of electronic vote counting equipment are run by extremely right-wing conservative individuals, and in some cases religious extremists as well.

You can see how easily a conspiracy theory can be woven from these three facts. You can see what a thin thread our democracy may already be hanging from, as it relies on the goodwill and sense of fairplay of conservative businessmen. Perhaps that thread already has snapped. Does anyone really believe that the voters of Georgia in 2002 voted for Saxby Chambliss, a Republican draft-dodging chickenhawk who had the temerity to impune the patriotism of Vietnam veteran and triple amputee Max Cleland? Is it just a coincidence that in that same election, Georgians voted in their first ever Republican governor in the modern era, over a popular Democratic incumbent? There was no exit polling in Georgia in 2002, naturally, but polls of voters before the election showed clean victories for both Democratic candidates. And every single vote in Georgia was recorded on electronic machines from a single private company, Diebold.

But then again, maybe the populace really did want to reward the Republicans for their excellent stewardship of our country during 2001 and 2002. They certainly were models of good government during that time.

We should be vigilant about this possibility of being disenfranchised. In a way, this is the ultimate election theft. The people go through the motions of voting, votes are tabulated and recorded, results are posted, but there is no record, no verification, no oversight. We are lead quietly and with no protest into dictatorship, like people killed slowly and without warning by carbon monoxide. Is this why W. thinks it doesn't matter that he is leading us into a truly unpopular war? Is this why, when Gore was announced the victor in Florida on election night, Bush reportedly told his friends "Don't worry", as if Florida was already in the bag?

More resources can be found at the following sites:

OK, tin foil hats back off. I apologize if this is too much for you all - I'm not big on conspiracy theories myself. But the danger for losing our vote is too great not to be vigilant against this potential threat.

Friday, February 21, 2003

Our humble foreign policy fails to impress

Ponder this quote for a minute:

"[H]ow do you lose a P.R. war with Saddam Hussein? I mean, how could you be so inept that this lying thug dope addict serial killer is beating the head out of us in the court of world opinion. How could you be that inept?" --James Carville, Feb 18th, 2003 Crossfire

The Crossfire transcribers are pretty lame. They usually seem to use phonetic spelling, and I doubt that Carville actually said Saddam is "beating the head" out of us. But the idea is an important one. Bush is the leader of the World's Richest Democracy(TM), America, which is the shining beacon of hope for millions and perhaps billions of people around the world. We lift our lamp beside the golden door everyday. Citizens of other countries and immigrants look to us as a place to start a new life, a country built on the rule of law, which uses its might to oppose tyranny, not empower it. American culture and ideals are consumed around the world, and our nation received an outpouring of goodwill from the four corners of the earth after the September 11th attacks.

Yet, in a lopsided majority rarely seen for political questions, the Bush administration has been told to cool it by the world's people. In every nation across the globe, the people smell a rat. They know that inspections have a much greater chance of a good outcome for everyone on the planet than does invasion, war, and death. Even people in this country, bathed in their soothing electronic certainty that the US is always right on every issue (and that Bush has been chosen by God to guide our country through this dangerous time) are against this war.

It raises two interesting points. The first is that the Bush administration, or the powers which are pulling its strings, is more interested in having this war take place than in being re-elected. Every lie they've told, every captain of industry they've bribed (and been bribed by), every line of Democratic invective and Republican opprobrium spilled out of every compromised journalist's mouth, every bit of power they've managed to beg, borrow, and steal from the legislative and judicial branches, and the people themselves - it is all on the line with this war. What could be the payoff for them if they successfully get us into this war, which by many accounts could go badly wrong in a million ways, and for which they have no clear exit strategy (at least which they are sharing with the rest of the world), and then lose the election in 2004? The fact that they are pouring huge amounts of political capital into this effort suggests that the payoff is big indeed for them. Certainly the payoff doesn't involve bringing "democracy to the Iraqi people". That is to laugh. Could it just be the money that Poppy Bush and Carlyle will gain through war profits, and Halliburton will gain through control of the oil? What is the big prize in this invasion?

The second interesting point is that although this war is clearly so important to them that they will break international law to start it, with the whole world watching them and against them, they are doing a terrible job of selling it. Karl Rove, who is supposedly a master of political propaganda, can't get this dog to hunt. It is such a terrible plan that on its face, everyone else opposes it. Yet, people love America, they grieved with us on 9/11, we have (or rather had) an enormous amount of political capital with which to persuade our allies and make our case.

And we blew it. Colin Powell, in particular, has squandered his remarkable stash of auctoritas, and still the people see right through the thin tissue of lies used to paper over the gaping holes in the rationale for this invasion. It does raise Carville's question, and also another: Is this administration just incredibly inept, or is there some latent evil behind their plans? And what could that evil be that they would risk seeming so inept?

Our Humble Foreign Policy Watch

Bush spent a great deal of time talking about how we needed a "humble" foreign policy at the beginning of his term. Now that Germany wants to stop us from killing a bunch of mostly innocent people, our policy towards them is turning less humble. We (at least the defense department) are now engaged in "punishing German treachery". Way to keep our alliances strong, guys!

Media Watch

Ted Rall writes an excellent essay on how our amazing, self-censoring media can, and often does, deceive us by leaving out one crucial detail.

Bush Watch

Alan Bisbort has issued a rather humorous/depressing report card for the Bush administration. They fail, of course. By almost any credible measure, this country is heading in the wrong direction.

Who's Hitler? Watch

This thread begins with an interesing discussion forum post which you can show someone when they start talking about Saddam being "like Hitler". The important historical parallels actually seem to fall between Herr Schicklegruber and another appointed dictator who you may be familiar with.

Humor Watch

More on the "Bush or Chimp" theme, combined with some neat java technology. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 20, 2003

Democracy is coming to the USA

Activism Watch

Thanks to Melissa for this link, which in addition to containing thoughtful and thought-provoking quotes from entertainers against the war, mentions a Virtual March on Washington to take place on February 26th, next Wednesday. The article did not, of course (thanks conservative media!), link to the webpage which describes the actual event. They are asking that people call, fax, and email their representatives throughout the day on Wednesday. Please go to the site, and see what you can do. If Bush does plan to go forward, he can at least do it knowing he is not representing us. It's important that people in other countries, especially Muslims, understand that our foreign policy has been hijacked by a bunch of amateurs.

Thomas Friedman Watch

Thomas Friedman of the NYTimes has taken some interesting positions lately. Take this article,in which he scarily declares that World War III has already started, and then takes the Chinese to task for not being pro-America enough (and then threatens them with economic sanction unless they play ball with us - that's sure to warm their hearts). Friedman has clearly gone off the deep end, calling tirelessly for war and offering up any excuse he can think of, including promising some sort of wonderful democracy and freedom to take over in post-invasion Iraq. I'm sure this is the case, as we have a long history of setting up marvelous governments in countries after we topple their leadership - Pinochet in Chile, the Shaw in Iran, Mobutu in the Congo, the Samozas in Nicaragua. Hey, if the Iraqis can have democracy and freedom, how about getting a little bit of it here in America? Here is a response to this article from Charles Dodgson.

Then, just three days later, after all of those countries around the world spend nearly a week denouncing the US leadership and their rush to war and the pitiful supporting "evidence" which we have presented, Friedman finally wakes up to the horrible job our administration is doing in selling the war. And he starts to reprimand our little tin dictator. After you read that, please go read Digby's response to Friedman. Here's an excerpt:

You might as well be asking them to stop hating Bill Clinton. This is who they are. If you had bothered to read the pre-2000 writings of this foreign policy team or had torn your eyes from the comic book hagiography that grew up around Junior after 9/1, you would have realized that it was a big mistake to support this administration in anything but a laser-like focus on terrorism and the economy. Such things as huge changes in international law (like adoption of a doctrine of preventive war) should have been tabled until an administration with a competent leader and a democratic mandate from the people assumed power.

Was it good for you, too?

Leaving Everyone Behind Watch

Here is a very interesting article on Bush's "Leave No Child Behind" public school testing scheme, which I found via the Daily Howler. It seems that, the way the plan is set up, that nearly all public schools will be labeled as "needing improvement", even those which fluctuate around a very high average for performance. It seems this is just a very convoluted way to stamp every public school as "needing improvement", which I guess fits in very well with conservative plans to destroy the public school system all together. The philosophy seems to be that only people who can pay to have their kids educated should be able to send their kids - anything else is socialism, that most evil of sins. Also, how can we be assured that only those with wealth and power now retain that wealth and power, if we are going to be giving away free educations to all of our citizens? Bush's plan also represents a huge intrusion into state control over schools by the federal government (usually a no-no with the conservative crowd). and also contains a huge bolus of unfunded mandates for schools. But wait, Republicans hate unfunded mandates. Don't they? Don't they? Ah, I love the smell of hypocrisy in the morning.

Frog Bashing Watch

You've all probably heard about those rotten scoundrels, the French. What cowards they are, what horrible allies, what appeasers. Yes, French-bashing is in the air, ladies and gentlemen. Please see the wonderful Molly Ivin's response.

President Frathouse Watch

Presidential buttkisser (and winner of the 2001 Media Whores Online Whore-of-the-Year crown) Howard Fineman has explained the Presidunce won't be swayed by all of those silly activists marching last weekend because they remind him of those crazy hippies from his college days. Read TBogg's response to this wonder of governance.

Humor Watch

Also from TBogg, check out some proposed catch phrases for the Office of Vaterland Security's "Ready Campaign".

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Gored by the Press

The Watch may be a bit spotty for the next couple of weeks, for a variety of reasons: We just reformatted our home computer with a new operating system, and we don't have my home email address back on line yet. Also, I'm traveling to NM over the weekend for a scientific conference, so communications could get a bit stretched. Please bear with us. If you would like to be deleted from the list or if there is a better address for me to use, please let me know. Also, if you would like to have someone added to the mailing list (or if you would like to be BCC'd on the list or some other change) please let me know about that as well. As always, The Watch is archived periodically. With apologies and thanks to Melissa for letting me use her email address for a couple of days.

Two amazing occurrences this weekend: the snow and the protests. We got a lot of snow, and we got it in a very short time. Delaware is still digging its way out, and today is the first day that "non-essential" vehicles are allowed to drive around Wilmington. The kids still don't have school.

The protests are another amazing natural phenomenon. However this war ends up playing out, the people of the world have registered their opinions, loudly and clearly. The foreign press estimates that 8-10 million people took to the streets to protest Bush's war on Saturday, in some places despite very cold weather. Even in this country, the protests were huge. In NYC, a controversial court ruling denied protestors the right to march, but they gathered anyway. The Bush administration filed a brief in that case, asking that this right to assembly be denied to the protestors. That's the American Way!

Skewed Values Watch

Walter Brasch has a very good article which sums up my feelings about the skewed way the media mourns for some (astronauts, for example) and completely neglects others (soldiers in Afghanistan, for another example).

Foxes and Henhouses Watch

This article from "The Hill" exposes the behind-the-scenes maneuvering that led the GAO to drop its investigation of Cheney and the energy task force proceedings. It turns out that the administration threatened to cut the funding for the GAO if they kept investigating, and so they stopped the investigation. How is that for the era of personal responsibility? Really, that's pretty amazing. The administration's response to internal investigations is to defang the investigators. And our media whistles quietly and looks the other way. What is Cheney hiding? What could possibly be so damning in the energy task force's minutes that it would be worth the political fallout of having these strong arm tactics exposed? That scares me a little, because these tactics themselves are very scary. What they are hiding must be a lot worse. This is another example of the rich and powerful taking power away from individuals, in this case represented by an "independent" arm of the government.

Dean Watch

Howard Dean gave an excellent speech on Monday. Here is the transcript and an article on the speech. He really stuck it to Bush and the Democrats in Congress for authorizing Bush’s use of force. If he continues in this vein, I think Dean can really generate some momentum, if he isn't crucified in the press (ha ha).

History Watch

Who won the election of 2000? History will show that Bush now occupies the White House. No one disputes that Gore won the popular vote by over half a million votes. Who got more votes in Florida? It depends on how you count them, of course. Most people were hoping for a more definitive answer when NORC finished its count, many months after the election. But even then, most of the major newspapers covering the results, as if covering up their guilt in the outcome, ran headlines which said that Bush won in Florida after the NORC recount. However, reading down into these articles shows that Bush was not likely to have won in the event of an actual recount. This result is too subtle for most reporters, apparently, as they continue to glide effortlessly around the 2-ton elephant of Bush's illegitimacy in the living room. But the fact was captured in many of the progressive articles which were online at the time. Please see the following articles for the details of how Gore would have won the recount:

Whitewater Watch

Although the Whitewater "scandal" and investigation has since been thoroughly debunked as a search for actual wrongdoing (instead of the partisan witch hunt it was), many important newspapers are still intentionally clueless about whether the Clintons actually did anything wrong. This is shameful, as the NY Times and Washington Post have a responsibility to the truth to which they still are not owning up.

But even worse than the political, personal, and financial damage done to the Clintons are the attacks against ordinary people by the out-of-control Office of the Independent Council. Julie Hyatt Steele and Susan McDougal are two women whose lives were very nearly ruined in the course of the investigation, because they would not lie for Ken Starr. Steele is just now getting her economic life put back together. McDougal spent time in prison. Both of these women are owed a great debt of gratitude by the American people, for halting the investigation in their own way, and for taking the difficult course of truth over easier lies. We'll look at what happened to them both in more detail in the future, but for now here is an interview of Susan McDougal who has a book out currently about her experiences.

Friday, February 14, 2003

Anti-war commercials

Every once in a while you discover what a terrific force for good Christianity could be if its "message" wasn't always highjacked by the same lunatics and fanatics whom Christ was warning his fellow jews about 2,000 years ago. Last night I saw a 30-second commercial, featuring Janeane Garafolo and Bishop Melvin Talbert (a bishop from Bush's own united methodist church) speaking the truth. Apparently it has been on for a couple of weeks, but this is the first time I've seen it. I couldn't believe my ears - I was actually hearing the truth come out of my TV. It sounded so strange that it startled me. I realize it is only a small truthful drop in the offal-filled bucket of war hysteria which normally spills from the little box, but it was refreshing and bracing none the less. It showed pictures of innocent people the likes of which would be killed or maimed in our invasion, reminded viewers that Iraq has not done anything to the US, and then urged people to find another solution to our problems besides war. The only thing I thought was missing was the fact that neither Iraq nor any of its citizens were involved in 9/11, despite the lies and implications of the administration.

You can visit the online version of the commercial (requires QuickTime), and the home of the National Council of Churches, which co-sponsored the add. The NCC seems to be dedicated to building public policy around the actual teachings of Jesus; things like helping the poor, protecting the weak, feeding the hungry, establishing social justice - and averting war. Amazing! I'd forgotten that there were actually Christians like that. I found another amazing article where the head of the NCC responds to Bush's last state of the union with sanity. They are also distributing "America's problems won't be solved in Iraq" bumper stickers. Let's hope for some more Christianity like this. Also see their sister site Win Without War which lists a number of coalition groups all dedicated to fighting the war. It is nice to find that all of the American people haven't been propagandized/lobotomized, but of course anti-war sentiment is still hard to find on the TV.

Speaking of which, here is a story of another group trying to stop the war by way of advertising which they are paying for, but the TV channels are too chicken to air. Imagine this - that Fox and CNN, etc., won't air a commercial which advocates peace, even when it is paid for.

Today's other big news was that Hans Blix and most of the countries in the UN security council have come out against American aggression against Iraq. Blix himself noted the bogus nature of much of the evidence which Powell presented. It seems his credibility, along with that of the US on this matter, is pretty much shot in the international community. With any luck, this war will be the political end of Dim Son. This idea is echoed in an editorial in which David Ignatius equates Bush's obsession with Saddam to that of Captain Ahab and the white whale. If only the American people weren't being dragged along on this crazy Pequod-ride. Ignatius's advice for Bush? "He needs to take firm hold of his quadrant." Indeed!

If you feel an anti-war stance puts you at risk of being labeled a loon, here are 10 excellent Right-Wing complaints against the War in Iraq. You can use these arguments and still be considered a loon, just a right-wing loon, I suppose.

Right-Wing Loon Watch

Here's a little something funny - check out some of the warning signs for marijuana use in children included in this pamphlet put out by noted right-wing nutcase (and extremely powerful politician, naturally - the two seem to go hand in hand) Orrin Hatch: excessive preoccupation with social causes like race relations and environmental issues.

Real Patriot Watch

Today's MUST READ link is this speech by Robert Byrd, who sums up the case against this administration with eloquence and outrage, one of the only truly outspoken critics of this madness in the senate. If only we had 99 more like him.

Humor Watch

Above is the best use of that duct tape, but I'm sure you've thought of this already . . .

Take care, Happy Valentine's, and have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Poindexter the middle finger

Here is a bit of good news for a change - it seems that Congress is pushing back a little bit against having Americans stripped of all of their freedom to privacy. Good for them, though you can expect Bushco to push back hard. Read some sane comments from our countries leaders about the evil Total Information Awareness plan.

As Tom Tomorrow notes,
"I never could decide if the Bushies were just so damned clueless, they didn't understand how the appointment of Poindexter would be perceived--or if it was a deliberate middle finger aimed at anyone who cared."

Iraq Watch

More skepticism on Powell and the Iraq War from the excellent Arkansas columnist Gene Lyons.

Fantasy Watch

It's fun to have fantasies. Here's a nice one.

Osama Who? Watch

Is Bush playing right into Osama's hands? If you wanted to inflame the Muslim world into attacking the US, you could hardly ask for a better president than Smirky. Lucky for Osama, the "adults" are in charge. See these cartoons for some sharp commentary from this point of view. Liberal Oasis also has some excellent analysis of Powell and how he plays into Osama's hands.

Screwing the Poor Watch

From Uggabugga, here is a link to four very funny Tom the Dancing Bug cartoons, about the amazing adventures of Lucky Duck, that poor hero who always manages to get something for free. You'll enjoy these, especially if you remember the Wall Street Journal editorial from about a month ago explaining about how "lucky" people were who earned so little they didn't have to pay income taxes.

More on welfare reform and subsidized housing reform from Liberal Oasis.

Humor Watch

I can't decide whether the Bush administration firing those Arabic translators who happened to be gay is funny or sad. Jon Stewart at the Daily Show plays it both ways.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

What Liberal Media? The Case of the Dead Intern

Eric Alterman is a progressive journalist who does excellent political analysis. He has a new book out entitled "What Liberal Media?", which disputes the myth of the liberal media and confirms the reality of the conservative media. It is probably one of the most important books on the media which will be published this year. You can imagine that Eric is having a hard time promoting this book through the "liberal" media - he isn't booked for many venues, and some where he is booked are openly hostile, which you would think would prove his thesis.

This Sunday, Eric Alterman was a guest on a show on MSNBC, one of the three cabel news networks which along with CNN and Faux, is skewing more and more toward right wing fanaticism. The show was hosted by one Joe Scarborough, a weasel-eyed young republican who had been a member of congress elected in the Republican takeover of 1994. Scarborough invited two other guests for the segment, a right wing analyst from the right wing Media Research Center, and a right wing congressman, also a frat-boy type, from Colorado. The host, the MRC stooge, and the Colorado frat boy proceeded to shout over Alterman as he tried to make some of the points made in the book. They were trying to win the argument with volume and bullying, but I'm not sure what it was they proved. That the media, themselves included, is really very liberal? That the three of them versus one progressive author was an example of balance? If the media were actually very liberal, as the theory goes, wouldn't a book like Alterman's be welcomed by the right wing as evidence that their views were becoming more mainstream?

As an aside, it is ridiculously easy to tell which way the media leans. The Fairness Doctrine, which was gutted during the Reagan era, held that publicly-owned airwaves had to provide time for opposing viewpoints. If the media were very skewed in one direction or the other, it would be easy to tell who it was skewed against by examining who wants the return of the Fairness Doctrine. The answer? The return of the Fairness Doctrine is opposed by conservatives, and championed by progressives and liberals. It is viciously opposed by the current FCC head, Michael Powell. There's your answer, and it doesn't take much analysis to arrive at it. If the media were really heavily biased towards the left, the conservatives wouldn't shut up about the Fairness Doctrine, and would treat it like the 11th commandment.

The mere fact of Alterman's appearance and having to defend himself against three conservative loudmouths is not the point of all this. The really delicious (perhaps disgusting) irony in the whole situation is that Joe Scarborough is someone who has benefited mightily from the conservative media. For him to deny the existence of the conservative media seems like poor gratitude indeed, for if it were not for the conservative media he a) would be out of public life and b) would certainly not be hosting a show on national television.

Perhaps you remember Joe Scarborough, the Republican congressman from Florida who was viciously smeared by the liberal media in a feeding frenzy in the summer of 2001. No? Let me refresh your memory: He was the congressman who had a beautiful, athletic, 28-year old staffer found dead with a crushed skull in his congressional office in Florida. This was right around the same time he announced he was leaving politics to spend more time with his kids and wife (who he divorced shortly thereafter). Not ringing any bells?

This all occurred during the time of that great journalistic maelstrom which was the Condit/Levy scandal. I need not remind you of the smearing of Gary Condit, who may or may not have deserved it, but was definitely not found guilty of anything in a court of law. Scarborough may not have deserved any bad press, either, but surely a media primed for scandal the way our is would have picked up on the extremely suspicious circumstances of this young lady's death (I should add that the local authorities acted quickly to hush up the case, and that the coroner who autopsied the woman's body had lost his license in other states for . . . falsifying autopsies! He came up with some cockamamie story about her standing alone in the office, fainting, and fatally hitting her head against a desk as she fell.) In any case, wouldn't a liberal media have, say, raised some questions about this? Wouldn't we at least have heard about it? Imagine Gary Condit hosting his own show! Scarborough was shielded by the almost certain torrent of bad publicity this would normally have caused by the (R) behind his name.

You can read about the case at:

Remember Lori Klausutis when someone talks about the "liberal" media, and then remember the spectacle of Joe Scarborough, yelling at Eric Alterman for questioning the existence of the "liberal" media. Alterman also has a blog.

Iraq Watch

Here is a response to Powell's UN presentation by someone who is actually an expert in the field of Iraq (this guy was the first to discover the plagiarized bits of the UK "intelligence" report).

An interesting analysis of the many ways the W. has lied to us.

Afghanistan Watch

Here is an article on a documentary about American and American ally war crimes during the war in Afghanistan. The source, the World Socialist Web Site, sounds like it would be a real tin foil-hat organization, but most of the articles I've found there seem pretty credible. That being said, this movie has been suppressed in the US and also in Germany by the US government. What do they have to hide? You can also purchase the documentary.

Screwing the Poor Watch

As a neat bookend to the plan to deny more children subsidized school lunches, comes this humanitarian idea: raise the rent on people in federally subsidized housing! Yes! Read about this compassionate conservatism.

Humor Watch

News on the Axis of Just as Evil

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Don't tax the rich, and spend

The federal government is a powerful institution. Many of its founding, organizing principles have to do with protecting the individual from more powerful entities: enemy states, corporations, other rich people, the government itself. The Bill of Rights outlines many of these principles. And so, if one wants to eliminate the power of individuals, which this administration is moving mightily towards doing, you have to hamstring the federal government. You have to impoverish the federal government and leave individuals without rights, or at least with no financial apparatus to defend those rights. You have to break the government and leave it broken. The answer? Spend big and cut taxes. Spend so big and cut taxes so deeply that the government is left crippled, unable to carry out even its most basic functions.

For example, the GAO has some policing function for the government itself. When the GAO sued Dick Cheney and his energy task force to release its papers (they are, after all, public servants), they lost their initial ruling in December. The GAO has now decided not to pursue an appeal of this decision, citing among other things, a lack of funds. So the government can't police internal corruption. This makes W's friends happy.

The SEC is being starved of funding, even as the slightly tougher oversight laws coming after Enron and similar scandals are being defanged. This makes W's friends happy.

As Eleanor Clift points out, soon the deficit and debt will be so large as to preclude Social Security and Medicare. The predictions of the doomsayers, who thought SS would not be there for them, will turn out to be true, because both programs will be starved when the baby boomers start to retire. The programs will be gone, or morphed into unrecognizable shades of their former selves, effectively dissolving the social safety net for our older citizens. It will be with great schadenfreude that the world will observe baby boomers who vilified Clinton and mocked Gore and voted for Shrub wondering where their government retirement benefits went. This makes W's friends happy.

The golden goose is about to be killed for the shortest of short-term gains. And like every one of W's policies, this is the easy way out. I'm struck by how much of what animates the Bush administration just seems like laziness. It is easy to destroy, but much harder to create. Clinton and Gore worked like the devil to create a more fair tax code, one which worked to everyone's benefit. They, and people before them, worked to create international agreements and treaties. Good government employees from years ago have worked to create scientific advisory boards, to create good government based on policy analysis and research. All of this has gone out the window in favor of the easy path of destruction. Fragile treaties, arms agreements, and balances of power are swept away by this administration. The peace, a fragile state in any case, is destroyed. The hard-won, through fiscal discipline, budget surplus is spent before it is even realized. Policy boards and panels are packed with idealogues. The exactly wrong people are put in charge of government agencies (our anti-labor Labor secretary, our rapacious secretary of the interior, our anti-environmental head of EPA, our anti-regulation head of SEC). The very protections which keep each of us safe and strong are mockingly torn down, henhouses protected by oligarch foxes. We are in for some very hard choices in the future.

Deficit Watch

Thanks to Gary for this article, in which Nobel laureate economists decide that Bushco is not acting in the best interests of the country.

Iraq Watch

In breaking news, there is apparently a new voice recording of Osama Bin Laden, encouraging the Muslims in Iraq to resist the US. And also, by the way, to rise up and overthrow Saddam, which I guess makes Bin Laden our ally against Saddam. Who knows if this recording is real, or to what extent the administration will use it for their own purposes? However, the controversy is that many news outlets are editing out this phrase from the translation:
"At the same time, the message also called on Iraqis to rise up and oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who is a secular leader."
Obviously, this smacks of editing the news to the benefit of the regime, a job only Winston Smith could love. Read comments of angry democrats about this development and also look here, where someone has captured a screen shot of the original story, before it was scrubbed. Welcome to the age of censored news.

The British see right through all of this Bush-wah. I guess having the British press, which isn't a totally bought and paid for subsidiary of Bushco, can have an ameliorating effect on public opinion.

See this for a take on the Powell presentation to the UN which you may not have seen in the mainstream press. You'll see in this an example of the Republican's use of the unrealistic deadline, which they used again to good effect in the coup of 2000.

More on the British intelligence paper on Iraq, touted by Powell and lifted from a graduate student.

Conservative Idiots Watch

An excellent Top Ten Conservative Idiots

Outrage Watch

Tom Tomorrow sums up what a lot of us are feeling these days.

Humor Watch

Well, it's not exactly humor, it is just what Dubya says.

Monday, February 10, 2003

PATRIOT ACT II, electric boogaloo

After the Bush coup in 2000, there have been many horrible things happening in this country, brought about by our own leaders. Our civil liberties have been curtailed. Our tax system has skewed wildly in favor of the rich. Our health care research has been restricted based on the views of religious fundamentalists. Our foreign policy has centered around how many simultaneous wars we could fight, and with whom. Our (hidden) energy policy apparently has been centered around how much energy companies would be allowed to gouge the public.

We haven't really deserved all of the many other atrocities we've endured since then, (As The Onion observed, "They say you get the government you deserve, but I don't remember pistol-whipping a nun") but at least this is our problem. Since Afghanistan and now Iraq, though, we have been shipping our misery, ignorance, and death, out to the world, mostly to people much poorer than ourselves. Our moral responsibility grows with each passing day to help those less fortunate than ourselves, as they did not allow an unelected fraud to take control of their country (at least not _our_ unelected fraud).

The situation in Iraq has been very distracting, of course, as we launch a major, unnecessary, and immoral military action. But as we shall see, the undermining of our domestic situation has continued apace, with the help of this grand distraction.

Freedom Watch

The Justice Department, apparently very happy with the results of the ironically-named PATRIOT act, has been in high gear writing PATRIOT act II, the sequel, which will wipe out some more of the few remaining safeguards we have against a police state. PATRIOT II would allow the government to take away the citizenship of Americans who, by their actions, "imply" that they no longer want to be citizens. This could probably be interpreted as treasonable acts, like protesting Tipsy McStagger's adventures in Iraq. It would authorize secret arrests, create new death penalties, curtail oversight on governmental surveillance, create new "terrorist databases", etc. It's a beauty. You can read a bit about it (and also see the PDF of the draft legislation there). Bill Moyer's program NOW also has some documentation on PATRIOT II.

Iraq Watch

Yet another article explaining, slowly and carefully, to our bloodthirsty warhawks that there is not a connection between 9/11-Al Qaeda, and Iraq and Saddam.

Here's a bit of oilwellian activity by our government. You have probably heard that Picasso's famous mural Guernica, depicting the horrors of war, was covered so that Colin Powell would not be shown advocating war while standing in front of it (shades of Ashcroft covering Justice). Here is a nice summary of this lesson in NewThink, entitled "Guernica, 1937, Hidden from View So as Not to Offend the Perpetrators of Guernica, 2003".

Here's one about the great evidence and arguments the UK and US have put together supporting a war on Iraq. Turns out the Brits plagiarized a student's term paper for part of theirs, and most of the rest of it is a cut-and-paste job.

Class Warfare Watch

Here is an interesting article about how very regressive state and local taxes are. Again, this is useful when rich people start whining about their taxes.

Racial Profiling Watch

This article reminds us that not everyone who wants to do us harm is necessarily distinguishable by the way they look.

Election Watch

The smearing of John Kerry in the Boston Globe last week has launched a lot of letters to the author and editor. I thought they were amusing and worthwhile. You might enjoy reading them, too. If you have time, read the article and then write one of your own. We cannot let this kind of smear campaign happen again, unprotested.

Friday, February 07, 2003

Dennis Hastert: Sex-scandal free!

Who is Dennis Hastert? I know, I know, he is the Republican Speaker of the House. But apart from that, the man is a bit of a cipher. He came from obscurity as just a Republican house member from the midwest and rose to one of the most important positions in our federal government. How did he do that? Was he an ideological mover and shaker? Were his machinations behind the scenes enough to propel him into the top spot? Was his leadership potential too hard to ignore? What made Denny Hastert such a red hot commodity on Capitol Hill that he was made the party leader over so many more experienced and more well known Republican personalities?

In the wake of the general failure of the Contract on America and the specific failure to impeach Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich was forced to step down as the Speaker of the House. The Republicans in the house looked among themselves for a replacement, and they found Bob Livingstone. Now Livingstone had seniority, but he had to step down as well. Why? Well, the most important reason was that he had cheated on his wife. Not usually (mostly never) a disqualifier for high office, but in the wake of the great cry the Republicans had raised over OralSexGate, Livingstone had to step down. Not a big deal, but to avoid the situation of looking like complete and utter hypocrites on this sex-outside-of-marriage thing, they had to find someone who had not had an extramarital affair. No problem, right? Well, they couldn't use Livingstone, or Bob Barr, or Henry Hyde, or Asa Hutchinson, or any of the other impeachment managers. All of those high-minded fellows had documented past (or ongoing) "youthful indiscretions" of their own.

I have to hand it to the GOP. This time they actually opted not to be hypocritical - just cynical. They went down the line and down the line until they _finally_ found Denny Hastert, an unknown, to be Speaker of the House for the entire country. But Hastert, a nobody in the house, was the highest ranking Republican who was not known to be unfaithful in his marriage. So there you have it - a thrilling example of Republican family values at work, which also explains the unexpected rise of Dennis Hastert's star.

With thanks to Bartcop for the original inspiration.

Iraq Watch

I have some longer links today for weekend reading. The first is an amazing interview that Tony Blair did, taking questions directly from citizens of the UK. They can clearly smell a rat, but he defended his position as best he could. But what an amazing occurrence this is. Contrast this with our imperial president, who doesn't bother to take questions from the millionaire press corps, let alone average citizens. And he would never allow people to talk with him in this openly questioning way. Dear Leader must be respected! So, I found this interview pretty entertaining.

Second is the MUST READ piece of the week, a study of just how the war hawks have lulled us all and confused us into transferring our attention from Al Qaeda to Iraq, from Bin Laden to Hussein. It is a call for all of us to wake up. You have to click through a couple of adds for a day pass, but Salon is well worth the 10 seconds this takes.

Finally, this fascinating little piece from Uggabugga, about military spending in middle eastern countries, and what our actual purpose in the region may be.

Big Dog Watch

President Clinton was interviewed by Larry King yesterday. Here is the transcript. Reading it will make you long for the days when we had a president who was elected, who could put two thoughts together, and who could form sentences in english. Clinton's command of the facts, his vision for a commonwealth of nations, and his joy for life make for fascinating reading.

Election Watch

The spin has started on Kerry. The media is claiming that Kerry has identity problems and doesn't know who he is. This is just like Al Gore, who we were told didn't know who he was in the last election cycle (it turns out he was the guy that kicked Bush's ass in the election). Bob Somerby has all of the sordid details, along with the lie of the "earth tones". Read what they are starting to do to Kerry, along with a weird kind of anti-semitism, and how they did it to Gore. Watch for signs of this kind of reporting to crop up against other Democratic candidates. When reporters say a candidate doesn't know who he or she is, what they are really saying is that they don't want _you_ to know who he or she is, so they will play ignorant.

Humor Watch

Madeleine Begun Kane's Dubya's Daily Diary is a fun read. I always get to laughing when "Dubya" calls Ashcroft "Ashy". You'll see what I mean.

Thursday, February 06, 2003

The strange occurrence of the Democrats in the night

There is a short story called "Silver Blaze" in which Sherlock Holmes mentions the strange occurrence of the dog in the night. His companion says the dog didn't do anything in the night. "That is the strange occurrence", says Holmes.

Our "strange occurrence" is the lack of any opposition party. The Democrats smile and nod as if everything is just a-ok in this country, as if we weren't being led by an evil and secretive cabal which came to power over the will of the people. They have lost their voice, and when they are allowed to speak, they give no alternative view, just what seems to be Republican-lite.

"Corporate campaign contributions? We take them, too, just not as much as the Republicans." "Tax cuts? We're for them, too, only smaller ones than W. is proposing." "Saddam? We're sort of for regime change through military intervention, too, only maybe with a bit more caution." "Clinton? We think he was pretty rotten, too."

I mean, it seems as if the Republicans and Democrats have merged into one large, corporately-controlled party, the Republicrats (with a nod towards Billionaires for Bush or Gore), with two wings: one more humane and wimpy, the other loud and cruel. But both controlled by the same people. Who is opposing the madness? Why can't the Democrats give voice to the protest some citizens feel against this awful regime? Who will we find to actually represent us?

Being frustrated with the Democrats is a bad place to be. It is very understandable, but it leads some people to support third parties like the Greens, which can be ok as long as it doesn't help the Republicans (in other words, nearly never). A Green candidate for Attorney General of Delaware here this year helped defeat a very competent and humane Democratic incumbent last year, allowing his Republican challenger, who is by many accounts a hack, to take the position. Nader's involvement in the 2000 election was only one of many factors, any of which could have gone the other way to provide a win for Gore - only in combination did these factors converge to yield a "win" (of sorts) for W. But Nader has been shown to be only too happy to help defeat Gore and usher in this Golden Age of Bush. ( An excellent compilation of links and articles showing just how Nader was knowingly helping Bush during the campaign was available at MediaWhoresOnline, through a link called "MWO vs. the Saint". The link is broken right now, but I've written and asked for them to reactivate it - it's one of the most important pieces of research about the 2000 election. It is an exchange between the MediaHorse and one of Nadar's campaign leaders, with MWO taking her out to the woodshed.) Because of the realities of our two-party system, we cannot afford to abandon the one which offers us only Republican-lite, because we end up with Republican-dark instead. This is not a great system, but until the Democrats gain back control of the executive and legislative branches, we will have to be patient and work to change the Democrats from within if any hope for our freedoms is to survive.

If you do not vote the lesser of two evils, you will end up with the greater.

But it can be enormously frustrating. For an example of the great Democratic leadership, please see this little gem. Isn't that special? The Democratic candidates are lauding Powell's speech. Why is it that these guys think anyone would vote for them? If they think Bush is doing such a good job, then what is the basis for voting for them? This country is screaming and crying out for sane, non-bloodthirsty leadership, and unfortunately bland agreement with the putsch now in power is the best we can hope for. The lone exception is Howard Dean. I may work for him in the upcoming primaries just because he has presented a consistent anti-war message. What about the hundreds of thousands of people who marched in the cold anti-war rallies recently? Doesn't anyone want their votes, and the votes of the millions of people who agree with them, but were too cold or far away or busy to physically march? I don't know what has lobotomized this opposition party, but we have to support them anyway. What a dilemma.

It can't be because there is a lack of issues. Everyday we are treated to a new atrocity, which deserves being dragged into the light and exposed as the rot at our foundation which it is. I could go on for hours about the madness, the bad policy, the way every decision seems to be founded on the assumption that Armageddon is coming soon. And I'm just a guy with a day job. Why can't these guys speak up effectively? I realize the media would begin the ridicule and smear campaign immediately, but the people can tell. Look at Gore - he was crucified by the media in 1998-2000, and he still won the election.

Here is an issue - the Democrats should feel free to use it. Please see the chart below, which was featured at mediawhoresonline today. All Democratic candidates would have to do is display it everywhere they go, everytime they are on TV. The chart makes its own case. Unless we want to be crushed under debt, and Chimpy is making no signs of reversing that anytime soon, we'd better start getting serious about funding the government. It's almost laughable.

See this link if you want to see how easily the debate can be won with conservative idiots - someone went on O'Reilly's show and didn't back down, and Bill the great debater just about lost it. Good for a laugh, until you realize that people like him control the debate.

Humor Watch

If you haven't already been there, please see one of the sister sites to, I guarantee you will find something there to love.

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Powell Doctrine? What's that?

I heard a report on NPR on the way home tonight about Powell's presentation to the UN Security Council. They said he had "made his case" with certain bits of evidence, then proceeded to describe them. First was an audio tape between two guys speaking arabic, and mentioning nerve gas. That couldn't have been faked! Next, they described a picture of some kind of armored vehicle driving away from somewhere, and claimed it was used to move chemical weapons around. Plus, they said some really credible guy totally believes it, too! And, they said all of their sources were really, really credible. So there you have it! Let's Roll!! (That reminds me of a very poignant rant by Bartcop, who is very unhappy that Chimpy has appropriated that phrase for his own nefarious purposes.)

Powell, of course, has just blown his credibility straight to hell. The Powell Doctrine, paraphrased, is that if you must go to war, ensure an unambiguous objective, overwhelming force, swift victory, minimum casualties and a clear exit strategy. So far, we have overwhelming force (we think). I think that I look to Powell and project all of my rational hopes and dreams on to him. I think, "surely he will wake up and start telling the truth. Surely he is the person inside this administration that is going to push back." - he has shown such moments before, rarely. But, no. I am reminded of the great quote from the movie "The Hunt for Red October", where Admiral Josh Painter (played, with no irony, by soon-to-be Republican Senator Fred Thompson) says, "This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we'll be lucky to live through it." It's time for The War Prayer by Mark Twain.

As an aside, why is it that the relatively mild conservative shilling going on at NPR is so much more distasteful to me than the full blown propaganda at Fox? I can't understand how the folks at NPR can just go right on, offering us totebags, when the country has been taken over by judicial coup and we are being herded like frightened sheep into the most evil mistake we have ever made.

Bush Watch

One of the most important sites for the documenting of all things evil done by this administration is The Wage Slave Journal's George W. Bush Scorecard of Evil.

Media Watch

Why are we in this big mess? One easy chart found here and shown above will answer that question.

Humor Watch

Please see

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

The Columbia and the "Comforter-in-Chief"

I meant to write a few words about the Columbia yesterday. I think many people feel like honorary members of NASA. When I was a kid I read a lot about the Apollo missions and the astronauts and the solar system, and as I grew up I felt that it was amazing that the human race was able to do something so ennobling. Instead of just scratching around in the dirt trying to feed ourselves, we were exploring a little bit of our neighborhood - an important and dangerous job. It is very sad that those people died.

And yet . . . and yet. It has been four days now, and I still can't listen to NPR for longer than 5 minutes without hearing about it. The "facts" of the story can be almost entirely summed up in a single sentence: the space shuttle broke apart upon re-entry. Everything else is just speculation, and will continue to be for a long time. As a country, we are expected to feel like we've been punched in the gut, I guess, but I feel that almost every day as I read the papers anymore. We should feel sad for the families of the people killed. But why can't the media summon up even a shred of the same kind of empathy for the innocents we bombed to death in Afghanistan, or the innocents we are about to kill in Iraq? It is as if we can only express our humanity in the face of high-profile death, but I think we could be human in the face of all death and come away better for it. Anyway, I don't mean to seem callous, it just a really weird juxtaposition. We (through the media) feel so sad about seven people dying while doing a risky job they had worked their whole lives to do, while at the same time we (through the media) are encouraged to not even humanize the people we are about to blow into bloody little chunks, who are just going about their daily lives. This week's Pundit Pap, which I recommend to you anyway, has a very well-written essay about the media's reaction to this - scroll down to the "Meet the Press" section, written by "Dash Riprock".

Another thing - if I have to hear one more time about our "Comforter-in-Chief", I'll puke. This is the same emotional and intellectual child who said "There's only one person who is responsible for making that decision [to go to war], and that's me. And there's only one person who hugs the mothers and the widows, the wives and the kids on the death of their loved ones. Others hug, but having committed the troops, I've got an additional responsibility to hug, and that's me, and I know what it's like." -- GWB to Barbara Walters, ABC "20/20," 12/13/02. Mark Crispin Miller, author of "The Bush Dyslexicon", has an essay on that gem.

You may recall that in the first Gore-Bush debate, Gore claimed to have toured a Texas fire disaster site with James Lee Witt, a FEMA director. He was roundly denounced as a huge liar over this (by the "liberal" media), since even though he had been on many visits to disaster sites with Witt, and even though he had been to the Texas site with one of Witt's aides, it was technically not true. Bearing this in mind, here is an interesting item. Bush, who was actually governor of Texas, can not remember if he ever did or did not visit the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

In other good news, a Bush administration official says we need to do more stringent means testing for school lunch programs. That's an important issue!

Humor Watch

On a lighter note, please see these very funny Bush Haikus.

Monday, February 03, 2003

The Official Version versus the Truth

One of the most important and useful things that progressive people (and all people interested in the truth) can do is to help remind each other what the real truth is. In any given situation, the "official version", which is often created by the Republican National Committee and then repeated by the media, has very little to do with the objective truth. This can lead to the watchful citizen feeling uncomfortable internal dissonance; while the media are telling us (repeatedly) one thing, our guts are telling us something else entirely. Some people are not with it enough to feel the dissonance. Other people seem to embrace it, dutifully incorporating the double standards of their political leaders into their own ethic. Others, hopefully many people, cannot stand the lies or the liars.

The dissonance between official version and actual truth occurs in matters both vastly important and laughably trivial. Surprisingly, the truth is not always that hard to find. Usually, there are articles published that present facts which support an objective truth which differs from the conventional wisdom. But you rarely will see these facts used to pick apart the spurious fabric of mendacity woven by the people in charge of our discourse, our history, our view of ourselves and our country and the people who run it.

Here are a few examples of official versions (OV) of some events, followed by the actual truth (AT). In each case, the actual truth is factually based, and we will find supporting evidence for each item in the future. These are a few off the top of my head:

OV: Staffers in the Clinton administration trashed their White House offices as they left them for the incoming Bush misadministration.
AT: No evidence of this has ever been presented, apart from Ari Fleischer's just making stuff up about it.

OV: The Clintons stole items from Air Force One.
AT: This never happened.

OV: Saddam has nuclear weapons!
AT: There is no evidence of this.

OV: The Clinton administration was very corrupt.
AT: The Clinton administration was extremely clean by almost every measure, with no convictions for any official wrongdoing.

OV: Gore would have lost the 2000 election even if the votes were counted.
AT: Most honest estimates show Gore beating Bush handily.

OV: The Clintons were guilty of something in the Whitewater deal.
AT: The Clintons were completely exonerated by the Whitewater investigation.

The list goes on like that. Actually, it gets pretty redundant, mostly with accusations against the Clintons and Gore. Whitewater, HaircutGate, TravelGate, FBIFileGate, Vince Foster, "Love Story", "Love Canal", the Gore canoe-ride and water-release, Inventing the internet, Farm Chores, Air Force One, Trashing the White House, Gore's posh boyhood hotel, the Clinton "pardons scandal", etc. Most of these lies and smears were just pretty much made up by the RNC, and repeated in the endless no-facts echo chamber of the servile media.

Is any of this really important? Surely, Clinton's term will be remembered as scandal-ridden - the people who write the history of this period will be as lazy as those who reported it in real time, which is a shame. Even though 1993-2001 provided us with some of the least corrupt and well-run federal government ever, the lies of Clinton's political enemies (and those complicit with them) are louder than the truth. Maybe that is an academic point. But the problem is that the RNC has learned that they can lie about almost anything - they can make up the most egregious lies and they will be repeated by the press - and nothing stops them. And the lies become the truth through constant retelling and the fact that they are never refuted.

The media are really the keepers of the Story, and they get very incensed when people try to present opposing facts. They told us that Bush won the election, now we should just be quiet about it like good little children. They told us that Bush would have won the election anyway, so there!

Anyway, if you can handle the dissonance, then I am happy for you. You will probably have a fine life, and always feel as if things are proceeding for the best in this country. For those of you who don't believe that W. was anointed by God himself to be our glorious leader, good luck and remember to keep the truth alive.

As an example of this process, here is a little tidbit assembled by FAIR, the media watchdog, about that bad old Saddam "ejecting" weapons inspectors in 1998.

Iraq Watch

In the interest of the truth, I should mention that I mangled the facts about the bogus satellite pictures a bit last week. See this article for a more complete picture of the untruths which surrounded that conflict, perpetrated by the same people who are lying to us now.

Also, here is a good little true-and-false quiz about Iraq to give to your conservative friends.

Here is a MUST SEE animation concerning Operation Inigo Montoya.

A beautifully cynical little game, in which you are the despot of a desert country with the world's second largest oil reserves, and you are trying to keep a larger country from invading. Good luck!!

Some international cartoons showing the rest of the world's view of us.

Some more on the false, but oft-repeated connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda.

ChickenHawk Watch

Another grim look at those who avoided war themselves, but now cannot wait to send others into it.

Bush Watch

Nelson Mandela has reservations about the Bush administration, to say the least.

Here is an article entitled "Bush's Messiah Complex". Very scary. Nothing like living in a virtual theocracy, especially when the theocrats show no connection to the actual tenets of the professed religion. Blessed are the peacemakers!

Bartcop Watch

Enjoy this mini-rant from Bartcop last week:

"Before September the 11th, many in the world believed that Saddam could be contained. But chemical agents, lethal viruses and shadowy terrorist networks are not easily contained. Imagine those 19 hijackers with other weapons and other plans -- this time armed by Saddam."
--Dubya, SoTU

That's not a case for war, that's a case of pure horseshit!
"Imagine them armed by Saddam?"

Imagine them armed by the Klingons!
Imagine them armed by The Dark Side!
Imagine them armed by the evil wizards in The Lord of the Rings!