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 29, 2004

Liberal Bush apologists

Pathetic Media Watch

The Nixon administration was the first to really begin the long, right-wing assault on the media, slamming it for its "bias" and complaining about the "nattering nabobs of negativity". The radical right has made working the refs in this way an art form, to the point where most reporters and editors reflexively and automatically present the approved corporate point of view. Those reporters and editors who don't do this are quickly cowed into conforming (so that they can continue to go to tony cocktail parties with their peers, and the powerful whom they cover) or shown the door.

There are of course, nominally liberal editorial writers still being published. Paul Krugman is an economist who is actually not that liberal, but who has a dogged grip on the truth and who will not let go, despite the yowls of anger from his self-deluded colleagues and readers. His twice-weekly column in the NYT is probably the most visible reality-based media offering. Other nominally progressive or liberal voices seem almost hopelessly weak in their pandering acquiescence to the views of the movement conservatives.

Some cases in point: William Raspberry, liberal op-ed writer for the Washington Post, rolled over like a puppy when Colin Powell made his lie-filled speech in front of the UN. And he was far from alone. Other "liberal" commentators like Marie Cocco and Richard Cohen couldn't rush fast enough to abandon their well-founded skepticism and join the jingoism. What is it about Colin Powell's round, teddy bear-like countenance that makes people trust him so implicitly? Powell has been on TV lying like a rug for this corrupt administration for months now, totally throwing any honor he may have once had overboard for the sake of these crooked imperialists. Ah well.

Two recent offerings by the liberal press show just exactly why they are so frustrating to read. Despite being nominally on the side of the public good, these writers still cannot manage to serve their audience with consistency or effectiveness. Here is Nicholas Kristof displaying why the forces of good will and truth need some new champions:

The current president's hyped version of the incident reflects his casual relationship with truth. Like President Ronald Reagan, reality to him is not about facts, but about higher meta-truths: Mom and Dad are loving grandparents, Saddam Hussein is an evil man, and so on. To clarify those overarching realities, Mr. Bush harnesses "facts," both true and false. .... In fact, I'm convinced that Mr. Bush is not only smarter, but also a better man than his critics believe. Most important, he's not a panderer. While Mr. Kerry zigs and zags on trade and Middle East policy, Mr. Bush has a core of values and provides genuine leadership (typically, I believe, in the wrong direction, by trying to reshape America and the world according to a far-right agenda) .... But that's also the problem with his administration: his convictions are so solid that they're inflexible and utterly impervious to reality. When Mr. Bush pumped up the intelligence on Iraqi W.M.D., his exaggerations reflected the overriding truth as he saw it - that Saddam Hussein was a menace. I think Mr. Bush considered himself truthful, even when he wasn't factual.

Now, let's emphasize again that Kristof is supposed to be a liberal writer. In these very short passages from a very short essay, he manages to

A) euphemize Bush's lying as 1) clarifying overarching realities by harnessing both true and false facts 2) exaggerations 3) a casual relationship with truth and 4) truthful, though not factual

B) assert that Bush is both smarter and "better" than we believe. (Thanks for that GOP talking point, Nick)

C) assert Bush has a "core of values" and provides "genuine leadership" (two more GOP talking points, wow, your corporate masters will be well pleased Nick, keep it up. By the way, if by "core of values" you mean he has consistently worked to make America a great place to be for the very rich and corporations while screwing over everybody else, and that he has always "valued" leading an invasion of Iraq come Hell or high water, then yes, he has been consistent)

D) assert that Bush is not a panderer (holy crap, you've got to be kidding me with that one. Not a panderer? What was that whole anti-gay-consitutional amendment garbage about then? What about the stem cell research ban? What about the failed immigration reform plan? Not a panderer? Seriously, this is slipping into the realm of absurdist comedy. But way to get another GOP talking point in there.)

E) assert that Kerry zigs and zags on Mideast and trade policy (mucho extra points for working in the tired "flip flopper" barb against Kerry. Good Nick! Good boy! Excuse me, _Kerry_ is a flip flopper on trade? Can you say "steel tariffs"? _Kerry_ is a flip flopper on the Middle East? Can you say "roadmap to peace"? Can you say "ignoring Israel Palestine for years, then giving the hardline Sharon government tacit permission to do whatever it wants?")

Man, with friends like these, who needs enemas? Remember, this guy is supposed to be on OUR side, and THIS is the garbage he chooses to write, this close to the election? Kristof clearly knows which side his bread is buttered on, and it isn't working in the interests of truth. With his left-handed, sort-of endorsement of Kerry over Bush, notice how he manages to praise Bush and dis Kerry, even after acknowledging that Bush only has a tenuous grasp of the truth.

That disgusting display contrasts with the following one by Richard Cohen, another liberal Washington Post op-ed writer. In it, Cohen seems to finally throw off the yoke of his corporate masters and just comes right out and says we should impeach Bush, or at least not re-hire him. An excerpt:

Not since the Spanish-American War has the United States gone off to war so casually, so half-cocked and so ineptly. The sinking of the Maine, the casus belli for that dustup, has been replaced by missing weapons of mass destruction, and the Hearst and Pulitzer presses are now talk radio and Fox News Channel. Everything has changed. Nothing has changed. Still, though, we mourn the dead, look away from the wounded and maimed, and wonder what it was all about. We embarked, truly and regrettably, on a crusade.

Yet from Bush comes not a bleep of regret, not to mention apology. It is all "steady as she goes" -- although we have lost our bearings and we no longer know our destination. (Don't tell me it's a democratic Middle East.) If the man were commanding a ship, he would be relieved of command. If he were the CEO of some big company, the board would offer him a golden parachute -- and force him to jump. But in government, it's the people who make those decisions. We get our chance on Tuesday.

Impeach Bush.

Well, that sounds pretty good, pretty well reasoned. But wait, can this be the same liberal Richard Cohen who wrote in May of 2003:

. . . I feel that it will hardly matter if, as now seems possible, no large cache of weapons of mass destruction is found in Iraq and the war to disarm that country turns out to have been unnecessary. All that will matter is that the United States won a magnificent victory -- never mind why the war was fought in the first place. Everyone likes a winner, and Bush is a winner.

Or the same Richard Cohen who wrote a month ago:

I nevertheless cannot bring myself to hate Bush or, as someone here told me, to consider his possible reelection as a reason to leave the country. In fact, Bush haters go so far they wind up adding a dash of red to my blue, pushing me by revulsion into a color I otherwise would not have.

Thanks, Richard Cohen, for your consistant moral clarity. By the way, there were several million of us, all around the globe, who had a historical perspective and knew enough not to trust this cabal of thieves BEFORE the invasion. We marched, shouted, wrote letters to the editor, and were ignored into insignifigance by you and your media cohorts.

And these two examples are just small samples of the corporate approved, gelded, "liberals" that are kept as court pets by the coporate media monopolies.

Election Theft Watch

I've been trying to keep a list of all of the articles concerning voter intimidation, polling place confusion, intimidation, registration fraud, dirty tricks, and other GOP efforts to drastically reduce the number of Democratic voters who make it through the registration and voting process for this election. But the number of articles is just too many to really post or explain. The number is huge and growing. They all point to a huge, semi-coordinated (in that GOP operatives assume that they will be protected from prosecution for breaking voting rights act legislation while performing dirty tricks that help the GOP) effort by the GOP to disenfranchise American citizens. They really must hate us for our freedoms. I cannot believe that even in this day and age, the media can report all of these stories and not step back and take a wider look at what is happening in our "democracy". As we've said before, voting is one of the very few places left where individuals can exercise power that checks corporate takeover of the government, and they are hell bent on stopping it, from crooked electronic voting machines (that story has hit the mainstream a bit) to hiring thugs to "monitor" polling places for initimidation purposes.

Here are links to some of the dozens of other stories documenting these atrocities:
http://www.newdonkey.com/2004/10/rove-mo.html
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20041023/ap_on_el_pr/voter_fraud_investigation&cid=694&ncid=2043
http://www.philly.com/mld/dailynews/9947413.htm?1c
http://www.pnionline.com/dnblog/extra/archives/001079.html
http://abqjournal.com/elex/246845elex10-22-04.htm
http://www.dispatch.com/election/election-local.php?story=dispatch/2004/10/22/20041022-A1-00.html
http://www.ohio.com/mld/beaconjournal/10042113.htm?1c
http://www.wkyc.com/news/news_fullstory.asp?id=25556

The list goes on and on. As you can see, our political opponents sit around all day and dream of ways to keep people from exercising their right to vote. This is clearly the right party to bring "democracy" to Iraq, don't you think?

Oh, and here's a good one about the corporate-owned GOP using public airwaves for its own political advocacy. Can't we make this illegal?

Since the GOP is now acting as a huge criminal organization, can we prosecute them under the RICO laws?

Tell Us Something We Didn't Know Watch

It seems Bush had Iraq in his sites the whole time. Not too surprising. This comes from the ghostwriter on his autobiography ("Two Years Before 9/11, Candidate Bush was Already Talking Privately About Attacking Iraq, According to His Former Ghost Writer"):

"He was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999," said author and journalist Mickey Herskowitz. "It was on his mind. He said to me: 'One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.' And he said, 'My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it.' He said, 'If I have a chance to invade·.if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency." Herskowitz said that Bush expressed frustration at a lifetime as an underachiever in the shadow of an accomplished father. In aggressive military action, he saw the opportunity to emerge from his father's shadow. The moment, Herskowitz said, came in the wake of the September 11 attacks. "Suddenly, he's at 91 percent in the polls, and he'd barely crawled out of the bunker.

That President Bush and his advisers had Iraq on their minds long before weapons inspectors had finished their work - and long before alleged Iraqi ties with terrorists became a central rationale for war - has been raised elsewhere, including in a book based on recollections of former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill. However, Herskowitz was in a unique position to hear Bush's unguarded and unfiltered views on Iraq, war and other matters - well before he became president.

Deception Watch

Here is an interesting result: It turns out that the majority of Bush's supporters don't even know what his policies are.

The Lies Come Home To Roost Watch

Bushco's feeble excuse for the missing explosives ("maybe they were already gone") is not cutting it with the reality-based community. This article, by Jonathan Chait, is well worth reading, but because it requires registration, I'm copying it here in its entirety:

On Monday morning, the New York Times reported that 380 tons of powerful explosives had disappeared from a military complex in Iraq that the American military didn't safeguard. An honest supporter of President Bush would reply to this by arguing that, despite this mistake, there are plenty of good reasons to reelect him anyway.

The week before the election, though, is too late for honesty, especially for a campaign so committed to the infallibility of its candidate. And so Bush and his allies have been forced to argue that no, neglecting to guard a lifetime supply of bomb-making material does not in any way reflect poorly on Bush's military strategy. Indeed, if anybody is tainted here, it's Kerry. This exercise in defending the indefensible offers a kind of morbid hilarity. So far, I count seven distinct lines of argument:

1. Look at the bright side. Kerry, insists Vice President Dick Cheney, fails to "mention the 400,000 tons of weapons and explosives that our troops have captured and are destroying." This is sort of like arguing, "Your honor, the record should reflect the countless times I've driven to work without swerving onto the sidewalk and mowing down dozens of pedestrians."

2. Consider the source. Why, Republicans ask, are we finding out just now about this? Well, for starters, it was less than two weeks ago that the International Atomic Energy Agency informed our government of the lost explosives. A Wall Street Journal editorial imputed dark motives to the fact that the information leaked, without explaining why the U.S. government was keeping it secret in the first place, or why the fact that it leaked detracts from the substance of the story.

3. Don't judge. As the Journal pleaded, "Some 380 tons of frightfully powerful stuff has gone missing, and the objective before us should be to locate it, not locate blame." In other words, the military can't search for the bombs unless the voters withhold judgment about Bush.

4. Kerry reads newspapers. "What would he do as president? Get up every morning and say, 'I'm going to govern based on what I find in the newspapers?' " sneered Karl Rove. "John Kerry will say anything he believes will help him politically," wrote Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman, "and today he is grasping at headlines to obscure his record of weakness and indecision in the war on terror." The horror — Kerry is letting world news infect his judgment.

5. Kerry's a hypocrite. "After repeatedly calling Iraq the wrong war and a diversion," Bush declared, "Sen. Kerry this week seemed shocked to learn that Iraq was a dangerous place full of dangerous weapons." This is a bizarre inversion of reality. Bush justified the war primarily as a way to keep weapons out of the hands of terrorists, yet his handling of it led to exactly that result.

6. Kerry hates the troops. "The senator is denigrating the actions of our troops and commanders in the field," Bush insisted. By this logic, any criticism of Bush's military plan amounts to blaming the troops. By the same Orwellian logic, statements like the one from Bush supporter Rudy Giuliani — "The actual responsibility for it really would be for the troops that were there. Did they search carefully enough?" — do not count as blaming the troops.

7. It was like that when we got here. Republicans seized on an NBC News report that a U.S. Army brigade had inspected the site in April 2003 and found no weapons. This claim fell apart after NBC and the brigade commander said the Americans merely stopped at the site without inspecting it. Bush and his allies have since retreated to claiming that the explosives may have been moved before the war started. This is possible, though highly unlikely. David Kay, the man Bush chose to search for WMD in Iraq, said such a transfer probably would have been detected by U.S. satellites. And KSTP, a Minneapolis TV station that had staff embedded with troops who went into the area, has footage of U.S. troops coming across what look to weapons inspectors very much like the explosives in question, cracking open locks and then departing. There have been reports of systematic looting since.

But even in the unlikely event that the weapons disappeared before the war, it would hardly forgive Bush's policy of invading without enough troops to secure vital weapons caches. The point is that he didn't plan for the peace, which included safeguarding weapons. Suppose it turned out that the pedestrians struck by our reckless driver all suffered fatal heart attacks moments before they were run over. Sure, the driver would be exonerated of their deaths. But as far as evaluating his driving skills — or Bush's war-planning skills — it makes no difference at all.

See also Josh Marshall on this point:

They got caught with a screw-up, their response was to lie, smear, obfuscate and bamboozle. And now the unimpeachable evidence is out.

It captures the administration's whole record on Iraq, only fast-forwarded and telescoped into four days as opposed to four years.

This article goes on to quote David Kay on the explosives and what the ABC video of them shows.

Frontline Watch

If you have some time to watch programs on your computer, I would like to invite you to see two recent important Frontline shows, Rumsfeld's War which should be online today sometime, and The Choice which contains good biographies of both candidates. Or catch them on a rerun on your local PBS station.

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