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, August 29, 2003

Stained undies

Soiled Underwear Watch

I tend not to write too much about the Democratic primaries here, as we have a full field of nine announced candidates and possibly one or two more who are unannounced, and I don’t want to turn anyone off by supporting or not supporting their favorites. However, it is a great field, full of good candidates, and the process is enriched by having all of them use the platform of candidacy to promote their views. I did come across an article which I just had to share with you, though, just for its entertainment value. It is full of fear-laden, panic-stricken lies, which means of course it was written by a Republican, and you have to go to a very right-wing website to read it, but it is so worth it. What has Larry Kudlow’s soiled underwear in such a bunch over at the National Review? Howard Dean’s surge in fundraising and support. I haven’t enjoyed reading a right-wing screed so much in quite a while.

Let’s look at a few choice quotes from this hilarious article, shall we? First, the title, "Launch the Dean Counterattack: The Bushies must squelch this left-wing uprising". I mean, how hysterical is that? "Left-wing uprising"? I guess that’s what they call people participating in democracy these days. And the idea that it is so frightening that it has to be squelched, that the Chimpster is so vulnerable to criticism, fills me with sweet, satisfying Schadenfreude for their little, panicked, neocon hearts.

First he cites a recent poll by Zogby (not the most reliable pollster, but whatever) that Dean has a large lead right now in New Hampshire. Then "It’s time for all the president’s men to aggressively defend Bush's policies and attack Dean's extreme left-liberal positions." Kudlow, who has his own show on MSNBC or CNBC or MSGOP or whatever, is self-identifying as one of the "president’s men" (so much for the "liberal media") and classifying Dean as extreme left-liberal.

A word about Dean’s positions. They bring in to sharp focus the fact that the liberal-centrist-conservative single dimension ruler doesn’t do a good job of reflecting the multi-dimensional issues that make it up. Dean has some very liberal positions, mostly on social issues. He is also a deficit hawk, and seems relatively hard nosed about many foreign policy issues, tempered with the acknowledgment that we absolutely must work with other countries and within the framework of international law. A case can be made that depending on the issue, he is either extreme left-liberal, centrist, or conservative, but "moderate" or "pragmatic" is probably the best way to describe him. One of the main things I like about him is he doesn’t seem to be driven by ideology, unlike certain other election thieves I could name. Sorry, got off on a tangent about Dean there.

Kudlow then makes the astounding argument that Dean’s base is "narrow" because it only consists of half of the Democratic party and a third of the electorate. Would that everyone’s base were so narrow. He then mentions the liberal media again. What a tired old lie.

Then, check out this whiny passage, and get out your violins: "Following his successful rally in New York's Bryant Park this week, the New York Times saw fit to run a huge frontpage story with a color picture of the candidate. Meanwhile, a story on Bush's excellent speech at the VFW convention where he emphasized a stay-the-course commitment in Iraq was placed below the Dean story with a much smaller headline". This is so sad. Tears flow down my cheeks. Apparently the NYT didn’t get the memo about the appropriate placement and headline font size for stories about Smirky vis-à-vis Democratic candidates. I’m sure they’ll get a call from Karl Rove soon.

Finally, we get to Kudlow’s problems with Dean’s positions. Here is the list of horror: "universal health insurance, opposition to the Iraq war, balanced budgets, tax-cut repeal, affirmative action, and gay rights". I’m shocked, SHOCKED. Yeah, that sounds like a real recipe for disaster in this country. "This is not a winning combination, as numerous moderate Democrats point out." Thanks for the advice, Larry (and you too, Lieberman), I’m sure Dean will soon start listening to it, if he knows what’s good for him.

Then Kudlow starts laying out some smears for the good media lapdogs to lay on Dean. His healthcare plan is "Hillarycare". Heh heh, mention Hillary, that always gets people’s blood boiling. Link him to Ted Kennedy, yeah that’s the ticket.

Then comes this whopper: "On the economy, a strong recovery is building momentum." Stop the jokes, Larry, your making my tummy hurt. You may have heard that there were revised estimates for growth in the economy in the 2nd quarter of this year, but you probably also heard the only improvement was in military spending.

"As for foreign policy, Dean would destroy American credibility for at least the next fifty years". Fortunately, we won’t have any credibility left when Dim Son is given the boot, so there’s nothing to worry about there. "Culturally Dean would destroy the traditional American family". Boy, that Dean sure is both evil and powerful.

"Howard Dean's left-wing uprising should be squelched before it gains any currency in the public mind. Standing above the fray is no way to do it. Neither are caustic put downs. The Bushies must dig in now. They've got to pull out some serious policy analysis and some long knives before this Dean thing gets out of hand." I’ve never read such a viscerally satisfying, shrieking panic attack.

One thing is for certain, the Bushies are scared of the Democrats in general, and Dean in particular. That’s great news. Do you think someone pulled Kudlow aside after this and said, "Larry, you make some good points, but you make us all look like whimpering schoolgirls with that article. Cool it, would ya?"

Anyway, that’s all from the campaign trail for a while. I thought you’d enjoy it.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Padilla and Peabody

Our Vanishing Rights Watch

Here is an article which first addresses the use of US torture in interrogation of foreign nationals by the use of venues outside the United States. (Oh, and Chemical Ali? Apparently we didn’t kill him those many months ago in a bombing, another administration war lie). It then reminds us Jose Padilla, fellow US citizen, is being denied his legal and civil rights, while the rest of us in this country do nothing about it. Now this Padilla guy, for all that I know, is a skunk who would just as soon do us all harm as breathe - but that doesn’t mean we should throw away all of our legal and civil rights legacies just because we are scared, or too complacent to complain. If they can do this to Padilla, what is stopping them from doing it to anyone? I know, you’d think people would complain in that case; but then again, Padilla is still rotting in a cell somewhere, with no access to a lawyer. The subtitle of the article is "The United States figures it can get plenty out of the newly captured Chemical Ali. But how? And are these ‘interrogation’ techniques being readied for American citizens?". Here is an excerpt:

Padilla was declared an "enemy combatant" based on the assertion - not the presentation - of "some evidence" by the administration that he was a bin Laden bad guy. As an enemy combatant, Padilla has no right to appear in court. And he has no right to see a lawyer. Indeed, by executive fiat, he’s been deprived of every inalienable right with which our creator endowed us. The Lawyers Committee for Human Rights has filed a brief in the case damning this approach as (quoting James Madison) "the very definition of tyranny".

Big Fat Idiots Watch

On a happier note, The Franken/Fox lawsuit has ended in favor of Franken. U.S. District Judge Denny Chin, after listening to about half an hour of oral arguments, said the lawsuit was "wholly without merit, both factually and legally." USA Today has published a hilarious excerpt from the introduction to his new book. This is a rather humorous recounting of one of the lies that Franken caught O’Crybaby, or as I like to call him, Mr. Peabody, in this spring.

This summer's contretemps began at a Los Angeles book publishing convention on May 31, during a panel session featuring the authors of coming political books that included Franken and O'Reilly. The session aired on C-Span, whose cameras captured a clear portrait of the two writers' mutual distaste. Franken usually cloaks his partisan gibes in the bookish wise-guy tone he mastered in his years as a writer/producer/performer on "Saturday Night Live." But when he turned his sights on O'Reilly and his Peabody claims, his gibes had a current of rage that seemed to push Franken close to tears. Finally, O'Reilly cracked. "Hey, shut up!" he shouted. "You had your 35 minutes! Shut up!"

It’s good to know Mr. Peabody enjoys a good debate, even off of his show.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Economists gone wild

Krugman Watch

One of the very few journalists or editorial writers who hasn’t drunk the administration’s kool-aid is Paul Krugman, an economist who writes a twice-weekly column in the New York Times. His voice is amazingly fresh, almost startling when you realize that he isn’t just spouting the administration’s line, as so many of his peers have done and continue to do. There must be tremendous pressure on him. I remember there was a awards ceremony for journalists a couple of years ago which had someone in the Bush administration as a guest speaker. Krugman was there. I can’t remember who the speaker was, but after the ceremony another "journalist" wrote a scathing screed against Krugman because he "didn’t applaud" at the appropriate times; he wasn’t sucking up to this administration figure enough for the other journalist’s taste.

One of the things that Krugman has consistently pointed out is the level to which the Bush administration distorts what should be facts, especially economic and fiscal facts. Not only does this administration fool others, but they also seem to be in the business of fooling themselves, trying to make the facts fit their theories. In an ideologically driven echo-chamber like the one that our executive branch seems to operate in, it is not hard to believe.

Here is one of Krugman’s articles which is no longer available at the NYT website, but which is cached at Will Pitt’s site: Everything is Political. It describes and gives some examples of how information is politicized by this administration.

Here's the story: Treasury has an elaborate computer model designed to evaluate who benefits and who loses from any proposed change in tax laws. For example, the model can be used to estimate how much families in the middle of the income distribution will gain from a tax cut, or the share of that tax cut that goes to the top 1 percent of families. In the 1990's the results of such analyses were routinely made public.

But since George W. Bush came into power, the department has suppressed most of that information, releasing only partial, misleading tables. The purpose of this suppression, of course, is to conceal the extent to which Mr. Bush's tax cuts concentrate their bounty on families with very high incomes. In a stinging recent article in Tax Notes, the veteran tax analyst Martin Sullivan writes of the debate over the 2001 cut that "Treasury's analysis was so embarrassingly poor and so biased, we thought we had seen the last of its kind." But worse was to come.

‘Everything We Do Must Be Right, Because We Are the United States’ Watch

Here is an article entitled U.S. Adopts Aggressive Tactics on Iraqi Fighters. Now I don’t begrudge our forces in their attempts to find and stop people who are shooting at them. What I do begrudge is this administration putting Americans into situations where they have to hold wives and children of enemy combatants hostage, as described in this passage:

Col. David Hogg, commander of the 2nd Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division, said tougher methods are being used to gather the intelligence. On Wednesday night, he said, his troops picked up the wife and daughter of an Iraqi lieutenant general. They left a note: "If you want your family released, turn yourself in." Such tactics are justified, he said, because, "It's an intelligence operation with detainees, and these people have info." They would have been released in due course, he added later.

Isn’t that sweet? Isn’t it hard to see why we aren’t winning over the "hearts and minds" of the Iraqis?

Sparky the Penguin Watch

Tom Tomorrow’s latest This Modern World cartoon treats us to the Successes of the Bush Administration.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Those crazy blogs

Blog Watch

There are several excellent weblogs which you should visit if you have the chance. One of the most well-written is by David Neiwert, called Orcinus . He is one of the most cogent voices on the web. Lately one of the themes he has been examining is that of "Bush hatred" as compared to "Clinton hatred".

You see, folks in the media are starting to realize that their boy, Bush, is not liked by the American people, mostly because of his failed domestic and foreign policy, his pandering to the rich, etc. So they have started to write about how "liberals" have "Bush hatred" which is just as bad as "Clinton hatred" by conservatives was in the 90s. Two of the more hysterical recent examples of this were written by Rich Lowry and Jonah Goldberg.

Neiwert picks these pieces apart here and here.

The bottom line is that while Clinton hatred centered around a bunch of false stories designed to portray Clinton as an evil person (Haircutgate, FBI filegate, trashing the White House, murdering Vince Foster, running drugs, taking gifts, making pardons - in the last two cases it was the pretense that there was anything unusual about what the Clintons did - and one story which is true, that he had an affair), Bush hatred is based on true stories about his horrible policies, and his theft of the 2000 election. So there really isn’t much of a comparison to be made. In the first of these articles, Neiwert also describes how liberal/progressive or even just neutral media voices were marginalized in the 90s in favor of those who were anti-Clinton. Fascinating stuff.

Another excellent little site is BusyBusyBusy, which features the "shorter" concept, little one-sentence summaries of (usually conservative, though they enjoy skewering Tom Friedman) ridiculous columns and editorials. They are brilliant, and read almost like haiku. Some examples:

Shorter Fred Barnes:
A 'Big Government Conservatism'
A large and intrusive federal government is a good thing, as long as its powers are used to impose conservative social mores and it runs on borrowed money.

Shorter David Ignatius:
Time to Unite
Those who counseled against the disastrous invasion of Iraq should forgo assigning blame for the debacle in favor of rallying to the support of those who caused it.

Shorter Tom Friedman:
Winning the Real War
The real problem with Bush's phony Iraq war rationale is that its exposure has distracted the administration from following my prescription for converting Iraq into a flowering democracy.

Shorter Max Boot:
Clinton Got a Pass but Bush Is Taken to Task
Republicans always gave President Clinton the benefit of the doubt, yet Democrats have launched outrageous ad hominem attacks on Mr. Bush for his tiny - and carefully hedged - State of the Union boo-boo.

Shorter Wall Street Journal Editorial:
Lack of Intelligence
The task of America's intelligence agencies is not to provide policy makers with reliable data but to fabricate evidence in support of administration policies which the public would reject if it knew the truth.

Finally, I would point out Adam Felber’s hilarious blog Fantatical Apathy. You may have heard Felber before on the NPR show:Wait Wait Don't Tell Me. Here are some excerpts:

On Fox News and Al Franken:
But what really fascinates me here is that Fox's actions and their consequences bear a striking resemblance to the travails of another book: "The Satanic Verses." Fox has essentially issued a fatwa on Franken. Or perhaps "foxwa" would be more appropriate. True believers are asked to repudiate Franken without reading his book (and if you read the complaint, that seems to be exactly what Fox itself has done).

On drilling for oil in ANWR:
ANWR is a uniquely weird case - I can only think that there must have been a particularly mean gang of caribou that used to pick on young George W. Bush regularly back at Andover, giving him wedgies and stuffing him into lockers. When Bush finally signs the bill to commence drilling in the Alaskan wilderness, long-remembered tears of helpless rage in his eyes, he will finally have his revenge on those ungulate hoodlums that made his life a living hell. [I defy anyone to come up with anything even remotely as plausible as the Bullying Caribou Theory as to why Bush would be so dead-set on drilling those tiny oil fields.]

On Gay Marriage:
But not this. Because when our gay friends start getting married, it will cheapen and destroy what we have. Not in a religious way (No. Legislating on those grounds would be illegal, for heaven's sake!). It's more of a general thing. Like, generally, gays getting married will undercut everything Jeanne and I have tried to build because... because... it will make our union less special. It will. We'll lose interest. We'll probably just start thinking, "What's so important about our vows? After all, even gay people can make them." Straight people are good with marriage, too. Jeanne and I can look around at other married couples - at least the ones that aren't currently dealing with serial infidelity, divorce, spousal abuse, or bigamy - and think to ourselves, "Yes, that's what we're striving for. That kind of sanctity." I'm not sure that gays would show the same universal respect for the institution that comes so easily to us straight people.

Monday, August 25, 2003


Sweet, Delicious Yellowcake Watch

Bill Clinton once lied to the American public. He said "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." This statement (though technically true in the deposition he gave), was demonstrably false. It gave his enemies the chance to smear the architect of some of the best governmental policies we’ve had in a long time. And of course, the media went crazy with it.

We’ve been hoping for that same kind of "watchdog" spirit from the media in regards to the current administration, and for the most part they have been strangely silent on lie after lie and scandal after scandal. There was a little noise about Bush’s insider trading at Harken, which if you judged him by the same standards as Martha(TM) would put him up the river for years. But what about things he has said and done as pResident?

The only signs of life the media has shown has been in regard to those famous sixteen words in his 2003 State of the Union speech. "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." Suddenly (well, not suddenly, it took weeks and months before they woke up to it) there was a huge uproar and feeding frenzy about that line. It was like the summer of the sharks or Laci Peterson’s murder trial. The media had finally hit on a scandal they could understand, or so it seemed.

But why those particular words? They aren’t even technically a lie: The British government DID say that. And how would you ever prove that it isn’t true? All it would take would be one representative of Saddam’s government, one time, at one place in all of the continent of Africa (or at least in one of the 4-6 countries that have significant uranium) to have inquired about purchasing some. Are we really 100% confident that some junior cultural attache didn't pull some minor Nigerian bureaucrat aside at some point in the last five years and ask? There’s no way to prove that didn’t happen. And so, why are the media so upset about this particular lie?

I know that the implication, which is that Saddam wants to make nukes, is very inflammatory. But Bush said many things which were demonstrably false many times before that concerning Iraq’s nuclear ambitions. For example, he claimed last fall that the AIEI had produced a report showing Saddam could make nuclear weapons in a year if they had the uranium. The AIEI immediately denied having issued any such report. Now THAT is a demonstrably false lie to the same effect. Cheney constantly repeated that Hussein had re-started his nuclear weapons program on a Meet the Press show in the fall. That seems now to be also untrue (though they could tie that one to "bad intelligence" wink wink). Maybe it was just the venue, a president lying in his State of the Union address. But in that same speech, he linked Iraq with Al Qaeda several times, and as we saw last week, Bush is nowhere near ready or able to provide even a shred of evidence to back that up, even now, months after the invasion. So I don’t get it.

In any case, Yellowcake Gate was a scandal, for some reason. As the media flurry arose, a highly trusted diplomat name Joseph Wilson wrote a pretty scathing New York Times editorial to the effect that it would have been impossible for Iraq to have obtained uranium from Niger’s tightly controlled supply. As true as that hopefully is, Bush never said Iraq was successful at getting the ore, just that the British had learned that he tried. But, whatever.

Now here is the real scandal. It has been said that the Bush family behaves very much like a crime syndicate in their efforts to consolidate and maintain power. That they are not above threatening, intimidating, and retaliating against people who would stand in their way, and that Poppy Bush uses his CIA connections in this effort. Maybe that’s true and maybe it isn’t. There are certainly enough stories to that effect out there, and a surprising number of Bush family enemies have died in small airplane crashes, but let’s leave the tinfoil hats out of this one for now. The truth is that this administration has treasonously retaliated against Joseph Wilson’s wife, in an apparent attempt to hurt both her and him, but which also has done damage to our nation’s intelligence gathering apparatus and put people’s lives in danger. Two articles on this: the first is an article from John Dean, The Bush Administration Adopts a Worse-than-Nixonian Tactic: The Deadly Serious Crime Of Naming CIA Operatives:

Why is the Administration so avidly leaking this information? The answer is clear. Former ambassador Wilson is famous, lately, for telling the truth about the Bush Administration's bogus claim that Niger uranium had gone to Saddam Hussein. And the Bush Administration is punishing Wilson by targeting his wife. It is also sending a message to others who might dare to defy it, and reveal the truth. No doubt the CIA, and Mrs. Wilson, have many years, and much effort, invested in her career and skills. Her future, if not her safety, are now in jeopardy . . .

Indeed, this is arguably worse. Nixon never set up a hit on one of his enemies' wives . . .

But no one should hold their breath. So far, Congress has treated the Bush Administration with kid gloves. Absent an active investigation by a grand jury, under the direction of a U.S. Attorney or special prosecutor, an FBI investigation is not likely to accomplish anything. After all, the FBI does not have power to compel anyone to talk. And unless the President himself demands a full investigation, the Department of Justice is not going to do anything - unless the Congress uncovers information that embarrasses them into taking action. While this case is a travesty, it won't be the first one that this administration has managed to get away with. Given the new the nadir of investigative journalism, this administration has been emboldened. And why not? Lately, the mainstream media has seemed more interested in stockholders than readers. If Congress won't meaningfully investigate these crimes - and, indeed, even if it will - it is the press's duty to do so. Let us hope it fulfills that duty. But I am not holding my breath about that, either.

See also this weblog entry:

The background: The administration has been making personal attacks on Joseph Wilson , the former Ambassador to Gabon whom the CIA sent to Niger to check out the yellowcake story and whose op-ed in the Times blew it wide open. That's not in dispute, and not surprising. (Though what Novak writes about Wilson's personal heroism makes it even more discreditable than it would otherwise be, the willingness of GWB and his fellow chickenhawks to denigrate actual patriotic heroes has been obvious for a long time: ask Max Cleland.)

The story: A Novak column Monday outed Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, as an undercover CIA operative, though that fact, if true, had little or no relevance to the story itself. The information was attributed to "senior Administration officials," which one of Kevin's commentators says means people at the Deputy rank. Two people at that level doing something isn't free-lancing: that's a decision made at, or at least cleared by, a higher level even that theirs.

Conservative Idiots Watch

Monday means Top Ten Conservative Idiots at Democratic Underground.

On Roy Moore:
And now Moore's Monument is becoming something of a battle between religious fundies who think that the world is going to explode if the monument is removed, and the rest of the planet who thinks that Justice Roy Moore is a maniac who should probably be kicked out of his judicial position once and for all. I mean, this is the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court we're talking about here, and the guy won't obey the law he's supposed to uphold. Instead he keeps rattling on about a "higher law" which, while all well and good, isn't actually the law of the land.

Friday, August 22, 2003

Fightin' the culture wars

Culture Wars Watch

My hypothesis is that the Nazis didn’t really lose WWII. They just moved their philosophy to this country. We have a country where dissent is beginning to be seriously curtailed, where hatred of the French is encouraged, where jingoism, xenophobia, propaganda, nationalism, and a warped version of Christianity is being coupled to a mighty war machine which invades other countries without provocation. Gott mit uns!

I don’t want to sound overwrought, but can people of good conscience at least agree that to the extent we are moving towards a society like that of Nazi Germany, it is a bad thing? And to the extent that we move away from a society that resembles the Nazis, that is a good thing?

Ann Coulter is a cultural commentator whom progressives love to hate. She has written several books which are full of massive untruths and which are screeds against the filthy liberals who inhabit this country. She also seems to pop up on many television shows to give her unique perspective. She is so over the top, that many find it hard to believe that she really believes what she is saying. Truly a Goebbels for our time - and that isn’t just hyperbole. Gene Lyons notes that

it’s no exaggeration to say that the "liberal" sins she caricaturesatheism, cosmopolitanism, sexual license, moral relativism, communism, physical and moral cowardice, disloyalty and lack of patriotismare identical to the crimes of the Jews as the Nazis depicted them.

She paints "liberals" with the same demonizing brush that the Jews were painted with. Isn’t that quaint? Now, I don’t mean to imply that detention camps are right around the corner (though of course we already have Guantanimo), but even if they were, who would speak up for progessives and dissenters in the national media? Even if the population knew it was wrong and spoke out against it, wouldn’t our national media cover those protests in the same way they covered the anti-war protests? As if the protesters were a bunch of fringe kooks whose views were hard to understand, who were objectively pro-(insert our current enemy here) by going against our littlest dictator? Seriously, in that event, who would speak up for us in a national forum? Even John Stewart’s The Daily Show is a moderate, not really progressive, viewpoint. And don’t give me Alan Colmes, either he’s just a punching bag for Sean Hannity. Phil Donahue had a show, the highest rated on MSNBC, but it was cancelled . . . because of ratings! (Or so they claimed).

The news isn’t all bad, though. Progressives and liberals can still get their views into print, and there are several excellent books out now, or coming out soon which have more to say on these matters. And there is always the web (for now). One of the best and brightest progressive journalists in the finest muckraking tradition is Joe Conason. His new book is called Big Lies, and it is apparently an incredibly detailed deconstruction of the propaganda which electronically bathes this country every day.

Several excerpts of it will be published in Salon in the next week or so.

So skilled is Conason as a debator, that Bill O’Reilly won’t even have him on his show. This week, Ann Coulter failed to appear opposite him in a televised roundtable discussion:

At the last minute, the conservative pundit canceled her appearance opposite best-selling "Big Lies" author Joe Conason on CNBC's "Kudlow & Cramer" - this after having programmers change the debate to fit her schedule.

One might think the roundtable, which featured Wall Streeter James Cramer and Reaganite Lawrence Kudlow, would be a breeze for Coulter. Could she have been afraid of facing Conason, whose book presents evidence that her arguments are ill-researched and calls her lifestyle hypocritical.

Another favorite is Molly Ivins, whose new book Bushwacked is not even out yet, but is already the #111 top selling book on Amazon.

Finally, Al Franken, whose new book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them . . . A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right deserves to be purchased and read just for the title alone. He was at a booksellers conference a few months ago, at an authors discussion with Molly Ivins and Bill O’Reilly, and he made O’Reilly eat it in front of a live audience. It was awesome. O’Reilly ended up looking like a sputtering fool. (Franken looked like a whiny jerk, but at least he stuck it to O’Reilly). Bill, whose skin is apparently too thin to put up with that kind of treatment, is also apparently the driving force behind Fox’s decision to sue Franken concerning the title of his book. The case has to have no merit, when you consider what Larry Flint got away with in the name of satire. But it is pure comedy gold in exposing just how insecure our nation’s #1 propaganda source really is. Way to go, Bill. Way to go, Al!

Fighting the Nazis Watch

Meanwhile, while at least some writers are able to push back against our own homegrown version of the Reich, here is a chance to actually do something for those who are fighting the good fight on the ground. The Democratic legislators of Texas have been fighting against a power-hungry Tom Delay in his efforts to re-redistrict Texas and shove all of the minority voters into tighter and tighter districts, while creating new Republican districts. All of their parliamentary tricks have been exhausted, and they have finally had to flee the state to prevent it from happening. The Democratic state house members fled to Oklahoma a month or so ago, and the state senators are now in New Mexico. They sent out a plea for help in their fight yesterday. Now is your chance to get off your good intentions and help out people who are on the ground fighting the blatant Republican power grab.

Remember, as Gene Lyons pointed out,

"If you do not support our president’s decisions," according to, "you are a traitor."

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Marching us off to War

Bushwa Watch

At the end of July, Bush gave one of his only 9 "solo" press conferences where he actually had to stand up and answer questions about how he is running our country into the ground. (This was the one where he blamed the poor economy on news channels playing their "March to War" logos. As John Stewart of the Daily Show asked, "Yeah, what was up with that? It wasn’t like some a**hole was marching us to war!") Don’t worry, though. The people asking the questions were the gelded courtiers known as the White House press corps, and most of the questions were in the cringingly sycophantic tone of "Has prayer helped you get through this difficult time?" and "Do you think Saddam was a vewwy bad man?". One of the normally docile crowd did have the audacity to ask Bush a question with some teeth: Campbell Brown, who I’m sure was threatened with lessened "access" to Bush if she ever pulled anything like that again. Here was the exchange:

Saddam Hussein's alleged ties to al Qaeda were a key part of your justification for war. Yet, your own intelligence report, the NIE, defined it as -- quote -- "low confidence that Saddam would give weapons to al Qaeda." Were those links exaggerated to justify war? Or can you finally offer us some definitive evidence that Saddam was working with al Qaeda terrorists?

Yes. I think, first of all, remember I just said we've been there for 90 days since the cessation of major military operations. Now, I know in our world where news comes and goes and there's this kind of instant -- instant news and you must have done this, you must do this yesterday, that there's a level of frustration by some in the media. I'm not suggesting you're frustrated. You don't look frustrated to me at all. But it's going to take time for us to gather the evidence and analyze the mounds of evidence, literally, the miles of documents that we have uncovered.

David Kaye came to see me yesterday. He's going to testify in closed hearing tomorrow -- which in Washington may not be so closed, as you know. And he was telling me the process that they were going through to analyze all the documentation. And that's not only to analyze the documentation on the weapons programs that Saddam Hussein had, but also the documentation as to terrorist links.

And it's just going to take awhile, and I'm confident the truth will come out. And there is no doubt in my mind, Campbell, that Saddam Hussein was a threat to the United States security, and a threat to peace in the region. And there's no doubt in my mind that a free Iraq is important. It's got strategic consequences for not only achieving peace in the Middle East, but a free Iraq will help change the habits of other nations in the region who will make it -- which will make America much more secure.

Let’s take the key pieces out of Bush’s response: Yes . . . we've been there for 90 days . . . it's going to take time for us to gather the evidence and analyze the mounds of evidence . . . David Kaye . . . was telling me the process that they were going through to analyze all the documentation . . . as to terrorist links . . . I'm confident the truth will come out.

In other words, three weeks ago Bush admitted that they didn’t have evidence now, and they certainly didn’t have evidence before the war began, that Al Qaeda had ties to Saddam.

Strange, since Bush said 11 times on the campaign trail last fall, that this was definitely so. I wonder why this is not the lie that the press corps latched on to? See this for a complete listing of Bush’s assertions that Hussein had links to Al Qaeda for example:

* OCT 28 Remarks by the President at New Mexico Welcome
"This is a person who has had contacts with al Qaeda."
* OCT 28 Remarks by the President in Colorado Welcome
"He's got connections with al Qaeda."
* OCT 31 Remarks by the President at South Dakota Welcome
"This is a guy who has had connections with these shadowy terrorist networks."
* NOV 01 Remarks by the President at New Hampshire Welcome
"We know he's got ties with al Qaeda."
* NOV 02 Remarks by the President in Florida Welcome
"We know that he's had connections with al Qaeda."
* NOV 02 Remarks by the President in Atlanta, Georgia Welcome
"He's had connections with shadowy terrorist networks like al Qaeda."
* NOV 02 Remarks by the President at Tennessee Welcome
"We know that he has had contacts with terrorist networks like al Qaeda."
* NOV 03 Remarks by the President in Minnesota Welcome
"This is a man who has had contacts with al Qaeda."
* NOV 04 Remarks by the President at Missouri Welcome
"This is a man who has had al Qaeda connections."
* NOV 04 Remarks by the President at Arkansas Welcome
"He's had contacts with al Qaeda."
* NOV 04 Remarks by the President in Texas Welcome
"This is a man who has got connections with al Qaeda."

So there you have it, another great reason why we are losing one soldier a day. Thanks, Bush.

Rice Watch

The Daily Howler recently put all the information and spin which Rice has used about "bad information" together and concluded that she never reads (or reads and ignores) important, key security documents. What a great National Security Advisor! We can all feel safe knowing she is on the job. Here is a sample:

Rice couldn’t imagine planes used as missiles? Rice hadn’t read last October’s NIE? Wouldn’t you think that actual journalists would want to ask about such matters?

We know now that Rice didn’t bother to read the National Intelligence Estimate, because it was put together after the war was already a foregone conclusion in Cheney’s sweaty head. But it would be nice if maybe the press could point this out, as well.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Anti-war equals Saddam-lovin' pinko

9/11 Watch

Here are a couple of more articles on Bush’s gross negligence and/or culpability on 9/11. Isn’t it amazing that this doesn’t get more play in the mainstream media? Instead we get stories about Ahnold. You have to hand it to this administration and the media they sure do know how to bury a story.

First, an article by John Dean concerning Bush and warnings about 9/11:

Bluntly stated, either the Bush White House knew about the potential of terrorists flying airplanes into skyscrapers (notwithstanding their claims to the contrary), or the CIA failed to give the White House this essential information, which it possessed and provided to others.

Bush is withholding the document that answers this question. Accordingly, it seems more likely that the former possibility is the truth. That is, it seems very probable that those in the White House knew much more than they have admitted, and they are covering up their failure to take action. The facts, however, speak for themselves.

Second, an article from the Village Voice to the same effect:

Rice also said at this briefing that the PDB pointed out that Bin Laden might hijack an airline and take hostages to gain release of one of their operatives. She said the warning was "generalized"no date, place, or method.

As Dean notes, how could Rice, having known all this, say that the administration had no idea "these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon"?

Operation Desert Faux Watch

One of the lamest retroactive excuses that Bush supporters use to "justify" the Iraq war is to ask: "would you rather have Saddam back in power?" The answer to this is yes, of course. He hadn’t done us any harm in 11 years, especially in the last 5 years, and it seems pretty obvious now that he wasn’t in any position to do us harm even if he had wanted to. The costs of this war will vastly outweigh any benefits, even in the short term. Just because Saddam was cast as the scary boogeyman in this drama, doesn’t make him any worse than any other of Bush Sr’s other cronies and business partners (remember that Saddam was our bestest buddy throughout the 80s). Here is an even better response to the question "would you rather have Saddam back?" from the great blog The Daily Brew. An excerpt:

And if I could get back the lives of over 240 hundred US servicemen, including over 1,000 wounded or injured, and still have Saddam Hussein completely boxed in militarily and economically, just as he was prior to the start of the war, would I?

You are damn right I would.

Bartcop Watch

Here’s a letter to the editor I saw on the always funny Bartcop site:

For years, the worst nightmare of the conservatives was that when the baby boomers began to take power, the country would end up with a president who was a draft-dodging, drug-addled deserter who would wreck the economy and bankrupt the government with deficit spending. When I think of the money and effort the conservatives put into getting Bush into the presidency, I am appalled at the lengths some people will go, just to be right.
-an American citizen

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Selling the war product

Operation Deserter Storm Watch

In case you missed it, two reporters from the Washington Post recently published a long article detailing the way Bush's "depiction" of the Iraq threat outgrew the "supporting evidence" for that threat. It is essentially a pretty detailed description of how the American people were fear-mongered into this war, and also how intelligence was manipulated to meet that end (and how intelligence agents were pressured to do so). Not that this is news to anyone. We all knew that the war was a foregone conclusion in Bush's warped brain more than a year ago, it was just a matter of how they were going to "sell it". And they obviously thought, in their hubris, that the war would be a smashing success, and with the people of Iraq throwing flowers at our soldiers feet in their delight of having an occupying force in their country, that everyone would forget about all of the lies they told to get us there. Now that the war is turning into a costly disaster, with not even a barrel of itching powder to show us as a threat from Saddam, we are less likely to "forget". But the Bushies don't even respect our intelligence enough to apologize and just say "we were wrong about the threat". Whatever, Cheney. Your days in power are numbered - suckle the government teat as much as you can in your remaining time.

More on this same theme in an excellent column by Arkansas columnist Gene Lyons. Here is an excerpt on Bush's "faith-based threat assessment":

Bush told us that not to invade and occupy Iraq would be tantamount to 'national suicide.' Now he says he's confident documents will prove that Saddam had 'weapons programs.' Hardly the same thing. He has faith that documents will also prove the Iraqi dictator's 'links' to al-Qa'ida, another inflammatory charge that The Washington Post reports the National Intelligence Estimate he failed to read contradicted.

9-11 Watch

The Bush administration has famously stalled and slowstepped and censored the release of the 9-11 commission report because they know how culpable they will be perceived in it. Even without the 28 pages they expurgated from what was released, it is clear they are guilty of gross negligence, if not worse. Here is an editorial on the release of the report, and a quote from it:

John Dean of Watergate fame, now a Findlaw columnist, has become something of an expert on this Sept. 11 report. He says, "After pulling together the information in the 9/11 Report, it is understandable why Bush is stonewalling. It is not very difficult to deduce what the president knew, and when he knew it. And the portrait that results is devastating."

Bush Action Figure Watch

Please go here and read the description and try to keep yourself from falling on the floor laughing (or crying). The jokes just write themselves, don't they? For example, I wonder if the outfits will include a cowboy outfit for the "Bush Family Ranch" which was purchased in 1999 for the Presidential run. Or if the accessories include a beaker for the urine sample he failed to produce for his pilot's physical when he was in the Texas Air National Guard, after which he went AWOL and deserted his post for more than a year.

Monday, August 18, 2003

The President-in-Exile

The President-In-Exile Watch

Probably one of the most important recent political events was a speech given by President Gore at NYU in which he spells out some of the more egregious problems with our current administration, including its seemingly pathelogical problem with the truth. Here is an excerpt from the speech:

"Robust debate in a democracy will almost always involve occasional rhetorical excesses and leaps of faith, and we're all used to that. I've even been guilty of it myself on occasion. But there is a big difference between that and a systematic effort to manipulate facts in service to a totalistic ideology that is felt to be more important than the mandates of basic honesty. Unfortunately, I think it is no longer possible to avoid the conclusion that what the country is dealing with in the Bush Presidency is the latter. That is really the nub of the problem -- the common source for most of the false impressions that have been frustrating the normal and healthy workings of our democracy."

The full text of this articulate, moving speech.

In response to the speech, the press immediately made fun of the venue as a hotbed of liberalism, wondered why Gore "acts like such a loser", and then psychoanalyzed Gore, trying to figure out why he would make such a speech - as if that were the most important issue, instead of his accusing Bush of lying to us all. This is documented by the incredible media critic Bob Somerby at The Daily Howler, in these three articles.

Tin Foil Hat Watch

From what we are told, we still don't know what caused the huge blackout last week in the northeast. On the otherhand, Ridge and Bush announced almost immediately, and repeatedly, that it wasn't "terrorism". How did they know? Maybe some disgruntled employee flipped a switch somewhere. If the guy's name was Saleem, wouldn't that count in this government's xenophobic eyes?

Conservative Idiots Watch

It's Monday, so be sure to check out this week's Top Ten Conservative Idiots

Sunday, August 10, 2003

California Recall - Father Guido Sarducci

Click here to hear Father Guido's proposal on higher level education:


Don't be afraid to vote for Father Guido!

Gary Coleman is also running, for those of you who dislike Father Guido.

Personally, I haven't decided who I will vote for yet, but I must say I am leaning towards Father Guido. For the record, this is a sarcastic email -- this whole recall is a farce.

-John Locke