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, October 31, 2003

As usual, the question is Evil or Incompetent?

Evil or Incompetent Watch

For a long while, we have pondered whether this administration is simply evil or just incredibly incompetent. The jury has been out a while, but I think we can safely say that there is enough evidence now to answer the question with confidence. This administration is both evil and incompetent, with large measures of both.

I often ponder just how much trouble this country would be in if we had to deal with an administration which was evil and highly competent. We make Rove and company out as masters of manipulating the media, when really nearly all of their schemes are laughably easy to see through. It is no secret the pillaging of public treasure that is going on now as billions of our dollars (with each billion representing about $10 per family) funneled directly into Cheney's coffers, or Poppy Bush's pockets, or George Schultz's bank account. The only reason Rove seems like he is good at manipulating the press is that the press just totally lays down for these guys.

Imagine what their situation would be like with even a halfway decent press. Imagine.

Then think about how badly off we would be with real masters of propaganda, who had their act together, in charge. This bunch can't even get their evil take over of another country straight. They have turned it into a huge mess, and as it falls apart they are busy blaming each other. More competence was seen in the apple dumpling gang. But this country really is in danger from people who can manipulate our fears competently, not in the ham-handed hubristic way these thieves have, but in subtle, psychologically skillful ways. Without better education in this country to protect our citizens from this bullcrap, we are a nation of sheep ready to be led off the nearest cliff by anyone peddling jingoism, nationalism, and fascism.

I have high hopes that we will step away from the cliff this time. Another year under this cabal and I think voters will be out in droves to get rid of them. But we really need to take this administration as a warning. We've been (hopefully) saved by their incompetence and incredible arrogance this time, but next time we may very well not be so lucky. We have to make our bonds with other people of sanity, quickly. They are definitely out there. Even most Republicans, even most conservatives, even most free-market, cheap-labor conservative Republicans don't wish harm on this country - they just don't know better, yet. It is fortunate that it is only the small crowd at the top who buys in to this destructive philosophy, because it benefits them so much at the expense to the rest of us. Let's keep them small, and hopefully soon, out of power.

Speaking of Evil or Incompetent, here is James Galbraith on what seems like the incompetent handling of our economy, but which he reasons is actually evil, in an article entitled: "Why Bush Likes a Bad Economy". An excerpt:

Stagnation, moreover, helps to justify more tax cuts. The Administration's core policy objective in this area is to shield financial wealth from all taxation. Two years ago, estate and income taxes were cut. This year, it was capital gains, dividends, and again the top tax rate. Next year, the sunset provisions in these measures will probably be removed. As things are going, quite soon, taxes will fall mainly on real estate, payrolls, and consumption. This is to say that taxes will be paid mostly by the middle class, by the working class, and by the poor. That is what the Administration wants, and what--if not defeated--it is exceedingly likely to get.

Finally, stagnation and the Bush tax policy promote rightwing plans to cut and privatize essential services, including health, education, and pensions. As financial wealth escapes tax, neither states nor cities nor the federal government can provide vital services--except by taxing sales and property at rates that will provoke tax rebellions, especially when middle class incomes are not rising. Every public service will fall between the hammer of tax cuts and the anvil of deficits in state, local, and federal budgets. The streets will be dirtier, as also the air and the water. Emergency rooms will back up even more than they have; more doctors will refuse public patients. More fire houses and swimming pools and libraries will be closed. Public universities will cost more; the public schools will lose the middle class. Eventually, federal budget deficits will collide with Social Security and Medicare, putting privatization back on the agenda.

Bush "Haters" Watch

Molly Ivins in the Progressive writes one of the best articles I have read recently, this on the current nonsense about "Bush Hating". Molly is smoking here, profane, angry, and powerful. She blows the doors off normal progressive commentary. The whole article was so good I hardly knew what to quote. Read the whole thing, but here is a bit of it:

Oh, I stretch memory way back, so far back, all the way back to--our last President. Almost lost in the mists of time though it is, I not only remember eight years of relentless attacks from Clinton-haters, I also notice they haven't let up yet. Clinton-haters accused the man of murder, rape, drug-running, sexual harassment, financial chicanery, and official misconduct. And they accuse his wife of even worse. For eight long years, this country was a zoo of Clinton-haters. Any idiot with a big mouth and a conspiracy theory could get a hearing on radio talk shows and "Christian" broadcasts and nutty Internet sites. People with transparent motives, people paid by tabloid magazines, people with known mental problems, ancient Clinton enemies with notoriously racist pasts--all were given hearings, credence, and air time. Sliming Clinton was a sure road to fame and fortune on the right, and many an ambitious young rightwing hit man like David Brock, who has since made full confession, took that golden opportunity.

And these folks didn't stop with verbal and printed attacks. From the day Clinton was elected to office, he was the subject of the politics of personal destruction. They went after him with a multimillion dollar smear campaign funded by Richard Mellon Scaife, the rightwing billionaire. They went after him with lawsuits funded by rightwing legal foundations (Paula Jones), they got special counsels appointed to investigate every nitpicking nothing that ever happened (Filegate, Travelgate), and they never let go of that hardy perennial Whitewater. After all this time and all those millions of dollars wasted, no one has ever proved that the Clintons did a single thing wrong. Bill Clinton lied about a pathetic, squalid affair that was none of anyone else's business anyway, and for that they impeached the man and dragged this country through more than a year of the most tawdry, ridiculous, unnecessary pain. The day President Clinton tried to take out Osama bin Laden with a missile strike, every rightwinger in America said it was a case of "wag the dog." He was supposedly trying to divert our attention from the much more breathtakingly important and serious matter of Monica Lewinsky, and who did he think he was to make us focus on some piffle like bin Laden?

"Imminent Threat" Watch

There is still more media howling going on to the effect that Bush never used the word "imminent" to describe the Iraqi threat, and so opponents saying he said Iraq was an imminent threat is a lie. What utter hogwash. Bush instead used words like Iraq could attack us with horrible weapons "on any given day", etc. Here is a very important Howler in which Bob Somerby takes apart this argument as it is leveled against Wes Clark, in which it is revealed that Clark made some very important recommendations last fall about our invasion, which were (of course) ignored.

Progressive Watch

Finally, here are some links again about places to go in your daily web travels to keep an ear on what is actually happening. Do not do something foolish like watch Fox news. Here are three sites which will keep you well-informed on what is happening, and are best visited once a day:

Media Whores Online
Eschaton
Buzzflash

For more in-depth analysis on a variety of topics, we also recommend:

The Daily Howler (especially good media commentary)
Talking Points Memo
Orcinus
Liberal Oasis
Hullabaloo

If you are in a more whimsical mood, these sites have more fun with their topics:

Bartcop
Busy Busy Busy

If you feel like reading more, The Smirking Chimp has excellent daily collections of important articles.

Finally, please do remember to visit Democratic Underground every Monday for the Top Ten Conservative Idiots. That feature just gets better and better. Please see the Watch archives for other good links, a recommended reading list, and links to most of these sites. Until the spring, take care.

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